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Every now and then I run out of things to say. (Really, I do!) But when I want to keep up with the news or I need inspiration or sometimes just a break, I usually go to the interwebs. I’ve gotten pickier over the years, and the interwebs have changed. At many sites, the articles you see are barely even teasers. At those sites you don’t get any real content unless you pay for it either by sending dollars or by receiving ads. Those sites make me Always Grumpy, so I won’t tell you about them. But these sites on the interwebs make me Frequently Happy instead: I can usually go to them and learn something or crack a smile or both :-). I’ll start with I/T sites and move on to other stuff:  

I/T SITES

  • ZDNet UK – This site is brought to you by Ziff-Davis; they have sites available in many countries. Since I live in the Great White North (Canada, eh?), the USA site is geographically and economically much closer to me than the UK. So why do I go to the Blighty site? It seems to speak more directly to me somehow. I know many of the articles will be identical but it just works better for me. Anyway, ZD is a great aggregator of good I/T content; their commentary is measured rather than hasty or strident and their articles and white-papers are often thoughtful. I’m more likely to download white-papers here than from most other sites.
  • Gartner – I often go to Gartner for white papers and information about all things I/T. They’ve gotten more commercial over the years, and they’re sometimes much more motivated by selling their own consulting services than by providing      dispassionate analysis. That said, they remain a bastion of relatively vendor-neutral serious research on the state of the industry.
  • Information Week and Bank Systems & Technology – These are just two of many publications (magazines, e-zines and sites) from your friends at UBM TechWeb – the company publishes a whole variety of tech content in assorted verticals, channels and so on. The articles are often short, sometimes to the point of annoyance, but I subscribe anyway. Even if the content often stops short of making a real point or backing it up, the aggregation is useful and the points of view are usually reasonable.

AT THE INTERSECTION OF I/T AND ENTERTAINMENT

  • The Register – Ahhh… “Biting the Hand that Feeds IT.” I love it! The Register does for the worlds of I/T and science reporting what Jon Stewart does for the daily news or Terry Pratchett for fantasy and sci-fi. If you’re looking for real      independent reporting with a cynical eye, a cutting edge and a snarky tone of voice, The Register is for you! I visit almost every day – it keeps my wits sharp and puts a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye. And that starts our segué from serious IT to other things…
  • Dilbert – There it is, at the intersection of I/T and humour… How could you talk about entertaining websites without mentioning Dilbert? You might as well leave your razor at home and not shave the fuzzy hairballs from your cube walls on alternate Tuesdays! If you work in a cube farm or some other version of a large corporate environment, especially if computers have anything to do with it, then author Scott Adams has your number. He worked in IT for a few years way      back when and somehow garnered enough insight to last him decades of drawing this daily cartoon and producing related content. The tales he collects from readers who share would help too, I suppose. SCOTT ADAMS HAS NEVER HEARD FROM ME. I’VE NEVER SHARED A TALE! I’LL DENY EVERYTHING!!
  • ThinkGeek – Got geeky kids? How about a geeky spouse, relative, neighbour, friend, co-worker or acquaintance? This site is loaded with all sorts of purchasables from clothing to flatware to toys and books to electronics, and various      combinations of those (functioning WiFi detector t-shirt, anyone?). The prices for goods are a little higher than you’d pay locally, but they aggregate an incredible amount of geek-friendly stuff. Their unbelievable, amazing, awesome order fulfilment and excellent customer service more than make up for the expensive shipping. If you’re looking for the t-shirt that loudly proclaims “ohmigod i married (gave birth to, befriended, moved in near) a geek”, this site is for you!
  • xkcd – Yum, yum, yum. Very funny, sometimes poignant comics on a very broad palette of interests from a graduate student in something or other. It doesn’t really matter what, but the author has that snarky, geekalicious manner that tells me he (yes, we’re talking at least one Y-chromosome here) studies some sort of science. The comics are published about three or four times a week but there’s tons of historical content and commentary to keep you amused for months of occasional stints of wasting your employer’s time visits if you’re a noob. The site is not the easiest to navigate – I find the mouse-over comments usually disappear before I can finish reading them –  but it’s more than worth the effort. xkcd sells some stuff; much of it is also available at ThinkGeek.

NOT I/T BUT I READ IT ANYWAY because I’m so broad-minded and well-rounded, ya know?

  • The Oatmeal – Your mom and your pastor might not like this site but I think the author is very funny indeed. His sense of humour is bent like a crowbar, which is the right tool for what some of the cartoons and posters will do to your mind. He’s not always nice to everyone: be warned! But he’ll make you think… and he often makes me laugh so hard I need a change of clothing.
  • Despair – What a lovely name for a website. This is the home of the original Demotivators©, the cynic’s answer to cheery credulons everywhere. (Did you see that? I invented a new word just there and I bet you already know what it means!) I have nothing against Cheery (she’s one of my favourite dwarves, thank you Mr. Pratchett) but sometimes, really… you just need a realist’s view. This site is hilarious. I enjoy their content and they’ve inspired me to do some of my best work in analyzing corporate shenanigans and other oh-so-human behaviours. I’ve bought some books and posters there over the      years but I rarely shop from them any more after that last incident: Christmas presents ordered in early November should not ship in late January!
  • Brazen Careerist – Is her name still Penelope Trunk? I worry about this woman sometimes. The author has had several careers, at least a couple of spouses and probably more than one personality shift that could be measured on the Richter scale. She overshares in a way that brings new meaning to that compound word, and she swings wildly between self-indulgent and stoic. But it’s somehow the combination of these qualities, decent writing and a cut-the-nonsense attitude that makes her column so readable. I’ve been following her on and off for several years; her work sometimes sheds an odd and eerie light on events in and around my own life.
  • Workforce – I receive a weekly round-up of HR article headers from these folks. The content is mostly USA-centred, but in this case that’s OK. Our economy is very tightly bound to our giant neighbour to the south and our legal system is      similar, so their HR news often echoes strongly here. The articles are brief but interesting, and usually more focussed on fact and analysis than editorial opinion.

OK, I’ve more than used up my daily picturesworth (that’s 1,000 words for the uninitiated). I’ll stop now.

Jonathan Gladstone is alwaysgrumpy at jbglad59@sympatico.ca or follow me on Twitter @jbglad59.

 

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