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Feb 2

10 Free Online Resources to Improve Your Writing | Interesting Literature

Posted on Monday, February 2, 2015 in Writing links

Check them out here.

Apr 11

Alternatives to Google, Facebook, Windows Live,Yahoo…

Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 in Other

Time for an updated post about some great alternatives to the big players on the internet. I like them. You might not even be looking for any, but if you do or if you’re just looking for something new, you might find something interesting here.


Ixquick  – (available in many languages)


Gmx (free, quite a lot of space and other cool features)  (quite good email service, imap, not pop in the free version)
Icerocket  (ok web email)  (powered by the same service as GMX) (for those of us who care about animals)


Jabber info (for the computer or smartphone – use Adium for the computer or IM+  on your phone)
Touch (for your smartphone)

Photo Album



Care2 (free donations, petitions, e-cards…)
Goodreads  (book community)

Blog/Tumblelog, (available in English and many other languages)
Dreamwidth (blog community like Livejournal – just as fan fiction friendly)
Soup (if you have Tumblr or any of a number of other webb services you can set up an automatic import)

Dec 5

Free library books online

Posted on Sunday, December 5, 2010 in Books, Other

Since I found out that library books are available as free downloads here in Sweden, I’ve wanted to try. For various reasons, I’d really prefer not to have to go to the library and pick up actual books (though when it comes to buying new copies at the book store, it’s the other way around.)

Anyway, last night I decided to have a go. I did a search for a couple of mysteries I’ve wanted to read, but not felt able to buy – a combination of lack of money and doubts about the quality of those books – and found five titles. I thought ‘Great!’.

Most of the books were supposedly available in several different formats, including mobi and epub. I’d read that you could download the books from your computer to a portable device (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, any kind of e-book reader…). That’s interesting, even though I don’t own any such device, not personally. However, it was soon evident that all those symbols next to the title didn’t mean a thing. Adobe Digital Edition was the only software that worked. It gets worse.

I typed in my library card number and borrowed the first book on my list. So far, so good. I checked that I could at least open it on the computer and I could. Then I went on to the next two books and unfortunately, I got them in the reverse order of publication. When I’d finished the download of book nr 2 in the series, I get an error message saying I can only download three books in a seven day period. Three? I looked over the download window and the file where the books were saved. No. Just two. But the site was convinced. I’d already downloaded my three books. Since I refuse to read book 2 in a series before book 1, for all intents and purposes, I only got one book out of the whole frustrating experience. Three books might have been enough for seven days, one definitely isn’t.

Then my sister tried to transfer the book to her iPhone, just to see if it could be done and – to make a long story short – it couldn’t. Well, to be clear, it could be transferred, but then it couldn’t be opened. She went to check on the newspaper article where we’d found out about electronic book borrowing, and eventually found a couple of solutions that were supposedly going to work. Again, to make a long story short, neither of them did.

By that time, I was beginning to regret thinking of this idea in the first place, but at least I’ll now be able to read book three in a series where I’ve actually read books 1 and 2. And I’ll be able to try again in seven days time.

All this has also given me food for thought.

After our successful experiment with the Kindle, I had begun to plan ahead to a time when I’ll be able to afford an e-book reader and/or an iPod Touch or possibly an iPad. Now I’m wondering if I should bother. I love the Kindle. I’m sure I’d like the iPod Touch and the iPad, but would I actually have any real use for them?

I’m a book lover first and foremost even if I do love a shiny gadget, but the way I see it, I’d primarily be getting the e-book reader so I can download all those free books from Project Gutenberg and similar sites. I don’t see myself spending any money on new e-books. For one, they’re actually a lot more expensive than a paperback, and as far as I can understand, I won’t be able to read my free downloads on the Kindle. Secondly,  in my opinion, nothing beats the feeling of holding a ‘real’, printed paper book in my hands.

I could get an iPod Touch when my old iPods (very old) stop working, which might be relatively soon, judging by the time it takes to charge them and how long they last before the next charge. But if I can’t even read my library books on it, maybe it won’t be worth it. As it happens, I really prefer listening to something with better sound quality. I’m not into taking all kinds of gadgets along when I go out. It’s just not worth it.

Maybe I should just be grateful I’m leaning towards an option that will save me a lot of money, but somehow that doesn’t seem very cheering. At this time I could really use some cheering up.

Oh, well, I should probably just wait and see. For all I know, my financial situation could change in the near future and then I could take the whole thing under consideration again.

Oct 15

Papers or trash?

Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 in Other

My mom loves to read the morning papers. The paper editions, not the online versions. Since I’m frequently bored, I usually read them too, but I’m not nearly as enthusiastic. Why? There are several reasons, actually. One: it wastes enormous amounts of paper, kills trees and contributes to the destruction of our forests. Besides, in the morning it’s news, in the evening it’s trash. Another reason is that there are all these supplements. Some – like the one about culture – are fine, but the majority – about cars, buying homes, sports etc – are just trash, right away. Worthless spam that my mom has to pay for. That’s why I really like the online versions better. I get to read what I’m interested in and I can leave the rest. Except for the ads, that slow the site down until they drive me crazy, but that’s another story…

Feb 25

Adventures in 3D land

Posted on Sunday, February 25, 2007 in Other

Ok. I’ll admit it. That title – I just made it up because it looks cool. So far I haven’t had any adventures of any kind in 3D land. Not that I want to. That kind of adventure.

Let’s start at the beginning. Last summer I let myself be talked into joining Second Life. My sister was already hooked and she thought I’d like it too. In a way, I did. It’s a fantastic 3D environment. Better than any other attempt I’ve seen in the nine years I’ve been online. What’s missing is some content.

I’m not Bob the Builder. I’m not there to look for sexual contacts either. What else is there? Well, according to my sister, who is the only one I know in there, you can chat. Socialize. Like in any other social networking community. There are even groups, for people with all kinds of interests.

So I joined them. There were actually groups for most of the things I’m interested in. Unfortunately, that didn’t help at all. They seem too haphazard and vague for me. Or maybe it’s just that it’s hard to fit in. The people in those groups are presumably already friends. Maybe it’s my shy Scandinavian temperament. Who knows? In any case it didn’t help.

Supposedly, there are also all kinds of ‘real life’ events too. Concerts. Pub performances. Even online courses or lectures arranged by respectable universities. Lately, Sweden, yeah, that’s right, my country, has started a cultural embassy inside the virtual community.

So far though, I haven’t found my place in there.

What I have done, which I’ve enjoyed enormously, is create my avatar. It’s more fun than you might think. Certainly more fun than I expected. In real life I’m nobody’s fashion freak. In Second Life makeovers are a breeze. You just go shopping for new hair, new clothes, even new skins and shapes.

Shopping… Well, as you know there are women who love shopping then there are others who don’t. I belong in the latter category. Unless you let me loose in a bookstore with lots of spending money, shopping simply doesn’t appeal to me. I guess I’m too much of a tomboy at heart. Tech stuff is nice too, if even more expensive. Other than that, I just can’t stand shopping sprees.

In Second Life it’s just so much easier and practical. Unfortunately, it’s just as expensive and being the cheap weirdo that I am, I absolutely refuse to ‘buy’ Lindens – the currency, not the founders… Not sure if those are for sale… LOL.

That brings me to the most typical aspect of Second Life. Money. Business. People actually run businessed in there. Make believe businesses, selling make believe stuff. Believe it or not, someone’s actually become a real life millionaire selling (or rather speculating in) land.

I’ve been forced to learn new ways of making money. Being who I am, I absolutely refuse to join the sex industry. When it comes to sex, I’d rather buy than sell. Just kidding. About the buying part, not about the selling part. That’s my final word. Fortunately, there are a few more ways of making money.

So now I’ve become a professional dancer. LOL. No, not quite, but I do ‘camp’ for Lindens. Most addicts (did I say addicts? Slip of the tongue). Most residents frown on that, but camping is available and so I camp to make money. I sit in a chair or I dance. As simple as that. Of course you don’t make much and there are many pitfalls and hangups. You can get logged out. Some camping providers (is that the word, SL:ers?) kick you out on purpose so you have to pay a little fee to start over again. If you’re not careful you end up losing money instead of making it.

Anyway, let’s say I have a little hard earned cash. I head for the luxurious stores. In Second Life shopping really is a pleasure. You can walk around those endless halls, gazing at the merchandise hanging on the walls. Once you’ve found what you’re looking for (and being me, I’m extremely picky) you click on the item you’ve chosen and voilà ! You’ve bought it.

One of the worst aspects of Second Life is that it can be extremely sexist. I’m not going to get into the more ‘adult’ examples of this. Suffice it to say that the female apparel is slutty. There’s no other word for it. You’re expected parade your poor avatar around half-naked. Not me. Not this girl.

There. Enough for now. This is the end of my (possibly first) report from 3D land.

Feb 3

Studying Languages

Posted on Saturday, February 3, 2007 in Humanities

I love to learn new languages or work on the ones I already know a little. Unfortunately, apart from Swedish (naturally) and English, it’s quite hard to get practice. You really should go to the country where the language is spoken, and preferably for a long time – six months, a year, or more. If you can’t do that – and I can’t and I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to – there are some other things you can do.

Almost every day I read the news online. Not just ordinary daily news, but about all the other things I’m interested in. When it’s possible, I try to read the news in as many languages as possible. For instance, I get my daily news stories from a site called EuroNews. There I can read the same news story in French, Spanish, Italian and German. That helps a lot and if I need more help, I use an online service, like Altavista Babelfish.

Technology news and ecology news are trickier. Those are just two of the things I’m interested. Usually, I can only get those news stories in my two first languages. When I can, I try to get those stories in French and possibly Spanish – my two “second best” languages. That doesn’t mean I like some languages more than others. It’s just that these are the ones I’m a little better at, than German and Italian.

Another thing I do, is read books. So far, that’s only in French. I try to get a good book I’d like to read and then I buy it in French. In fact, I don’t think the series of mysteries I’m into now have even been translated into Swedish, and most likely not into English either.

Last year or the year before, I found out that a Chinese book I wanted to read was only available in one Western language. Fortunately for me, that language was French. That gave me the opportunity to read the book and practice one of my languages at the same time.

One of the best things you can do – other than staying in the country where the language is spoken or talking to a native speaker – is chatting or emailing with a native speaker, or posting at some online message board or forum or in an internet group. For a while, I had the opportunity to chat with a Frenchman. That was really useful. I could use expressions that were a little more difficult than I usually dared to, because I got instant feedback. If I was searching for a word, I could ask him. Of course, emailing is good too. You’ll need to use a dictionary, but it’s probably best if you can express yourself at least on a basic level without help. It’s more difficult if you need to use the dictionary all the time.

Of course, you might ask yourself what possible use I could have for my studies. In strictly utilitarian/economical terms probably not. I’m not planning on moving to another country, though I used to think about that a lot, some years ago. It’s possible that I might get a job here in Sweden, where I’d get to use some of my languages. Of course, I’d need to be completely fluent. I’m only fluent in English (and Swedish), not any of the other languages. Not yet anyway.

What I’d really like is to become a translator, but that’s not going to happen. I write books in Swedish and English, but I doubt if I’ll ever be able to write that well in any of the other languages.

Despite that, I think my language studies are ‘useful’. At least it keeps my brain active. Besides, it’s a lot of fun. Nowadays, there isn’t much I find ‘fun’, but reading, writing and using languages in some way, really are.

Reading about history is another thing I enjoy. Reading – not studying. Music is another of my interests, but the only reason I mention that here, is that listening to music can actually help you with your language studies.

When you listen to a song, you can try to translate the lyrics inside your head. Music is an aspect of a country’s culture, so by listening, you might learn something about the country where the language is spoken.

These are just a few things you can do to practice your languages. None of this is very expensive. If you can’t afford to or don’t have the time to travel, you can try doing what I do. Of course, that only works when you’re not a complete beginner. On the other hand, there are supposed to be excellent online courses or courses on CD:s and DVD:s, but that will be a lot more expensive.


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