Learn This!

I have always been curious about all sorts of things. How Stuff Works is a treasure trove for me - I didn't get much done the week I discovered it! I don't try to be an expert at everything I do, but there are a lot of subjects I want to learn (more) about. For example:

  • Making automated testing so reliable and easy and fast that the cost of automating tests approaches zero.
  • Taking manual testing from randomly banging on the app to finding lots of useful information fast. (Bunches of people are doing interesting work in this area; I want to learn about and understand and practice and do what they're doing.)
  • Designing and writing elegant code.
  • Desiging effective user interfaces.
  • Designing fun user interfaces.
  • Drawing.
  • Designing functional houses that are also beautiful and intriguing and fun to live in.
  • Designing logic games.
  • Designing sidescrolling games.
  • Designing applications and games that take advantage of the unique features of Tablet PCs.
  • Designing workflows and applications for what computers will offer five, ten, and more years from now. (What if we had a full range of Tablet PCs, from tiny ultraportables up to monster 30"x40" slates? What if a tablet had both a pen digitizer and a touch screen? What if wireless internet access was ubiquitous? What if the pieces parts of computers were componentized so that you could have the screen out in front of you but secrete the fragile, heavy parts (e.g., hard drive) in your bag? What if you had multi-gigs of flash RAM? What if you had liquid lenses, so that your entire computer screen could also be a camera lens?)
  • Making the education process useful and interesting and fun. (I'm not using a single thing I "learned" in college; how about you?)
  • Making fitness and exercise something that people do because they want to do rather than something they think they should do.
  • Investigating how the many different personality typing schemes integrate and overlap.
  • Applying everything we know about how people learn to running a business where people enjoy working.
  • Making listening to your body, eating the way your body wants you to eat, simple and intuitive and easy to do.
  • General systems modeling.
  • Visualizing data.
  • Tap dancing. (Oh the rhythm fun!)
  • Driving remote control cars.
  • Flying remote control helicopters.
  • Intentions, auras, channeling, psychics, past lives, spirit guides.
  • Jazz piano. (I studied classical piano from kindergarten through senior high, but I haven't so much as touched a piano since.)
  • Jazz drums.
  • Jazz string bass.
  • Classical guitar.
  • Trikkeing.
  • Roller skating (quads - inlines aren't my thing).

I used to start working on every idea or question I had the moment I had it. Needless to say this resulted in my doing a whole lot of not much on whole bunches of things! Now I try to focus on just a few interests at a time. My active projects this summer are Trikkeing, learning to draw, and finding and solving the pain points in our automation stack. Semi-active projects include skating, learning about general systems thinking, and pondering how to integrate Rapid Software Testing into the highly-automation-focused milieu that is Microsoft.

I would like to start a small research lab focused on these sorts of things. I am very curious to learn what happens if you take a couple great devs, a few great testers, a do-anything-with-hardware guru, a usability expert, and a talented designer (yes, I'm very open to one person filling multiple of these roles) - and me <g/> - and put them in an environment where they are compensated very well, have the freedom to try all sorts of zany ideas, and work closely with whomever the customers are. I think some very interesting outcomes would result.

If you (or someone you know) run or want to fund such a lab, or if you have a job where I would work with smart people to investigate and find answers to any or all of these topics, I am very interested! <g/> (Bonus points awarded if the job is walking or Trikkeing distance from my home, if the job involves lots of toys (i.e., books, training, tablety hardware), if it sends my wife and me overseas for weeks at a time, if y'all take the time to do things right the first time.)

*** Want a fun job on a great team? I need a tester! Interested? Let's talk: Michael dot J dot Hunter at microsoft dot com. Great coding skills required.

Comments (3)

  1. Brian Clear says:

    if you want to learn to draw a great book is "Drawing on the right side of the brain". It explains the processes of drawing that most artistic people cant understand because they take it for granted. Its got simple exercises like training people how to judge distances between points on a picture by firstly turning a picture upside down and then drawing. the figure becomes abstract and is easier to draw.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve been using "The Natural Way To Draw" (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?isbn=0395530075), which I like a lot. But for me more info is always better! I’ll check it out.

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