Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Ban if you spam"

Would this work?

The problem

I've been contacting a few companies lately by email. Sadly replies are very rare. I expect these companies receive so much spam and irrelevant emails that my email disappears in a mountain of unwanted mail. So I've devised a 'ban if you spam' idea:

How it works

An individual would state - in their email account- that they agree to send no more than ten emails a day. If they exceed this number then their account is disabled (permanently?). In all their outgoing email the title line indicates that the sender has signed-up to the 'ban if you spam' agreement. Thus the recipient knows that the email is not from a spammer.

Any thoughts on this?

Take Home Digest

I always wonder what I should read over this weekend, or any weekend for that matter. I surf the net speedily and find myself some nice article(s) to read and feel happy about the 2 S's that I need to enjoy.
Wouldn't it be good, if we had a a site that lets me generate a digest for myself to read over the weekend? Think about it.
I go to this site and am presented with a range of subjects (gardening, pottery, management, law, medicine, space technology, etc.) and a link alongside each to let me know the kind of stories that are showcased this week. Wait, wait, wait. Let's go through this slowly.

I launch the webpage of this site. Nice presentation. Not too jazzy and loaded with flash, but soft and mellow and visually preparing me for the weekend. I login. The site welcomes me personally and asks me whether I liked the articles (the articles are listed with a set of radio buttons beside each, allowing me to let the site know whether an article was interesting, ok or not to my taste). I can choose to ignore this query and let the site know that I wish to proceed with creating my digest. I am now presented with a list of my earlier templates of digest designs (each one of them is given a name like "Hobbies", "Adventure activities" or "Management and Knowledge"). I can choose any one of these templates or specify a new one. Let's assume that I go ahead and specify a new one. I click on the new Digest Collection and am taken to a page which list topics (based on the history of frequency of choice, i.e. if over the past few digests, I chose "Carpentry" more often than any other topic, then Carpentry will at the top) in a very interesting format. Its not a simple tabular list of topics but in a colourful and attractive format. A large number of Post-Its (with small thumbnail pictures) or like a magazine rack or something similar.
So I get to choose a few topics (max, say, 9) for my Take Home Digest, and then click on the compile button. The site builds a magazine for me full with TOC and allows me to download it as a full colour PDF document. All I need to do is download it and maybe print it out and take it home.
That is one happy weekend ahead for me.

There is a lot more that can be done once we have this idea in place. We could add a list of links which are related to the main article. We could highlight a few key phrases and link them to a search on Google or Vivisimo. We could have the feedback facility built into the document itself, so that, once the reader is done reading an article he can click on the relevant feedback icon (represented as fresh flowers, dry flowers and brickbats). The site will use a neat algo to keep polishing its compilation algorithm.
Money? Yeah, we need to think of that as well. Maybe the site could create different levels of memberships:
Only free articles
50-50 free and paid articles
No restrictions
Preference based (member can choose to receive articles from N Magazines + free articles)

These logisitics can be decided later. I am more concerned about the idea.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A new kind of industry

This happened way back last year (suddenly "way back" takes you about 5-15 years and "last year" zips you back!! ;-). 2 friends of mine and I were having a conversation. I had had a dream 9no, usually my dreams are nicer and saucier, but once in a while...) about a company started and run me one of them and me. This company basically had a different structure and went ahead to surpass all other companies in their revenue and stock value. But all that was basically to make my dream happy (I believe I was half awake and hence, manipulated part of my dream to make it happy). I was discussing this dream with my friends and telling them how I loved the structure, and they went ahead to tell me that it was a hopeless case and such a company would never thrive. I took their word for it and decided to shelve my company (no, I never throw any of them away). I was so disappointed for the next few days!! :-(

A few weeks later, I read this article and was jumping all over the place. It doesn't totally parallel my idea but it definitely was a sort-of proof of concept. And, when MIT says something I dreamt of is hot, boy, I am all over the place hugging and kissing people I hardly know!!!

So, here is my dream.

My company basically had 3 tiers.
Tier 1: Implementors
Tier 2: Analysts and Management
Tier 3: Inventors
Cool, we can call it the IA-MI (ayaamee) structure (no, this wasn't part of my dream then).

So back to my dream structure. I like to invent, but am not always driven to carry it to completion. I am usually happy with the thought that I was able to solve a problem wonderfully cleanly and with different possibilities. I would go ahead and implement it too but not always (like the charge-cum-signal idea below). Anyway, so Tier 3 was for people like me. We simply keep solving problems and coming up with new gadget ideas and the like. We do not restrict ourselves to a domain although we take no measures to hide our area of interest.

With the entire range of ideas (with clear specifications in place) on the table, the erudite members of Tier 2 start thinking. They look at the spread on the table and say, "Hmmm, nice stuff. So, this is the kind of stuff we can do, huh? Neat. Now, let us look at where the market is going," and they take out their laptops and reports and pens and stuff and soon talk to each other in hushed tones and well practised seriousness. Then they finally tell us (and themselves), "We can go ahead and implement exhibit A, G, K, R, X and Z. We need to investigate F, L, S and Y. The remaining stuff we'll go ahead and patent." Next, they go ahead and create plans and schedules and estimates for A, G...Z and conduct discussions and brainstorming sessions with members of Tier 1 and 3. A separate team will look into the lucre one can associate with F, L..Y. The remaining stuff are sent to the legal department for patenting.

Tier 1 members are specialist. They know how to get the job done. They discuss details (technical as well as project management related) with memebers of Tier 3 and 2 and finally go ahead and implement some of the ideas. Mind you, Tier 1 is a heterogenous mix of people and skills. There are software engineers, mechanical engineers, electronic engineers, chemical engineers, et al. There would also be craftsmen like carpenters, painters, etc. (but let's not lose our focus right now). Once they are implemented, the products are marketed (by people in Tier 2 and their teams) to the customer base like any product is.

Tier 2 might convert some of the investigated ideas (F, L, S or Y) into implementable ideas and the remaining go to the patenting department.

The patenting dept. aggressvely goes ahead and files patents for all the ideas that are not implementable (not implementable because we do not find sufficient resources within the company and the ROI might not be worth it). Once the patents are ready, we sell/lease the patents to other companies. The details of the lease/sale contract are details that I shant get into. E.g. a Tier 3 member might have come up with a wonderful idea for a refrigerator compressor design. The company doesn't find it lucrative enough to enter the home appliance segment and hence, files a patent for this (patents are filed even for the implementable stuff). Once the patent is ready, we might lease this technology to the big players in the refrigerator market.

So the company revenue is derived from product sales and licensing as well as patent sale/lease and renewals.

But, honestly, this what not what I was trying to solve (unconsciously) in my dream. I found many people not satisfied with their jobs. Some love to implement things and see it out in the market. Some love to invent. Some love to study markets and make sharp and shrewd decisions. I wanted to construct a company which lets people do what they love the most. If a Tier 3 hits a dry patch (inventor's block?) then s/he can move to Tier 2 or 1 based on her/his capabilities. Similarly a Tier 1 can also move around. I was targetting creating a structure for complete job satisfaction (at least as far as possible).

Hope you liked my dream. In case you didn't, please know that at the end of the dream we had bought enough top name companies (don't want to name them ;-) and were minting truck loads of money!!! ;-)

For those interested in a relatively new concept of Idea Management, please visit (requires a free registration) this site.

The problem of charging mobile phones...

Problem: Mobile phones need to be regularly charged and forgetting to do so overnight, might cause inconveniences which are best left to one's imagination.

Solution 1: Pre-charged units
These unit can be charged while one is away from home/hotel while another one (which was charged the previous night/day) can be carried along with the mobile. It would be a simple and small unit which is fitted into the mobile phone charging receptacle and would charge the unit while in use. No wires, no proximity to electrical sockets, no heavy units.
Pre-charged units can also be bought at stores. These would be disposable units, costing not too much (say the cost of a AA battery) and provide charge for a 12-16 hour usage.

Solution 2: Charge on signal (this is a hypothesis)
The signal to the mobile is partly used in charging the unit. Thus, the incoming signal is (condition to the strength of the signal being atleast 30% above a mark) split and a part of it is used in charging the unit. When the signal strength drops to or below the mark, the conversion stops and the signal is used primarily for communication.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

First post

Creativity and Brainstorming Projects: a place to post problems, solve problems and choose focus of creativity and brainstorming.