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The Lessons of Thailand’s Flood

The hard drive industry shows that responding to disasters can be more important than preventing them

4 min read
Thai Navy divers were called in to salvage disk drive manufacturing tools. Their efforts contributed to a quick recovery.
Photo: Western Digital

photo showing workers at Western Digital scrub away the residue of a 2011 flood

Photo: Western Digital
Washed Away: Workers at Western Digital scrub away the residue of a 2011 flood that inundated this hard drive factory and hobbled the global PC industry.

Tawan Suppapunt stands outside the wall of the main building at Western Digital’s Bang Pa-In factory, where he is managing director of hard disk drive operations, pointing to a blue line above his shoulder. The line marks the high-water point—1.8 meters from the ground—of the October 2011 flood that devastated this part of southern Thailand. Floodwaters inundated this plant, the surrounding roads, and many other factories in the region for more than a month. Outside the country, the severe shortage of hard drives caused prices to spike and put a big dent in the profit of global PC, chip, and memory companies.


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The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Vertical
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton
Pink

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

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