The Annual Free But Worth More Awards

Most year-end awards are for commercial products. But there’s some good free stuff out there that’s free but worth paying for so it stays around.

Thumbs up graphicYear end brings a bunch of award and accolades, most of them for commercial products which provide a nice promotion bonus (which doesn’t mean they aren’t deserved). Year end is also when I go through and review the last year and make plans for the next (this has more to do with year end bonuses and financial planning rather than any great introspection). I try to support the things I use and like and this recent post does a good job of supporting my reasoning. Typically this is accomplished by opting for a premium level (such as Evernote & LastPass) But there’s some things I use which are free any typically have no direct paid alternative. WordPress plugins are an example. They (at least the ones I use) are free and usually done by someone scratching an itch rather than any business purpose. But WordPress changes and these plugins need upgrading, so I try to support the the important ones with donations as an incentive to keep going and make my life easier. This year I expanded to a couple podcasts I listen to regularly since most aren’t commercial ventures and they’re regular listens.

So while it doesn’t carry the same promotional weight as the Macworld Editors’ Choice Awards here are my “Free But Worth Paying For Awards” for 2011. The criteria is completely subjective and the only requirement is that there’s no commercial connection or “premium” alternative. Everything on this list is stuff I used all year (or since it became known to me) and I anticipate using all next year.So in no particular order…

WordPress Plugins

Fast Secure Contact Forms – used for the contact form on this site and has many features I’ve yet to use. It’s also frequently sup dated (sometimes to the point of annoyance) even though I haven’t had any problems.

Google Analyticator – Used to manage the Google Analytics code. Yet another plugin I’ve only scratched the surface with. I wanted a plugin that wouldn’t track my own visits and found this, but it does more and eventually I’ll dig into Google Analytics and find out what the other settings are for.

Google XML Sitemaps – It’s debatable whether or not a site map helps with search engines but I decided to go with one and have been using this one for years.

Redirection – A Plugin I’ve used since a long ago site redesign. Automatically creates redirects when a URL changes but useful for identifying broken URLs and changes so they can be fixed.

WP Super Cache – I’ve used this off an on over the years and it’s back on.

Podcasts

Home Server Show / BYOB – These two podcasts have already cost me a lot of money with all the software and tech they talk about.

Linux Outlaws – More news/interview oriented than tech tips but I still enjoy listening. Warning – the podcast gets the explicit tag for language. It’s mild but you’ve been warned.

Rathole Radio – A semi-weekly music podcast with a eclectic mix of music.

Anything else you use that’s free but worth paying for?