University libraries that anyone can use

22 06 2011

I just came across this list of university libraries from around the world that anyone can access and had to share it. An amazing list of resources I never knew were available!.


Free stuff

12 05 2011


Just in case anyone hasn’t come across it, I thought I’d make a quick mention of Freecycle. Here’s the description from the Freecycle website:

Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,944 groups with 8,449,161 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

Free Books

Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few people looking for books in my local Freecycle group. I find that I have more books than I can possibly read available for free, so I thought it would be worth sharing that information too.

Local libraries

Until recently, I hadn’t visited a public library in 10-15 years. I was very much impressed by the quality of service on offer. I was registered and issued with a card and PIN very quickly, which allows me to use the reference library, withdraw books, DVDs, CDs, audio books etc, access the catalogue from home and request books, extend loans and make suggestions for new resources. I can also now log in to the e-Library and download e-Books and audio books in a variety of formats for a range of devices.

Google Books

Google Books offer quite a range of e-Books. Some are free and some paid. They can be downloaded or read online.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg offers over 33,000 e-Books to read online or download in a range of file formats. There are also human- and computer-read audio books. Additionally, there is a range of digitised sheet music, although this project is currently dormant. has just under 4,000 audio books available for download. The books have been read by volunteers and can be downloaded as MP3 or ogg vorbis files. is another site with free audio books. It is run by a group based in Mexico. is another free audio book site.


It seems to have become standard that people expect to have to pay for computer software. In fact, there is a vast array of free software available, ranging from computer operating systems to smartphone apps.


According to wikipedia:

Linux […] refers to the family of Unix-like computer operating systems using the Linux kernel. Linux can be installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from mobile phones, tablet computers and video game consoles, to mainframes and supercomputers. Linux is a leading server operating system, and runs the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world.

What does that mean? It means that, rather than paying for Windows or Mac OS on your computer, you can run a free Linux operating system instead. Linux tends to be less resource-hungry than other operating systems and can give an older computer, struggling to run the latest version of Windows, a new lease of life. As it is less widely-used, there tend to be fewer virus targetting it than Windows and updates are issued frequently due to the fact that it’s community-driven and people all around the world are contributing.

Personally, I run Ubuntu on my laptop. From beginning the installation, my laptop was up and running and connected to the internet within two hours. I didn’t need to install hardware drivers once the operating system was installed – it was just ready to go. I have not found anything that I have been unable to do with it. is a free suite of office applications, compatible with the pricey Microsoft Office. It is also very useful for recovering corrupt Microsoft Office documents, which Microsoft products can no longer open.


Free anti-virus, anti-malware, firewalls and anti-spyware software are available, negating the need for expensive and resource-intensive products such as Norton Internet Security.

Books and brandy snaps

4 05 2011

I had a spectacularly unproductive day yesterday. Today’s been much better. I did a couple of loads of dishes this morning and a few other jobs round the house, then went into town at lunch time. I very rarely go in – I could count the times I’ve been in the last two years on my hands. It was surprisingly nice, though, even though it was lunch time. I went and re-registered with the library and had a good browse. I ended up bringing seven books home with me. My library card will also get me free entry to a couple of the local museums and discounted parking, amongst other things, so I think it’s well worth the £2 that I paid for the ‘special’ card (library-only cards are free). I then went and picked up some knitting supplies and came home.

Since I got in, I’ve been attempting to make brandy snaps. The entire first batch got so stuck to the tray that I ended up immersing the whole lot in boiling water and detergent to get them off. Following this disaster, I only put two in the second batch. With the second and subsequent batches, I found that I can scrape them off the tray if I do it the second they come out of the oven, so they’re just kind of lumps and don’t really resemble brandy snaps. They taste fine, but have set so hard it’s only possible to suck them! My guess is that they could have done with a little less sugar, but any feedback would be brilliant. Here’s the recipe I used:

  1. Melt 2oz butter and stir in 2oz golden syrup and 2oz caster sugar
  2. Remove from heat and stir in 2oz plain flour and 1 tsp ground ginger
  3. Put small dollops 3″ apart on a greased baking tray and bake at 200C for 10 minutes
  4. Allow to cool for 1 – 2 mins before removing from tray (I’m skipping this and scraping them off immediately!)

This is batch one, overcooked and stuck to the tray!

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