Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Great Metafilter Thread

Metafilter has a great thread discussing free learning webpages.

One outstanding site, the Research Channel, webcasts educational video 24 hours a day. Their extensive video archive can be browsed by title and by subject.

The Math Archives gathers links to sites with tutorials and notes for a broad range of areas in mathematics.

The University of Indiana has a great portal for music sites.

The London School of Economics and Politics offers transcipts to many of their events and lectures over the past eight years.

SUNY-Albany's Talking History has archives of their show going back to 1997.

Wired For Books has posted many of Don Swain's CBS radio interviews with writers such as John Updike and Allen Ginsberg.

Also see the Wired For Books' Kids section for well-produced audio narrations, such as a full length Alice and Wonderland. If you're studying French, German, or Japanese, you can practice with The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

The list has also been turned into a list on Christopher D. Sessums' PBWiki. Be warned that not everything on this list is actually free (i.e. the great, but not free Recorded Books)

Sorry About Not Posting

Sorry that I didn't post yesterday. I didn't have internet access. I know that's no excuse so I'm asking your forgiveness again with pictures of adorable puppies. Over the weekend, The Stingy Scholar made del.icio.us' popular list. Thank you everyone! I really appreciate the emails, too.

By the way, I turned off comment reviews. Now comments will appear immediately. Although I fear the onslaught of spam from Free PDF Writer and Business e-e-e-Books, let's give it a shot.

Friday, February 24, 2006

What My Friends Are Doing

A great song by Jarabe de Palo to kick off the weekend.

I meet some interesting people while doing this blog. They keep doing interesting things. Thought I'd round up a few of their recent projects:

Jon Bischke and company have rolled out some great new features at Learn Out Loud. First of all, Learn Out Loud introduced a new recommendations system that examines how you've rated materials on their page in order to suggest new materials. I tried this out and was very impressed by the results. In addition to audiobooks, the Loomia-powered engine also recommends podcasts. Another great new features at Learn Out Loud is the "Free Item of the Day" sent to you by email. This is a great way to highlight the gems in their free library. They're also summarizing these resources right now on their podcast.

Remember Good Sh#$, the site that combines high quality education materials with high quality porn? Well, Fred has started a second site, Good Stuff. Unlike Good Sh#$, you can read this site at work - no porn, only great educational links. I have to admit, I didn't think Fred would be able to find enough stuff to run two sites. But he has. Good Stuff is also adorned with lots of nice art and pictures...but the sort that won't get you fired. By the way, this pic is from Dirty Pictures Cleaned-up.

Freeload Press is a new textbook publisher that offers free textbooks, complete with supplemental materials. How do they do it? Tasteful ads in the books. These guys are presenting a viable model to create affordable textbooks while paying fair wages to authors. The company is composed of honest, straightforward guys with many years of experience in publishing. I wouldn't be surprised to see some big corporate players sign-up with them soon.

You may have already seen the news on Textbook Revolution, but Jason is going to Sri Lanka to install these experimental UV water purification systems. Textbook Revolution is also helping Nuwan Karunaratne at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to gather used textbooks for their physics department. If you can help, please email Nuwan. Textbook Revolution has been discussed in a number of recent articles including this great profile from Northeastern University. TBR was even mentioned in the Philadelphia Inquirer (thanks Joyce).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Look Mom & Dad: You Too Can Be A Web 2.0 Computer Geek

I know that for you guys, the only JAVA that matters is brewing in the morning. And that you don't need AJAX unless it makes the kitchen floors sparkle. But that doesn't mean you can't do some really cool stuff with these free webpages that run like desktop software (mother and father-in-law, I'm talking to you, too).

Gcast - I know you'd like to make your own podcast, but it sounds like a hassle. You don't want to buy a microphone, make MP3s, set-up a feed...Wouldn't it be easier to just talk into a telephone? That's the idea behind GCast. Pick up the phone, dial an 800 number, and talk away. Gcast does the rest. Afterwards you can even mix in some tunes from the Garage Band collection. These songs are all "safe" so you won't have any copyright issues. See the tutorial to learn more.

Vyew - At your next net-meeting, how would you like to impress them? Try Vyew. Not only is the interface "hip and fresh", but the functionality is excellent. Upload documents and take snapshots of your screen. But best of all, every party can "write" on the screen (see the demo - the link is on the top-right of the page).

Thumbstacks - A nice alternative to PowerPoint, with Thumbstacks you can create and save presentations online. There's no need to load software, no need to email documents. After viewing the presentation, you audience can also print it.

Nuvvo -Since you guys teach classes in the evening, maybe you'd like to take a second look at Nuvvo. It's a great way to put your class materials online and to even create review tests for your students. Three reasons to use Nuvvo: (1) You can load video, audio, or other files, (2) you can control who can access the site, (3) you can use Skype with Nuvvo to have group study sessions from home.

Blogger - Blogger is really simple to use. To crete a blog, all you do is sign-up, pick a template, and get posting. Creating a post is just like sending an email. Look at this brief introduction or this video tutorial from Lynda. With YouTube, you can find videos and post the html code. It's easier than it sounds - just copy the "post this" space, select HTML from the Blogger view, and post the code at the top. See this tutorial on video blogging.

Writely - Writely is a great way to collaborate on text documents. It is a really good way to collaborate when revising a document. Rather than dealing with copies of MS Word documents and track changes, just create a document online and check the versions. Here's more on how it works.

Gmail - Please get a Gmail account. I'll send you an invitation, but you don't even need it anymore. With Gmail you can search through your message easily. And the spam filter will get rid of a lot of the junk I see appearing in your account. Plus, now we can have GTalk IM conversations and they get saved with your emails. You never call, never write. I try with you guys, but you really need to make an effort.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

She Fell In Love With The Drummer

Rock on Zakk Wylde. When I learned to play the guitar, there was one online resource - the OLGA. Today, professional and aspiring musicans will find lots of instructional resources on the internet.

The Berklee School of Music tops the list with their quality "Berklee Shares" website. Many instructional pdfs, mp3s, and Quicktime files navigable by topic and instrument.

Guitar players have hundreds of sites to explore. e-Chords is my favorite site, full of instructional videos, lessons, and tabs. Some other good ones: iPlayMusic, Guitar Principles, Free Guitar Videos, Visual Guitar (chords and theory), Wholenote, Cyberfret, iBreatheMusic, Essential Guitar and Guitar Lesson World. Also see Mr. Fasterfinger's fun flash intro and "the Exploding Guitar" (pictured), although the lessons won't load for me.

Bass players will also find a lot of information on these guitar sites, but should also check out Wheat's Bass Book.

Violin Master Class is a nicely designed site for players of many levels. Quicktime videos help to illustrate proper technique and angles.

Modern Drummer has PDF tutorials on fills, grooves, and hands. The site also contains many audio samples and interesting articles.

More eBook Sites to Explore

Searchlores has compiled on one page the search engines for several ebook archives (Project Gutenberg, UPenn, etc.). The page comments are full of additional links, tips, and hacks. At Searchlores' targets you can also find advice on finding music, images, laws, passwords, barcodes, and several other search objectives.

For texts in other languages, see Intratext. The extensive archive focuses on a broad number of languages, including minority languages.

OpenSourceShakespeare has a nicely designed Shakespeare archive complete with full text and concordance search capability. OSS also provides the option to see all the lines for a single character.

If you're looking for more eBooks, see this previous post.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Links for the Little Ones

Some fun links for kids:
Incredibooks has book reviews for kids, written by kids (and probably a few creepy middle-aged men).
Story Nory makes iPod ready, free narrated kids tales. Pass long car rides with these fairly tales and modern classics. Also some good reviews in the archives.
PBSKids has games, stories, and music based on the programs.
Learn to Draw with these instructional books. The whole books are free on-line.

Also, look at this trippy alphabet clip. Think this is from the 70s?

Thanks to Chris Watk for the pic!

Another Portal?

Looks like a great new portal appears every day. Like the other portals we've seen, Wanna Learn indexes free edu- resources. Click on the sub-categories to see all the links. They've gathered many good pages, especially under World Languages. For example, see UCLA's Turkish Tutor. The "Just for Fun" section has some entertaining sites, such as these bar tricks.

For a bit of internet learning history, check out this late 90's portal. Although many of the links are dead on the Education Index you can still follow the adventures of the web weasel while learning all about the revolutionary new Netscape browser.

Monday, February 20, 2006


If you're looking to waste several hours, check out this bizarre German design page. The Flash-animated tree hides links to original but disturbing paintings, animations, photos, and stuffed animals. I'm still not sure who these people are, what they do, and why they do it. But that didn't stop me from an unproductive morning.

O'Reilly's What Is...

O'Reilly has an archive of their "What Is XYZ" articles. These detailed articles give practical explanations of technological buzzwords such as Web 2.0 and Open Source. The series also has good intros to Greasemonkey, Excel Pivot Tables, Linux, Flickr, Skype, Podcasting, and many other topics. Thanks to Mike Korn for the photo.

iPod Personal Trainer

If the iPod is already your workout buddy, why not make it your personal trainer? iPod gym teaches exercises for free weights, machines, core strength, and the swiss ball. The video tutorials are free to download and can be loaded onto your iPod like any other video file.

Update -
No video on your iPod? Try the free audio files at
mp3 gym (use this link if the email imput doesn't work).

Friday, February 17, 2006

Other Languages

Learn Icelandic for free online? Czech? Catalan? I know what you're thinking - an "under construction" geocities site with frames and pop-up ads. You'll be surprised. While French & Spanish students can find high quality language learning sites like BBC Languages, many less commonly studied languages also have phenomenal learning websites. I selected a few very good ones - all have nice design and lots of lessons with audio: Catalan, Polish, Esperanto, Little Czech Primer, Latvian, Tibetan, Icelandic, Dutch, Hindi, Norwegian, Serbian, Greek, Breton, Welsh, Chinook, Korean.

For more language courses for specific languages see Word2Word, I Love Languages and Single Serving. Northeastern Illinois University also has their foreign language labs audio online as mp3s.

Exploit Your Local Library

Karen in LA tells me that many libraries in the US are offering free audiobook downloads. The files are available on the library webpage and, rather than "returns", the books are equipped with DRM that kills the file after a set period of time. Looks like this service is available in many libraries such as LA, Seattle, Boston, Milwaukee, Santa Monica, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, New York and Brooklyn. I'm also glad to see Jersey coming through with two programs. Since most libraries subscribe to Net Library or Overdrive, the offerings are pretty similar.

If your local library doesn't have this service, maybe you can convince them. But check the whole state - in some case, such as the Boston Public library, residency means living in the state, not the city. Also, very often you can pay a non-resident fee to gain access (such as $100 for the NYPL).

Unfortunately, you won't be able to play DRM protected .wav files on your iPod. But if you're hell-bent on it, there are options. Silent Bob is a program that converts any audio playing on your computer into mp3. The site is dead, but you will be able to find the program mirrored or on P2P if you look around. Audacity is another good free option, and many people like Audio Hijack or Tunebite. Of course, I'm not endorsing copyright infringement.

By the way, Learn Out Loud has their next free audiobook-of-the-month available. This month, it's the Tao Te Ching. See also Siddhartha from last month.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Marx and Freud

Marxists.org has an extensive archive of texts related to the development and execution of Marxist thought. An outstanding resource for source texts, Marxists.org also captures the broad development of the movement and the roles played by both major and minor historical figures. Psychology Classics contains many key texts from pioneering psychologists. The texts are also classified by topic.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

About U

Under the hundreds of ads, pop-up windows and animated gifs, About.com is site brimming with content. For example, About U's free email courses. Sign-up to receive regular emails on topics such as Greek Mythology 101 or Chess 102 - Beyond Beginner. The greatest concentration of course offerings are for subjects such as Health & Fitness, Religion, Home & Gardening, etc. I subscribe to some of About's language-studying columns and find them really helpful. I just signed-up for two of these courses - I'll let you know how they go.

Art & Architecture

Two very good sites worth exploring: Artcylopedia and A Daily Dose of Architecture.

Artcyclopedia indexes the images and information on great art viewable on gallery webpages. Relevant information can be found in multiple ways, such as searching for an artist's name or browsing through movements. I am impressed by the sheer number of artists documents and the absence of dead links. For example, check out the entry for Derain, an important but less popularly known Fauvist painter.

John Hill's architecture blog, A Daily Dose of Architecture, is updated daily with stunning images of actual and imagined structures. Every post conveys John's knowledge of architecture and passion for buildings both impressive and whimsical. Architecture afficianados will also appreciate the many well-organized links.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Six Nations Skills

Whether you're a complete novice or a seasoned fanatic living at the pubs during the Six Nations, the BBC rugby learning pages has something to offer you. Try out the England Academy flash game to learn the basics of passing, tackling, line-outs, scrums, and kicking. Go to the rugby union laws and skills pages for dozens of videos on the finer details of rucks and mauls. Along with plenty of football and cricket games, BBC Sport's Fun & Games also has a Virtual Gym to learn the proper postures for stretching and weightlifting.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Quiet American

Aaron Ximm, aka The Quiet American, has a fantastic webpage containing his field recordings and sound manipulations. In his recordings, Aaron works with the sounds of remote places - such as Vietnam, Fiji, and Nepal - to convert them into extraordinary aural experiences. Aaron's entire discography is available on his site at no cost. Aaron also created a great list of resources/pointers on field recordings and manipulation, and a series of "one-minute vacations" from a variety of contributors.

Courses & Tutorials at Free-ed.net

Free-ed.net is a nice portal to the mixed bag of free educational courses on the web. Although the courses vary widely in quality, Free-ed.net covers a broad array of practical and technical subjects such as health care and plumbing - very often with ebooks and video. Many courses are hosted by Free-ed.net, but some listings link to sites such as learner.org.

Friday, February 10, 2006

So You Want To VJ

Pix n Mix helps the budding VJ get started with explanatory flash games, VJ samples, and three master classes. Pix n Mix is part of Channel 4’s Ideas Factory, a program to help young Brit’s make their first career move in creative industries. CultureTV collects some unusual video art such as Birds, the floating dogs video in this post.

Top World Universities

From Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, a list of the top 500 universities in the world. Also ranked are the top 100 universities in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Whether or not you agree with the rankings and methodology, this is a useful resource for finding good universities around the world. Links to the university webpages are included.

Harrison Bergeron

A great short story. See Kurt Vonnegut's Welcome to the Monkey House for the complete collection.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Free iPod Tour Guides

I've compiled a list of guided museum and walking tours. All of these were professionally recorded and available for free. I plan to keep this list updated – if you know more sites, please send me the links. By the way, the pictures in this post are mine again:

Walking & Museum Tours

Amsterdam, Holland
Indonesia exhibition at De Nieuwe Kerk Museum (Antenna Audio)

Brussels, Belgium
Podguide Tour (Podguides.net) - Map

Chicago, USA
Millennium Park (Antenna Audio)

Dublin, Ireland
Series of Walking Tours (Visit Dublin)

The Dune Forests, Belgium
Podguide Tour (Podguides.net) - Map

Edinburgh, Scotland
Series of Walking Tours (Visit Scotland)

Ghent, Belgium
Historical Monuments of Ghent (Podguides.net) - Map

Glasgow, Scotland
Rough Guide (iToors) - Includes a great indie music walking tour

Kent, England
Sibton Park (Podguides.net) - Map

Las Vegas, USA
City Profile (Budget Travel)

London, England
Rough Guide (iToors)
Garden Trails (Antenna Audio)
House Trails (Antenna Audio)
Neighborhoods (City Profile (Budget Travel)

New York, USA
Metropolitan Museum of Art / Museum of Modern Art (Slate)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
(FIT's Smart History)
Museum of Modern Art (MOMA.org)
Museum of Modern Art (Art Mobs)
Rockefeller Center (Sounds for Sights)

New Zealand
Dozens of Guides for Entire Country (Day Out) - This actually costs a $9 yearly fee, but probably worth it for the quantity of material in here. Most audiotours cost at least $10 per tour.

Opal Coast, France
Podguide (Podguides) - Map

Paris, France
Rough Guide (iToors)
The Louvre (Le Monde) - In french

Prague, Czech Republic
Rough Guide (iToors)

Rome, Italy
The Coliseum, the Pantheon, Circus Maximus (Italy Guides)

Quebec City, Canada
City Profile (Budget Travel)

San Francisco, USA
North Beach, DeYoung Museum, Inner Sunset's 9th Ave (SF Gate)

Santa Monica, USA
Rough Guides (iToors)

Washington DC, USA
DC Memorials (Slate)

An index of museum tourguides is available at Soundwalk has some very interesting tours for new york neighborhoods and other locations, such as India. They are $15, the going rate for audiotours, but focus on unique topics like Bronx Graffiti and DUMBO.

Podcasts & Soundseeing
Two high quality podcasts that focus on many different cities are iPod Traveller and Rick Steve's radio show. Learn Out Loud has a category has a category for travel podcasts and there are a number of good ones.

Soundseeing tours are audio tour that uses the ambient noise and the descriptions by the tour guide to give the listener an accurate depiction of the surroundings. There are many soundseeing podcasts of varying quality. Audiocollective and Soundseeing Tours are two aggregators that identify the best.

iPod Notes
Several sites have used the iPod notes function to create city guidebooks. The WCities guides are very thorough. My City Mate lets you customize the notes - it's also a social networking site that encourages you to add your reviews and create city "tribes" for more tips. IprepPress also created several city guides based upon information from WikiTravel. All of these are free.

Michael Palin's excellent travel books can be read for free on his webpage.

The AllLearn Library Portal

The AllLearn library is the best collection of academic links that I've encountered. Although there are many excellent portals - Merlot, Dept. of Education, Awesome Library - AllLearn posts links carefully selected by "university experts". Because of this, there is less need to filter through numerous links to find substantive resources. AllLearn was a distance learning consortium set-up between Oxford, Stanford, and Yale. There is a notice on the site that AllLearn will be revamping their course offerings this spring.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Peeko Turns Webpages Into Chatrooms

Peeko is a Firefox extension that turns any page into a chatroom. Go on an URL and connect to see who's surfing the same site. While this might lead to frivolous discussions on Britney Spear's parenting skills, Peeko also has the potential to become a very valuable research tool. Textbook Revolution's online textbooks can turn into online discussions. Try Peeko next time you're on MotionMountain, IntroEcon, Light&Matter, the Physical Environment, or Wolfram's Mathworld. You might find a study partner. Also see Yakalike, a similar program.

French Maids Teach You CPR

French Maid TV presents "How To" video podcasts with french maid instructors. Also available, how to make a video podcast.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Princeton WebMedia

Princeton's University Channel is an excellent resource for great lectures and events. But did you know that Princeton has a second massive Webmedia site? Much like Stanford iTunes, Princeton Webmedia focuses on the university - sports, images, events, and speakers. While some topics might not interest non-alumni, the archive contains hundreds of lectures in steaming video.

Flashcard Exchange

By combining tagging, RSS,and AJAX, Flashcard Exchange makes it possible to create, study, and share flashcards in...well, in a flash.

Let's see how they work. I need to learn the color words in Portuguese (azul, vermehlo, etc). Fortunately, someone already made a set of cards on this topic. To practice with the cards, I choose "Study" - the icon with the lightbulb. A flashcard appears on the screen. Pressing "C", advances the cards. I mark my mistakes with "X". If I want to reinforce the words, I can practice more with a game of Memory. After signing in, you can also copy flashcards to the clipboard and save favorite sets for later studying.

Flashcard Exchange has a large archive of already made flashcards, including sets on some tough medical, legal, and philosophical themes (i.e. Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals). Creating new cards only takes a few steps. Updates for tags are broadcast via RSS.

With a one time fee of $16.50 USD, you can get the ability to print and download the cards. If you study a lot on your PDA, it might be worth the investment.

Great Firewall of China

For information on how China blocks certain internet content, see this succinct and articulate Wikipedia article. Benjamin Edelman has also collected links to the many articles that cite his important 2003 Harvard research on Chinese internet filtering. A recent, detailed analysis can be found in this study from The OpenNet Initiative.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Shared Talk

Shared Talk is a language exchange site with over 10,000 members speaking 78 languages. Enter Shared Talk to search for a speaking partner or talk in a chatroom. When I logged on there weren't many people in the chatrooms, but I imagine the site is busier in the evenings. Shared Talk is nicely designed and, as far as I can tell, there's no catch.

For extensive indices of free language courses, see I Love Languages and Word2Word.

Update -
Here's a list of Skype language partners that I previously posted. Two other major language exchange sites are
My Language Exchange and Lingup. Although you can create a free My Language Exchange profile, a paid Gold Account ($6US/month) is needed to contact other members. Lingup has received good press and praise, but I believe there are subscription costs - it's not very clear on the site.