Saturday, 22 May 2010

Laptop/desktop hybrid

One of the advantages of laptops over desktops is the absence of cables and separate components. At a minimum, there are monitor cables, mouse cables, keyboard cables, and speaker cables. So why not have a desktop computer where the computer is built into the monitor. The keyboard too can be built in and fold down from the computer. Or both the keyboard and mouse can be wireless, and the computer have built in charging bays. The only cable is the power cable to the computer.

Monitor to digital photo frame

Got a spare LCD monitor? Wouldn't it be good if there was a device you could plug into the input to turn it into a digital photo frame. The device would have built-in storage, a memory card slot or a USB slot, and a USB or wifi interface to get files onto it.

Buyer-driven ebay

As far as I can see (and I haven't researched much), there is no buyer-driven version of ebay. What I mean by this is a site similar to ebay where buyers log on and post items they want and how much they are willing to pay. When a seller comes to want to sell an item they input the details into this site and find people who might be interested. The seller then makes an offer, which is contractually binding when the seller agrees.

The problem this solves is the temporal disconnect between buyers and sellers, which is more common for rarer, less traded items. For example, a seller may put something on ebay and have no response as the person that is interested in that item hasn't logged on recently to check.

Possibly the best mode for this would be an add-on to existing auction sites so that sellers are automatically informed of interested buyers when they start to submit an item to the site (but before they set it up as an auction).

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Moving house (with a zeppelin)

Would it be possible to lift a building, including its foundations, with a zeppelin or airship and move it to an new location? Perhaps first by tunneling underneath the building to build a base that the zeppelin connects to.

The reason for doing this would be to preserve historically important buildings that may be at risk from flooding, volcanos, or other natural disasters.

Fourth plinth app

The Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar Square plays host to temporary works of art. Perhaps the next should be virtual: a sculpture that can only be seen in augmented reality (perhaps via a smartphone app).

Allaying my fears

I've posted before about the kinds of possible future technologies that I am afraid of. One of these was that we would develop virtual reality so responsive to our needs that no-one wants to live in the real world, resulting in the fall of civilisation.

This depressing prediction is the result of extrapolating existing trends: games are getting more addictive; people are dying at their screens playing MMORPGs (or leaving their children to die. But future prediction that relies on extrapolation is rarely accurate.

So what will happen instead? I suspect that we will develop virtual reality that is optimised to refresh us and then eject us back out into the real world. It won't leave you wanting more, but will inspire you to tackle real-world challenges. It'll still be fun, but it will sell better than addictive games because it will actually make your life better. Has the development of this kind of virtual reality started?


What happens when there is enough (easily accessible) out-of-copyright media of every type (and high quality) to last a person a lifetime? Will people buy new media?

Generating profit overseas

Companies tend to pay tax in the country they are incorporated in, and countries they are making sales (profit) in. They may however have operations in countries without making a profit there, e.g. a overseas call centre. For the staff of this call centre, the profitability of the company they work for does not benefit their country (although employment taxes do). I'd like to know, for every country in the world, how many of the workers generate profit overseas and how many foreign workers generate profit in that country.