Anyone that is involved in the technical field of computing knows that it is difficult to keep up with all of the new advancements and technologies that appear. To really stay on the cutting edge requires persistence, dedication, and lots of reading and experimentation. There are a variety of resources available to keep your skills current. These include books, magazines, blogs, webcasts, tech sites, QA sites, and forums. In fact there are so many resources available that you have to be pretty choosy to make sure you spend your time wisely on worthwhile content. I’ll go through some of the resources that I find useful.
http://news.ycombinator.org: This site posts various articles and commentary and has an extremely technical slant with a focus on the startup community. YCombinator is a startup incubator that was started by Paul Graham (whose articles are also an incredibly good read) of Viaweb fame. This site is what Slashdot was 10 years ago and what Reddit (which is a YCombinator alumni) was 3 years ago.
For actual print books I tend these days to read them online using the wonderful Safari Books Online from O’Reilly. I actually read them through my ACM membership account. The ACM offers a great selection of books online for members.
Coding Horror is a great site written by Jeff Atwood. I was a longtime reader of his site and actually got to hang out with him when my friend Brian worked for Vertigo Software out in San Francisco. He is a very sharp fellow that does some great writing. He is no longer with Vertigo and his moved on to create another site that I am a huge fan of.
StackOverflow.com – This site created by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky is what a Q&A site should be. I hate Experts Exchange with a such a passion that I actually update my hosts file to resolve their site to 127.0.0.1 so it fails quickly when I click on one of their links from Google. StackOverflow is an incredible resource for reading and learning and also for giving back to the community and answering questions. Answering questions is an incredible way to push your knowledge forward. Normally you will know an answer but still have to do some more research to fully prove and justify your response. I highly recommend getting involved with this community that Atwood and Spolsky have put together.
Joel on Software – Joel Spolsky tends to be a bit of a lightning rod in the tech world. Some people love his viewpoint and ideas while others can’t stand him. I am in the first camp and really enjoy his writing and thoughts on the industry and creating and running a company of technical resources. Even if you disagree with him, you can still learn much from him and the successful company, Fog Creek, he has built.
Then there are the sites that I don’t read everything, but just skim and find a few worthwhile nuggets to read like Planet Apache, the ThoughtWorks Blogs, Planet Eclipse, AskTom.Oracle.com (a great Oracle Resource).
Just by spending as little as 10-20 minutes per day reading some of these resources you can help keep yourself up to date with what is going on in the tech industry. Unless you want to find some legacy technology and become a greybeard you will need to make the effort to keep your skills relevant. The sites I have listed always have interesting content and great communities of people around them. Dive in and enjoy.