a blog by Sara Farquharson

what i'm reading: May 19

My giant reading list backlog is on the verge of preventing me from opening new links, so here’s an annotated list of things I’ve read since April. This isn’t even all of it.


  • Finally finished Designing Data-Intensive Applications! I really enjoyed this one, it just hit me at a weird time and I was having trouble getting back into the last few chapters. I found the maps to start each chapter extremely charming.


  • Millions of Tiny Databases by Marc Brooker, Tao Chen, and Fan Ping was a ton of fun, it tied in really well to the Cloud Networking course I’ve been ignoring with all the details about data centre topology. I found the section on formal methods invaluable, as it made TLA+ seem approachable and practical.



  • Hoping to pick up some accessibility knowledge by osmosis from articles like Sigute’s Accessible Reordering for Touch Devices, which isn’t a how to so much as a process retrospective. I like seeing how other people approach problems, and also the links to more instructional content in the article might be useful later.

  • This piece from Safe and Silent validated my intuitive skepticism on the usefulness of masks with windows for lipreading, and I also learned some cool stuff about how people who lipread actually do it. It’s important to have affected populations involved in the design of assistive technologies!

Engineering Management

Remote Work

Making a website

  • It’s been a long time since I had to write a resume, but I was still click-baited into reading Sarah Drasner’s advice for writing a technical resume. I didn’t find anything groundbreaking, but I hope it helps those who are seeking work right now.

  • I’ve steadfastly avoided learning much about modern web frameworks, so Tom MacWright’s criticism of single-page apps was both rewarding to my curmudgeonly heart and also educational about what developing for the modern web actually looks like these days. I feel slightly less like an out-of-touch grandparent now.

  • Monica Lent just started up a new series on “blogging for developers”, so I was checking out her blog and this post about absolutist views of junior developers struck uncomfortably close to home.

How big companies do things


  • Stumbled across Tom Critchlow’s musing on digital gardens via Twitter and was reminded of my own itch to have a better way of organizing information outside of my head closer to how it feels inside my head. Still need to come up with a better way to archive links than these posts.

  • I loved Brandon Falk’s rant about the lack of accessible tooling for fuzzing because it’s a handful of people having an epically long but polite discussion about arcane research topics that I barely understand that got incidentally shared into my feed, but by reading it I feel like I understand at least the rough outline of the problem.

  • Just a couple weeks ago I was looking for a way to make diagrams with code and the other day Pat Kua just shared Mingrammer.

  • I didn’t know InfoQ has a software trends matrix too, it’s interesting to see a few different opinions on some of the big buzzwords.

  • Gajus Kuizinas makes a coherent argument against using package-lock.json in projects that will be dependencies of other projects. I think it might still work within an organization, but I see the issue in open source (especially an ecosystem like Node with ten thousand billion dependencies)

Technical deep dives

Oddball topics

  • Vicki Boykis’s Normcore Tech newsletter is always introducing me to corners of culture I was unaware of, including the rise of point-of-sale loans. New VC-backed ways to screw over poor people, I guess.

  • Jen Manion’s piece on “female husbands” is a fascinating look at a bit of history I wasn’t aware of. I listen to enough “strange stories from history” podcasts that I’ve certainly heard stories of LGBTQ+ people throughout history, but the term “female husband” was new to me.

  • This article about Lisa Piccirillo’s solution to the Conway Knot tries heroically to express 4-dimensional knot theory in lay terms—and succeeds pretty well! I feel like I get the gist of how the problem was solved, but I may never be able to properly visualize the knots of a 4D sphere.