My 5 favorite ways of keeping the technical axe sharp

2 minute read article Leadership   Technology   Wisdom   Career   Learning Comments

To stick with the topic of learning, I wanted to talk about some of the methods I use to keep my tech skills sharp.

Side projects

When I say side projects, I don’t mean full-blown open source projects, but instead small things to make life easier.

Over the years, I’ve sprinkled my personal dev folder with all sorts of little things to make life easier. It’s a good way to play with new language features especially if your company or client won’t be upgrading anytime soon. Don’t let them hold you back when it comes to learning. Get ahead of the curve, so when (if?) the time comes, you’ll be ready because you’ve been using the new features in your own projects.

At my last job I had a bunch of .Net projects that still had bindings for TFS so whenever you opened the project, you’d get nagged. I wrote a small Python app to do the dirty work for me.

At the job before that I got tired of flipping between multiple Azure DevOps projects so I wrote a small console application to hit the API and present the data I needed with just a few keystrokes.

Even today I realized I wanted to reduce some of the friction for this blog, so I’m working on a small C# app that will take some of the manual work out of creating new posts.


I really enjoy Koans and was first introduced to them by the devs at EdgeCase back in the day. I had the privilege of meeting and talking to Jim Weirich, too.

Find your path to enlightenment with Koans.

This is just a sample - search GitHub for “koans” and I’m sure you’ll find one for your language.


I love doing coding katas and thankfully, there are a lot of them. I think my favorite is Gilded Rose, but I’ve been having fun with Vending Machine, too.

Note: There is some overlap in these lists, and again, just search GitHub for “kata” and you’ll come up with a lot.

My Weekly Links post

The research I do for my weekly Interesting Links post turns up a ton of great content. I follow a couple hundred blogs on many different topics, so I’m always running into content that teaches me something.

Video Content

When it comes to great video content, especially around Azure, I love the work coming from John Savill. I also love watching Adam Savage’s Tested on YouTube just to see a creative mind at work.

I have my own Pluralsight subscription, and work provides Udemy for us. I try to catch Pluralsight sales each year to cut my cost in half. I don’t mind Udemy, but when work owns the account, it’s tough because someone can decide to pull it anytime.

Final Thoughts

No matter what you do, keeping your technical skills up-to-date and sharp is important. Things change so quickly that you should have a plan for getting up to speed on new languages and tech.

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