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Would be interesting to find out how other sysadmins are educating themselves. I find myself in the need of constantly learning new things. I prefer to spend more time on the subject and know it thoroughly knowing that not doing so will kick me back in the future. This can be frustrating sometimes as it feels that I move too slowly. Our company has account on safari.oreilly.com and I am reading a book or two at any given time. I also read sysadmin related blogs for ideas and tips and to keep myself in the tune with the trends.

I cannot do any study at home as I would rather spend my out of work hours with my family plus I find it hard/impossible to study at home due to the inability to concentrate at home. So I mostly study while on the train, luckily my commute time takes up to 2 hours a day.

I also read a lot at work and don't feel guilty about it. To fix/implement/plan, I need to have a solid knowledge and if it requires time then this is a part of my job being a sysadmin. There is a joke that says "sysadmin is a person that knows a lot about everytihng and as a result knows nothing" - I think ther is a grain of truth here...

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3 Answers 3

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Reading, mostly on-line or PDFs. I seldom buy books any longer, mostly because of their cost. Being in Australia we pay considerably more than some other countries do and technical books are amongst the most expensive. If topic specific I generally start with a Google search. For general info I use sites such as ServerFault and StumbleUpon. When studying specific subjects I try to get hold of video courses (CBT, VTC, etc.) when possible. I find them to be a valuable adjunct to reading.

As it's not possible to know everything I believe the most important skill a good System Admin can posses is the ability to find the answers quickly when they are required, whether it's in a book, a web site or simply knowing who to ask.

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+1 for the last paragraph. If you have a sysadmin who has a broad knowledge and actually knows how computers and networks work. They can generally extract the right information from a variety of sources, pull it together and solve the problem at hand. –  goo Jul 4 '09 at 18:06

I listen to some technical podcasts on my way to and from work.

What good Sysadmin podcasts are out there?
and also
Stackoverflow Podcast

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I find there are a number of different ways I study and learn. Firstly when I'm at work, there are often times when I need to implement something I've not done before and studying on the job to implement these helps me learn, but this is limited to the work I'm doing. Needing to pass exams for work helps to motivate me to study, although its helped if I'm actually interested in what I'm trying to learn!

I find I most enjoy learning when its something new and exciting, whether this is at work, or more often at home. I like to try out new technologies and learn about new developments in our field, and the most opportunity I get to do this is at home, so I do it when I can, but as you say there are many other more important things in home life!

I like to read tech blogs at lunch and on the commute, I keep my iPod filled with interesting podcasts so that I can fill the otherwise dull time waiting or commuting.

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