Web Reviews: Answers to (Nearly) All Life’s Questions

How-to heaven: Learn the inner workings of everything from income taxes to home design.

December 1, 2004

How-to Roundup:


If you’ve got a question about how something works—like that old water heater—or how to get something done—like organize your desk—there’s a good chance you’ll find an answer at one of these how-to Web sites. Each one covers a broad range of categories with detailed explanations that make sense even if you have no knowledge of the topic. The strengths of both sites are the sheer volume of information and simple search tools. But all the data comes with a warning: It’s easy to get overwhelmed and sidetracked as you wade through the sites to find what you came for. These sites can satisfy your own curiosity or those of your clients and customers.

  • HowStuffWorks.com. It’s easy to go about your daily routine without really understanding how the “stuff” around you really works. Do you know how photocopiers can shoot out exact replicas of a document in seconds? Or how your PDA can store so much data without a hard drive? If you’re the curious type, you can find answers here. Browse 10 categories, including Computer Stuff, Auto Stuff, Home Stuff, and Money Stuff.

    • Helpful Features: A particularly useful article under the Home Stuff channel, How Setting Up a Home Office Works, walks you through the software, hardware, and communications systems you’ll need to work effectively from home. And just for fun, find out How Krispy Kremes Work by going behind the scenes at the doughnut factory.
  • eHow.com. So now you know how stuff works, but what if you still don’t know how to get something done? Here, you can find instructions on how to complete countless tasks, from How to Handle Difficult Clients to using proper Etiquette in business and social situations. The site design is simple, allowing you to access how-to solutions by clicking on any of a dozen categories, such as Home/Garden, Careers/Education, and Family/Relationships. The drawback of this site is its lack of photos and illustrations, which make it harder to understand the more complex tasks. Also, you may find some explanations a bit too simple, leaving you wanting more guidance.

Kelly Quigley

Kelly Quigley is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.

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