Planning & Strategy.
- The Wikipedia page for can openers is much more interesting than you'd expect: "Although preservation of food using tin cans had been practiced since at least 1772 in the Netherlands, the first can openers were not patented until 1855."
- China is cutting back aluminum production significantly, partly in an effort to clean up old, dirty plants. An interesting note: "there could be an additional 2% reduction in global aluminum production as capacity goes offline during China’s heating season." In other words: When Northern China's government-run central heating kicks on in the winter (and gobbles up something like 700 million tons of coal), other energy-intensive industries must shut down; aluminum production is one of them.
Making & Manufacturing.
- A really great project rundown about making a plant watering system from a Raspberry Pi. There are too many insightful (and hilarious) quotes in this to do it justice, but the net effect to me is this: "GreenPiThumb is intended to automate the human part of tending an indoor garden, but to automate anything, a human has to know what 'correct' looks like." And - who'da thunkit - that turns out to be every bit as hard as teaching yourself to take care of a garden.
- A pretty cool system for tapping threads using EDM.
- My progress report on The Public Radio's preproduction schedule.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- On carbon fiber recycling. Most composite recycling is done via pyrolysis, where material is heated to 400-500°C in an oxygen-free furnace. As with many industries, composites manufacturing produces a lot of scrap - apparently on the order of 40% for prepreg layups - and this article points out that there are distinct advantages to having your input material be scrap. "'We can always be competitive with milled and chopped virgin carbon fiber,' Spooner contends. 'In theory, we're a little cheaper because we're not affected by carbon fiber prices in the world, and we know our costs to manufacture,' he explains. 'Also, we can offer a consistency of supply because we have different supply routes than traditional carbon producers.'"
- China is moving to reduce foreign imports of trash & recyclables, to the tune of billions of dollars of global trade.
Distribution & Logistics.
- Uber, but for smuggling things into China.
- On FedEx's 2017 holiday surcharge schedule. The differences between FedEx, UPS, and USPS really shine through: FedEx is built for delivering small packages quickly; UPS is built for delivering *lots* of stuff; USPS is built for low cost and delivering *anywhere.*
- 295 million people used food delivery apps in China in the first half of 2017.
- States across the US are implementing ad hoc trucking limitations for the eclipse next week.
- Sam Altman on prioritizing unsexy but highly utilized subway systems over high speed rail.
Inspection & Testing.
- A good piece on an ice tank in Canada that's used to understand how to improve icebreaker ship designs. I also recommend browsing the NRC's website a bit - every one of their tanks look like a lot of fun ;)
- "Slight Street Sign Modifications Can Completely Fool Machine Learning Algorithms."
- 99% Invisible on stethoscopes, and the huge changes they brought to medicine.
- Me, writing on the Y Combinator blog, about my experiences building this very newsletter. Among other takeaways: "The Prepared’s payoff per unit effort is greater than any other thing I’ve done in the past five years. And it’s not about self-promotion; Sitting between industry and media has forced me to understand market forces in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and has put me in touch with customers, competitors, and collaborators alike." Thanks to all of you for your support :)
- An endorsement: History, which is every bit as fucked up as our own time. I bring this up mostly because of the Nazi shit, which I can't bring myself to comment on directly. But somehow the most recent Hardcore History makes me feel better, just as the Caro LBJ books did last fall. My point is: Context is good.
Thanks as always to our recurring donors for supporting The Prepared. Credit also to Mike and Jordan for sending links.
p.s. - We should be better friends. Send me a note - coffee's on me :)
p.p.s - We care about inclusivity. Here's how.