Good Ideas

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Sometimes I have good ideas. For example, I invented the straw once... I was sitting a few feet from my drink and I thought "Hey!"... "Wouldn't it be nice if there was a tube with one end in my drink and the other in my mouth, so I wouldn't have to move ANY PART OF MY BODY to take a drink?". My brother invented the piano ("Wouldn't it be nice if there was an instrument where every note was a different button?"). Chris Kuck invented the train ("What if we could attach cars to each other so they all went the same speed in the same direction on a track?" or something like that).

Moments later, of course, cruel realization dawns... Someone had already thought of it.

So, for the slightly BETTER ideas I have, which people may not have thought of, I'm putting things down here. Mostly this is so that, years from now, when someone makes a mint off of one of these ideas, I can claim that I created it first, and sue them for millions, or at least point and laugh.

Let's begin:

  • A scale that doesn't show your weight; merely your progress up or down. (Kudos to Laura-Lu for co-hosting that one).
  • A folding chair that folds completely flat, but still has a supportive curve when in chair position. There must be a way.
  • A small piece of software that pops up every so often and reminds you to SAVE YOUR WORK. (Someone's probably done this, but since I just lost a lot of work, it seems apropo just now).
  • A challenge/response tool that asks trivia questions in addition to login information to unlock a PC. This could be a learning tool... flash cards for foreign languages, math problems, programming syntax, etc. Failures would simply delay you rather than lock you out, but you'd be forced to learn.
  • Software to convert a database to a Semantic Wiki so that people can navigate it better. This is great for Master Data Management and Data Dictionaries. Trust me.
  • A website that will take your web cam feed and treat it like a security camera, archiving footage so that people (i.e. thieves) can't remove images just by having physical access to your PC
  • An offering for retail stores to allow customers to view their own data mining results. What brands do I favor? How much to I spend on paper towels? Vegetables vs. Junk food? All sorts of stuff. In exchange, more loyalty, more data for mining, better access to coupons (eliminate snail mail), etc.
  • A mechanism for transporting encrypted messages (or even just headers) across ad-hoc mesh networks that are intermittent (such as OLPC networks). That is, I e-mail someone, but I'm connected to other mesh computers none of which are connected to the internet. A message gets encrypted and sent to my direct connects, and those get forwarded to their connections and cached... once anyone connects to the network, the message is sent to the internet and the intended recipient and a completion indicator is sent back in the same mechanism so the cached copies can be purged. Basically every mesh network would be it's own global mail relay, but there would need to be some safeguards for abuse, and members of the network could manage how much they store and how long they keep cached messages.
  • A multi-player game where you can switch dimensions but effectively be in exactly the same place. Think Portal in 4D. Multi-players would have to be in exactly the same spot, but in coordinated dimensions and pushing buttons at the same time, for example, to get through mazes. Think how R2-D2 and C-3PO behaved in Lego Star Wars. Dimensions could be different colors for differentiation.
  • A small hammock or sling, much like what ferrets like to sleep on, that can be put under your desk so that when you lean back you can rest your feet on it.
  • A website aggregating data mining or online competitions
  • A completely open source version of Tableau Public -- probably built around R and other similar tools, perhaps in conjunction with opendata or other data sources

A few business policies:

  • No meetings on Tuesdays! (Or some other day... I need a designated no-meeting day)
  • Personal spending accounts for each employee... say $50/month or $500/year or something... people can buy books mainly, or office supplies that aren't normally provided (ergonomic lights, custom desk calendars, whatever). The objects belong to the company, but people don't have to get any "approval" or anything.