How do you keep up-to-date on your technical knowledge? Like many IT folks who work on a large range of technologies, I have a few shelves in my office filled with reference books. I keep this material updated and because I’m often sent review copies of new books and requests to review the latest books from technology publishers, I have a good idea of what technical materials are out there to help me do my job.
When I tell people that I still use real reference books, I often get a response along the lines of “You know, all the information you need is on the web somewhere.I’m surprised you just don’t search it out. Paper books are just so 20th century.” It’s true that a huge percentage of the technical reading I do involves web research. And the folks who are surprised that I use reference books have a point: The web is incredibly useful for finding reference information. It offers speedy searching and the ability to find topics that reference materials might not cover in depth. But technical books have advantages too: The information is right there in front of you; it has a table of contents and an index; and it’s easy to find information about specific computer technologies or software applications.
Tying these two technologies together, reference books and the Internet, I’ve got a subscription to the services offered by http://www.books24x7.com/. This reference site keeps current books, reference reports, analyst information, and other resource information online for access from anywhere with an Internet connection. It offers information collections ranging from inexpensive individual subscriptions to books and reference materials that cover common office user applications to significant technical content focused on IT professionals. It also offers non-computer technology content, with source areas focused on general business practices, finance, and engineering.
You don’t need a subscription to browse the titles and collections, and the simplest way to determine if the site is of value to you or your business is to go take a look. You’ll be able to get a good feel for what the service offers, and if you choose, get a corporate, academic, or individual subscription to the site.
Editor’s note: While you’re at it, you might take a look at the Windows IT Pro website too—we’ve got 15 editors and more than 200 authors who are rock stars in desktop management, Group Policy, Active Directory, virtualization, SharePoint, Exchange, storage, security, scripting, systems administration, and more--writing articles (http://windowsitpro.com/Recent/), blogs (http://windowsitpro.com/Blog/index.cfm?action=blogindex&DepartmentID=990), forums (http://forums.windowsitpro.com/web/forum/default.aspx?forumid=8), and answering tons of FAQs (http://windowsitpro.com/authors/authorid/198/john-savill.html). Not everything requires a subscription fee. And if you don’t see an article on a topic that you think we should write about, you can always contact the editorial department and tell us so (http://windowsitpro.com/AboutUs/Index.cfm?Action=ContactUs).