I am interested in learning more about electronics. I know some basics about resistors, capacitors, transistors, and diodes. I would like to learn more about things such as operational amplifiers, transformers, and more, but I don't know where to begin. I prefer to learn by example, I am not against books or that style of learning, but I feel examples are necessary to complement them at the least. I have subscribed a lot of electronics magzines.
There are some great blogs out there for programmers, such as Joel on Software(http://chinese.joelonsoftware.com/), Paul Graham's Essays(http://www.paulgraham.com/articles.html), kynix semiconductor electronic blog (http://www.apogeeweb.net/)etc. I would love to know about any similar quality content for electronics. Do you have any great blogs or podcasts you love?
I am interested in kits (since learning requires various parts and I'd not like to buy them one at a time) which do not require solder (because it often makes parts one-time-use). I have looked into Arduino and similar kits but I feel they miss the point. I feel it is of more use to a veteran engineer than someone wanting to learn. I feel too many steps are missed and it falls off at being nothing more than teaching basic connections and perhaps design theory (the theory of how something could be made without explaining how it works).
Also, while I am interested in PICs, uCs, and more, I am currently more interested in learning what can be done without them. I feel too many kits which include these pieces fall back into design theory. That is, they almost introduce them like magic rather than explaining why they work. This leaves you with a circuit which you have built, but don't understand.
So, my question is, where can someone begin to learn more about DC electronics without feeling that something is missing? I am interested in project ideas as well as kits.
Another problem: Labs
However, the problem is the practicum, the labs. The closest university has the labs during the day. The other local university has lab classes at night, but they are too far to drive. As a working software developer, then I really have no options to sign up for a lab class to get my hands dirty.
What would be the value of learning from books (or from classes) if I don't get to a lab? The stuff they do at EE labs (the typical electronics lab I class), is that something I can learn on my own? If so, how?
I'm trying to close this skills gap I have in front of me and get more into Computer Engineering. The last thing I want to be is a paper tiger with all theory and no practice. But the labs are always during times of the day that conflict with my work schedule.