Letter 6
3 min read

Letter 6

Personal Update

Our family #van-trip continues. We stayed in Scarborough Maine for the week and loved it.

#Dishes: When my family stays in a house instead of our van I notice that we spend much more time doing dishes. In the van we do the dishes right after we use them because there’s no counter space to put dirty dishes. In a home we can just leave the dirty dish and grab a clean one. I suspect the number of dishes you have in your house correlates to the amount of time you spend doing dishes. Shop for dishes accordingly.

Compound Progress

  • I'm designing a form to ask people what they want in the community. Let me know what other questions are important. #babysteps

What Interested Me

#OfficeSpace: Vacant Office space in SF has doubled in 6 months. What can this space be used for other than cheaper office space?

#CloudCities: This week I found the Charter Cities podcast which discussed designing a city in the cloud. The guest Balaji argued that finding a community online and using a "digital first" approach to iterate on the city design before building it will be how future cities will be created. He also argues that these cities need to be selective just like colleges to create a community with common goals. This discussion was motivating.

#LongRangWiFi: This week I came across a “crypto” project that is solving a problem I’ve had before when building remote controlled lockers or bitcoin vending machines. In my experience, one of the hardest parts of an IOT project is figuring out how to actually connect the product to the internet. Using a cell connection is often too expensive and using WiFi limits the range. The company Helium.com now offers a long range wifi service for low bandwidth IOT products. You can buy an antenna to provide service in your neighborhood, then each time your antenna is used to send a packet to the internet you earn helium tokens. This service sounds great for a developer because you pay a fraction of a cent per packet and no monthly fee.

#5G: Here is how I think #5G will change things. First 5G technology enables 10x faster downloads, 10x the number of devices per antenna, reduces the connection latency but also reduces the area an antenna can provide coverage. The advantages of 5G will come to areas with lots of devices like cities or factories. Since the speeds for 5G are ~Gb/s (better than most people's wired connections) I can see customers in cities opting out of their wired internet provider and purely using their cell provider. More ubiquitous broadband will enable the production and consumption of more streaming content. The lower latency of connections might enable better remotely controlled robots. It

#Self-driving: There were encouraging announcements by self driving companies recently.

  • Waymo opened their robo-taxi service in Phoenix to the public.
  • Tesla released a beta of full self driving mode for $2k.
  • Cruise will test driverless cars on roads in SF this year.

I’m thrilled that at least 3 large companies are close to rolling out self driving offerings. I believe we’ll see “fast” adoption once the technology is demonstrated in a few small markets. Because self driving will enable a better lifestyle, residents will lobby their local governments to change laws to enable self driving technologies. These cars will make city streets safer.

I watched the 5th element recently with my 11 year old son and he astutely noted that it was crazy that future humans had invented flying cars that still couldn’t drive themselves.


The DOW will be lower in 1 month (relative to gold) due to election unrest. No matter who wins the election the stock market will drop on renewed fears of COVID and the post-election unrest. If Trump wins, there will be marches like there were in 2016. If Biden wins we will see an increased number of violent attacks by Trump supporters.  Regardless of who wins the election, the state of the nation will be shaky.

I keep a record of my predictions here.

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