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 .