Andrew Huth

January 1, 2022

Aligned autonomy

In software (and in other fields, I would think), good companies and managers want you to be autonomous. Someone who can come up with their own course of action and do it is valuable. But there are two things you need to make your autonomy work well. Both of which I've learned the hard way. 1. Trust 2. No surprises Leaders in any organ...
Read more

November 15, 2021

Future proof: 9 rules for humans in the age of automation

Automation has a long history of disrupting jobs and putting people out of work. Kevin Roose's Future Proof establishes 9 strategies for minimizing the risk that you'll be affected be automation. 1. Be surprising, social, and scarce. You can't beat machines at their own game. Instead, lean in to your own humanity and social abilities. ...
Read more

October 20, 2021

Accessibility isn't

Sometimes I come across the idea that a product would "be accessible" if a whole backlog of accessibility bugs were fixed. I don't think that's right. Accessibility isn't fixing a giant backlog of audit bugs. It's a design and engineering process that finds and fixes issues in a tight feedback loop. It's the process, not fixing any par...
Read more

October 11, 2021

Margin collapse is like social distance

I'd heard of margin collapse in CSS, but never knew what it was. After taking Josh Comeau's CSS for JavaScript Developers course, I learned it works like social distancing. If two people want to be 6 feet away from each other, they don't need to be 12 feet apart. Their social distance "bubbles" can overlap. Vertical (not horizontal, fo...
Read more

September 21, 2021

Certainty is a smell

Software development has the concept of a code smell. Certain patterns aren't necessarily "bad", but may indicate deeper problems and warrant further investigation. Certainty, someone expressing an idea without allowing for the possibility they're wrong, is like that. They may be right. But many times they have flawed reasoning. (This ...
Read more

August 23, 2021

Four thousand weeks

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, by Oliver Burkeman, is about embracing our limits. The average human lifespan is about 4000 weeks, which the author points out is insultingly short. While we have the mental capacity to make almost infinitely ambitious plans, we have practically no time to put them into action. But this...
Read more

June 14, 2021

Time Off

Time Off, by John Fitch, Max Frenzel, and Mariya Suzuki, is about using the right kinds of rest to improve creative or knowledge work. Busyness and working more hours isn't the best path to great work. Working sustainably and setting up your life to make new connections is. The key insights for me were • You need a rest ethic along wit...
Read more

May 27, 2021

This is Water

This is Water is the book form of a commencement address David Foster Wallace gave to Kenyon College in 2005. He would tragically kill himself a couple years later The author argues that the most important freedom you can have is to truly care about other people. He defines this as sacrificing for others over and over again in a myriad...
Read more

May 14, 2021

It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences

June Casagrande’s It was the Best of Sentences, It was the Worst of Sentences is about writing sentences (don’t judge mine!). Writing good sentences helps your writing (of course). And it also helps write commit messages and code comments. The book is useful, amusing, and never boring, although I wish it was organized better. Each chap...
Read more

May 2, 2021

The New CSS Layout

Like many software engineers, I've long used CSS flexbox. I'm less familiar with grid, even though it seems straightforward. So I picked up Rachel Andrew's The New CSS Layout to learn more. Key insights • How multi-column layout works • How flexbox works • How grid works • Participating in the CSS specification How multi-column layout ...
Read more

April 28, 2021

The Catalyst

The sub-title of The Catalyst, by Jonah Berger, is "how to change anyone's mind". Which sounds sleazy. Fortunately, it's really about influencing people in positive ways. For example, to improve their health, or to get onboard with a work project. Key insights • People prefer autonomy • People love what they already do • People hate un...
Read more

April 27, 2021


A colleague recently recommended Mismatch by Kat Holmes, which is about inclusive design. I work on web accessibility, and I usually think about inclusion in terms of web sites. But it could apply to any type of design and engineering. Key insights • Create many ways to participate • There are many challenges to inclusion • Inclusion a...
Read more

March 23, 2021

My software engineering reading list

After reading Four books professional developers should read, by Phil Eaton, I was inspired to write my own software engineering reading list. Originally I thought of this as a “staff engineering” reading list, because I wouldn’t have appreciated these early in my career. When starting out, my reading was about using Ruby on Rails, HTM...
Read more