Most of the time, we don't need to know how a particular device works, just that it does. But if you've been wondering what happens inside all of those little black boxes around the house, have a look at How Stuff Works (http:www.howstuffworks.com).
Topics range from the simple ("How Food Works") to the frighteningly esoteric ("How C Programming Works"). The prose can get a bit technical, but generally avoids forcing entry-level readers to scramble for the nearest dictionary -- and the handy list of related links for each article can usually clear up any nagging questions left unanswered by the site's own content. For people who follow this kind of thing, the site recently won the "Cool Site of the Year" award for 1998.
Rob Pegoraro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org