2019-03-18 3 min read


Notes, 2019-03-18.
I'm building my first ever web app and, as a result, stayed up late a bunch of nights this week searching Stack Overflow. At times it's staggering - I've never worked with Django before, and don't have a ton of experience with Python either - but that moment where all of the sudden something clicks is just *so* satisfying. And with any luck, I'll be sharing more about it soon :)

A reminder to New Yorkers: Come to The Prepared's workshop on Tuesday evening!

The most clicked link in last week's issue (~19% of opens) was a good example of a multi-machine.

Planning & Strategy.

  • Zack Kanter on Walmart and Amazon. "Walmart can be thought of as a bounded search for the optimal selection, inventory, and pricing of SKUs that a local market could support...Amazon, by contrast, is an illustration of what happens when a massive global market is freed by the internet from the geographical constraints that previously kept it manageable; it is an illustration of what happens when you enter a problem space so large that you have to bypass the human element altogether." Stay for the antitrust stuff at the end (spoiler: Amazon's API-centric approach would mitigate the effects of a breakup) and see also last week's Exponent podcast on Elizabeth Warren's antitrust proposals.
  • Planet Money on a Chinese company which blatantly ripped off a US epoxy manufacturer, and how some basic schmoozing (and well-placed legal pressure) got them to stop.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

  • In an interview with a New Zealand outlet, Uber/Jump claims that their scooters and bikes are "designed to last for three years." Meanwhile, recent data from Louisville shows that Bird and Lime scooters (many of which are the same Segway/Ninebot model that Jump uses) last just 28 days on average. As Ali Griswold calculates, this means that Bird and Lime may be only making $65-75 in revenue on vehicles that cost $360+ each and require a few hundred dollars per year in licenses. See also this cost-per-mile analysis, which by comparison paints an almost rosy financial picture, but which assumes a (much longer but still quite short) vehicle lifespan of 4 months.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.


  • A rather discouraging story about how Tesla dealt with Martin Tripp, the somewhat clumsy whistleblower who described large scale waste at the Gigafactory.
  • Apparently developers are starting to design "mechanical voids" into their buildings - essentially, big, empty multi-story spans that only exist to make the buildings themselves taller.

FOIA'd images of plutonium tetrafluoride from the Pacific Northwest National Lab.

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