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The Net is Bursting With Free Stuff – The Sunday Tribune 06/08/2008

ALL TALK, NO COST

THE immensely popular Skype allows you to make free phonecalls from your computer to just about anywhere in the world. All you need to do is download the software (at skype. com), which takes just a few seconds. Then pop along to your nearest electronic/computer store and buy a headset, which costs as little as 20.

Once you and the person you’re calling plug the headsets into your respective computers, you’re ready to talk.

DOUBLE-DIGIT SAVINGS FOR TEXT FANS

FANCY saving up to 40 a month on text messages? Tens of thousands of Irish people are doing just that by sending free texts over the internet.

The trend is proving increasingly popular, particularly among office workers. Mobile companies allow you to send up to 300 messages a month using the online option. Just log on to your mobile provider’s website and sign up.

DIRECTORY ENQUIRIES

FORGET calling 11850 and paying for its costly service.

Instead, find the number you’re looking for at its website (www.11850. ie) for free.

THE MUSIC OF THE MOMENT

AMERICAN independent record label Matador Records recently released its annual Intended Play compilation, which features recent and upcoming musical highlights.

This is the first time the 12 song collection has been downloadable, with tracks from the likes of Cat Power, Times New Viking and Matmos.

Meanwhile, a 16-track sampler free from antilabel blog. com includes recent songs from Nick Cave, Billy Bragg and Galactic. Apple’s iTunes store offers a free single of the week, and it always worth checking out. , and by downloading a lot with iRATE radio (http: //irate. sourceforge. net) you can hoover up tracks from websites that allow free legal downloads of their music.

One of the most enlightening, no-nonsense music websites is epitonic. com. It provides fascinating chronicles of every genre, with excellent biogs on ooodles of artists.

In a similar vein, allmusic. com gives in-depth profiles on all the important names in music, sorts them into different genres and connects them to their influences.

PODCASTS

BBC radio shows how it’s done when it comes to podcasts. It allows you to download episodes of lots of programmes to your computer, and from there to your iPod. A fascinating choice of music and culture.

CLICK AND COLLECT

Gumtree’s online community is growing all the time (gumtree. ie), and one of its most intriguing aspects is its weird and wonderful Freebies section, which consists mainly of unwanted household items. The quality on offer is, as you would expect, hit and miss, but there’s the odd gem.

Another Irish giveaway website tapping into our new clearout culture is jumbletown. ie. You can search for ‘Today’s New Items’ on a county-by-county basis.

Meanwhile, in the Free Stuff section of adverts. ie this week, there was a free Playstation plus games, and a 21-inch Mitsubishi TV.

ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE

HAS your anti-virus software expired? Then before you think about buying another product, save yourself time and money by downloading Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus free for 30 days. After the trial period is up, you can subscribe for a year, and it’s generally cheaper to do so than buy from Irish retailers. You can, of course, just flit around from one anti-virus provider to the next using the 30-day option for months at at time. Other providers include AVG (grisoft. com), Panda. com and Kaspersky. com.

FINANCIAL TIPS

IRISH financial awareness website askaboutmoney. com is a website with a difference.

It is run by a small group of financially savvy individuals who regularly chew the fat over a dizzying range of topics.

A leaner, more focused site is valueireland. com. It’s tiny compared to askaboutmoney, but there’s a very useful advice section which can save you a fortune. It provides a concise and very readable overview of things you need to look out for when shelling out your hard earned cash, such as hiring a tradesperson, shopping online, avoiding excessive mobile phone charges.

DVDS

WHEN you sign up to Irish DVD websites screen click. com and moviestar. ie, you get two weeks’ free rentals delivered to your door. After the period is up, there’s absolutely no obligation to continue with the service.

Deal of the Week

Tired of paying through the nose for calls from your landline? Then you’d have to be several digits short of a phone number to stay with a phone company that offers you less than Euphony. This little-known phone company’s EUTalk package offers free local and national calls up to 60 minutes long for just 10.99 a month. More details from euphony. ie Rip-off of the Week 3 for just half an hour on the internet at the Central Cafe at Grafton Street in Dublin. Yikes!

Tip of the week

This week’s survey by the Financial Regulator on the cost of home insurance contained a glaring omission: none of the seven insurance providers from which it got quotes from was a low-cost, online insurance company. The new breed of internet-only operators frequently offer far better value than the big household names in the insurance game. Last year, for example, a survey by this reporter found that savings of up to 600 could be made on car insurance by taking out policies from the likes of insure. ie and insureme. ie. Admittedly the current survey covered a different product, but the same principle applies. For household insurance, simplymortgages. ie gets quotes from some of the biggest home insurance providers in Ireland and abroad, which means it can often beat rival quotes from Irish-based insurance companies.

Eddie Lennon

 

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