a blog by Sara Farquharson

what i'm reading: April 21

I got busy and then the world kind of collapsed. For a while I couldn’t care about much outside my immediate field of vision, but now I’ve settled into the new life of working remote and idly stressing about a different set of problems. I still have a job, might as well read more and try to get better at it.

Completed Books

I have been reading a lot of fiction.

  • Was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Martha Wells' new Murderbot novella Network Effect and it was everything I wanted a new Murderbot book to be.
  • Picked Elizabeth Moon’s Once a Hero off my bookshelf and read most of it, then went on a bit of a kick and re-read Surrender None and the end of Liar’s Oath before discovering that there are new books in the world of Paksenarrion. I borrowed the entire Paladin’s Legacy series from the library.
    • Oath of Fealty
    • Kings of the North
    • Echoes of Betrayal
    • Limits of Power
    • Crown of Renewal
  • Stumbled across a blog post by Jenny Trout and ended up reading the first two books in her The Boss series (as Abigail Barnette), sold by the concept of “if 50 Shades of Grey was written by someone who knows how kink works” and the fact that the first book was free. Not my normal genre but pleasingly well-written, covering a lot of complex topics and modelling of healthy communication. May not read any more though, contemporary romance isn’t my jam.

Current Books


Deliberately reading things that are not about current events, but not entirely avoiding the topic.



  • Clare Sudbery wrote a helpful practical example of refactoring a too-large class for martinfowler.com. I enjoy seeing real-life examples of theories I’ve read about.
  • The title From 48K lines of code to 10 is clickbait, since Gregor Martynus just moved all the code from a monolithic library to a bunch of plugins. Still, I found it timely since I have to write an app for the GitHub API and was looking at their SDKs anyway.

Random technical posts

  • In my new life working on Developer Experience I have to draw a lot more diagrams than I was accustomed to as a software developer. For that reason I paid attention to Using Modeling to Understand What’s Happening in a System, though I can’t think of where I’d use any of these particular diagrams.
  • In How to market yourself without being a celebrity Shawn Wang argues that it’s important to find a niche and stick to it, which is why I’ll never be famous in tech.
  • I enjoyed Dave Nicolette’s clarification of the purpose of code katas. Makes me want to get in the habit of doing them.
  • Lydia Hallie made some cool visualizations of git commands like merge, rebase, and cherry-pick. The more ways to model a concept I’m learning, the better!
  • I like the idea of observability that Honeycomb advocates, but the definition still feels a bit slippery if you’re not using their service. I appreciated Andy Dote’s Observability without Honeycomb. Turns out yes, we already do something like this, though I have ideas to improve it.
  • Stack Overflow’s Unfriendly Robot: automatically flagging unwelcoming comments by Jason Punyon and Kevin Montrose is a fun overview of the context and results of implementing an AI comment-flagging system.
  • Zara Cooper’s practical guide to writing technical specs contains far more than I have ever put into a spec and now I want to go back and fix them. Wish I’d found this when I was first made responsible for designing features!

The new work reality

  • It’s impossible to not sound like a robot when talking about layoffs, but Nobl’s How to Layoff Employees in a Humane Way at least sounds like an ethical robot? I am very lucky that this article doesn’t have any meaning for me personally, but I’m thinking a lot about everyone I know who has been on one side or another of pandemic-related downsizing.
  • Antonio Bertossi’s Six tips to bolster remote leadership and promote trust have a common thread of “be direct, communicate clearly, ditch unnecessary extras”. Good points to keep in mind as the weeks of remote work roll on.