Living free(bie)

Other people follow basketball, golf and football (American or otherwise). Me? I follow the freebies. I take great pride, for example, in my collection of computer T-shirts - all freebies!

t shirts 88 (photo credit: )
t shirts 88
(photo credit: )
There are people who take great pride in the expensive cars they own. There are people who love to show off the fancy clothes they constantly buy. There are people who will, at the drop of a hat, tell you all the boring details of their latest trip to the faraway, exotic and expensive place they just returned from - with the emphasis on "expensive." Buncha snobs, they are, if you ask me. And dumb! Nobody likes a braggart - or a snob - and besides, what's the fun in telling everyone you know how badly you got ripped off? Anybody can pay top dollar for overpriced shmattes; but getting a bargain is something else altogether! I admit it; I'm the ultimate cheapskate. If you can get something just as good for less, then that's the way to go. And if you can get top merchandise on sale or at deep discount, that's the stuff legends are made of, as far as I'm concerned! And the biggest thrill is to get something that should cost money - for nothing! Other people follow basketball, golf and football (American or otherwise). Me? I follow the freebies. I take great pride, for example, in my collection of computer T-shirts - all freebies! Hey, each shirt is five bucks I can use for something else! Here's a good example: Like most independent businesspeople, I have a business card made to my specifications. But unlike most of them, I got mine for free! Thanks to a very cool offer at, anybody can get 250 free business cards in one of several dozen very attractive designs! (Click on the "free business card" link on the left side of the screen.) The freebies are, as you would expect, an advertising gimmick for this print house, but you are under no obligation to order anything else from them (they send out offers about twice a week). The only caveat is that on the back of the card, in extremely small print, there's a line giving the company's Web site address (and you do, of course, pay for shipping, which cost about $5 US last time I ordered; they are printed in Europe). Now, some people would be aghast to give someone a business card that had a line on the back that said "Business cards are FREE at!" But when people compliment me on my business card, I make a point of emphasizing what a great deal I got on them. As regular readers know, I emphasize high-quality freeware and open-source applications in this column. Why pay for something when you can get it just as good for nothing? I practice what I preach, too; wherever possible, I use freeware or open source (i.e. no cost) programs for my own computing needs. I'm using Open Office ( to write this, for example; it's got a feature that lets you save to Microsoft Word format (it also saves to and opens Excel and Powerpoint files). That's $200 more in my pocket for just about the same functionality as Microsoft Office! There are probably lots of people like me out there who don't want to plunk down big bucks for MS Office - but don't want to commit to downloading and installing a major program like Open Office. How do these people write letters? Well, Windows users probably use the built-in Wordpad or Notepad, while Mac and Linux users have their own basic word processors. Wordpad files can of course be opened in Word, but if you're sending out a business letter or a resume, it does leave much to be desired. Is this a case of "you get what you pay for?" Maybe - but there is an on-line alternative that will let you produce beautiful documents with all the gimmicks of a full-fledged word processor - for free! At gOffice, you get all the tools you need to create beautiful PDF documents, on-line. You save the files at the gOffice site, and they are accessible from any computer anywhere in the world. The PDFs can be e-mailed to any address as an attachment, as well. PDFs, of course, are read with Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is present on almost every computer in the world - and certainly any computer an employer would be reading your resume on. PDFs are the closest thing available to a universal file format, allowing anyone to read your document with the fonts, sizes, text, etc. perfectly formatted. You can produce your letter on a colored background and with graphics - and you can even e-mail them a scan of your signature that can be placed on your page! But there's more! The site has dozens of "canned" letters you can use on all sorts of topics, like business agreements, marketing letters, apology letters, etc. You can not only e-mail files; you can also fax them, and even send them by regular surface mail to any address in the US - for free! In other words, not only do you get a free word processor, you save money on the paper, ink, envelope and postage stamp! I sent myself a letter to a relative's address in the US - and when they get it and ship it over to me, I'm going to frame it; it'll remind me that searching for freebies really pays off! gOffice ( is free for PCs and Macs. [email protected]