Does Google Hurt Efficiency?

The other night we were doing a hardware upgrade on a cluster and testing. We were working with the command clusvcadm to relocate a service from one host in the cluster to another but the originating server kept getting power fenced. We assumed it was the command switches we were running so I went straight to the man page, my coworker went straight to google. Just for reference there is a 10 year difference in our ages, I grew up with man pages and it is a pet peeve of mine when either no man page exists or it is a terrible placeholder. I digress, through his search he came upon a webified man page while I was reading the man page. When I needled him about it his answer was, “But mine is nicely formatted and I can search the web page.” I was surprised, I can search the man page too, right in the pager and can even change man page viewers by changing the PAGER variable.

Three weeks ago I needed to bring up an https server on Ubuntu and spent 45 minutes googling around reading old, outdated or completely wrong howtos before finally going to help.ubuntu.com and 20 minutes later it was done.

The same thing happened over the past couple of weeks working with Xen and VirtualBox. I’ve toiled away looking at poorly written documentation and even mentioned it in my last RedHat class. The instructor worked for Red Hat and took umbrage with my statement. He was amazed that I did not think Red Hat had great documentation, I was even more shocked that he considered their documentation more than rudimentary. Have a look for your self at the Red Hat documentation.

Just this week I was helping a friend who is the server and network administrator for a small school system configure the proper etherchannel load balancing for a server and he was frustrated at the Cisco documentation. I was astonished. It seemed that he was overwhelmed. He was stuck googling around trying find the “right” documentation rather than learning the layout of the Cisco documentation website.

The point of this post is that lately it seems I waste more time trying to find good information through searching on the web than trying to find the best source of information.

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