21 February 2009

I'm looking forward to the chance to get some code done unabated by distractions of living with somebody: synchronized meals, activities, favorite TV shows, etc. No disractions. Not if I can help it.

Often, I will run across an idea or concept that I'd like to explore but don't have the time to immediately pursue. I acrrue these ideas in an email thread sent to myself. I call it my "negative resume" - a listing of all the things I don't have any experience and can't claim to know.

When that list gets too long (for me that's about 10 items), I start popping things off the queue, attacking each entry. The items on the list are usually innocuous. Occasionally I'll add significant changes / ideas that involve starting in on a rapidly new technology. In this case I make sure to either qualify a very specific, obtainable success scenario, or I diminish the other suggestions and move them to another list. In a way, the process is very much like updating a bug tracker.

I'm tracking bugs in my knowledge. Deciding which bug to remedy first requires prioritization.

You can imagine how complicated this process was before I added, "learn basics of Project Managment" to a list!

The last list included the following: "try out H2 database", "See if you can get Seam Framework 2.0 working under Maven," "check out Hibernate Search," "Read a few chapters from Manning's iPhone In Action," and so on. I don't like to let more than 10 things accrue because then there's no chance I could get it push through all of them in a weekend - even with intense focus (which I am not usually blessed with on weekends, above and beyond my day-job hours. )

The sentiment behind these bursts of learning is simple. As my dad always said (I'm sure he still does, he's just no had reason to recite of late...): "It's a sinch by the inch, hard by yard."

This weekend I've got another such list. I'm looking forward to address some of the items on this list with no direction or instinct besides the chorus of prioritizing voices in my head.

What do you want to learn?