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.
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.
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.
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.