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It’s an interesting time in computing technology. At one point there was a dearth of information available for solving a given problem, or educating ourselves on broader topics so that we can solve problems in the future. With dozens, perhaps hundreds or thousands of web sites and content available (for free, in many cases) from vendors, peers, even colleges and universities, it seems like there is actually too much information. Who has the time to absorb all this information and training? Even if you had the inclination, where to start?
In fact, it seems so overwhelming that I often hear people saying that they can’t find the training they need, or that vendor X or Y “doesn’t help their users”. On questioning these folks, however, I often find that they – and sometimes I - haven’t put in the effort to learn what resources we have.
That’s where blogs, like this one, can help. If you follow a blog, either by checking it often or perhaps subscribing to the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed, you’ll be able to spread out the search or create a mental filter for the information you need.
But it’s not enough just read a blog or a web page. The creators need real feedback – what doesn’t work, and what does. Yes, you’re allowed to tell a vendor or writer “This helped me because…” so that you reinforce the positives. To be sure, bring up what doesn’t work as well – that’s fine. But be specific, and be constructive. You’d be surprised at how much it matters. I know for a fact at Microsoft we listen – there is a real live person that reads your comments. I’m sure this is true of other vendors, and I also know that most blog authors – yours truly most especially – wants to know what you think.
In this blog entry I’d to call your attention to three resources you have at your disposal, and how you can use them to help. I’ll try to bring up things like this from time to time that I find useful, and cover in them in more depth like this. Think of this as a synopsis of a longer set of resources that you can use to filter whether you want to research further, bookmark, or forward on to a circle of friends where you think it might help them.
I’ll start with a great site that walks you through the process of designing a solution from a data-first perspective. As you know, I believe all computing is merely re-arranging data. If you follow that logic as well, you’ll realize
that whenever you create a solution, you should start at the data-end of the application. This resource helps you do that. Even if you don’t use the specific technologies the instructions use, the concepts hold for almost any other technology that deals with data. This should be a definite bookmark for a developer, DBA, or Data Architect.
When I mentioned my admiration for this resource here at Microsoft, the team that created it contacted me and asked if I’d share an e-mail address to my readers so that you can comment on it. You’re guaranteed to be heard – you can suggest changes, talk about how useful – or not – it is, and so on. Here’s that address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I learn by example. I also like having ready-made, live, functional demos that show the completed solution at work. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how a complex, complete, hybrid application that bridges on-premises systems with cloud-based databases, code, functions and more, this is it. It’s a stock-trading simulator, and you can get everything from the design to the code itself, or you can just play with the application. It’s running on Windows Azure, the actual production servers we use for everything else.
Along with that stock-trading application, you have a full demonstration and usable code sample of a web-based service available. If you’re a developer, this is a style of code you need to understand for everything from iPhone development to a full Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) environment.
So check out these resources. I’ll post more from time to time as I run across them. Hopefully they’ll be as useful to you as they are to me. Oh, and if you have a comment on any of the resources, let them know. And if you have any comments about these or any of my entries, feel free to post away.
To quote a famous TV Show: “Hello Seattle – I’m listening…”