The Marines don’t ask you to work like that – Our February Newsletter

Tim LeRoy
on 22 February 2017

What are the similarities between software engineers and the armed forces? Why does industrial design powered by AI make products that look like alien biology? What would poems made out of code look like? These questions answered and much more in our February newsletter.

royal marine

If you Google “What are the similarities between military and civilian life?” Quora will pithily tell you that, “People in both, will at some point in their career, think they are smarter than the person who is their direct boss.”

Which reminded us of David Marquet, the US nuclear submarine Captain who didn’t have a clue what he was doing. Forced to give his crew control of the decision making, he managed to turn a failing ship into the best in the fleet. His subsequent theory of ‘Intent Leadership’ is perfectly suited to any workplace and this ten minute video is a great introduction.

Another really interesting article from Jottnar (a British climbing gear company) does a great job of explaining how Royal Marine training prepared the two founders for starting and running their own business. You can read it here, but both Marquet and Jottnar’s experience struck a chord with us and made us think about the similarities between software engineers and the armed forces.

Do we code like Commandos?


This is the 10th edition of the Fast Company World’s Most Innovative Companies ranking. Innovation is a very subjective term, and a lot of the entries made us go ‘yeah, right’ (at best), but because the magazine’s criteria are those companies that “tap both heartstrings and purse strings” their rationale for listing some of the predictable megacorps makes interesting reading. Impact is among our key criteria.

“Imagine being able to actually make money when you contribute on social media.”

Now there’s an idea whose time has come. Is the future a decentralized internet?

AI design

What happens when you have Deep Learning begin to generate your designs?

The common misconception would be that a machine’s design would look ‘mechanical’ or ‘logical’. In fact the engineers at Arup found that they looked far more organic – even like alien biology.

Free lessons from the big guys.

One of the most positive things to have emerged in recent years is the quality and variety of expertise that big technology companies are putting out for free. Amazon, Instagram, AirBnB and Netflix all now have impressive resources for developers and designers. Here are a few of our recent highlights.

AirBnB on designing a visual language.

Amazon on their AI tools and systems.

How they use React Native at Instagram.

And there is a host of talks from the Netflix UI engineering team on their YouTube channel.

Best of all we share our favourite tools for developers every month.

Hans Rosling

The Great Explainer.

The Swedish doctor and professor Hans Rosling (who died this month) was a Jedi Master of data visualisation. He believed that while having data is important, it should also be communicated effectively so that it is understood by all. This excellent article from Nature magazine is a treasure trove of his work.

Analogue Loaders.

An homage to all the lost time we collectively spend in digital limbo in the hopes of sudden development on our screen…

“Engineering is about making assumptions, creating a solution based on those assumptions, but most importantly — ensuring your solution can handle it when your assumptions fail.”  And the things most likely to smash-up your assumptions?


This was quite a good read on A Different Approach to Teaching Kids and Teens to Code.

I wandered lonely as a code…

This website displays a collection of twelve code poems, each written in the source code of a different programming language. Every poem is also a valid program which produces a visual representation of itself when compiled and run.” Alone In Kyoto is a rather nice place to start.


Politicians routinely bemoan the loss of good blue-collar jobs. What if the next big blue-collar job category is already here—and it’s programming?

TensorFlow unlocks Machine Learning on smartphones > Key point: you train your model in the cloud but you can run it on a phone, or even something much smaller. Infoworld explains the details of Google’s open source deep learning framework here.


If you need some new music in your life try our Spotify channel, where our man Dan searches out the best things you probably won’t hear on mainstream radio. His Discover 8 playlist is here, and the previous seven can be found here.

If you need something beautiful and gently thought-provoking, try this gorgeous poem with music by Elbow and voiced by an impressive cast of thespians.

“I’ve heard talk…It’s all going to be magnificent”

To end with, a quick word about us. At Dootrix our ambition is simple; we want to make a difference. We ensure our customers get the right thing, done the right way. So if you are keen to work with a team of brilliant minds, or know someone who is, please do get in touch. Thank you.
Spring is coming.

dilbert scrum


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