Life in The Matrix

Last week I posted about the ongoing battle to stay current and how anymore, in software development, you have to pick and choose how you spend your valuable “personal” time in pursuing which software development topics you wish to stay abreast of or get acquainted with.  It’s certainly a grey area balancing what stuff I want to learn more about versus the stuff I need to learn more about (and more and more, determining which stuff I just can’t squeeze into either category). 


I think that many people would be surprised about the vastness of the software development landscape and the utter hopelessness of becoming a “master of all”.  Unlike most other scientific or engineering fields, the pace of change in software development is incredibly fast and constantly accelerating.  Just take a small area such as mobile development – and soon you have to make choices as to which development tool you use, which platforms you will target, which backend data storage you will use and soon you find yourself  buried in a world of necessary skills and a loudly ticking clock before those technologies are replaced by the next generation of tools/paradigms/needed features.

Just walked around the Sioux Falls Barnes & Noble last week during a quick trip up there and my beloved Software & Computer section of books has been reduced in half – probably since the books become practically obsolete in the months it takes to write them – also due to this, software developers will tell you that “our” books ironically tend to have more errors in them due to the speed in which they are rushed out.

So when I find great resources for learning new things efficiently, I take notice and dive in – and this week, the resource that impressed me the most was simply a series of YouTube videos.  At work, I got tossed into a project requiring Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Service work, and a coworker of mine suggested right away a series of videos on YouTube by a group known as Wise Owl.  I was super impressed with these – clear, easy to understand walkthroughs.  Thanks again for suggesting these Becky.


Spent a few hours today on a cold Saturday morning running through a series of about 8 videos, and when I was done I felt like Neo in The Matrix and some new information had just been downloaded into my head.

i know kung fu

Yeah, in my case, I didn’t learn kung fu, and I am not about to go home and loudly proclaim to my kids “I know Reporting Services!” but still – great tutorials are golden and make you feel empowered when you are done.  Kudos to the people at Wise Owl – they took a less than glamorous topic and turned these videos into great step-by-step lessons that I already benefited greatly from.  About an hour messing around installing it on my machine, and I am up and running and already coming up with things that I do on a weekly basis that I may setup as automated email reports.


So sure, its a topic I wasn’t planning on jumping into, but actually the nudge into the deep end of the pool was a good thing and I am making plans on how to best use this tool and its capabilities.  But for those in most fields, if you are not spending time each week investing in yourself, I have to wonder why not.  Balance in all things – your own future/career has to be one of them as well.

have a good turkey day next week – my baby sister is coming home from Dallas next week so my whole family will be back and that’s reason for thanksgiving right there


(PS – was thinking about the Matrix alot this week after I made (what I thought was) a very difficult shot during a tightly contested battle at the company ping-pong table during Doubles – I really felt my movements were Neo-like as in the bullet-time photo below – oddly enough, my coworkers did not see it in the same way – maybe they weren’t paying enough attention  🙂



About bradosterloo

.NET Software Developer working for Innovative Systems, LLC in Mitchell, SD
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