Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Starting Anew

I've been doing this software stuff for a long time. I started programming when I was eleven, which was longer ago than I care to admit, and have been building software on the Microsoft platform full time for well over ten years. One of the periodic revelations[1] that I've been having during this time is that "the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know."

This fact has been driven home lately in a new and different way. I have a friend[2] who is making a career change from IT help desk support to software development. He's got a good head on his shoulders, but this is a pretty big change, and he's got a long road ahead, so I've volunteered[3] to help him get up to speed on the big bad world of Visual Studio, SQL Server and .NET. [4]

So I've had two main thoughts going through my head for the last few days as this friend (let's call him Kris[5]) has been asking questions via IM. These thoughts are:

1) WTF was I thinking?
2) Wow! There are a lot of cool resources out there that I never looked at before!

I'm trying to focus on the second one. ;-)

Anyway, after you've been building software professionally for long enough[6], you pretty much stop looking at the 100- and 200-level introductory resources, and I have not been tracking all of the amazing things that Microsoft has been doing in this arena. I've started Kris looking at SQL Server (it is me after all - what did you expect?), and have found lots of great little gems that I'd never bothered to look at so far. The ones that have me smiling today are two series of free videos and webcasts that Microsoft has put together to help people get started:

1) Video Series: SQL Server 2005 Express Edition for Beginners: This is over seven hours worth of video training that starts with "what is a database?" and works its way through stored procedures and full text search, touching on web development, BI and security along the way.

2) Coding Basics: Use Visual Studio and SQL Server Express Editions: This is an insane number of 100- and 200-level webcasts covering web development, database development, game development and more.

Needless to say, Kris is both delighted and overwhelmed. And I am too - if there had been resources like these online back when I was learning programming... Well, since there wasn't really much of an internet back then and I was using either an NCR mainframe or an Atari 400, I guess it would not have done me much good . But you get the idea.

So... As Kris travels down this path of discovery (and I swear every time I see that blinking on the taskbar) I'll use this space to post new goodies that I find for beginners.

[1] No, don't look for Matthew's periodic table of revelations - these are just things that I keep realizing over and over again. It sucks to get old...
[2] Sort of the husband of a third cousin, once removed - something like that.
[3] Yes, you may start laughing at me now.
[4] Yes, please keep laughing. No need to stop.
[5] We'll call him this mainly because it is his name
[6] And after you stop teaching intro courses when the training market doesn't support half your regular daily consulting rate

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