First I changed jobs and ended up with Mike Dillamore (@dllmr) as my boss for a time. Mike was a great inspiration to me: he introduced me to agile development and he encouraged me to broaden my developer mind beyond what I was immediately working on. He also introduced me to the other thing that has changed my career: the wonderful world of knowledge sharing in the form of podcasts, talks and blogs. Blogs and talks at conferences, seminars etc have proved useful, but it is podcasts that I feel have made the real difference.
To illustrate just how good podcasts can be in expanding ones knowledge, consider the Flex Show podcast. I started using Flex in 2008 and by start of 2009, I know a little about it, but there was still a mountain of knowledge to climb. Having spent the year listening to the Flex Show podcast though, I’ve learned about Degrafa, Tour De Flex, Silverlight, Fusion Reactor, De Mosnter Debugger, the Axiis Framework, LiveCycle, Blaze DS, FlexMonkey and Flex PMD. In addition, topics covered by the podcasts have included a debate on the Flex/ Flash 4 Builder rename, details of various ActionScript MVC frameworks and details of Flex 4 by Matt Chotin. I’m still far from an expert, but my Flex/ Flash/ AS3 knowledge has grown tremendously.
All of this knowledge has been gained during the otherwise dead time of travelling to and from work, and it hasn’t cost me a penny as Jeffry Houser and John Wilker create it as a labour of love. The same applies to a whole raft of other podcasts out there, on just about any topic that might interest you.
So my advice is: if you want to become a better developer, stop listening to inane drivel from DJ’s as you drive to work and start learning from others by listening to podcasts.