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!