There are millions of sites on the Web that tell you how to make the most of your computer and the Internet. With help, here from that unmanageable mishmash of resources, is a list of 50 exemplary sites, each of which excels at making some aspect of your daily digital life easier, more comprehensible or more enjoyable.
Launched just as I was finishing this article, CNetís Help.com is packed with articles, tips and info about almost all aspects of computing. Hardware, software, Web building, games... itís all there.
The Webopedia is a constantly updated dictionary of PC and Internet terms. You can search by keyword or dig down through the categories. Most definition pages include links to useful related resources on the Web.
If you need a driver for any part of your computer system, chances are youíll find it on this site. Make sure you check out the Driver Detective program which will give you full information on all the current drivers and their versions on your computer.
This brand new site lists hundreds of games patches. In the works are links to patches for Adobe, Microsoft and Apple software.
A professionally produced site thatís right up to the minute with the latest drivers and support tips for Windows. For beginners, thereís a driver installation guide.
Fast, uncluttered, accurate. Isnít this what a search engine is supposed to be? Come to Google when youíre fed up with the sloth and distractions on so-called search Ďportalsí.
ProFusion is a Ďmetasearchí engine. Feed ProFusion a single search request, choose the search engines you want used, and it will zip out and get results from each of those engines. Fast and attractive.
Tired of working out how to phrase a search engine question? Just Ask Jeeves instead. Ask Jeeves understands questions such as ďWhere can I find a concise article on emeralds?Ē. While you formulate your own question, you can see what others are asking at the same time.
Dogpile is another metasearch engine. DogPile takes a single search string and fetches results from search engines on the Web, Usenet, FTP sites and news wires.
Much of the best information on the Internet is not to be found in Web sites, but in the discussions carried on via mailing lists or newsgroups. Liszt lets you search over 70,000 mailing lists and newsgroups by keyword or category.
Explore new realms beyond the US and Western Europe. Orientation is the gateway to a series of regional Web sites covering Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Oceania.
Yahooís regional search engines
Yahoo! lets you find things on the Web by digging down through its categorised lists of sites. Itís not comprehensive, but itís still impressive in scope. Even better, try one of the regional engines:
The Adrenaline Vault has reviews, previews, feature articles and interviews. You can also get your hands on demos and other downloads, check out cheat sheets, and join in discussions and online events.
Happy Puppy remains one of the Webís best games sites. Itís stocked with downloads, tricks, cheats, news, a newsletter, radio show Ė you name it. All of this is wrapped up in a lively and responsive interface.
ZDNet does a nice job with its games site. Gamespot has all the latest of everything: previews, reviews, demos, patchs, and links to developersí Web sites.
Digital Learning Center
Kodakís Digital Learning Center is a great guide to understanding digital photography and using your digital camera. Online courses provide in-depth instruction, and tips include things such as how to sepia tone a digital photograph.
Reviews, overviews, techniques and tips about such things as motherboards, memory, drives, expansion cards and power supplies. The site also includes a good collection of links.
The PC Guide
Hardware references, tutorials, optimisation guides and more. This site covers every aspect of hardware, from sockets to hard disk geometry. A wonderful reference.
Tomís Hardware Guide
Tomís is an excellent technical resource for anyone who wants to tinker with their hardware or rev up their system. Thereís reference material on motherboards, chipsets, hard disks, CPUs, BIOSes and video cards, plus benchmarks, reviews and commentary.
CNetís News.com is one of the very best sources of daily computer news. As well as featuring stories by its own correspondents, CNet pulls stories from news sources all over the globe, including Australian sources. All of it is updated several times a day, and neatly cross-referenced.
The San Jose Mercury has long been a reliable provider of high-tech news. Its Silicon Valley.com provides daily updates on personal and business computing.
What does the Internet look like? How are we all connected? How do you map cyberspace? This site provides fascinating views of cybergeography.
Learn the Net
This multilingual resource features a great guide to the Net, covering everything from its birth, to a preview of its future. Other articles look at e-mail, newsgroups, conferencing, publishing and much more. Youíll also find a glossary and weekly updates.
The Webmonkey Guides are part of HotWiredís stable of Internet offerings. Well-written and up to date, the guides include the basics of getting online and what to do once youíre there. Recommended for beginners and intermediate users.
Whether you want to learn how to play MP3 music files, create your own, or download some music, MP3.com is a great destination.
Have a hankering to have your own radio station? Hereís the easiest way to get yourself up and running as an online broadcaster. And if all you want to do is sit back and listen, Live365 has over 20,000 Internet-based radio stations to choose from.
This slickly produced site has an introduction to Linux plus news, articles, downloads and links. The ongoing Daveís Diary gives a great account of downloading, preparing, installing and tweaking Red Hat Linux.
Track down tutorials on all sorts of topics, from technology to turnip pickling at this well-organised site.
Whether your language of choice is Visual Basic, C++, Java, XML or SQL the Development Exchange is worth bookmarking. This site features news, articles, tips, resources and links for each language. You can also talk code with fellow developers on the discussion boards.
Jakob Nielsen is a usability advocate who speaks incredibly good sense about Web site design and software usability. Useit.com is essential reading for anyone designing anything with a user interface, whether it be a site or a program.
The Visual Basic Developerís Resource Center is a wonderful independent resource for VB programmers. The site has an extensive code library, an FAQ library, articles on various aspects of VB coding, and a great set of carefully vetted links.
Microsoft Security Advisor
Microsoft Internet Explorer has been leaking like a sieve; so have Windows 95 and NT. While Microsoft is not alone in having products that have large security holes, breaches in Microsoft software affect an enormous number of users. If youíre concerned about security, especially online, check out Microsoftís site dedicated entirely to security issues.
Keep up to date with the latest virus news (and hoaxes) at Symantecís excellent Anti-Virus Research Center. The latest addition is Sarcman, a virtual comic book designed to raise virus awareness, for which youíll need Macromediaís Shockwave.
An extensive collection of shareware for the Linux operating system. Each program is reviewed and many feature user feedback.
ZDNet Software Library
ZDNet Software Library reviews and rates tens of thousands of shareware and demos. It has an excellent search engine (try the advanced mode) and regular compilations and featured downloads.
Corelís Technical Support site offers tips, tricks, patches and updates for the whole range of Corel products.
HP Customer Care
Hewlett-Packardís Customer Care is one of the best support sites. As well as drivers, a knowledgebase FAQs, and online manuals, it features an excellent set of interactive troubleshooting guides.
IBM has revamped its site, putting links to drivers and demos on the front page, plus a quick search engine.
Interactive troubleshooting, FAQs, forums, driver downloads and an extensive section on Year 2000. If you have a Pentium III, youíll find a selection of links and downloads that make the most of your hefty hardware.
Personal Online Support
Microsoft regularly revamps its online product support. The new Personal Online Support is geared towards individual users and contains interactive troubleshooters, a searchable knowledgebase, FAQs, support Webcasts, newsgroups and a glossary.
The House of Style
Western Civilisationís House of Style is a well-produced guide to using cascading stylesheets (CSS) in your Web pages. The Handbook provides a detailed introduction to CSS. The Tutorial steps you through creating your first stylesheet. Youíll also find the complete specifications for CSS, a compatibility guide for the different browsers, and a link to download Style Master, an excellent stylesheet editor.
CNetís Builder.com is bursting with articles and tools for all levels of Web developer. Thereís everything from Build Your First Web Site to job search tips to advanced ASP development. An essential resource.
MSDN Online Web
The Microsoft Developer Network Online Web Workshop provides an extraordinary amount of information about all aspects of developing a Web site.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Web
This really is an impressive resource for any Web developer, stacked high with tutorials, example code and applets, plus links to other resources.
Web Review bills itself as ĎCross-training for Web teamsí. It certainly contains one of the most useful, up to date and well written collections of articles on Web authoring, design, development, multimedia, e-commerce and backends that youíll find anywhere.
Billed as a ĎHow-to guide for Web developersí, Webmonkey contains a rich assortment of articles on Web design, programming and browser technology.
Project Cool is the coolest of the cool sites. If youíre looking for stimulating new places to visit on the Web, this is the place to come first.
Tech Sightings serves up daily reviews of the best technical sites on the Web. Itís a great way to stay current with new computing related sites and old ones that you may have failed to notice.