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Five smart guys make five great tech sites

If you want to keep abreast of what's going on in the world of technology, you could do much worse than to follow these tech-journalism giants.

CNET has been the premier technology-news site since there have been technology-news sites. It's great to be even a small part of it. But lately I've been spending more and more of my time on one-person tech sites run by people who are among the sharpest on the Web.

The sites themselves couldn't be more different, and one specializes on Windows XP, so it's anything but a "news" site, but each one offers something of value that you won't find anywhere else.

Before I describe these tech sole proprietorships, let me plug two of my favorite CNET reporters. Elinor Mills' InSecurity Complex blog keeps me up-to-date on the latest in tech security. And I get a fresh perspective on Microsoft and its products, among other interesting tech topics, in Ina Fried's Beyond Binary blog.

The guy with his finger on the technology pulse
I get winded just reading about all the events and product announcements Harry McCracken writes about on his Technologizer site. The former PC World editor-in-chief covers topics so diverse that about the only thing they have in common is that they're all so interesting. Harry cuts through the hype and gives you the low-down quickly and simply.

By the way, Harry will be tweeting during Chris Anderson's videocast about disruptive technology on Sept. 30 at 3 p.m. Pacific time. I'll be working, but I hope to catch at least a couple of his tweets during my afternoon break.

The first word on computer security
Bruce Schneier writes about more than just security on his Schneier on Security blog, which is a good thing because you really have to read about the discovery of giant squid and the nonrandomness of coin-flipping to get a break from all the bad news. And unfortunately, there's no shortage of bad news when it comes to computer security.

Granted, many of Schneier's stories don't affect everyday PC users directly, but scan Schneier's blog whenever you need a reminder of why we need to take security so seriously.

Nobody knows more about PC annoyances than the Bassmaster
There's a lot to enjoy about computers, but for every source of PC joy there are 10 sources of PC aggravation. And when your tech hardware and software starts getting on your nerves, head over to the newsletter archive on Steve Bass's TechBite site for solutions with a touch of wry.

Along with great Windows troubleshooting tips, you'll find money-saving tricks and freeware recommendations. But my favorites are Steve's Time Wasters: deceptively difficult puzzles and games, optical illusions, stunts gone askew, and other Web wonders. The Internet the way it was and the way it should be!

A site for the operating system that wouldn't die
You have to hand it to Windows XP. The software has been around since wireless networks were young and cell phones had only 15 buttons. The fact is, XP continues to be the most widely used operating system in the world. And when your XP machine starts acting up, make Kelly Theriot's Kelly's Korner one of your first stops.

Troubleshooting's topic number one on this site, but you'll also find plenty of XP interface tweaks and links to other resources, particularly Microsoft Knowledge Base articles. This site is never going to win any design awards—some of its pages are text links in long, unbroken tables—but if it can go wrong in XP, it's probably described on Kelly's site.

Sometimes you just have to laugh
More malware, more defective hardware, more privacy breaches. Reading the daily technology news makes it easy to lose your sense of humor. Sure, you can browse over to The Onion or another humor site, but you get a whole different sensibility—or nonsensibility—from Dan Tynan and his cronies JR Raphael and "Dr. Smartass" on the ESarcasm site.

I'd like to report that I found some redeeming value on this site, but I'm still looking. (You'll find Dan's more serious take on matters technological on his Tynan on Tech blog.) If you're at all inclined to take technology—or yourself—seriously, avoid this site like the H1N1 virus!