Jun 13 2011

Time for a Little PD

No, PD doesn’t stand for PowerShell Development. It stands for Professional Development. Sharks either swim or die (and yes, I know that’s not 100% accurate, but I need a hook on which to hang this lesson). Knowledge workers either develop more knowledge or become buggy whip manufacturers. It’s that simple. Keep moving/learning or die/become obsolete. I’m voting for continuing to learn.

In keeping with this, during SQL Cruise Alaska (I’ll be posting more on my thoughts about the trip), I was privileged to sit through Buck Woody’s (blog|twitter) presentations on “Three C’s on the High Seas.” Buck is a great teacher and not at all afraid to hand out homework, which he did before and during the cruise. Confession time, I did fail to do one pre-cruise assignment and Buck marked my grades down accordingly. I think I’m going to get a gentleman’s C on this one (which would make it “Four C’s” but I digress). One assignment was to give yourself a measurable goal of reading twelve (12) books on professional development related to your goals over the next year. I will read the following books and post short reviews about them:

Presentations in Action by Jerry Weissman: 80 memorable presentation lessons from the masters. I’m always looking to improve my presentations, so any help I can get is worth investigating.

Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath: Basically, learn your strengths and start to work them. This was supposed to be part of my pre-cruise homework. I’ll hand it in late and take the hit.

Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin: Innovation by building a tribe of people that support that innovation. Plus, I just like reading Seth Godin books.

Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business by David Siteman Garland: Entrepreneurial approaches to marketing. Technically I’m not technical any more. I’m a marketing wonk. Might as well learn about the job.

Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself by Daniel H. Pink: Shifting working patterns in the new business models operating these days. Sounds good to someone who lives in the US and works for a company in England.

Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding Technical Talent: How to find good developers. I still think of myself as a developer, so I might as well try to be a good one. One way is to understand how they’re recognized and emulate that behavior.

Moving Applications to the Cloud on the Microsoft Azure Platform by Eugenio Pace, et al: Yeah, it’s on Buck’s list and it looked interesting. I’m convinced that we need to pursue knowledge of SQL Azure and understand how to work with it as part of keeping our jobs.

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything: Not sure I buy it, but since I’m so involved with the SQL Server community, might as well try to understand how they work.

The Long Tail: Again, trying to understand my new job within our changing world.

The Cloud At Your Service: I’m All In. Of course defining what I’m all in for is a different matter entirely.

The Wuffie Factor: Got this one from Tom LaRock’s (blog|twitter) reading list. He has some good stuff.

That’s my list. Watch for the blogged reviews. I do reserve the right to change my mind on my reading list, so don’t come back on me in 6 months complaining that I didn’t read the book I said I was going to.

Your turn.

Mar 30 2009

Reading to Learn

I just finished chapter 1 of Alastair Aitchison’snew book on SQL Server spatial data, “Beginning Spatial with SQL Server 2008.” If this is the beginners book… oh boy. The advanced book must be insane. Seriously though, Mr. Aitchison seems to have written a fantastic book. I’m going to tear through it as fast as I can because I’ve got two projects that are looking to start using spatial data and quite frankly, I’m a bit lost.

There’s a great discussiongoing on over at SSC as to the worth of technical books for DBA’s. It’s based on this editorialby Tony Davis. I’m surprised by the number of people who say they don’t use books. It seems that a lot more people use blogs and articles and discussion groups to learn. Maybe I’m showing my age a bit, but I don’t think a blog post or an article is going to get the depth and knowledge that Mr. Aitchison is displaying in this book. I know I’m regularly opening Kalen Delaney’s Inside SQL Server 2005 (and the new one for 2008 just came out) to look up bits & pieces of information that just isn’t as readily available on the web. Also, it’s worth pointing out, except for the editing that comes from people who read this blog, no technical review is done of this information. I might be right about the things I post, but I could be VERY wrong. Same with any other blog you read, including blogs by the big names. Despite the errors that creep into books (and trust me, they do), books are very carefully scrutinized by multiple sets of eyes to try to catch those errors prior to publication. They miss some, but they try not to miss any. Few blogs are like that. Not that many technical publications are terribly strict about technical accuracy either. I generally find more good information in the right books than anywhere else.

End of rant. I need to get back to reading this excellent book.