Announcing the Upgrade to Free Community

5 Jul

Who else is excited about the upcoming release of Beth Ziesenis’s Upgrade to Free: The Best Free & Low-Cost Online Tools & Apps? Whether it’s alphabetizing a list, organizing a meeting, or even an app that scans through your computer to find and delete large files to make room on your hard drive, Beth Ziesenis has found an app that can make any part of your computer life easier and less complicated. In conjunction with this extraordinarily helpful and fun book, TSTC Publishing also is launching an online community, which can be found at

We launched the beta version of the online forum on July 1. The forum is designed to be a community dedicated to free and low-cost apps and tools, whether for your smartphone or computer. Share what you know, rate what you’ve tried, and interact with fellow members. The forum has initially more than 300 tools to try out, and we encourage you to add your own. We want to know the tools you just cannot live without and those that wreaked havoc on your computer and life.

One of my favorite tools is Dark Room. As a hobbyist writer (and Camp Nanowrimo participant, w00t!), I like being able to block out all of my distractions. With Dark Room, I have nothing but a black screen and a blinking green cursor. It clears my mind and helps me focus on the task at hand.

Another tool that can be found on the forum is Write or Die, arguably the most evil but amazing tool on the web. Write or Die is sadistic; I’m just warning you now. If you need a tool that will force you to focus strictly on your writing, though, then this is the one to get. If you stop writing while in Gentle Mode, a pop-up appears to remind you to get back to work. If you stop in Normal Mode, an unpleasant sound will play (like babies crying) until you resume. If you stop in Kamikaze Mode, the words will begin to delete themselves from the screen, and there is no undo button to get them back. Nothing is better for a deadline.

Come visit the forum and share with us the crazy, kooky, and completely helpful tools that you have found online and for your smartphone. During the July beta testing period, we will be collecting feedback and improving the forums. The official launch date coincides with Beth Z’s book Upgrade to Free: The Best & Low-Cost Online Tools & Apps on Aug. 1.

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