Planning & Strategy.
- A compellingly skeptical take on Flexport in the wake of WeWork's massive devaluation. Flexport raised $1B from Softbank earlier in 2019. Related, Flexport recently acquired Crux Systems - a solution for shipping container tracking.
- Aaron Gordon on the MTA's new capital plan and Andy Byford's head fake towards (away from?) resignation.
Making & Manufacturing.
- A short video of a very large motor rotor being wound by hand (with help from a very large TES rotor winding machine).
- A pretty rad open source quadruped robot - similar to a Boston Dynamics Spot Mini. The builder's blog is very thorough as well.
- The International Aluminum Institute's primary aluminum production stats are very good. I recommend looking at it with annual frequency from 1990 onward, so that you can see the staggering increase in (estimated) Chinese output.
- France's state-controlled power utility is gearing up to build 6 EPR nuclear reactors in the next 15 years.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- At least some Tesla models write system logs to eMMC flash memory, which are subject to lifetime write cycle limits and eventually (if they see enough write cycles) end up dead; this bricks the car's operating system and requires the entire MCU to be replaced. "For now, owners of pre-2018 Model S and X vehicles don’t seem to have many options. The Tegra board can be removed from the MCU and logging can be disabled, but naturally such modifications could put you in hot water with Tesla. The alternative is to wait until the eMMC chip has breathed its last and begrudgingly pay Tesla to repair an issue that ultimately they’re responsible for causing."
- A 2011 NYTimes piece on flooding in Vietnam, which crippled the hard drive industry there and was later credited with spurring the transition to SSDs.
Distribution & Logistics.
- A WSJ feature on Fred Smith & FedEx's divergent path. FedEx's core strength is peer-to-peer logistics, serving mostly low-volume B2B shippers. In the early Amazon era, they were able to take their (hub and spoke) shipments to the destination region and then hand off to USPS. But now, Smith is pessimistic about the Post Office's future; he has also insisted that FedEx's Express and Ground businesses *shouldn't* be integrated and has generally poo-pooed Amazon's logistics braggadocio. Tangentially related: The Washington DC NFL organization (and its majority owner, Dan Snyder) is pretty terrible and once apparently bought a bunch of branded airplane peanuts from a bankrupt airline and then sold them to fans about 9 months after their shelf life expired. Also they have a bad team name, which Smith (a minority owner) has historically been mum on.
- Fruit being sold in rural China via live stream video platforms.
- A 19-hour flight from NYC to Sydney tried to engineer out jetlag.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- A very cool collection of map types, good for Mercator haters like myself. I'm especially curious about Spilhaus maps, which were suggested as a much more informative projection for the submarine cable map from last week. Note also that Athelstan Spilhaus is most known for the bathythermograph, which he invented at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and which is credited with enabling submarine warfare.
- Related to the Tesla vs. Bike tweet last week, a paper on the environmental effects of cycling. "The environmental benefits of human power are, however, strongly coupled to the environmental costs of increased population, due to increased longevity of those who engage in physical activity...Human-powered transportation is therefore less an environmental issue and more an issue of public health." In other words: Cycling *itself* is better for the environment than internal combustion engines, but human beings are *bad* for the environment and anything that extends their lives (like bikes do) is therefore bad as well.
- The streaming audio industry produces up to double the CO2 as the LP/cassette/CD era did. Also, you should download (rather than stream) your audio.
- After a falling out with city council, the Church of Scientology has bought up a pretty shocking amount of property in Clearwater FL, often in cash transactions and often involving properties that weren't on the market. The initial scrolling reveal in this story is quite effective, and the story is kind of chilling. "'They’ve got one intention, and one intention only,' [former Scientology executive] De Vocht said. 'Buy up as much property as they can for the church — whether they use it or not, whether they let it sit there and rot — so no one else can be there.'"