There’s just so much that can be covered and so many ways to learn it’s hard to know

I work with open source software almost exclusively (or pretty much exclusively now that Java is open sourced). One of the many advantages with the world of open source is that there are tutorials and HOWTO files on almost everything. That makes it possible to learn a LOT for free and then to get the tech books AFTER you’ve learned enough to evaluate if a book will teach you what you need to do.

I’ll add my viewpoint. I came at all this from a different way than what you’re considering. I learned how to write the code and looked at how I could create a system that would do what I want. I mine data from different sources, including on the web and through dial-up systems (which helps because the dial-up systems are hard for many people to find, which means less competition).

I’m close to finishing my system, but as it is, it’s performing well and I’ve impressed a lot of other programmers with my low bug report count.
When it’s done, we’ll be focusing on adding clients and building up the income, then deciding whether to sell it or not. A major advantage to selling it is that now whenever a site I get data from makes a small change, it means I have to go into “emergency” mode and adapt my programs for the change before it creates an issue for my clients. If I could sell the business for enough, I’d do it so I don’t have to worry about anything going wrong. Plus, once it’s sold, I’m clear in case anything happens that changes the whole situation.

There’s a big benefit to creating the income stream through technical skills, since it lets you design a system and change it at will. It means I’m in control and I don’t have to worry about someone I hire deciding to do the same thing for himself after he’s done it for me. It puts me in total control.

And the fun part is that it lets me set my own hours and work out of my
home.