Gotta Come Up With A Better Learning Plan
Posted September 3, 2006 at 2:49 PM by Ben Nadel
I love to learn. Love it! The problem is, at some point, I need to sleep, eat, workout, be with my girlfriend, see my friends, and have a life in general. And, that all needs to fit into a relatively small amount of time. Right now, I wake up early and get to the office about an 1.5 hours before work starts. This is considered "Ben Time" and is where I do a lot of work on my own site and a lot of learning.
Right now, though, the industry is expanded faster than my dedication to learning. I have been spending soo much time on my site that I have not spent enough time keeping up with the following:
- ColdFusion Frameworks
- Flex 2.0
- Modernization of Flash
And a few other "key words" that are important to my line of work. What I need to do is really come up with a plan. Instead of working on my site every morning before work, I need to pick X number of mornings to dedicate to new stuff.
It's just so hard to do that. I have this immense pressure that I place on myself all the time to be learning. For a while the pressure was to learning ColdFusion frameworks. Then I put that on hold and really dove head first into my personal site (as a learning experience and experimental playground). But this weekend, after taking a look at JQuery.com, the pressure flooded back. I suddenly realized that there was all this stuff out there that I was not taking advantage of. Stuff maybe "I" could be using.
So, starting now (and by that I mean Tuesday), I am gonna start making a huge effort to take time to learn new stuff that I have been putting off.
Wouldn't it be great if there was a magic learning pill that one could take to learn new techniques?
Magic pill would be awesome. But then again, it'd rather be packed with things to do rather than bored having learned it all :)
I long ago decided that 30 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon should be spent doing nothing but reading the news. Some people do it with a newspaper, I do it with RSS. (As I've mentiond, I prefer Google Reader as I am at random computers all day, but Feed Demon is also well worth the price.)
I look at it this way: my job is to be the best ColdFusion programmer, web developer, and webmaster that I can be. This industry moves way, way too fast to keep up by picking up a new book every few weeks. The 45 minutes per day that I spend just reading blogs and keeping up on the industry will easily save me hours or weeks of development time.
I've occasionally had people balk at this, but have been able to back it up with provable numbers each time. The latest was an AJAX-enabled shopping cart system that went from nothing to fully-functional in just 2 days, without building on anything but the Yahoo! UI Library. Similarly, the CF hacks that I learn by keeping up with Sean C, Ray C, you, Ben F, and others may only save me a few minutes out of each day, but those minutes add up over time. And I haven't been caught behind the eight ball with a hacked server or a too-old-to-upgrade web app in longer than I can remember.
A little every day. It's worth your time.
In other news, let us know what you end up thinking of Flex2. Me? Meh. In about the same amount of time as it takes to develop a Flex2 app, I can do roughly the same thing with vanilla HTML and maybe some whiz-bang with the Yahoo! UI library. Plus, I don't have to worry about Flash load times or version incompatibilities, etc. It, like Flash Forms, seems like a great idea for really small or really targeted apps, but not so great for large or complex projects. (Dare I say it? Spectra!)
But that may just be me.
I agree with your RSS mentality. I try to that right now. At any given moment I have a FireFox window open with one tab on Feed-Squirrel.com and the other tab on FullAsAGoog.com. I used to visit individual web sites, but that is just too time consuming. Now, i only go to the website if I see something in the RSS feed that draws me.
Other than reading though, my problem is simply practice. And that I will try to deal with a few times a week.
As far as FLEX, I do not see it for website usage. Only for application development (ie. not public sites, but web-based software). My company just got some 8 hour DVD traning course on it, which I should hopefully get to sooner than later. We will see.
Dude, we have the same goals :)