I’ve had a surprisingly lengthy lull amidst projects at work lately. Instead of sitting around and watching dust collect on my desktop* I’ve decided to take the opportunity and time to study, study, study. And get paid for it, too!
Just a portion (in no particular order) of the many topics I’ve been taking the time these last couple of weeks to investigate, read up, try out, watch videos on, and all-around study:
- ASP.NET Dynamic Data
- WCF RIA Services
- Windows Phone 7
- Expression (Blend and Web mostly, but also SuperPreview)
- Visual Studio 2010 (we’re still on VS2008 at work and only for about six months now)
- .NET 4.0 (as a whole)
I’ve especially been consuming quite a few of the MIX09 sessions. I might start looking through the Tech·Ed ones next — speaking of which, I should see about
begging asking the higher ups if I can go to next year's since two other guys on my team went to this year's. It’s also in Atlanta next year. (I may talk more about my thoughts on Georgia in the future.)
I like learning the craft, but I like crafting things more. I realize, though, that it is important to stop and take time to discover new tools. Otherwise you might find yourself reaching for the same trusty hammer on every project. And while the hammer might be really good and you’re getting pretty good with it (read: comfortable), there may be other better tools to solve each particular problem.
I should stop trying to use DIY hardware analogies since in reality I’m liable to bust a thumb if I try to do “real men’s work”.
Part of being a specialist is not just knowing various technical skills but being aware of yet more skills. After all, what makes a great developer is usually not that he’s already a C# wiz or a Python guru but that, if need be, he can go pick up a Ruby book over the weekend and be ready to lay some Rails on Monday. Learns quickly. Adaptability.
I’ve also been working towards taking the first exam on the way to some sort of Microsoft certification, but I’ll talk more about that some other time.
*The dust is especially bad where I work. A few days and I find myself wiping off the monitors or the top of my computer and desk. I sometimes think it is due to the high concentration of people over sixty and their old person skin shedding. Yeah. I’ll let that sink in.