So, while my time is mine, I've decided that I want to expand my practical horizons. And, one of the first things I can think of is to go lateral and approach something I've looked upon with mild disdain: Microsoft technologies. In particular: .NET
I already understand Unix well enough to do damn near anything -- this is not to say that there aren't still years worth of things left for me to learn in that sphere, but I'm not nearly as adept with Microsoft's offerings. And, besides the practical concerns with being flexible enough to take on what work the world offers me, I also have a hunch that this .NET thing will make me think as differently about Microsoft as OS X made me change my mind about Apple.
Maybe. But it's still a good attitude with which a punk unixhead can approach the subject, I think. I'm going to assume that brighter people than myself have applied themselves to the creation of .NET and prepare to be surprised. This attitude has always served me well in the past when trying something new. (Take Python, for instance.)
Okay. Got a good attitude. Have installations of WinXP and Win2003 preview (which I'm kinda, grudgingly digging so far) running in Virtual PC on my ?PowerBook. Could even draft a PC at home into service running an appropriate OS if need be. Have downloaded the .NET Framework and installed it on XP and Win2k3.
Now what? Were this Java, I'd pop open an emacs window and start playing. I'd grab some free app servers and check some things out. Being on a fixed budget, I don't think I can spring for any packages like Visual Studio .NET. And being a unixhead, I'm used to being able to find dev tools for free.
Anyway, this absolute newbie is continuing to poke around.