Continual Education

5/28/2005 5:22:00 PM

Continual Education

One of my early concerns with working for myself was my continual education, since life-long learning is one of my goals. I soon realized that, when I was working at Microsoft, I found that most of my own education was self-initiated and outside my job role.

For fun in 1997, I obtained an MCSE and and MCSD certification after running through 15 different exams in one month. As a Microsoft employee, I had free access to the training material in the library and was able to purchase each test for $20. I was surprised that I could study for one or two day before the exam and pass it without any hands-on experience. (I did this, while taking two exams per day.) I learned about IT software development and network administration, but the certifications really meant nothing to me in my professional life.

Yes, I admit that I did learn a lot from the software development process and a lot about Microsoft technologies. There was also interesting conversation to be had from smart employees at Microsoft. In the end, I felt that I could still maintain the same rate of learning outside Microsoft, since I would own my free time and choose to learn generally useful knowledge with that time, rather than something that may only be particularly useful to Microsoft.

Even though it’s five years since I left Microsoft, it’s almost as if I still work there. I am still usually in the Microsoft campus an average of twice a week. I am also a member of the Microsoft Alumni organization, so I get the internal Micronews as well as Microsoft software as a fraction of the retail price at the company store. (The discounted software is not as useful as first thought, since I already get it all from MSDN Subscriptions.) I also have access to the Microsoft lecture series with some technology notables such as Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize winner, Peter Diamandis, X-Prize founder, and Dean Kamen, Segway inventor (yes, I rode a Segway). I am also given a chance to usability test the latest iterations of Microsoft APIs and software every couple months, with one or two free parting software gifts of my choosing. All my friends in Seattle happen to work at Microsoft as well.

Living next to Microsoft, I have also attended a recent three-day Whidbey Compiler Labs (with architects like Jim Miller or the recent IronPython hire), have dinner with the BCL team, and show up blogger dinners at Crossroads hosted by Robert Scoble.

I purchase about over 100 computer and business books a year, certainly not as much as Nathan Myhrvold, who buys $60,000 worth of book in one transaction. I also have accumulated  about a thousand electronic books on the computer science and business in my computer.

I got into the reading blogs and RSS in early 2003 because I felt that it would allow me to listen in and engage in conversations with other small people in technology. Shortly after, all of Microsoft jumped in the blogging bandwagon.

I also joined several different developer user groups such as the NETDA user group in Seattle. I listen in on lectures in University of Washington and Washington Software Association, follow MSDN Webcasts, as well as lectures on the Multi-University/Research Laboratory (now Research Channel). I regularly take a virtual course on MIT Open Course Ware, which are all of MIT Courses made freely available on the web!!

I have watch Rory present MSDN Events in Seattle four times and attended on DevDay on Smart Clients. I have my own MSDN Universal Subscriptions, so I can play with the latests betas.

I am a member of Washington Software Association, Association of Shareware Professionals, and Educational Software Cooperative. I was spending a bit of money in dues for ACM and IEEE Computer Society, but don’t actually utilizes the services of these organizations very much, so I temporarily leaving until I have an income.

One thing that I realize is that my lack of everyday social contact does not bode well for my communication skills. I felt like I lost the ability to talk when I was in at a recent CLR dinner in Bellevue.

My question is what more should I be doing or what should I be doing differently to maximize my overall learning?

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My name is Wesner Moise. I am a software entrepreneur developing revolutionary AI desktop applications. I worked as a software engineer in Microsoft Excel group for six years during the 1990s. I worked on PivotTables and wrote the most lines of code in Excel 97-- about 10 times the median developer. I have a Harvard BA in applied math/computer science and a UCLA MBA in technology entrepreneurship. I am a member of the Triple Nine Society, a 99.9 percentile high-IQ society.

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