Recently I did a big thing, and a rare one for a New Yorker: I rented myself a workshop. The reasons were many: The Public Radio needs its own hardware lab, and recording The Prepared's podcast in my basement was getting impractical, and I'm always working on some side hardware project that's too big for my kitchen. So I bit the bullet and set up a prototyping, fabrication, and process development space to share with people who have similar habits.
It's an experiment; It's The Prepared's de facto headquarters; It's a *really* sweet shop space. If you live in NYC and are looking for something along those lines, holler :)
The most clicked link in last week's issue (a whopping 25% of opens!) was Ann Friedman's short, semi-satirical [Email from an overconfident white dude].
Planning & Strategy.
- Putting Amazon's NYC failure in the context of post-Robert Moses political power. The people may think that they blocked HQ2, but the reality is that it's the PACB - a three-member body created in Moses' wake - that kept the deal from moving forward; "Moses’ final legacy is that he made it impossible to get things done." See also 10 things NYC should do now that Amazon HQ2 deal is over (with the note that every one is "fix the subway").
- ...And for everyone lamenting the current state of tax incentives: GE has decided *not* to build a new headquarters in Boston; they'll move into some old Necco buildings and will return $87MM in state incentives.
- The founder of Bulletproof Coffee is crazy/a huckster. "At a period of American history when mistrust of institutions seems endemic, Asprey is a man suited to his times. He has no medical degree or nutritional training...Many of Asprey’s preoccupations—biofeedback, the dangers of fluoride in drinking water—were familiar, fringy New Age ideas. His genius was adapting them for a tech-obsessed world."
- Flex announced a new CEO - Revathi Advaithi, former COO of Eaton.
Making & Manufacturing.
- My recap of what I deem to be the tooling auction of the week: A BASF battery materials R&D facility outside of Detroit.
- Girl Scout Cookies are made by two different contract bakers, one of which is a subsidiary of Keebler's (which is owned by Kellogg's). If someone out there wants to write a piece on how The Girl Scouts' supply chain works, The Prepared would love to commission it.
- A *long* blow by blow description of how new parameter sets for metal 3D printing are developed.
- An FDM-style printed concrete footbridge in Shanghai. Kind of silly, but the concrete infill is clever.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- A good overview of how to think about, buy, and maintain safety gear.
- Farmers feed cows "cow magnets" so that they don't get "hardware disease." Cows are apparently incapable of *not* eating nails and screws and stuff, and all of this metal ends up dropping into their reticula. The magnets just make everything ferrous clump together so that individual pieces don't work their ways into nooks and cause... all kinds of terrible things. You just can't make this shit up; I especially love that the product URL (above) ends in `cowmags.html`.
- my mechanics' totally mesmerizing video of a metal shear restoration.
- A short profile of Vanguard Renewables, the biggest industrial (anaerobic) composter in the Northeast.
Distribution & Logistics.
- As airlines move to smaller planes and more flexible fleets, Airbus will make its last A380 in 2021; the first A380 went into service in 2007. By comparison, Boeing's 747s first flew in 1969 and is likely to be retired in 2022. And while the 747 continues to be popular for freight (see UPS's newest 747-8F), old A380s are already being junked for scrap parts. My favorite A380 story: During development, German and Spanish Airbus engineers used CATIA v4, while the British and French teams had upgraded to v5. The two versions used different methods of calculating wire harness bends; the discrepancies caused possibly billions of dollars of losses.
- A good reality check (in the form of Twitter thread) on just how unreliable SF's micromobility services are.
- Tesla is hustling to ship as many cars to China before new tariffs kick in. Their export business is pretty impressive: "While researcher Autodata Corp. estimates the carmaker’s U.S. market share was only about 0.7 percent last year, U.S. Census Bureau data suggests the company may account for almost 16 percent of vehicle exports by value."
- The piston effect refers to the air that's forced in front of a vehicle in a tunnel; the wind you feel on the subway platform is a result of the piston effect.
- Gavin Newsom gave some mixed messages on the SF-LA high speed train in/after his State of the State address. I recommend the New Yorker's circumspect response, which frames Newsom's ambivalence as pragmatic and high ROI.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- Using satellite imagery to identify ships that are breaking international sanctions.
- In certain scenarios, the granular, solid cargo (bauxite, for example) on board a cargo ship will suddenly liquefy. The factors that cause this are complex: Vibration in the ship's hull, the amount of moisture in the cargo, the amount of kinetic energy transferred to the cargo when it's loaded by conveyors onto the ship.
- A very good visual analysis of all of the motor vehicle collisions in NYC since 2012.
- Something that challenged my preconceived notions of NYC's housing progressiveness: SF county is permitting more new units per capita than any borough of NYC.
- A very good satire on the fetishization of tactical gear: "I am a Stryker-X assault backpack, and this airport lounge is an insult."
- An in-cockpit video of the *beautiful* approach into the airport in Maniitsoq, Greenland.
- On an earnings call, Elon Musk claimed that "full self-driving capability is there." This is a lie.