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The Best We Read This Week – Oct 7th 2020

Hello! We often read some other blog post and rave about it internally but then don’t write about it becauseā€¦. someone else already did. Given this – and that we’d like to post fairly often, even when we don’t feel we have anything original to say – in this post format, we’ll be collecting only the very best of such articles and posting links to them, along with our own thoughts.

Work on What Matters – Staff Eng blog


I really liked this article. I think there are two kinds of very senior/principal/staff engineer: those who are incredibly impactful individual contributors, and those that multiply the delivery of a team/org.

There’s plenty of content from the former that’s really interesting, but less from the latter. I’ve definitely been the cause or victim of “Stop chasing ghosts” a few times now!

The Dark Secrets of Fast Compilation for Kotlin – JetBrains blog


I just liked this. It gave me a bunch of insight into the Kotlin compilation process that I didn’t have before. I don’t know that it’ll really change how I write code (I had a fuzzy idea of what would cause a full re-compile before), but it gives me the language I need to explain what’s going on without the hand-waving.

We write code, not documents – Signal v. Noise


Signal v Noise will likely feature heavily in this segment going forward. I think that Basecamp are a brilliant example of an engineering org that’s focused on a high degree of individual productivity rather than following some project management traditions that don’t necessarily make sense in software.

This article is a perfect example of that. When you’re small, every bit of work really matters. An engineer losing a morning on a document that’s not that important might not make all the difference in a large org, but in team of three devs that’s ~17% of potential work done that day. I think a common failing in software is that we fail to recognize that (while we’re good at making sand think) we’re frequently not domain experts. The only way to gain that expertise is to wrestle with the problem. Make something, deploy it and find out which assumptions were wrong.



Okay, so this isn’t really an article but it is extremely cool. Steve Yegge has a great post on why developers should be great typists that I wholeheartedly recommend. This site lets you type out classic novels in an effort to not suck at typing anymore. While it might not have the campy fun factor of Typing of the Dead, it’s still well worth checking out.

That’s all for this week! Have a good week, stay safe, and tune in next week for more of the best in tech.

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