It’s bang in the middle of tech quizzing season right now, and I’ve been getting requests from all around for tips on tech quizzing. Sure, some events are over, but ones coming up are big ones.
Now I don’t know whether the method I discuss here will be something that people may / may not like, but I leave that up to you. A few helpful pointers though before that.
- Watch some tech show. I’d personally recommend BBC World’s Click, because it’s unbiased, get’s you the latest stuff AND history, and also bags interviews from industry bigwigs like Bill Gates and Vinton Cerf. Click has also got a nice site where they put up extended interviews for free online viewing. Or you could also watch CNN-IBN’s Tech 2.0 (which also has a site). It has more of an Indian touch, and is also more idiotic. They bag less tech news, and has a lot of bullshit product reviews which look like ads.
- Subscribe to some tech magazine, if you can. I know they’re costly and can burn a hole in your pocket (if your pocket money happens to be limited, that is) – they cost around Rs 125-150 per issue – but there’s nothing like them to stay updated. PC World has the best hardware reviews and editorials, but it’s too Windows-centric. They also give Macworld and GamerPro on their DVD, so you can have that too. Digit is the other good magazine, more balanced in topic coverage, but shitty product reviews. They just hand the whole sheet of specs, and let the user decide. Thank you, I can get that from the OEM’s site / sellers too. PC World counts, because they themselves evaluate and explain why products are better, and they choose the right product, not what advertisers are pitching. In case you can’t buy them, read them in your school library, or visit their site. PC World for example has www.pcworld.in where ALL articles appearing in the magazine ARE put up in full – but you’ll have to individually hunt them out. These magazines also give out videos, software etc on DVD / CD, so get them too. Any other magazine like Chip and all are bullshit.
- Subscribe to a newsletter? Nah. Never found it useful. Too much stuff in inbox.
- Subscribe to a Digg feed? Again, nah. Browse Digg occasionally if you want, but subscribing to their feed is overkill.
- Read tech blogs. Big task, because there are too many. I’d advise you to check out the Yodel Anecdotal (the official Yahoo! blog) and Google Operating System (an unofficial Google blog that collates stuff from a variety of sources) though, they’re real good. Also worth note are Engadget and Gizmodo, but that’s for hardware mostly.
- Ditch Slashdot. It’s not really a good source to get quiz material from, because it’s highly opinionated and might set you off on the wrong track on some piece just because of the personal views of the one posting the story. It’s a pain in the ass to sift through all those stories too, so forget it.
- Get tech news. Now you can do this in multiple ways – one being going to sites like CNet, ZDnet, PC World etc and reading stuff there; which once again creates the problem of having to sift through the news articles. Believe me, it’s real easy to miss out on something important. That’s why I suggest Yahoo! News, because it’s collates the best news stories from top agencies like PC World, Reuters, AFP, AP etc. You’ll be guaranteed to get the most important news in this way.
- Phew. Long list, but regulars will already know this stuff. Anyway, I’m gonna start with my method now – some may already know it / be using it – but here goes.
I call it ‘The Wikipedia Method’. It’s really simple actually, and the description’s probably gonna be short. As simple as this – open up Wikipedia, and go to the article on some of the top companies – say Microsucks, Sony, IBM, HP, Dell, Oracle etc etc. Take only one company at a time, and expand slowly. Read the article, which WILL have hyperlinks to the company’s key people, major products, main events, etc. For example, say you take up Yahoo! Start reading the article, and whenever you encounter a link to a key person / product / event, open the page in a new tab; don’t read it right then. As you keep reading the article, keep opening stuff in new tabs. Firefox is best suited for this kinda stuff. Then, when you finish the current article, Yahoo! in this example, then move on to the NEXT tab, say, Jerry Yang. If you find more interesting links in this one, then open those too. Slowly, you’ll see how interconnected the companies are, and when you finish with a set of tabs, start afresh with a new company, say, Google. In this way, you’ll be able to get a good hold on tech history AND latest happenings. The advantage of this method is that because the data you read in one session is all interconnected to each other in some way, you’ll find it more interesting and make more sense of it; than say just randomly visiting the top company pages.
Start with a small set initially. I’d suggest you start with Apple, Microsucks, Yahoo!, Google, Sony, IBM and HP; and then expand from there on to other companies. Wikipedia’s own category pages, listed at the bottom, can help you out in expanding your list. It’s a good way of brushing up your tech knowledge, and Code Warriors whom I’ve passed this on to will also vouch for that.