Free is good!
Words to live by -- and when it comes to the internet, there are a lot of things you can find for free to entertain, to enhance your use of your computer, or to just spiff up your web pages. I was really thinking about doing an entire site on how to build a web page and where to get everything you need for nothing, but there are so many of them out there, all I really need to do is link you to them.
Free Web Site!
For starters, this page is a Geocities web site. If you don't already have a web site at Geocities, you should consider the possibilities. Geocities will provide anyone with 11 megabytes of space to build a web site, completely free of charge! All you have to do is avoid a few no-no's (must have no commercial content, no x-rated content, and the like) and you must link to Geocities (note the nice link at the bottom of my page). They also like you to put up their advertising banner on at least your main page; I've placed it up here as well just for your reference.
That's it! There aren't any other catches! Their advertising pays for everything. If you want, they will give you up to 25 megs of space to play with and a personal url for only $4.95, and at that stage I think they relax some of the rules, but hey, 11 megs is more than enough for most people, and $4.95 a month for 25 megs and your own URL is a really good deal too! Also, you're allowed one site in each of their neighborhood/topic areas, so that you can have one in the science fiction section and one in the gaming section, just so long as the page content meshes with the area you place it in and you're not stringing together several different sites or anything stupid like that.
The point is, Geocities is not secretly selling your address to advertisers or trying to secretly rip you off. The content that you provide on your page brings in potential customers for the clients of Geocities. It's that simple. Of course, they're not offering internet access, but if you're reading this then clearly you have some way of accessing the internet already. This is just a really good straight-up deal!
If you want to take them up on this deal, click on the icon at the bottom of the page. It's pretty self-explanatory from there.
I've checked a few others out. Some offer other advantages, but they often want to sell you something, or sell your name and address, or are small outfits that might not be around tomorrow. I found one that had suddenly switched to a pay-only site, which I'm sure was a bit of a rude awakening for the tenants there (who got kicked out if they didn't start paying). Few of them offer half of the goodies Geocities offers, so there's certainly that to consider.
My Personal Comparison
I've built pages at a couple of different sites just to compare. Here's how Geocities, Tripod, Xoom and Fortune City compare in my book:
Geocities: They do it all. 11 megs of space, upgradeable to 25 for only $4.95 a month. Their own counter, their own banner exchange, their own guestbooks, and other goodies that no one else offers (like that cube thing). A very easy method of picking your neighborhood and address, two simple-page builders that are very simple to use and a great online html editor for freehand page building or editing. A file upload system that is simple and easy to use. I've occasionally experienced lag time, but that's going to happen everywhere, sooner or later, and it goes away as they upgrade the system. I reccomend Geocities over any other "free web space" provider I could name!
Best of all, they allow you to build in more than one neighborhood! I have two different sites at Geocities with very different themes. Nobody else I know of allows you to do that! They also have a section devoted to anime, where I've put up a third site. (My first two sites are in the science fiction section "Area51" and the gaming section "TimesSquare").
Tripod: 11 megabytes of space, upgradeable to 22 for a monthly fee (which also grants you an e-mail address and allows you to install a chat room). A custom URL! They have a counter and guestbook (I think... haven't checked out the guestbook). I don't remember if the banner exchange is LinkExchange or just their own, but they have one in place. Very good simple page builder, online editing, file upload. Navigation has been a bit tricky for me to figure out, but overall this is really a great little system, and 11 megs is more than most people will use! Like Geocities, these people are legit, they're not out to sell your name to anybody, and they support the system with advertising.
They have a section devoted to anime! Cool!
Xoom: 11 megs of space for free! Xoom is probably still one of the least "homey" of any of the so-called online communities, but they're working on it. The down side with Xoom is that they're still in the building stages and don't offher all of the services that Tripod or Geocities offer... more of a "do it yourself" service. However, they offer a ton of graphics free for your use on your web page, and they have a simple page builder for non-html-knowledgable types. Otherwise they direct you to free programs and services that you can find on the internet, like Guest World for your guest book, Link Exchange for your banner, and FTP programs and HTML editors that you can find out on the web (some of which I list here). This makes for an easy start-up for their free web service, since they didn't have to build all of the stuff that Geocities has built themselves. But that makes it difficult for the beginner. They have a simple web-page builder, but beyond that you need to build offline and ftp to your site, and it took me a while to master that part.
Of course, nobody gives free web space out of the goodness of their hearts. Geocities and Tripod have advertising, both in their banner and their pop-up menus, and on their own core pages. With Xoom, you avoid all of that, but you have to put up with them constantly trying to sell you their animated gifs and software packages -- that is, after all, their main business. Luckily buying anything is not a requirement to get free web space. You get the custom URL, which is neat. They are also anime-friendly, with an anime section!
Fortune City: At one time the only legitimate site that really gave you a whole 10 megs to build on (Now outdone by Xoom, Geocities, and Tripod, all at 11 megs!). Fortune City is another quality service. They have a pretty good community setup on the same general idea as Geocities, allowing you to select the community and house/address that you want to live in, and, wonder of wonders, they even have a city map! I thought that was extra cool!
They offer all the usual amenities, including banner exchange (LinkExchange), web counter, guestbook, etc, a simple page builder that's not half bad and online editing and file-upload that works okay, just not quite in the same realm as Geocities. I experienced severe lag until this monday when they added a second server. Right now their system (file uploading and whatever) is really flying! One of their requirements is 60 hits on your page a month and/or updating of your page, otherwise it could disappear (they notify you first, I think). On the other hand, I don't update my page every month, and it doesn't get that many hits, but it's still there...
As for the rest of these "free web space" sites, I can't guarantee you won't be selling your soul (or at least your mail address) for what they give you, especially on the cheesey "1 page" or "5 pages" sites. They all have rules about content and whether commercial stuff is allowed (usually not). Check 'em out for yourself.
If you want my advice, Geocities is still the overall top choice. Not too many people out there are really giving you something for free, especially when it comes to web space. Even Xoom is hoping you buy some of their products!
Let me say this again: Geocities is your best bet for free web space! I've checked out some of the competition, and while they may have one or two advantages over Geocities, none of them make it as easy to build your web page as Geocities does. They don't offer as much help, they don't have editing programs that are as powerful or reliable, they don't have everything Geocities has! I'm not saying Geocities is perfect, but they've been here a while and have had time to establish themselves. The others are playing catch-up!
Simply the best! 6 megs of space, free e-mail, tons of support, but sometimes slow!
11 megs of space, and customized URL, but no e-mail address (they promise one soon!). No click-thru ads or banners! Lots of HTML help!
5 megs of space, free e-mail account, build your own chat room! Lots of HTML help!
10 megs of space! A cool city map. Online editing and file upload. This one's worth looking into!
2 megs, free e-mail, no catches! Run by five Austrians
12 megs, e-mail, chat, more! More space if you become a civic leader.
5 megs of space!
2 megs only, but a lifetime e-mail address, host a chat room, webcounter, more.
10 megs of space, e-mail account... (they used to offer 50, believe it or not).
Unlimited disk space! E-mail and I don't know what else. This is legit... but they don't let you place any copyrighted material (such as anime pictures) on your site without written permission...
2 megs of space... will allow commercial content for $5 per 2 megs per month.
2 megs of space, e-mail, other stuff.
300k of space, custom URL, no GIF or JPG files allowed.
2 megs of space
2 megs of space (e-mail included) and a goofy URL!
3 megs of space (e-mail included) or three paying levels, including 50 megs for $39.95 per month...
2 megs of space
also links to web page publishing, webpage design resource, cgi scripts, GIF shrinker, all free!
a free (single) web page, and a milleniumish name
five pages and free e-mail
a free page, no html knowledge required
a free page, no html knowledge required
webpage designer, no html knowledge required, but they only store 100 pages at any one time
another webpage designer, no html knowledge required
a free web page and, yes! no html knowledge required!
info and links to 22 free webpage sites
another great list/review of free webspace providers!
There are several sites that offer you a free e-mail address. Geocities gives you one with your web site, and it can be accessed with your e-mail program (for example, Eudora Pro or IE Outlook Express). I haven't used my Geocities account yet because I already have an e-mail address with my internet service provider, (like most people I pay to have internet access), but it's there if I choose to use it. Most other "free web space" sites will give you an e-mail address too, and some allow forwarding to your POP account just like Geocities.
Having a second e-mail address can be useful, especially if you share an account with other family/household members or you get your internet access through school or work. For that, your Geocities e-mail address can be very handy.
There are other places to get free e-mail as well, and they have an added advantage: since you access your e-mail from their web site, you don't have to worry about travelling away from your internet provider. If you can get on the net in Singapore or Dublin or Johannesburg, then you can check your e-mail account just as easily as you could at home. If I wanted to do that with my Sprynet address I'd have to find out what the local Sprynet/Compuserve number was first (assuming there was one), and dial that. It wouldn't be easy or convenient.
Of the following free e-mail providers, I've tried Yahoo, Iname, and Netaddress. I like Yahoo over Netaddress for speed and simplicity. Netaddress throws a lot of animated advertising onto their site, making it slow to load. The Yahoo site is much faster to access, read your mail, and get out.
My favorite, I think, is the Iname site. You can customize your address: a free account offers a handful of addresses like "cyberdude.com" "cheerful.com" and the like; or for $17.95 a year you get a choice of hundreds of addresses tied to occupations, interests, and even religion, so that you can have a "doctor.com" or a "buddist.com" address tag. Plus they do e-mail forwarding, so that you can redirect your mail to your current e-mail address rather than have to go to their internet site! They also have a slick interface with signature and browse for file attatchment options. Nifty!
said to be the largest
the same as netaddress, as far as I can tell
lots of nifty options here! E-mail forwarding, semi-customizable addresses, etc.!
reportedly offered in French, German, and Spanish as well
like Iname, you can customize your address
Free List Servers!
Now that I know of a second service, I can make this a seperate section. Coollist and FindMail both offer free mailing lists -- set up your own or join an existing one! Unfortunately, I don't know much about FindMail at the moment, and as for Coollist, they are slow and unreliable most of the time. But the concept is still a cool one! Hopefully FindMail will do a better job of it!
Free Graphics For Your Web Page!
Okay! So you don't have a fancy scanner like me, or a nifty program like Adobe Photoshop. You still want your web page to look good, right? Well of course! What you need is a handy list of sites that offer nifty graphics (backgrounds, buttons, banners, and animated graphics) to help you get rolling! I've got the cure for what ails you:
custom buttons for free in 48 hours!
free trial copy of powerful art tool! Register for only $20.00!
said to be next best thing to Photoshop. Free trial copy, costly to register but not half of what Photoshop costs
Free Java Scripts!
Free Help! HTML and Web Page Design
Go to Gilpo's! Go to Gilpo's!
a beginner's HTML reference site
everything you need to know about designing and publishing your web page!
tons of information on HTML and web design!
Free (Or Nearly Free) HTML Editors
There's no real need to go buy Front Page or some other commercial HTML editor when there are several good alternatives available online! So far I've checked out Gomer and EditPad, and of the two, Gomer is the far superior product, allowing you to do just about anything you'd want to quickly and easily. However, Gomer is not free -- you can use it for a 30-day trial period, but then must register it. It's a $20.00 registry, not too bad. But some of the free editors are even more powerful!
EditPad is not free either -- quite -- free either. It's "Postcardware". You have to register it, but all that requires is that you send a nice postcard from your home town or area to the designer. He collects 'em, and he likes to know where his program's been to lately. Such a deal! It might as well be free! EditPad is not a fancy program, but it is better than doing it in notepad or some other text editor.
Another one is HomeSite by Allaire. They have a freeware version available, HomeSite 2.1, but I haven't checked it out.
Some of these editors are pretty dang powerful, and I'm only scratching the surface. I'm listing mostly the free ones, so you won't find (for example) Hotdog Pro linked on this page, although it is an extremely powerful program. If you want to check out all of your shareware (need to register and pay some kind of fee to keep using it) programs, of which there are tons, a great site is Tucows, "the ultimate collection of winsock software". They do reviews, list whether it's freeware, shareware, or whatever, provide secure virus-free downloads, and link you directly to the creator/company's site. A great place!
One program I don't have a link to is Webwerx, which you can get directly from Tucows. They rate it highly too. I should also note, I'm listing what I found for Win95, but many of these sites have Win 3.1 versions available. If you can't find a Mac version at these sites, go directly to the Tucows site and look there!
Free (Or Nearly So) FTP Programs
The only FTP program I've downloaded it Cute FTP, which I haven't done much with yet, and it's not free. Here at Geocities you don't really need an FTP program because they have one built in, but for other places, an FTP is pretty much essential.
The biggest reason I list Cute FTP is because it's consistently rated one of the best if not the best. It's not exactly cheap to register (I consider cheap to be $20 or less), but cost can be relative. You may find that it's so much better than the other options that you're willing to pay the $40.00. Anyway, the trial copy is free, so you've nothing to lose by testing it out first.
Free Web Site Promotion
Put a Search Engine On Your Hardrive For Free
Download the Altavista search engine for free. You can even use it to search your own computer. I haven't tried it, mind you, but it costs you nothing...
Other, Better Free Stuff Pages
Had enough yet??? I'm going to keep adding to this page as I have time! In the meantime, have fun!
© 1998 Akane89@yahoo.com
Akane images and character copyright © 1998 Rumiko Takahashi. Other characters also copyrighted, naturally.
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