Seattle Public Library Has Free Access to and Safari Books Online


Almost no one knows this, but the Seattle Public Library offers free access to two incredibly useful websites that normally cost a lot of money:

  1. — offers thousands of online video courses on a wide range of topics. They are particularly well-known for their expert courses on creative professions such as 3D modelling, animation, graphic design, audio design, etc. They also offer courses on programming, professional development, and more.
  2. Proquest: Safari Books Online — offers tens of thousands of e-books on a wide range of technical topics, including programming, game development, engineering, IT, etc. They even have non-technical topics like business, creativity, personal development, and more.

I’ve written before about how the best way to “teach yourself” anything really comes down to finding good teachers and good resources to learn from. No one’s path to mastery can consist only of Google searches to hyper-specific StackOverflow questions. Oftentimes you just need a good book or a course to introduce you to all of the fundamentals and all of the jargon of a particular field or tool.

How to Access These Resources

  1. Get a library card.
    1. This requires proof that you live in either Seattle or live in one of the accepted areas in King County.
    2. If you don’t live here, you can also buy a three-month visitor card or a one-year non-resident card.
    3. Make sure to save the PIN that’s associated with your library card.
  2. How to sign in from your computer:
    1. —
    2. Safari Books —
    3. Bookmark the above links. Then use your library card number as your username and your PIN as the password.
  3. How to sign in on mobile:
    1. — Download the Lynda mobile app for your phone, then on the login screen, navigate to the Organization tab, scroll down to the Web Portal section, and type in as the organization URL. Then login as usual with your library card number and PIN.
    2. Safari Books — You can’t sign in using their mobile app, so you’ll have to visit their website from your phone’s web browser using the same link in step #2.

Have fun learning!

Stop Acting So Surprised: How Microaggressions Enforce Stereotypes in Tech


I recently wrote a new article that was published today on Model View Culture. This was my first exposure to the world of professional writing, which means that I had to pitch my piece to them, have multiple drafts reviewed by their editor, and get paid for my work.

Read the Full Article on Model View Culture

Over the past eight months or so, I’ve become a huge fan of this publication, and I’m super honored to have my work published by them. I love how their essays look at the tech industry from an angle that you don’t really see on typical industry publications. They often discuss the industry’s culture and social problems while promoting interesting and diverse voices, opinions, and projects.

They are an independent publication with zero ad revenue, which means they only make money when you buy things from them. In particular, I love their printed quarterly subscriptions, which are also available digitally. There’s something really fun about getting a little journal in the mail that’s filled with super fascinating thoughts from awesome people who are actively working to improve the tech industry. After reading my piece, feel free to look around their site, follow them on social media, and if you end up liking them as much as I do, please consider supporting their work.

How to Get Better at Teaching Yourself New Skills

To be honest, I always cringe a little when I hear someone say that they “taught themselves” how to do something. While the phrase has become a shorthand for saying “I learned this outside of the traditional classroom setting,” I can’t but help be bothered by the sense of arrogance that comes with the fact that it also seems like a shorthand for “I learned this without a teacher.”

There is always a teacher involved. Whether you learned that skill by reading books, following online tutorials, watching instructional videos, or reading articles online, someone had to create that content for you to consume.

One of the most amazing things about working in tech is that people tend to spend a lot of time either learning from others or helping others understand complicated skills. Anyone can become a “teacher” just by writing a single article or by giving a talk at a conference, and this promotes a really cool continuous-learning culture within the community.

But it worries me just how little attention we sometimes give to the teachers who create the content that we have become so dependent on for our professional development. Software engineers tend to take the availability and quality of this educational content for granted. Many people in this field describe themselves as “self-taught” rather than attributing their expertise to the individuals who they learned from.

This is a problem, not necessarily because it’s rude or self-centered behavior, but because we’re creating misleading expectations among students and upcoming engineers. We often trivialize how easy it is to learn new technologies by saying “oh yeah just do a Google search!” We act as if just any Google result is good enough to learn from, as if the quality of the educational content has no effect on one’s ability to master the material. We give off the impression that mastery is entirely dependent on our own intelligence, and so when students struggle, rather than questioning the quality of the content that they’re trying to learn from, they instead question their own intelligence and start contemplating whether they should just give up.

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