This guest blog was written by David Lumm from TwinkleBob Solutions.
Being a contractor is a little like being an adventurer or perhaps a mercenary. We have no home (or rather office) to call our own, and while we get to see amazing places (and amazing projects) that others wouldn’t normally get to see, sometimes the journey can be rough and dangerous. OK, maybe not dangerous, but scary at least.
I’m a jack of all trades; I’m not married to one particular technology. People don’t hire me because I’m an expert in X language or Y stack or Z technology, they hire me because I’m an expert in understanding problems, learning fast, and getting stuck in to get the job finished. That can often mean, though, that I’m landed a challenge in a language, stack, or technology with which I’m either not proficient or, worse, not even familiar.
Who does an adventurer call on for help? Who is the hero’s hero?
We live in a world where there are helpful options all around and depending on how you prefer to learn you can find what you need. There are videos aplenty, tutorials abound, you could drown in podcasts, and there are books so thick that they are good for not much more than a monitor stand. My personal preference is to read books or online articles as a starting point, but I don’t particularly want to buy or attempt to read one of those thick books; I also like to learn by doing, but I find that it’s sometimes difficult to find tutorials that hit the sweet spot between basic and convoluted.
As a beginner or someone in need of brushing up on rusty skills before going into "battle," I find I need something that quickly gets me up to speed so that I can learn the rest as I go. My first go to is the Syncfusion Succinctly series of e-books.
These books aren’t supposed to replace more in-depth learning or practice, but they are a great tool to introduce you to something new and help you hit the ground running. They don’t dumb down the subject, but go into a surprising amount of breadth and depth for just 100-ish pages, providing a firm foundation on which you can continue to build.
Not only do I run over to the list of e-books every time I’m faced with a new technology, and breathe a sigh of relief to find a book about it, but I often find myself perusing the list to see what else is on offer. I read these books for pleasure, as well as for professional enlightenment. I went away at Christmas with a stack of them on my Nook reader about all sorts of subjects, from functional programming with F# to customer success for C# developers.
Although Syncfusion is probably known best for .Net components, the Succinctly series covers a much broader spectrum, making them useful for a wider set of developers than might expect it. There were, at last check, 107 e-books covering, for example, ECMAScript 6, Ubuntu Server, Python, and Objective-C.
If you haven’t already tried them, take it from one adventurer to another: they’re well worth a look.