No picture at the moment, I was just happy to get it hooked up quickly before my son came home… it seems I can never hook up electronics correctly when he is ‘helping’ me 🙂

So, yep… one of those sites worked for me… it took a while, but my wife is very happy with the monitor. It is a 19" LCD from Sony (the SDM-S93 I believe) and it looks nice replacing her 15" CRT. No DVI input, which isn’t a real issue for her at this point as she doesn’t have DVI output, but it is worth noting.

Tips if you are interested in getting something free for yourself…

I would seriously consider the sites from OfferCentric (they usually end in because they often have cash money as an option, which is great if none of the prizes appeal to you. Then, I would probably shoot for one of the ones with very few referrals required. This is a hard one to figure out in some cases, because they usually don’t tell you how many referrals are needed until after you sign-up. A couple of ones that seem good to me are

(on the Gratis side, which are the original sites like this)

There are other sites of course, but I group anything above 5 or 6 referral links as long-shots… you’ll really need to work (and trade, and bug, and …) to get enough referrals for a site like (18 referrals!!), or (both of which are 10 referrals).

The key is to find a site where the gift appeals to not just you, but to enough other people for you to get them interested too. WIthout a doubt though, the best way to get referrals is to use a swapping service like RefStop. Assuming everyone completes their side of the deal (only deal with people with a good track record/reputation to make this more likely) it should take you (the number of referrals needed by site) + 1 completed offers (all by you) to complete the site… Taking one site as an exmaple, the mp3 player site, this would mean that you do the initial offer for the site, after clicking on a referral link from anyone (such as me) and then you go and sign up for a site like RefStop. You list your existing referral id for the mp3 site, and mark yourself as accepting trades. Folks will offer to trade with you via email notifications, check their reputation (available through the site) and make the deal if they seem like solid people. The deal will be that you need to go and sign up for some other ‘free stuff’ site by clicking on their referral link and in return they will go and sign-up on the mp3 site (in this example) through your referral link. If you do a trade, make sure that after you click on a referral link, that the right referral Id shows up on the site before you sign-up… it should be in the query string of the link you clicked and it should show up somewhere on the page (you are being referred by xxxxx)…. and some people recommend that before you start the whole process a trade (so before you even click on their link) that you blow away all your cookies… but I never did that (I can’t imagine how many saved site settings I would lose if I did).

Always start by signing up for the free offers that you are actually interested in, because these are things that you probably don’t mind signing up for even without an incentive. I signed up for, vonage, bmg music, columbia house dvd, and blockbuster online as part of trading with folks and I didn’t mind any of those… I even stayed with all of them except for blockbuster (I was trying them out in comparision to Netflix… and I decided to stay with Netflix).

Personally I’d avoid the credit card offers, unless you are in the market for a new card, as I would think that would leave a permanent mark on your credit history (not a bad one, unless you sign up for a bunch of cards) … and if possible I’d probably avoid the free ‘drug’ trial ones too… all of those will start to auto-ship you stuff, and that means auto-billing as well if you don’t decide to cancel quick enough.

In the end, it is a bunch of hassle, but I know that it can work if you are really set on getting that free ipod, creative zen micro, or a free PSP.