I love the aha moment people get when they grasp a concept. It’s a lot of what gives me energy about this job. Being there to help people see how an abstract concept can make their concrete life better is amazingly rewarding.

Because of this, I try to change up all the parts of my talks, to make sure people feel like they’re going on a journey with me, ala Nancy Duarte in Resonate. I want you to feel like you’re on a trip with me, like we’re learning together, and exploring what interests you.

This game was born as…


I used to say that technical writing is an endless series of research papers, and if I had realized that when I started doing it, I might have studied harder at the Java class I flunked. But not really, because the thing I loved about research papers was reading the primary text, and a bunch of secondary texts, and summing them all up and then getting to spin my own theory informed by all of that. Technical writing is all of that, except that instead of texts, you have three harried developers, and interface, and if you’re lucky, some user…


When I was in elementary school, I won a science fair, and travelled to the far-off land of Moscow, Idaho for the state competition. While there, I spent some of my food money on the most magical sticker ever. It was a gleaming metallic unicorn with rainbow colored mane and tail. It brought me joy every time I saw it, and reminded me how hard I had worked and how exciting it was to travel to show off my experiment.

When laptop stickers started appearing, I felt the same way about them, a bit. They are reminders to us of…


I had to say no to a conference I would have loved to speak at today. I’ve had to say no to several conference speaking offers this year, because it turns out that time, space, and timezones can only be manipulated to a certain degree.

I thought about not blogging about this, because it’s a problem of privilege — “my diamond slippers don’t fit”. But it’s still a problem, and I’m not the only one who encounters it. …


I was talking to a fellow ladyish conference speaker, and I reeled off a list of my travel tips as they pertain to people who are working for small/nimble enough companies that you don’t have to book through The Corporate Site.

Last year’s conference travel assortment. I’ve upgraded my bag since then.
  1. Remember that your time is usually more valuable than the amount you can save by optimizing flights. Before you spend 4 hours trying to save $100 and adding a 3 hour layover to your flight, consider your hourly rate.
  2. Pick an airline you can deal with, stop looking at others. …


A bit over a year ago, I applied to a startup. I’d never been a developer advocate before, and I wasn’t sure what the job actually entailed, but the person who recommended me (thanks, Rach!) and the hiring manager said that probably my experience doing talks about technical writing was enough to make me a plausible candidate.

I wasn’t sure then exactly what developer relations actually was, and now I’ve been doing this for a year and in an active community of other people doing it, and I think it is like the parable about the elephant — it looks…


I woke up to a cheery email today telling me that a quarter of my stock options had vested. That means I’ve been with LaunchDarkly a whole year! (there are worse anniversary notes to get).

And what a year it’s been. I thought about doing a photo essay of all the conferences I went to in the last year, but there have literally been 36 this year, and I had speaking slots at all but 5, and of those 5, I ran open spaces at 3. Too many pictures!

I went to 3 other countries — Australia, Santo Domingo, and…


Very Dignified Cat

One of the interesting parts of being a semi-public figure by doing DevRel is that it makes you think a lot about how you look to other people, in a way I suspect is not a concern for the ordinary developer. It parallels the doubled perception that a lot of women already experience.

In 1972, art critic and philosopher John Berger wrote,

A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely…


What is API Hospitality?

Hospitality is the art of making guests feel welcome. As humans, we are taught how to welcome people, smiling, saying we’re glad to see them. As developers, we try to do the same thing by offering friendly user interfaces and documentation for our users. However, there’s a category of users who often get ignored — the people who interact with our product through APIs. I think this is because we assume that since they are also developers like us, they will understand the same things we do.

This assumption is often wrong. So how do you work API Hospitality into…


I can’t make it parallel. I tried. We just have to live with an imperfect world of non-parallel headline items.

I was talking to another speaker the other day, and she asked me how I knew I was ready to give a talk. As with so many other things in my life, I have a checklist.

As I’m prepping a talk, it falls into three stages — construction, feeling capable, and feeling confident.

Construct

Writing a talk is ~40–80 hours of work for me. Usually it’s spread over several months. …

Heidi Waterhouse

Developer advocate, technical writer, speaker, and generally opinionated person.

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