Thursday, March 13, 2008

Learn a Foreign Language...For Free!

I came across this today while browsing the internet. It's an excellent listing of OpenCourseWare programs that are available from various universities for no cost to the student.

This listing came from and is ranked in order of quality:

#1 MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers more than 100 free foreign language courses through the university's OpenCoureWare program. Offerings range from undergraduate to graduate level and include everything from Japanese and Chinese to German and Spanish. Courses consist mainly of PDF files, but are sometimes supplemented with audio, video and slide presentations.

#2 BBC

The BBC offers extensive foreign language instruction through their website. Some of the languages users can learn include French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, English and many others. Text, audio guides, video guides, quizzes and games like crossword puzzles actually make learning a complicated language fun.

#3 Open University

The UK's Open University makes several different modern language courses available to the general public. Course materials include massive amounts of text, as well as multimedia elements. The three main language offerings are German, Spanish and French, but there are additional courses that focus on culture and history in addition to foreign language instruction.

#4 eLanguage School

The eLanguage School offers a huge repository of foreign language learning materials. Users can choose from ten different languages, including Russian, Portuguese, Korean, Dutch and Spanish. Vocabulary lists, videos, audio files and links to other language resources supplement the text-based lessons and tutorials.

#5 Mango Languages

Mango Languages offers foreign language instruction in 11 different foreign languages, including French, Greek, Russian, German and Italian. Registration is required to access more than one lesson, but it is free and fast. Lessons include text, audio and video so users can learn the correct pronunciation for every new word they learn.

#6 FSI Language

FSI Language is a community site that distributes the Foreign Service language program documentation and audio-tapes created and used by the Foreign Service Institute, a U.S. Government training institution. The courses offered by FSI feature extensive text and audio materials. Users can choose from 31 different foreign languages, including Arabic, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Swahili, Thai and many others.

#7 Utah State University

Utah State University publishes courses in languages, philosophy and speech communication through their OpenCourseWare program. Current foreign languages course offerings include first year Chinese I and II. Course materials are comprehensive and include PDFs, audio files, video files and supplementary textbooks.

#8 U.S. Institute of Languages

The U.S. Institute of Languages offers a custom Spanish language course that has been used by individuals in more than 130 countries. The course uses a unique teaching method to help users build a larger vocabulary faster. Interactive lessons are meant for Spanish language beginners and focus on grammar, conjugation and word order.

#9 Carnegie Mellon

Carnegie Mellon offers an excellent French course online through their Open Learning Initiative. The high-quality video-based course includes a whole slew of interactive features, such as activities and an online tutor. Fifteen lessons in all.

#10 Wikiversity

The Wikiversity Centre for Foreign Language Learning gives users a chance to learn more about a foreign language or culture. Most of Wikiversity's courses, a.k.a. learning projects, consist mainly of text, but there are also links to guide you to additional education resources. Languages include Chinese, German, English, Spanish and many others.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another Wireless Access Point Warning (video link)

I work with computer systems as my 9 to 5 job and have always had an interest in computer security. During my studying of current computer security methods I've attended quite a few conventions and one group that has really come to the forefront over the past few years is Offensive Security. This group is responsible for the creation of the fantastic Backtrack linux distrobution that includes an incredible amount of security tools as well as two certification programs dealing with network security. During my browsing of the site awhile back I came across a video that, when shown to my friends, made everybody's jaw drop so I figured it would be perfect to share with you all.

I won't get into the technical aspects of it, but it has to do with the capturing of packets of information that are wirelessly sent everytime you access a page on the internet through a WiFi connection. Most are pretty meaningless, but some, well, just watch the video and see what can happen (especially between 0:24 and 1:40). Sorry, I couldn't embed the video so I've included a hyperlink.

***Note: If the video doesn't play properly it is because of a bug in the new version of Flash Player. You can downgrade your version of Flash here if interested***

Watch the video here.

This isn't to scare you away from ever connecting wirelessly, I do more often than not, it's just to make you more aware of the potential dangers out there and how quickly someone with malicious intent can take action with information collected.

If you're interested in taking one of their courses for certification (which are excellent by the way) you can see what Offensive Security offers and sign up if you choose here:

Also, if you're interested in Backtrack and want to play with it to see what it offers, there is a beta version of Backtrack 3 that can be downloaded here:

It's available for free, which all of us here love, so it's definitely not something to pass over if you'd like to learn more about it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

More Proof of Payment: Opinon Outpost (survey site)

I finally found the other check that came in during my break, seems that it fell behind my desk. As much as I dislike cleaning, finding money always makes it that much more rewarding.

Anyways, this time around the check comes from Opinion Outpost. I got lucky and scored a survey with a $15 payout which definitely helped get me to the minimum payout amount quickly. I'll have more on Opinion Outpost later this week when I write a review, but for now, the proof of payment:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Back After A Hiatus - With Proof Of Payment!

Hey everyone, I'm back! Sorry for that extended break, I ended up getting a little overwhelmed with all of the projects I was undertaking and had to focus on some of the more critical ones. Those are now out of the way now though and I'm back with you and will be updating again.

I figure that the best way of getting back into the swing of things is to show two more proof of payment checks that I received over the break.

First up is my Ebates Big Fat Check that I mentioned in a previous article.

Not too shabby since that $30.37 is a free money rebate from my holiday shopping. I would have shopped at those online stores anyways so without this program I would have gotten back nothing. I highly recommend trying them out, you won't be disappointed. You can sign up here for Ebates and we'll both get $10 credited to our accounts.

Another check I received was from Your2Cents another survey site that pays out an average of $1-$3 per survey. One of the things that I like about this site is that within each email survey invitation they send is the estimated time that it will take to complete that survey, it really helps to judge if the survey is worth your time or not. If interested in Your2Cents, you can sign up here.