And what I think is junk, someone else might see gold, or have just the right connections to create a decent product.
This is what being a hacker is all about - open sharing of ideas. And this blog post is just that, in its rawest form. Awesome.
Here's another page which I like for the same reason: http://www.sixmonthmba.com/2009/02/999ideas.html
The other day there was a thread about someone asking what their idea should be valued at, without any background on the idea or their own capacity to execute (or even their skills).
I really strongly believe that an idea has no value at all, simply a big fat '0'. And chances are that if you have a particular idea that 10 other guys have it too.
By throwing these out there (the good with the bad and the ugly) I'm hoping for two things: That people will not 'hoard' their ideas and feel free to discuss them and that you get an idea of how bad the ratio between 'good' and 'bad' is. Take in to account the 900 or so that didn't even make the cut of being listed here and you have an idea how bad most of the others are ;)
The worst possible idea is one that you hoard and spend a ton of time on when someone could shoot it down in 30 seconds by pointing out a fatal flaw, those ideas can actually develop a negative valuation because you'll keep sinking more time in to the zombie.
Usually a week or so after having an idea I go 'what on earth was I thinking that that would be a good idea', some last a little longer, even fewer actually get implemented and a small fraction of those develop traction. It's like a distillation column.
And please do share your own list(s) of ideas!
I really strongly believe that an idea has no value at
all, simply a big fat '0'. And chances are that if you
have a particular idea that 10 other guys have it too.
For reference, I've posted about 200 ideas over the past three years at http://astartupaday.com . And yes, the majority are crap, but there was one idea that got some traction and now I'm executing on it full-time as part of TechStars.
ajaxbricks - nice, kinda like the way you program the lego NXT (labview). Anyone with enough patience and desire to learn this, might as well just learn JS and PHP though. Potential though.
ArticleBody - good. I'm stealing this one.
AutoTagger - ditto. Care to share your code?
Dead Mans Knob.... just sounds wrong. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=knob
Also I'm pretty sure it's been done, just can't find the site.
E404 - http://archive.org/
fwitter - http://tweetbeep.com/
HackerContests - Great, want to start it? My resume: http://www.puremango.co.uk/2009/08/php-cv/
OptInSpam - Clever, you should be able to get some press coverage on that concept. Not sure if anyone would sign up, but it's innovative.
vm4rent - nice idea! legal?
wwspeech - chatroulette could have been this. Good idea, potentially huge.
ProofItWasThere - I had this idea too! Was thinking along the lines of 'verified screenshot', eg for people wanting to prove things about their server stats, ad revenue etc, or for when sites screw things up, etc.
AutoTagger - OpenCalais does this, again opportunities for improvement of course.
Still a nice list of ideas.
Quite similar, one of the lame ones on my list (working title: LockBox) was a vault where you could record a few (electronic) things that friends/family might need after you passed (funeral wishes, how to distribute your things, basic passwords, where you hid jewellery, etc).
Someone could hit the site and enter two email addresses - the vault owner's, and their own. An email would be sent to the vault owner (identifying the person attempting to unlock the box) and if a link in said email was not clicked within 24-48 hours (or whatever it was set at), the vault key would be sent to the requesting person.
Target moody teens that obsess over what music might be played at their funeral, who gets their collection of whatever, what happens to their dog, etc.
re. dead mans knob: that's a literal translation of a dutch word, not sure what the english translation is, it stems from a button that train drivers have to keep pressed or the train will coast to a stop (in case they have a heart attack).
nice you like hackercontests :) Yes, I'd like to see that one happening very much. HackerBacker too, but that one is much more involved.
re. proofitwasthere: I was expecting such a response for pretty much all of them :)
HackerBacker is probably fraught with legal problems, which absolutely sucks because it would be a great thing to do.
Registrate has promise though.. you could add the ability to upload photos of your stuff to it. Then work on ways to convince insurance companies to work with you. So subscribers could simply select their insurance company, enter a policy #, choose what they are claiming for and enter a claim etc.
AdFreeZone - There is (or was) money in this. Slashdot at one point allowed you to pay $5 to remove ads (still might for all I know). I think Kuro5hin.org did something similar. I don't know how this is still relevant with AdBlock though.
Or did you mean something more than a community in a website? Somehow I can't help but be reminded of the "walled city" in Tad William's "otherland" books.
AfMijn - There are a couple of auction sites that implement short bidding periods. Google just found me bidz.com for example. I think finding a way to verify users as serious in an affordable way is what would get in the way of somebody implementing this.
ArticleBody - There is a service doing something similar, but I can't remember what it's called. Actually, it might be a firefox extension I'm thinking about.
DeadMansKnob - In the UK knob is a slang term for penis. Saying dead mans knob out loud will cause a lot of laughs.
exes4all - I know I've come across something like this before. It turned into people telling each others secrets and trying to hurt their former partners.
FossBounty - Sites like Rentacoder have escrow services. I don't remember seeing this applied to FOSS code bounties & it would be interesting to see it happen.
hardhacks - See instructables.com and plenty of other niche electronics hobbyist sites etc.
NoSEO - I wonder what Gabriel Weinberg might think about this.
WeWatch - YC funded a startup that was doing this a few years ago. I don't know what happened to them.
By the way, thanks for sharing :)
You're thinking of the Readability bookmarklet ( http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/ ) most probably.
I've used Rentacoder to get some FOSS work done before but the problem was everything had to be arranged elsewhere because Rentacoder is just overrun with spammers and idiots "e.g. I want a clone of facebook and I'd pay as much as $50!".
I never knew that.
Bonus: you now have many variations on the same musical theme, each of which can be decomposed into tracks for each instrument. Give them to a DJ, see what she can make out of it.
To make money you could sell the final track on iTunes or press CDs (t-shirts?) and the site will track which musician gets what, or else just charge $10/month for access.
Where I live, traffic is highly variable. If I leave 5 minutes later one morning, there might be no traffic at all, but if I left another 3 minutes after that, I would be stuck in heavy traffic. If there was some way we could track the rate of traffic over time (say, plot out the mph between 7am-8am) every morning, I bet after a month we could figure out the ideal times to leave for work.
Google maps already uses crowdsourcing for its traffic data, so maybe that's the way to go. I would need a large sample size though. I researched a few cities and Houston, TX has sensors that use the toll RFIDs to determine traffic conditions. There are tons of other applications for this data, too. Think of shipment or delivery companies (UPS...), among others.
[do those GPS boxes tell a central server where they are. can they? If it's "just" a privacy issue, the benefit of traffic monitoring would be enough to get people to sign away their location data]
Or just partner with a taxi or delivery firm: their dispatchers already do a fair amount of this monitoring manually, and they already track everything they can about what their drivers are doing. Plus B2B, so /much/ easier to charge serious fees.
Look on the air quality section of the US EPA site - they might have some traffic data.
Haven't touched the code in close to a year because I've been so busy. If anyone's seriously interested in taking my code and running with it, send me an email.
Mine focuses on getting lots of different people to put money on the same bounty (I explained it as "Uservoice with Money", ie. instead of Uservoice where you vote with points, people would vote with money.)
The idea was that usually an individual person isn't willing to pay enough to make it worth the dev's time, but a whole bunch of people might be willing to pay $20.
A place for facebook hold-outs or people that have left Facebook for whatever reason.
That's the reason why there is an 'open ecu' somewhere else in the list, most ECU's are sealed tighter than a gnats arse to avoid liability.
There has been some work on an open ECU though.
Another advantage of this would be retrofit start-stop trickery on existing cars while removing parts :)
Fuel saver as well as an emissions boost.
And I always thought it was a great name :)
I think you would seriously struggle with an open ECU.
There are multiple reasons for this but the two main ones would be:
1) Manufacturers charge a ton for mechanics to use their software to acces their ECU and there is a recurring subscription charge for said software so you would be competing against a very monopolistic market.
2) Every car is drasticly different. A universal ECU would need to be a remarkable feat of engineering for it to be able to handle a honda civic as efficiently as it handles a Ford F150. Considering the amount of responsibility ECU's now hold in a vehicle, creating one which can handle parameters for all cars would be almost impossible and probably ridiculously expensive.
re (2), yes, but there is less variation than you may think
Is there though?
Valve timing, fuel injection, emission control, idle. All of these factors are vastly different from vehicle to vehicle and the majority are variable dependant on how other elements of the engine are performing.
A well written piece of software would have those as presets that you could choose from a long long list of makes, models and engine codes.
Personalize the ecu to the car and you'd have an adapter problem left to deal with.
(voltage levels and pinout).
As for the spark plugs, that's true, but usually the injector rails are 'crossed' from the spark plugs so only one cylinder will actually fire.
Most starter motors are re-wound, not replaced so the manufacturers don't see a dime of the secondary market.
I had a very similar idea more than a decade ago.
I wrote a business plan and shopped (unsuccessfully)
for venture capital. Here's the title and first
paragraph from my plan of Nov. 18, 1998:
Proto-pliance: A concept plan for a company which designs,
manufactures, and sells hardware and software for rapid
prototyping or customization of electronic devices
The basis of this plan is developing electronic blocks or "bricks"
that can be used to build simple, useful, custom electronic devices
in as little time as half-an-hour to a few hours, with the help of a
person who can do light weight programming. No electrical engineering,
soldering, or firmware programming required. One proposed business
name, Proto-pliance, a blend of prototyping and appliance, is used in the
broadest sense. The "prototype" may be put to real uses; the "appliance"
may be any kind of electronic or electromechanical device. The business
designs, manufactures, and sells hardware (the bricks) and the required
software (development tools).
I suspect that hundreds of other people have had this
same idea (BugLabs and several others fit the bill),
but I'm disappointed to see that no one has managed to
make a big success out of this. This is a seemingly
really good idea but it hasn't panned out.
I suspected there would be some of that but not to this extent.
More proof of the value of ideas ;)
As for this particular one, buglabs is in the right direction but the granularity is all wrong.
I see a brick costing no more than a buck or two, $5 tops.
Buy them in bags, not fancy boxes :)
The only slightly more pricey ones would be the ones capable of displaying something or having complex inputs.
Anagram of America, the 'free world' where you can join in groups to roam the internet at large. Any page you visit you take your 'followers' along with you, and everybody shows up as little avatars on top of the pages visited. Now known as 'crowdsurfing'.
Made me wonder if those avatars couldn't be represented by some mischievous vandals that could interact with the page somehow (thinking of the Asteroids bookmarklet that was mentioned here a while back).
It was pretty weird in the beginning, but after we got used to fooling around with it we actually found some neat use cases (remote collaboration).
A questionable idea on my list was weather widgets where the weather would be depicted by the attire of a character. A core set of code would run it all, but could be branded according to a celebrity, cartoon character, etc. e.g., on your CelebX fan site, CelebX would be in wet-weather gear for storms, shorts and singlet for a heatwave, etc.
I had a basic idea the other day and built it today - just a bookmarklet that will take a page (news article, for example) and load it in Spanish in the left half of the browser, and English on the right, as a way of trying to learn the language: try to read in Spanish, but you have the back-up at hand for when you get stuck.
something user-friendlier would be nice, though. better still, something that would try a few tricks for finding (human) translations of whatever page you're looking at -- going through sitemap files, following wikipedia translation links, whatever other schemes there are out there.
There are plenty of other things you could do in the same field. And could charge money for: many people's jobs consist of reading online information in a foreign language, and they would pay for any help they can get.
It's really nice to see someone practice what they preach.
It's a bookmarklet
(22) ClosedClub -- make the $10k some kind of charitable donation; that way users can feel proud, rather than suspecting they're suckers.
More generally, online variations of the club that prices out the riff-raff seem like a potentially very profitable area, but tricky to get right [and pretty unpleasant, but that's just because I'm a crazy leftie]. There's no non-tacky way of showing wealth online, the way you would in real life with expensive furnishings and an upmarket location. Second Life came closer than anything else, but on the web? Giving users personal assistants/moderators? [unemployed journalists hired as personal chroniclers or proofreaders?]
(25) CustomCrawl: hell yeah, this is a great one
(31) F5News. Like this too. build it on top of digg/reddit/whatever. Perhaps as an independent site pulling the content (in another frame, or whatever). Perhaps as a greasemonkey script or browser addon, that you can click while on the site.
(48) ProofItWasThere -- like it, would use it. Something you could build in a weekend [maybe I will].
(8) Afrux -- a) needs a name change; I read it as 'affreux' ('terrible' in French, which is one of the most commonly-spoken languages in Africa).
b) also, is 'africa' homogenous/distinct enough for this to make sense? [maybe yes, I just don't know] e.g. egypt obviously has more in common with Syria than with Zimbabwe; even if you keep it sub-saharan, what's the common thread beyond language support and working with old hardware?
(56) TorrentLeaks -- there's a lot of space for something in this area. [wikileaks is great but very problematic, and in any case this is a domain where you really don't want a single point of failure]. Not sure how you'd target this specifically towards leaks, rather than all the other things torrents are used for
WhatIsThisSiteAbout.com - Flashes an image of a website homepage for 5 seconds and the user has to guess what the site is about. Feedback can be used to hone the site so that it makes a better impact in the future. (Someone told me that a similar site might already exist?)
iPhone Training App - An app that uses GPS to figure out how quickly you are moving and the route. It could maintain a history of your previous walks/runs and then use sound clips to motivate you (i.e. saying whether you're going good, or if you're going too slow etc)
Friday Drinks - A variation on a little app I built (http://meatinapark.appspot.com/). Shows nearby bars on a map and then you can organize Friday drinks with (facebook) friends. I could probably modify my own app. One day....
Online Mirror - A webpage that can be used as a mirror. Handy if you have a webcam but no mirror!
Hotel style room service for your own home - A cleaning service more akin to a hotel, where they restock certain items in the fridge and bathroom etc...
I'll update you if this goes anywhere at all ;).
Regardless, an excellent, fun and inspiring list, thanks for sharing!
Possibly relevant: MISRA-C, the automotive standard for firmware written in C: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MISRA_C
At my home there are not less than 6 computers, each with two-to-three browsers that need an ad blocker, and all running some kind of anti-virus software (except the two macs).
I understand incumbent anti-virus companies would rather sell me the same product four times, but there could be a disruptive startup selling the router...
And ad-blocking software is currently free, but I think people would actually pay for an ad-blocking (physical) device. I would.
- Voice over crowdsourcing: A 99designs type of site where you submit your video and script, and voice professionals submit a recording.
- Bathroom finder: A mobile device app that finds the nearest public restroom.
it can be implemented in any language, but all the languages may store a single repository for JS, since it's not like with java/c libs or ruby code.
Not sure re restrictions on API access, but I guess an external service could retrieve a list of whoever they were following, then run through that and get a list of recent tweets, and then combine them all in date order? Surely someone's done it already? I've always been surprised that you couldn't just do it within Twitter itself.
distributed ISP using long-range wifi and mesh networking -- technology should be just about there, and there are plenty of papers on "incentive compatible routing" so you can automatically pay people fairly for setting up efficient routers. Compete with Comcast etc.
frugality helper, fun financial planning software that helps you reduce spending, maybe through social / achievement-style means (give points for making dinner at home)
news recommendation (worked on this for a while; lots of ideas for making it work, but I needed a really good realtime news recommendation algorithm)
internet food shopping redux (I hate food shopping, and would love to do it over the internet, if it wasn't even more painful than in real life)
minipapers: for a given field (e.g., computer science systems), every day the site posts a new academic-level paper that can be read in 15 minutes by someone moderately knowledgeable in the field. So not a long paper, but one which presents a new idea in accessible form. The site is for "casual academics" -- people who like following research, but don't necessarily work in academia and don't have time to read full-length papers.
statistics for the non-statistician: most people suck at stats, but they'd like to know whether a particular conclusion can be made from some data. Give them the tools to do so (plug data in, ask question) without requiring them to know what a chi-square is or a t-test (but help them learn it if they are interested). Explain confidence intervals etc. using plain language.
calculator sharing: allow users to create simple forms which evaluate a simple formula (temperature conversion etc) and share them on a website with others. In other words, a one-dimensional spreadsheet with sharing functions built in. iPhone app would be important here.
ratebike.com: there are no good bicycle rating sites. I registered this domain intending to do something with it, and haven't yet.
Fixing technical recruiting: job postings suck; people seem to get good jobs through referrals. Recruiters make a lot of money. It seems like there is room for an app which either helped recruiters or did the job for them. Perhaps this can manage hiring flow on the company side too: tracking, sorting and archiving resumes; managing the interview/hiring process; allowing interviewers to keep and share notes on candidates.
writing helper: smart grammar fixing, catches & fixes most errors that people often make. has an api, so you can feed comments on your site through it. (Don't know if this is hard, but it seems like it wouldn't be too bad, especially if it were conservative.)
What if you started with a textarea, in which you added an item per line. You could be specific ('500g Barilla fettuccine') or vague ('pasta'). On the next page, 6-10 search results would each be presented in a vertical DIV (like a shelf of books). Instead of each click holding up the whole process, each DIV/IFRAME could be dealt with independently until resolved/ordered. The more specific items could be resolved and ordered quickly. The vague ones might need a bit of drilling down. Any resolved (ordered or cancelled) item would be replaced by the next thing on your list.
Partner that with shortcuts to things you order regularly and so on and I think it could speed up online shopping somewhat.
The closest I've seen to this is Aptana Studio ( http://www.aptana.com/ ) , which is far from what you suggest, but is at least is on the same track.
> Flashy feature is showing structure of html pages (block-level elements) in 3d, where each block is separated along Z from the previous one, so you can rotate the page and understand its structure better.
Far from flashy, this would be AWESOME.
The URL is http://www.ctwug.za.net/ .
The news recommendation one is one that I actually discussed with someone only yesterday, with a very concrete application in mind (finance business).
Calculator sharing: maybe a layer on top of google docs?
minipapers is cool, but lots of science is really hard to get without sufficient background. The jargon alone can make a 1 page summary in to a 10 page explanation.
Food shopping suggestion: a simple checklist of the stuff that you normally would buy, then try to anticipate the frequency with which you order things to preset the checked items.
This is a problem -- but an important, widespread, interesting problem, where an innovative service with carefully-tuned UI could make a major difference.
e.g. create interfaces that can expand/contract their level of detail according to the user's background. A term can be expandable into a one-sentence definition, and/or linked to external explanations. A sentence can expand into the corresponding paragraph from the article. many more things along similar lines -- none earth-shattering, but good execution could get you a nice market.
This is exactly where I am going with job4dev.com. My progress has been slow this summer, but I'm planning to get the resume sorting and interview tracking done by the end of the year.
The triage is still in very early form. While most of the Brazilian listings are posted by actual users, we are still trying to break out of the chicken-and-egg problem everywhere else around the world.
To do that, we are pulling job listings from different sites. However, there is some "post-processing" to be done:
- we need to get information about the company (we only publish job listings from companies we know about).
- We need to add tags to the company page and the listing page.
- We try to break the job description into two parts: one describing what is expected of the candidate, the other describing what the position is about.
So, "triage" is some sort of post-processing queue. We are doing to get these job listings from other sites and to put in our format. We are automating it as much as possible, but there are always some detail that needs to be done by hand.
If you create an account, you'll see that we barely put any copy to explain how it works. I'm just dog-fooding for now. As I find more ways to automate or semi-automate the process, the better this triage system should work.
I don't want to put too much effort on it, though. Even if this system gets to be perfect, we would be no better than any job aggregator like indeed or simply-hired. I'd rather have companies coming directly to our site because we are offering some different service (the hiring process management) than by being a "better aggregator".
This sounds like somewhere between Hack A Day (www.hackaday.com) and Instructables (www.instructables.com). Could be interesting. Take the hardware hacking level of hackaday and allow the user submitability of Instructables.
See [Wikipedia Miner]'s 'Wikify' -- tags text like a Wikipedian might, adjustable sensitivity, downloadable open-source not reliant on outside service (like OpenCalais is).
- Straddles the line of micromanagement vs. personal communication with workers. (Interested in every detail of the process.)
- Acknowledged all workers (memorized first names of Mac team).
- Directly communicated with all workers. Example was telling developer that their code isn't good enough.
- Is a perfectionist.
- Kept teams small (Mac team limited to 100) and fired people if needed new talent on the team to keep team to that size (enforced accountability).
- Hired well.
- Focused on simplification.
- Got rid of the bad.
And, not to get too deep, this might point out why my not-so-wonky friends get confused when I abruptly thread cut and bring up a new topic in conversation. They're usually like 'Huh?'
edit: on second thoughts, forget it, the prices are way off the scale.
That gives me another idea! A web monitoring tool that will hit all your projects on a daily basis, solely so you can make this claim about anything you have ever written!
Tag: HB HN (half baked hacker news)
I'll add the list:
A FF and/or Safari extension to emulate the text focus that occurs when double tapping on a column of text on iOS devices. If you haven't seen it, it zooms the page to the width of the text column and is one of the best features of the iPad. It would probably be best implemented through a right click. I haven't played with extensions yet so I have no idea how difficult it would be, any thoughts?
It also works on RSS feeds.
Do you want me to score your code relative to what I've been able to do with this so far on my test-set ?
neat idea, that zoom!
Just a simple UI. One leader board page where crowds vote up/down ideas just like these. At any given time you can scan the whole list of all the wild and crazy ideas people have come up with. Ideas that have been implemented or which are similar to existings site get pointed out. This could also serve IP prior art discovery purposes. And whatever ideas have the most votes could be products worth making.
Mostly by mail, but plenty here too.
I agree the experience would generally suck, but there are cases where it would work, either as practicality (save on air-fares) or as gimmick. The DJ for your chillout room is up a mountain in Nepal; as well as the music, the scenery is projected onto the wall. Everybody feels peaceful by proxy.
Perhaps another year and a half of keeping your mouth shut is in order?
As for the ties, I do not just believe that people will pay for them, people do:
So if even my - according to you - idiotic ideas have found traction in the meantime maybe there is something there ;)
The score with 'ideas' is about the same as with start-ups, most of them tank. The problem is that if you wouldn't have the bad ones you wouldn't have the good ones either.
And if you could muster the energy to read on for a bit you might find some that are not like that, or maybe you would think they're all junk.
We should start a campaign: "Save those Engineering Hours, Stop half baked ideas".
The thing that's been keeping me alive for the last 15 years started as a bet for a bar of chocolate, several pivots later it was a top 300 website, sometimes it doesn't take much.
That being said, a lot of half-baked ideas proved rather popular. I mean, seriously, does "post what you are doing, but you're limited to 140 characters" sound like anything really worth while?