Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2012

No apartments for rent here.  Just a look at a few of the greatest ideas of 2012 starting with the…

1.  Atmospheric Vortex Engine – I’ve long held an interest in trying to harnass  nature’s power to create a clean energy source.  Other people have had similar interests which have given rise to solar and wind power amongst other things but my vision was always a little bit more extreme than that for I wanted to utilize tornadoes and lightning strikes to power the World. 

My plan as it relates to tornadoes was to build machines in areas that are prone to twisters so that whenever a tornado passed through a certain amount of energy would be captured and stored.  As it turns out that idea pales in comparison to a new invention from Canadian engineer, Louis Michaud, who has invented an atmospheric vortex engine (AVE) that creates controlled tornadoes to power wind turbines.  (http://www.gizmag.com/vortex-engine-tornadoes-electricity/25508/)

As the article states, “AVE works by introducing warm air into a circular station, whereupon the difference in temperature between this heated air and the atmosphere above creates a vortex – or controlled tornado, which in turn drives multiple wind turbines in order to create electricity. The vortex could be shut down by simply turning off the source of warm air.

The system produces no carbon emissions, nor requires energy storage to function, and that further to this, the cost of energy generated could potentially be as low as US$0.03 per kilowatt hour.”

ave_tornado_turbine-0-494x371

While your mind recovers from having just been blown, take a moment to collect your thoughts, and then prepare yourself for the awesomeness that is…

2.  Hydroglyphics – I’ve always thought that it would be cool to send a message in a bottle.  But what if I didn’t need a bottle?  What if I could write a message directly onto water?  Sounds farfetched but it’s actually possible albeit in a petri dish thanks to researchers at Harvard University.  (http://www.technewsdaily.com/15778-writing-messages-with-water.html)  If you felt constrained by the character limit on Twitter just imagine how you’d feel if you only had a few letters to work with. 

The article explains how it works, “The Petri dishes originally have a plastic structure that repels water (hydrophobic). When treated with the Tesla coil, the air becomes conductive and oxygen combines with the plastic, making the Petri dish surface attracted to water (hydrophilic). However, the area under the sticker was protected from the air, so it still repels water. Water in the dish sticks to the hydrophillic regions, keeping the message area dry.”   

hydroglyphics

If you could write a message on a Petri Dish what would you say?  While you ponder that here’s another great invention from this past year…

 
3.  Non-Alcoholic Beer for Dogs – I don’t drink beer but if I did I would make it a Dos Equis and I’d want it to be non-alcoholic so that I could have all the benefits of drinking i.e. the ability to talk to girls without any of the nasty side effects i.e. the hangover. 

Now thanks to a new product from Seattle based Bowser Beer my dog, Rocky, can enjoy a beverage the next time I’m home watching football.  (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-12-27/pets/32316852_1_three-dogs-beer-recipes-dog-boutique)

As the article states, “People have an incredible emotional bond with their dogs, so it’s just natural for people to want to include them and say, ‘My dog can have a beer too…”

images

As great as this invention is I bet you’re all saying to yourself, “surely there must be more important things going on that require more of our attention than developing a non-alchoholic beer for dogs”.  And of course there is.  It’s none other than…

4.  Chocolate That Doesn’t Melt – Because clearly chocolate stains was a pressing problem facing the World in the early part of the 21st Century. (http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/11/30/cadbury-develops-chocolate-that-doesnt-melt/)

That article from Time sums it up best, “For years, the tagline for M&Ms candies has been, “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” — anyone who’s ever seen a small child’s face and hands all smeary with half-eaten chocolate can understand why such sentiment might appeal. Now, however, thanks to researchers at Cadbury Chocolate in England, those messy days may be a thing of the past.”

The boy eats a zephyr

As you can see whether it’s creating tornadoes or solving the melting chocholate crisis 2012 was a banner year for great inventions from all walks of life.  I for one can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring. 

Read Full Post »

My back hurts!  It’s so cold out that Arod’s lips are about to turn purple!  Excuse me but I ordered this burger without tomatoes!  Matt Schaub made the Pro Bowl team over Andrew Luck?!?!  WTF!!!  What do you mean I can’t access the subscriber only content on baseballamerica.com since I only subscribe through my iPad and not directly through Baseball America.  I’m still a paid subscriber!!!!  FML!!!

From happenings in the sports and entertainment World to the little things in life that just get under my skin and drive me crazy like that incessant banging from the construction site across the street that just won’t stop there are no shortage of things to complain about on a daily basis.   And I’ll be damned if I’m not going to be the one to complain about them.

Which brings me to my all time favorite lament and one that I think most people, even those who aren’t hypochondriacs or chronic complainers, will agree with me on and that’s, “when is the lifestyle portrayed by the Jetsons going to get here?!  Aren’t we supposed to have flying cars by now?!”

Well the time for complaining is over because while we may still be years away from getting flying cars and movable sidewalks (even though the technology already exists) we may be on the verge of getting live in robotic maids ala Rosie as some robots are already making the rounds inside of hospitals and classrooms.  Some are even being specially designed to interact with autistic children.  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20252593)

As discussed in the cover story of the latest issue of Wired Magazine which features Jimmy Fallon on the cover (who speaking of complaints is a no talent ass clown who couldn’t make it through a segment of Saturday Night Live without laughing hysterically, who can’t act {witness Fever Pitch}, and who yet still is inexplicably the host of a late night show) we are on the verge of a full scale robot invastion!  

In fact, advances in robotics and machine learning are rapidly progressing to the point where we could soon be on the verge of wide scale human-machine integration with robots working aside us on the job site.  They may even be performing your next operation or picking that strawberry that you ate.  (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20025402-1.html)  

They’ll soon be  anywhere and everywhere doing all the tedious tasks that we didn’t want to do and some not so tedious tasks that we did like writing recaps about sporting events.  (http://thenextweb.com/media/2011/04/18/robot-journalist-writes-a-better-story-than-human-sports-reporter/)

Surely, these are groundbreaking achievements that should be heralded or perhaps even feared (?) but ultimately are they enough to warrant all the hype about a machine take over?  A robot that can play soccer is cool but is it going to change the World?  Isn’t there a threshold, a certain aha moment in artificial intelligence, that must first be reached before we annoint them our saviors?  Perhaps.  But in some regards that next generation of robots, the ones that can kick start this robotic revolution, are already upon us.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Watson and Baxter.

You may recall Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, from its showdown on Jeapardy againgst human champions, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter.  But what’s more impressive, aside from its unparalleled ability to quickly cull through vast quantities of information is its ability to understand what it’s learning.  It has since moved on from answering trivia questions phrased like answers to something far more important:  becoming the World’s ultimate second opinion. 

According to a recent article in Fast Company (http://www.fastcompany.com/3001739/ibms-watson-learning-its-way-saving-lives) researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City have been hard at work programming Watson with enough information so that it can actually diagnose what’s wrong with a patient.  As the article says, “Watson can ingest more data in a day than any human could in a lifetime.  It can read all of the world’s medical journals in less time than it takes a physician to drink a cup of coffee.   All at once, it can peruse patient histories; keep an eye on the latest drug trials; stay apprised of the potency of new therapies; and hew closely to state-of-the-art guidelines that help doctors choose the best treatments.  Watson never goes on vacation.  And it never forgets a fact.  On the contrary, it keeps learning.”

In the future it may be possible for Watson to be mass produced so that everyone can have their own programmable supercomputer at their disposal.  Anyone with a need for processing and understanding large volumes of data whether it be sports teams, lawyers, or financial analysts could have one.  There’s no telling how much better off the World could be with hundreds if not thousands of these wandering around. 

But wait there’s more.  As impressive as Watson is he’s not the be all end all of artificial intelligence.  There’s still room for Baxter  to make an impact.  After all, a robotic revolution wouldn’t be complete without wide scale implementation and that’s where Baxter comes in.  This manufacturing robot, “exhibits behavior-based ‘common sense,’ capable of sensing and adapting to its task and its environment” according to the website rethinkrobotics.com. (http://www.rethinkrobotics.com/index.php/products/baxter/)

It’s so easy to use (if you want to program it all you have to do is move its arms into the motion you want it to perform) that it could revolutionize manufacturing.  Especially when you consider that a layman could put one in their garage along side a 3D printer and just like that a do it yourself small town factory is born.

The upside that Watson and Baxter and all of their brethren represent is huge.  And that’s a good thing.  We don’t have to fear a robot take over.  They’re going to be working beside us not replacing us.  They’ll be there to supplement our uniquely human skill sets with their ability to do things that we simply can not. Individually we may not be able to make a difference.  But together there’s no telling what we could accomplish and that’s something that not even I could complain about.

t1larg

Could Watson go from game show curiousity to savior of mankind?

Read Full Post »

#136 – Year One In Review

I’ve overheard a lot of people recently wondering when this new practice of naming winter storms started.  If you had been reading this blog you would know the answer to that.  (https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/94-from-a-to-z/

You would also know that before there was Next Issue ((https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/119-next-issue/) there was Netmagz (https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/54-netmagz/) and that before the NBA instituted its new anti-flopping rule there was the Manu Ginobili Rule (https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/47-nba-ideas/).

After one hundred and thirty five posts you would know something that over two hundred Twitter and WordPress followers have already come to find out.  That this blog is the place to be for hearing about the Greatest Ideas Ever whether they be one of my own creations or those of other people that I want to promote. 

Of the one hundred and thirty five posts seventy are what I believe to be my own original ideas.  Forty five of them are promotions of other people’s ideas whether they be scientific breakthroughs or new websites.  Twenty of them are  miscellaneous posts that don’t fit neatly into either category. 

Regardless of their origin one thing is for certain.  They are all great ideas in their own right, all worthy of being spotlighted so that they get the critical acclaim and attention that they deserve. 

Which is why I’d like to take this time to thank everyone who has been following me so far on this journey.  Whether you are a casual fan or someone who has left a comment or clicked that you liked an article or retweeted something I thank you for your support.  Without you I never would have had the motivation to continue on after my first few posts. 

Now without further adieu here’s a look back at a few of my favorite ideas:

#5 – Findmeadate.com – the offer still stands!!!:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/5-findmeadate-com/

#9 – Fantasy Sports Brokers:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/9-fantasy-sports-brokers/ 

#11 – Recorded Life:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/11-recorded-life/ 

#19 – Online Credit Rating:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/19-online-credit-rating/

#36 – Profileless Online Dating:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/36-profileless-online-dating/

#58 – The Orchard:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/58-the-orchard/ 

#59 – Mini Movie Reenactment Studios:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/59-mini-movie-reenactment-studios/

#62 – Object Time Sharing:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/62-object-time-sharing/

#86 – Skinny the Bear:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/86-skinny-the-bear/

#92 – The Golden Goose:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/92-the-golden-goose/

#107 – Put Children In Charge:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/107-put-children-in-charge/

#109 – Cancel the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/109-cancel-the-macys-thanksgiving-day-parade/

#128 – Babble Dabble:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/128-babble-dabble/

#133 – Celeb Connect:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/133-celeb-connect/

Having a few favorite posts is one thing but do any of these ideas actually have the ability to change the World?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But here’s a look at a few candidates:

#2 – Google Glass:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/1/

#15 – Graphene:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/15-graphene/

#69 – Suntan Lotion Pills:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/69-suntan-lotion-pills/

#85 – Absolving Student Loan Debt:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/85-absolving-student-loan-debt/

#97 – Petrol from Air: https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/97-petrol-from-air/

All of which begs the question:  which one of these posts is the Post of the Year?  Well, based on popularity (over 1oo page views in 24 hours) the winner is the roundup that I did about the MIT Media Lab which highlighted some of the amazing things that they are working on as written about in an issue of Wired UK:

#99 – MIT Media Lab:  https://greatestideaever.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/99-mit-media-lab/

Thanks again for all your support and I leave you with one final thought about the year ahead:  what feature would you like to see more of?

photo

Don’t worry with the book of ideas fueling me I still have hundreds of ideas left to share…

Read Full Post »

#135 – Paper Lantern Lit

You could say that it’s incredible(s) that Pixar has been able to find, not just Nemo, but multiple (toy) stories that continuously conjure “up” emotion in those pepole willing to “brave” long lines to see them.  What’s their secret? 

In my opinion it’s their factory style approach to movie making.  Sure the characters and story lines may change but the one constant that remains the same is the fact that their production staff remains in tact.  Whenever a studio sets out to make a movie they’re betting tens of millions of dollars on the fact that actors, producers, and directors who have never worked together before will be able to gel on set.  Pixar though doesn’t have to worry about that.  They have a winning formula, they stick to it, and they continue to churn out hit after hit. 

I’ve long maintained that their success could and should be replicated by other industries as well starting with the publishing industry.  Take me for example.  I obviously like to write but I’ll be the first to admit that my attempts at writing a novel leave something to be desired.  Wouldn’t it be great then if I didn’t have to do all the writing myself?  Wouldn’t it be great if I could come up with a story idea, outline it, and then hire someone else to write it?  Perhaps I could then hire an additional person to edit it and someone else to do the book art and someone else to adapt it into a screen play and so on and so forth.  Eventually I could scale up and mass produce dozens of books at the same time, causing Kindle owners everywhere to quit their jobs just to keep up with the flood of new content coming their way. 

While this vision may just be a pipe dream for me it’s reality for the good folks at Paper Lantern Lit (http://www.paperlanternlit.com/) who have created a “literary incubator” in which they come up with story ideas and then find aspiring new authors to write them.  They were recently spotlighted in Fast Company (http://www.fastcompany.com/3001757/paper-lantern-lit-matches-undiscovered-writers-publishers-create-mass-market-hits) and according to the article they have, “sold every project (they have) pitched, now clocking in at 23 books–three of which have been optioned for TV or film.”

That’s a tremendous success rate and goes to show you the value of having a committed team in place that works well together.  While their young adult fare may not yet be at the level of an award winning film from Pixar they are on the right track.  Hopefully they can stay the course and find mainstream appeal soon enough.  And who knows maybe their success will even motivate me to start my own incubator.  Speaking of which, are there any ghost writers out there who want to help me develop a story about zombie aliens??!?!

3001757-inline-inline-1-next-paper-laterns

Fast Company’s article about PLL included this picture which spotlights some of their works.

Read Full Post »

This holiday season you may be on your way to the cinema where after an embarrassing family dispute in the lobby of the movie theater over what to watch you’ll wind up begrudgingly seeing “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” or as it’s known in some circles “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Failure.”  Afterwards, you’ll make a snarky comment about how that’s three hours of your life that you’re never going to get back and you’ll return home to gorge yourself on fatty foods while watching “March of the Wooden Soldiers”.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, fans of the book from J.R.R. Tolkien will recall that the Hobbit and the subsequent Lord of the Rings trilogy is about ‘one ring to rule them all’.  So, it’s only fitting that I should mention the fact that people are going to see the movie on the same day that I talk about one of the greatest ideas of all time:  the Wallaby Card aka ‘one card to rule them all’.

The Wallaby Card is basically a master credit card that links all of your credit cards together in one account.  Whenever you use the card it will automatically pick which of your accounts to charge the purchase to in order to maximize the rewards that you could receive.  From now on you’ll never again have to remember which month is cash back on gas month or which month is double points for eating at a certain restaurant.  Thanks to Wallaby you’ll finally have peace of mind while shopping.  Check out this video from www.walla.by for more details:

If you’re like me then you can’t wait to go out and get one of these cards.  But be careful.  There may be someone out there, lurking in the shadows, who will want to harness the power of this card for their own nefarious needs.  No, I’m not talking about Gollum.  I’m talking about your significant other.  Consider yourself warned.

Read Full Post »

Everywhere I look at work I’m surrounded by what I like to call “massive connections”.  This isn’t just the fact that your co-worker’s cousin works at Apple.  This is the fact that you co-worker’s cousin is Tim Cook.  The massive connections that I have through my colleagues consist of  a “major player” in Hollywood, a pre-eminent musician, a well known sports reporter, and the creator of a major social media website.  And that’s just in my department.

How many other massive connections are toiling away in obscurity in other departments?  Hundreds?  Thousands?  What about in all of the subsidaries of my company?  What about all of the people who work at my mom’s company or my sister’s company?  What about all of the people that my friends work with let alone the connections that my friends have themselves.  Are we now talking about hundreds of thousands of massive connections?

Based on that logic if I really wanted to I could probably organize a telethon to raise money for the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School using only the connections of people in my social network.  And yet I will probably never be able to utilize even just one of these connections.  What’s the point then of social media, of staying connected to one another if we can’t benefit from those connections?

One could argue that we do benefit from them in terms of maintaining the friendships that we have or foraging new ones and of course it stands to reason that users of Linkedin could benefit from job offers.  But what I’m talking about is a higher level of inter-connectedness.  I’m not concerned about keeping in touch with the people I know.  I’m concerned about reaching the people just beyond the people I know.  I want to make it easier to cultivate new relationships.  To make better use of all of those massive connections that we’re all sitting on.

Before I can do that though I first have to get past the stigma associated with those connections which is that the celebrity in question isn’t going to want to be bothered by a deluge of meaningless requests and that the person with the connection isn’t going to want to bother their celebrity pal with said requests out of fear of becoming too overburdensome and losing the connection for themselves.  How do I intend to do that?

With the creation of a new social media website called Celeb Connect.  On the site users will create a profile and list all of the connections they have either directly or indirectly.  When a celebrity is listed as a connection they will receive a message which will ask them whether or not they want to accept that connection or not.  If they accept it a link will be created between their account and the account of the person who first listed that connection.  Now that the link has been established anyone who is friends with that person can send a direct message to that celebrity.

Now here’s the catch: to do so would require a small payment.  Let’s say $20 per message.  The reason for this is two fold.  First of all, if there is no fee or a very small fee then there could be people contacting celebrities at will for all kinds of silly reasons such as requests to appear at their child’s birthday party or to ask them to their prom.  So you want to set a price that’s high but not too high as to deter people from using the site at all.  $20 may do the trick.

Secondly, and this is the more important of the two reasons, there has to be some kind of incentive for the celebrity to get involved.  Otherwise they’re just going to ask “what’s in it for me” right off the bat.  That conversation gets avoided with the inclusion of a fee because a portion of the money collected by each celebrity will goes towards a charity of that celebrity’s choosing.  Worse case scenario you make the World a better place.  Best case scenario you make the World a better place AND you find new business opportunities or new projects to get involved with or new people to work with.

As crazy and far fetched as this idea may sound it’s not without precedent.  Just the other day Facebook announced plans to start trying out a new feature in which users would be charged $1 to send a message to a stranger such as “someone you heard speak at an event or (if you want to) message someone about a job opportunity.” (http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-12/21/facebook-message-charging).  This feature currently limits messages to just one per week to prevent use on a wider scale by spammers.  While it’s a good idea to put restrictions in place to counteract wide spread use by marketers it’s not realistic to expect a job seeker to only send out one message per week.  At that rate they’ll never get hired.

On the other hand if Celeb Connect existed not only would they eventually find a job but they’ll be able to find their dream job quickly and easily.  Not to mention the fact that they’ll finally be able to pitch that great movie idea that they had directly to J.J. Abrams while also making a trade suggestion directly to the general manager of their favorite baseball team all the while contributing money to various charitable causes. It’s a win-win situation.

All in all, this idea shouldn’t be too hard to get behind.  The ground work has been laid by Facebook and all of these other social media sites as we’ve spent years building up these tremendous social networks that are teeming with valuable connections.  All we have to do now is stop sitting on them and start putting them to good use.

126600_comiccon_SAW_

JJ don’t fret! Soon there could be an easy way for people to reach out to you!

Read Full Post »

I want to create a t-shirt that says “I survived the Mayan Apocalypse”.  All the proceeds would go towards re-educating all of the dumb asses who really thought that it was going to happen.

I want to join a gym but I don’t want all the people there to think that I only joined because I made a New Year’s resolution to work out more.  As such, I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to get fat between now and March.  I’ve learned to accept my fate and I’ve made peace with it.

I know that everyone was upset about the recent change to Instagram’s terms of service, and rightfully so, but I happen to think that they may have been on to something.  Selling users’ photos to advertisers is a great idea but it should be set up as an opt in program where users can decide not only whether or not to participate but even which specific photos they want advertisers to be able to chose from.  If an advertiser wants to use one of their pictures the user would get paid for it.

Meanwhile if anyone still has any pent up venom left over after venting about Instagram please direct it towards whoever decided that posing for pictures was a good idea.  Why is it that I have to stop what I’m doing and smile when a picture is being taken?  What if I wasn’t happy at that moment?  Shouldn’t a picture capture the true emotion of the moment?  I hereby propose a new law banning all arranged high school yearbook photo shoots.  Instead a photographer will be hired to follow each kid around for a day taking various action shots that aim to capture the true essence of an individual, creating a photo that will actually be worth remembering.

Yesterday was the first official day of Winter but here in the Northeast it’s been cold for two months already!  Perhaps we should re-evaluate these “official” days and change the  way we indicate the start of new seasons accounting for the actual changes in temperature not the location of the sun.

Speaking of seasonal issues I have to give kudos to Ruxin on the TV show “The League” for pointing out the obvious during last week’s episode:  why are we being forced to listen to Christmas music for weeks at a time?  As Ruxin states on the show we should only have to listen to Christmas music on Christmas!!!

nickkroll1-507x380

He may not look like much but this guy may have a great point about holiday music.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »