Idea: Shaking as pin-code

The iPhone uses a regular number PIN-code as a locking mechanism for the phone. Android uses a swipe-based method.

Wouldn’t it be funny to use shake instead? Think of your favourite chorus in a song, and shake to it. Someone would have to guess the correct song and “dig” to it as you do.

Sure everyone can see you shaking and shaking takes more effort than swiping, but it would be funny!

Idea: Abstract Amazon Web Services to a Platform as a Service (PaaS)

What I really really like about Google App Engine (GAE) is the whole Platform as a Service (Paas) approach. As a developer I really couldn’t care less about how many instances (virtual servers) are running the site or what configuration they have. I certainly don’t want to be on call 24/7, ready to manually start up new instances in case I get slashdotted. GAE just runs your application and scales when needed with your set budget as the only real limit. So upload your website project and relax.

Google provides a great dashboard that shows usage stats and costs about all metrics that count so you can optimize and lower your costs. They even offer a pretty high volume of free capacity which is great for trying out new projects/products. If it was a .NET platform I wouldn’t use anything else, but alas it’s not – it’s for Java (JVM) and Python only (although it does support anything that runs on JVM, like JRuby).

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) so you have to manually start up new instances or set up a small network of AWS-services to do it for you. Windows Azure is even worse since there’s no infrastructure support to build the automated monitoring on.

I see it as a great business opportunity to abstract AWS into a PaaS, and provide platforms for various website technologies. Especially ASP.NET and PHP.

Idea: Design pattern of the day

This is more an idea for my blog. To do a blog post about some design pattern every week. The thing is there are so many types of patterns now, everyone wants to patternize things. There’s Design Patterns in software, there’s Apprenticeship Patterns in software craftsmanship, UI Design Patterns in graphical design, there’s Pair Programming patterns, and so on. Also there’s the original architectural patterns.

What kind would be the most interesting? Maybe a mix of everything?

Idea: SVN Achievements

Some time ago my friend showed me Git Achievements. I think it’s a great idea and more and more projects are moving to GIT. Still, SVN has a large user base and it would be a great contribution to it. What I really like about achievements in general is how you can set fixed goals and have it automatically checked when someone reaches it. It’s also a visible badge that you can show off, or someone can search for (i.e. find someone with a specific achievement).

One example from the Git project is:

Caretaker
Added a .gitignore file to a repository.

Some could be very introductory, such as doing an update before a commit. You could even have anti-achievements such as breaking the build. Or meta-achievements where you’re the first one to get a specific achievement on a specific project or team.

One interesting twist to this would be a community driven site for creating and sharing new SVN Achievements.

There’s a lot that can be done with this and achievements in general, I’ll probably do a post on it later.

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.

Mint.com graphsMint.com 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 Spenderat.se.

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.