[19th May 2024] Interesting Things I Learnt This Week

1. Complaints are a gift: Seth Godin writes that complaints should be viewed as opportunities rather than nuisances. While they may seem like mere whining, they provide valuable insights for improvement. In the medical field, for instance, doctors often dismiss complaints if tests are negative. However, the true goal of medicine is to enhance patient well-being, not just to pass tests. Though we aren't obligated to heed every complaint, engaging with them can uncover underlying issues. Addressing these problems is essential to our role. Thus, complaints, when taken seriously, can lead to meaningful solutions.

My TakeWhile Seth Godin often highlights what may seem like obvious problems, they're often the ones we overlook. Complaints can be a goldmine for understanding user pain points, which are key to finding solutions. In fact, I used to find inspiration for improvements in the feedback from various apps I've worked on. It's amazing how many improvements can come from simply listening to what users have to say.

2. Cheap Zinc and Lignin based battery: Researchers from Linköping University in Sweden have developed a revolutionary, low-cost battery made from zinc and lignin. This battery can be used over 8,000 times, making it a sustainable and affordable option, particularly in regions with limited access to electricity. Unlike toxic lead-acid batteries, this new battery is environmentally friendly and maintains about 80% of its performance over its lifespan. It also retains its charge for about a week, far longer than similar zinc-based batteries. The researchers are working on scaling up the battery size to match car batteries and are seeking a company for mass production.

My Take: This technology has the potential to be even more transformative than sodium batteries. Its impact could be widespread, benefiting both home solar setups and reducing our reliance on rare earth metals. However, their current limitations, like rapid self-discharge and weight, make them less suitable for applications like electric vehicles. Here's hoping they reach production and become readily available soon!

3. 170 Bison Herd Could Offset CO2 Equal To 2 Million Cars, Study Finds : This talks of impact of bison on carbon storage. The study suggests that a herd of 170 bison can store an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to taking nearly 2 million cars off the road for a year. Bison accomplish this through grazing patterns that fertilize the soil and disperse seeds. The return of bison to grasslands where they were once absent can help restore balance to ecosystems. 

My Take: That's an interesting perspective. It's important to remember that bison aren't a complete solution to car emissions. While they can help capture carbon dioxide, cars release a variety of other pollutants. Guardian in its article later revised estimate of 43,000 cars [instead of 2 million] highlights that the impact, though positive, is limited.

4. Thread - the tech we can't use or teach: Dennis Schubert talks about limitations of Thread for hobbyists. He discusses the benefits of Thread for low-power electronics. He successfully reduced the power consumption of a coffee bean storage display by switching from WiFi to Thread. Thread uses IPv6 and connects to a home network via a border router. However, Thread Group membership is required to develop products that use Thread. This membership is expensive and not available to hobbyists. Hence he concludes that Thread is not a viable option for hobbyist electronics projects

My Take: Thanks to Dennis for writing this. This is a very informative piece that sheds light on Thread technology. It's surprising that in today's world, some protocols remain closed and limit membership, especially when they could be general-purpose. One perspective is that it might be a profit strategy for B2B companies who can control access and charge high fees. However, this closed approach might not be ideal for hobbyists or general consumers. We may need to explore alternative open protocols that cater to our needs.


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