Idea: Remove whitespaces before compiling and save time!

With so many products that are real but you’d swear it was a joke it would be fun to make a real working Visual Studio or <enter your fav-IDE here> plugin that removes all whitespaces on save, to “save time when compiling”. The Pro version would only remove the unnecessary whitespaces. ūüėČ Then back it up with real hard data on how much faster it becomes (something like “Compile your code 0.0000000000000000000001% times faster!”).¬†Any money made through this product should be donated to a charity, like Child’s Play.

Idea: Donate computational power

I’ve used SETI@home from time to time. Donating ones surplus computer power to find aliens gives a fuzzy logic feeling inside.

Computer upgrades, work computers, travelling, bugs, computer games, life and other reasons make it a bit¬†impractical. But I still want to help…

It might not be the most optimized way, but given the large cloud computing platforms out there it should be possible to create a similar service on it. Some platforms, like Google App Engine, give each project a bit of free usage every month. Anything above that has to be paid for, but a limit can be set beforehand.

The idea is to create a service that runs in the cloud, and people can donate money to raise the limit. It’s a more¬†convenient¬†way to pay directly for actual research. Website with stats would be a nice addition.

Book review: Superfreakonomics

A few years ago I read Freakonomics. I loved the stats and conclusions so much I started considering studying¬†behavioral¬†economics. Not long ago they released a sequel, SuperFreakonomics. It’s my first book for Kindle and it was gifted to my by a friend on Christmas Eve. (If you don’t have an e-reader I highly recommend it!)

Like the first book, its common theme is finding out the real reason for why people do the things they do – usually by following the money. The most memorable person from the first book,¬†Sudhir Venkatesh studying the economics of street gangs, makes a comeback with the economics behind prostitution. (I just noticed he’s got his own book now!) I usually read a little every night, but SuperFreakonomics was so fun I almost read the whole thing in two days. Almost.

It really goes down in the last chapter. The last chapter is a lot longer than the previous ones, and instead of backing up conclusions with statistics and describing the mathematical and economical reasoning behind it they simple quote the owners of a company called Intellectual Ventures. It really crosses the border of interesting stats¬†to promotional material. Instead of being about why people (or animals!) do the things they do, it’s about how IV will save the world. It’s also about how IV are the only ones that truly understand the global warming crisis and their inventions are the only choice for our salvation.

Conclusion: Read it, and pretend that last chapter isn’t there.

Idea: A reason to eat cake – every day

As I recently posted, we’ve starting pooling together a fun Entertainment calendar at work (putting in release dates where movies and games we look forward to). I started thinking what more could be added. Co-workers birthdays would be the obvious one. Project milestones could be fun too.

Let’s go back to birthdays. High on my list of favourite non-work-activities-at-work is “fika“. So a reason to eat cake gets a pretty high importance in my calendar. Which leads me to: what’s a good reason to have cake today? Christian Feast Days almost makes it too easy.¬†I’d prefer funnier reasons, like Teddy Bear Day on September 9. There’s an interesting website with various holidays, but I basically want a simple site like this one that just says some information about today – right there on the front page in big letters. And a button to get it into your calendar.

Now if you excuse me, I’m off to celebrate Stephen Hawkin’s birthday with some cake.

Idea: Entertainment launch-dates calendar

I still find it surprising how it’s not extremely easy to know or get notified when a new video game comes out. It’s the same with books and movies. “Fall 2011”, “Q2 2011”, “2012”… I completely understand why publishers and others can’t give an exact date way up front, but with so much info online surely this can be improved.

At work me and a¬†colleague¬†have started an Entertainment-calendar. We mark down all the cool games and movies we know the launch dates of, so it can be shared and enjoyed and maybe even spark a few¬†spontaneous¬†after-work activities. So far I’m also surprised how hard it is to create a shared calendar in Outlook that several people can admin and have a consistent view (category colors aren’t shared for example). Doesn’t companies that use MS Exchange want to mark out release dates for their products, milestones or even birthdays so all employees can see without hassle?

Anyway, as a little helper I’ve made a small bookmarklet that will grab the release date if you’re looking at a product that has one while surfing Webhallen (a popular store in Stockholm) and format the data into iCalendar-format. But for Outlook to pick it up it has to be saved to a file and downloaded, which means I have to host a dynamic file and if I’m already doing that I can make the bookmarklet a bit more advanced by having it include a .js-file and calling a function – allowing me to update and extend the bookmarklet without people having to update anything manually. I’ll post it if/when it’s done.

VG Releases and others are a nice try but it can be a lot better, which I want to make (my target audience is just Sweden for now). I’ll have Outlook integration in mind, but if the response is big enough I’ll make support for Google Calendar. First is finishing the bookmarklet, then making a small site that spiders the supported websites and creates a big calendar with everything. I think this will be my first Google App Engine and Google Web Toolkit project…

Idea: Christmas gifting

This year me and a friend were Cyber Santas. I checked out his wishlist on Steam, and he checked out my wishlist on Amazon. Then we bought each others gift, on Christmas Eve, online, from home, delivered instantly. It felt great! Gifting is one thing, but giving someone a present has a few more subtletess I’d like introduced.

  1. Schedule delivery for a specific date. Since the gifting is instantanous, giving a Christmas gift or birthday present means you have to buy it on the actual date. Most blogs and email-clients have delayed or scheduled functions, so why not just let me choose what date the person gets the gift? Or even better, let them know right away but don’t let them open it until my given date.
  2. Gift “wrap” it. It was nice getting that e-mail from Amazon telling me Karl had “gifted me” the book Superfreakonomics, but it would’ve been a bit more fun with that feeling of wrapped gifts you get when you know you’ve got something but don’t know what it is.