Continuing Education: Channel 9

This post may well only appeal to my fellow, former tech support friends, though I would argue that not only they, but you too, whoever you are, would benefit from reading it and taking to heart what it contains. I think I have blogged before about Channel 9. However, today I want to reemphasize that I think this web site is a great way to “catch up, keep up, and maybe even stay ahead of the learning curve.”

As we all know, and as some of us lament, technology is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to know everything you might wish to or think you need to know. A part of the problem, of course, is that most of us aren’t programmers and though we may use computers, we don’t really know what makes them tick. Yet I believe the only way to know about them is to plunge right in where we are now and try to assimilate as much as we can about how they function and where they are going. It requires a willingness to tolerate ambiguity, which is to say to allow yourself to read, listen to or watch (in the case of the Channel 9 site) even though you may not totally understand all that is being said. Using this approach, you may be surprised how much you do pick up from devoting the time, or at least this is my own experience.

You know, no doubt, that next year Microsoft is introducing the next version of their Windows operating system and that it is now called Vista. (Formerly it was known as Longhorn.) I have just finished watching one of the Channel 9 videos (about 40 minutes) dealing with the networking innovations that the new OS makes available. Robert Scoble interviews the Microsoft Vista networking team that consists of Abolade, Sanjay, and Ali, and the team illustrates how international the staff at Microsoft is. In it they refer to such things as IPv6, CTCP (which is compound tcp, or compound transfer control protocol), and network stacks. If you are already familiar with such terms as that, fine, but if not, then you may want to read those links to familiarize yourself with them after you’ve watched the video on networking innovations I’ve mentioned above.

I’ve been watching videos such as this for the last couple of years and I think they are a terrific way to be become familiar with some of the issues and to be informed of the directions that Microsoft is taking. Here is a 15 minute video, done at the beginning of the Channel 9 project that introduces the participants and some of the objectives they set out for themselves and their rationale for doing these attempts to communicate more directly with their customers and developers. (I highly recommend that 15 minute video because it helps to understand why they are doing these videos.) And here is the Channel 9 Doctrine, first published on March 25, 2004. I would encourage you to bookmark the Channel 9 link so that when your time permits you can watch the latest video that the team makes available. Most are very informal but also very informative.

One final point. You need to start the video by clicking on the launching icon in the lower left hand corner of the picture (which is actually an embedded version of the Windows Media Player), and because the volume varies in these videos, I recommend that you watch and listen while wearing headphones because it significantly improves the audio quality.

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