John Barton
Yep, a newsletter
Yep, a newsletter

Ahoy there Hecate fans. I hope you’re all having a cracking Wednesday, I certainly am. No company news this fortnight, so let’s just get stuck into the links.


How bad can it git? Characterizing secret leakage in public GitHub repositories
Really bad. It can get really, really bad. I strongly recommend having a read of this, then doing a big audit of your current code and practices for catching these kinds of mistakes. Then put it in your calendar to read it again in six months and do it again.

The Wrong Abstraction
It’s really interesting to think about the sunk cost fallacy as a driver on why it feels like duplication is cheaper than the wrong abstraction.

Raster CRT Typography (According to DEC)
Now that we’re all used to super accurate LCD panels that turn millions of pixels on or off precisely it’s weird to look back at the ways different CRTs had a huge affect on what we actually saw while using computers. Very nerdy deep dive for the retro enthusiasts.

Which Programming Languages Use the Least Electricity?
This year at RubyConfAU we all got on high horses about how bad bitcoin is for the environment. Unfortunately I’ve got some bad news for you about Ruby…

The Oncall Game
I love the use of non-linear text adventure games as a kind of training exercise for handling on-call events. It’s written in Twine, an engine for text adventure games, and Source code is here if you wanted to see how it works and maybe adopt for your team.

Business & Management

Why Feedback Rarely Does What It’s Meant To
Lots in here but the best tactical tip of the piece is to flip from letting people know what they could do better and instead call out when they did something really well. It’ll strengthen the memory association of doing something right, while criticising often knocks someone back a step and hurts rather than helps.

Inclusive Scientific Meetings
Drop scientific from the title. This is a very portable and detailed guide to running inclusive meetings. Keep it bookmarked. I mean use it, but also keep it bookmarked.

How to Pick a Term Sheet
The common value for number of term sheets offered is somewhere between zero and one, but if you end up collecting more that that, this is probably good advice for choosing between them. I wouldn’t know.

The one-salary experiment, ten years in
Always keen to share a first hand experience report of a founder trying some far out weird stuff with their business - this time it’s a company that pays everyone the same salary regardless of the role.

Coaching Tools - The Narrative
Another compelling long form written document about why you should write compelling long for written documents. Clear writing comes from clear thinking. That’s why my writing is so bad.


The must-read essay of the fortnight. I don’t understand the basketball bits, but it’s a powerful framing of how to think about inherited privilege. Don’t feel guilty that you were born into a system that treats you better, but do take responsibility for it.

How Indie Artists Actually Make Money in 2019
Does anyone else get sad that there are musicians they love who make music they listen to over and over but that they still need to work in a shop to pay rent?

Your Speech, Their Rules: Meet the People Who Guard the Internet
A kind of round table interview with some of the staffers who do content policing across all the big sites. Interesting to dive into, especially in the aftermath of the Christchurch shit-show.

Scotland from above
Beautiful combination of ye-olde Scottish maps with modern surveying data in fancy 3D web thingy. Aesthetically impressive, and handy if you need to trick your laptop into heating your house.

Stoicism’s Appeal to the Rich and Powerful
You can’t wander through the medium dot com homepage or an airport bookstore without stumbling on something subtitled “the surprising way these old philosophers will help your business”. What is up with that?

Contractually Obligated Nautical Fact

How the Internet Travels Across Oceans
Just look at the world around you / Right here on the ocean floor / Such wonderful things surround you / What more is you lookin’ for?

I like to think that Sebastian was singing about the marvels of deep sea internet cabling. This one has words AND pictures.

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