The Kaptain on … stuff

09 Sep, 2009

A Techno-Geek’s Guide to Encyclopedic Knowledge

Posted by: TheKaptain In: Development

Do you make keeping up with technology a priority? Have you found a way to prevent drowning in the vast sea of content AND still keep abreast of everything you want to? Me neither, but here’s where I go to learn new things, find solutions and keep up with the general state of the union regarding software I use; not to mention keeping track of what new tools are available to speed development.  This is far from an exhaustive list but I wanted to concentrate on primarily free sources of information and tooling. Yes ladies and gentlemen pretty much everything mentioned on this page requires at most an internet connection and a web browser to use.

DISCLAIMER: yes, this is heavily geared towards(but not exclusive to) Groovy-esque sources. What can I say – it’s where I spend most of my time.


Google… in General

If you want to find something – well let’s just say any service that is so pervasive it becomes a verb in the language might be useful.  Learning how to harness the power of the Google architecture can greatly enhance your learning experience. And I can’t see myself Bing’ing anytime soon.

  1. Google Search: Knowing and using the Google search syntax properly can be a very powerful tool for finding specific tech-geekie knowledge.
  2. Google Reader: Listening to the right content can save you a lot of time when it comes to getting the most out of your code. Even if you don’t read it everyday, combined with Gears and searchability this provides another tool in the fight against techno-ignorance that doesn’t rely on an internet connection.
  3. Google Mail: I combine mailing list subscriptions with filters to automatically organize content. Incoming messages from lists are archived and labeled accordingly by filter rules. With Gears installed I’ve got an off-line searchable database of grassroots questions and answers, similar to what an on-line service like MarkMail provides. It’s hard to be the ongoing discussion of community members sharing their best tips, tricks and gotchas.
  4. Google code: A great place to find open source projects that can assist you at work and provide valuable  learning materials. And yes, the link targets Groovy :).


Aggregators

Some kind people do most of the work for you – taking themed content and putting it all together in one place.

  1. DZone: One of my favorite sources of  techie style news.
  2. GroovyBlogs: A great example of ‘eating your own dog food’, this is a Grails powered site courtesy of one of the authors of Grails in Action. Most of the Groovy related blog articles I read come from this source.
  3. Grails Tutorials: A nice collection of tutorial articles related to Grails and Groovy.
  4. GR8Forums: Brand new, this site has the potential to be a great discussion spot.


Community Sharing

There are certain places that encourage community and knowledge sharing more than others.

  1. Groovy Console in The Cloud: This is an amazing example of an application exposing a Groovy console on the Google AppEngine, complete with community support for running, saving and commenting example code.  Since the code is freely available, there’s also already a Spock console here in the cloud forked/cloned from it.
  2. Github and Gists: More places to share code in project and/or snippet form.
  3. StackOverflow: A community effort to put together almost 300,000(and rising) questions and answers related to programming. If you have a question to ask, head over here – chances are someone else has already given an answer. It really is impressive how well this still evolving site functions.
  4. Podcasts: JavaPosse and the Grails podcast are on top of my list and usually get listened to during my commute to work.There are hundreds of tech related podcasts out there; pick one or two and give them a listen,  you won’t regret it.
  5. mrhaki : OK, this guy gets special mention just for busting out code examples for pretty much every Groovy feature you can possibly imagine. Seriously the guy posts 20+ times a month on average.


Home Pages

These aren’t necessarily up to date at all times, but are great places to start looking for generalized knowledge and additional resource material.

  1. Groovy: Pay particular attention to the ‘Cookbook Examples’ and the ‘Modules’ available to quickly add functionality.
  2. Grails: A particularly rich and well organized site – with the latest update it’s also very pretty.
  3. Griffon: The builder documentation linked from here, combined with the example scripts included with SwingPad, get you up to speed quickly on all of the buildery goodness available in Griffon.


Useful and Inspiring

These are resources I use to step out of the box and to remind myself that it’s not only in elegant code that geekiness lies.

  1. Lifehacker: I get into trouble a lot for this one; in my house whenever someone asks me “How do I do {fill in the blank}?” I invariably respond with “Well what does Lifehacker say?” My personal favorite is the bundle wrapping method. With a nice mix of techie and common sense goodness, I love to follow this site.
  2. Make magazine: In need of a DIY project to fill up the weekend? From the Minty Boost for a $20 portable USB charger to robots this place takes geeking out entirely to the next level.
  3. Jonathon Coulton: With eye-popping geekiness, Jonathon brings us such wonderful classics as “Code Monkey” and “Re Your Brains” – and under a Creatives Commons license as well!


Twitter

Use with caution. More than any other source of data, this one can end up being seriously distracting. I’m careful about who I listen to, while simultaneously trying to remind myself that nobody cares what I had for breakfast or how much I enjoyed it. Have you tried Twitter yet? Not as easy as it sounds buster, believe you me. Just wait and see. If you can keep yourself from jumping every time a new Tweet lands at your desktop, this can be the freshest, fastest way to satisfy your tech cravings.


Books

OK, so these aren’t free, but if you want to jumpstart your knowledge on a particular piece of technology, software or framework, picking up a recent book on the subject can truly help. I try to add a new book to the library every month, but the hard part is really finding the time to read and apply the new knowledge.



I don’t expect that these suggestions are for everyone, but hopefully a few of you out there in the interwebs will find some of them helpful. And feel free to share what works for you if I’ve missed anything.






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Tales of development, life and the folly that goes along with both.

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