Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2016

The other day I came across an interesting Twitter feed, a parody account of sorts that’s all about coming up with sketchy ideas.  As the title suggests some of these ideas are really sketchy.  Like really, really, really sketchy.  Borderline offensive even.  But there were some gems.  Such as:
  • Make headphone wires out of shoelaces and shoelaces out of headphone wires, now headphones will always untie and your laces will never undo.
  • Google’s Self Driving Car should have an incognito mode where it tints all your windows.
  • Movie about a Nigerian Prince who struggles to move millions of dollars out of his country with the help of a strangers he meets online
  • Make it so no city can have more than one professional sports team… and it has to play all sports!
  • Take a girl on a first date to couples counseling.
  • Get all the one hit wonder bands together for a massive concert where they each only play their one song.
  • A microwave that goes to YouTube and finds a video the exact length of the time you just typed in and plays it on the microwave door.
  • Snickers should do a commercial with Louis C.K. where he’s optimistic and cheerful until he eats a snickers.

Intrigued I decided to try and come up with a few sketchy/shady/quirky ideas of my own.  Here’s a look at what I came up with:

  • Partner with Eddie Murphy to create an airline that caters to flying with babies.  Call it Daddy Day Air.
  • Collect all of the drier and belly button lint in the world and convert it into bio-fuel.
  • Make Family Feud all about competing against members of your own family instead of competing against a different family.  Book the Kardashians for the first episode.
  • Mandate that Sports Illustrated can’t use any words.
  • In addition to a driving test mandate that everyone also has to pass a walking test.
  • Make it so that if you don’t vote you lose the right to vote from that point on.
  • Give multiple life sentences to anyone who doesn’t pick up after their dog, litters, harms an animal or defaces nature in any way.
  • Create a Real World style reality TV show where all presidential candidates live together in the same house.  Candidates vote each other out until only one remains and that person gets the nomination.
  • Mandate that everyone has to take a citizenship test every five years.  If you fail you get deported.

Are any of these sketchy ideas the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

Here’s a quick look at everything that caught my eye this past week:

Tesla’s Partnership With Nordstroms – We already knew that Elon Musk was a creative genius.  His success with Tesla and Solar City as well as his plans for the Hyperloop and his ambitions to live on Mars prove that over and over.  However, we now have even more proof thanks to his new plan to circumvent car dealerships who won’t partner with him by selling Teslas inside of show rooms in Nordstroms.

As Fast Company explains, “This process would not be unlike the current maneuvering that Tesla does in states such as Connecticut and Texas, where, due to decades-old franchising laws, its ability to build stores or sell directly to customers is constricted—or banned altogether.

In that context, the Nordstrom partnership is a smart move, as Tesla’s founder and CEO recently surprised investors when he announced plans to sell 500,000 vehicles—which will include its cheaper upcoming sedan, the Model 3—by 2018. To meet that goal, Tesla, which has just 215 storefronts globally, will need to expand its infrastructure for selling and delivering cars to potential buyers, many of whom are unfamiliar with the company’s still-nascent brand and all-electric vehicle technology.”

3-D printed Sun Dial – I love the concept of the sun dial.  I still vividly remember the day in school when we first learned about it and to this day I still amaze people when I use my “personal sun dial” to tell them what time it is.  So you can imagine how excited I was to find out about a 3-D Printed Sun Dial that represents the time digitally!  What the what?!!?

There is a caveat however.  According to Gizmodo the, “Digital Sundial does have its limitations, though. The complex pattern of holes in the wand that create the shadows needed to display numbers can only show the time from about 10 am in the morning until about 4 pm in the afternoon. The digital numbers also only update in 20-minute increments, but that doesn’t make this creation any less incredible.”

GoBone – I would love to own a dog but it just wouldn’t be fair to the pup if I’m never home.  Fortunately, there may be a workaround thanks to GoBone.  With this 21st Century chew toy your dog can have hours of endless fun when you’re not around as it can either be programmed to move around on it’s own like a Roomba or controlled manually by a remote control.  You can also use the remote control app to capture video of your dog playing with the toy when you’re not there.  Best of all, when the toy gets chewed up you can just replace the exterior padding without having to get a new one.

Check out this video below to see the GoBone in action:

Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

Read Full Post »

#896 -TradeHero

The idea of a fantasy stock market game isn’t new.  But TradeHero finally gets it right.  Because with this app you’re not just buying and selling fake stocks to build a phony portfolio in order to beat your friends.  That is part of it.  With real prizes on the line too.  But, the real heart and soul of the game is the educational aspect.  By following the success of other “heroes” you can actually learn useful advice to help you master the real stock market.  And best of all those “heroes” are able to profit from their success.

As Tech In Asia explains:

“On TradeHero, users who are less familiar with how stock markets work can learn how to trade. On top of that, more experienced users can earn money by monetizing their reputation as a talented and well-informed stock trader. This means that one user can subscribe to another user’s feed to know whenever they make a trade or post a comment. This information is valuable because it can then be applied to the real stock market.”

This is the fantasy football equivalent of having access to hundreds of Matthew Berrys.  Unofficial experts who you can use to help make valuable decisions once they’ve established themselves with a long track record of success.  Which is more than we can say for Berry.

Having access to this much crowd sourced unbiased information is a real game changer for middle class investors who may not be able to afford a financial advisor and who may not have sufficient knowledge about how the stock market works on their own.  Instead of blindly playing their hunches they now at least have a fighting chance of getting it right.  At least as much of a chance as one can have when it comes to the stock market.

Is TradeHero the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

#895 – Honey

I just stumbled upon another amazing Google Chrome Extension.  This one isn’t about productivity though and has actually been around for several years.  Known as Honey, this extension automatically searches for and then applies coupon codes when you shop online.  It’s basically free money!

It’s worth nothing that the service doesn’t appear to work everywhere.  But there are more than a hundred sites that it will work on, including big name brands such as Disney, Macy’s, Target, eBay and Walgreens, dozens of clothing options ranging from Levis to Adidas, some food options like Papa Johns and Dominos, and even another coupon service in Groupon.

Best of all though, it works on travel sites like Expedia and Hotels.com, a fact I wish I knew yesterday when I dropped over 1k on a trip to Vegas for CES 2017!  Apparently I could have saved 50% on my trip through Expedia!  What the what?!?!?!?

Better yet, you can also refer your friends to use Honey and when they make purchases you’ll both receive “HoneyGold” which you can redeem for cash, gift cards, etc.  Users can earn up to $1,000 in HoneyGold.

But, wait.  There’s more!  Honey now offers a universal shopping cart option.  So now you can line up several things that you want to buy (from different retailers) and buy them all at once with Honey applying all relevant coupons and doing all of the heavy lifting.

As Tech Crunch explains, “When you’re ready to actually pay, you click ‘View Cart’ and Honey will launch a small window that appears over top of the website you’re currently visiting. It then proceeds to find the best promo code or other savings for all your saved items, and fills out the retailers’ checkout forms programmatically. You can save your checkout information in Honey once, and it can be used on any store – even those you’ve never shopped on before…Honey also retrieves the shipping information for each store, so you know when your products will arrive. Meanwhile, from the merchant’s perspective, it’s as if you shopped on their site directly, meaning Honey won’t interfere with reward points, returns, warranties or other concerns.”

Sounds good to me.  So what are we waiting for?!  Let’s go shopping!

Is Honey the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

The other day Fast Company published a list of free Google Chrome extensions that will make you more productive.  Intrigued, I decided to check out this list and see if any of these extensions would qualify as one of the greatest ideas ever.  Not surprisingly, several did.  Here’s a quick look at my favorite ones:

Papier: This is probably the coolest extension and the one I’d personally use the most. Papier, a writing tool, gives you a blank tab that you can use to jot down notes in.  Previously when I wanted to capture a thought I’d have to go into my email, compose a message, and then save it to my drafts folder.  Which explains why I currently have 37 drafts.  Writing in Papier would be much easier.  And quicker.  And better yet it automatically syncs to Chrome so every time I open up a new tab all of my thoughts are right there.  Which is also what I don’t like about it.  If someone else was borrowing my laptop and opened up a new tab they’d see all those thoughts too.  I’d prefer that Papier was only accessible through the chrome extension toolbar.

Print Friendly & PDF – Ever go to print something and the one page of text that you wanted to capture winds up getting printed out with like a dozen pages of ads?  Of course you have!  You’re a human being!  Well, thanks to Print Friendly & PDF you no longer have to worry about cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to print your boarding pass.

As Fast Company describes, “It’ll strip web articles of unnecessary ads, widgets, ads, navigation, ads, ads, and ads in order to shorten your printout to a reasonable number of pages. You can preview what’s about to be printed and manually remove text and images as well.”

Super Auto Refresh – This is an idea I’ve had myself for a while: a way to refresh all of your tabs at the same time!  You can even set the time interval that you want the refreshing to automatically occur.

As Fast Company puts it, “The perfect storm: There’s a new iPhone being announced just as the Puppy Bowl’s about to start just as Elon Musk is . . . well, talking. Instead of whipping back and forth between three tabs, refreshing each periodically, use Super Auto Refresh to handle the dirty work for you.”

Unfortunately, this extension (or any extension for that matter) doesn’t seem to work in Incognito Mode.

Simple Blocker – This might be the best extension if your aim is solely to be more productive as it allows you to block certain sites that you just don’t have the willpower to stay away from for a set amount of time.  Now you can focus on your work without having to check your Twitter feed every five seconds.  Thank you Simple Blocker!

OneTab – How many tabs do you have open right now?  A dozen?  Two dozen?  I have nine and that’s only because I just closed out a bunch.  Having so many active tabs can seem daunting at times.  It also very well could be necessary.  To solve this conundrum use OneTab.  It’ll consolidate all of your open tabs into a list within one new tab.

As Fast Company puts it, “You’ll reduce overhead, which increases performance, and if you’re feeling especially generous, you can share your tab lists with others.”

Linkclump – This is another extension that could make you super productive.  Instead of clicking on a bunch of links one by one, say a dozen search results that you think are relevant, with Linkclump you can highlight all of them and open all of them up simultaneously with each one getting opened in it’s own tab. Boom.  Problem solved.

Well, there you have it.  A quick look at some of my new best friends.  What’s great about Google Chrome though is that these were only a few of the extensions that are available.  There’s actually more than a hundred options to choose from.  Which begs the question: what other great ideas are out there?  And what is still missing that we should create?

Are any of these Chrome Extensions the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

#893 – Crystal

Responding to email is hard work.  You have to choose your words carefully, walk the fine line between pissing someone off and getting your point across in a firm yet respectful way and you have to do that without stepping on someone else’s toes or overstepping your bounds.  You also have to keep in mind that your tone could very well get lost in translation as you won’t have facial expressions or hand gestures to help you out.  Not to mention the fact that you’ll have no idea how receptive the other person will be to the way you’re communicating.  You also won’t know the most effective language to use or how to best get through to them.  All you’ll know is that you’re a million miles away from inbox zero with no help in sight.

But what if there was a better way?  What if there was a way that you could communicate more effectively?  With more empathy?  Well, now there is thanks to Crystal, a new personality based platform that, “could be the biggest improvement to email since spell-check.”

Here’s how it works.  Simply download the Crystal Chrome extension that syncs with your gmail account.  When you want to send someone an email search for their personality profile, which is built from publicly available sources such as what you’d find if you googled their name.  You’ll then be able to view that person’s personality profile and then when you go to write the email to them the extension will guide you with suggested language to use that’s tailored to their personality type.

As the Huffington Post explains, “With the personality profile, you’ll see advice on how to speak to the person, email them, work with them and sell to them. You’ll even be told what comes naturally to them and what does not. Crystal also displays something called ‘accuracy confidence,’ based on how much information the app could find about the person. If it finds too little info, the accuracy confidence will be low; if there’s plenty of public stuff online about the person, the confidence rating will be high.”

Intrigued by the potential of this personality platform to transform the way we email I reached out to Crystal founder and fellow Northeastern Alum, Drew D’Agostino to find out more.

Here’s what he had to say:

Q: It’s a constant struggle for most people to get to inbox zero.  When you founded Crystal, as a tool to help people communicate with empathy, was that your ultimate goal?  To solve email?  Or does it go deeper than that?

A: The goal is to help people become better communicators. Email was the best place to start, because it causes so much anxiety and people make so many mistakes. 

Q: It seems like Crystal’s ultimate success will be tied to how accurate you can make each personality profile but not everyone has a ton of publicly available source data.  Some people are more guarded about their online presence.  Is there anything you can do to get around that in order to build more robust profiles?  Have users expressed any concerns about invading their privacy?

A: Users can sign up for Crystal and fill out a normal DISC assessment to make their profile more accurate. As far as privacy goes, Crystal is only using public data that anyone could find with a regular Google search. 

Q: It would seem like your platform would rely heavily on machine learning.  The more information you gather, the more people that use the service, the better it’ll get.  And while artificial intelligence is already relatively advanced it appears as though we could be on the precipitous of significant AI breakthroughs whether that’s a supercomputer like IBM’s Watson or something even more advanced like quantum computing.  For example, Hewlett Packard is said to be working on something called The Machine that totally re-imagines what a computer should be from the ground up.  Do you think that Crystal is well positioned with your existing infrastructure or is there a specific technology that you have your eye on that could really help you take Crystal to the next level?

A: We have a significant amount of NLP [Neuro Linguistic Planning] and ML [Machine Learning] under the hood to maintain and improve the accuracy of our personality detection engine. We haven’t used any outside technologies like Watson yet, but might in the future if it helps us make significant improvements to our database. 

Q: Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn the other day sent shock waves through the tech industry indicating that we could wind up living in a world where five or six mega companies control everything.  Microsoft for their part would control anything having to do with productivity while Facebook handles social aspects and Google handles search, etc.  As the founder of a company does that concern or excite you?  Could Microsoft one day look to buy your platform?

A: It excites me. Microsoft paid a premium for LinkedIn because of the breadth and quality of LinkedIn’s data. Crystal provides a different kind of data – analyzed, qualitative information – which fills in a big, valuable gap. 

Q: How accurate is the show Silicon Valley when compared to your own experience as an entrepreneur and founder?  Was it hard for you to obtain funding and get your company off the ground?  Have any other companies tried to slow your progress?  What’s the day to day grind like?  What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

A: I was surprised by how accurate Silicon Valley represents the technology-driven startup. Crystal shares a lot in common with Pied Piper: both companies brought an innovative technology into a brand new market, both got sued by larger companies trying to slow them down, both raised money early from well-known Valley investors (Salesforce is our biggest outside investor), and both are led by slightly awkward technical CEO’s with redeeming qualities. 

Day-to-day we swing between the business and consumer sides of our business. It’s a tough, but necessary balance we need to achieve as a company. 

Advice I have for aspiring entrepreneurs is to stop aspiring and become one. You don’t need permission from anyone. 

Q: When I heard famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson give a talk recently he gave the same advice to aspiring scientists.  “Don’t stand on the shoulders of giants.  Become the giant yourself.”  Speaking of science and technology, what excites you most about the future?  What new technology are you most looking forward to?

A: I’m very excited about self-driving cars, crypto-currency, and the commoditization of AI. I believe those will lead to a world with greater creativity, less accidental tragedy, and more freedom.  

Well there you have it.  Thanks to Drew and his team at Crystal we could be on our way to becoming more effective communicators, leading to more personal and professional success.  There’s still just one problem though: the one hundred and forty seven unread emails in my inbox!

Maybe one day Crystal will just respond to those for me.

Is Crystal the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

#892 – Peeple

It’s been called a Yelp for People.  A new app, known as Peeple, that allows users to review one another.  And while it may not sound like a great idea, seeing as how it’s ripe for cyber bullying, it also could be an inevitable side effect of our increasing online addiction, a precursor to a world where our online reputations are our most valuable currency.

The idea of an online reputation that follows us around isn’t new.  Your Klout score, which measures how much influence you have online, is another example of this new era.  And in theory, the idea has a lot of merit.  Perhaps people wouldn’t say such hurtful things on message boards, in comment threads, on profile pages, in tweets, if they knew that what they said would lower their personal credit score and follow them around for a while.

In fact, Peeple’s hoping that their app has that exact effect.  On their website, they state the following as their mantra of sorts:

“Looking at everyone in the three ways you could possibly know someone – personally, professionally and romantically – you can provide a recommendation on everyone you come in contact with, while allowing yourself to be recommended.  Once armed with these recommendations you can turn them into your new form of currency to get better job opportunities, better dates, growing relationships, and networking opportunities…

The site goes on to claim that the web was lacking a place where one could safely manage their online reputation and that with Peeple you could now do that.  However, users wouldn’t really be managing their online reputations.  If someone says something negative about you it’s not like you’ll be able to undo that damage.  And therein lies the rub.

As Fortune puts it:

“Peep sees its app as a place where people can showcase their finer qualities. However, the app could also be home to unfair and unflattering criticisms that could have an unfortunate impact on users’ lives.

For instance, a negative rating from a boss, coupled with a description on why you’re a bad employee, could mean the difference between getting the next job or remaining unemployed. Recommendations can be shared via social media or over text and email, and profiles can be “liked” and viewed by other Peeple users. So, if you allow negative reviews on your profile, they could be shared with more than just Peeple users.”

That fear of doing irreparable damage to a person’s professional career is likely going to sink Peeple’s chances of ever catching on.  Most people already hate the concept.  But the one area where I think the idea does have merit is in regards to the romantic aspect.  Rating daters solely within the confines of a dating service is something that I think should be a standard feature of dating sites.  That way you can gather feedback from a pool of your peers on whether or not someone is worth dating and at the same time no one outside of the dating app would be privy to the information.  A comment such as “nice guy, but there wasn’t a spark” could be helpful to someone considering going out on a date with someone and it won’t prevent that person from getting a job down the line.

Personally, I’m a fan of this concept even if it is a flawed system.  Our online personas already revolve around a constant stream of likes and favorites, a perpetual positive feedback loop that reinforces our belief system and encourages similar behavior.  Getting a positive rating on Peeple would feed right into that, encouraging us to keep up our good behavior so that more people will say more nice things about us.

Considering how dark the web can be shouldn’t we want something like Peeple that can shine a light on those who are doing good?

Is Peeple the Greatest Idea Ever?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »