Sunday, March 04, 2007


Product improvement thoughts...

Digital thermometer

I have a digital thermometer that tells me when the meat is done, but there's something about it I don't like. It slowly climbs to the final temperature as the probe absorbs surrounding heat (In retrospect, I worry about Google referrals I'll get for that sentence). Given the first few samples, I think it should be able to provide a reasonably accurate estimate of the final temperature much more quickly. If there's a rare pork liability issue, have it beep once it hits some confidence level.

Thumb drives

I'd like to use my thumb drive as a replacement for a coffee card. (Maybe even all my cards, if it can be done in a reasonably secure manner). And I also want to be able to store a definition of "the usual" on this thumb drive, because coffee orders have gotten too complicated. Let me hand you my thumb drive and say, "I'd like 'the usual'."

Automatic teller machines

Here's a machine learning problem waiting for a solution. When you can get a gig of flash memory for $20, maybe it's time to create ATMs that remember if I speak English or Spanish and also remember that I pretty much always either make a deposit or withdraw $100. Ideally, the mothership should remember this for all machines, but I've given up on that ever happening. I'll even be happy if it's merely remembered by individual machines. A gig should be way more than enough for a machine to remember every customer it will ever have. And, why oh why, must the user interface on these machines require a search through four levels of menus? Most of these machines could be inducted into a user interface hall of shame.

Universal power cords

Game boys, cell phones, laptops, etc., etc., etc. How many things do I have in my household that need to be recharged? And how much I wish I could have fewer cords around! How about a smarter power cord that can recognize how much juice a device needs and pipe it through a standard connector? If Honda can build a robot that jogs...

Small Laptop Expansion Bay

Given how tiny they can make dongles for wireless mice, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and thumb drives, a little bay for a few small USB2 devs would be a really welcome laptop feature. With plummeting flash memory, there's a potential for high speed flash fun with RAID 0.

Compact Disc packaging

I've had a lot of trouble with the packaging of newly purchased CDs just falling off by itself. This results in many a scratched disc. The packaging needs to be more robust and harder to get off. I think an iron box completely welded shut might be the answer.


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