As the title says, today I’m going to introduce two free programs you might not know about, and then talk about two free chess sites that those of you who like playing chess might enjoy, and I’ll have something else for you at the end.

The first is a free PDF program called doPDF. Obviously what it lets you do is print pdf files from any program on your computer. I’d been looking for one of these for a long time, because the one I had was free as long as you wanted to look at an ad every time you created a pdf. That wouldn’t have been so bad, except it opened up IE every single time, and if I was creating a bunch of pdfs, or needed to make corrections on one, that just got tiring after awhile. Anyway, there are no frills with the program, but at least it lets you save your pdf wherever you want to.

The next program is something from a company called Brothersoft. The program is called Convert MP4 to MP3. Plain and simple, that’s also what it does. Once again this was something I’d been looking for. Through a script from Greasemonkey, which you can use with Firefox, I can actually download movies in an MP4 format from YouTube. However, many times I’m downloading the video because I really want the song, and I’d been wanting to add those songs to my music database. So I found this program, totally freeware, and you can convert multiple files at a time. Works very fast as well, and since the download from YouTube is the highest quality download, what you end up getting after the conversion is high quality as well. That is, as long as the original version was high quality to begin with.

Done with programs; now onto chess. It’s one of the few games I play online, probably because it’s not something that you have to sit down and play live with someone, although there are sites that do that. For both of these sites, you get to make your move, then go about your life until you get an email notification that there’s been a move in a game you’re playing. I love that.

The first site I’m going to mention is called Scheming Mind, and it’s a site created by a friend of mine named Austin Lockwood; I’m not quite sure where he’s from, but the site is located somewhere in Europe. Anyway, it’s a free chess site as long as you play fewer than 10 games at a time. If you want to play unlimited games, it’s only $20 a year, and trust me he’s not getting rich off the site.

Sire and I play here, and I think it works for us because not only can we talk during the games, but every message we write is saved so we can go back and read them again, or address them after a move so we can take some time to think about things. The site also offers multiple types of games and different speeds of games, so that you can have as many as 30 days for each player to make a single move or as few as 5 days. You can join tournaments, though if you’re playing for free you can only join one tournament at a time. You can also ask the site to suggest a player based on ranking criteria, then select someone who they suggest or ask for more suggestions. However, sometimes it’s a hit or miss as to whether you’ll be playing that game, since people can reject you. Overall I love the site.

The other chess site is called Net-Chess, and I like this site as well, but for a different reason. With this site you can play as many games as you want to, but you’ll also find that it can be overwhelming if you’re not paying attention to how you’re joining the games. Every game you get into is some kind of mini tournament. You can decide how many games you’re going to play against each opponent if you create the tournament, or you can join a tournament that fits your ranking; you’ll establish a real ranking after you’ve played so many games.

The overwhelming part is that you might not be paying attention and suddenly find yourself playing upwards of 40 or more games at one time. True, you get to make each individual move at your leisure, but for some folks, like myself, that’s a few too many games at once. I like to have 20 going when I can, mainly because some people won’t ever start the games every though they signed up, and some people will forget, being overwhelmed, and they’ll lose on time. As long as they’ve made 10 moves in the game, if they time out you automatically get both the win and the points, and points are given based on your rank and the rank of your opponent at the time.

There are the two free programs and the two chess sites. The final thing is a little motivational thing from a blog friend named Marelisa, whom I’ve mentioned thrice before, once within a post on great posts, once highlighting her blog on Blog Day 2009, and later on a post on creativity. Anyway she’s got another great post, short by her standards, titled 525+ Bucket List Ideas, somewhat based on the movie The Bucket List. Yeah, that’s pretty comprehensive, but that’s kind of her point, that there are limitless opportunities for all of us to find within ourselves to try if we’re predisposed to do it.

There you go; don’t ever say I don’t provide any value to anyone! lol

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