In this episode from January 2017: Rubber duck problem solving; reformatting SQL queries; a pre-flight checklist for presentations; how to reduce the odds of identity theft; speaker extraordinaire, James Whittaker; and why you will fail to have a great career.

Sharpen the Saw is a somewhat delayed repost of a semi-regular newsletter of information I publish for the professional development of software developers. While targeted primarily at developers working with the Microsoft technology stack, content will cover a wider range of topics.

To subscribe, send me an email and I’ll put you on the list. Membership is moderated.


Always a way to improve the code you write every day.

Rubber duck problem-solving

One of the key skills required of any software developer is the ability to ask good questions. The interesting thing is that the process of writing a good question will often allow us to answer the problem ourselves.

In this blog post, Jeff Attwood talks about how this happens when people are preparing to ask questions on Stack Overflow.

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Software and updates

A new or upgraded tool can be a beautiful thing.

Poor SQL

Very simple in execution, Poor SQL is a free online tool for reformatting SQL statements so they’re easy to read and understand.

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Being professional

A great developer does more than just write great code.

Preflight checklist

Phil Haack uses a preflight checklist for every presentation - a customized list of things that need to be done in preparation. His suggestions make sense for anyone doing a technical presentation - and the idea of a preflight checklist is far more generally useful too.

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Staying secure

Staying safe online and writing secure systems are both harder than we think.

Beware these three predictors of identity theft

From the department of totally predictable results:

In general, people who shared the most about themselves were four times more likely to experience fraud than those who shared the least.

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Sometimes the answer is random.

James Whittaker

At the 2014 Ignite Conference, I saw James Whittaker set the stage on fire. He’s a speaker of remarkable stage presence.

It seems, however, that his on-stage personality isn’t any kind of a front - he’s like that in real life as well.

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Video of the week

Take some time to feed your mind.

Why you will fail to have a great career

Don’t let the stern look or the gruff demeanor convince you otherwise; Larry Smith is really funny. He’ll also make you think about your own choices as he tells a graduating class why their careers will be dull, boring and uninspired.

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