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Posts Tagged ‘free

Born free. Became expensive.

No, I do not work for free.

No, I will not endorse your product or service.

No, you cannot expect handouts all the time.

I have been approached by various agencies over many channels to give free advice, to share professional connections, and to embed third party offerings like “infographics” into my blog.

To them I say: You do not work for free, so why are you expecting me to? Not convinced? Refer to the pick-my-brain section of my contact page.

While I share some of my thoughts and musings daily and openly in my blog, this does not mean that I offer all of my professional services and distilled wisdoms for free. These took time and failed efforts to build up and learn from.

I do not work for free.

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Vendors often want my advice for free. I take pains to contextualise instead of generalise. What I offer is a distillation of wisdoms that combine critical practice, reviewed research, and reflection that is both wide and deep.

Try putting a price on that.

Vendors also want my connections for free. They want me to put them in touch with “sure things”. I have built connections and nurtured relationships with time and trust. They want my endorsement, but what they risk is my reputation.

Try putting a price on that.

Overall vendors want my time for free or on the cheap. You would not expect anyone else who does any kind of work — from a doctor to a janitor — to do their job for free or for something below their worth.

Before you ask me for my advice, my recommendations, or my time, consider what those are worth and what I am worth. I am professional and I ask you to be one too.

Thanks to this LifeHacker article, I found out that that I did not have to wait for Microsoft to let me know when my lone PC could have its free Windows 10 update. (The PC is surrounded by Macs and already suffering from an inferiority complex.)

The article recommends doing this:

  1. Back up your data.
  2. Download and run Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool.
  3. Select the “Upgrade This PC” option.
  4. Let the upgrade happen.

As with most things, the process was not as simple as described.

For example, when running the Media Creation Tool, I first had to know if my PC had the 32 or 64-bit version of Windows. I also ran into the vague “Something Happened” error message and the upgrade process stopped dead.

To counter the Something Happened error message, redditors suggested installing all existing Windows Updates first. They also said that changing the default language to US English would help.

My system already had the latest patches so I changed the default language to US English and the upgrade went through its paces.

So here is my suggested sequence to get the free Windows 10 upgrade now instead of waiting in line.

  1. Back up your data.
  2. Install all windows patches by running Windows Update in the Control Panel.
  3. If necessary, change the default language to US English.
    • Control Panel > Region and Language > Administrative tab > Change System Locale > English (United States)
  4. Check the bit version of Windows (keyboard shortcut: Windows key + Pause/Break).
  5. Download the correct bit version of Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool and run it.
  6. Select the “Upgrade This PC” option.
  7. After the upgrade downloads, the tool will ask you what settings you want to keep. Make your selection.
  8. Let the upgrade happen.

I have a very fast Internet connection so the downloading did not take long.

It was the upgrading that took a while. Step 8 took about 90 minutes from the time I made the selection in step 7 and left the device to itself. I had enough time to potter around, leave home to run an errand at a mall, and return home to see that the process was still at 92%.

Happy skipping!

The Straits Times had a report on Coursera, a joint venture by five universities in the USA that will offer courses for free. The original reports was from Reuters.

Here is the ST attempting to provide a balanced perspective by highlighting a disadvantage of the programme:

Here is the Reuters original:

For whatever reason, ST decided to end the article on a negative note. I guess it is entitled to.

But if you remember basic cognitive psychology, you might recall that people tend to remember beginnings and endings, not bits in the middle. So the subtle message ST sends is: There are free online courses, but they are not as good as what you might get face-to-face.

I would flip Winckler’s argument. How about considering the forms of collaboration and collaborative learning that take place online that cannot or do not happen face-to-face? How about the sheer relevance of these sorts of collaboration today and tomorrow?

But I do not have to convince Winckler since Reuters reported that he considers the free courses rigorous enough for his students. I might have to convince those who read the ST article and did not bother to get a second opinion.

The phrase above has been attributed to Gina Trapani in the context of social productivity.

It’s arguably also the context for Seth Godin’s free e-book, What Matters Now.

The short book is essentially a mash-up of the thoughts of over 70 thinkers of our time. You can also read the book in the Slideshare embedded above.

Want to read (or listen to) a book titled “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” by Chris Anderson for free?

Then head on down to The Long Tail.

I mentioned in an earlier entry how schools in Singapore might equip all students with low cost netbooks. Other than a secure wireless network and perhaps projectors, that should handle most of the hardware needs.

The next need is software. Instead of paying for licensed software or pirating, schools and individuals could rely on free or open source software. (We just need to learn that free does not mean poor quality!)

For information retrieval and communication, users can rely on alternative Web browsers like Firefox and Opera, email clients like Thunderbird, Web-based email like Gmail, and cross-provider instant messengers like Trillian (PC) or Adium (Mac).

I highly recommend Firefox because 1) it is updated more often than MS Internet Explorer, 2) it is more customisable, and 3) you can install an extension called Ad-block that can remove image, iframe, and Flash ads. This last affordance is critical if we want to reduce the likelihood of students being distracted or led astray. As for email, the Gmail has secure options at the levels of login, usage and transmission.

To create content, there are Open Office (to replace the MS Office suite), GIMP (to replace Adobe Photoshop), and an assortment of Web 2.0 tools. In fact, almost the entire office suite is available in stripped-down versions by Google (Documents, Presentations, Spreadsheets). Those who need to make technical or three-dimensional drawings can use Google SketchUp. Let’s not forget the range of online mind or concept mapping tools or the standalone Cmap.

I think the future lies in creating content online and there are many Web 2.0 tools to do this. Think of free blogs, wikis, photo hosting sites, video-hosting sites, podcasting sites, social networking sites, etc. And there are free RSS aggregators to monitor all that is going on at these sites.

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