What is it? Staying at the top with the best in the class, with the latest of the breed? Perhaps not best but certainly latest. Now comest the tricky question. Are you at the cutting edge? Oh My God! Me? Man! Are you... Naah not me. It's simple actually - it costs too much for what it's worth. The latest is very costly - and so many reasons. Most of us have all these reasons and we are not supermen to fly the sky and have X-Ray eyes. So what do we do? We try to stay updated on what is latest. And we can definitely look forward to have the opportunity to bag something which was latest not far back.
We usually have our budget rigs with not so latest software. E.g. I have a Win7 machine which haven't seen a single update. Why? because I end up installing the OSES on regular basis. Let me put the Installs and Deaths of various OS'es on it below.
1. Win XP SP3 32-bit Install
2. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS 32-bit Install
3. Win7 Ultimate 32-bit Install
4. KUbuntu 10.04 LTS 32-bit Install
5. KUbuntu 10.04 LTS 32-bit Demise
6. KUbuntu 10.10 32-bit Install
7. Win7 Ultimate 32-bit Demise
8. KUbuntu 10.10 32-bit Demise
9.Linux Mint 10 64-bit Install
10. Win XP SP3 32-bit Demise
11. Win7 Ultimate 64-Bit Install
So now I have Win7 Ultimate 64-bit, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS 32-bit and Linux Mint 10 64-bit. Cutting edge? No, but as much close to that.
Another big question: Is it worth staying cutting edge? Many times :YES. But it's got it's own price. The leaders are always first to fall in a pothole. If you can take the risk of staying at the top where the next step might lead to oblivion, you can afford to be there. But if you need stability then it's always better to always stay couple of steps behind. See how the world's affected by the latest thing and after the initial rush is over, get it in easy peasy.
How difficult is it to be there? Really, what do you expect? It's never easy. Efforts! Lots of efforts are needed to stay there. And the more varying your interests the more threads you need to keep alive and maintained.
Want to know how is it for me? Quite a task - even when I'm not at the top, but couple of steps behind - always. I got a lots of threads running. latest Technology, my programming domains, my OS Domains, my interest in latest four wheelers. That's quite a bit. See, the motorworld is easy - I don't have any vehicle so my interest is just contextual. I look for new models, new technologies etc and I'm done. But even that eats 20Mins of my day every day.
The OS interests are not much time consuming.. I usually read reviews of new OSes and satisfy my thirst. Once in a while I try out anything promising.
The programming interests are the most difficult to maintain. Newer technologies are rising by day. And it's not the easiest thing to decide on what to embrace and what to pass on. And when we want to learn something new it's a big process. Get the learning material. Decide on the best book/ tutorials since there's so much material available on the web. Then we need to get a working schedule that will just be perfect. Then comes the toughest part. The execution. Yes, we need to be most vigilant here. And I know it's very difficult to study once you're out of the College. It just doesn't feel like studying. But study is the thing that never goes away. In some field you need minimal study - i.e. minimal books to study. But in here we have lot's of things to study - code, the books, the documentation arrrgh. The list never ends.
So where do we go from here? I guess now we'll try harder to stay at the cutting edge. Or at least couple of steps behind the frontiers. Eh? :D