I've just come back from a brilliant evening with the Oxford chapter of NxtGenUG.
So why do I think it was brilliant/fantastic? These phrases are banded around so loosely these days, well I quantify my statement.
Take Biztalk for example, not many developers out there get really what Biztalk does and there aren't enough hours in the day to learn. Unless a developer has a specific reason they aren't really going to look it up.
But when you do start looking into Biztalk all to quickly you find yourself coming up against a very alien language which you assume people that use Biztalk get, yep I've read many an article on Biztalk thats made me more bewildered and bemused after reading it, so you don't get it and you don't really want to get it, let some other egg-head waste his life!
NxtGenUG is cool because you get an abolsute expert giving you a guided tour where you get to ask questions all in the space of an hour? Tell me, what other training and learning aid can do that? Yep a course, but you have to pay an arm and a leg for those and spend all day getting a headache and it takes you away from your desk so your a day behind on your work. Courses are cool but they are a pain.
Another example is Tim's session on Vista, just running over some of the basics and I've been using the thing for 2 months and I missed how powerfull the new search facility is on the very bottom of the start menu, the point of the machine performance scoring system and loads of other things that make the whole experience just better. I realised I've been using Vista just like I XP and missed some of the really great new stuff.
It is sessions like these that give you nugget sized learning which gives you a little bit of insirpation and confidence to try things out or decide actually it's not for me, either way you've had the opportunity to learn in away that hasn't taken up to much of your time because. I have to be honest and say I've learnt more in the space of a few hours than I would have from reading articles, books, blog posts and podcasts in the same amount of time. Just where are you going to see all these really really totally cool new Microsoft technologies and get your head around then in such away that you don't need an Asprin? The key is, the opportunity to interact cannot be under-sold as it is worth it's weight in gold.
So I will leave you with that thought and hope to see you next time, oh and it's only just the man himself, one of the core founders of DDD, Ben Mitchell giving an intro to Windows Workflow Foundation, heres the details, now I knew that would get you interest!