New stuff on the Net for nix

The trick is to tune out all the promotional chatter and get to the valuable stuff quickly. But to find the good giveaways, you often have to waste time rummaging through heaps of ill conceived, poorly executed and just plain useless stuff. In fact, we did a fair bit of slogging to find the items listed here. This time around, we searched for innovative or little-known free stuff that leverages the Net's strengths of interactivity and multimedia capabilities.

Looking forward

What's next for free Web services? The latest trend is "trading up", which happens when you upgrade the basic service - enlarging your e-mail inbox, say - in exchange for a small fee or for signing up friends. Some services will let you opt out of ads this way. In general, though, free Web sites will remain advertising-driven, making them better suited to home users.

Keep in mind that today's free Web services may be too expensive tomorrow. Fortunately, competition in the free online service market is fierce, so if your favourite site suddenly starts asking for money, feel free to go elsewhere.

FREE SITES AND SERVICES

FREEWARE

Ram charger

Open sesame

COMMUNICATION FACILITATORS

Fight for your right to e-party

Making a list

Who loves ya, baby?

HEALTH

Medicine man

Survive and thrive

REFERENCE AND DO-IT-YOURSELF TIPS

Hail, Britannica

Learn your lesson

Mystery solved

Home repair helpers

PHONE AND MAIL

See me, hear me

GAMES AND ENTERTAINMENT

Interactive sports

Coming soon to a PC near you

All trivia, all the time

FREE SUPPORT

Intro

A gathering at the forum

Do your own background check

Usenet newsgroups

Knowledge base abyss

PCs and Windows

Applications

Peripherals

BEYOND FREE E-MAIL

Intro

E-mail

Add a security blanket to free e-mail

PIMs

Web hosting

Web storage and backup

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