can't get enough Theranos-type stories
Sunday, April 3 2022
I was up before anyone else, and soon found myself snuggling with Ramon on the living room couch while drinking cold-pressed coffee (originally bought to be drunk at the cabin) and visiting my usual web haunts. Eventually Powerful and Gretchen joined me, and we all played a little collaborative New York Times Spelling Bee. (The panagram was "homepage" with "m" in the middle.)
This evening Gretchen went out with Kate to watch a showing of the Godfather on its 50th anniversary. Afterwards, Gretchen went to her newest favorite mainstream American restaurant chain, Buffalo Wild Wings (aka "B-Dubs," I happen to know) to eat their supposedly amazing cauliflower wings and watch a NCAA women's basketball game. (Everything I knew about Buffalo Wild Wings before Gretchen's recent discovery I'd learned by following the Chandler Halderson case back in January.)
Meanwhile Powerful, having heard me say something good about baked ziti, cooked a big deep dish of it. (Baked ziti had come up yesterday or today because free baked ziti had been one of the incentives recently used on Staten Island to successfully convince Amazon employees to unionize.) Powerful and I ate it together in the living room, and it was great. It reminded me of the time Gretchen and I had come up from Brooklyn to New Paltz to visit Kristen and I'd gotten drunk and eaten a slice of pizza with some sort of thick layer of baked pasta on it. And that visit to New Paltz reminded me of a visit I'd made back in July of 1989 when I'd hitch-hiked all over the northeast, including adventures at the Jewish Theological Center in Manhattan, and between Montreal and Quebec City with a convicted French-Canadian bank robber named Denis. I gave Powerful a quick retelling of all these stories in between munches of of my pasta.
Up in the laboratory, I'd been trying to get a NodeMCU EPS8266 board to send sensor data to "the cloud." The sensor in this case was the AM2301 that had been part of my now-unresponsive MySpool sensor. I eventually got the NodeMCU working and even sending data off to "the cloud." But on the cloud end of things, I was using a company (and its eponymous technology) called Blynk to somehow receive and perhaps display the data. I'd managed to get the API key correct, and now the sensor-side of things was operating correctly. But nothing was showing up in "the cloud." And the documentation for how to see that data, well, I couldn't find anything. The one YouTube video I watched on the subject went into great detail about setting up the NodeMCU and the sensor, but completely glossed-over what needs to be done to have the data show up in an app. And I don't even want to see it some stupid phone app; I want to see a graph on a proper web page, the kind that a laptop can display. Evidently there is some little piece I'm missing. But I'd like to figure this out before I go up to the cabin next, as I'd like to resume the remote monitoring of temperature data there.
My rekindled fascination with the Theranos flameout has me looking for similar stories, and today I discovered another dramatization of a similar story: that of the company WeWork. The dramatization is entitled WeCrashed, and I ended up watching the first three episodes of it. WeWork was founded by Adam Neumann, a serial grifter and confidence man who managed to luck into success with a company that rents out unused office space temporarily and flexibly to companies and individuals. The wacky thing about WeWork was not so much that it was founded by a confidence man or that it eventually ran into problems (though not as existential as those experienced by Theranos). It was the corporate culture, which tried to make working for the company similar to partying in a college fraternity. Employees drank alcohol at their desks and partied at the office until 3:00am, nodding off at their desks when not doing these things. Annually, they'd all be expected to show up for "Summer Camp," where they raged as if they were at Burning Man, though with a greater focus on sex, drugs, and booze, and not so much on art.
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