Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:15:01 -0500
Sender: The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 16 Mar 1999 - Finding Answers
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\___/ \___/ T h e I n t e r n e t T o u r B u s \___/
TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: Finding Answers
One of the "benefits" of being a very visible person in the online
world is that some people assume I know everything about everything.
People send me all kinds of questions... How do I edit my Windows
95 system registry? Can I plug a coffee maker into a Macintosh?
Will you send me the names and phone numbers of all medical school
Even if I did know all the answers, I don't have time to respond to
all the questions. In today's TOURBUS, I'll point you to some
excellent resources that may help you find the answers on your own.
But first, a few words from our most excellent sponsors!
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Talkway is a web-based interface to Usenet (a collection of thousands
of discussion forums on just about any topic you can imagine) that
makes it easy to find discussion groups (also called newsgroups),
read messages and post your own message without leaving the comfort
of your browser.
Talkway has a built-in navigation & search tool that shows you
the discussion group names in both plain English and the traditional
Usenet naming conventions. (For example, the rather arcane name
"rec.arts.sf.tv" becomes simply "Science Fiction Television".)
As soon as you sign on to Talkway, you see a list of topics, such as
Business, Classifieds, Computers, Culture, Education, etc. Click on
a topic, and you get a list of sub-topics, with a list of discussion
groups for each. You can either burrow down into the tree-like
category listings, or just search for a group that matches your
The best reason for participating in a Usenet group is the give and
take of information. In most groups, there are "regulars" who are
well-versed in that subject and enjoy answering questions. So next
time you have a burning question, pop in to Talkway and see if the
answer can be found in a Usenet discussion group.
JUST THE FAQS, PLEASE
If you've ever followed a Q&A type of mailing list or Usenet group
for any length of time, you've seen the problem arise where newbies
ask questions that have already been answered a hundred times.
For this reason, people have developed FAQs or "Frequently Asked
Questions" files in the futile hope that newbies will look there
first and find answers before asking for the 101st time in the
discussion group. FAQs exist for many Usenet groups, and now that
they're available on the Web, it's a lot easier to find and read
them. Here's where to look:
You'll find a variety of ways to search for FAQs (by Author, Category,
Newsgroup, or Keyword) and you can of course read the FAQs as well.
For example, typing "coffee" in the search box will yield a file
called caffeine-faq which contains "Coffee and Caffeine's Frequently
Asked Questions", and is the distilled wisdom of the people who
frequent the newsgroups alt.drugs.caffeine, rec.food.drink.coffee,
rec.food.drink.tea, and alt.food.chocolate.
LOCKERGNOME and TIDBITS
Okay, you're probably thinking about little creatures nibbling on the
cheese cracker crumbs in your locker, but I want you to suppress that
thought. Because Lockergnome and TidBits are without a doubt the
premiere website/ezine combos for Windows and Mac users, respectively.
Lockergnome is published by Chris Pirillo, Wizard Of All Things
Window-ish. This highly informative newsletter is mailed on weekdays,
and is packed with Windows 95/98/NT tips, tricks and cool downloads.
It's not an interactive Q&A thing, but the archives date back to
September 1996, and are fully searchable.
TidBits, which has been published since before the beginning of time
by noted author Adam Engst (Maven Of All Things Mac-ish) is a
wonderful newsletter for Mac afficionados. You'll find everything
from current events in the Mac world to product reviews and helpful
tips. Archives date back to April 1990, which make TidBits perhaps
the longest running mailing list on the Net.
LISZT OF LISTS
Of course there are many more excellent newsletters and websites out
there. One good place to look for them is at Liszt, the mailing list
directory. You can search over 90,000 mailing lists and find out how
to subscribe. Check it out at
That's all for now, see you next time! --Bob Rankin
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