Are you educating yourself?

Are you going to COMMON?

If not, why not?

OK, yeah, COMMON is kind of pricey. Add air fare, hotel, & food to the conference fee and you’re talking real money (not quite $100M though <grin/>).

Next question: Do you attend your local user group meetings? What about their technical conferences?

Word of advice: If you don’t go to either, you absolutely SHOULD GO!

A lot of people I’ve talked to have commented that the IBM i (System i / iSeries /AS400, take your pick) is “old” technology. They are quite surprised when I tell them the kinds of things it can do.

So where does the “old” technology moniker come from? Well, one possible source is the fact that a lof of people who work on the “i” don’t learn new concepts.

Face it folks … in the technology world, the only constant is change. If you don’t keep up with technology you’re going to be left behind in the dust.

For this reason alone, it’s absolutely in your best interest to attend user group meetings and technical conferences. As an added benefit, when you attend a user group meeting, you’re going to meet others in the field … and networking is never a bad idea.

Heck, it’s even a good idea to attend meetings where you don’t have a specific interest in the topic. Case in point: Yesterday I attended an Omni User meeting where my friend Rob Berendt was presenting on the differences between DDS & DDL. Honest truth, I didn’t have a lot of interest in the topic … but Rob is a friend and I wanted to see him. And, despite my best efforts, I learned something about using DDL. PLUS, I talked to a MKS customer about a concern they had.

So some of you aren’t going to be able to attend COMMON … and there’s no local user group in your area. In that case: teach yourself some new technology … even if it doesn’t directly apply to your job. Learn something new. Even if you just get a book on Java or PHP programming, download Eclipse, and start playing around you’re going to be ahead of the game.

I’ve always been surprised when I meet a technical person who doesn’t play around with computers a little bit in their spare time. In my opinion, it’s absolutely required that you keep learning. It doesn’t have to be to the extreems that I do it, but learn something new at least once a week. Download a copy of Linux and play around with it, learn a new programming language, or if you want to really expand your horizons, pick up a book on business conepts and learn a new problem domain.

The key is: Keep learning.

9 Replies to “Are you educating yourself?”

  1. No to COMMON – budget.
    No to LUG – there isn’t one.

    The key is absolutely to keep learning. The ‘how’ is sometimes problematic, but many companies aren’t averse to you tinkering before or after hours, or during lunch…

  2. Yeah … and I have heard of (and worked for) companies that actively discourage their employees from learning. The company in question gave all the new, interesting, projects to consultants and had the staff do the maintenance.

  3. Buck: LUG – Start one? Ok, but at least you’re on midrange-l too. The number of “users” I meet that aren’t even doing something totally free like amazes me.

    As to the “how” issue, it’s only an issue when you’re talking about i-only technologies like DDS and RPG. If you want to learn PHP, or SQL, or Java, or Linux, or … then you don’t even need an i, so you can do it in your own time on your own hardware.

    There are no excuses! (Not that I think you’re making one).

  4. I wrote about this a few months ago, and more recently said that the sense of entitlement of System i programmers is why many do not learn. Other (PC programmers) demand to go to training and of those denied, many go anyway. You can spend $1500 to watch beer and drug commercials on TV but you can’t spend $1500 to continue your own education and “worth” to your employer (or the next one)?

    The editorial “you” in above paragraph does not refer to any specific person or persons.

  5. the sense of entitlement of System i programmers is why many do not learn

    Actually, it’s been my observation that the reason that “i” people don’t learn is that they aren’t interested.

    I know people that, even when given the opportunity to attend COMMON, don’t want to go.

  6. I never even asked. Seriously, i don’t think my boss would be to happy to buy a transatlantic flight, hotel for a week and me not working for a whole week.

    Common Switzerland organizes a few meetings, but they’re mostly geared towards programmers or business guys – extremely boring, and mostly attended by guys well beyond their fourties.

    IBM has organized a few events concerning hardware and systems administration, but they’re mostly geared towards sales – not that bad, but not really matching my job either.

  7. > but not really matching my job either.

    I know Lukas wasn’t making an excuse, but I hear this quite a lot.
    ‘Why should I learn ReXX – I will never use it.’
    ‘Why should I learn PHP – I will never use it.’

    I guess some people think that they will never in their life need to learn anything beyond L1M1 and stacker select.

    Learning new things on IBM i can be a challenge sometimes – it’s not like there are cheap ways to keep one on your desk so you can play around. Many employers are very afraid to let a programmer configure a web server, load CGIDEV2 and ‘play’ on their iSeries. In contrast, as Walden says, it’s not very difficult to do similar stuff on your own PC at home.

    I have to say that learning other languages has made me a better RPG programmer, even though it doesn’t seem to make much sense. Exposure to ‘foreign’ techniques expands the mind and enables discovery of analogous Midrange techniques.

  8. Buck,

    I’m a sysadmin, not a developer. I’m not planning to become a developer either. I have enough knowledge of CL on the i to write semi-complex, and by now i can read (and sometimes understand) the RPG IV code our developers write.

    I’m constantly working on my SQL expertise, but there it not a lot of stuff we do on the i regarding more complicated SQL stuff.

    Add to that the i is only 50% of my job, and the other half is Windows, i think i’m doing enough to learn new stuff. The Windows world is a much bigger ecosystem than the i, as it also involves clients and a lot more business requirements than just the main LOB software that usually runs on the i.

  9. My experience is that System i developer have mostly no interest in learning new things. “We have done it this way for 20 years and it works. Why change it?” That is mostly what I am hearing. And learning something not directly connected to the i … that is out of the question for them.

    They just love to copy source code from existing programs to the new one (the root of all evil =).

    One definite problem is that System i developers are so much away from mainstream programming that many won’t even know about what you are talking. It’s no fun. No fun at all.

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