Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Using Google and Bing in Systems Administration - A Brief Note.

Use both search engines


Although Microsoft and Google claim that they do not alter search results to promote their interests, they do. It's not necessarily a bad tactic [1]. Just be aware of the behavior.

General Steps

  1. If you have a general problem, troubleshoot until you have a specific issue/question.
  2. If you cannot figure out the answer, run it through both Google and Bing.
  3. If you get results, it's either known configuration problem or a known issue with your product. Hopefully there will be a solution.
  4. If you get no results, you can generally assume that you are making a common configuration mistake, the solution to which is considered so self-evident that user community of your product doesn't feel it's worth writing up. Re-read your manuals, guides, and tutorials.

See the XKCD flowchart for a similar process for family IT problem resolution.

No Results At All

If you get no results on a specific issue search for a product that is specific to a particular domain, it is worth just searching for the product itself. In my professional opinion, if you get no results for the general search, your use of the product might be risky for your organization, depending on your specific circumstances of course. If you get empty searches in Google and Bing, the product is not used by enough users to have been blogged about or to have been the subject of a forum post. Also, it's not well known enough that anyone has cared to review it. You may have trouble hiring administrators for the product, and, if the company has bad tech support, you have no other support options.

Notes

[1] For example, if Google truly feels its cloud apps are better than Microsoft's, they should list theirs first. Otherwise, they are not acting in their customers' best interests (from their point view). Likewise, for Microsoft.