Did that sound odd to you? It did to me as well, and it sent me down the rabbit hole of demonyms: the words that define groups of people in relation to a particular place. But The Prepared is not a place—at least not geographically—and that train of thought led me to anthroponymy: the study of anthroponyms, the proper names of human beings as individuals and collectives. Anthroponymy is a branch of onomastics: the study of proper names which, interestingly, are similar to but not quite the same as proper nouns.
Why was I thinking about this in the first place? Because I’ve procrastinated on guest editing this edition of The Prepared (sorry Spencer), and in a sleep-deprived state of pensar en la inmortalidad del cangrejo (“Thinking about the immortality of the crab”), I’ve become fascinated with the idea that I can communicate these thoughts to you, reader, with combinations of 26 letters and 14 punctuation marks.
The most clicked link from last week's issue (~16% of opens) was a *really* beautiful video of Japanese kumiko crafts. In The Prepared's Members' Slack this week, a brand new channel for folks to dump fave patent drawings in.
Planning & Strategy.
- It’s the tenth anniversary of Steve Jobs passing away, and I re-read a fascinating 2013 piece on the first iPhone keynote and all the planning that went into ensuring its success. Among my favorites: the signal strength was hard-coded to show full signal, the radios were set to use Japanese frequencies, and the presentation phones had delicate custom hardware wired in to project the screen (pre-AirPlay). It’s hard to imagine now, but the iPhone was controversial and oft ridiculed by the telco execs (Blackberry market share: 45% in 2008) when it was announced.
- My housemate has been watching a new motherboard collect dust for the past three months as TSMC shortages choke AMD and NVIDIA’s supply chains. This led me to pull on the thread upstream of TSMC, and it turns out that the source of the purest quartz sand—the raw input for semiconductors—is in Spruce Pines, North Carolina.
Making & Manufacturing.
- If you read my previous edits, you may remember that the production, reproduction, and ontology of color is something that fascinates and frustrates me. Case in point: humans haven’t created an inorganic blue pigment for over two centuries, until now.
- Capturing a rotisserie chicken in extremely high fidelity for Unreal Engine 4. The lighting and camera rig is a sight to behold.
- A very long, very excellent video on the sound design of The Lord of the Rings. The shriek of the Nazgûl is Director Peter Jackson’s wife. Related: For those of you that have ridden the San Francisco BART, our rustic subway provides the terrifying environment sounds for the horror game Dead Space.
- In my 2020-12-21 guest edit, I wrote about how creators of The Mandalorian used 3D printing, CNCs, and digital cameras to create a retro vibe. The making of 1994 Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit animation’s iconic claymation shows a very different, manual, completely analog (by necessity) approach.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- The most expensive aircraft in the world is the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, and we seem to have lost the plans or tooling or both for critical heat exchanger parts. Interestingly enough, NASA also had to reverse engineer the F-1 rockets on the Saturn V that carried Apollo, but not because they lost the plans: the original rockets, handbuilt in the ‘60s, are just riddled with undocumented idiosyncracies.
- B-LABO is a curated collection of unusual desktop implements. My favorite is the shredder scissors.
Distribution & Logistics.
- Despite the seemingly endless choices of distilleries and whiskies, your favorite firewater is probably owned by 1 of 8 major parent companies.
- Garbage collectors in Ankara, Turkey collected discarded books and opened a library, which now has a full-time librarian.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- In that same 2020-12-21 issue of The Prepared, I included links on NASA research of cosmic radiation flipping bits in computers. I recently learned that in 2013, a Super Mario 64 speedrunner gained a few seconds when ionizing cosmic radiation flipped a bit in a byte defining Mario’s height.
- /u/whibbler is a redditor that draws extremely detailed diagrams of submarines in Microsoft Paint.
p.s. - I’m trying to broaden my reading horizons, and I’d love to hear about any book that recently resonated with you.
p.p.s. - We care about inclusivity. Here’s what we’re doing about it.