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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Busy and Tired

I can't really think of what all I have going on this week, so it's weird that I feel so harried and worn out.

I think part of it is that work is still kind of crazy and frustrating. More than that, though, I feel like I'm spinning my wheels. There's an saying to the effect that 5 years of experience isn't the same thing as 1 year of experience 5 times. I sort of feel like I've been getting the latter.

With that in mind, I feel like I need to invest in a little personal professional development, I'm just not sure what.

One thing that I'm thinking about is earning one of Microsoft's new .NET certifications. The main reason isn't to earn the cert, it's to use the cert test as deadline to motivate myself to focus on the details. It's annoying that the prep books for those tests aren't coming out until this summer, but the main reason I'm reticent about more MS stuff is that I'm not sure that's the direction I want to go.

.NET is actually a really nice framework, but I've grown pretty tired of MS-related stuff at work, and I would love the opportunity to work with another platform. Mac programming, Smalltalk, Lisp, Ruby, mobile platforms, web development, anything...I just think it might be nice to get a change from Windows development with Visual Studio.

I wish there were a place for some of those technologies at my current job, but I don't see it anytime soon. I'm not in a hurry to leave, regardless, but it would be nice to have a little more variety. One of the trade-offs of small companies.

The main alternative to more MS stuff is picking some other technology to work with on my own time, and one possibility that I'm considering for that is trying to volunteer for an open source project of some kind. Doing that would provide some accountability and direction for what could otherwise be a purely academic exercise for me. One down side, though, is that it's not as quantifiable as a formal certification, but I'm not sure anybody other than me would care, so maybe that doesn't matter.

I see this as a binary choice, since over the next six months I'll really only have time for one or the other. So the question is which one. Solidifying my .NET skills would be more likely to improve job quality and options, either at my current employer or elsewhere, while moving in a different direction could be more satisfying, and might conceivably even lead to totally new opportunities.

I can see lots of pros and cons on both sides, so I think it's just something I'm going to have to think about some more. I don't want to wait too long, though, since I'm anxious to do something different.

Too much angst, time for bed.

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