Updates to the Freebies page

Music is only one of many elements of our lives. So every now and then, I like to prod around the internet for completely free shortcuts that make the burdens in those other life elements easier, to give us more time to do what we really want to do for Christ (or at least hopefully to help other people). So I maintain this page and update it regularly:

http://www.joshuachandra.com/personal/freebies/ – here’s a list below of my recent additions to it over the past month or three.


  • Betternet (discovered on /r/eFreebies): a virtual private network (VPN)-hosting service. I added this because I have contacts in China who are severely crippled by the government’s censoring of many websites. They can’t even access Facebook, but a VPN can help them to. Hopefully they’ll be able to access this.
  • GotFreeFax lets you send faxes to the US and Canada for free. I’m currently poking around for as strong a fax-receiving service, but none of the ones I’ve come across are account-free so far in the astoundingly easy way that GotFreeFax is (but probably inherently so).
    Financial Prudence:

  • Alliant Credit Union was introduced to me by an old friend with whom I’ve had great pleasure in reconnecting. Apparently we should all be with credit unions, which are superior to banks, and Alliant—which was formerly United Airlines Employees’ Credit Union—is the cream of the crop, being the 5th largest credit union in the United States with hundreds of thousands of members worldwide. One aspect of it that blows me away is its instant mobile deposit-funding, which alone is enough to bring anyone over; your funds are ready for use the moment they’re deposited! Be sure to call first to ask for a code that nets you a $50 bonus after your first mobile deposit, which is how I got roped in.
  • Class Action Rebates and Top Class Actions potentially let you retrieve money from past purchases.
    Windows Programs:

  • CursorFX stylizes your mouse cursor; I like to use animated cursors for every cursor state, to be able to effortlessly observe computer lag. I’ve had CursorFX for years but had totally forgotten to add it to the list until a moment ago.
    Android Apps:

  • Etar, which I very recently stumbled upon, is far more graphically appealing than Google Calendar, essentially returning it to the previous graphical design it had before its current box-ambiguous layout.
  • Betternet also has an Android version here.
  • Cashify (which I discovered on /r/beermoney) can convert Google Opinion Rewards Play Store credit to cash, albeit for a necessarily hefty fee. There really aren’t many paid Play Store apps worth buying, so this isn’t too shabby an alternative for that sitting credit.

There are always other continuous additions to the page, but these are the brunt of it; I also readily remove ones that have since become obsolete, or can be replaced by something superior, or ones whose websites have gone defunct. Check out the entire list sometime and I’m fairly sure that you can find something of considerable use.

Choosing Between a Piano or a Digital Keyboard

This table assumes you are choosing between a good piano and a touch-sensitive keyboard that has 88 keys.

Piano Keyboard
Cost/Investment While naturally much more expensive, pianos can last for theoretically 100 years or more, and a very well maintained piano can possibly sell for higher than its original purchase price. Digital keyboards can go obsolete in as quickly as five years; an outdated keyboard may be difficult to sell, and one accidental drop of effectively placed water damage can render the entire device permanently useless.
Maintenance Piano-moving, occasional tuning, various on-demand maintenance (snapped strings, worn hammer felt, key clicks, etc.). More frequent maintenance needed near humid places or places with drastic weather changes Electricity drain during use, various on-demand maintenance (broken keys/springs, etc.)
Portability Not. Very.
Volume/Sound Quality The real thing, but only special uprights have a mute pedal (i.e., so no midnight practicing).
  • Realism depends on keyboard quality, though software synthesizers can upgrade the default sound if the keyboard is hooked up to a computer for sound output. However, no keyboard has ever produced solid overtones; the sound of pedaled playing is particularly no match for a real piano, even on a Yamaha N3 AvantGrand (from my personal experience).
  • Many keyboards have numerous different instrument sounds/sound effects, beat tracks, and some demos.
  • Silent playing via headphones (midnight practice!)
Physical Touch Unbeatable, naturally. Pedals are also solid, unlike many keyboards, whose pedals tend to be detached/separate foot pedals Varies greatly; keyboards whose keys simulate hammers instead of springs are stellar, such as the Casio Privia PX-850, or almost any Yamaha Arius.
Pedals The real thing! Some keyboards are limited in how many tones they can simultaneously output, and many keyboards only come with one pedal, which may be annoying to manage if it is a detached foot pedal. They additionally usually only have two pedal slots, so seeing three pedals (common on acoustics) simultaneously functioning on a single keyboard is very rare. Many keyboards also have unrealistic pedaling sequences.
Features No electricity drain during usage. Potentially: MIDI capability, recording, a built-in metronome, hundreds of instrument sounds/sound effects, and software-synthesizing with a computer for further capabilities.

It’s up to you! ☺

Two clarifications…

3. Practice repeating (out loud), at least 3-5 times, all the necessary things that you must say in your speech: every name and event you must address. It is important to get the physical feel of the words you must say on your tongue, because there’s a decent chance that your mouth will slip up during your speaking when it comes to one of these things to say, if you hadn’t repeated it enough to be familiar with it for perfectly instant recall. This was what happened to me and my announcing a competitor; I was trying to recall too many things to say in a short amount of time, and ended up initially mispronouncing that competitor’s name due to lack of familiarity (which I believe could have been achieved through just a bit more repetition).

And… a second point: always serve the music. The more I thought about it, the more I regretted playing my work instead of a more lyrical piece. The recital material was very spur-of-the-moment, as I hadn’t played Bumblebee in years, and had only practiced it for maybe 10 minutes total leading up to that time, so maybe I’m a bit off the hook. But we should always contrast fast/technical and slow/lyrical works. Never play two fast pieces in a row unless they are both very short (likewise the other way around, especially if they are very long!). Going back in time to play Tausig’s equally-unplayed second Concert Etude instead of my work would be very nice.

I’ve been meaning to get a video of that very piece up on YouTube for some time now (people should know the greatness of Carl Tausig!). Perhaps, after tonight’s finals and before I head off to the new job, I can get that up.

But first… www.lapianocompetition.org/competition awaits! 6pm Central Time, tonight: Tchaikovsky 1, Schumann, and Liszt 1 concerti!