- Elemental Machines — Boston startup fitting experiments & experimenters with sensors, deep learning to identify problems (vibration, humidity, etc.) that could trigger experimental failure. [C]rucial experiments are often delayed by things that seem trivial in retrospect. “I talked to my friends who worked in labs,” Iyengar says. “Everyone had a story to tell.” One scientist’s polymer was unstable because of ultraviolet light coming through a nearby window, he says; that took six months to debug. Another friend who worked at a pharmaceutical company was testing drug candidates in mice. The results were one failure after another, for months, until someone figured out that the lab next door was being renovated, and after-hours construction was keeping the mice awake and stressing them out. (that quote from Xconomy)
- Usborne Computer and Coding Books — not only do they have sweet Scratch books for kids, they also have their nostalgia-dripping 1980s microcomputer books online. I still have a pile of my well-loved originals.
- Powerful People are Terrible at Making Decisions Together — Researchers from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, undertook an experiment with a group of health care executives on a leadership retreat. They broke them into groups, presented them with a list of fictional job candidates, and asked them to recommend one to their CEO. The discussions were recorded and evaluated by independent reviewers. The higher the concentration of high-ranking executives, the more a group struggled to complete the task. They competed for status, were less focused on the assignment, and tended to share less information with each other.
- MyBinder — turn a GitHub repo into a collection of interactive notebooks powered by Jupyter and Kubernetes.
The O’Reilly Solid Podcast: Entrepreneurship, niche product development, and spotting business opportunities.
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Many of the hardware creators we speak with come into their work through the enthusiast route: they start with an engineering problem they want to solve or a piece of technology they think is interesting, then look for an application that would support a business.
Julia Ko, our guest on this week’s episode of the Solid Podcast, started her company SurePod a very different way. She saw the business opportunity first, studying wholesale mobile contracts and the sales networks that distribute medical devices, and she developed a plan for a simplified mobile phone for older people. Only then did she learn the technical aspects of hardware production.
In this episode, we talk about Ko’s development as an entrepreneur, the challenge of creating a product for which you aren’t the target audience, and the best mobile phone carrier (Ko says it’s AT&T).