Thursday, January 31, 2008

Vacuum Data Pellets

for gathering data about a house. Nano pellets left in rug take information about moisture, dander, allergens, etc. Like the balls in the movie "Twister", but for your carpet.

The Path: A Buddha Video Game

Follow the life of the Buddha, get points for doing Buddha-esque actions. Choose your own adventure books accompany the game. Has a biodfeedback (for heart rate and breathing) test that comes with the game controller. Also comes in board game version made from recycled paper and renewable bamboo.

Band Name: Vicodin Superstar

or perhaps Mr. Methadone

Yard Sale Diner

A restaurant that offers all the furniture for sale that you are currently eating on.

Good food, goood show (waiters sell the place settings) times for live auctions. Waitstaff picks out their own tables. Mobile display walls with lamps and art for sale. Chairs get swapped during the meal.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PDA magnifier

Sounds dorky, but its practical: the idea comes from the movie
Brazil. The scene at work where their computer terminals are sitting
behind big magnifying screens is not so farfetched. If you are going
to be on a plane and plan on watching a movie on your smartphone, you
could whip out your 6 inch wide magnifying cover screen and watch the
movie 30% larger. It would be rigid, and be held in place one inch or
do above the smartphone screen. Snaps on place. Made of corn Plastic.
X2 idea value. Shazam!

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Functional Designer Whirligigs

Home power should be cool. Those backyard whirligigs (they are often
made to depict little scenes like a guy rowing a boat or a woman
churning butter or something), they should be larger and cooler and
should actually do real power generation.
Sure, some power is lost making the cool action scene, but ya gots ta
have you some fun!

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Instant Camper

This is courtesy of a good friend of mine. The idea is cool: its
basically a big magnetically held in place screen material that you
have stored in a roll in your car. When you can't find a place to stay
in terms of a motel you whip the screen out and throw it over your car
and then you can unroll your windows without bothering about flies and
mosquitoes. You also font have a disgustingly foggy sweaty car the
next morning. The edge of the material is all flexible magnets.

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Giant pole wind generator

Winds that blows pushes the top of the tower (which has a large scoop
that always points toward the wind) and the bottom of the tower moves
in the other direction. The generator is below ground.
This idea, if possible, is x5.

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Band: Overhead Transparent Sea

A/V kids know what I'm talkin bout.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No more free raw material!

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: Aaron Campbell <>
Date: January 29, 2008 12:52:58 PM PST
To: "" <>, "." <.>
Subject: No more free raw material!

Maybe this is a bit farfetched and perhaps in some cases might be detremenental to recycling, but I confess that I'm tired of giving away raw material to people who make it into something else in order to sell it...sometimes.

I guess the idea is to make recycling more attractive to the recycler by paying him a bit to do it. Five cents a can in Oregon is a start, but what about all the rest of the things that we recycle?  The trash co comes and takes our paper, plastic, glass, and compost to make something else with it or sell it to a different co who makes a profit from it. It burns me up a bit, but maybe I've forgotten a key reason they do it, like maybe they do it at a loss. Hmmm.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hypercolor Wall Covering

Paint that changes color with heat. Or, like in the Pacific Science Center, a wall that holds differences in light for a brief amount of time, glowing briefly. Hmm, perhaps glow in the dark paint that's less expensive is the real idea here, but I also want color changing walls, so there you go. 1.5x ideas

Web Magnifier

I want a tool on my mouse that works the way that old Apple MacOS system 8 did for the viewing impaired: A keystroke triggers the mouse (or a tap on the screen somewhere) to become a big magnifying lens, with the ability to mouse click from within it. When I use the key functions or preferences to make the viewing font bigger, the images and text within those images are still small. Did I miss some function in Firefox that lets me do this?

Home Wiring Gun

This may be totally unfeasable, but then again...
If the right material was engineered, one should be able to lay down wires (insulated, even) with a caulking gun. Just squeeze out the wiring goo and install the wires without having to staple or nail or snap them in. Easily painted, won't come off, great for low-voltage wiring.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Please Advertise to Me

Here's one I think would be loved by Madison Ave, but I would love it too. I would be happy if advertising was actually targeted to me and my preferences. I just don't want the people knowing who I actually am. I want them to know I'm not interested in Gap clothes, but I am interested in American Apparel. I want them to know I am not 17, but not 45. I want them to know I like Honey Nut Cheerios, but not the plain version.

Heck, I'm even advocating that I'd go for a specific advertising web page, made for me to browse stuff that I want or could want. Like Amazons' "If you like X, try Y" idea, but for everyone to join in. MyPersonalShoppingMall. I want it to learn, like StumbleUpon, what I like and don't like. Maybe I even want to meet people who have bought an iMac, or who like Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. My identity would have to remain anonymous for sure, with a specific email addy just for shopping in my personal Web Mall, with a new low-interest credit card that rewards me and the vendor for getting my needs met. Hell, Yes. Show me the creme de la creme of new environmentally friendly LED lamps, then point me to the right low-VOC paint you think I might like, then link me to three people in Seattle who bought both of those things so we can meet up and go for a rollerblade to Marymoor Park.

MMMMM, perhaps if I did sign up for the service of targeted ads, I could tell my browser to opt out of the ads that target me so randomly and ineffectively in my normal web experience. That's the thing, I don't mind ads, just ads that suck and have nothing to do with me. This is an idea that's X2, and I don't mean maybe, baby.

Wreckage Salvage

I've posted this on GlobalIdeasBank.Org, but it's time for another reiteration. Buildings are constantly being torn down and the detritus often quickly hauled off by well-meaning but uninformed workers to the landfill transfer station. Sometimes they'll do the right thing and separate their trash from their clean wood, their steel from their plastic bags, but not often enough. There isn't much incentive from a contractor's POV to go through the hassle of separating that stuff out, they get paid for doing the work, not the hours of time that could be spent recycling. SO: Contractors should charge (and it should be understood) for recycling.

Be it further noted that when tearing down a big old building the contractor/demolition expert should be paid to put the site up on an official city registry for salvage. Then people could line up and sign up for a shot at taking away the stuff that might be reusable, big wooden beams, nice leaded glass windows, cool drawer pulls, hardwood floors in reasonable shape. It should be either rewarded or at least not penalized for contractors to re-use and recycle. It just makes sense.

Self Branding for Kids

Okay, the word "branding" is not the kind that requires hot steel on skin. I'm talking about Moby, Prince, Madonna, giving yourself a particular identity and saying "I'm me and I'm proud". Perhaps in this day and age it sounds crass, or perhaps it sounds savvy, but I think that one should get cracking on figuring out who one is pretty quick in life. This is "identity" but is otherwise known as "branding". I've got a tattoo on my hand that I wish I had the guts (and parental blessing/encouragement) to put on my hand decades earlier. Whether that means letting a child change her/his name or cut their hair a particular way or buy particular clothes, make it important. Talk about it with them, tell them you support their search for identity and meaning. Get creative. Let them express themselves, and let them know they might change that expression later as they evolve. It could just be showing them their own signature, it could be a tattoo, a particular song that they identify with.

New American Rite of Passage

I'm all for community. I'm not all for pre-ordained religious upbringing. Specifically, I'm fully against the idea of circumcision and religious rites of that kind that the kid has no say in. I think that if you want to get a kid interested in a religion (specifically if it's the one you believe in), than you've got to let them choose it themselves, and you've got to spend a good chunk of time proving to them by showing them why it's so good for them. It should take around 13 years or so. By that time, they might have seen a few things and watched you do your thing, and be more capable of deciding which religion, if any is right for them. I think boys and girls are capable of making this decision on their own. A Jewish Bar or Bat Mitzvah is okay, but only if the kid wants to do it. That's some big pressure there, folks. If they choose the path themselves, it's far more likely to be chosen with passion and conviction (such as it is at that age). At 13, it should be a big deal, that they get to investigate their religious options and make a conscious choice about it.

A sweeet 16 party is alright, or a quinciniera, but notice there's nothing for the boys becoming men at that age? They go through rites of passage alright, but not those you might want them to if you're their parent. I say we give all our kids a specific target that they can look forward to that means "in our culture, becoming an adult is something important, and choice is a big part of that, taking responsibility for that choice." Word.

Clothing Renewal

Along the lines of my old t-shirt recycling, used clothing stores should pay a buck for a shirt that can't be sold as "vintage" so it can be turned into other materials. Insulation products are currently out there that are made of discarded floor remnant from denim factories. I'm sure that free or close to free cotton could be used the same way. Man, do I have a lot of old socks and tshirts waiting to go to a better home than the landfill, but I don't have the time or energy to take my own advice and re-use them. There are those big drop boxes for clothes to go to a better place, but what about those outfits that seriously can't be used again? Shredded for insulation, I say!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Smoke Detector Remote

First, a more robust smoke detector. Second, it comes with a simple remote on/off switch with a magnet that you mount on your fridge. You burn the toast, the smoke rises, you temporarily turn off the detector. Better than frantically waving a towel for 10 minutes while your houseguests wonder if you're burning their plastic plates in the microwave. Hey, even if you were, you'd be able to turn the smoke detector off!

Soccer Teams and Play-Doh

Say the title a few times and think about ancient philosophy. This was the name for my book about soccer when I was 12. It was about training ideas and how to mentally prepare yourself to win. It can now be my new band name. Chapaqua!

Piezoelectric Play-Doh

Yeah, I said it: piezoelectric. Each color reacts differently to other colors. Nanotechnology required. The playdoh can be zapped and instantly made hard as a rock, rubbery, liquid. Think Flubber, but tastes slightly salty and yummy.

Baby Go Cot

Inflatable, like Thermarest, little cot for travel, dinners out, car camping. 6 inches high edges. Straps for setting on chair or table. Cool colors. Oval shaped. Nonslip. Doubled as changing table.

Sent from my iPhone

bird recognition binoculars

like my now famous OCR binoculars, using the same tech but adding a
kind of face recognition software, ornithologists will cry when
newbies take to the forests and best them in their own sport! Okay,
its not for hatred that this idea springs forth, but for birding.
Serious birding, yo.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Band Name: Outbound Ryan

Chicagoans will know what I mean. First Album: "To the Airport".

Cantina Role Playing Bar

Bar that is set up identical to Star Wars Cantina for role playing. It's a regular bar, but every so often, people get a chance to dress up like any of the characters and the entire Cantina Scene is played out. It could get old, yes, but it could also be very subtly different each time. A hint of inflection here, and "Tell Jabba I'll get him his money" becomes a come-on. We don't want any trouble here....

Tablet computer paper overlay

I want the feedback on my tablet to be much more, um, feedbacky. I want it to feel like paper when I run my stylus over the screen, write, etc. The stylus should also have a little feedback rather than being slick and frictionless. I want it to feel paper, but not all the time. A screen overlay that is totally transparent, specifically for writing/sketching.

Fan run by lights returns heat

TSIA. Lights still put out a fair amount of heat, which goes up as we know. I think there ought to be a small fan that sends that heat back down from the light fixture, discretely, and without a lot of power consumption. Works best with old incandescent bulbs I suppose. Would have to be silent.

I'll Do It Dot Com

Could also be called "I'll pay you to do it". Hmm, might sound fishy. Anyhow, a matching website that people bid on and offer tasks for money. Okay, that sounds fishy too. So, in essence, there ought to be a place to say "Hey, Anybody, I need a sweater knit for my friend with the word "rockstar" sewn into the sleeve. I'll pay you $40 plus materials for it". And people can sort through categories to get paid to do stuff. Maybe needs to be limited to certain categories (like products instead of services). Can of worms, meet my friend opener...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Meta Game

A system or kit that showed you how to set up games within games that
you already own. I. E Settlers of CAtan with Candyland...

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Union outsource reclamation

USA companies should send out a request for bids on products that they
are thinking of sending the manufacturing abroad. Give our labor
sector a chance to do the work. It might be that they can't do it as
cheaply but we ought to give them a shot.

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Iphone copy n paste

Seriously Apple, let's see some real thinking here. My old Newton does

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Stereo recycling

I see way too many broken (or still working but ugly) home stereos
lying forlorn on the side of the road. Its a tragedy. I want a service
that recycles stereos with the same vigor that we apply to computer
recycling. Awww snap!

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Trampoline flooring

I think people should all have a room in their house that has a
trampoline floor. It's just good policy. Ceilings will have to be
different. Insurance plicies will have to change. Neck braces will
suddenly be cheaper...

Sent from my iPhone

iPhone drum pad

For sure this is on its way. Touch screen + music = drum pad pod. I
want to tap out beats as I listen to music on the iPod. No, I NEED to
tap out beats that are...Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Baby Carry Coat

After watching my wife zip up our daughter into her coat, I realized that with a few inexpensive tweaks, one could have a very handy carrying coat on one's hands. The trick will be that the coat would have a cinch-able band on the inside that could adjust to keep the baby snug. Baby would kind of sit perched on the band, head on mom/dad's chest.
The coat would be a normal coat in all other ways, except it would likely have a few more pockets. The problem we face when going out in public with baby is moving baby around when it's cold. We like the Ergo Baby carrier, but it still requires some finagling to get right, and by that time the baby is fussing or you're already in the store/restaurant. If all you had to do was drop the baby onto the internal perch and zip up your coat, you're in 7th baby heaven! Wah!

Left hand training

I have been using my left hand to mouse with and it helps my shoulder
pain in my right arm. It would be cool to hear from a lefty what other
stuff I should get better at southpaw. A small book or manual. Typing
pm my ipphns isn't as sAy as they say.

Sent from my iPhone

baby arm Velcro!

BasicAlly I want a way to hold my daughters hands at her sides without
actually holding them myself. Enter velcro. Either build the stuff
into the clothing or perhaps just attach the Velcro yourself. Easy.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cling Printer

I'm again sure this exists, but there should be a way to print my own "cling" decals for my car window, home window, etc. I need more bird silhouettes for my windows and I don't want to pay $5.00 each. Should be able to do it on my laser printer, eh? Maybe I just need a particular kind of plastic cling...

5mph Car Compactor!

Perhaps only for cars that are a bit older or are rated for higher speed crashes that don't crumple the bumper: If your car goes 5mph and weighs 3,000 lbs or more, I'm sure you could rig up some kind of contraption that used all that power to compact your trash/recycling/compost. It should be made of semi-rigid memory foam (like my Tempur-Pedic pillow). It could be suspended by cables at the back of your garage. You load up the "box" made of memory foam with your squishables and gently ram your car's bumper into it. Voila!

OCR system for cellphones

Optical Character Recognition is processor intensive, but we've got more power and more room with the newer smartphones to pull it off. Use the camera to take a snap of text, have the OCR system decode it. If my Palm Phone could read my handwriting (like my old Apple Newton could circa 1993), then I'm sure with a little processing power (and maybe a SIM card) it could translate my own handwritten text into real text. A scanner is a camera, so the better the camera's (my iPhone has 2.0 megapixel camera) resolution, the better the scan. I'm sure they'll upgrade this as things move along technologically. It's only a matter of time and engineering...:)

DVD marking using the DVD laser

I'm not alone when I complain that it's hard to tell from the front of a blank CD if it's been used already. I'm sure it can't be that hard to make the laser in the DVD reader zap a specific dot on the disc (perhaps with a small, thin, fragile coating) that renders the disc "used" or pristine. Maybe it goes just on the inside rim of the disc, perhaps zapping a stutter pattern around the inner rim as the marker. A new DVD reader/writer might be required, but as long as you're at it, make the laser be able to vary in intensity and be able to use a special disc that lets you print out text on the disc as well. Heck, build a new DVD reader that also is a printer for the thing.

Does it work?

A simple website that allows you to describe a problem, then gives you a place to vote on which solution works, and if needed, why it works. This is done in terms of talkback postings, but it requires me to scroll through (and read through) lots of posts that sometimes have good data and sometimes (often) do not. I like the "stars" idea that some sites use, but I want it even simpler: an up or down vote on x solution working or not. The more votes, the more it rises on the scoreboard. If you want to check the chatter on the topic, it would be in a different window or down below the ratings. Specifically coming to mind, does a pacifier work for calming baby? Does Gripe Water really cure colic? I just want to see 300 people saying yes or no.

Homework Crowd Sourcing

Okay, I'm sure that one could use Facebook for this in some way, but I think there should be a specific site that allows kids who are working on projects to work on them with other kids, in real time. Not that the kids should cheat from each other, but that they should learn from each other. Kids should always be able to explain how they got from x to y idea, and that would be one bit of required proof of their understanding. Truth is, sometimes the kids are grouped on projects with other kids that can't help them or refuse to do the work. They should be able to log onto the homework site and go to a category and see who's in the "study hall" on that topic, then share ideas with them. It's like real life, and it's a skill they will definitely use the moment they are out of school. Many of them already do this haphazardly, might as well make it understood and accepted.

Open Source Baby

Open Source, Baby! Aww, Yeah! What I mean by that is I think that although I personally would love to "make a million dollars" profiteering in the baby accoutrement world, that won't be good for the world. What would be good is for everyone who is trying to make tons of money on a new baby gadget to put that effort out there for everyone to use, for free. Sounds heretical in a lot of ways, but I think that a great deal of even my own innovation is stifled by the idea of making money from it. Paradoxical, I suppose. Maybe if you must make money from these great baby ideas, you should vow to put a percentage of profit towards developing countries and their babies' well-being. Take a look at Babies R Us and you'll see what I'm talking about. In addition, new baby stuff should be as recycled and earth-friendly as possible. The tons of plastic we use to make things for babies is hurting the planet that those babies must be raised in. Surely, people should make a decent living from their labor, but putting another cheaper plastic teething ring with a slightly different animal on it doesn't make babies lives better or the planet any healthier. Let's do better by our children.

Incadescent Bulb Re-use

Here's an idea that isn't yet. People are told that they need to change to CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb) in their home lighting, but they are no dummies...they know that waste is they say "I'm waiting until my bulbs burn out to replace them". The truth is that replacing them immediately is better than waiting for them to burn out. Why? They use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime. Produce about 75 percent less heat, so they're safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling. So what do we do with the old bulbs?

Take them to a dedicated facility that will crush them up and put them in....
* asphalt for streets
* melt them and make low-grade glass (the bases would be gravity-sorted out)
* slag for foundations in construction

I'm really not sure what would be optimal, but there needs to be a particular thing or set of things that dead incandescents get turned into. It's important to people that they know what a thing gets recycled into, it helps them visualize the reason for the recycling. Any ideas on this thread would be great.

Friday, January 18, 2008

iTunes visualizer for iPhone

Okay, so I just bought one. Sue me. I do think that one of the best things about itunes is the visualizer. Do it for the iPhone and wow the kids. Might as well make a video out port on the thing so you can project the visuals for an impromptu rave at your house. Couple it with iDJ software that lets you virtually scratch your itunes while they are playing, and cue up new tunes while using a simple virtual mixer/slider/fader. Please, Apple, hire me if only to let me suggest these things. (This is an x3 idea, btw.) Kablooie!

Proximity sensor for iPhone

I can think of a few apps that might use the sensor: iPhone Theremin is just the tip of the iceberg. You should be able to adapt the current camera to be the sensor, perhaps it can already do it in a way. The iphone theremin would be yet another music app that Apple should offer.

"Franchise Me" Website

A website and portal that tells you how to franchise your current business. It should have tons of resources and tons of ads along the side. It should point newbies at the right first steps to scaling up your business. It should also have businesses that currently franchise and show you what it might cost for you to start yours.

LIghting Lab at Home Depot

I don't care which store puts it in, frankly. I just want a specific part of the store dedicated to showing people what light is cast by what CFL. They are not all the same, and the lights in the store above mask the real light cast from the bulb (if there's a display at all). I want to see for myself what "cool" and "warm" CFLs are before I buy them, take them home, and have my family groan at my new living room that is lit like a hospital.

iPhone Music Maker

Come on Apple! I can tap on the screen but I can't have it record that tap as a beat and play it for my kid? Record my voice as a song and put simple keyboard music to it? I can type on a virtual keyboard, I want a virtual drum pad and piano, stat! Bazingo!

Green TV cable station

Environmental TV on Cable. Discovery Channel won't cut it anymore. I don't even have cable and I know this is necessary.

iPhone writing app

Come on Apple! I want to be able to draw on my iPhone! Right now. I could do with with my 5 year old Kyocera Palm phone. True, I can't take photos with that oldie, but I did love the notetaking feature.

digital spirograph

I want a digital spirograph that lets me choose the same wheel and disk options as the old Spirograph. Please, tell me you remember the Spirograph!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Adopt-an-inmate web groups

Okay, I'm not saying that crime should pay. But it shouldn't be a death sentence. These people are coming back into society when their time is up and they are at great risk of re-offending when they get out. A group of people who care, even a virtual group, should get together and take care of these people that are just about to re-enter society and try to get on their feet again. Clearly it could be done via the web, but can inmates use the internet? There might need to be a letter-writer designated in each group, perhaps. It would be great if the group decided to help the inmate out (at the inmate's request, of course) way in advance of being set free. I think the support would be vital to their reintegration and to helping them move away from crime. Likely, it was a lack of community that got the inmate in trouble in the first place, no? Give them a community, even a virtual one, and I think it might do some good.

Now playing: Air - All I Need
via FoxyTunes

Hackable Cars, Open Source cars

Sure, people might worry that a no-good-nick would be tempted to drive by and remotely disable (or drive!) my car, but I want a car with an open source computer system. I sold cars for VW and they have this special tool that costs an arm and a leg that does some sort of magical diagnostic for the new machines. It can tell you if you have been thinking unclean thoughts about driving a Corvette as well. I have to pay much money to have that machine tell me that my tire-pressure monitor needs to be reset or my door is ajar. I want a computer system that has a more open architecture, at least for a number of features that I would like to control. I want to be able to dial my HP and MPG up or down as I have previously blogged, but I want much more than that. My dad installed this little black box in our 1968 Lincoln Continental: it showed us how long a drive it was to Spokane, how much mileage we were getting, and even let him set his speed (cruise control). I want that and more. Gimme! Auto Liberation!

Now playing: Simon & Garfunkel - The Only Living Boy in New York
via FoxyTunes

Social Networking Ranking

Who's the most connected of us all? Craig of Craigslist? Sergey Brin? I think that it's certainly possible to rise to the top of one of the many new social networking sites with a concerted effort, but to what end? Perhaps there should be a larger ranking site that could say definitively that person X is the most socially networked person at moment Y. Would it merit a reward? Would that person be laughed at? Is Web 2.0 a cruel hoax? This idea is more of a question, does social networking mean something for real? if so, what?

Critical Feet for Justice

Like Critical Mass is for bikes, I have a dream that I will walk out my door with a backpack full of Clif Bars and head walk all the way to Washington DC and demand an end to the Iraq war and the neo-conservative plan to start another war in Iran.

I have a bloated sense of my own self-worth, so I dream that other people would take a risk and join me. If I did it, I would not need others to join necessarily, but it would certainly have more impact if I had company. I know we all have to work, I know we all have families, I know we all have lives. But is our life worth living if we sit by and let others lose theirs? Iraq is a terrible and deadly debacle and the sooner it ends, the better the planet will be. I haven't heard enough from this current political round of speeches about pulling clean out of Iraq, so it would be worth it to drive the point home. Would anyone join me? Would it be ridiculously rough on my wife and newborn daughter? Some ideas are much harder to see through than others. This idea haunts me.

Now playing: Joe Satriani - Day At The Beach (New Rays From An Ancient Sun)
via FoxyTunes

CARFID auto inventory tracking system

Something I wish I had when I was selling cars for VW: A simple RFID system that the dealership could use to track cars on the lot, physically, in real time, no matter where they are in the system, with current status and location of the car and its keys.

When the cars come in from the port or from a train/trailer/boat, they are without any sort of tracking system other than the VIN#. From this point, most dealerships employ a "key-tag" system, where one key is magnetically assigned a stock number and that key-tag is used to track the car. Trouble is, that key is not actually the car. You could have the key floating around on the lot, in a salesperson's desk, in the customers' hands, etc. and not know where the car itself is located at all.

The solution is to peel off one of my handy RFID stickers and attach it to both keys, and the car. The system might seem expensive up front, but you'd have a lot of happy salespeople, happy managers, happy technicians and service managers, and ultimately happy customers. The first line of defense would be a large RFID scanner for the port lot to indicate where the cars are just after coming in. Salespeople, service people and sales managers would immediately know what car has come in and exactly where it is on the lot. They'd also know immediately what features the car has, what color it is and if it's been checked in. The internet managers would love this feature, because that data would go to your website and provide an up-to-the-minute inventory picture. There would be a large RFID reader at the gate of the dealership that read each car as it came on the lot from the port. There would be a smaller reader in the sales office where the keys are kept for test-drives. The moment the key left that room, the computer would know where it was and who took it out (people would check the key out like they already do with a keytag system using their own code).

Sensor readers would be at every gate/door that the cars and keys would go in and out of, tracking the location of all three units assigned to each VIN#. With used cars, the dealership would apply the original sticker tags, but the manufacturer could assign the new cars with the tags so they could track sales as well. Does the detail department have the car? Is it being washed? Is it on a test drive with a salesperson? Has it been sold but not delivered? Does it need to be brought in to inventory? Has the car been stolen? Does is have a deposit, but isn't yet sold? Is a technician checking it out? All this could be knowable via a website link, connected to the inventory system at the dealerships as well as via corporate inventory link. Chachingko!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Real Time Ride Share Website

I want to go to SEATAC at 4am and I live in North Seattle. I want to join up with other fliers in the vicinity and leverage those 5 people by telling Shuttle Express that they can meet us all at one location or that we're all in the same area going at the same time. We then negotiate a lower price for helping them consolidate their Shuttling and we save money, time and gas/carbon/planet with targeted carpooling. Could be leveraged in other ways as well: Crowd-sourcing taxi cab rides from bars with cellphones. I should be able to make instant friends by sharing a cab with random people leaving an area at the same time if we're all going in the same general area of town. This idea counts as two, boo hoo!

Band Name: Boolean Search

Come on Geek Rockers!

Smart Atomix

Like Smart Brix, but it's atoms now. Each atom module is a unit that when it connects to other atoms it knows. With that knowledge, it tells you what molecule it can or can't make. Molecules would be able to do the same, giving you a living science experiment modelling toy. Much computing required per atom/molecule, but we're likely pretty close. It just means each unit is self-aware. Perhaps the atoms must be on an aware pad of some sort that knows which atoms are where and how they connect and that feeds to a computer to off-shore the computing power. That way each atom doesn't need to be fitted with a full chipset.

Smart Brix

Corny name, but the idea is that LEGO should be improved and made super-geeky. Each brick (made from recycled plastic or vegetable resin) has embedded sensors that tell you what brick it is currently connected to, how much torque is currently being applied to it, how hot it is, and so forth. When each brick connects, the brick might also have its readout change and tell the user what it has currently made with this particular sequence. Great for mini-architects.

Micro-TED City Conference

Watch "Inside TED" on DVD. Then think about the $4,500 price tag on the conference and you'll come to the same conclusion I did: There needs to be a lower-cost local version of TED held in all the major cities that can support 1,000 people and their meeting for a kickass conference to share ideas and change the world, one city at a time.
TED is copywritten and trademarked and so forth, so the name must change, but the idea is solid, that the best/brightest/creativist/talentest should all get together, present for 18 minutes to each other, then have lunch with each other later and collaborate.
Me, I want to start the one here in Seattle, and I want to film the process by which I do so, then I want to see that turned into a TV show that showcases the changes that the Micro-TEDsters forced into being. This idea is worth 3 ideas, just in case you're counting along with me each day...Kablammo x3!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

T-shirt ideas #1

* “Hear me now, Google me later”
* Google web page with the words “depleted uranium” in search field
* “Get Your War On” cartoon
* “War usually kills more people than it saves”
* I can’t believe he’s still in office.

Now playing: Beck - Hell Yes
via FoxyTunes

Better Ice for Muscles

Regular ice is coldest, but hardest to re-use for muscle aches. The flexible ice-substitutes I've tried stink and melt too damn quickly. I suggest: wrap real water with thin, strong, flexible silicone. Make it 3D hexagonal, or pentagonal like 3d honeycomb shapes. When frozen, the little guys will be able to move into place in a flexible sheet ideal for icing your aches and pains. The silicone will keep the stuff in shape but be flexible while cold. Put the shapes in a sturdy but flexible bag (maybe more silicone), and tuck that (after frozen) into a velcro-riffic back brace wrap. Blammo!

Now playing: Beck - Qué Onda Guero
via FoxyTunes

Neighborhood Re-use machines

Following on my neighbor-share ideas, this one kind of sums it up. The clothing shredder and snowblower share are good, but how about a shared wood chipper and paper press? We put so much recycling out that we have to pay to put out and yet it will become a free raw material for someone else to make something from. We practically and actually give away a great deal of excellent raw materials to other people. Is it going to the city? We have to pay to have the city/county/state haul away my recycling so they can use it for their own profit? I'm not exactly sure it's a profit, but I think it must be for the aluminum at least. In any case, small fabricators, smelters and the like are around the corner technologically and they should be actually around the corner in your neighborhood.

Now playing: Traffic - Feelin' Alright
via FoxyTunes

Toddler Animal Tether

Okay, so I didn't want to use the word "leash", but there it is. And, I'm okay with admitting that my very active new daughter may indeed need to be, ahem, curtailed. To that end, I don't want it to look like I don't love my kid. I feel for the parents of active kids who must use the body leash to keep the kids from literally running away/into the street. So, I figure if you must go that route, why not make it cool and fun? Make the leash that holds the kid into an animal tail! You can go the full nine yards and make the entire animal outfit for the kid, making it look like you are holding the tail of a tiger! My kids a future athlete, he's a real cheetah! Takes some of the stigma away from what really is a parent trying to give the kid walking freedom of sorts but needing to keep the kid nearby until they learn to manage themselves. For the record, had I been tethered a bit, I wouldn't have had to announce my name in Kmart so often when I was a rowdy kid myself.

Now playing: Ok Go - There's a Fire
via FoxyTunes

Monday, January 14, 2008

Kinetic House Power

Houses and other buildings flex a great deal more than you think. They are built to do so, in fact. Why waste that flex? Set up a system to capture that energy and store it in batteries or return the power to the grid. The real innovation would be the boards that were used to build the dwelling in the first place. Sure it would be more expensive, but if each 2x4 was made to be a part of the energy capture system, the could interlock and make power each time each board was flexed. People walking around the house would generate power in that case. Throw a party and generate the power needed to run the speakers that pump the good tunes for your guests....

Now playing: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Kinna Sohna
via FoxyTunes

gray water collection system

Retrofit your residence with a second set of pipes (use Pex) that all return water to a centrally located submerged tank of gray water, treated with UV to keep it clean. A switch would be installed on all the fixtures that would send that current flow to the tank rather than to the sewage line. Better yet, have the system analyze the water just before it goes out the sewer. Scratch the re-plumbing idea in fact, just have the central sewage line leading out of the residence analyze the water for grey or black and act accordingly. My shower water/dishwashing water really shouldn't be classified the same way the water from my toilet is. Gray water return isn't really my idea, but I'd like to see it done uniformly and safely.

Now playing: Pigeonhed - Battleflag (Lo-Fidelity Allstars Remix)
via FoxyTunes

Personal Registries

A no-brainer. Want to know what I want? Go to my personal registry at I wouldn't mind that page having a fair amount of advertising on it, either. As long as it was targeted to my needs and desires. I might also find that I buy myself the things I put on my registry. I think it's tangentially a bright green thing: reduce the amount of gifts that you get that stink, reduce the waste and energy created during their manufacture, delivery, purchase, and subsequent return to the store. It's not about over-consumption, it's about targeted consumption. You'd only give out the addy (and of course you must register to see the registry) to people who you wanted to see the registry. BTW, there is no registry for me, that address is a placeholder demo thingy.

Now playing: L. Subramaniam - Wandering Saint
via FoxyTunes

street and highway generators

I can't imagine this hasn't been thought of yet, but I haven't seen it myself. The idea is simple: all the kinetic energy that driving over a road creates needs to be captured, stored and redistributed. Huge amounts of kinetic energy is spent as cars drive over roads, highways and bridges. Certainly it could be gathered and stored simply for the street lights that are connected to that patch, but it would be great if the energy might be sent down the line to power neighborhoods or simply sent back to the main grid. The cement/asphalt/concrete would have to be re-engineered, or at least be dug up and the capture system put underneath/inside. The best solution would be to only do it on high-traffic areas and only do it on newly installed roads for optimal returns.

Now playing: Kruder & Dorfmeister - Gotta Jazz
via FoxyTunes

used clothing shredder

Okay, I want a bunch of DIY tools, and this is a biggie. I want to take my clean but no longer cool/wearable/functional clothing and make it into stuff. Literally, stuffing. I want to have it done by a simple machine like a paper shredder. I have tons of solo-socks, bad t-shirts, ripped pants and such that are landfill-bound. If I could make something else out of these items, it would rock. I wonder if perhaps there's a place I could drop off my dead clothes for recycling rather than re-using (like the used jeans craze). I understand that some home insulation is currently being of shredded denim, and since that's pretty much cotton, I want my own insulation maker. I could use it to restuff my pillows or use it to make stuffed animals, but insulation would be the biggest use at the moment. Hmm. Maybe this is best left to the industrial recyclers.

Now playing: Euphoria - Desert Drive
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cheap Soy-based Printer Ink

Not an engineering feat by any means, just a simple thing that we ought to have access to. A color printer came with my iMac. It retailed for $150. The cost of replacing all the ink quickly outpaces the cost of the printer, in like 4 months of use. It's also very chemical-y ink I think. I want soy-based eco-ink that costs $5 per cartridge. I will pay more for a non-disposable printer if my ink were ec0-friendly and it was made of eco-friendly plastic that could be disassembled easily after breaking down. No more planned obsolescence. I'll pay for longevity and eco-friendliness.

Small Digital Osciloscope

Oscilloscopes are awesome. I just haven't seen one since my dad brought one home in the 70's. I want a handheld one, or a plug-in to a Palm Pilot or other PDA-sized thingy. Perhaps Fluke already has this. I want to plug my guitar into the thing and see the waveform, and tweak it if necessary. Is this already part of high-end guitar tuners? Is it an esoteric part of Garage Band? Crap. I want one anyway, and it can double as a cool blue nightlight, yo.

Multi-party democracy in USA Politics

At the very least, an actual "Independent Party" a "Christian Right Party" and a "Progressive Party". I'm so tired of having to split hairs with Democrats, having to defend actual Republicans, and hearing people bash the Religious Social Conservatives. Everyone should be able to have their voice heard. If you want to build a coalition, that's cool, but watching the Greens and the Reform party get kicked around every political season sucks. The two party system we currently use is being abused, and so is the populace that purports to be represented by it. We constantly compromise ourselves and our beliefs to shoehorn our political will into this watered down "democrat" and "republican" system. I say bah, and bring on the real elections. It's not a new idea, but it's a good one. Bonus: lots of parties means lots more parties! Who doesn't like a party?

Gadgetronic (tm)

Geek retail Heaven, with smart clerks and smarter gadgets. Actively not a typical electronics store. Also not Sharper Image. Real, excellent gadgets that really work. Much from Japan, Germany, Scandinavia and Italy. Good design. Like what Radio Shack used to be before they started focusing on batteries. Lots of cool solar stuff. Lots of kits to do at home. Lots of hacking materials and periodicals. Only well-designed gadgets. A laser-wood fabricator. A Fab-Lab. Displays of cool tools and demos. Did I mention knowledgeable staff? No things that have the tag "as seen on TV". All things that have the tag "As rumored on SlashDot". No ionizing hairbrushes or Lightning Globes. Rare earth magnets and Stirling Engine kits. I think you hear me knocking, and I'm bringing my copy of 2600 with me!

Environmental Car Dealership

(Kudos to Michael Lefevre for helping with this idea)
I want a car dealership that is carbon-negative. They offer Honda, Toyota, Zap, Zenn, Smart, VW, Tesla, and any other vehicle offered that gets 40 mpg or better. They focus on cars that run on alternative fuel, compressed air, fuel cells, or plain old electricity. It would be high-information low-pressure sales. It would sell biodiesel, celulosic ethanol, CNG, and be a fuel station as well. It would empl0y ASE certified technicians. It would be run for profit. It would be well-designed, and be fully off-grid. It would offer carbon offsets as part of the purchase of the vehicles. It would be a transportation hub, close to the train line. It would offer fair-trade organic coffee and snacks while you wait. You'd see how much the car cost up front, and how much profit was made.

It would rate all the cars and post those ratings on the windshields and the website. How much carbon did it take to build the vehicle? How much recycled material was used? Was it built to be taken apart and reused? Does it have options to improve gas or electric mileage (like the Prius 100mpg hack)? This is a great idea. There's a lot more inside this one, but I can't bog down on one good idea, so there you go. Vroom-ya!

Plastic Welding Kit

I want to repair some of the plastic things around my house, and superglue doesn't always fit the bill. I want something that acts just like a soldering kit, but for plastics. I want a stick of plastic (glue guns are somewhat close) that I can hit with a specific amount of heat that will melt it and fuse it to the plastic I'm working on. It should be color-matched as well, with a Pantone color mixing kit, or I should be able order specific colors on the web. The plastic should be recycled as much as possible, and recyclable #1 as well. I just hate throwing plastic away, and typically it cracks not because of a faulty design, but because I'm a total klutz. Bonus track: Let's you sculpt with the stuff for fun.

Leg-bob generators

Okay, not just for leg-bobbers, but a simple inexpensive generator that you could work with a foot pedal while you sit and type. It's a way to burn calories while sitting at your desk, it's a way to reduce your carbon output (you can easily charge your cellphone with an hour's foot pump), it let's you feel less guilty about your sedentary desk job. I think better when my leg bobs, so it could also be a productivity tool to boot. Get it? Boot?
Don't mock me, I'm a new dad with fewer brain cells than before, I'm allowed corny jokes now. But seriously, simple foot pump DC generator with adapters for cellphones, laptops, USB equipped (for devices that run off USB power like small fans, LED lights, etc.).

Hero Myth Mad Libs

You fill in the blanks of nouns, adjectives, things that make a squishy sound, just like regular Mad-Libs. The twist is that the stories are all based on Joseph Campbell's "Hero With a Thousand Faces". It would be personalized to you and/or your friend (or whoever you're working on it with), and would help focus your mind on your right livelihood. Bonus: Following your bliss .

Saturday, January 12, 2008

live local internet TV!

Jeez, can I get some live local TV on anything other than a TV set around here? Advertise all you want, I wanted to watch the Seahawks play the Packers today, but we don't have a TV set anymore. We do our viewing on our new iMac or the DVD projector, but sometimes I need to see live TV. Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't see the downside to letting me log in to King 5 and watch the news, live, just like the rest of the city can. Is it bandwidth? Heck, store it and stream it 10 minutes later if you want, I don't care if it's live-live. On the upside, I am forced to leave my lovely home and meet up with "people" in the "outside world" when I need live TV, so I guess you could say it's a community building thing. Eh, I want TV on my computer (without buying a TV converter box or iTV or anything extra).

Early Dating Glossary

It seems odd to think I missed this before. When I was searching the planet for my mate via the internet, I said a lot about myself and a lot about what I want in a partner. What I didn't say much of was how I interpret the world. That would have made things a bit easier, to put my stuff out there in plain view, translated as well as I could manage, for my future partner to understand.

Now that I have found her (and married her, had a beautiful child with her), I realize also that it took us a long time to really be able to healthfully communicate. Really, it sometimes came down to definitions of words. What does love mean, what does family mean, what does pain mean, what does dinner mean? It would be a great exercise to literally make a glossary of terms that each partner (or potential partner) could define for themselves and thereby define for the other. A little dictionary, a personal Wikipedia. Perhaps one could add photos and stories about the definitions, maybe it could be done online as well as scrapbook style (on paper). Maybe it could be an art project for the two of you, something you could certainly look back on, and maybe even update as your definitions change. Yeah, I think you feel me now...

Idea Genetics

More of a theory: Since my father was an inventor at Battelle, he had a bunch of ideas that kicked around in his head before he died. He patented many of them, but many lay dormant in his mind, trapped by the brain cancer that befell him. I think somehow those ideas were built into his genes, and therefore they might be also in mine. Perhaps deep in the structure of the neurons themselves lies a set of pathways that have been laid but not traveled upon. It could be possible that there are ideas in my head that are actually his, or perhaps his father's or grandfather's. It's another reason I feel compelled to generate new ideas and now to share them globally. I owe it to thinkers, I owe it to myself and my ancestors to open up the gates and let the stuff flow like a monsoon in the desert. Sure, not all the ideas are good ones (that horseshoe thing was a real lulu), but I believe the family gift is to give them away.

Town Trash Tourism

I just watched an episode of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel (via Netflix) and it was all about trash. It showed trash being picked up in San Francisco and where it eventually went, from compost to recycling and everything in between. People love that stuff, and more and more it's something that every child should be exposed to. The city should give you an end-to-end tour of trash, showing exactly what goes where and what your actual consumption impact is, in the town you live in. I want to visit the landfill where my waste goes, see the compost system where my yard-waste bin empties into, watch my recycling get sorted and re-used; and I want to show my kid.

Singularity Club

The Singularity is coming: computers will eventually think like and then better than humans. Until then, humans will be trying to think like computers and some will augment their own brains with computers to do so. Google the AI Singularity. It might take a few years, and in the meantime people should be gathering up in small groups to discuss what the Singularity will bring and come up with ways to leverage that new power for good. What we should try to have the machines do when they awake is figure out the global warming problem, and do it so that humans can actually solve the thing themselves. After that, sky's the limit. What would you do if you had free access to a hive-mind computer that could literally and logically answer almost any question you had, even give you therapeutic advice? That day is coming, and it's going to be very weird indeed. Some say the thing already exists in embryonic form: it's a series of tubes called the internets!


Seattle has a city tour on a crazy boat-bus called the Duck. It can go on land and sea, with a guy or gal on the microphone telling people what happened when and why our town is cool. I want that, biodiesel powered, cooler looking, with an ecological backbone. The thing would take eco-tourists to our new excellent library with its energy-efficient design, stop by the newly greenly architected local libraries with their green roofs, swing down to UW fisheries for a look at what we're doing to save the salmon, and catch a mini solar tour of homes that are off grid in the city. If this idea worked out locally, you could simply copy the thing in other cities and franchise the concept. You'd be served yummy organic fair trade shade grown coffee, and visit the roaster that made it. It would be biodiesel powered, and you could visit the local biodiesel coop that made the fuel.

Bonus tracks: The same vehicles could run on rails and take the winery tour as well, showcasing our sustainable wineries and breweries. I won't call it a "drunk bus" but someone else might...could be the tour that brings in the most cash, methinks...

Could also be adapted to be entirely off-grid and mostly human-powered. You've seen those beach cars that 8 people sit in and bike around town, if you slapped on some sails, solar panels and a small biodiesel powered outboard motor for emergencies, you'd have an even more sustainable ride for the water part of the trip.
Aqua Eco Tours.

Newborn Velcro(tm) sleeves

It could only come at 3:16am from the father of a newborn baby. The Velcro sleeves are a very simple upgrade to baby clothes that have a dot of velcro on the wrist and the other dot on the hip of a "onesie" outfit. While feeding, newborns often flail their hands around, smacking themselves and their parents in the process. They wake themselves up, scratch themselves and their mother's nipples while breastfeeding, and generally make their lives much harder, unwittingly. With their arms gently and humanely detained, this problem is solved. A kinder kind of swaddling if you will.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Brain Calorometer

I want to know how much brainpower is literally being used when I think up thoughts. Is it generating heat that I can measure? Would it need to be wired up? Perhaps it's in a helmet of some sort. Yeah, show me how much mental exercise I'm doing right now... Awww, SNAP!

Now playing: Kruder & Dorfmeister - Rollin' On Chrome
via FoxyTunes

Bike Powered Trash Compactor

I want a trash compactor, but I don't want all the power drain. I want to hook my bike up to a set of pulley and have all my trash (which is not a lot, by the way, mostly thin plastic coatings and lids) squished into small bricks. I want my bike to power tons of things, so a bike powered generator would also be nice, but that's an idea that's already in circulation. The compactor should make very little noise, give me some exercise and reduce the amount of times I need to take my trash out while keeping my trash costs lower since I don't need the big bin at pickup time.

Now playing: Joe Satriani - Day At The Beach (New Rays From An Ancient Sun)
via FoxyTunes

Tune Google

I want to whistle a tune into my computer and have Google search the web for the same musical signatures and find all the songs with that tune. Perhaps just be able to hum literally a few bars and get the web to discover the gist of the tune, then find it for me.
Case in point, the Periodic Song that my friend Damien Potts introduced me to. He passed away recently, and I didn't have the sense to ask him who sang it. Might as well also have Google embed a simple tuner and metronome into the search page to make sure you got the notes right. Heck, integrate it into Garage Band for me while you're at it, so I can plunk a few notes on my midi device to have the tune discovered out there.

Now playing: Damien Potts - Periodic Song
via FoxyTunes

Conservation dial for combustion cars

I want to be able to tell my car "More power, I need to be able to pass that truck up this hill in the rain" and later on be able to tell my car "Less power, I need to coast at 65 all the way to Portland and get 70 mpg". I know this is possible. If you have a 6 cylinder car, you need to be able to tell it "5 cylinders right now, I'm in traffic going 5 mph". I want a computer readout just like the Prius has, showing torque and mpg as I move the dial from power to energy savings. Kablow!

Now playing: The Chemical Brothers - Left Right
via FoxyTunes

Idea Camp

Another idea I've been cooking up for years. I think this one is my best. The idea is to give kids a camp experience that specifically fosters creativity. All the best camps wrapped up into one. Fun with brainstorming, collaboration, and inventions. At the end kids would do the classic talent show, but with an opportunity to show the camp their best ideas. All kinds of creativity would be fostered, but the focus would be on the specific skill of coming up with new ideas and exploring ways to implement them in the real world.

Now playing: The Chemical Brothers - Galvanize
via FoxyTunes

Big Fun Gym

This is an idea I've been cooking up for 7 years now: Build a geodesic dome the size of a football field. Cover it with solar collectors, but let much light in below. Inside the dome, it's a huge playground for grown up kids. All the stuff we liked doing as kids, but bigger, better and faster. Around the outside would be a huge river-like trough for kayaking. Inside lane separated with a wall would be a swimming track. Inside that would be a walled-in racetrack for human powered toys: That's right, Big Wheel, Trikes, Green Machines, scooters, rollerblades, the works. Racing teams meet weekly. In the middle, there would have to be a huge mountain for climbing, bouldering, rappelling. All around the mountain would be cool big toys to climb on like cargo nets and such. There would have to be a zip-line from the top of the mountain, landing you in a huge pool of plastic balls. An olympic-sized pool at that. Jungle gyms a plenty. A juice bar. Pogo stick area. Adult-sized Sit-n-Spin with adult sized vomit bags in the middle. Of course, there would have to be hundreds of yards of adult-sized habit-trail. At night, you could play laser tag. Some of the human powered devices would be fitted to generate energy for the facility. How you like me now?

Now playing: Cat Stevens - Peace Train
via FoxyTunes

Book a marching band dot com

You heard it on Tusk by Fleetwood Mac, and it's about time high school and college marching bands put their shingles up. Clearly it has to be a non-profit endeavor, so the money raised would go to the music program or to a fund for under-privileged kids to get new instruments. Essentially, marching bands rock and should be hired to play gigs that are not just astroturfed. A marching band for a wedding? You bet, and the proceeds go to a good cause.

Now playing: Herbie Hancock - Chameleon
via FoxyTunes

Global Reality Tours #2

Same idea as before, but it's all about the mind-blowing good stuff on the planet. 7 Wonders stuff: Arches National Park, Angor Wat, Great Wall of China, San Adreas Fault, Galapagos Islands, Mt. Fuji. 10 different sites around the world, testaments to both man and nature that reality can be totally excellent, and we've only seen a smidgen of it. Perhaps a Google Maps tour on a high-speed helicopter, but better yet, all done with human powered transport or alternative power. Sailing, solar cars, bicycles, "walking". Come to think of it, the entire Global Tours mission should be carbon negative, and should be a showcase of how to do tourism without punching the Earth in the throat. Again, proceeds go to conservation. Booyakashah!

Now playing: Ben Harper - Give a Man a Home
via FoxyTunes

Global Reality Tours

I know it sounds weird, but people like to find out what lies beneath the surface of our everyday existence. I recently watched "Baraka" and found myself drawn to seeing with my own eyes the devastation that we force upon the planet. I know I play a part in it myself, and I would like to drive home the point. I have seen articles about the swarms of people in India that break down big ships at heavy risk to life and limb, and I want to see it in person. I understand there's a huge collection of our plastic trash floating around the earth, and I think it's my duty as a person on this planet to observe what we are doing to it. The money I pay for the tour obviously should be spent doing conservation work. I would consider it an education and money to a good cause. Booyah.

My Music = My Music

I want a system to identify a music track and designate it as mine for all time. I am tired of having to re-buy music that I am essentially getting a single copy of. I will pay for the transmission (in advance), the packaging, the place I put the track. I would even pay a few dollars more for the service. I am a person who buys his music, I don't pirate. I want to access to that music forever. I bought it. I would call the system "my music".
Yeah. My music.

Neighborhood Purchase Program

How many snowblowers does one neighborhood need? When I lived in Chicago, I noticed a peculiar artifact of city living: everyone moved the snow in front of their own house, but stopped right at the property line of their neighbor. Seriously, they'd each buy a snowblower for their own family and move 10 yards of snow a year. What we need is a web-downloadable form and a system for gathering up your neighbors and using collective buying power. In hotter climates, perhaps this could mean sharing a big centrally located gas-powered grill or a set of power tools. I know what you're thinking: "But Aaron, how can 20 people share one expensive item without arguing about it constantly?" To that I say, buck up camper! It's not that hard, you just have to agree on terms of sharing ahead of time. Think of the money you can save, the resources you can save, and the bonding with your neighbors. Do you even know your neighbors? Meet them with a shared Saws-all and make a friend for life! It might not work with every neighbor, but I can tell you that it sure is convenient to borrow my neighbors' 20 foot ladder in exchange for a taste of my internet Wi-Fi access...

Now playing: Aaron and Elise - Chest Fever
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, January 10, 2008

5. RFID Door Scanner

5. RFID Door Scanner: I want to know when my stuff leaves my house and when it comes back. Linked to my inventory system, I want the data from all my RFID accessories accessible from a secure website or sent to my email. I would like all the RFID data I generate to also show up in a spreadsheet that shows my home insurer what I have and to have that fact reduce my premiums...yeah.

4. Personal RFID File Cabinet

4. Personal RFID File Cabinet: with the above RFID stickers, I want to have my file cabinet read the RFID sticker and have a LCD readout when it goes in and out of the file cabinet, and have that cabinet linked to my computer where the inventory will be tracked.

3. Personal RFID maker

3. Personal RFID maker: I want a simple roll of RFID stickers that I can put on my stuff to track and file my stuff. A digital/analog personal inventory system.

2. Natural Toy Book

2. Natural Toy Book: I want to eliminate the plastic toys from my life, and I know that there are tons of "toys" out there that are made of simple natural materials. I haven't Googled this yet, but I'm sure it would be a great book if it's not already out there. I'm talking about old-sock-soccerballs, gourd-maracas, pebble mancala. A folksy DIY book on how to make or find the toys suggested.

#15: "NetFlix Widget for OSX"

#15: "NetFlix Widget for OSX": I want to know which videos I have out and what's next in my queue, but I don't want to log in or have it emailed to me. It's a very tiny bit of text that could easily (and securely) be pushed to my desktop the same way stock tickers can.

#14: "Preemie Clothing Fitting Vest or Jumper"

#14: "Preemie Clothing Fitting Vest or Jumper": Essentially a waterproof system that snugs clothes that don't fit snugly enough yet. We have lots of clothes that are for newborns but they're not small enough. Maybe a one piece outfit that can be cinched up to make the bigger clothes underneath less roomy.

#13: "Strap-on Hands-Free Breast Pump Holder"

#13: "Strap-on Hands-Free Breast Pump Holder" My wife needs to pump in between breast feedings and the silly things have to be held by hand, and don't have any handy way of letting her pump while on the couch (where we live at the moment). The current contraption forces her to pump at a crazy leaning-forward angle or be at a desk or table. A strapping system could hold the pump-funnels on her chest so at least she could type while pumping, or at the very least not get a backache while trying to pump. Bonus: Backpack holds the pump motor while front straps hold the funnel collectors. Basically, a reverse CamelBack system for breastfeeding moms...

#19 "DIY Eco-Stickies"

#19 "DIY Eco-Stickies": I don't know what amount of Post-its are made from recycled material, but it seems they are usually "virgin tree yellow" in color. If you don't have a paper-cutter this will be harder, but scissors will do. The idea is to cut up your scrap paper and remake it into stickies. I don't know the mixture off hand, but there must be an eco-friendly kind of stickum one could cook up and slather on the stack of cut papers. Hmmm. Best that 3m just makes them, eh? Anyway, I want ec0-friendly sticky notes. And a spirograph. And a pony. Nyah.

#18 "Green Mainstream"

#18 "Green Mainstream": A website for the new movement of making Green something that isn't something you have to think about, proselytize or convince yourselves or others to "do". The best idea I can think of for the site would be showing what my pal Uncle Joe said to do; "be the change you want in the world". Show examples of normal people doing green things just because it's what they do. Tutorials on how to do subtle green things at the workplace to make it more normalized, habitualized, un-special. My underlying issue is with the current "fad" of green overtaking the actual caring for the earth by consuming less and using things more efficiently. It just has to be a cultural shift brought on by lots of people just doing it again and again, passing it on by showing people how it's just "what we do".

#17: "Banzai Micro Hydro Landscaping"

#17: "Banzai Micro Hydro Landscaping": extremely low-tech. Survey the lands of your back yard, and see if you have any sort of embankment or slope. It helps if rain would normally run down this slope. If you do have a slope, stare at it intensely until the image is burned into your mind, then close your eyes. With some mental muscle you should be able to envision that section of your sloping back yard area as the side of a mountain with a river running through it. Get a very detailed picture in your mind of the twists and turns the river makes. Open your eyes up and map that river out on the slope, perhaps with a stick. Then go inside and draw it out on paper, again with a very detailed image in mind. Put trees into the picture, waterfalls, mini rock slabs, you name it. Then go to a garden store (or better, look around your yard) and find the stuff you'll need to engineer the micro-river, and make that vision of yours a reality. The channels can be cut right into the dirt if you have the right soil, or you can make mud elsewhere in the yard to bring in, or if you're really excited you can actually make and pour small amounts of cement if you please... If you rock it hard enough, when it rains it will channel into your little scene and give you great pleasure. If it's not raining, pour some wastewater down the channel and see what happens. Ommmm.

#19: "(Shredded Paper) Family Brainstorm"

#19: "(Shredded Paper) Family Brainstorm": At some time in its life, paper usually ends up needing to be recycled or disposed of. Taxes from 1998, old checks, magazine offers, you know the drill. Rather than tossing all paper directly into the recycling bin as is your custom, use a shredder and make a bag of shredded paper. Gather up your friends and/or family and brainstorm at least 20 uses for the shredded stuff. Ideas already on the table: packing cushion materials, worm-bin layer, compost layer, wadded up into balls for firestarting in the fireplace. Shredded paper is just one topic for brainstorming. Make it a weekly event to come up with a bunch of new uses for stuff that is recycled or thrown away (landfilled). Great family bonding, and energizes the mind.

#18: "Creeping Crud"

#18: "Creeping Crud": This was my dad's idea. If you want your kids to help you clean the house, tell them that anything that's out of place harbors the deadly and mysterious "creeping crud". It has to be eradicated in order for the family to be safe. Run around with the kids and pick up clothes and trash and all things messy in a somewhat frantic fashion. The big trick is doing it with them. Pretty soon after the first few rounds of this as a child, I got an adrenaline rush from the mere mention of "creeping crud".

#17 "CD Disco Ball"

#17 "CD Disco Ball": What the heck do you do with those scratched CD's you have in your basement? I know, you're waiting for a miracle rub that will restore your bootleg copy of Nirvana's final show at Memorial Stadium. In case you're tired of waiting, but you don't want to throw the thing into a landfill, try your hand at making a funky low-tech disco ball: Get some really thick leather gloves, perhaps ones that no longer bend much and are still able to keep your hands safe. (If you don't want to do it by hand, just grab a hammer and have at it) Break the CD up into small pieces. You can etch patterns in the CD with a razor before you break it to make specific shaped pieces. Get some hobby glue and an old ball you have in the garage, and attach a sturdy string or some fishing line to the ball. Add a fishing spinner so the thing can freely spin. Then glue the shards on the ball. Aim a very bright light at the dangling ball of shards and you have a funky disco ball. Add a motor to it if you'd like the thing to spin without having to do it manually. Voila! If you have enough CDs to get rid of, skip the demolition step and just glue them (overlapped) together to make a much larger ball with half the mess.

#16 "Adopt-an-intern or apprentice"

#16 "Adopt-an-intern or apprentice": You probably know 3-5 kids who are just about to graduate high school. Maybe it's a neighbor or friends' kid or even your own niece or nephew. You also probably know a few things about the work you are currently doing. Make the leap (after talking to the parents first) and offer to show the kid around, tell them what you do, how you got the job in the first place, how to get a similar or better job, etc. If they dig it, see if you can help them get a job in the field. US culture desperately needs more lifeskills training and chances are pretty good you've got some knowledge to share or at least a connection that could be facilitated for a young adult.

#11 "Plastic Brick Maker"

#11 "Plastic Brick Maker" using the same tech assumption as in #10, I'd like a device that melts plastic bags down briefly for molding into a plastic brick. This brick would be a simple building tool, perhaps for the developing world. Perhaps it would have to use the loom technique as well, weaving the plastic bag into itself strongly enough to form a tight brick-shaped thing. Honestly, most any idea that re-uses the millions of plastic bags that float around the world right now would be excellent. Until we're smart enough to use and reuse sturdier grocery bags, we have to find a way to pull the plastic ones back out of the waste stream (at least for a bit).

#10 "Plastic Bag Fiber Kit"

#10 "Plastic Bag Fiber Kit" I want to re-use my plastic bags (or gather them up from the ocean...) and I want to do it myself. I am not sure of the off-gassing temperatures of the bags, but I'd guess there's a safer point at which bags will melt a little bit but still not burn. I imagine a loom of sorts, where you have a bunch of plastic bags in a bag and the loom pulls each bag out, welds it to the bag before it, melts it a bit, and turns it into a long thin strand of plastic. This strand would wrap around a spindle for re-use as rope, or plastic yarn-string for weaving. Could be that simply pulling it hard would generate enough friction to make it pliable and then thinned for string-making.

#9 "Compact Fluorescent Painting"

#9 "Compact Fluorescent Painting" I visited the EcoHaus in Seattle (Environmental Home Center) to learn a few things (I didn't learn much, unfortunately) about LED lights. I didn't find any there, but I did learn from a guy at Seattle City Light that different bulbs put out different Kelvin which translated into different coloring/tone to the light given off (as opposed to lumens which is the amount of light). I got to thinking today that I'd rather not replace the "wrong" colored lights, I'd rather just paint them a bit. I know it's not quite ready yet, but I'd like a specific to CFL paint kit. I want bluish, reddish, yellowish lights. I want to accent with my lights as I choose, without buying a particular (non-matching) color. Someone will eventually make a paint that will let the CFL owner paint it without building up too much heat.

#8 "WorldChanging Lamp"

#8 "WorldChanging Lamp" The book "WorldChanging" is excellent and inspiring for me. It was signed for me by its authors and given to me by Lief Utne who's a friend of my friend David Smith. It's got this awesome cover sleeve, but I can't bear to leave the book in the sleeve as I read it too often. The sleeve is sturdy, with a beautiful bird on it, and it's got this cool as hell design with poked holes emanating from the bird graphic. I will simply put a small compact fluorescent lamp inside, leaving a small hole in the corner for the wiring. Metaphorically cool as well, the book does shed much light, methinks.

#7 "I'm from Stupid T-shirt"

#7 "I'm from Stupid T-shirt" It's a white t-shirt with the phrase "I'm from Stupid" with two diagonally upward pointing arrows. Not something I myself would let my daughter wear, but I though it briefly clever. Alternately, could say "Geek Parents" with the same arrows.

#15: "Job Change Flip Book"

#15: "Job Change Flip Book": So, you quit that job at the local Hi-Fi store, but not before getting a hundred new business cards that finally spell your name right. What to do? Bind them together at one end, and make a flip book out of them. YouTube has many flipbook animations you can pattern your book on, here's one that uses both sides of the page:

Using your old cards is a great way to reuse rather than recycle, and it adds a nostalgia note to your animation. Perhaps a series of them could be made to illustrate and memorialize the job you just left. Maybe a short animation of you handing in your resignation would be appropriate...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

#16: "Super Slow Day"

#16: "Super Slow Day": It's like real life, only you do everything you normally would at literally 1/2 (or slower) speed. I've done this under different biochemical circumstances but it also works without changing your body chemistry at all. The idea is to plan an entire day (it's good to plan, but you'll see that your plans may turn out strangely) where you can act/be/do at 1/2 speed. You can expand this to Super Slow Week/Month/Year/Life if you like it enough. What essentially starts to happen is that you cease to get use out of multitasking, but you do each task either quicker or better or both. For instance, since you will be walking around your house at 1/2 speed, you have twice the time to think about each next action/activity/lack thereof. That means that you'll usually waste less time on each action. Don't just ponder the idea, try a "1/2 hour at 1/2 speed" for real and see what I mean. It could literally change your life...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

#12: "Interchangeable horseshoes"

Some friends came over and I told them about my Idea Firehose blog and to generate an example I asked them to throw out a topic and I'd come up with a new idea. My friend suggested "horseshoes"...

#12: "Interchangeable horseshoes": Basically, I know nothing about horses or their shoes, but I think it would be cool if you could have a near-permanent attachment that lets you slot in new shoes/soles, clicking them into a base that's been installed on the horse's hoof. Don't quote me on this one...

Monday, January 7, 2008

#6 "Studly Eco Daddy Gear"

First, I'm now wondering if I should blog each idea separately.
Second, I don't think I'm going to be able to hold myself to one idea per day....

#6 "Studly Eco Daddy Gear": While walking shamelessly around Greenlake with my tattoo, my wife I met online and my new baby, Piper, I realized two things: #1, I am absolutely a glaring example of "That Seattle Guy", and #2, I want more masculine baby stuff. To that end I chatted with my wife and came up with "Studly Dad Gear". Simple enough, all the stuff that moms have to keep young'ns happy need to be masculine-ized. I foresee a daddy utility belt (like a wild-west ammunition belt) that you wear across your chest, but instead of bullets you have rip-stop waterproof cordura pouches with baby supplies: food in ziplocs, velcro-sealed diapers, iPod, cellphone, etc. Pouches themselves would be removable/movable. Cooler than a fanny pack and much more durable, made with hemp and recycled plastic fibers. More studly eco daddy stuff to come I am sure...

1. Baby Lamp

This is my new idea blog. It's hopefully self-explanatory. This is its redundant explanation: I will blog my new ideas here. My goal is to come up with one or more new ideas per day. The idea does not have to be new to everyone else, just new to me. No repeats, no slacking.

Let's get cracking:

1. Baby Lamp: At night, it's hard to see my newborn baby without turning on the overhead light, especially when changing her diaper. This light is blinding (even though it's a 40 watt equivalent CFL). I want a light that is low, uses very little power (LED optimally), and shines a spectrum that won't wake the baby.