The “Last Lecture” is a tradition inspired by Etsy and by Randy Pausch’s book, The Last Lecture, in which someone departing shares their perspective: “What wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?” This version of Sarai’s Last Lecture has been modified to fit your scream.

Hi, I’m Sarai, insecurity princess extraordinaire. You may know me from such hits as

  • “Oh shit everything is on fire”,
  • “Yes it’s on fire but we can handle it”, and
  • “I am once again asking for the diversity and inclusion statistics” [LOOK, THEY DID IT…

A blue fractal spirals outwards in two directions. Each arm reaches out to a sequence of scaled versions of the spiral.
A blue fractal spirals outwards in two directions. Each arm reaches out to a sequence of scaled versions of the spiral.

A second-aid guide for how managers and leaders can support colleagues through traumatic events and trauma recovery

Content Warning: high-level discussion of traumatic events without details, including SA, hate crimes (Pulse 2016, Minneapolis 2020), and grief/loss. The discussion centers validation and empathetic action but may surface survived trauma.

I’ve been through personal trauma and community trauma. What I needed and how I felt varied wildly day to day. Some days, work provided routine and a sense of control. Some days I just couldn’t. I had managers whose empathetic support touched me deeply, and I had managers who hurt me through ignorance.

This is a resource for supporting our colleagues and direct reports through traumatic events. What can…

How I learned to stop worrying about hashes and love PRFs

Let’s, uhhhhh, hash this out a bit, because the distinction between “when is a hash okay” and “when is a hash not okay” is very important for teaching software engineers who will often use hashes in their work.

As summarized by renowned security and privacy expert Dr. Lea Kissner,

Hash functions are tricky and I’ve seen a lot of people think they throw away all of the information you put in them. But they don’t, which is the precise reason why they’re useful.

A hash is a “digest”. Generally, hashes identify the data that was hashed in a one-to-one relationship…

Fractal image in red hues on black, with a curl of intermixed tendrils repeating into a spiral like an endless flame
Fractal image in red hues on black, with a curl of intermixed tendrils repeating into a spiral like an endless flame

N.b.: I am not a therapist nor a mental health expert.

Complex trauma is prolonged, repeated exposure to traumatic experiences that we have little or no ability to escape—e.g., *gestures generally at 2020*. People experiencing complex trauma can develop Complex Trauma Disorder (C-PTSD).

Our feelings and reactions to complex trauma are very personal, ranging across anxiety, despair, hypervigilance, grief, dissociation, and more. Our responses are also very personal. We each develop conscious and unconscious responses to cope with complex trauma. Some of these are positive coping mechanisms — soothing self-care actions that help us process, recover, and function in the…

I want you to think of someone you worked with recently — someone who did something helpful, impressive, or someone who guided you to achieve something yourself. Maybe someone whose work stands out, or maybe someone whose regular contributions, collaboration, advice, note-taking, or other work has become so much a reliable part of your team’s routine that you rarely notice or think about it.

Right now, I want you to write down that person’s name, and a single sentence about what they did.

Seriously, please try this! I’ll wait.

Maybe it looks something like this:

“Sam helped me write tests…

“It’s time to write more performance reviews already!? I’m not prepared; what do I do!?”

Some fun .bashrc functions

1. Don’t panic

ok maybe a little panic

2. Schedule time for writing reviews

Writing good reviews takes time. Set aside some time on your calendar. On our team, we create “Personal Development” tickets for work like this, so that the rest of the team can see what we’re working on.

3. If you’re reading this, you’re probably overly self-critical. I gotchu.

You can explore those feelings— but let’s make room for remembering the good work you did.

4. Build some positive energy

  • Read the happy label of emails that made you happy to read.
  • Don’t have one? Make one, and don’t worry, it’ll build up! For now, visit

I’ve been in a variety of STEM spaces in both academia and tech, including women-only, women-centered, and coed spaces. Hackbright Academy is not unique, but my experiences at Hackbright stand out.

Not all women’s spaces

Women’s spaces often replicate or merely avoid the pitfalls of current tech culture, with attitudes like “lean in” or “tough it out”.

I don’t disagree with offering pragmatic advice (“keep your head down”, “wait until you gain seniority”), but Hackbright chooses to change culture and #ChangeTheRatio rather than responding directly to current tech culture.

Well, actually it’s not just women’s spaces.

Django Girls, for example, welcomes people of all genders, but the Code of Conduct and…

Have you ever stepped into an elevator and pressed a button — then pressed it again because you’re not sure it worked? One of my most delightful discoveries in moving to the Bay Area was finding crosswalks whose buttons provide both auditory and haptic feedback when pressed.

Every successful social media website offers features for users to engage with what they see: likes, loves, comments, and reactions, from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Slack.

In writing this article, I researched tools for color-blind users and narration tools for blind users (see resources below). I was surprised to find that…

I know this is mesmerizing, but read the article too!

Influencing product direction without being a product manager

Every Product Management (PM) guide teaches that a PM must influence people and develop relationships without holding authority. None of these guides will tell you how. This is my story.

I value privacy, and since you’re reading this, probably you do too! Privacy controls in social media (and — more importantly, the clarity thereof) vary greatly.

Facebook made some great strides to allow users to control privacy and examine how private their posts are. They clearly prioritize clear product text and user tools for managing privacy settings. Privacy controls for timeline posts, app access, and user profile data are clear and easy to use.

Sarai Rosenberg

Mathematician; Insecurity Princess

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