By Wil Fulton
The wunderkinds over on reddit took a break from uncracked safes and banana-based measurements to post a mega-thread addressing the best of the best of all things free on the interwebs, and I couldn't help but share some of the highlights with you all. If you're savvy, you might recognize a few of these bad boys already, but don't spoil the Supermarket Sweep-style fun for the rest of us, OK?1. COLLEGE COURSES, NO TUITION
Is the fear of smothering, unbearable student debt steering you away from the path of higher education? Class Central exposes hundreds of online class courses from the likes of Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, without that pesky tuition nonsense. This means you can educate yourself in subjects like Molecular Biology, Advanced Operating Systems, or The Rise Of Superheroes And Their Impact On Pop Culture. It's all the information you need to become a fully functional adult in today's global economy, without the loans, leftover futons, and career-debilitating Facebook photo rolls.
2. SELF-DESTRUCTING EMAIL ADDRESSES
With 10 Minute Mail, you can create an extremely temporary email address that will automatically self-destruct in 10 minutes, allowing you to sign up for sites, lists, and deals without the unbearable spam cannon that normally accompanies your quiet compliance. Also good for anonymous threats and insults to friends/family members. Not that I'd do that, of course.
3. AMBIENT SOUNDS FOR ANY OCCASION
If you simply can't work/sleep/make love without some kind of comforting white noise cascading over your eardrums, A Soft Murmur has you covered with all the classic ambient noises, and the somewhat odd ability to play a bunch of them at once. DJ Careless Whisper? You had me at "singing bowl" and "fire."4. LEARN EVERY LANGUAGE ON EARTH
If you've ever felt devastatingly isolated at your Swedish cousin's wedding to her Argentinean lover in Seoul (due to the triple language barrier), Duolingo might be right for you. Touted as the free Rosetta Stone—and some consider it to be even better—Duolingo softens the blow of learning another language by taking the pressure off your wallet. You'll be ordering with cultural authenticity at Taco Bell en un santiamén, muchacho.5. UNLIMITED ACCESS TO A MEGA-LIBRARY OF DOCUMENTARIES
Documentaries have been experiencing a recent boom thanks to their accessibility on Netflix, but one can only watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi so many times, and there's no chance in hell I'm buying a DVD again. With Documentary Heaven, you have access to an endless river of reality piping through your computer monitor, like trout swimming upstream during their annual mating season (watch the documentary, you'll see what I mean).
6. SOMEONE TO SPILL YOUR GUTS TO
Everyone needs somebody, sometime—as Dean Martin once famously crooned, and most of the time, you don't have the funds or time to drop on a therapist or high-end escort. Welcome to 7 Cups of Tea, a completely free way to connect live with a "listener," with a bounty of free counseling options available. It's all anonymous too, so you don't have to worry about any of your dirty little secrets becoming public. What an age to be alive.
7. AUTOMATIC ALERTS OR ACTIONS FOR EVERYTHING YOU CARE ABOUT
While it's been notorious on the Internet for quite some time, If This, Then That is one of those sites that's bound to blow up one day (in a good way). Once you log in, you can create a "recipe," programming an alert or action that will happen anytime two correlating actions occur on the web. For instance, you can automatically push photos posted on your Facebook to a secure Dropbox, the second they are posted. Or, have an email sent to you anytime someone mentions "Cat," "Shaving," and "Wanted by Authorities" on all your local news sites. The possibilities are endless.
8. FREE USED SH*T
Craigslist, the domain of questionable career opportunities as well as questionable sexual opportunities, has become a digital smorgasbord of totally free sh*t. If you select your appropriate region, you’ll see a “Free” section under the “For Sale” category (confusing, I know) chock-full to the innuendo-soaked rim with perfectly good items folks are just begging to give away. Check out what you can snag sans payment in NYC alone. Pro Tip: Avoid any cloth-based furniture (for obvious, soiled reasons) as well as any intimate products, also for obvious reasons.
9. OLD-SCHOOL VIDEO GAMES
For my generation, some of the best childhood memories consist of gathering around a glowing TV screen, slowing rotting our minds with video games while vehemently ignoring the shining sun and temperate climate outside. Man, those were the days. For a quick blast of nostalgia to the face, hit up this SNES, NES, and SEGA emulator to relive your pasty glory years. All you have to worry about is your boss catching you playing Castlevania in between TPS reports. Unless you don’t have a job. Then you probably shouldn't be playing SNES emulators, anyway.
10. ALL THE FONTS YOU COULD EVER WANT
Normally, finding the right font for your situation isn't a huge problem. But that's probably because you don't know the dizzying heights design has reached in recent years. You are in for the shock of a lifetime, pal, because Lost Type has you covered from stylized head to sans-serif toe. With psychoactive billboard sets and funkadelic superfly stylings, your eyes will be widened to the magical world of spectacular fonts, all free to use in any way you wish. But please, type responsibly.
11. PHOTO EDITING WITH PANACHE
For those who want their photos to shine a little bit brighter or to casually drop themselves into Ariana Grande’s vacation pics (no judging), but balk at the big bucks for Photoshop, the photo editing app Pixlr is available for your computer and smartphone for the low price of absolutely nothing. Though it doesn’t have the absurd level of customization and features that Photoshop so smugly touts, it's a very serviceable application for amateur to mid-level Instagrammers who are sick of using Valencia as a crutch.
12. PILES AND PILES OF VALUABLE COUPONS
This is extremely relevant for those who not only want free swag, but want their free swag to turn into other free swag. RetailMeNot is an aggregate of comped codes, coupons, and other door-busting deals for both online services and brick & mortar outfits—with offerings varying from H&M to Domino's. So, you can get those organ-constricting skinny jeans on the cheap, with money left over to get cheese-soaked, grease-stuffed sugar sticks to ensure you will never fit in them again.
13. MANAGE YOUR FINANCES AND YOUR FUTURE
Living paycheck to paycheck? Can't afford to buy milk for your nonexistent cereal? Is your life literally crashing down around you as we speak? The sleek, financial management site Mint is a payment-free resource that allows you to check your credit, pay bills, and manage your bank accounts on a safe, well-designed platform. It will pretty much handle everything that has to do with your hard-earned bacon, aside from actually earning it for you. Still waiting for that upgrade, slackers...
14. HELP FEED THE WORLD
Meet the only thing on this list ideal for those instances when you are trying to actually give the world something, instead of just reaping the bounty of comped items and services like a cyber-glutton. With Freerice, you can exercise your noggin and help feed hungry humans all over the world, without sparing a dime. The site presents you with a series of questions in subjects like English grammar and basic chemistry, and for every correct answer, the World Food Programme will donate 10 grains of rice to the global cause. You can rack up the grains pretty quickly, though -- and all for a worthwhile cause. It's trivia that can make an actual difference. Unlike Trivial Pursuit, which just tears families apart. Trust me, I haven't spoken to my sister in years. Denise, if you're reading this, please call me.
All images courtesy of Shutterstock unless noted otherwise.