FREE STUFF ALERT: I've been meaning to do this for some time, but other things just seemed to be more interesting to write about. This time around I'm gonna give you information on places you can set up free web pages, as well as some resources for free e-mail. Shortly before I began this month's column I got an e-mail from Rob Banks who runs Punkweb (http://www.punkweb.com) telling me that he was offering free web space to "DIY/Punk bands, labels, zines, and whatever". Boy was his timing good. This is an ideal situation - free web space provided by a punk for punks. Go to his sight and e-mail him about it. Also at punk-web is the home page for Houston's THE HATES, and PITSLIME webzine, both of which are worth looking at (there may be an interview with yours truly at Pitslime soon, so there's a GREAT reason to check it out (heh)).
Except for Punkweb, using sites that offer free web space or e-mail open you up to getting a ton of junk e-mail trying to sell you various things. Some of the e-mail programs even put advertisements on every message you receive. Even if you are bombarded with crap you don't want, at least you're getting this stuff for free. Just don't buy anything they try to sell you.
One of the most popular sites with free web space is Geocities (http://www.geocities.com). Geocities pretty much gives you free reign to do whatever you want on your web page, as long as it doesn't take up more than 2 megs of space. That means there little room for sound files, but plenty of room for text and perhaps a few pictures. Geocities even has an easy homepage setup utility so that you don't need to know how to do HTML to put one together. Once you have a website, you can also get a free e-mail account. As far as I can tell, there are no hidden charges, but they do say that they prefer you don't use your website purely for commercial purposes.
Another free web page service is Hong Kong Cyber City (http://www.cybercity.hko.net/) which offers 5 megs of free web space, with the only requirements being that the page must be personal or non-profit in nature, and you have to provide a link on your page to the main Cyber City web page, so that they can attract paying customers. That seems like a pretty good deal to me.
A couple of other pages that give free web space are Phrantic's Trailerpark (http://trailerpark.com/) who give you 3 megs, and EZPage (http://www.ezpage.com/) - though I'm not sure how much space they give you, or what restrictions they have. In addition, you can check at Serge's directory of free homepages to find other new homepage hosts. Serge's is at http://www.california.com/~sgeler/ .
Free e-mail services are the worst offenders when it comes to advertising. They will bombard you with crap if you sign up for their services. Also, in most cases, they don't have a dial-up number, so you will still need to have access via an internet service provider, who will probably already have provided you with e-mail. Anyway, if you want to check some of them out, then try Juno at http://www.juno.com/, or Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com .
At least two other options for free net access are out there. One of those is the Freenets and Community Nets, which are usually non-profit and may charge a small lifetime set-up fee. A good list of freenets are found at http://duke.usask.ca/~scottp/free.html , so check those out. Also, if you're a good little consumer, you might try Free Ride (http://www.freeride.com) which offers free net access for proofs of purchase from your favorite consumer goods. I don't know how much you have to buy to get access, but it might be worth your while if you buy lots of junk, or still live with your parents.
After your finished putting together your new website, and using your free e-mail to tell me about what you've done, then spend some time and check out these nifty punk links. First off is House of the Rising Punk, which I first told you of about a year ago. Well, it is still going strong, but with a new URL. Robert McBrady has put together a great link resource with thousands of links to bands, scenes, labels, distros, etc and a whole bunch of sound files. It is definitely a good starting place if you are looking for a punk rock net junk. You can find House of the Rising Punk at http://www.oringswest.com/punk/ .
Another decent site, but one that could use some more work and some fine tuning is Razors in the Night (http://www.users.interport.net/~sed/) Sed has put together a page of links, some personal rants, and other stuff, but is supposedly going to revamp the entire site by the time you read this. We'll see what happens, but check it out anyway, if you've got the free time.
I ran into this site by accident, but it looks like it would be a pretty good resource for someone who wants to put out their own record or learn how to book their own tour but has no idea where to begin. The site is called the Indie Centre (http://www.csd.net/~muji/indiecentre.html) and contains a question and answer section, some articles on DIY subjects, and an electronic version of the Simple Machine Record guide to starting a label. This is an especially good resource for those of you out in the middle of nowhere who think you can't possibly do it yourself.
Well, I gotta run, things are still kinda hectic around the new house, with stuff still in boxes and laying around in piles. I need to revamp my web pages, but as always you can still find my stuff on them at http://www.primenet.com/~hanford/maximum.html , or you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, drop me a line the old fashioned way at PO Box 8059, Santa Cruz, CA 95061. See ya.
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