Idea: Material collector

As a consultant I get many different costumers and the most common way for me to get information and material is in small attachments, one at a time, spread out through the whole project. I don’t think it’s possible to get every new customer to use some kind of FTP or anything else that’s more complicated than their already tried and true way of attaching files in an email.

The point would be to automatically store all attachments in some form of group. Either a new view in Outlook/Gmail, or just automatically saving all attachments to a folder. It could prompt if it doesn’t know what project the attachments belongs to.

Idea: Unnecessary code comment generator

I remember when I was trying out XNA back when it was launched in 2007. The first line of code in the sample was “graphics.Initialize()”. Wonder what it does? MSDN said: “Initializes graphics”. Wow… Thank you Captain Obvious. Today at work I saw “loadXML(); // Loads the XML”. Couldn’t decide if I should laugh or cry.

I prefer code that’s readable and documents itself in a way. That’s why it would be funny to write a little app/script that adds completely unnecessary comments to your code. Like the classic “i++; // increments i”. It could be used to play a prank on co-workers that are coming back from vacation.

The sad part is that this already exists. And it’s a serious product. GhostDoc. I have to start selling my funny ideas as serious products to unknowing wannabe managers…

Idea: Technical translator

I often find it hard to translate words that aren’t commonly used in conversations, like technical terms. Normally I use when translating words between English and Swedish. Sentences is a completely different beast, I’ll rely on Google Translate for now.

But when I want to translate the name of a city, a language, a lesser known piece of machinery, chemical substances, a software engineering concept or anything else I find most translators inadequate. That’s when I usually use Wikipedia, look up the word I want, and then check the left column for “In other languages” and the language I want. If I find it, I also find what that word is in that language. That works surprisingly often, and the results “update themselves” thanks to the living nature of Wikipedia.

A simple website/app should be able to do this with a simple webscrape.

Idea: Funny translator

Thought it would be funny with a translator that works kind of like the “whisper game”. You know, you whisper something to someone, who then whispers it to the next person, and so on, and the last person repeats out loud what he heard. It’s a funny game because what the last person heard is rarely anything like what was said in the beginning.

I thought of using Google Translator and make a sentence jump through a couple of translations (English to Japanese to German to Hindi to Spanish and then back to English). The results should be pretty interesting/funny!

Seems like someone already done this though.

Idea: Client view for Pivotal Tracker

In the project I’m managing we’re evaluating Pivotal Tracker as our online Scrum tool. I wanted the client to have a good view of our progress so I gave him viewing rights to it. Didn’t work out that well. He couldn’t map the dev teams stories to the feature set overview we had written and prioritsed.

Pivotal Tracker has a friendly API which lets you access your data. One could build a special view outside of Pivotal Tracker that shows bigger features, and gets the data by aggregating several stories. I’m thinking something along the lines of a Scrum or Kanban board, but for the customer.

There are other parameters my client wants to see that aren’t really part of Scrum. Like our time budget and overall project progress. They too would be part of the “view”.

Idea: Online portfolio

The core of this idea is a microproject. A jQuery carousell that lists screenshots and text of projects I’ve worked on. I’m not after a fancy CMS interface for updating, so updating a JSON file manually will work just fine.

I’m counting it as a byteproject because I’ll need to put a lot of polish into the design and presentation of the page since I’ll use it professionally to show of my experience. I’m currently looking at Google Web Toolkit to write the needed JS. If you have any tips let me know in the comments.

Idea: Project Valhalla

This summer I visited a friend that had started his own game development studio, WhiteOut. They’re only a few people, but it reminded me of the DICE office where I once worked. I also started thinking of another friend that had driven his own incubator.

The idea would be to create a place where small independent game studios can sit together, being small and independent but still enjoy the luxuries in office-terms that bigger studios can afford.

I contacted an office hotell and Riksbyggen who controll most buildings in town. It’s simply to expensive, even when renting a large space. It would have to be subsidised somehow. If a benefactor could be found, these places could be started in every major town in Scandinavia. Each project could pull a little, but much needed, PR to other projects in the building. I think the atmosphere would be awesome and people would really thrive day.

Maybe some day…

Idea: Stats crazy with KbFails

One project that could be done around KbFails is an online statistics website. To view your stats you have to visit the website (as there’s obviously going to be some ads there :)), but when you visit you’re encouraged to share your stats anonymously with the world.

That way you can find fun, but useless, information as what country writes the fewest errors per 1000 keystrokes or letters are most common (only the number of keystrokes is stored, not what order or anything that would give away passwords or sensitive information).

There could be a sandbox mode where you can build queries using “blocks”, like Google Analytics, to filter out some fun stats. Using jQuery, of course. Those creations could be stored with a comment in a “information feed” type way, like the Facebook news feed or any RSS reader.

You could also challenge friends or join in “improvement groups” to lower your error count.

What other stats or things would be fun to track besides key presses and country?

Idea: Version control Achievements

One of the greatest gaming inventions of recent time is Achievements, IMHO. Wikipedia describes it as “a meta-goal defined outside of a game’s parameters”.

My friend Karl showed me the git achievements project. You are awarded “Achievements” based on what you do in the version control system. Some examples:

“Apprentice Seamstress: amended a commit with git-commit –amend.”
“Apprentice Socialite: pushed a branch to a remote repository using git-push”
“Apprentice Stone Mason: Added files to the index area for inclusion in the next commit with git-add”

That’s a great idea! It can be used to incourage best practices and company policies. It could even teaching fundamentals of version control management in a fun way.

I do prefer SVN though, and there can probably be some money made on MS Team Foundation Service.

The achievements of each employee could be shown in the company intranet, or even on it’s public website.

Idea: Custom clothes store online

I recently got in contact with a tailor in Bangkok. I was so satisfied with my first order that I doubled it on my second order.

Why do I like them so much? First of all, they’re custom fit so it’s exactly the right size. Second of all, the pricing is very reasonable – it’s not cheap, but you’re really getting your money’s worth. Third and my favourite, they’re 100% custom designed. You can pick any fabric, color and cut. There are no limitations, just tell him how you want it and consider it done.

Some examples of what I bought:
* Black suit with two buttons and a left pocket. The inside of the jacket is red with gold.
* White shirt with red buttons and red button holes. Also made a black version.
* A black coat with slim design and black/silver inside.

They also come engraved with your name in the suit jacket, and initials on the shirt sleeve.

More people should have access to this! There are a few online stores that allow you to create your own shirt, but I haven’t seen anything with the freedom (or quality) my tailor gives. The idea is to use the same kind of customization UI as video games have that support character or clothes customization, they’re way better than any online store has today and really makes the user want to explore all the settings.

Going a bit further the site could add user accounts and Facebook Connect so the user can store his designs (and measurements). Everyone could have a “design book” with invented configurations, and a “wardrobe” with what has actually been ordered. Going even further a user could be considered a designer and paid some comission (in-store credit?) if someone buys his design.

As a part of Fair Trade and other social responsibilities the factory could be shown on the website, with profiles over the workers and maybe even attach each one to the work they create – so you know exactly who made your clothes.

My first step though is to gather a larger group of friends and contacts for his next visit to gauge the interest.