One of the avenues for learning I've leveraged this past year is the Microsoft-sponsored ArcReady three hour in-person, bi-monthly seminar. It's held in a dozen or so cities but mine (Columbus, OH) is coming up on February 4th. Click here to register.
[...and before you look at the remaining post and say TLDR: ArcReady is free, there's usually good swag and there are some very cool/smart folks that attend...]
I enjoy ArcReady because more than likely, you won't see a line of code. As developers, we're constantly exposed to writings and presentations with lots of code. For the most part, I like that and feel it's the best way to learn about software development. However, always approaching from a developer perspective tends to lose the forest for the trees.
My opportunities to code have certainly declined over the years but I enjoy coding and can [gasp] actually read a code book and enjoy it (vs. using it as a reference). However, I'm constantly amazed at how frequently technologists fall to pieces when it comes to compiling an entire solution. We spend so much time and expend so much effort in becoming great developers that we never take a breath and say, "Hmmm, should I really have coded a message queueing application from scratch?" Or, for example, we never stop to ask ourselves, "Can I really create something superior in security to Active Directory?" Or even, "These classes are brilliant, but should I have used interfaces instead?"
At times like these, your 5% time investment into something like ArcReady comes in handy. ArcReady (among other venues) helps you to think about software solutions holistically. We need to be more aware of solutions that are out there, tested, in production, and providing value. What's SaaS? What's SOA? What's PopFly? Should I be using them? Are they a better solution than custom application development?
This type of exposure to non-development learning helps us as technologists remain aware of what's out there and help prevent the limiting of our thinking. So, if you're a developer, considering branching out of developer-only content and expose yourself to a bit of solution architecture. ArcReady is a great venue for this.