Summary: Rule Maker investing involves learning what makes your favorite companies tick, but where should investors go to learn more about the beverage industry, computer networking, and wireless technology? Industry Web sites such as Beverage Online, Light Reading, and WirelessClick are a good place to start.

We get a leg up on other investors holding stocks long term. Not only do we avoid the frictional costs of trading, but we learn how companies really operate: where the sweet spot for their profits lies and what drives the business. In a nutshell, Rule Maker investors are always on the lookout for more about businesses and less about stock prices.

After all, learning how a business lives and breathes is what I like about investing. Watching Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) stock charts on Bloomberg Television isn't my idea of fun.

No, we need to know how Rule Maker Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) makes so many of its acquisitions work. We need to know how, for example, Cisco negotiated a deal to buy privately held start up Cerent Corp. in two and a half hours for nearly $7 billion, and how it knew the deal would pay off handsomely. Nothing but net for Cisco on that deal, according to Wall Street Journal writer Scott Thurm who wrote an article in March about that purchase, giving investors an inside look at Cisco's crack acquisition team and methodology.

I want to learn more about the relationship between Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and its bottlers, what it takes to get shelf space at Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), trends in beverage transportation and distribution, the incentive and training process Pfizer uses to make its sales force the best in the industry, how Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) is going to keep its edge as the chip industry expands beyond the PC.

But where should investors get this information? Beyond the annual and quarterly reports, the regular drumbeat of market-driven news stories, and analyst reports -- which can be very difficult for private investors to obtain -- where can investors go to systematically build their understanding of the beverage market, the computer networking industry, or the Linux software movement? Just waiting for Fortune magazine or Business Week to write a cover story won't cut it.

That's the point of this Rule Maker article. I'm new to this portfolio but have been covering many of the Rule Maker companies on the Fool's news desk and at trade newspapers before that. As such, I've compiled a list of my favorite websites on these companies, along with a bit of what the site provides. It isn't long or comprehensive -- in fact it has big holes -- but it might provide a few ideas. None of the sources are meant to be definitive, they just add a few arrows to the quiver. Hopefully you'll find some of it useful.

More important than my ideas, however, are yours. I'd love to see what sites Rule Maker investors use to keep up with Intel, JDS Uniphase (Nasdaq: JDSU), and Coke. I have no doubt many Fool readers have better sources than me.

My background includes a lot of work at trade newspapers, so these sources are big on my list. Let's start with the optical networking industry. Reuters and The New York Times didn't break the story that telecom equipment company Lucent (NYSE: LU) was buying privately held Chromatis for $4.5 billion, or that networking darling Sycamore (Nasdaq: SCMR) was thinking about buying Sirocco.

No, a little website called Light Reading got there first. Now, Rule Maker investors don't need to speculate on who's buying whom, but Light Reading is a good place to start if you're hungry for information about the crowd JDSU runs with. It focuses exclusively on the optical networking industry, cranks out new stories daily, covers up and coming firms many people haven't heard of, and provides good background reports to get investors up to speed.

Also check out Pioneer Consulting, a market research firm specializing on high- speed telecom networks and technologies. Scott Clavenna is the company's principal analyst. I've read his reports, spoken with him once, and he's really given me a boost in understanding the optical industry.

For the Intel crowd, other Fools showed me the trade association Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International, or SEMI. It offers industry background, monthly and quarterly statistics like book-to-bill ratios, daily news that comes from the association's more than 2,000 members, and the SEMI stock index, which tracks the performance of 71 member companies. I also recently discovered Semiconductor International, a site that covers the industry in amazing, though often very complex detail. In addition to breaking news, an index, and regular in-depth stories, it has special sections on the stages of manufacturing such as assembly and packaging, lithography, and test and measurement.

For Nokia (NYSE: NOK) devotees, I've come across a few sites that cover the wireless industry, but I'm still on the prowl. The Telecom Analyst, which covers fixed line carriers, equipment providers, and wireless, has some good opinion-editorial pieces. The World of Wireless Communications, sponsored by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association aggregates content from Newsbytes, Dow Jones, Bloomberg, and other sources. And I just found WirelessClick (after doing a Google search), which looks like a winner. In addition to original news and content, it's packed with information investors love: a dictionary of wireless acronyms, industry facts, and market share numbers.

On the beverage front, Beverage News is probably the leading trade newspaper in the non-alcoholic beverage industry, but almost none of its content is free. I bookmarked Beverage Online, which includes coverage of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage industry. It's very broad, but I'll check it out over the next few weeks. Its feature story on Transportation Outsourcing, written by a businessman who's worked in the leasing industry for years, provided a useful overview of trends in the trucking industry. It's the kind of depth on a relevant but less than sexy topic you rarely get in the mainstream press.

I'm starting to run long here, but these are the Rule Maker related sites I visit most often. As you can see, there's a lot of territory uncovered. In particular, I'm on the lookout for sites that focus on the pharmaceutical, financial services, and apparel retail industries. If you have suggestions, I'd love to see them on the Rule Maker Strategy discussion board.

Have a great day.