Sunday, 27 March 2011

Pulse app

Reminds you to take your pulse at regular intervals; provides a timer, with beeps, to help you measure your pulse; allows you to input the results, including a flag of whether resting or not, to a database, from which your pulse over time can be monitored.

Catch up news service

Use inputs the time they last got a catchup (or remembered by system), their interests (again remembered by system) and the amount of time they have available for reading. The user receives the output to the level of depth proportional to the time they have available.

The need for such a service arises as people's busy schedules preclude accessing news on a regular basis. RSS feeds work in giving you completeness, but the constant volume does not reflect the time people have available - there is no prioritisation.

The extreme example of when this service would be useful is when coming back from holiday, but some users would find it useful hour-to-hour.


It seems to me not enough to be an expert in one field, one must also have significant knowledge of other fields. For example, if an expert is writing a textbook on their area of expertise, they may wish to include a diagram to communicate the facts and ideas. However, the appropriate design of diagrams is, in itself, an area of expertise: the expert needs some (perhaps significant) knowledge of the latter discipline in order to be able to communicate the ideas. A further example is language, spelling and grammar - the expert needs to know these in order to communicate his ideas. Are the requirements for secondary knowledge limited to communication techniques? No, they can be analysis techniques, and documentation techniques, etc. This line of thinking reminds me of a quote from Thomas Henry Huxley:

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.

But actually that's not where I'm going with this thought. I think the real concern is that an expert cannot be fully effective as they cannot possibly be an expert in everything due to human limitations. Such a realisation, of course, leads to the thought: bring on the singularity!


This thought arose from an encounter with an (in my opinion) especially poorly designed diagram in a textbook of a renowned expert (who, in my opinion, had not sufficienty diversified his expertise!).

I have also been thinking about the purpose of diagrams. There are two separate categories that come to mind:
  • simplying the explanation of a complex topic (a picture is worth a thousand words)
  • providing an aide-memoir that is helpful only one the user understands the topic area

Critique of critiques of critiques

It is possible, and often appropriate to critique a critique. And then perhaps possible to critique the critique of a critique. But when should we stop?

Single financial portal

I would like to have a single financial portal with one login that would give me full access to bank accounts with different banks. Further, this portal would allow me to invest and divest in shares, bonds, gold, derivatives (e.g. futures), etc and to take out loads - effectively all financial products in one. The portal would show me a summary of the information - the net worth of my investments. And it would automatically calcuate my tax due.

Such a single portal would need to be run by a consortium of most if not all financial services providers to avoid monopoly regulation/interference - it could be set-up as a not-for-profit entity, with strict rules allowing any (regulated) financial service product to be sold.

The advantages of such a portal to consumers are obvious. But there are also benefits to the financial services sector: the opportunity to sell more exotic financial services to customers; the opportunity to sell more financial services advice; a greater mobility of customers, which will benefit the upstart financial services providers rather than the incumbents.

Negative product placement

Is it possible to pay for your competitor's product to be shown in a poor light in a work of fiction? Is this ethically any different from product placement?

The biggest bains of my digital life

The biggest bains of my digital life:
  • Battery life
  • Mobile download speeds
  • Logins (there are too many!)
 Should these not be the highest items on the agenda of the technology industry?

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Restaurant, cafe, bar, pub types

It's not easy visiting a restaurant/cafe/bar/pub, especially in different countries, as there is so much that varys:

Able to reserve a table/not able to reserve a table
Seat yourself/seated by waiter, waitress or host
Order drinks from the table/order drinks at the bar
Order food from the table/order food at the bar
Food delivered to the table/food collected from the counter
Bill presented at the table/bill presented at bar or desk
Bill paid at the table/bill paid at bar or desk

I write this after spending five minutes standing, like a lemon, at the entrance of a restaurant waiting to be seated before realising that this kind of restaurant was more like a bar, and you had to seat yourself.

Can someone make a guide book?

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Head refrigerator

Head refrigerator, with built-in eye-mask, for migraines.

Too much written down

At some point, does a man have too much written down for himself to process? How can we organise our own thoughts better?


Is it possible to describe any line using a formula? If so, how do the ends of the line work? Is it possible to write a computer program to determine the formula for any line?

Mass produced items with random variation or defects

There appears to be a social trend of preference for hand made items and old/antique items. This in part seems to be a rebellion against the uniformity of mass-produced items. It appears to me, however, that adding some non-uniformity, variation or defects to mass-produced items is just another engineering challenge. All that is needed is study of what makes objects look handmade (e.g. colour variation, shape variation, cracks, chips, aging) and development of solutions to reproduce these in mass-production setting. Examples of objects: tiles; wooden furniture; etc.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Omnidirectionaly camera

I would quite like an omnidirectionaly camera sticking out of the top of my phone, that would allow me to take surrupticious photos while using my phone at a normal angle.

Random zaniness generator

My observation of zaniness is that it often involves linking subjects that appear unrelated. Obviously there is skill in making the link, but tool to randomly pick word from the dictionary would help.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Music genres

I find the quality of classificiation of music into genres to be poor, making it difficult to fully explore a genre. Would it be possible to develop software that could analyse music and classify it? Perhaps rather than relying on rigid definitions of the genres, the software could measure similarity to existing tracks which are considered by experts to define a genre.