So little time, so much to learn
Gone are the days for the software developer where you can learn one technology inside out, sit back and work at the same job for 20 years. Continuous learning, the ongoing voluntary pursuit of knowledge, is becoming an essential pursuit to most working in the software industry.
The technological landscape is evolving so fast that most of us programmers have to continually learn, or risk having an increasingly extinct set of skills.
There are a number of tools that I have started to use which have helped me better keep apace with some of the changing I.T. industry landscape.
Technical Podcasts – Learn On The Go
If, like me, you have a relatively long commute into work [30 minutes or more], there are many excellent ways that you can utilize this time. Some like to read newspapers, listen to music, enjoy a good novel; I like to use this time to ‘sharpen my axe‘ by catching up on the latest goings on in the software development world through listening to technical podcasts.
Using this time to listen to podcasts has been highly beneficial to me in a number of ways:
- Learn the lingo. Once you start listening to podcasts you are much more aware and confident with many of the phrases and terms used within the industry. Terms like ‘big iron’, ‘cranking code’, ‘heisenbug’, ‘pokemon handling’, ‘stringly typed’ etc are all now part of a colorful vocabulary thanks to listening to others using them confidently on podcasts.
- Bleeding Edge. Most of the podcasts pick up on new technologies or practices. If someone uses a brand new technical term in the office that starts you sweating that they will ask you your opinion on something that you cannot even spell… you can be sure there is a podcast for that.
- Different Viewpoints. Going outside your comfort zone, like listening to web podcasts when you have spent your life as a desktop developer, will open your horizons to similar, but different ways, to approach your own field (you never know, you might pick up a new golden hammer).
- General Consensus. As well as picking up new terms and technologies it also helps to reinforce current terms or technologies that you are already using.
Lots of Great Podcasts
Here are some recommended podcasts that I am currently listening to:
- .NET Rocks : My favorite podcast for technical content. Excellent audio quality, content and banter. Not as Microsoft centric as you might think.
- Hanselminutes : Again good content and quality but sometimes steers away from tech relevant subjects.
- Herding Code. Great web podcast. Sometimes a bit Microsoft centric.
- Stuff You Should Know : My favorite non-technical podcast. Good for some respite from too much tech talk. Josh and Chuck are very funny and present some dry topics in an entertaining way. Some great and varied subjects like ‘How Pinball works‘ to ‘How the scientific method works’.
What other resources have you come across?
Have you had any experience with any of the resources I have mentioned, what did you think?