Learn (well) before using.

Today's TidBit was inspired by trying to grock the true zen meaning of a label on a medicine bottle "Shake well before using". Did it mean:

  1. Shake VIGOROUSLY before using or
  2. Shake at least a week before using

Today's TidBit has (at least) two interpretations:

  1. Learn well and then use
  2. Learn long before you need to use

While both do apply equally well to programming, Today's TidBit dwells on the second.

The best time to learn XXX is well before you have to use (or decide not to use) it.

Prime examples of XXX:

When the possibility of some new technique or technology comes up on your radar horizon, that is the best time to start learning about it for two reasons.

  1. You can't decide to use or NOT use the technique/technology until you have more than a passing knowledge.
  2. By learning before the crunch, you have a been chance of understanding and developing an intuition for how best to apply it.

An example from the archives: don't try to learn LISP and the same time you have to crank out a major piece of software written in LISP. Using LISP requires a whole different attitude in how to solve problems. If you don't develop that attitude you just end up implementing FORTRAN in LISP.

It will take some pushing back on your part to make sure your management recognizes this need and let's you schedule for this "professional development".