Lot of reading this week. I also made a bit of progress on backlogged projects yesterday and should have something to share soon.
In addition, this newsletter crossed a milestone recently: The Prepared now has 1000 subscribers. To commemorate - and to explain why I've started asking (gently) for donations, I wrote up a summary showing how much time and effort The Prepared takes every week - and what its impact has been on my life and career. Check it out!
And thanks to all of those who already did donate - it makes weeks like this, with so much to filter through and summarize, feel a lot easier.
Wayfinding & Strategy.
- Tesla will no longer be using Mobileye's autopilot processors.
- Elon Musk says that his Master Plan will cost tens of billions of dollars.
- Julien emailed this week to mention one industry that lab glass blowers are moving to: marijuana. Check out this water pipe for a good example.
- The L train will, after all, shut down completely for 18 months. The MTA also announced more details on the new R211 and their station renovation efforts.
- Ben Einstein and Bilal Zuberi on the difference between building hardware and building software. I'm 100% with Ben here: building unique and useful things is hard, regardless of domain.
Making & Manufacturing.
- David emailed this week to say that the America Makes project I gave him feedback on, which focuses on the effect that part orientation has on support structures for metal AM, was ready to share. Want to see what build orientation is like in industrial AM today? Go here, and enter token "ccfondwute1842". You may even get to play with a part I designed :)
- Wazer is apparently building a (low cost?) water jet cutter, due on Kickstarter in September. Real talk: water jet cutting is awesome.
- A very good video of tennis balls being made.
- Linear friction welding at 1/32 speed.
- Apparently Motorola has been working on a modular phone. Interestingly, they're taking a simpler approach than Ara, Google's modular phone project is.
- Opendesk's Fusion 360 workflow is pretty crazy.
- Exmet is apparently (very few details) working on 3D printing amorphous metals.
Distribution & Logistics.
- SpaceX ran a full test fire of the Falcon 9 first stage that was recovered back in May. Flown equipment! Firing again!
- Solar Impulse 2, the fully solar powered airplane, finished its (multi stage) trip around the world. Related: Facebook's Aquila, their high altitude unmanned aircraft to beam internet down to remote regions, passed its first test flight.
- Two interesting analyses of Tesla's Master Plan: One broad, and one focused on the pure geometric problems with distributed urban transit.
- Amazon will expand its drone testing in the UK, though many questions remain about its feasibility.
Inspection & Testing.
- I'm reading You May Also Like, Tom Vanderbilt's new book about taste and preference. I very much enjoyed his previous book, Traffic.
- A good article on Tesla's autopilot, and the big risks inherent in systems that keep the operator on the loop. This is very similar to the argument in Our Robots, Ourselves.
- Ove Arup, founder of the (really cool) engineering firm, changed both the role of computers and the role of engineers in the design process. If you're in London, you should check out the exhibit of his work at the V&A museum.
- What Apple sells every second.
- Ben Thompson on Dollar Shave Club and Gillette. Note: I would love to have more contact with manufacturers of high volume CPG products.
- When I was building bike frames full time, I read Bicycling Science and dug a little into the mystery of why exactly bikes balance and handle like they do. Here's a good recap, with some new experiments that show the importance of front normal trail.
- A good interview with Bill Fernandez, Apple's first employee.
- A good reflection on the history of manufacturing and automation. From this, I went down a bit of a spiral on former GM CEO Roger Smith's attempt to automate all of GM's factories in the 80s - I recommend this article on the subject.
- Property tax in NYC can make up a huge portion of a landlord's income.
- Two articles on China: One on its general plans to urbanize, and the (perhaps short) future for that strategy, and one on Baishizhou, one of the villages that was subsumed as Shenzhen expanded over the past few decades.