Rachel by the Bay is a blog of sysadmin war stories by… I’m not sure what her full name is! All I know is that she writes these amazing, in-depth, super-technical-and-very-well-written posts like this one about a “magic number” that was causing memory leaks.
I love Dan Luu’s blog for several reasons, but one of my favorite things is that he frequently writes about hardware. For example, this post about whether or not you should use error-correcting memory is a topic I would have no idea where to start learning about if it were not for his blog. When limping hardware is worse than dead hardware is also excellent. He also uses my favorite blog archive tactic which is “list all of your posts on your homepage”.
While we’re talking about systems, we have to talk about aphyr’s blog, which is mostly about breaking distributed systems. When his blog was originally recommended to me, I honestly struggled with reading it – the concepts he talks about are difficult to understand if you don’t have a lot of experience with distributed systems. But having followed him for a couple of years now, I’ve learned a ton and I’m extremely happy that he covers distributed systems material in the depth that he does. I also love the introduction to his Clojure from the ground up post, and he gives wonderful talks.
In a different direction, I really enjoy reading Camille Fournier’s blog. She used to write a lot about distributed systems, now she writes a lot about engineering management, and I love it. I love it because she writes about the ways becoming a manager was hard for her, and she gives advice but you can also see that her thinking is constantly evolving and she’s worked hard on getting better. I particularly liked Notes on Startup Engineering Management for Young Bloods and The Manager as Debugger. She’s now also writing an advice column at O’Reilly.
What I love about all of these blogs (and what I strive for in my own writing) is that they all (at least sometimes) write about what they’re currently working on or learning about. (“look at this weird bug I just discovered! This distributed system I just found a serious bug in! How I changed the way I thought about management this year! This paper I read about data corruption!”). They’re all by people who are very knowledgeable, and take you along for the ride as they’re learning and experimenting.
My constant wish with blogging is for more people to write blogs where they tell me what they’re working on and what they’re thinking about. Maybe you will do it!
(there are so many many more than 4 blogs that I like. I have left out Lindsey Kuper, Sumana Harihareswara, Mark Dominus, Jessica Kerr, Allison Kaptur, Nelson Elhage, embedded.fm, Cathy O’Neil, Carin Meier, and a lot more). In all these cases I’ve linked to a specific blog post of theirs that I enjoy instead of just their homepage.