First off I think I’m supposed to apologize when I don’t post for… forever. So… sorry it’s been so long.

The main reason I haven’t posted in a while is that I put most of my thoughts on twitter now, feel free to follow me twitter.com/davepreston.

Between facebook, twitter, and whatever other new Web 2.0 sites I can find, I haven’t been putting my “great ideas” down in this blog.

Enough excuses. Most of those Web 2.0 sites have a profile picture (including wordpress actually). I decided tonight that I was bored with my old profile picture and wanted to change it. That’s when I realized how annoying that would be. So far I’ve updated twitter, flickr, and facebook. There are probably a dozen other sites that I’ve used my old picture on and I’d like to be able to update all of them at the same time.

Reasons this is a bad idea:
– Actually, I can’t think of anything bad about this idea other than the fact that the site that did the updates would have to have your password for all your different sites. But that seems to happen all over the place these days and is a problem that should be addressed in a different post.

– The only other reason not to write one is that probably someone already has. I’m expecting a comment on this blog or a reply in twitter any minute now :).

I pownced about this already, but I wanted to expand on my thoughts here.

For those of you that don’t know about Pownce it’s web 2.0 blend between blogging and Instant Messaging. It fills the void when I have something to say, but not enough time to write a full blog entry. It also provides for the opportunity to reply to particular messages.

Replies are the focus of this post. I think it would be cool to have a bot that listened to a pownce feed for a specific directive. When it gets a question that it knows how to answer it could reply directly in Pownce.
  It could be done in several ways. It could wait for messages directly to it (Pownce allows for direct messages) or it could look at all the messages for keywords like “define:, weather:, ticker:, etc.”. If it saw “weather: Portland, OR” In my public feed it could quickly look up the weather and reply to me in pownce. Google has something similar for definitions. If I enter “define: happiness” into google it will quickly tell me about a state of being happy. I just want this type of thing in Pownce so I don’t have to switch over to my web browser.

  In the spirit of this blog here’s why it won’t work:
    The main reason this won’t work is it’s not allowed :(.
  According to Pownce’s legal page “User will not use any robot, spider, scraper or other automated means to access the Site for any purpose without Megatechtronium’s express written permission.”

  Bummer. I guess I need to get their express written permission. Perhaps I could use Twitter instead since it offers similar functionality but doesn’t have a robot clause in it’s TOS page. I’ve used Twitter, but I like Pownce better and I think it’s reply feature is a lot more sophisticated than Twitter’s.

By the way, Pownce is currently an invite only beta, but if you would like an invite, post a comment to the blog so I can invite you, or go to inviteShare which is a cool site to share invites to limited beta sites. That’s how I got an invite to Joost, but that’s a post for another time.

  Large headphones sound good, but they also draw a lot of power. That’s why iPod’s have those small earbuds. Even though the sound quality isn’t as good, you put up with it, because driving larger headphones would drain the batteries too quickly.

  Some of the smaller headphones go deep into your ear to block out the sound.

  I figure why keep trying to imitate the real thing. Why not just shake the eardrum itself directly instead of a speaker which then shakes the eardrum. Why not wire up a headphone jack directly to your eardrum?

   Off the top of my head I can think of a few good reasons 🙂

  1) It sounds easy to go overboard and damage your hearing (of course that’s a good argument for not using headphones of any kind)
  2) If they change the format or connectors you may need surgery to keep up

Actually, those reasons aren’t that awful. I’m talking myself back into this being a good idea :). I’m not sure I’d sign up immediately, but I’d give it some thought.

  3) what if your headphones get pulled out of your ears, and it’s connected to your eardrum. Ouch! (maybe Apple can come up with some magnetic release like their power cords.)
  4) Lightning strikes could be deadly.

I hate it when I get a song stuck in my head and I can’t even remember the name of the song?

I want a search engine that searches for songs. But I don’t want to search by name or artist. I want to be able to hum a melody and have a search engine find songs that are similar.

Wow. There’s a site that does this already according to the link below.
(I promise you I don’t just search for odd things and then write about them. I really have wanted this for quite some time and just got around to writing about it today.)
It just goes to show you that “there’s nothing new under the sun.”

http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9667815-2.html

The site is: http://hsearch.nayio.com/ I’m going to try it now.

UPDATE: Sadly, it seems to be unavailable. The site loads. It even will record and play back my audio input, but just gives an odd error when I try to search. There’s no way for me to even debug it since it’s an activeX control :(.

Maybe they fell prey to one of my reasons it wouldn’t work. That the RIAA would come after them for recording their users trying to sound like other songs. They would probably need to pay royalties :).

I have a hard time remembering anything.
I’ve noticed that the only things that I check with any regularity are my email, my RSS feeds, and Pownce.

Because of that I’ve taken to sending myself emails for things that I need to do. I also leave emails marked as “unread” to remind me to do something. The problem with that is that my inbox gets so cluttered with “tasks” masquerading as emails that I miss important emails or my response is delayed.

To solve these problems I propose the following online application:

  • You enter your tasks on the site and can define frequency, reminder time/type, description, etc. etc.
  • Manage friends making it a social network around tasks (not really necessary but everything has to have a social network to be cool these days :))
  • Reminders are key for me so there has to be a way to set reminders to send me an email, or add an RSS entry into the feed so I see it in my reader.

I liked this idea so much I even started writing it. I spent a limit time considering the data structure and “wasted” untold hours trying to install Visual Studio 2005, but that’s a topic for a different blog.

Tonight before I got back into writing the app I decided to do a search for similar businesses to see if there was anything I could learn (of course I didn’t expect to learn anything given my vast amount of existing knowledge :))

www.simplespark.com is a great search engine when looking for new companies.
In this case it turns out that there are several companies doing precisely what I described above!

Once again giving me a good blog post instead of a great business idea.

In case you are wondering www.rememberTheMilk.com and www.beeplet.com apparently do what I’m talking about. However, it does look like beeplet is having issues at the moment. I can’t get to their site. remember the milk looks like a very cool site. I’ll have to see if it can help me remember stuff.

UPDATE: I just tried adding a weekly reminder to update my blog. It let me do that and even gave me a link. I am super bummed though that RSS was NOT one of the options for reminder. IM was, and email was. For now I have it set to send me email. I’ve come full circle, but now I’ve completely lost interest in writing my own. I guess I’ll just have to hope beeplet comes back online (or do another search for the dozens of copycats that I’m certain are available.

  Hearing about the PS3 Folding@Home Project got me to thinking about distributed computing. Sony is using idle cycles on PS3 machines to do medical research. This is similar to SETI@Home, a desktop screen saver that searches for extraterrestrial intelligence. (The Folding@Home Project can be run on a desktop too, I have it running in the background currently.)

  Building on the distributed screen saver concept I have a multi-phased idea:

  1. Build a very slick screen saver to be given away free.
    The amount of installs must be very high so people should feel they are getting a high-end screensaver for nothing (for now).
  2. Build a distributed platform into the screen saver so that you can sell off compute time on any machine that is running the screen saver.
    If #1 worked well, we should have a compelling distributed platform, then we have to get the compute sales up.
  3. To keep the pipeline going and keep people interested we start giving money to the users based on how much computing their computer has done. This will encourage them to leave the screensaver installed and running (perhaps even running in the background during use throughout the day). We’re basically paying them for their spare computer cycles.
  4. At some point we could have the option of disabling the distributed portion and just selling the screen saver. Of course that wouldn’t be optimal because we want a constant stream of income.

So, in the tradition of this blog. Reasons this idea won’t work:

  1. It sounds hard. 🙂
  2. Creating a compelling Screen Saver is easier said than done.
  3. Limited market – I have no idea how big the market for distributed computing is, but not many people need the immense computing power that distributed computing provides.
  4. Limited computations – Distributed computing is limited to attacking problems that can take advantage of massively parallel processing.
  5. Reduced costs of supercomputing.
  6. The type of people who are likely to install screen savers for this type of effort are likely already using Folding@home or SETI@Home. Getting them to switch would be tough, particularly if you don’t start paying from the beginning. Of course, if you’re going to start paying from the beginning you’ll need investors (who disregard the previous 5 points :))

  I love USB devices. Maybe I’m just enamored by hardware because I’m a “software guy” and don’t understand how it works. I love the Optimus mini three keyboard (although I’ve never used one). I saw a mention over on Hansleman’s blog. Too bad it’s $159 :(. 

  Not all USB devices are as cool as that. I’ve seen USB fans, USB aquariums & USB coffee warmers (actually the USB aquarium is kinda cool although I wish it were more realistic). People have even compiled entire lists of Pointless USB Gadgets.

  I happen to think that an interactive head would go into the way cool USB pile of USB gadgets. It could have a camera embedded into it as well as a small speaker. That would allow it to be hooked up to IM or skype. I would get visual feedback as well as audio. I think that would provide a much richer experience for the user. I thought this flower pot (that perks up when your buddy comes on IM) was USB, but apparently it’s wireless. That would be even cooler, but probably increase the cost significantly. The interactive head is basically an extension of the flower pot. Not only would the head “wake up” when my buddy came online, but my friends could speak to me vicariously through the head.