John Barton
Yep, a newsletter
Yep, a newsletter


Several of you complained to me over the past fortnight that I’d committed a grave breach of trust. This newsletter was advertised to include Nautical Facts while failing to deliver on that promise. I shall not fail you again.

I’m spending my downtime right now building an irritatingly intricate model of the HMS Victory right now, so let me pull a couple of zingers out of my Haynes HMS Victory Owner’s Workshop Manual.

The Victory was a first rate ship of the line. What’s the line? It’s the line of battle, which is literally how ships would fight back in the day, they line up and do battle. They were also often referred to as line-of-battle ships. You can see where I’m going with this. We no longer line the ships up but the name persists in the shortened form of battleship.

One of these first rate ship of the lines is made from around 300,000 cubic feet of timber. 90% of that would be British Oak, adding up to around 6,000 trees covering 100 acres of woodland. The final bill in 1765 was £63,176 and 3s. Why they accounted for the shillings is beyond me. In modern terms, that would run to 50 million pounds. Compare to your own local flavour of defence procurement fiasco at your leisure.

Politics and Culture

This Is What It Was Like Learning To Report Before Fake News Was The Biggest Problem In The World Really insightful autobiographical piece on learning to become a reporter at the tail end of the cold war and how some of those lessons are relevant in the current news climate.

What’s Really at Stake in the Battle for “Ideological Diversity” at Elite Media Outlets A really interesting take on the current “class war” - that at its core it’s really technocrat vs plutocrat

22 Ambassadors Recommend… 22 Ambassadors Recommend the One Book to Read Before Visiting Their Country. I have read only one from that list. Something to fix.


How to Facilitate a Working Group Meeting | Lara Hogan One in a series of nearly boringly practical posts on how to run cross-functional groups. Super useful if you need to drive some change across an org.

An Engineer’s Bill of Rights (and Responsibilities) – charity.wtf Like most of Charity’s writing, I love the broad strokes and disagree with the details. Defining the contract between managment and engineering seems like a no brainer now she’s said it. I just wouldn’t start with this one.

A Technical Keynote MHA 2016 - Michael Feathers One for the product managers and other non-technical partners of engineering to watch. Michael does a great job of explaining how tech could and should fit in to broader processes in a company.


The Local Variable Aversion Antipattern I’ve seen this antipattern plenty of times, especially in Rails controllers. Hard agree with this post.

Static v. dynamic languages What do we capital K know about statically versus dynamically typed languages? Not much. Not anywhere near enough for all the strong opinions floating around.

Maritime Facts

“The Clock Is Ticking”: Inside the Worst U.S. Maritime Disaster in Decades Long and engaging account of the sinking of the El Faro in 2015. Will be a familiar story to anyone who listened to the podcast Containers but still worth reading.

We live in a shipping container: Inside Amy and Richard’s unusual home Container houses are one of my favourite things because it’s a bit nautical and a bit architectural.


Growing One’s Consulting Business Classic old post on growing a consulting business. Something I will need to do for a little while to bootstrap this little project.

Friar Tuck Financial Services: A Classic Unbundle/Re-bundle Strategy A great intro to the relatively common business strategy of un-bundling a competitor to then re-bundle later using some random financial company as an example. Not as boring as the title suggests.

The End of Windows Ignore the clickbait title. An analysis of Microsoft’s recent re-org and what it means strategically for both them and the rest of the industry. I subscribe to the Stratechery newsletter and really strongly recommend you do too.

Stacking the Bricks: 9 Ways to Make Your SaaS Customers Hate You, Ranked A list of things I plan not to do.

Nikon versus Canon: A Story Of Technology Change – Learning By Shipping The story of how Canon overtook Nikon. Interesting read for fans of cameras or of business strategy.

The Rest

Brotopia: A Silicon Valley Expose - my review Read this book. You might not enjoy it but that is beside the point.

In Defense of Design Thinking, Which Is Terrible A strong case for the democratisation of design.

For Everyone - PagerDuty Security Training Excellent primer on how to be safe online. Give it to your family and friends.

The Story of NESticle, the Ambitious Emulator That Redefined Retro Gaming - Motherboard The emulator I loved best as a teenager. Trigger warning, lots of terrible, sexualised language typical of internet bros of the 90s. Once again, read Brotopia.

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