We were on a road trip a few weeks ago and I had an idea for an educational app I would build if I had time.

You start the app before you take your trip and set your current location. As you drive the app updates your location on a map so it is drawing a travel line.

The app contains a database of distances of things and short summaries about them.

  • Length of the longest bridge in the world
  • Width of Rhode Island
  • Length of Panama Canal
  • Distance between the Hawaiian island and Maui
  • Length of the San Francisco Bay
  • Length of dollar bills, laid end-to-end printed in the US every year
  • Diameter of the largest fungus in the world

As the app notices you pass these distances the phone would receive a notification to open the app and read the info about length reached. You could continue to receive notifications on your trip back as well.


  1. A small service that collects a set of vetted RSS feeds and looks for Twitter style @mentions. I noticed Jason credited me today and I didn’t notice until I saw it in my RSS reader. It would have been nice to get an @mention from a bot that was watching a large amount of weblogs.
  2. An iOS app that would let me create an event (like a conference) and then I can input all the addresses I will need during the event. When I was at XOXO I kept looking up the same locations when getting a cab or setting out to walk places. The distributed nature of XOXO meant that I really needed a list of about 5 places I could quickly call up and map directions to.
  3. Kickstarter with a $1,000 limit and a one month delivery date.
  4. A CRM that gives the support staff (or individual) a support and turn-around time rating. These stats can be used to determine if my support ticket is going to be answered quickly and if I will be happy with the response. Also if the manager of the CRM rarely answers messages on Sundays and Mondays then I would like to know that they will likely get back to me on Tuesday. I would also like to pay $5 to jump ahead in line.

Having a conversation with DantsyPants I had an idea .

A giant storage place like you see on TV and by the freeway, but every thing I check-in is scanned and I can affix a price to it if I want. The whole catalog is put online for people to buy things and the storage place will handle shipping or you can come in and pick it up.

THE BEST part about this is I could clean out my closets. THE SECOND best part about this is I can buy some more things! They could even just move the thing I bought into my pile of stuff. I need to get rid of this stuff.

(I know there are eBay drop off companies but I haven‘t been able to figure out what happens if it doesn’t sell. And what if I don’t want to sell?)


Do you remember Airtime? I like to think of it as the thing Olivia Munn, Joel McHale, and Jim Carrey use daily. These days Airtime is still working out their business but here’s an idea about how I would like an Airtime-like service to work.

I would like to be able to look at a directory of stuff. Things. A live-view of Niagra Falls. An original Star Wars movie poster. A 1976 Gibson Bicentennial Thunderbird. A living WWII Veteran. A demo of an OP-1.

Hell, I’d even love to connect to a Best Buy representative who could demonstrate the latests TiVos.

All these people or owners of these things could register with the site specifically for these things. I could call up the 1976 Gibson owner and have a look at it. Not necessarily to buy anything, though that would be nice, but just to chat about or get a review.

Currently Airtime let’s you designate interests (cooking), but beyond interests I would like to find experts or informed owners of gadgets and collectibles who have put themselves on the service because they want to take calls and talk about a life experience (WWII) or fanatic interest.


Every month I open my bank and credit card statements and do a quick scan of everything I was charged or paid for. Most of the time it’s what I expected, sometimes I have to spend a couple of seconds thinking what a “LMNOP**CORP**TACO” is, and once in a while it’s completely perplexing and I have to either call the phone number or do a fair amount of Googling.

Screen Shot 2012 06 09 at 4 21 34 PM

A few weeks ago there was a charge on my card with an entry like CONDENAST**SERVICES and a phone number. I called the number but nobody answered. I called back the next day and left a message. I called back the third day and the person on the line didn’t know, but we figured it out after she asked me a few questions. (it was my ArsTechnica subscription auto-renewing)

The process of starting up a new Quickbooks or Mint account and tagging and classifying my payments is onerous to me. But I also hate having to go back every month and get a glimpse of my money at one moment in time. I want something that will notify me when a payment or charge occurs giving me a chance to classify or make a note or even schedule a time to followup on the charge.

Just like carrying a Fitbit and having a quick way to see how many steps I’ve taken in a day, having a view into my bank account in real-time as money is deducted would be very welcomed.

So my question is: does anyone do this? Does anyone know how I could pull my bank and credit charges into one place to then fire off actions when something new is seen? I’m assuming OFX but if there is something easier I can simply plug into I’d rather do that.


This is a simple idea I am going to assume ad networks are already doing, but if they aren’t, they should!

When you first get online at work in the morning some ad provider should note that this is the first time they’ve seen you in a few hours. The assumption should be that you must have just sat down at your desk so…

An alert should be sent to email marketers that they should send you their daily email now. This is email you’ve already signed up for, just the delivery time is now optimal since you were just “seen” online.


Totally random idea I’ve been chewing on for, oh, 8 years?

Popup Yearbook. Page gets created. Everyone in a certain group is invited to upload one picture of themselves from the year. The page is locked after a period of time.

Stupid simple idea but a community site I manage does this every year and it’s a lot of fun to see the finished result.


I don’t think I adequately explained what I am talking about in my last post. Here are some simple examples.

  • The task: I need to pay my worker’s comp insurance.
  • A test: Is the date of my next payment to my insurance company > the current date?
  • The push: I accomplished my task and added a new test to my list of things to ensure are correct.

--

  • The task: I have to pay my mortgage.
  • A test: Is the price of my mortgage still equal to X where X is the previous payment?
  • The push: I have paid my mortgage and added a test to ensure payments are not consistent. (This happened to me once due to a drop in the amount and I didn’t realize I had been over paying, but not towards principal.)

--

  • The task: I need to sign up for a new mobile phone and was quoted $X/month for a year.
  • The test: Create a test that ensures I am not billed at more than $X.
  • The push: Submit new test to my testing suite. Perhaps also a test that the cost does go up to the new amount as defined by the salesperson.

--

Think “if this then that” for the businesses I use on a recurring basis. If the banks and mobile phone companies and gas companies and insurance companies aren’t going to make APIs for us, why not make them ourselves? Hold them accountable and provide stats to ourselves about the money coming in and out of our lives.


I’ve been chewing on the idea of how to share the satisfaction one gets from writing tests and pushing code with people who don’t write code. Every todo app or productivity app I’ve seen gets this part wrong. If one could bottle the satisfaction from testing and shipping into an app for doing things they’d be gold.

For the non-developers reading this&8212;writing automated tests is essentially writing a set of scripts that test paths in your application. If your code accepts user names and passwords with certain rules, then a type of automated test will attempt to log into your site however many hundreds of permutations that exist to test that the rules work. It’s a validation that your code does what is expected, and will continue to do what is expected even if you change other parts of your code.

Yes, accomplishing the task is important, but nobody (that I’ve seen) gets the other two parts right. Testing would be a verification that the task was completed and done. Pushing would be announcing or registering your daily completed tasks and getting the satisfaction of cleaning them off your plate.

ElevatorThis is still too geeky and stuck in my head. I think people are working on this idea. At least I assume that’s what The Obvious’ Lift is.

But even if they aren’t, I’m hopeful someone eventually makes this. Even geekier I would say my dream is to someday have a set of scripts that test and verify all the things I have set up in my life (insurance payments, property tax payments, savings to cover year-end taxes).

Essentially a set of tools to verify the processes I have done or need to do and a way to instantly test that they are all in place and working. Pretty geeky, but pretty cool to me.

Updated


So not only does my little idea exist, but they’ve solved some of the problems I thought I’d have dealing with films a user hasn’t seen. Flickchart takes a Hot Or Not approach to rating movies, and gives you a way to skip movies you haven’t seen.

I’ve been playing with it for an hour or so and it seems to be building a pretty good profile of the movies I like and don’t like. Check it out: http://flickchart.com.