John Barton
Yep, a newsletter
Yep, a newsletter

Greetings and salutations friends.

This fortnight I’ve got a whole bunch of Dispatch Updates to share. We’ve added weekly rollups, filtering options to support label driven workflows, custom formatting and more. If you’re a current customer it’s worth having a look and updating your config, and if you’re not yet a customer, check it out for the new use cases the changes have opened up.


Empathy-Driven Development: How Engineers Can Tap into This Critical Skill
This is this fortnight’s must read for engineers and managers alike. I’ve long believed empathy is a learn-able (and teachable) skill and this post is a great base to start from. I really like the comparison between coding and copy-writing; communicating intent within a tight word limit to a broad audience.

Friday Deploy Freezes Are Exactly Like Murdering Puppies
If we needed a definition of bravery fit for the 21st century, taking to tech twitter to defend friday deployment would be a good candidate. I endorse this post 100% and will pick this fight with anyone, anywhere, any time.

Dear Client, Here’s Why That Change Took So Long
Next time you’re struggling to explain to your product manager why something took so long you can use this a template. Strip out all the passive aggressive mansplaining, but keep the broad narrative pillars and tailor the details to fit.

Matrox History: A Computer Graphics Also-Ran’s Second Life
An in depth look at a mostly forgotten (but not dead) player in the graphics card wars. If you’ve ever been in an airport, you’ve been on the receiving end of graphics pumped through a Matrox.

The Many Benefits of Using a Monorepo
Another experience report on using a monorepo. Points out some interesting gaps in GitHub tooling that have given me some ideas for the next version of Dispatch.

Business & Management

How I manage customer feedback for my bootstrapped SaaS
Good run-down of some of the different methods you can use to manage customer feedback. I like the approach to the public roadmap in GitHub and am thinking about doing something similar for Hecate. Did you know you can just reply to these emails I will read them? Feedback’s always welcome.

Square Signals : Satisfaction and progress in open-ended work
This is something I struggle with all the time as a founder. Give me a check-list of broken things to fix and I can power through it day after day. Build something out of nothing… poof where did my motivation go? I’ll definitely try and adopt some of this for managing myself, and I reckon it would adapt well to managing others too.

On Perks
Interesting look at the widespread use of perks like free food that tech startups tend to offer. Not sure I buy all the family formation hypotheses towards the end.

The Art of Asking: Or, How to Ask And Get What You Want
This veers pretty close to “belongs in the self help section of an airport bookshop” but it has a very useful and on point check-list to use when asking for things.

The Need to Think and Talk like an Executive
Written for designers but useful to anyone. Explains the why and how of communicating to executives to advocate for your speciality. I’ve often wondered how much management success is really communication arbitrage: taking specialist’s work and contextualising it for the people with the money for fun and profit.


Khruangbin’s essential Thai funk mixtape
History of pad Thai: how the stir-fried noodle dish was invented by the Thai government
A double header of Thai history nuggets. Khruangbin’s my new favourite band ever since Golden Plains, and having exhausted their discography I’m going deeper into their influences. Pad Thai is also one of my favourite foods and I feel embarrassed about it now that I’ve learned it’s a nationalistic concoction. Still tastes good but.

Reading Africa
If you’re looking to diversify your reading, I can’t think of a better resource than a painstakingly curated list of fiction from every single country in Africa.

Jonathan Parry reviews ‘The Oxford Handbook of Modern British Political History, 1800-2000’
Come for the very wonkish title, stay for the quote “successful politics is a matter of the patient and careful handling of awkward issues by means of continuous compromise, combined with the use of plausible rhetorical and symbolic initiatives. Historians should award politicians marks, if at all, for their skill in the execution of a difficult art, like ice skating.”

‘The stench of it stays with everybody’: inside the Super Mario Bros movie
Not my first time sharing this post in this newsletter, but in these trying times of Sonic the Hedgehog film trailers, we should all take a moment to reflect on the very worst video game movie adaptation.

10 albums from this decade that ’90s grunge fans need to hear
Just when you thought the music of your teens was done and gone a playlist like this comes along.

Contractually Obligated Nautical Fact

Chantey Sing - San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)
It is only after I stop regularly travelling to SF for work that I discover there’s a monthly sea chantey sing along down at the maritime museum. I’m gutted. Someone go along for me and report back.

Thanks for reading. You can find this issue online here. If you know anyone who might enjoy these emails, feel free forward this on or to send them to hecate.co/newsletter