Google Meet, Skype Meet Now and Facebook Messenger Rooms video meeting tools

Google, Microsoft and Facebook all announced changes or updates to their video meeting tools in April 2020.   These are alternatives to the popular Zoom video chat software.

Video meeting tool Google Meet is now available free of charge for all users.  This will be a gradual rollout within the next few weeks. Users must sign in with their Google account, but Meet works entirely in a web browser and does not require downloads first.

Skype Meet Now is a different video meeting tool which does not require a sign-up or installation.  A unique Meet Now link can be requested from Skype or a web browser.

Facebook has also announced its new meeting tool – Facebook Messenger Rooms. Invited attendees do not need a Facebook account to attend the video meeting and downloads are not required. Rooms is not end-to-end encrypted. This is in addition to their Facebook Workplace and Facebook Work Groups services.

National Emergency Library provides eBooks to students and general public

The Internet Archive has made available thousand of eBooks through its National Emergency Library program.  This was done in order to help students, educators and the general public who may not have access to reading materials due to recent current events.

The National Emergency Library can be found at archive.org/details/nationalemergencylibrary.   Frequently asked questions about the National Emergency Library may be found here.

File income taxes for free using the IRS Free File Program

U.S. taxpayers have the option to file their income taxes for free using the Free File Program from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $69,000 or less (2019 tax year requirement).   The tax preparer must start the filing process at www.irs.gov/freefile instead of a commercial tax software website in order to avoid being prompted for payment.

The Free File program is part of an agreement between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a coalition of tax software companies.