Sunday, 4 December 2005

Mousetrap - 30

All for you
The Free Site
Long years ago – like maybe ten – The Free Site was a beacon of hope for this impoverished writer. I outfitted my system with all manner of software found here. Web veterans know, of course, that there’s a lot of free stuff available, if you know where to look. (No, we’re not talking cracked programs or bootleg mp3s, we mean genuinely free.) For the newbie, this is a great place to start looking. You’ll find games, graphics, web space, add-ons for your cellphone, tech support, useful little apps, even links to other free listings. Consider this a thank you for your coming to the party we have with this column. Your "return gift," if you will. Enjoy! Yeah, we’re cheap.

What’s the opposite of “upgrade?”
If you’ve used a computer for a while, chances are that you have also upgraded software fairly often, usually for the better. Sometimes, though, you land up with an app that is worse than its predecessor: bloatware with bells and whistles that confuse even your friendly neighbourhood geek, or it’s spiked with spyware that reports back to it maker using your bandwidth, or maybe you have an older computer whose OS or hardware don’t support the upgrade. You want the older version back, but unless you have the original install set stowed away safe, you’re out of luck – most companies don’t keep old versions available. You rage, but you can do nothing. Or so you thought. Head over here. The programs available aren’t too many at the moment, but the site is also looking for donations. So if you have old versions stored somewhere, you could give something back to the world.

Found in translation
Cipher Journal
The web is a helpful place when it comes to helping you understand other languages. Automated translators, freely available, can give you the gist without too much pain. But without the flavour, the nuances that only a professional equally at home on both languages can provide. This site aims believes that translation inspires better literature, and it publishes “creative works of art & literature that call attention to the process of translation. We will also include reviews of translated literature—both new and old—with a special emphasis on the merits of the translation.” What’s available online thus far isn’t, um, voluminous, but it should be site worth watching.

For the varlets
Shakespearean Insulter
Hast thou need of oaths with which to insult thy workmates and boon companions? Hie thee post haste, then, to this most excellent webbe syte, and enlist, to your task, the Barde himself. Point thou thy pointing device at the gray buttone, and thou will be served up fare such as this: “You starvelling, you eel-skin, you dried neat's-tongue, you bull's-pizzle, you stock-fish--O for breath to utter what is like thee!-you tailor's-yard, you sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck!” Fare thee well.


Blog of the week

There was a blogger from Kolkata...
In the blog world, everyone’s searching for new ways to find readers. This blogger has found her niche with her takes on news items, all in limerick form. Worth a visit just for the interesting links she dredges up, just in case limericks aren’t your thing. And no, the fact that she mentioned this column in one of her posts has nothing to do with it featuring here. Really.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 4th December, 2005.

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