All Talks (by topic)

As a polyglot, Sarah has worked in a variety of tech and has a wide range of interests. Her talks often reflect this and she brings a different perspective to many topics in the field, both technically and professionally.

This is a list of all of the talks and descriptions that she has given. It also includes a list of ideas she’s either outlined or would like to give at some point.

If any talk sounds like something you would like at your meetup, users group, conference, or other event, please contact her on her Contact page.

Complete Talks

These are talks that Sarah has given in the past and are ready to present again.

  • Intro to Hacking with the Raspberry Pi
    Type: Technical
    Length: 40 minutes
    Resources: Github, slides, notes, code, wiring diagrams
    Presented at: Nebraska.Code() 2015, UMKC IEEE monthly meeting, KCDC 2015 (with encore), MINK WIC 2015, IEEE-KC monthly meeting, DevUp Conf 2017

    You’ve heard lots of hype about the Raspberry Pi, the credit-card sized computer available for under $40. This talk will introduce some of the Pi’s features, explore some sample projects you can create, and show you how to write code to control hardware through it’s IO pins. After this talk you will be ready to make your own cool hacking projects with the Pi.
  • A Primer on Functional Programming
    Type: Technical
    Length: 35 minutes
    Resources: Slides, notes
    Presented at: Nebraska.Code() 2016, Self.Conference 2016, KCDC 2016, Prairie.Code() 2016, Music City Code 2018, Code Daze Vol. 2 (2018)

    Functional programming languages are gaining in popularity. If you’ve worked in object-oriented languages, you might be baffled at how they work. Maybe hearing the word “recursion” makes you want to scream. Or maybe you’ve just heard the hype and want to know what the hype is about.In this talk, we will briefly explain what functional principles are, and go into some examples of how to use them. We will briefly look at some of the functional languages in use today. We’ll see some of the concepts they have in common, and the many things that make them distinctive. You’ll see how to take these concepts and ideas and apply them to whatever languages you’re working with today.
  • Building Your Team to Last: Successful Onboarding and Mentoring Practices
    Type: People Skills
    Length: 35 minutes
    Resources: Slides, notes, video
    Presented at: Nebraska.Code() 2016, KCDC 2016, Prairie.Code() 2016, deliver:Agile 2018
    Hiring and on-boarding new team members is an expensive and risky process. It’s crucial to hire people who mesh well with the existing team and get them up to speed in a timely manner. Balancing this while minimizing the initial impact on productivity is often a challenge for even the most experienced lead developer.This session covers some tips for building your successful team:

    • How to choose the right types of people to add to your team.
    • How to onboard and mentor your new team members, including patterns of ineffective mentoring and why they’re harmful to the team.
    • How everyone can benefit from bringing on junior developers and interns the right way.

    By the end, you’ll see how your whole team will benefit from these strategies.

  • The Power of Secrets
    Type: People Skills
    Length: 35 minutes
    Resources: Slides, video
    Presented at: AlterConf Portland 2016, Self.Conference 2017, DevUp Conf 2017

    Secrets can be scary if they get out. That’s the very feeling I had when I wrote a Medium post revealing my biggest secret, which was read by thousands.In this talk, I will share the story of how and why I came to share this secret with the world. I’ll also talk about how sharing this ultimately made me a better teammate, developer, and person, and how it had the complete opposite reaction than I expected. Through these experiences, I’ll share my insights on why being more open benefits you and your team.
  • Pursuing a Passion Project: Struggles and Successes
    Type: People Skills
    Length: 30 minutes
    Resources: Slides
    Presented at: MINK WIC 2017

    In 2016, I had a variety of small ideas that ended up combining together into a new project: Finding a way to amplify the voices of the underrepresented groups in tech. I decided to start off with a podcast. After 7 months of fighting technology, fighting life battles, and fighting imposter syndrome, I released the first episode. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot of things about connecting with people and communities, pursing my passions, and starting a very large project. I will share how I went from a vague idea to creating and releasing this new media to the public. I’ll also talk some of the technical aspects that I go through to pull off an average episode of the show. Finally, you’ll see how ultimately my passion drove this project to success.
  • Doors
    Type: Event keynote
    Length: 15 minutes
    Resources: Slides, video
    Presented at: Techtonica Launch Celebration (Jan 2018)
    Doors are great! Wooden doors, metal doors, red doors, blue doors, green doors, big doors, small doors, double doors… they’re all over. They’re opportunities to end up in a new place. Sometimes you know what’s behind the door, and sometimes you don’t.In this keynote, I share my story of how I always wanted to be a developer since I first learned to program as a kid. But many barriers and challenges showed up along the way. It took many years, a big community, and some really encouraging people to help tell break through those barriers and get through those challenges. And sometimes, even when you don’t know if you can or should go through a door, you never know what wonders will be on the other side.
  • Life as a Midwestern Developer
    Type: People Skills
    Length: 25 minutes
    Resources: Slides
    Presented at: AlterConf Austin 2017

    Major tech cities are full of developers. It makes sense. The tech companies are all over. But what about the developers located in other cities? Smaller cities? Cities that don’t have the recognition that the other major cities do?

    I will speak on some of the difficulties I have had as a developer born, raised, and living in the Midwest. I’ll talk about some experiences I’ve had with other developers from the coasts as well as assumptions I see made about us. I’ll also talk about what I think we can do to be more inclusive of Midwest developers and not apply some of the biases towards them.


These are talks that have been accepted or proposed somewhere, but not written yet.

  • Job Hunting for Good: A Holistic Approach to Supporting and Maintaining Mental Health and Well-Being During the Search
    Type: People Skills
    Length: Approx. 40 minutes
    Resources: Slides, notes
    Will present at: Self.Conference 2018

    Searching for a new job. We all have to do it at some point. In the thick of the search, you’re likely to get a lot of terrible tech interviews as well as a bunch of rejections. How do you maintain your energy, your motivation, and perhaps more importantly, not feel like a failure after all that?I will talk a bit about my most recent job search. You’ll see how I went into it with a different frame of mind than I had in the past, and how that helped me push through the interviews easier and take better care of myself in the process. You’ll also hear about some of the specific interviews and the problems I saw with them. I’ll show how, as companies and teams, we can improve the process for everyone. Finally, I’ll offer ways that both companies and employees can offer feedback to continue to improve interviews.
  • “Hey Mycroft!” Getting Started with the OSS Home Assistant
    Type: Technical
    Length: Approx. 45-60 minutes
    Home virtual assistants, like Alexa, Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, are gaining a lot of popularity. They’re now incorporated into our phones, our laptops, and even available as separate devices in our homes. Some people haven’t adopted them out of privacy concerns. A new system called Mycroft has come onto the scene, and it’s built on open source hardware and software. You can install it on a Raspberry Pi, an old Linux box, or buy their own Mycroft device.In this session, we’ll go over the basics of what Mycroft is, and how you can quickly install it yourself. From there, we’ll talk about some of the underlying software and see a short demo. Finally, we’ll see how to build a new skill into it and contribute it back to the community. You’ll leave with your own virtual assistant and the knowledge on how make it do what you want but keep your privacy in check.
  • A Technical Guide to Your Mental Health Care
    Type: People Skills
    Length: Approx. 30-45 minutes(No abstract is written yet, rough idea is below)”Self care” is a term thrown around a lot. People use it to refer to anything from really expensive pampering spa appointments to excuses to not do chores. But what IS self care really? How are you supposed to incorporate something so vague into your daily life?In this talk, I will go into the research on what self care is, and what psychologists say are the important tenants of it. I will show some good and bad examples of these. From there, I’ll go into some exercises in helping you realize what self care means to you. (Hint: it’s different for everyone.)You should leave this talk with some very good techniques for feeling happier, less stressed from work, and less burnt out on life.