For years, pundits have written about the Web's great potential as a research tool. But that's remained more potential than reality, as anybody who's spent hours slogging through the thousands of irrelevant Web sites that turn up among search engine findings can tell you.
Where can you go for help? A carefully selected wealth of research materials--full text articles from more than 800 newspapers and magazines, with a strong emphasis on business-related materials--has long been maintained on CompuServe by Information Access Co. (IAC). IAC (http://www.encarta.msn.com/library/intro.asp) recently forged an alliance with Microsoft, and the upshot is the Encarta Online Library, a slick site that delivers data smoothly and quickly. Unlimited access costs $6.95 per month, putting more than 900,000 articles within your reach. Sign up at the Web site for a free trial.
Now Hear This
Sometimes it's just too much of a hassle to get online from a remote location. But that doesn't mean your e-mail has to go unread. Get to any touchtone phone and, if you have JFax's (http://www.jfax.net) unified messaging service, punch in a toll-free number and listen to your e-mail. The computer sounds unmistakably like a computer, but it's understandable. The price: $12.50 per month for a JFax account. Another plus: Faxes and e-mail are easily forwarded to any fax machine for instant printouts.
The silicon valley dream has always been about "two guys in a garage" who hit a high-tech home run--exactly as Apple's founders, Stephen P. Jobs and Steve Wozniack, did in the early '80s. Now Guy Kawasaki (also of Apple fame) and a heavyweight group of Silicon Valley stars have joined together to form garage.com (http://www.garage.com), a one-stop Web site where fledgling high-tech entrepreneurs can get advice, check out expert forums on legal and accounting issues, and possibly even score venture capital funding. Would-be investors are also invited, to check out specs of companies seeking cash. (Prequalification is required for investors to gain entry into "Heaven," the area set up for investors.) If you're working on high-tech concepts in your garage, make a pit stop here.
Want a quick booster shot of business etiquette? Head to Eticon (http://www.eticon.com), where you'll find an etiquette tip sheet--summaries of the "Most Admired Business Behaviors" and "Rude Business Behaviors"--and lots more info on the benefits of being polite. Created by business etiquette consultant Ann Chadwell Humphries, the site's data is right on the money--and, says Humphries, if you know your etiquette, it may just put more money in your pocket.
To contact Robert McGarvey, visit his Web site at http://members.aol.com/rjmcgarvey