Although, as I said, there is no such thing as a free lunch, you can
get pretty close sometimes. For about less than a $30 start-up fee and about
$10-$20 a month, you can get support that is comparable to the tech support of a
software vendor. The only problem is that it might be several hours (rarely
longer) before you get an answers. I am talking here about things like mailing lists, forums
on company web sites and so forth.
If your problem is general, such as getting DNS
to work, or you need help with a shell script, this is not a bad place to start. Despite the delays that are
caused by the very nature of this media, responses are fairly quick. Unless your
system has crashed and you are loosing thousands of dollars an hour, this is an
excellent source of information.
One valuable source are the
USENET newsgroups. To gain access, however, you need a "news feed,"
that is, some other site that will provide you with the newsgroups, because
USENET uses "store and forward." Turn around time can be days,
depending on where you get your feed. Compuserve, on the other hand, stores all
of its messages in a central location. The minute your message is posted, it is
available for everyone. Talk to your ISP
about finding a news
Mailing lists are another way of getting information. The
difference between lists and newsgroups is that you receive all of the
messages posted to the list. Therefore, you need to be careful about what you
subscribe to. I subscribe to just a few and I have hundreds of messages a
day to wade through. With many, you can subscribe directly from the Internet.
this site, I made references to several other works that I feel would be very
helpful if you want to learn more about a particular subject. Aside from books,
many magazines provide useful information.
Not to be outdone by the
dialects, Linux has its own monthly magazine, called Linux
Journal. It includes articles for almost all skill levels. You can reach the
Linux Journal at firstname.lastname@example.org, (206)
Another place to check is the Internet. Unfortunately,
its hard to be more specific than that. Thousands of resources are out there for
every conceivable topic. Most major computer companies have a Web site. Often
all you need is to add "www." to the company name to get access to the
Web page. I have done this to get to Intel (www.intel.com), Conner
(www.conner.com), and even CNN (www.cnn.com). Here you can get
product information, as well as press releases. Many of these sites have links
to other sites, so it's easy to bounce from site to site.
search engines have already done a lot of research for you. The one I use most
frequently is Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), which also links to other search
engines. Web sites are broken down by category, which makes browsing easy. You
can also input search strings to help you find what you are looking for. If you
input a phrase that's fairly common, you can end up with thousands of