Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thing 70: Free (and legal!) MP3 downloads

As the holiday season wraps up, many of our patrons are bringing in shiny new MP3 players and looking to us to magically fill their MP3 players with music. Not just any music - current and popular music. Oh, and it should be free, of course. Since there is no hope of Santa returning in the near future, we are finding ourselves explaining over and over again that, yes there is free music available, but it may not be the top 40 hits and it may not be legally uploaded to the internet.

To help these patrons filter through all of the music download websites on the internet and find free and legal MP3 downloads, we have compiled a list of free and "almost free" websites. Thanks to the detective work of our staff and one really informative web page ("Keep Rocking: 30+ Sites for Free and Legal Music"), we are able to provide our patrons with a large variety of websites and musical genres to choose from.

Websites that offer inexpensive MP3 downloads: have a credit card. The Rhapsody To Go Plan is $14.99 a month. have credit card OR paypal account. The cheapest plan on there is $11.99 per month plus a bonus of 50 downloads for free. Napster to GO plan is $14.95 a month, must have credit card. The plan includes unlimited transfers to compatible mp3 players.

Websites that offer free MP3s:

Amazon MP3 Store - The vast majority of the music at Amazon is for sale, but they do have a rotation of free tracks available for download.
- Focused on promoting new and independent music, their downloads range from free to $0.98 as they grow in popularity.
- An enormous collection of public domain music, expired copyright tracks, as well as some free contemporary music.
- It started off as a resource for independent electronic musicians, but is now open to all. All tracks can be downloaded for free.
- Offers over 13,000 free tracks from mostly European acts.
- A music webzine covering hundreds of music labels, and offering thousands of free & legal songs for you to download.
- a site dedicated to music that you can download to remix and post your results, all under the Creative Commons license.
- Most people think CNet’s is just about software, but they also have tens of thousands of free MP3s you can download from new as well as up and coming bands.
- A large selection of free tracks from smaller record companies that are free to download with larger releases available for purchase
- Offers over 30,000 legal downloads that are managed through a partnership with the labels. Starts you off with credit for 101 free upon registering.
- A blog that posts reviews of complete albums that are available for free downloads from numerous sources.
- Independent bands can upload their music, then have it rated by users, as well as downloaded for free.
- Features streaming music from all of the major labels as well as numerous smaller companies, with numerous free downloadable tracks.
- Finding the free downloads on iTunes can be a chore, this site does the work for you and lets you know what’s free each week.
- Artists upload their albums under Creative Commons, allowing new listeners to discover their work. Although free, there is the opportunity to donate to the performers of your choice.
- While most people know for its streaming and social aspects, they offer a weekly chart of downloadable free mp3s.
Live Music Archive
- Part of, features thousands of live performances by smaller bands as well as the likes of the Grateful Dead and Jason Mraz.
- A band promotion site focusing on various forms of heavy metal, and allowing bands to upload mp3s users can download for free.
- Besides their paid section, does offer a large selection of free tracks from acts small and large alike.
- Focusing on Australian bands, offers a repository for bands to upload their music for people to download and try for free.
MP34U - Works in conjunction with, this site finds sources of free music & legal music from all over the Web.
- Searches multiple sources to bring you approximately a million free song downloads.
- A sister site to MP34U, wherein the artists upload their tracks themselves, and helps them promote their work.—click on “111,000 Free MP3s” at the top of the page
- Allows independent musicians to set up profiles for themselves, stream their music and gives them the option of enabling their work for free downloads.
- Ruckus provides free music to people with .edu email addresses, and requires you to renew your licenses for DRM once a year.
- Offering a mixture of signed and unsigned artists the opportunity to set up profile pages and either stream their music or offer it up for free downloads.
- Major release albums and tracks available for the price of just watching some advertisements.
- Daily free mp3s from various artists, as well as rotating free albums.
- A site for independent artists to promote themselves. Artists can upload tracks either for free or at a user cost of $0.89.
- We7 offers mp3 downloads for free, but they do have advertisements attached to them. If you want them without the ads, they do offer a paid alternative.

Discovery Exercise:
1. Go to one of the websites posted above.
2. Choose a song to download.
3. If you have an MP3 player, transfer that song from the computer to your MP3 player.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thing 69: Feed My Inbox

Really Simple Syndication is a key tool in understanding the new architecture of the World Wide Web. So important, that it was one of the original 23 things (Thing Number 8 to be exact.)

Now, as an expert in the Read Write Web, you are showing blogs and websites to folks and telling them that they can subscribe to the feed for the reader and see it either in their browser (iffy at best) or they can use a web based RSS readers such as Google Reader or Bloglines.

But they get don't want to have to learn another program.

Here is the solution: Feed My Inbox.

Simple interface.

Add the feed address/URL. (make sure it is NOT the website address but the RSS address!)

Add your email address.

Then you get an email to confirm the address and you are done.

And there is a link in each feed email that asks if you want to unsubscribe to the email.

Discovery Exercise:
1) Go to one of your favorite websites that updates frequently.
2) Find the RSS feed for that site or section of that site.
3) Copy that URL information.
4) Go to Feed My Inbox.
5) Add your feed and your email address.
6) Wait for a new feed and discuss the content, how it was arraigned and were there links to follow?
7) Write about your experience.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thing 68: Filtering Flickr

Flickr has become a great resource for finding images on the web. As you all know, sharing and tagging photos is one of the killer applications of web 2.0. Flickr can also be rather overwhelming when searching for that one right photo.

There are two sites that effectively and visually blow my mind when searching FlickrCC and TagGalaxy are two ways to graphically search flickr.

FlickrCC uses a keyword search to bring up a window of pictures tagged with that search tag. Click on each picture gets you the proper attribution link, editing link and different sizes to move directly into your presentations and websites. All of the images are copyright with Creative Commons licensing, which encourages sharing.

Tag Galaxy lets you visually search Flickr. Yes, visually. You can then filter down through refined tags to get to your desired image. Some images are not shared with Creative Commons licensing, which you should be aware of before using them in your presentations or on your blogs and websites.

Here are both sites searching for the Flickr tag Church:

First FlickrCC:

Now Tag Galaxy:

and tag galaxy refined from they keyword church:

Discovery Exercise:

1) Explore both FlickrCC and Tag Galaxy by searching for the same keywords on each site.
2) Did you find similar or different results? Which method of browsing pictures worked better for you? Did the images you find match your expectations?
3) Write about your experience with both resources. If you are able to use the photos on your blog, website or presentation write about how easy it was to add the image to that blog, website or presentation.

Thing 67: Stress Savers

The web should help you save time. These three sites will help you use life without stress. Tow of them are "web 1.0" ish tools but very useful.

The Dial A Human site helps you get around those phone trees. It gives you what option you can press at many national service providers to talk to a person.

Custom Guide provides free computer training tipsheets on a variety of programs. If you need some quick help with various Mac, Windows, and Adobe programs this is a great site for some quick assistance.

Where is your Username Registered? is a site which will check multiple sites to see if your preferred username is available at a bunch of readwriteweb sites.

Discovery Exercise.
1) Explore Custom Guide. Are there any places that you call normally that you are now glad to know how to talk directly to a representative.

2) Explore Username Check: Check for your username "brand" on many different sites. If you want, register your name at sites that you want to use in the future. Keep this bookmarked and share with your friends who use the readwriteweb.

3) Write about your experiences with each of these sites.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thing 66: Directory 2.0

The world of the new web can be daunting. Sometimes the information overload of the newest, shiniest sites can paralyze even the most veteran web user.

There are two great sites out there that can help you navigate and organize your 2.0 and beyond journey. One of them preselects and organizes sites and one allows you to customize your 2.0 search portal experience.

All My Faves contains a staggering number of icons arraigned by categories of Home, Entertainment, Kids, Shopping, Travel, and Weekly Faves. This site reminds me of Yahoo in the early days. Someone organizes sites for your use. Perfect for the new read write web person and great for grizzled veterans such as myself.

43 Marks also has a list of suggested read write web resources but displays they names not the icons. The biggest difference is that 43 marks wants you to customize the display to meet your needs. You are creating your portal from the suggested list of sites and can add rss feeds from different places, add or delete specific site groups. Very nice interface indeed. If you don't want to just dive in and create your own Bookmarks page, you can view the tutorial which walks you through step by step.

Discovery Exercises:

1) Go to both All My Faves and 43 Marks. Search for your favorite sites and see how they are categorized.
2) Try clicking on two sites you have never visited and see if you agree with the categorization.
3) Sign up for 43 Marks and create your own personal start page. Write about the process.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Maurice Coleman aka Baldgeekinmd : Your October (and November) Learning 2.1 Guide

Hi everyone, I am Maurice Coleman and I will be your guide for October 2008. I hope this fall finds you well and ready for more Learning 2.1 activities. You can find me on many social networking sites as user baldgeekinmd *and one or two as just baldgeek.*

These are my usual social networking avatars:

My Shortish Biography:
I am currently the Technical Trainer at Harford County (MD) Public Library located in the North Eastern corner of Maryland. My job is to help staff leverage new and existing tools and technologies in an innovative library system; to provide group and individual training in a variety of areas to library staff; and to foster communication between geeks and non-geeks. Over the last 15 years I have trained people of all ages on technology in the real world, software, organizational development, fundraising, community organizing and presentation skills.

I have presented at National, State and City/County wide conferences on technology and community development issues. I am currently co-creating and producing the Learning 2.1 program for the state of Maryland; organizing/hosting a podcast about training called T is for Training and I actively blogs at The Chronicles of the (almost) Bald Technology Trainer. I am also working with Minnesota Regional Libraries to do a series of technology training workshops all across Minnesota this month (October 2008. ) I have also been selected by the Maryland’s DLDS (State Library) to represent library staff development professionals at the esteemed Learning 2008 conference sponsored by the Maise Institute.

I hope you have fun with the things I am going to show you this month.

See you soon with Thing #66. I still can't believe that there are now that many things.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thing 65: It's hard to think about anything else

Markets Open A Day After Losing 9 Percent In Single Day
The current economic crisis in the U.S. market dominates the news right now, justifiably. There's lots of detailed information (from the pink Financial Times, for example), but I'm having trouble finding something I can understand without spending a lifetime studying it, and I'm sure some of our library users are just as hungry for digestible information. 

So I've spent this afternoon searching for good resources to help us figure it out, free of political bias (I hope). I'm not sure I've found the magic link yet, but here are some suggestions.
Discovery Exercise:
  1. Visit these sites to see what you can learn. I sincerely hope it helps!
  2. If you find other useful sources, please share them with the rest of us via your blog or by posting them to the comments.

Kitten Basket

There, now do we all feel a little better after our cute break?