I remember my first conference well: I was 24, it was February of the year 2000 and I was in San Francisco.  I'd bartered my way there: I turned down a raise from my employer and instead asked for a "personal budget" for professional development. In a bookstore I'd seen an ad in the Visual Basic Programmer's Journal and thought it was an opportunity to develop skills and visit my favorite city at the time.

One keynote that week was delivered by the futurist Paul Saffo. He spoke about observing trends and thinking past the day to day problem solving we experienced in our lives as programmers.  I remember his anecdotal story: an engineer working in telecom had purchased land on hilltops knowing there would be a demand for communication towers on top.

It's been nearly a decade but with Saffo in mind I still try to get out of the "technical" and think on a higher order.  With that in mind here are a few podcasts from last week I enjoyed:

1. Scott Berkun - The Myths of Innovation

Scott was a developer and manager at Microsoft but broke away to write and mentor. Key takeaway on innovation: breakthroughs are less about epiphany and more about consistent effort and dedication. Scott's blog is here.

2. Guy Kawasaki - The Art of Innovation

I've been wary of Guy to this point; marketing guy, and Apple obsessed. I like Apple too but not enough to start to ignore the outside world. But not only did I laugh and get entertained, I learned a few things. Guy recommends companies (and I'll extend that to people too) need a mantra, not a mission statement.  He also has great ideas about releasing early and often.  Good stuff.
Guy blogs here.

3. Ned Gulley - MATLAB Programming Contest

John Udell interviews Ned on an interesting collaborative contest Mathworks puts on.  I always like hearing a John Udell interview since he probes with more than the passive interest than most people in conversation.  Someday when I'm not bleeding a lack of time I'll check in on the problems although I think my math skills are suspect (and rusty) enough to render it more fascination than practical utility.
Ned's "starchamber" is here. (I learned the meaning of that word from the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day podcast by the way)



David Seruyange
Yeah - If I think that was probably one of the key decisions I've made as in professional life which is crazy since I didn't really think that hard about it - that year I went to:

1. Java training with Developmentor
2. Java training with Oracle
3. VBITS (Visual Studio) Conferences (2000, 2001)

All for the value of what would have been a few extra hundred bucks that would be taxed heavily on my paycheck.
> I'd bartered my way there: I turned down a raise from my employer and instead asked for a "personal budget" for professional development
-- That's spot on dude, I've had a couple people come up to me at my job and ask how they could get out of a support role and into engineering. Taking classes in lieu of a raise tells your employer that you're serious about your job.