Findmypast Tech

How I keep up to date in the software industry

Neil Crawford Neil Crawford
Reading time: 2 min

How I keep up to date in the software industry

I find keeping up to date quite challenging in software industry. The pace of change at times can be fierce and daunting. Fear not though as over the years I’ve found a few easy ways to keep up.

Firstly I use a couple of phone applications to follow tech news.

Feedly

Feedly is a news feed application, it works from atom and RSS feeds. This is a great way to get updates to your phone from various websites without having to visit them. This delivers news items in an easy consummable list that I scan. Feedly has an intergration with Pocket that lets me long click articles I’m interested in to save to Pocket.

Pocket

Pocket is an offline reader application. This lets me read the articles I’ve saved at my leisure. It’s also got some nice features where it suggests articles based on what you’ve read before.

Newsletters

I’ve recently dropped a lot of the blogs that I had in my news feed and replaced them with curated newsletters - I find the quality of the articles usually pretty good and also then I don’t have to hunt around the web for them. There’s a lot there and I usually only pick one article from each newsletter to read each week. I like a good cross section of the technologies I read about.

Podcasts

Some of the best and most inspiring information I’ve got is from listening to podcasts, I listen to these when I do the dishes at night!

Books

I also read a fair few books but these are usually more around process than directly technical. Here’s what I’ve read in the last year that I thought was good.

  • Getting to Yes This was an interesting book, it taught me better how to approach situations where people have strongly differing opinions and focus on the problem at hand rather than what people think is the solution.

  • The Phoenix Project I enjoyed this book immensely and could draw a lot of parallels from businesses I’ve been a part of. It detais an organisation going through a devops transformation and how they changed their culture and processes to be more effective.

  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Similar to The Phoenix Project this is a parable of a dysfunctional executive team and goes through the author’s beliefs in what makes a high functioning team. Both The Phoenix Project and The Five Dysfunctions help you learn by experiencing the dysfunctions first hand through the characters in the book; I think this makes the learnings resonate more deeply than an abstract discussion of the issues - as a result they are fun and easy to read.

  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us I thought this book was great, it’s a treatment of what motivates individuals. It details intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and what can be good and bad for individuals and teams. It promotes giving high levels of autonomy but that requires a high level of trust.

  • Leading the transformation This is a nice and concise high level treatment of adopting a devops philosphy. A lot of this most developers will be aware of but I found it helped me glue together all the concepts into a cohesive vision of what devops is. I recommend this if you’re at all interested in highly effective cross-functional teams that can be autonomous and deliver fast.

In conclusion

I go through phases of doing a lot for several months then nothing for several months. Life is supposed to be fun so the key to it is not to feel bad if you’re not doing all this stuff. If you do find reading/listening about tech interesting and you enjoy it then hopefully some of these resources might be of use to you.

Neil