Archive for the 'inventions/schemes' Category

SkypeBot, a video telephone appliance

October 9, 2008

This would sure help us include people in meetings when they’re far away.  Further, it helps someone “take a look at something” from afar.

UPDATE: It occurs to me now that instead of the robot arms, which are great but horribly impractical, it instead have the screen on a super-quick motorized pan (left/right), tilt (up/down) AND rotation (leaning to left/right) control, so that all the ways one can move his head around is translated into the screen’s movement.  That’s a whole lot of expression right there, and it could theoretically be controlled via pattern-recognition wizardry on the picture of the person’s face.  That can work.

Oh yeah, and a motorized laser pointer, so the remote person can reach out and point to stuff: that button right THERE.

“Voice Reply” to emails?

October 8, 2008

What if you could send/reply-to an email with a voice message?  That would sure be handy in some situations, I think.  What if semi-literate (ie “most”) customers could do that for you?

(And how is this an opportunity to make a buck?)

Holy Crap: CO2 sucked from the air efficiently

October 1, 2008

If this machine is for real, and extracts carbon dioxide for 100 kilowatt hours of electricity per ton extracted, then this is a huge deal!

The heat of formation of that ton of CO2 is 2300 kilowatt hours.

So, for just four percent the energy of what that CO2 generated when it was made, it can be re-captured and used again for something.  (Okay actually twelve percent, because the CO2 generated heat, not electricity, so there’s a ~1:3 efficiency factor there.)

For instance, electricity can be used to make hydrogen gas out of water.  Fine.  If it can be also be used to isolate CO2 out of the air as well, then the H2 and CO2 can be chemically combined in a factory to make hydrocarbons.

So we’re talking about a process that is 100% electrically-driven that makes natural gas and liquid motor fuel.

As for the economics of it all, I’ll have to get back to you.  It could be that the CO2-extraction machine costs a zillion dollars and is therefore meaningless.  But if not, this could be huge because then there’s a price point for renewable electricity that would allow us to make synthetic natural gas and gasoline/diesel/jet fuel that is cheaper than the stuff from the ground.  Shit!

UPDATE: Eric asutely notices and points out that the electricity usage per ton of CO2 isolated is really ten times that, about 1000 kilowatt-hours.  Hm.  That changes the math but doesn’t torpedo it entirely.  More later.

RAMbox, a cheap computer speed-up trick

September 24, 2008

When your computer’s RAM is maxed out, then what?  How about some RAM in an external box that the computer swaps to over USB/Firewire?

Further, maybe it’s worthwhile to recycle old RAM SIMMs and DIMMs that are taking up space in coffee cans and shoe boxes accross America.  Doing a buy-back “amnesty” for old RAM could be a cheap way to get a whole bunch of gigabytes in a hurry.

MultiLane, a multi-redundant internet thingie+service

September 23, 2008

Surely this exists already, but I can’t figure out how to even search for it.  Eric was right about my Google-fu being weak.

It’s just a thingie+service that lets me pretend that my internet connection is in a data center somewhere.  The trick is that it can use (“load-share”) multiple internet connections (DSL, cable and wireless, for example) while doing this, and is ready for any one or two of them to break and still do its thing.

(As for what’s going on between the thingie and the data center along the colored lines in the video, I have no idea.  Maybe it’s iptables wizardry, or maybe it’s something else entirely that’s IP-based but weird and proprietary.)

So really, this is my naive best guess at how an ideal load-sharing redundant interent connection scheme would work for small-timers such as myself.  ‘Sure seems obvious enough from here., a picture-based translation service

September 22, 2008

This could be a neat thing for people learning a foreign language or traveling in a foreign country.

It’s a service that lets you take pictures of things with your iPhone and then get back a “subtitled” version of the picture a minute or so later.  It could be for things (like cats, salt shakers, etc) or words (like on signs or menus).  Hmm., a business idea about cables

September 15, 2008

(BTW, Sorry about the annoying noise at 3:23.  It only lasts ~20 seconds.  It’s my cellphone RF-interfering with the microphone, sheesh. –Craig, aka Mr. Production Values)

PS (Sept 16): I forgot to mention how the snap-in connectors at the ends of Cat5 cables are pretty small, and not wide like DB connectors.  Ergo, Cat5 cables are easier to push/route/yank around/through holes and constrictions.  (In fact, there’s a new class of Cat5 end connectors that are specifically designed to be yankable without getting caught on things.)  Once the ends are in the right places, the fat and clunky adapters are clicked on at the last minute.  The bigger/nastier your cabling situation, the more convenient this is.

Tubewich! My first food invention

September 2, 2008

I’ve been into this one for years now.  Sandwiches are the cleanest fast food there is, plus they don’t need to be expensive.  The right fillings and the right bread and whammo, that’s a nice little meal.  However, it’s hard to walk around eating one (or at least not a good one).  So, here’s a way to eat a submarine sandwich with one hand and not make a mess.

Somehow, via some food-science wizardry, one makes this floored cylinder of bread that’s crusty on the outside and inside surfaces.  Ergo, the various liquids inside (mayo, oil & vinegar, pesto, etc) don’t instantly soak into the bread and get it all soggy and gross.

With a flat-ish bottom one could set it down.  Further, one could wrap the bottom half in wax paper and set it down in his car’s cup holder, which would probably make the thing wildly profitable.  (Apocalyptically so, perhaps, since having people eat more and more meals while walking or driving isn’t exactly the recipe for utopian perfection, but hey, get it while you can.)


(Friday May 1st 2009 addendum)

Behold what someone observed in Italy one day:


Pretty close!  Conical instead of cylindrical, but still.

USB Flashdisk + Flashlight!

September 2, 2008
Diggit, it's a USB flash disk (aka thumbdrive) and also a super-bright LED flashlight.  It communicates and recharches through the USB port!  I could use one of these.