How I (try to) keep up to date with technologies

2016-02-255 Min Read — In career

There are too many technologies to keep up with. Just too many. It's hard to keep up and many times there's a feeling of fatigue just of thinking about new versions, new frameworks, new libraries, new languages, etc.

For a while, I tried to keep up with different stacks of technologies, Ruby on Rails, .NET, Java, JavaScript. And of course, I tried to keep up with databases, both SQL and No-SQL.

Honestly, I gave up. It is just too much. Unless you have unlimited time (there's no such a thing), or you have a special brain, I recommend you to have focus.

But even choosing just one or two stacks can be a lot. Take JavaScript, for instance, there's client development and server development. If you do client stuff, do you use React? Angular? Ember? So yeah, there's a lot of choices.

OK. How can one do it? First of all, this is what I do, and what works for me, this is not a "how-to" do it. I'm glad we had that cleared.

Bookmarks

First of, I don't have to know everything. I have to know how to find what I need. That's a crucial thing.

Some concepts are important to know, the API of that library you use once in a while, not so much. So keep your bookmarks organized. I use Chrome's bookmarks. For a while I used Delicous but, it doesn't matter what you use, organize them. If there's a bookmark you don't use it anymore, delete it, or not, but keep them organized.

Take notes

You can use a notebook, a cool Moleskine or just be in the digital world. I'm a fan of Evernote, and I have many notebooks (inside Evernote). You can use tags, search for notes you made, have notes of cool ideas you've read or had and so on.

Just take notes, you'll soon realize how great it is to have the piece of mind of knowing that you don't need to remember everything.

And have I said how great Evernote's apps are? As usual, I'm sure that there are lots of other options if you don't want or like to use Evernote.

Save it for later

If you have found and article, some news, a white paper, or a video that interests you and don't want or don't have the time to read it, or watch it or whatever right now, save it for later.

You can do that with Evernote if you want to. Or let's say you've found an interesting talk on YouTube? You can save it for later on YouTube as well.

Me? I use the Watch Later playlist on YouTube. For interesting, I use Pocket. You can have it installed on your phone, tablet, as an extension on Chrome, so if there's something to read and you can't right now, save it for later.

Listen

Podcasts are great I just love them. I've already talked about what I listen to. The list may have changed a bit (and it sure does from time to time), but it still is reasonable.

Every time I'm doing some activity that does not require too much focus (like cleaning the house, doing the dishes, walking the dog, walking to work, etc.), I'm always listening to a podcast.

To be honest, I don't learn a lot through podcasts, but it's an excellent media to keep up with new stuff, and then if the subject is absorbing, I'll dig dipper.

Don't forget: take notes! If a podcast is talking about something that interests you, open up your app, grab your notebook and write it down.

Subscribe

There are great blogs and bloggers out there. Find people that write about the technologies you're interested in and subscribe to their blogs. Feedly is an excellent tool for that as also is Inoreader. I have the habit of checking the RSS news every morning, do what's best for you, just don't leave the feeds accumulate. If it's not something that appeals to you, delete it.

Is it something that I can read early in the morning? Then I do it. Otherwise, I leave it there unread, or I add it to my Pocket to read it later (I know, it's not a science).

The point here is: you can follow people that work directly with the technologies you use, the companies that produce them, etc.

Subscribe (part 2)

E-mails, remember them? Well, there are some folks that take the time to curate great articles and send them in periodic e-mails.

Here's a list of the ones I'm subscribed to:

Twitter

Twitter is great! Seriously! It's not just about #hashtags and celebrities. I follow a lot of different people that are experts in technologies I use or are creators/collaborators on OSS libraries and so on. Try it! There're a lot of experts that share links to great articles.

Once more, you can read those articles or save them for later using Pocket or even favorite the tweet for later. I know, Twitter now call those likes and not favorites. I still use them as I way to save a tweet to read it later.

IFTTT

The last resource I want to talk about is IFTTT. If you don't know it, you're missing out on an awesome tool. If this then that (IFTTT) is an automation tool where you can create recipes or use recipes created by others.

What is a recipe? Well, let's say you like(favorite) a tweet, you can use a recipe that will automatically create a note on Evernote for you. Same thing if you add a movie to the Watch Later playlist on YouTube. So, this way you can have a centralized place for all your references.

Conclusion

I shared here everything I do to gather information. With all that information available, now all there's left is to consume it. May that be reading, watching or listening to it.

It's your choice next time you have a few minutes how you're going to spend it, you could play that game on your phone, or you could open one of those saved articles and read it.

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