Saturday, 30 April 2011

3D printing using waste paper

One of the potential barriers to the rise of 3D printing is the cost of the printing material: an expensive material both reduces the desire to purchase a 3D printer; and may inhibit experimentation with 3D forms.

One very cheap and similar technology that already exists is papier-mâché. It uses just water, newspaper (recycled) and flour - all very cheap components. Could a 3D printer be designed to print an equivalent to papier-mâché with tiny pieces (pulp) of paper rather than strips?

I've done some searching, but all I can seem to find is Mcor, who's technology relies on office paper (not recycled, not so cheap), glue (probably more expensive than flour) and cutting away the excess paper rather than printing paper pulp. Not that's Mcor's technology doesn't look amazing.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Society's best interest

Is there ever a point where an individual, when considering their track record of behaviour, would be right to conclude that their suicide is the most moral act they can undertake? For example, imagine that individual is a compulsive murderer. There is a possibility that treatment may cure this, but there is a significant risk that the individual would offend again. For that individual, the appropriate moral action is suicide.

360o feedback system

What I would like from a 360o feedback system:
  • All people in the organisation are set up as users on a intranet hosted feedback system
  • Each user can nominate other users (e.g. those they have work with, worked for, or had working for them) to give them feedback
  • Users can also nominate themselves to give feedback for other users
  • Users can nominate other users to give feedback to their direct reports
  • Certain relationships do not require nomination (e.g. line manager) - for these relationships feedback is mandatory
  • For nominations, feedback is optional
  • Feedback from all nominated/compulsory users is aggregated at the end of the appraisal period, and used for the manager to assess the performance of their direct reports
  • Feedback on a particular user is by default hidden from that user (both the content, and that actual feedback has been submitted), but can be seen by both the submitting user and the receiving user's line manager
  • Submitting users can opt to have their feedback visible to the recipient
  • Users can submit feedback as many times as they like per person in the reporting period
  • Users can attach documents when giving feedback
  • Feedback may include categories, ratings, etc based on the specific performance assessment criteria of the organisation (thus the design of the system would need some flexibility)

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Paste values/unformatted

I want the ability to, in the options of a programme, change the default paste. In particular I want to be able to change the default paste to "paste unformatted", although I'm sure others would want something different, therefore the ability to set the default paste option is important.

Absense of IP

Does the absence of IP ever prevent commercialisation of an idea because the margins (or return on investment) would be too low? So could publishing of ideas prevent their implementation?

Perhaps, for example, significant investment is required to realise the idea, but that once invested this is easily copied by competitors. So no company is willing to make the investment, so the idea remains unimplemented because it is already in the public domain.

Just charge USB adaptor

Problem: when I connect devices (e.g. mobile) to my PC/laptop for charging, they want to dock, etc, which I don't want.

Solution: a USB adaptor that connects only the power wires so no docking happens (just good clean charging).

(I've seen devices like this for charging iPad and iPhones with uncooperative USB ports, so I suspect these work in the same manner.)

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Further thoughts on online media

I posted previously about what I want from an online media service. I have a couple of points to add:
  • Another form of media in the same place: games (interactive media)
  • A couple of other payment models: free; and ad supported
  • The media service must facilitate direct upload by any content creator, even if that's one man in his room with a microphone
In terms of a value chain, there are really only four contributers (at least in the simplest model): the creator creates the content; the host provides access to that content; the promoters promote it; the internet service provider provides access to it. However, the promoters can just be word of mouth (i.e. free), as can the creators in some instances. The host may be compensated by advertising revenues; the internet service provider is likely to need to be paid (to cover the costs of maintaining the network).

For the consumers' convenience, a monopoly is ideal (i.e. all media in one place - no need to traipse around the world wide web looking for who hosts the content you want to see). However, this would place enormous power in the hands of that monopoly. As such it may be optimal to have the service provider as a not-for-profit (cost recovery) pan-industry joint venture with significant regulatory oversight.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Do you have your own cup, container, etc?

It's quite common now to hear in a supermarket "do you have your own bags?". Is this the beginning of a trend? When will you go into Starbucks and they ask "do you have your own cup?", or go into McDonalds and they ask "do you have your own container?". Such a trend would no doubt be good for the environment (and no so good for the profitability of packing/container firms). It would also lead to a change in the pricing approach for some goods. For example, Starbucks might place your cup on the counter, and then weigh in the coffee. You pay per gram. The same might be true of a lunchtime takeaway place serving pasta salad.


So much art (or any creativity/innovation) takes an idea an keeps applying it with slight (and not very interesting) tweaks. Is there a name for this kind of creativity? Self-derivative?

Comedown clinic and hangover hospital

A defining feature of the modern age in the West is unrestrained hedonism, including the abuse of drink and drugs. Many people suffer the next day from the night before. But perhaps this creates an opportunity: a comedown clinic or hangover hospital. Based in the centre of town near the nightclubs, revellers check in after a heavy night and are treated with appropriate medication, hydration (possibly a drip) and complementary therapies (e.g. massage, acupuncture) to speed their recovery. Of course the most important of this is a comfortable bed (in a sound and light insulated room), and a hearty breakfast. Such a service would be more expensive than a hotel, but there are probably enough rich revellers to make it successful.

Dividend yield, Return on Equity, alternative

I don't see Dividend Yield as a useful way to measure the performance of companies as the current share price is often fickle and volatile (tautology deliberate). Both inputs to the equation are from the perspective of the shareholder, who is interested in dividends and capital growth.

Dividends Per Share
Share Price

Similarly, I don't see Return on Equity as a useful way to measure the performance of companies as both inputs to the equation are from the perspective of the company (they are "internal", accounting figures).

Net Income
Shareholder Equity

I would be interested to see the outcome of comparing the net income to the cash inflows from shareholders, adjusted for inflation since the inflow, less outflows to shareholders (in the form of dividends). Also interesting would be a comparison of current market capitalisation agains cash inflows from shareholders, adjusted for inflation since the inflow, less outflows to shareholders.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Alarm app

In the movie cliches, people wake up being told the date and the news headlines. Typically this doesn't work in real life as your alarm goes off before or after they say the date and announce the news. But, an app on your smartphone could do just that, pulling in the data before your alarm time so that you get to hear the date and news headlines first thing. Or just the date being read aloud to you.

How to counter Apple stylistically

To beat Apple at its own game, its competitors need to stop immitating and create a range of products that are instantly recognisable as theirs. What is needed is a full frontal assault on Apple's stylistic dominance of consumer electronics.

For example, a computer, phone and tablet making company should launch a full range of steampunk inspired consumer electronic devices. The range would be instantly identifiable as such. It would feature brass, wood and rivets. The devices would come in boxes lined with velvet (or fake equivalent). The range itself would need a name, such that it could be the [manufacturer] [range name] range. Perhaps "Age of Elegance" range.

Another stylistic challenge would be a strong grunge/metal/industrial theme, with skulls, spikes, flames, grim reapers, etc.

Sharp should expand on its wooden phone (Touch Wood SH-08C) with a full range of wooden consumer electronic devices.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Automated book scanning for the people

Is there a market for a home/consumer automated book scanner? How cheap would these need to be to hit mass market, and for book piracy to take off in the same way music and film piracy has?

Work, rest and play

Common knowledge suggests that we need a good balance of work, rest and play. But is this true? There's a fair amount of science behind the need for rest (especially sleep) and some pretty serious side effects of not sleeping. But how about play? What would be the impact of taking "play" out of someone's life, but giving them work and enough rest. Does their productivity, happiness increase, decrease or stay the same?

Organising the world's information

How successful has Google been against its mission (organising the world's information)? How much information is there in the world? What are the categories of information? How is this information currently stored?

Feature/vote system

Democratise the prioritisation of addition of new features (and whether included at all). This would help to counter feature creep, whilst engaging users and putting them at the centre of the process.

Buying freedom

Can you blame a man for craving money when what money truly represents is freedom?

No ideas left behind

The power and ubquitous resource of the singularity mean that no idea need go unimplemented, at least in a virtual sense (although the boundry between virtual and reality will blur). Even now, we have sufficient resource that no idea need go uncaptured.