In this issue from February 2017: debugging in Visual Studio; a monster of a markdown editor; four ways to deal with bossy people at work; how your battery can be used to track you online; a programming font with ligatures; and why Human Driven Development is important.

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.

Advanced Debugging in Visual Studio

There are always times when we need to start delving into the runtime operation of our code, using a debugger to try and see why it doesn’t work the way we think it should.

In Visual Studio, we have a massive set of tools at our disposal. This blog post is talking about features in Visual Studio 2008 and 2010 but many of them are still relevant in today’s more modern editions.

Particularly check out the tips for advanced use of breakpoints; they can make it much easier to find the elusive bug.

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Software and Updates

A new or upgraded tool can be a beautiful thing.

Markdown Monster

Markdown Monster is an editor for working with markdown files - the same kind of content you find on Stack Overflow and a thousand other sites.

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Being Professional

A great developer does more than just write great code.

Four Ways to Deal With a Bossy Co-worker

There are words that get commonly confused. Some think that leadership and bossy are the same things when they’re not. Someone who treats their job as merely a way to earn an income might see little difference between passion and aggression.

If you have a colleague who’s being bossy, overstepping their authority and telling you what to do, here are four possible approaches.

Read now

Staying Secure

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

Your battery status is being used to track you online

From the “not what it’s designed to do” department, it turns out a there’s a web standard that lets websites adapt what they show for the amount of power your device has available.

Unfortunately, it turns out that minor differences in batteries (due to normal manufacturing variations and to wear and tear in use) mean that the combination of percentage charge and minutes left is a near unique identifier that can be used to track you.

Read now


Sometimes the answer is random.

Fira Code

A programmers choice of font can be as personal as their keyboard or chair. Here’s a new font that you might find tempting. Fira Code uses font ligatures to transform common code constructs like != and => as they show on screen.

Read now

Video of the Week

Take some time to feed your mind.

Human-Driven Development

Excellent speaker Aurynn Shaw gave this talk at talking about the importance of being inclusive and some of the mistakes commonly made. This is a thought provoking talk that might be confronting for some.

Watch now


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January 2018