For more information about the Free List, check out the background and History page.
On the web, the events for each day are found on their own web paged, accessed from a monthly calendar page. The calendar page lists the type of events that occur on each day.
So, by looking at the monthly calendar, you can either select a specific day on which you'd like to do something free, or you can look for days on which a certain type of event are occuring.
The e-mail listing is sent once a week and contains the full week's listings. They are sorted by date (Monday through Sunday) and then by Category.
Events must be truly free; the event may be sponsored by a commercial organization (user groups, for example) or may be tied to an opportunity to purchase items (booksignings/readings at a bookstore) but there must not be an implied purchase requirement (concert in a bar where patrons are expected to buy drinks.)
Events sponsored by hate groups will not be listed. I support their right to believe whatever garbage they want, but I will not assist them in promoting it. If you don't like this policy, please direct your comments to my paternal grandparents.
Any other events which, for whatever reason, are deemed inappropriate.
I reserve the right to list or not list events as I see fit, and as per my personal predjudices and preferences.
If you send it via e-mail, include the following info:
Note that I may edit some of this information for length, clarity, or just for my own amusement. Also, please include a telephone number or e-mail address (for my use only!) which I can use to contact you in case I have questions about your event.
However, I am easily corruptable. Throw lots of money at me and I'm sure we can work something out. Keep in mind, however, that I am also sickeningly honest, and will let Free List readers know when I've been corrupted.
Note that I reserve the right to be rather picky as to whom I'm willing to sell out. (Or, if you prefer clarity over grammatical propriety, I reserve the right to be picky about who I sell out to.)
What might happen, should life rear its ugly head, is that I might have to discontinue it, or preferably, pass the torch on to someone else.
But it will always be completely Free.
Seriously, it would be a lot less work, much more fun, and all around better, just to move to the City.
Okay, if you must stay in your piddling little town, and you honestly think that cool stuff happens there, sure. Pay me lots of money and I'll let you set up a Free List for your town.
Oh, alright. If you insist, yes you can do it for free. However, (and it's a big however!) you must:
Fear not, they will be there, you'll just have to do a little more work to find them. You can:
To build the correct URL, first determine the month you are interested in, in YYMM format. If you are interested in, for example, February 1999, your month is 9902. Stick "fl" (as in Free List) on the front, and you have the directory (aka folder) that the pages are stored in. So, all the web pages for February 1999 are located at:
To get to a specific page add either "calendar.htm" (for the monthly calendar) or "dailynn.htm" (for daily listings, where nn is the day of the month) onto the end of the above URL. So, if you wanted to see what was happening on Valentine's day, 1999, point your browser at:
I often do not get around to entering events until the weekend prior to the week in which they occur. Unfortunately, I do have to work for a living, and as yet have not figured out how to derive any significant income from the Free List.
I do try to get events entered as early as possible, and will continue to improve the system to make it easier to get them entered earlier.
If you do sign up for the e-mail list, note that you will probably want to unsubscribe when you return home. And since you're about to ask it, read the next question.
And before you ask, yes, I could automate it, but that would take time and there are more important tasks in the FreeList to do bucket, not to mention the Real World.
Another reason exists; I often don't get notice of events until the last minute so until then, I'm as much in the dark as you are.
The main Free List web page still requires manual modification to get the links to point to what really is the current, previous, and next months. In addition, the small calendars at the top of the page have to be put in manually (a basic calendar beginning on the correct day of the month is copied from a template file, then the month and year are replaced with the correct date.)
This takes about an hour each month. Eventually, I will automate this (or make the main page dynamically generated) but for the time being, it remains the task I am most likely to forget.
Updating the list of subscribers requires about half an hour each week, as it is still done manually. This is another area where automation would help a great deal.
Whenever new events are added to the database, the daily and monthly web pages need to be updated and transfered to the server. This generally requires about an hour each week, but it is something that I can get started and then do something else while it's happening.
Building the daily web pages, the monthly calendars, and the weekly e-mail listing actually takes much less time than you might think -- it is all done automatically once the events are entered into the database.
The main task, however, is entering events into the database. Currently, I get the events from mailing lists, web pages, or manual submissions from people like you. For each one, I have to put in the date, time, location, description, title, and contact info. I can cut and paste descriptions from e-mails, web pages, and so on, but more often than not, they need some sort of editing to fit into the context of the Free List. (What may be obvious in an e-mail listing of events at a bookstore may not be so obvious when listed among other, dissimilar events on the free list.) Currently, this requires about 25 to 30 hours each month.
The software that runs the Free List is a suite of programs I wrote specifically to automate the tasks involved in putting out the Free List. It is all written in QBasic for MS-DOS, and will run on virtually any MS-DOS computer. Currently, however, it lives on my main computer, a '486-based MS-DOS/Win3.11 laptop I've carried since the beginning of 1994.