I've been working on a Prepared gift guide, which I'll send out around Thanksgiving. It'll be more or less what you'd expect - stuff that helps you do physical things. If anyone out there has suggestions, please send them!
Wayfinding & Strategy.
- I'm reading Robert Caro's The Path to Power, the first part of his monumental biography of LBJ.
- On 3D Robotics, who recently stopped making drones: "We're a Silicon Valley company and we're supposed to be doing software and there are Chinese companies that are supposed to be doing hardware." IMO that's a short sighted path to go down, but I do agree that competing with DJI is crazy.
- The NYC Economic Development Corporation is giving out $30k growth grants to companies manufacturing in the city. I think this is great.
- Ben Thompson on Google: "technology alone is rarely enough, and the only thing more difficult than changing business models is changing cultures."
Making & Manufacturing.
- I blasted through Skunk Works on audiobook last weekend. It's a good history of one of the most intense tech centers of the 20th century. It's also rather militaristic, and reads as if through cigar-clenching jaws... but better to know than ignore it.
- This knife sharpening jig looks *awesome*. FWIW, this would be a *great* gift for anyone shopping for me...
- Prince Rupert's Drops are tadpole-shaped drops of glass that are formed by dripping molten glass into water. They have high compressive stresses on their surfaces and high tensile stresses everywhere else, leading to really interesting mechanical properties.
- Blue Origin tested their crew capsule escape system, which blasts the capsule off of the New Shepard booster in case of emergency. Despite pessimistic predictions, the booster survived and landed for a fifth time. Meanwhile, Boeing's CEO said that "the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket."
- Autodesk opened their Boston "BUILD" space, the East Coast, engineering-focused version of SF's Pier 9.
- A good Twitter account which posts animated gifs of Japanese joinery methods.
- From Red Bull (of course), a decent video of a bolt being made. I kinda wish the threads were rolled and not machined, but I guess that's being too picky.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- Blue Apron's warehouse operations are apparently a *real* mess.
Distribution & Logistics.
- The Three Gorges Dam has a ship elevator.
- Cuomo's plan to update Penn Station.
- In 1913, Westinghouse built perhaps the first electric computer in the world and installed it in a secret basement in Grand Central Station. It was made obsolete by radio within a decade.
- The MTA is replacing traditional tollbooths with an electronic scanning system. Cost: $500MM.
Inspection & Testing.
- A tour of a precision metrology shop.
- Tesla built ~25k cars last quarter - a small number for the big automakers, but at least they're hitting their numbers. Interestingly, though, their total output at NUMMI is capped at about 225,000 cars per year, due to the air quality regulations that their paint shop is subject to - and it seems highly unlikely that they'll be able to expand beyond that number by 2018, when Musk has said he plans to be turning out 500,000 cars per year. These two blog posts explain the constraints on Tesla's Fremont plant in detail - and make me wonder whether Musk plans to purchase someone else's facility in order to move more quickly.
- Sandia National Labs slammed an (unarmed) B61-12 nuclear weapon into a concrete wall. They're using the data to calibrate their simulation model, as well as test some of the edge conditions that are difficult to simulate in the first place.
- SpaceX is investigating the possibility that a sniper shot out that rocket that exploded a few weeks ago.
- A pretty hilarious interview with the only woman who Elon Musk follows on Twitter.
- MailChimp is a pretty cool company.
- Y Combinator as a keiretsu with Sam Altman at its head.