Planning & Strategy.
- Me, writing about margins and strategy and making sacrifices.
- In their 2018 annual report, Altium (which is primarily known for their electronic design software; they're also a sponsor of The Prepared via Octopart) disclosed that they had acquired PCB:NG (which does quick-turn PCBA that's partially enabled by eliminating stencils and using solder paste dispensers + a bunch of software instead). This is an interesting acquisition: An engineering software company buying a contract manufacturer.
- Why China can build high speed rail so cheaply: Low cost of land acquisition + design standardization + local component manufacturing. It's like The Power Broker combined with 21st century operational efficiency... presumably with the ruthless social policies intact.
- Buffer, which from an openness & funding strategy perspective is really the most remarkable software startup around, spent $3.3M to buy out their large series A investors. The combination of foresight and luck here (namely, including the downside protection clause in their series A) is pretty impressive.
- A good update on the state of funding strategies (VC vs. self-funding) for direct to consumer hardware startups.
- Jack Ma is retiring from Alibaba.
Making & Manufacturing.
- A good overview of automated solder paste dispensers, re: the PCB:NG acquisition above.
- A comprehensive video on how bare PCBs are fabricated.
- A compelling project to build a castle in France using period-appropriate methods.
- Norway is building a serious coastal highway.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- Boeing 787 Dreamliners must be rebooted every 248 days in order to avoid an integer overflow.
- With CFM (the GE + Safran jet engine joint venture) and Spirit AeroSystems behind schedule, Boeing has a pretty serious 737 inventory backlog at their Renton facility. Mitigation strategies include parking unfinished planes on the runway + ferrying them up to Boeing Field (with temporary engines) for temporary storage.
- Roomba's new top of the line vacuums include a base that automatically empties their waste bins.
Distribution & Logistics.
- A very good postmortem of NotPetya. The article focuses much of its length to Maersk, which was crippled by the virus.
- A helicopter performing a pretty sweet water dump on a forest fire.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- Transitive.js is an open source tool for generating dynamic stylized transit maps that are easy to understand.
- The Times' analysis of the Genoa bridge that collapsed earlier this year, with helpful infographics included. With its cable stays encased in concrete, assessing their condition was difficult, and the bridge's lack of redundancy resulted in catastrophic failure.
- Léon Theremin, the inventor of the eponymous musical instrument, also invented a piece of Soviet spy apparatus called The Thing. The Thing was a passive covert listening device hidden in a hand carved Great Seal of the United States, which was powered by a strong electromagnetic signal from the outside. "When the Russians knew that an important meeting would take place, they parked an unmarked van in the vicinity of the residency and illuminated the bug. A receiver, tuned to the bug's resonant frequency, was then used to pick up the conversation in the ambassador's office."
- 2nd Ave Sagas on the revamped plans for the BQX, which are both absurd and strategically reasonable.
- In 1944, US Marine pilots on Peleliu rigged cans of milk and cocoa up to their wings and flew them around at 33k feet to make ice cream.
Thanks as always to our recurring donors for supporting The Prepared.Credit also to Jordan, Chris, Kane, Gabe, Tara, Alexis, Jason, and Karen for sending links.
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