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Rule the Web

By Julia Wotipka, Published on October 30, 2007
Rule the Web: How to Do Anything and Everything on the Internet - Better, Faster, Easier

I consider myself a deep web research pro. I've been using the Internet for over 15 years. Back in the day when V.E.R.O.N.I.C.A. (Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Net-Wide Index to Computer Archives) - was a computer search engine for Gopher, the prelude to today's Web. Fast-forward to this year's Nerd Chic best-selling book Rule the Web: How to Do Anything and Everything on the Internet - Better, Faster, Easier by Mark Frauenfelder, is not to be missed. Recently one reviewer described it as "The Joy of Cooking, only it's about the Web instead of meatloaf."

Frauenfelder, who co-founded bOING bOING magazine and writes Boing Boing Blog, which was recently hailed by the New York Times as "one of the leading media sites for young technologically aware sites" captures the beauty of the Web as no one else has before.

Rule the Web is not your dry, technical how-to manual. It's a valuable, entertaining guide to getting stuff done with the Web. Best of all, it comes with a companion website, packed with chapter updates, podcast interviews with guest experts, tutorial videos and live call-in talk shows. In short, it will help you get things done in your online and offline life, by using useful, mostly free Web resources. How perfect is that?

Frauenfelder begins by exploring the entire website set-up process, quickly and easily, explaining the difficult in a way that makes an experienced web-savvy pro like myself mutter "who knew?" Setting up discussion boards, buying domain names, and explaining what blogs are and why you should read them. According to the author, "a good blog is a log of interesting stuff" and a good blogger could be considered a "pre-surfer - a trusted person who spends a lot of time online looking for interesting things from the web and the rest of the world to write about." He must know what he's talking about. Frauenfelder's own blog is one of the five most visited blogs on the Web, with almost 7.5 million page views a month.

He's also a big believer in the joy of Google, demonstrating its useful tools and gadgets as the starting place for building and finding the stuff that many of us take for granted and some of us never imagined was even there to look for.

Graphs, sidebars and website addresses provide additional insight, particularly in the Shopping and Selling chapter. Provided are tips on how to send a mechanic to inspect a used car anywhere in the U.S., how to search for a book on more than one site at once, and where to find digital copies of manuals for everything from kitchen appliances, phones, TVs and even waffle makers.

Tracking news and entertainment online, looking for the best information in concise, efficient summaries, together with photos, video and audio and links to original stories can be a tall order. Along the way readers can be blocked by "paywalls," registration pages, or foreign language issues. Frauenfelder offers efficient many tricks, which as promised, will help you get the news "so fast it will leave skidmarks on your inbox." TiVo for radio? You'll find the closest thing with background on gadgets and music sites that do a great job on steering you to music that you might have missed. The Health, Exercise and Sports chapter includes a trick that actually helps you find recipes that match the ingredients you have in your fridge.

As Fraunenfelder explains, the original purpose for computers and the Internet was for business, not pleasure. But things changed as Web evolved and computers became more productive, resourceful and fun. The increase in personal productivity online has brought with amazing tools and opportunities to work with people, rather than just machines. The Work, Organization and Productivity section includes easy tips on how to use Web-based online applications, how to use wikis to form virtual offices, and how to manage projects with colleagues in other locations.

Find roaming WiFi? Get out of a phone contract? Figure out which social network is best for you? Want to text your friend money? Skype? Bluetooth? How are we supposed to know everything we can accomplish on the Internet? There is no question that this book delivers on its promise, which is to show you how you can unlock the web's potential for yourself. You'll find it a useful treasure, which you regularly highlight, underline and tip corners of the pages. Indeed, this is the book for surfers of every level to keep close to your PC, cherished as a USB flash drive. It is the digest of useful knowledge about things you never heard of but wish you had. Frauenfelder delivers nerd chic to the common man. Viva la geeks!

Rule the Web: How To Do Anything On The Internet - Better Faster, Easier by Mark Frauenfelder. St. Martin's Press, $14.95; 2007)

cover of Rule the Web: How to Do Anything and Everything on the Internet---Better, Faster, EasierRule the Web: How to Do Anything and Everything on the Internet---Better, Faster, Easier
Author: Mark Frauenfelder
Binding: Paperback
List price: $14.95 USD
Amazon price: $15.04 USD