Software

Hone your IT skills with these five web apps

Wally Bahny suggests five web apps that you can use to hone your IT skills as well as make yourself smarter in other business-related areas.

While IT folks are, of course, some of the smartest people on the planet, even we need to keep our skills sharp. There may even be skills we don't currently have that might make us more useful or perhaps advance our career. I've assembled five web apps (with a bonus sixth selection!) that you can use to hone your IT skills as well as make yourself smarter in other business-related areas.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

1. WikiHow

There are many "how-to" websites out there, but WikiHow has one of the largest collections of articles on how to do just about anything. For the IT professional, there are a myriad of articles on hardware, software, and operating systems in the Computers and Electronics category. The articles range from the very basic to complex articles about programming or hardware repair. But, let's say you know everything there is to know about computers. In that case, maybe you could read up on accounting, forming a business, marketing, or customer relations in the Business category.

2. Lynda.com

Lynda.com is similar to WikiHow, in that they have tutorials on a wide variety of subjects; however, the similarities end there. Where WikiHow has text-based step-by-step walkthroughs (with images, of course), Lynda.com is geared toward training and education. They accomplish this by using video presentation of the various topics they cover. In the IT realm, they have developer, database, server, and operating system video topics but they also have other various topics that are also useful for IT professionals, again in the realm of business. Lynda.com is a subscription-based site, but they do offer a seven-day free trial.

3. GP Answers

Group Policy is perhaps the second biggest Windows boogeyman, right behind the registry. Most network and system administrators barely know how to use it, if they even know it exists. GP Answers seeks to heal that by providing a site where tips are shared via blog, forum, or article format. The founder of the site, Jeremy Moskowitz, Group Policy MVP, also offers live and online classes training administrators in the various aspects of Group Policy. Finally, take a look at the GP Health Check service they offer and the Group Policy book written by Mr. Moskowitz for even more support. The site requires a free registration to use some parts.

4. MSDN Library

Every Windows developer knows about the MSDN library. It's the go-to place for documentation and sample code for all the various operating systems, programming languages, and applications Microsoft makes. What many network and system admins don't realize is that it's a great resource for them as well. There's a whole host of information on Internet Explorer, Office, SharePoint, and SQL Server, just to name a few.

5. Mind Tools

Mind Tools is the only site on this list that is not at all IT-related. Mind Tools is designed around personal skills that will make you better in whatever business you are in. From leadership skills to problem solving, stress management to decision making, they've got learning materials to help you become a better you. Free access is limited to the basics, but you can get a one-month subscription for $1 with subsequent months at the normal rate.

6. TechRepublic

I would be remiss if I didn't include every reader's go-to place for IT tips and tricks, but I couldn't in good conscience include it in the five, since you all already know about it if you've read this article. TechRepublic of course has all of the great blogs with ways to improve yourself within IT and without as well as Q&A and Discussions if you have a specific problem that's bothering you.

What are your favorite "improve yourself in IT or Business" websites? Share them with us in the comments.

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12 comments
bedekk
bedekk

windowssecrets.com lockergnome.com

ron.dondelinger
ron.dondelinger

I tell my staff that "Google is your friend" when you want to research something. But sometimes the research means having to slog through an seemingly endless number of dead-end webpages. Having a selection of vetted knowledge websites pointed out -- now that is a real treat! Also, I am loving the TechRepublic blog format. Keep up the good work!

BrianKrieger
BrianKrieger

I had commented, but I believe multiple links didn't pass muster with the spam filter. Some other resources (just add dot com to the end). 1) Pluralsight - specifically geared towards Microsoft, but branching out. And they do a pretty nice job, I think. 2) virtualpairprogrammers - They are java-centric but are very entertaining and very responsive, too. 3) VTC - There is a ton of content on this one, not just dev stuff. Most that I've used has been pretty nice. 4) learnnowonline - I specifically used their java version when it came out. I think some of it is a bit presumptive so if you're aren't exactly on their wavelength it gets a bit, uh, difficult. 5) msevents - Just to add on to msdn above, tack on dot microsoft dot com and there is a plethora of short webcasts on most topics, ranging from basic to advanced. Just thought I'd throw those out there, too!

lwburrows
lwburrows

Check out Spiceworks forums - you want Tech answers? you got em. It's one of the best peer forums I have ever seen and it is totally free as is the software!! I use Spiceworks to manage my network. Here's the link: http://community.spiceworks.com/

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

I remember the bad old days of the mainframe and I am not falling for the attempts to push the Genie back in the mainframe bottle. All this web app stuff is just about laying a trap for the dumb end user with bright trinkets. What the industry wants is to charge a passive user base up the butt in a pay for play scheme. IF users fall for this they deserve the screwing they get. Just say no to anything other people control: code, cable, phone you name it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

They look and act like ordinary web sites to me. They opened in my browser without installing any additional plug-ins or executables..

maj37
maj37

Thanks for the list looks like at least some of these could be very good.

maj37
maj37

Thanks for the 2 links in the e-mail. Since I missed the little note at the top and you named the links two different things I thought there were two lists. Oh well, I'll pay more attention next time.

Snak
Snak

My (currently) preferred site (in addition to TR of course) for learning a new programming language, or boning up on a skill is w3schools.com.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What websites, besides TechRepublic of course, do you find yourself returning to when you are looking to enhance your skills?