about this column.
July 26, 2002
© 2002, Douglas E. Welch
Finding neat, new web site is a large part of the fun of surfing the web. That said, many of the sites that I find most useful are those that have been around the longest. This doesnt mean you cant have fun locating new sites, only that you shouldnt forget the old standards. For a high-tech careerist, the web is probably the best source of information to keep your work, your life and your career on track.
Knowledge Bases and Tech Support
As dull as it may sound, the web sites I visit most often are the support databases and other tech support information provided by software and hardware manufacturers. Today, the computer world is filled with so many products that it is impossible to know everything about every product. When a client has a problem, these databases are the first place I turn.
Ten years ago, I never would have imagined the amazing array of information that is now available at the click of a mouse. Sure, there were BBSs at some manufacturers, but the information was limited and the access was spotty. Now I can search for answers across entire product lines or for one specific error with one specific product. These databases have allowed me to expand my career and provide higher quality service to my clients even if I am not terribly familiar with the products they are using.
The databases I use most frequently include those at Microsoft (Microsoft.com) and Apple (www.apple.com). On occasion I will need to access answers or downloads at various other vendors including Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway and others. Seek out these web sites and check them on a regular basis. You will be doing yourself and your clients a great favor.
High on the list of most web favorites is the search engine, Google. It quickly became my search engine of choice when it appeared. The quality of the search results is quite high and I often find exactly the information for which I am looking, regardless of how esoteric it might be. Along with web searches, Google also provides a way to search hundreds of thousands of messages from the Usenet News newsgroups. This information is often more timely than what you might find on a web site and can yield answers to particularly difficult questions.
My only complaint with Google might be that is becoming too popular. More and more people are relying on Google exclusively and this gives the company tremendous power in the marketplace. While they show no sign of moving in this direction, were Google to control what information made its way into their databases, they could manipulate the information available on the web to increase their revenues in new ways. With power comes responsibility and I hope that Google has the strength of character to avoid using this power in the wrong way.
As a high-tech careerist, the quality of your work often relies on up-to-the-minute information. One of the best sources for this information is the many weblogs (blogs) that are popping up on the web. These weblogs offer links to new information and, in some cases, a way for readers to comment on the information. Most weblogs have a basic focus, but it can take a little digging to find the gems among all the postings. Still, I find these blogs extremely useful in keeping in touch with what is happening in the high-tech world.
The weblogs I read, usually 2-3 times a day, are:
a good general information weblog with spirited discussion
an irreverent collection of all sorts of news topics
the best source for current information on Apple Macintosh
tracks software updates for Mac, Windows and Palm and allow users to comment on the updates
a ranked listing of the most frequently linked items from thousands of blogs.
The web provides excellent resources for the high-tech careerist. You can use these sites as a starting point for your travels, but there is a huge selection of other sites that can help you serve your clients and further develop your high-tech career. Keep researching, keep surfing, keep learning.
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about this column.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/
He can reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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