John Bull Profile picture
Digital Strategist. Tech and Transport Journalist. Editor of @lonrec. Historian. Grand strategy game streamer. Made Neil Gaiman cry. Twice. He/Him
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30 Jul
Okay, as requested, more history of weird stuff with food and logistics.

Let's talk about how Ski Yoghurt utterly dominated the 70s UK yoghurt wars, by understanding how humans work better than humans do.

Oh, and also through strippers.

Read on... /1 classic ski yoghurt pot, sh...
Let's start at the beginning. In 1963 Ski yoghurt was introduced to the UK.

It was made by Express Dairies in Haywards Heath, but they were smart from the beginning. They promoted it as a healthy, swiss style snack and - the killer USP - it contained REAL FRUIT.
This was the beginning of the UK yoghurt explosion. Yoghurt was now OMG EXCITING as well as (allegedly) healthy.

Express Dairies had utterly nailed the yoghurt zeitgeist, By the end of the 60s, Ski had 40% of the WHOLE UK yoghurt market. 150m pots a year.
Read 39 tweets
29 Jul
Oh dear.

Think I'm about to be at war with the Soviet Union.
Okay that didn't end well.
Fucking Austro-Hungarians.

Now I know how the real Kaiser felt.
Read 4 tweets
28 Jul
We used to play Next Gen in the playground at primary school. There was always a quick scrap over who got to be Geordi.

I know there are issues with the portrayal, but it got white kids fighting to play a blind, black character. That's normalisation.
As I've gotten older, and rewatched and fallen in love again with Next Gen multiple times over, I've come to really appreciate Picard for the kind of Captain he is.

But Geordi... Maaaan Geordi always remains my favourite. The one I see the most reflections of myself in.
And I can't help but suspect that Geordi is one of the reasons I ended up with a career in tech, BUT ALSO why, when I was first offered a tech manager role at 23, I decided to step up into it.

Geordi made being a tech MANAGER, not just a developer, cool.
Read 6 tweets
26 Jul
What Johnson and co. haven't realised is that supermarket supply management is starting to prioritise core goods as the crisis deepens with road haulage.

If you start noticing a lack of booze on supermarket shelves this is why.

And a UK booze shortage will be harder to dismiss.
Essentially, the perishables go first as they're time critical, but then they have to start making hard choices about non-perishables.

At that point, booze goes next. Mostly by triaging down to the big brewery lagers.
So (silly as it may sound) a good sign that your local supermarket is struggling with supply, for whatever reason, is ALWAYS when you start seeing empty shelves for things like Newcastle Brown Ale, bitters (that aren't John Smiths) and other Tier 2 booze.
Read 44 tweets
25 Jul
No stream today am trapped. Kitty on bed
(also need more sleep. But mostly just trapped)
I did try to move but he just rearranged himself. Kitty having a wash on duvet
Read 5 tweets
24 Jul
Well this is the plan for Yugoslavia this morning.

Two armies main pressure on their front line across the river, while the armoured and Mountain forces try and hook round through Slovenia.

Cavalry push on the other flank as a possible alternate breakthrough. hoi4 screenshot showing battle plans.
It's kind of working. Managed to break through in the east before the Romanians could take too much ground.

Cavalry are advancing and we're hooking round the Yugoslav front, while 2nd Army has been quickly flipped back to face the Romanians.

If they hold, we'll win this. yugoslavia mostly cut in half. romanians pushing on budapest
BREAKING: There's fighting in the suburbs of Budapest but Yugoslavia has surrendered!

Just the Romanians and the small matter of the French to worry about now.
Read 13 tweets
23 Jul
Heh. Started a Hungary run in HOI4 to finally get the achievements for the Austro-Hungarian restoration...

...and Germany has immediately kicked off the civil war there to restore the Kaiser.

WE'RE GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER LADS!
No idea which way France and Britain have jumped yet (historical focuses are obviously off).

But with Germany going Imperial this run may last longer than anticipated.
Britain's going Fascist!

Half tempted to stream this tomorrow. Should be interesting.
Read 8 tweets
23 Jul
Every time I get sent a press release for a game that promises "a realistic squad-based WW1 combat experience", I wonder how much fun getting shelled in a trench by artillery (the enemy's or sometimes your own) can really be.
"well done lads. We made it to the start line this time before we got shelled into a warm mist."
MULTIKILL!

You were killed by GermanArtilleryman021221 from 2 miles away!
Read 9 tweets
22 Jul
I am on the most Teamsiest of Teams meetings ever.
This whole pandemic has been a real exercise in discovering which colleagues thought that getting cheap broadband was a good idea.
Oh cool. The point of the meeting where people act shocked at a thing happening that everyone was warned would happen if people didn't do the things required to avoid it in time.

And people didn't.
Read 6 tweets
22 Jul
If you've never read the Vindolanda tablets, you need to.

They're a rare insight into everyday life on the Roman frontier in Britain.

Turns out it's mostly arguments about bar bills, and begging letters to mum back in Italy to PLEASE send some warm socks.

They're fascinating.
And they're fascinating precisely because (Latin aside) they could be letters from ANY bunch of soldiers stationed far from home, from any era.

Our image of Rome is shaped by Classics. The Vindolanda tablets blow that image apart.
They also contain exactly the same passive aggressive family drama you see on Facebook and elsewhere today.

"I'm writing to you, despite the fact that you've not written to me in months, because good brothers write to each other. And I am a good brother"

That kind of thing.
Read 4 tweets
20 Jul
Spend any time working in first-line IT support and you discover pretty quickly that about 30% of humanity is, and always has been, irredeemably unhinged.
Also, that this 30% isn't confined to any gender, class or socio-economic group. The unhingedness doesn't discriminate.

Doing first-line was the point I realised things like Star Trek could never be the future IRL. Because they presuppose a drift to rationality. Never happening
I'd say at any given time an additional 15% of humanity are completely open to being unhinged.

As long as it appears to deliver reasonable outcomes for themselves or family, or the thing people are being unhinged about seems popular.
Read 7 tweets
16 Jul
Sod it. Have a Friday history thread.

Let's talk about Simon. Ship's cat for HMS Amethyst. Survivor of the 1949 Yangtse Incident and the only cat ever to be awarded the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. a very good tuxedo kitty. wearing his medal.
Simon was born on the streets of Hong Kong, most likely sometime in 1947. His early life was spent scavenging for food in the dockyards.

This was how he met 17 year old Ordinary Seaman George Hickinbottom of HMS Amethyst, when the ship stopped there to resupply in early 1948.
Hickinbottom was rather taken with the young malnourished tuxedo kitty, and decided that Amethyst's lack of a ship's cat needed addressing.

To avoid the possibility of disagreement with this plan, Simon was smuggled aboard under his tunic, past the watch.
Read 28 tweets
15 Jul
Boris Johnson's press conferences/committee appearances make a lot more sense once you accept that he will literally say whatever he thinks will get him out of the room quick enough.
There's no grand plan to the shite he spouts in front of a camera or committee.

His staff's sole goal with their briefing notes is to try and channel him into making as few promises, and spouting as little bollocks as possible, before he makes his hasty exit.
It's why he visibly reverts to grumpy eton schoolboy mode the moment a follow up question is asked.

He gave you his hopefully distracting answer already. HOW VERY DARE YOU make him have to try and think of another one, delaying his exit even longer.
Read 4 tweets
15 Jul
Me whenever I find someone has added a picture of their dog, instead of themselves, to their university staff profile.
Students don't pay £9k a year to be taught by your dog, and companies looking to invest in your research want to invest in you, not your dog.

Perfectly fine to have no photo at all. Lot's of valid reasons not to.

But no dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, funny doodles by your kid etc
Corollary: ALL Faculties should provide access to a drop-in photography session, once a year to get a nice headshot done.

It's not fair to make your staff do it at home/their office, in front of a plain wall.

ANY human photographed this way inevitably looks like a sex offender.
Read 4 tweets
14 Jul
Someone on this street is blasting out Bryan Adam's "Everything I Do" on continuous repeat.

I'm as yet unsure as to whether this is the best or worst thing ever.
Oh wait. It's that one he did with Sting and Rod Stewart from the Musketeer film now.

Also on repeat it seems.

I'm honestly not sure how to read this, emotionally.
CHANGE UP.

It's now Bon Jovi, "Dead or Alive"

Which, to be fair, is a belter.
Read 19 tweets
14 Jul
Okay, a question for electronics Twitter.

My new library shelves will overlap my light switch. Now I COULD just fix the switch to the back of the shelves instead and leave a gap.

ORRR

Can someone think of a way I could make a "secret" switch that worked by tipping a fake book?
I should also say that I'm perfectly happy to pay CASH MONEY for someone with the right skills who wanted to make such a switch for me.
Acceptable fallback alternative: fake book where you flip open the spine to see the Switch.
Read 4 tweets
13 Jul
Since I seem to be in a tunnels Twitter mood today, here's a picture I grabbed of the Tunnelers' Memorial in France.

It's relatively hard to find, but is near Bethune. /1 Small memorial set next to a cornfield.
It's somewhat obscurely located, because it sits above the place where William Hackett of the 254th Tunnelling Company died, earning a posthumous Victoria Cross. soldier with impressive moustache
Hackett was part of a mixed team that were working on a tunnel gallery when a German counter-mine exploded, bringing the tunnel down on the men inside.

After 20 hours of frantic digging, those outside the blast range managed to dig a tiny tunnel through to the trapped survivors.
Read 10 tweets
13 Jul
I took this picture in the (mostly) unexplored tunnel network beneath the Western Front back in 2019.

I love it, because it really highlights that there is very little difference between the average teenager in 1915 and a teenager today.

Not all Tommies were sad dreamy poets 😆 shot of tunnel wall with "Jock the Cunt" written o
You would also not believe the amount of scribbled cocks and hairy balls you find scrawled on the walls down there. They're everywhere.

They tend not to the shine the lights on those bits in the tours you can do of open tunnel sections, or in museums mockups.

Can't imagine why!
You find more poignant stuff down there as well. These are places soldiers paused, sometimes just for a moment, before attacking German trenches.

They knew they might die. So they just wanted to leave a sign they were there. Like this kid, from 14 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. Wall inscription in tunnel. Handwritten address on the wall.
Read 21 tweets
12 Jul
This is not wrong, but it also depends on the context I think. And is worth digging into.

Most of my talks are aimed at managers/execs these days. So I do them to work in two formats:

1) Deck-only. The "LinkedIn audience"
2) Audio-only. The "also doing emails audience" /1
To do that (as talked about elsewhere) I try and take a 20/80 rule.

You will have the conclusions or lessons you need to take, on screen, on each slide. Interspaced with key bits of evidence. That's the 20. It's there for the deck-flickers. /2
During the talk, I will read these out and then fill them out with the FULL context and reasoning.

That's ultimately the meat of the lecture/talk and the added-value you get from watching it live or listening/watching back again later as audio. /3
Read 6 tweets
12 Jul
I feel dirty for saying this, but I'm legit happier now I ditched my Macbook, bought a Razerbook and went full windows on both desktop/lappy again.

YOUR MILEAGE AND EXPERIENCE MAY VARY.

For me though, for the stuff I need to do, everything has become so unified and easy again.
Not least the fact that all my high-end peripherals now actually work properly again. And aren't ever-so-slightly gimped in some way as punishment for me not buying Apple brand.
This is it. I need a lot more consistency in my application setup than before. Most of those key apps, because they're streaming/work related, are PC-primary.

I think Apple's absolute recent disdain for gaming/streaming is going to bite them in the arse
Read 6 tweets
9 Jul
What I mean to say is that my London is the London of the late night margins.

That time when you're not sure if the Tube and buses have finished or whether you have to walk.

And when a piece of you hopes it's the latter.
Because there is a peace that comes from watching the night move around you.

It gives you time to think, in a city that never entirely sleeps.
Read 4 tweets