The Joy of Learning

It's no secret to people that know me that I despise Microsoft. I've often said that I would vote Republican before I would use Microsoft. Neither are on the horizon. However, this targeted incursion into MS territory is really joyful. I still dislike just about everything I have seen about Windows. Except for the fact that Visual Studio runs in it, I would never touch the stuff. I don't feel so much about .NET. It's got some really clunky things going on. There is a lightness to php (!!) that is sorely missed. .NET mediates everything between me and the web so I end up feeling a little like I'm losing my identity as a programmer. Forget about code strategies, just use learn the damn Server Controls!

Realistically though, it's just a different style of programing language. I used Cake PHP for a recent job and it had php objects that want to stand between me and my web pages, too. The people that specified Cake for the project rightly felt that productivity, uniformity and portability would be increased with Cake. Those are all things that try to steal your identity as a programmer, too. Of course, they also free you to focus on other things.

All is to say, my descent into .NET is really just what it claims to be, a new programming language and environment. Like any learning experience, there are things that are no fun to learn. However, one of the things that is thrilling me these days is the sheer brain exercise of learning. A guy whose blog I read with deeply mixed feelings, Dave Winer, switched from his long-time Mac use to Windows in a fit of pique a few years ago (he's since switched back). He wrote that he was thrilled by the exercise of new neuron paths. I'm with him all the way.

I love the large body of unknown information that I am required/empowered to master. The experimentation documented the other day and the one I'm embarking on this afternoon or Monday (connect to MS SQL) are just plain fun. And there are a billion more. And, once those are done, I get to do even more because, for me, at least, that's what programming is all about. I look at where I am, decide what is missing (or ask the BA) and then find a way to make it better. It's exploration and experimentation and, eventually, polishing and putting a bow on something cool.

Go out and learn something. It's worth it.