John Barton
Yep, a newsletter
Yep, a newsletter

Fresh post on the Hecate blog this week: Engineering Management: The Pendulum on the Ladder in which I explore what a DevOps style movement could look like for engineering management.

Lots of foundational product changes shipping at the moment ahead of some big UI changes. New email templates for Dispatch are rolling out this week which will give us more screen real estate for more helpful data across all notification types. Keep an eye out!


Shift Changes, Updates, and the On-Call Architecture in Space Shuttle Mission Control
Deploying a pager-free sleep period
A one-two hit of how on call works in the world outside tech. If you’ve only got time to read one of them, read the space one. I really like the approach they’ve got to doing shift handover. Always interesting to look at more traditional on call setups.

Client-side instrumentation for under $1 per month. No servers necessary.
In general I like the pattern of “s3 bucket with access logging” as a highly available metrics/logging beacon. It’s cheap and reliable on the client side for logging, and you’ve got so many options for how to process the data afterwards. Next time you think “I need a redis instance to queue up some data metrics” think again.

The Cloud and Open Source Powder Keg
Questions on the future of Open Source
Another one-two hit, this time on some of the challenges facing the open source community. More general foreboding than clear call to action but a lot to think about.

Building a Homebrew Video Game Console
Delightfully specific and detailed walkthrough of all the steps necessary to build your own old fashioned gaming console. We might have a genuine candidate for a real full stack developer on our hands: they’ve obviously mastered a range of skills from soldering resistors up to tweaking CSS.

10 Lessons Learned Conducting Code Reviews
Handy tactical guide to performing code reviews as an engineer. Nothing too fancy, just a sensible checklist to work through.

Business & Management

Alternative Funding Calculus: A Quant Comparison of Tiny, Indie, and Earnest
This might be the most helpful post in the “indie” tech fundraising scene to date. It’s a bake-off between the three current contenders for the standard “indie seed” terms and the different financial outcomes of each. A must read for those who will (or might) fundraise in the future.

Interview with Brunello Cucinelli, King of Cashmere
I’m not the kind of person to drop a grand on a jumper but this interview got me as close to considering it that I think I’ll ever be. Great example of someone building a big business that’s still totally aligned with their personal values.

Bethanye Blount on Helping People be the Most Badass Versions of Themselves
This is a great framing for coaching your team and has some good approaches. Short post but still useful.

Priorities and Taxes
I like the way Kimber explains slow-burn, line-in-the-sand change projects as “taxes”. I’ve used the approach plenty of times, maybe even overused it, and it’s good to have a vocabulary for it. If you’ve had a lot of failed “fix the tech debt” projects this will be a good alternative path.

Podcast Advertising: $51,975 Spent. Here’s What We Learned
Rebekah shares the entire journey Ahrefs went on figuring out what works and doesn’t in podcast advertising. If it’s a channel you’re interested in exploring this post is an awesome way to get up to speed.


Give the Nobel Prize in Literature to Dril
“At first blush this might sound stupid. But, counterpoint: no it isn’t.” Q.E.D.

Why does Australia have an outsized influence on philosophy?
This essay is like the “most Olympic gold medals per capita” argument but for book people. Click for the national pride but stay for the ‘Analytic philosophy is all about bullshit detection, and we [Australians] are very good at that.’ takes.

An oral history of the Gibson Les Paul
I reckon this is the third guitar oral history post I’ve shared on this newsletter. I’m not tired of them and I hope you’re not either

Designing 2D graphics in the Japanese Game Industry
Very detailed look at the evolving techniques of drawing pixel art in the Japanese video game industry. I particularly enjoyed the bit where the companies printed graph paper with the same pixel distortion that the CRT screens the game would display on to maximise fidelity.

VC Starter Kit
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Contractually Obligated Nautical Fact

Nile shipwreck discovery proves Herodotus right – after 2,469 years
Herodotus: father of history or father of lies? We can move one point from the undecideds to side of father of history now. Herodotus described an Egyptian boat in his histories to a collective reaction of “Yeah, Right”. Then they found one at the bottom of the Nile.

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