None, except to say that we’ve got a heavy-hitting batch of guest editors scheduled for the next month or two :) Let’s get to it!
Planning & Strategy.
- A semi-idle observation: In 2019 and previous years, Apple released their supplier reports in March at the latest; the 2012, 2013, and 2014 reports were all issued promptly in January. But 2020’s report is still outstanding. Rest assured, of course, that The Prepared will integrate it into our master database of Apple’s suppliers, Dong xi, as soon as it’s available.
- A useful perspective on consumer electronics cost accounting, and specifically the need to account for non-BOM costs when assessing profit margins.
- The NY MTA’s fiscal crisis has been upgraded from a “four-alarm fire” to a “once-in-100-years fiscal tsunami.”
- The Brooke Owens Fellowship is a paid internship and mentorship program for women in aerospace.
Making & Manufacturing.
- Most casual observers will think of concrete as something that is poured into a formwork to create a casting, but for a broad range of applications - repair, reinforcement, and high end swimming pools being the prime examples - concrete is blasted from a hose in the form of shotcrete (see shotcrete’s Wikipedia page, and the American Concrete Institute’s short-form PDF guide to shotcrete; and this short video of a pool being shot & finished). For detailed applications, dry mix (where the cement and sand are premixed at the yard and then trucked to the site, with water injected at the nozzle) is typically preferred - though it does make a *lot* of dust and therefore has higher waste rates. Note, of course, that cement production is a *huge* contributor to atmospheric CO2 and also that the world is running out of sand.
- Geoff Manaugh and friends re-discover a *very* wild "flying" house, built on a custom scissor lift, turntable, and trolley system so that the owner could spin it around and lift it up to see the sea. Thanks to Xavier for helping translate and paraphrase parts of this old Italian documentary in The Prepared’s paid subscriber Slack, noting the house’s proximity to the marble quarries at Carrara - a hub of heavy old industrial machinery. Apparently the owner/designer had realized at some point that he had saved enough money to live until 80, and decided to quit his job to work on his own projects; he passed away at 86. See also this (English) website dedicated to the house and its design.
- A few good photos of manual motor assembly being done at Ward Leonard, a military and industrial supplier in Connecticut who claim that they engineer “defence supremacy” and have products installed “on virtually every surface and subsurface ship in the US Navy.”
- A video of the front half of pencil manufacturing, in which logs are converted into shingle-sized blocks. I love the relative *lack* of automation here, with rote operations being done by hand with simple jigs and saw stops.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- Baratza’s very good product repair page, which links to exploded views, troubleshooting guides, and repair parts for both current and legacy products. Detailed, complete, and unfussy, Baratza’s efforts should prompt everyone making consumer hardware to question their own commitment to repairability.
- NASCAR tracks used to be dried using modified jet engines. Starting in 2013, they began using “17 diesel-powered air compressors to push water to the apron, where it is vacuumed by a sweeper truck.” Related, an old flamethrower that was mounted to a train car to help keep Swiss railway switches defrosted.
Distribution & Logistics.
- A short video of a rather ridiculous looking walking excavator.
- The iconic USPS Long Life Vehicles - the standard post office delivery truck - were built between 1987 and 1994 with an intended lifespan of 24 years. They have now been in service 26-33 years, and have been spontaneously catching fire in alarming numbers since ~2014. Meanwhile, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy actively works to undermine mail reliability, striking overtime pay and telling post offices to slow delivery and “leave mail behind.”
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- A good Twitter thread on Boom Supersonic’s claims about the environmental sustainability of the supersonic jets they’re developing, with the main takeaway to me being that “Building a synthetic [and ostensibly green] kerosene to then burn in an inefficient SST” is *very* dumb. Related: “EPA's proposed aircraft CO2 standard would allow GHG emissions from US airlines to increase by 40 to 53% in 2040 compared to 2015 levels.”
- Machine that helps you assemble packages of produce that are very close to a specific weight.
- A good side-by-side teardown of genuine and counterfeit Apple lightning to headphone jack adapters.
- Julian Brave NoiseCat on Joe Biden’s climate plan, which is “an endorsement of the Green New Deal in all but name.” Related, Matt Yglesias on Biden’s housing plan, which is “surprisingly visionary” and centered around Section 8 Housing Vouchers.
- A useful blog post on Chinese interpretations of smiley emoji. TL;DR, don’t use the standard 🙂.
Thanks as always to The Prepared's paid subscribers for supporting The Prepared. Thanks also to the following readers for sending links: JonPaul, Kane, Kyle, Amreeta, Moritz, Richard, Tessa, Hillary, Tom, Richard, Zachary.
p.s. - We should be better friends. Send me a note - coffee's on me :)
p.p.s. - Whenever possible, we work to encourage inclusivity. Here's how.
p.p.p.s. - We're always looking for interesting links. Send them here.