Okay, so don't take the subject line too seriously, as I love books and reading. But as far as learning new technologies are concerned, which would you rather do: spend large chunks of your time reading massive manual-like books ...OR... sit back and watch an expert in their field show you how it's done? Words and screenshots don't even begin to compare with watching an expert explain and demonstrate it in a video.
So what am I talking about? Well I've recently subscribed to Pluralsight, which if you didn't know is an online video-based development/IT training site. After initially taking up the 10 day free trial, I was surprised by how much faster I was learning technologies just by watching someone else code and explain what they were doing. It's especially important that people in our industry actively sharpen our saw, and in the past, this mainly meant a lot of reading. Which is fine, but it does tend to become hard work keeping up the motivation and it also takes a lot of time. However, sitting back and watching an expert in that particular field explain and show you what they're talking about is so much faster and easier to take in! As an additional bonus, you also pick up general tips (eg. IDE tips, etc) that you wouldn't see via other mediums.
There were quite a few different sites that did a similar thing. Two that spring to mind are Peepcode and Tekpub. However, if you visit both of those links, you'll see that both of these have now been bought out by Pluralsight - increasing their content even more. The authors that they use seem to be very high up in their field, and the courses I've seen so far are very well presented, and I feel that I'm now learning and understanding a lot more in a much shorter period of time.
While I've not yet been a member long enough to have watched a wide range across all their technologies at this point - I've certainly found myself completely addicted, and whilst I've so far been focusing on .NET technologies, I'm very much looking forward to dipping into some of the many other technologies listed - I just wish there were more spare hours in the day!
One question that springs to mind is why pay, when you have YouTube? It's a good question, as there's a lot of great developer content there. Unfortunately, there's a lot of not so great content as well. I must admit, that whilst I've watched a few programming videos on YouTube, I tended to stick to just reading before I found PluralSight. Perhaps I should have experimented with YouTube more, but I personally feel much happier paying for the service and knowing that I'm getting excellent content and learning from people who really know what they're talking about.
As I mentioned earlier, they have a 10 day free trial, so you have nothing to lose by trying it. Note that I'm not being sponsored in any way for this post - they don't even offer a referral scheme - I've written this because I'm genuinely that impressed with their content.