Idea: Banking visualization purely on client-side

When I talk to people working at banks, even UI people, they love blaming their bad banking services on their legacy systems. So far I’ve been semi-succesfull in convincing people that you could do all those pretty graphs, without touching those old COBOL-mainframes. uses imported data.

I don’t think banks want to give you a good picture of your economy as it won’t make them more money, maybe it would make them less, and they find excuses for it. To prove a point I’d love to make a bookmarklet that uses JS to generate a page with budget data, or even import it to an online service like Swedish


Book review: Aspho Fields (Gears of War)

Gears of War: Aspho Fields – Karen Traviss

(Note: I read this book in 2008, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

As a regular read this would get a 3-star as it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Being a game-based book that’s entertaining and gives more depth and background to the characters from the Gears of War games in a good way it gets an extra star. I would love to see the character Bernie (or “Boomer Lady” as Cole calls her) in the games. The book started by confusing me profoundly. It states clearly “prequal” on the cover page, yet the first chapters are about what happens between Gears of War 1 and 2. It starts alternating chapters a bit in, with one chapter about binding GOW 1-2 and then several years before GOW1 (and E-day for that matter). It’s interesting to find out more about Phoenix, and Dominic’s brother Carlos. Also some of the mystery of daddy Phoenix is poked into, maybe there’s more in GOW3 or the other book (Gears of War: Jacinto’s Remnant). I’ll be reading the next book soon though!

Conclusion: Read it If you’re a Gears of War fan and liked the story(!). Otherwise read something else.

Idea: What the E?

When you look at some food product, do you ever wonder what the E’s are for?

For example, I’m looking at a bottle of Coca-Cola and it has E150d and E338. The first is “sulfite ammonia caramel” and the second “food-grade phosphoric acid” (with the interesting note “not without controversy regarding its health effects”). Google and Wikipedia works fine to look up what these E’s stand for, but it would be nice with a more formal view of every E, what they actually are and specific foods they’re in.

The base for a site would be to mine Wikipedia to get a base for all E’s and what they are, but then rely on user submitted data to find products that have that E in it. With enough of it one could build a bar-code database so you can take a picture of a bar-code, and get a list of all the stuff it includes. What’s interesting is when the ingredient has controversy or debated health effects, and/or is banned in some areas (like E110 which is approved in EU but banned in Norway).

For fun, it could generate a score. The worse ingredient, the higher the score. The more of it the worse score it gets. Hopefully it would get people to buy less of that product and choose some more natural substitute instead.

Book review: The Game

The Game – Neil Strauss

(Note: I read this book in 2007, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

Contrary to popular belief this is NOT a handbook on picking up girls. It’s a chronicle of his life in the “pick-up community”. He starts with the simple reflection that he’s a nice guy, he’s good at writing (bibliography before The Game includes: “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell with Marilyn Manson”, “The Dirt with Mötley Crüe” and “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale with Jenna Jameson”), yet he goes dateless through his life. Hearing about a “pick-up artist” called Mystery he starts his journey by joining the mans training camp.Together they start Project Hollywood where they rend a house in Beverly Hills, where all kinds of crazy stuff happens. The book details that journey and along it he’ll use the vocabulary of his peers as well detailing things he tried. It’s that last part that makes everyone think it’s a handbook when it isn’t.

Conclusion: Read it. It’s an awesome read! I couldn’t put it down, I just needed to know what would happen to Neil and the guys as they create corporations, backstab, party, and try to find the one true girl.

Idea: Update watch

There are some simple pages that I’d like to follow, like job postings. They don’t have a RSS feed and are so seldom updated that a simple email notification will suffice.

So I’d like a service where you enter a URL and it will email you when the page is changed. A bookmarklet would work great with the service. Bonus if the mail included a diff to show what had been changed.

What would you follow?

Idea: You have ‘this’ version of .NET installed

With each version of Windows, you can make some assumptions on what .NET Framework version is installed. Sometimes you need to know it on a computer that’s not yours, or you need a user to tell you what version they have, it would be very convenient to tell them to visit a site and tell you what version they have. Microsoft has a KB on this but it involves mucking around in the Windows Registry, which most users aren’t comfortable with it.

Maybe the only way to really do this is through ActiveX if it’s going to be on a website. A simple download .exe would be much easier. There’s already code for this but I haven’t seen a wide use yet. Has anyone done this on a website before?

Book review: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

How To Stop Worrying And Start Living – Dale Carnegie

(Note: I read this book in 2009, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

A nice book on how to conquer worry. There are so many tips here I actually have a hard time remembering what to do when I worry! The book says two things about itself: to read it twice (second time underscoring and highlighting interesting texts) and not to consider it a “reading book” but more like a manual. I’ve done the first and I’m still confused by all the great tips. Basically it says not to worry… then there are a lot of ways to achieve that. If I would read it again I would probably just read it through once, and then look up the index once in a while. Let’s see if I ever go back to it, I might even update this review then. (don’t hold your breath)

Conclusion: Read it, on a holiday or some time relaxing.

Idea: Using a burndown chart for personal finance

One tool I love in scrum is the burndown chart. It clearly shows how much time and work is left. A quick glance shows you if you’re going to hit or miss your mark.

It occured to me that that’s exactly how I’d like my economy, my monthly spending, to be visualized. The only difference is how the goal should be to stay over the base line. Being over the line means extra money saved. Under the line means you’ll be out of money before the next paycheck.

(Made up example) Someone was able to adjust and save money.

The main point is to trigger a more saving approach and get continous feedback on ones financial situation. It’s a bit obvious, but the chart only makes sense for what you’re planning to spend until the next paycheck. Big expenses on the first day, like rent, electricity, etc, will mess up the chart.

Book review: Rich Dad Poor Dad 2: Cashflow Quadrant

Rich Dad Poor Dad Part II – Cash Flow Quadrant – Robert T. Kiyosaki

(Note: I read this book in 2008, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

It’s an alright book. Gives you a bit to think about but nothing revolutionizing. The last 40 pages or so are just blatant propaganda for his first book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and his CASHFLOW games. If you’re going to read one of Kiyosaki’s books then you might as well read the original: Rich Dad, Poor Dad (and be aware that Kiyosaki’s only successful venture is the Rich Dad franchise).

Conclusion: Skip it.