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Ask HN: Idea Sunday
369 points by rokhayakebe on April 6, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 567 comments
A small HN experiment. Every Sunday, a thread will be started to share product ideas. Why? Because many people have ideas they will simply not have the time to implement, and many need product ideas to work on.

A way for employees to push back against their coworkers when they email too much crap to too wide an audience. In other words, I wish my Inbox had a little voting widget next to each message:

    | 4,376 people received this message |
    |                                    |
    | [Cool, it was ]   [It was a waste] |
    | [important and]   [of my time to ] |
    | [worthy of our]   [  read this   ] |
    | [    time     ]   [   message    ] |
    |                                    |
Then, as votes are collected, the sender (and maybe everyone else) gets some kind of feedback on how their message was received. Maybe the report could include a total of how much time was spent reading it: "Your coworkers spent a total of 36.4 hours reading your message. It cost the company $1458 in employee time. Sending it was therefore a moderately bad use of company resources" .. or, if the voting was favorable, "1722 of your coworkers enjoyed reading your message. When you were deciding whether to hit Send or Discard, you made the right choice in clicking Send."

Edit: As I've said in the past when posting ideas on HN, if you think this is worth doing, please run with it! I make no claim on "owning" the idea, and all I ask is that if it makes you a billionaire, you commission of bust of me to install in your parlor. (Bronze or marble only, please.)

I love this idea, except that the conclusion about something being a moderately bad use of company resources doesn't necessarily follow. The benefits of things like team rapport are hard to quantify, but that doesn't mean they should be dismissed as waste. The same goes for things that certain individuals feel are a waste.

Taking jokes, just one subset of such emails, as an example: For you, a particular joke may be a waste, but having the team culture be such that it is open to jokes, may provide benefits beyond each individual joke.

Still, great idea, and maybe the objections I raise could be overcome just by the right wording.

That is true, but at a very large multinational, I used to recieve over 100 send to all emails a day, and three real ones.

Some of the 'send to all' emails were pretty important, so I had to read them, but a lot of them added nothing, and were sent to 400'000 people. I think each inappropriate global send to all cost $1000+, assuming people disgarded it pretty quickly.

+Low estimate, assuming it takes 1 second to disgard the email, everyone reads it, and gets paid minimum wage.

:) reminds me of the "warning" message that used to appear in "rn" before you posted a message to a usenet group:

This program posts news to thousands of machines throughout the entire civilized world. You message will cost the net hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send everywhere. Please be sure you know what you are doing.

Ah the old days.....

When I am wistful for particular aspects of the Usenet, the degree of self control exhibited in its threads is clearly not among them. Audience size fueled many a flame war, and reliance on self control by contributors allowed spam to overwhelm most communities.

>You message will cost the net hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send everywhere.

Was there a time when this was actually true?

>"Your coworkers spent a total of 36.4 hours reading your message. It cost the company $1458 in employee time. "

This in itself could be a nice plugin for your mail. You need 3 values to be able to calculate it:

* Number of employees the mail will be sent to (hard with aliases, easier with Outlook PDLs)

* Average fully burdened cost of employees (managers should know this, or you can default to something like $120K)

* Estimated time to read (based on wordcount and an average reading speed)

From there you can get the "hours wasted reading this mail" and "cost of this email".

EDIT: You could go above and beyond and use an open rate percentage to more accurately determine the cost, but that's not something an email client could record, it'd be server side.

That's pretty brilliant. Imagine showing an HR department their worthless emails cost the company a million dollars in man hours.

First rule of HR : fire the ones who talk bad about HR. Come to think of it, that's what bad bosses do, too. Oh no, I should add the epiphany that "Enterprises are like Operating Systems in which, by design, the malware has the Highest Priority" to the thread on Epiphanies : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7545284 !

Nice idea but the big problem I can see is that nobody will want to vote their bosses emails as a waste of time. Also in large corporations a lot of long emails will be sent that relate to company policies etc that nobody reads in practice but the purpose of the email is that it protects the company in the event that an employee says they were not aware of policy X.

I think you have two issues here. The first is that in a larger business there are a significant number of messages that get sent out as a matter of corporate policy that don't get the attention management thinks they should. Quite possibly email is not the best approach to these, but telling management that the email was a waste of time is going to make no friends, especially if there are legal reasons for the announcements.

The second problem is that there are managers who do send out de facto spam and probably could use the feedback.

> Nice idea but the big problem I can see is that nobody will want to vote their bosses emails as a waste of time.

Are you kidding? That's the whole point!

Presumably, the boss allowing it in the first place is a signal that they're interested in this feedback from their employees.

Yes and no, corporate politics is a minefield and often subtle.

If the feedback is anonymous, I'd certainly vote my boss's email down.

Well, hopefully your boss does not read HN.

On the other hand, some E-mails are actually not crap and get lost in the waves of mailing list spam and build reports. While we're fixing E-mail, here are a few suggestions that would correct a major problem with E-mail, the ability to miss/ignore it:

1. Non-optional delivery/read receipts Various clients have these, but it would be nice if these were universally supported and could be made non optional. This is useful so that when I don't get a response and have to go hound someone, my first question doesn't always have to be "Hey, did you get that E-mail??"

Speaking of responses...

2. Response required flag Be able to mark an E-mail as requiring a response from a specific recipient. Such E-mails could be presented differently in the recipient's client, highlighted or called out in a different color. Client software could generate a TODO list out of them, issue reminders if the E-mail has been un-replied-to for more than some configurable period of time, etc. The longer the message is ignored, the more annoying the presentation might be. This highlighting could be silenced by either a. replying to the E-mail, or b. clicking an "ignore" button (which also sends notice of the ignore action back to the sender). The sender could also cancel the flag after the message is sent.

3. Response required by date As an enhancement to the above, instead of a flag, a date/time by which a response is needed. This could allow the recipient's client software to display these E-mails in a sane priority order.

I don't think many people would sign on to mandatory read receipts. It'd have to be forced on them by mail provider or employer.

Every single alert I have ever seen through outlook "So-and-so requested a read receipt. Do you want to send it?" has been 100% declined on my part.

I love the idea of getting feedback on what you sent. It took me posting to HN and Reddit to realize how unimportant most things I work on are. It's one of those things that should be obvious but aren't until you are confronted with numbers.

- A variation: to have emails you want to send go in a pending pool moderated by a team of trusted confidants, to avoid sending out email that is a waste of time.

Hopefully not being unnecessarily critical, but I can't see the trusted confidants bit working: 1) They're trusted confidants, probably more likely to a) share your opinions b) support you when they shouldn't 2) The more value your e-mail consumes (i.e. the more people that receive it), the more likely your trusted confidants have expensive time.

I agree trusted confidants is an improvement, but probably not enough on its own.

If the voting doesn't work it should be possible to gather other metrics such as how long the message was visible on the screen - in other words did the recipient actually read the email. Over time it would learn the users typical reading speed. Another would be how long was it sitting in the inbox before it was read. A smart email client can detect when the recipient actually notices that the email is there.

With these metrics it could then work out which members of the company send out the least well received emails. There are certainly some people where I work who have a very low interesting email ratio. These people would be prompted to sort this out.

One risk would be the employee that just sends out jokes would of course appear to be highly effective. Some algorithms would be needed to filter out work vs play emails.

To creep employees out, these metrics could be readily available to management and used in their performance reviews as part of all the other data obtained about them!

Basically, we're now talking about taking the way mailing lists track their impact, and applying it to internal corporate communications.

That would make total sense as a sideline for somebody like mailchimp.

Here's a version of that that we did using our Django app. You create a new email with a unique ID and get a link to vote that you can put somewhere like your email footer. We've posted some of the code here: https://github.com/FlowStacks/email-voting and the email voter is here: https://flowstacks.com/emailvoter/

Great idea and I think this would be awesome as a GMail extension/addon (ala Rapportive). You could even have it only appear for messages from the same work domain.

It'd be absolutely necessary that voting was anonymous.

It's a nice idea but I think it would be a little too burdensome for every single email. Maybe if the mail was going out to >N people where N is configurable by the organization.

I think one of the reasons why no one's ever done this is that with traditional email, it's impossible for the sender to know how many people one email has reached, or will reach. But I think Threadable (recent YC startup) could actually do this.

It might be cool to make it like a neutered spam button. Instead of actually training your mail app to reject it as spam or notify any spam registries it could just function like clicking the "waste" button and cut out the "worthy" button since it is sort of default.

Attent by Seriosity has an interesting solution to this: http://www.seriosity.com/attent.html. They create a scarce currency that companies use internally to send messages.

The broader point this raises is the cost of information exchange, not just corporate email but all valuable content. I can envisage some system attaching cost to information exchange. Kind of like curating through market forces. I suppose it's an extension of what a search engine does. Anyone come across this idea anywhere?

like how Medium displays reading time?

Isn't Gmail Priority Inbox a solution for this use case? I don't use it, but keep an eye out on it's classification efficiency, looks like it does a fine job already.

No, because it doesn't close the feedback loop: It neither encourages good writers to keep writing, nor does it discourage de facto internal spammers.

That's actually brilliant, thanks for sharing!

There is an easy platform for this.


Check it out!

I want to search for furniture, and other products, based on dimensions. My girlfriend and I furnished a new apartment recently, and had to be space conscious.. This spot next to the couch could fit a 10" wide table. It's not easy to search for that, yet the information is there. My original plan was going to use the Amazon API and take a search term and page through looking for dimensions that fit. I still think it's a great idea, but obviously not huge, and I don't really have time to build it. If you do, hook me up.

In college, I won a business pitch competition with the idea of using a digital laser measure to measure the dimensions of any space, and then only show you furniture that fits within that space. It had some other aspects, but that was the gist of the idea. It looks like Ikea and others are slowly working their way towards that ease of use, but it's still a ways away.

Related concept: when I moved cross-country for grad school I found my landlord on Internet classifieds and got him to send me a floor plan of the apartment; I then measured all my furniture, used LibreOffice Draw to make circles and rectangles that I could print at the same scale (that was surprisingly time-consuming - it would be neat if someone could make that easy), then printed and cut them all out and virtually re-decorated the apartment until I found a layout I was happy with. It was a neat way to do it, but rather labour intensive.

Actually it would be useful if it included measurements of your doors so that items you aren't going to be able to get into the house unless disassembled first can also be appropriately filtered.

There's an app called CSTM that takes this concept to another level with custom built furniture. The furniture is more expensive thusly but also more unique. http://cstm.co/

Taking a pic of your room and seeing nice furniture virtually added so you can easily test different styles.

In college, my senior project involved a 3d room designer using the Kinect and a laptop. You could position virtual 3d objects (couches, lamps, etc) in the room, and move the camera around to see how the virtualized items looked.

that sounds so freaking cool :D

Somebody wrote an app for that :) http://reorganize.amberfeng.com/

People are referencing Ikea higher up. I live abroad and was surprised to see Ikea marketing Android/iPhone apps with this ability, and I said audibly to the dismay of people "now that is fucking slick, good for them!"

This is less an idea, more something for someone to think about.

We need to figure out how to defeat the internet echo chamber effect.

Notice how often, when a community gets started between a small group of people(such as early Reddit or HN), it's a place of intelligent, productive discussion, where people measure what they say instead of just spouting extreme rhetoric?

Yet, once these communities grow, you inevitably see the "How bout dem Cowboys" problem, where it seems like the point of discussion is more to get the most approval instead of trying to argue a point, and where anyone with a disagreeing opinion feels unwelcome even if they're willing to put a lot of effort into their response?

I haven't quite figured out how to solve it, but I really want to. I've been a part of several online communities like that now, and it always ends up the same way. Once it gets big enough, finding good conversation gets very rare.

I think you misunderstand communities. Vibrant communities are full of people who share a materially common set of opinions about various things. They engage and interact within that world view.

At the same time people evolve and communities evolve. Sometimes you move away from the community, sometimes they move away from you. Either way, you can end up feeling like an outsider in a group you once considered yourself to be part of the 'in' crowd.

Because a large part of anyone's current point of view is driven by past experience, communities often segment by age but sometimes segment by politics or world events (the mechanism is that people take away different things from the same experience, it "changes" them in different ways, and that puts into further out or closer to other members of the community.

The internet "echo chamber effect" as you call it is defeated by visiting multiple communities and watching and noting the differences. That your favorite 'hang out' on the Internet has become distasteful to you can no more be "fixed" than you can will your favorite eatery or bar to exist for all time.

Things change, people change, places change. Keep moving and an open mind.

Speaking for Reddit, it was an unfortunate consequence of the pseudonymous and point system. As communities got larger, there would be less and less tolerance for discussion and focus would stray towards quick (easily digested) posts.

Although, the counter point is that people in general are less likely to produce discussion. Or, that a lack there of of easily digested posts invokes discussion.

So does the karma/points thing make it an attractive nusiance for trolls? It does seem to encourage participation which is one of the challenges of any community (way more lurkers than speakers)

I think I have a solution to this, something I called Reddit150. You have divisions, like in soccer or american foot ball leagues, where the highest rated members can be promoted to the "higher" league and also demoted if their contributions are not good enough. People from a lower division cannot comment on a higher division, but everyone can view all divisions, this would result in situation where the media would always reference /r/science from the Alpha rankings for example, the prestige of maintaining your position would ensure a higher quality of content at all times. I called it Reddit150 because that is a typical number of names a human can remember for our social structure before it starts to breakdown, the member number in each division number would have to be in the order of 150k or possibly something that adapts with the total user base.

Wouldn't putting more emphasis on karma just lead to more karma whoring? You want to encourage quality dissenting opinions rather than just making the echo chamber louder

That doesn't solve the problem of the comment with the lowest common denominator being the one that gets promoted the most.

I think it could work somewhat. It depends on the type of, in this case, subreddit. With this in mind:

> also demoted if their contributions are not good enough.

If there is a user that gains karma by karmawhoring with the quick jokes and whatnot he/she would simply be demoted by the rest of the high-users.

Or something to that effect.

Oh, would you only be able to vote in your classification and lower? If that's the case, doesn't that make it extremely hard for a crowd to overthrow a close-nit elite that refuses to upvote the plebeians?

This is also called Eternal September[1]. And I think the Spiral of silence[2] adds to the problem, as people not only see their own opinion echoed, but also stay away from expressing it if it's not in line with the community.

The only solution to this I've seen so far is making it harder for "ordinary people" to discover the community, as HN tries to do it.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_of_silence

Developing a site conducive to good conversation, in general, needs work.

It's not just the echo chamber. It's the spam, the repost/duplicates and the following discussion, the trolls, the downvoting-for-disagreeing, gaming-the-system-for-'karma', the caring-about-karma, the offtopic-but-'funny'-jokes, paid-posters, etc.

The fact that every site fails when it becomes sufficiently popular says that good conversation is hard, and harder still while maintaining anonymity - and even then, exorcising anonymity doesn't seem to have helped the quality of Youtube comments.

There are various measures like hiding comment scores or capping karma that help but there's no site out there that combines them all.

I have an idea: Remove visible karma. Your personal karma is invisible to you and you have no feedback on how a post did. Karma is still used to kill comments, but everything above a certain score (say 5) is ranked arbitrarily (say MD5 of unix timestamp of comment).

Alternatively, make it public what everyone voted up on. That way everyone is open to criticism for what they voted on, and like people do on Facebook, they'll try to curate their upvotes so that they look sophisticated. Hopefully that will modify their upvoting behaviour.


Well, that's okay, isn't it? It's the idea that counts, so the discussion will still occur. It doesn't matter that it is centred around your comment that came after mine.

EDIT: Context for those who come after: Some other commenter said he downvoted my comment because he posted something similar. I assumed he said that to illustrate a flaw in my proposal and that he did not _actually_ downvote me. Since I can't find the comment that is similar (he's deleted what he's said), I'm leaving it up.

Oh, I see we completely talked past each other. This is the comment I was talking about:


I can only think of one solution: moderation. And that does not scale very well.

The only way out I see is a paid forum, so that the site can hire full time mods. I'd like to build something like this one day, but its such a herculean task that I figured I'd need at least a year of runway to make it work.

This doesn't necessarily work, though it does help. One already exists- SomethingAwful.com. It's better than most forums for sure, but it's certainly not perfect and the size of the community still clouds conversation significantly.

In the starting days of Reddit and then HN this really bugged me a lot.

One of the solutions I wanted to try was to partition the user base on a similar way that posts are filtered to you. That is based on the up votes you give. Now I'm not sure if it happens here but at least on Reddit you have it on your customised first page.

I believe that it isn't the user base that gets worse but that it gets much more diversified and people entrench themselves in groups and the "How bout dem Cowboys" problem arises.

Think of it as user and posts clustering, the secret sauce would be how those clusters interact, I don't have a tentative answer for that. This idea would top current aggregators by valuing discussion and intervenients in the same way that posts are valued.

I had the same idea as you! You can check out the project at http://code.fraction.io

I'm currently building a solution to this which is still in very early beta. Using machine learning, I'm working on solving the Goldilocks problem of community affinity (not too close, not too disparate), aiming to fix the hivemind problem that reddit has and the strictness that topical communities like HN have.

I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have a few moments to spare!

Code: http://code.fraction.io Beta: http://beta.fraction.io

That looks great. I think they experimented with this idea on reddit aswell at an early stage. However it didn’t turn out to be beneficial. I unfortunately don’t know the details, I read about it in some comment on HN a while ago (I unfortunately don’t remember where exactly).

I'm part of a community that limits how much you can post and (up)vote in a day. The points for these actions are shared. There is no down-vote.

There are two kinds of users, regular ones and "elders" of sorts. First few were established years ago and they can vote on others to become "higher tier" users as well. How much votes you need depends of how many people can vote.

The registration is not automatic, but you fill out a form with an open-ended question and selected users (mentioned above) can vote to approve the registration.

The system has threaded discussions where every post is equal. So you create a post and it can become a new "topic" (or forum, or however you want to call it). These can be nested of course. Whether something is a comment, topic, list of topics, blog, ... depends entirely on the template used to view that entry. You can manage privileges (rwx) to these subtrees (or any single node in the tree).

I don't think you can solve it because it's not the platform, it's the userbase. Although voting systems to highly encourage downvoting/upvoting based on whether you agree or not. An idea I've had is to rank all content separately for each user, by predicting what content they will upvote or downvote.

At first it sounds like this would exaggerate the echo chamber effect, but I think it would do the exact opposite. There's no reason to downvote or upvote things because you agree or disagree, downvotes only affect what you see in the future and no one else sees them. And instead of different ideologies being pushed away into different communities, they all exist in the same place, occasionally interacting with each other and mixing.

I just had this idea: How about making it really easy to be promoted to a volunteer down-vote moderator for an hour or so, just a button away. The task would be to downvote comments with mean and extreme language. The down-votes would count twice during that time and the actual moderators would be able to monitor what the volunteers are doing and to act accordingly in the event of misuse. That maybe results in less work for the actual moderators and at the same time it’s maybe more effective. I think, I would happily do this on a lazy sunday afternoon as a service to the community.

Did anyone experiment yet with a tree-like comment system (just like the one on HN) that completely hides comment points (even in the profile pages and to the users themselves)? To me it seems that, contrary to the intentions to achieve high quality comments, the crowd often optimizes for low effort and high score. Maybe the lack of publicly visible reputations points could reduce that high score mentality. Maybe we are all wrong with this kind of behavioristic approach.

Spam and trolls would still be punished and one would still have the benefits of having the most favored comments at the top.

This is an option that can be enabled on a per-subreddit basis. It's not very popular since people like seeing how popular their posts are.

I mean comletely removing publicly visible points, from the profile too.

afaik the scores are just hidden with CSS, so you can see them if you really want, and I believe that RES even has an option to enable this without having to dig into CSS wizardry oneself.

The issue isn't just about the internet echo chamber though, it's a more fundamental thing that people seek out news sources and opinions that reinforce their own biases - totally the right thing to tackle, but it's not just about internet communities.

Totally. But I'm a programmer, so I'd like to solve it on the internet. We can push it out into the real world after that.

And I just refuse to believe we've figured out everything there is to know about community engineering.

Be wary of overly technical solutions for what are essentially people problems. Technical solutions can be useful tools for moderators but removing too much human judgment from the process creates more problems than it solves.

This is an interesting space to me. I hope to write more about it in the future. I think I have done one blog post (on my current personal blog) on the topic of moderation but I have been a moderator a few times and have done some A/B testing of different approaches. But I still struggle with how to talk about it to other people, who often think I am just full of hot air.

The solution: the more you up vote, the less it counts for.

You can't. Not without banning those responsible for that kind of behavior or severely dis-incentivizing them somehow from coming to the community.

I think more generally, if I understand what you mean correctly, that that is really nothing more than water-cooler talk. Talk meant to be pleasant rather than investigative.

I also think with that said, it's really only a property of small communities because once it reaches a certain size, the amount of substantive things to discuss and hash out doesn't scale with the number of users.

A solution for the "too many tabs open" problem. Need a way to save my history in an organized and interactive manner, with a nice looking UI. Sort of like the old WebMynd (http://webmynd.com). I find that most of my tabs are open as a form of reminder. If I close it, I'll forget it and might as well not have seen it. Same if I hide it away in some kind of bookmarking app. I think it would be best to apply a UI layer over my entire history in a way that makes it easy to search and recall things that I found interesting int he past.

Need to store all data locally for privacy reasons, and have a way to logically group urls by content and bring them back to the front occasionally (maybe with some kind of gamification?) so they don't disappear.

Did you have a look at the Firefox add-on Tree Style Tabs? It puts the tab titles on the left hand side, allows for grouping them and seems to be very stable. There are also a couple of add-ons that allow for exporting the tabs. That combination works quite nicely for me.


I love how OneTab works, and it was something I used very frequently. But one day, not sure why exactly my chrome profile folder (osx mac) got corrupted. I cannot give technical details about it really, but not a single one of the chrome addons I had worked any longer. And I tried to recover the tab sessions but was unsuccessful.

If there is a feature OneTab is missing, it's to sync your tabs/sessions to a certain location. Or at least that's a feature I'd really appreciate!

It provides an export as a text file on the 'One Tab' page in the right hand corner. I wrote a small Python script to parse this text file and upload all my tabs to Pinboard.

Good idea. Here's my Clojure script: https://github.com/danneu/onetab-to-pinboard

care to share the script?

I'm with this guy


This functionality is build into chrome. Just right click the tab strip and the bottom option is "Bookmark all Tabs" or use the CTRL+SHIFT+D shortcut. Then they are just saved as tabs in a folder which has the benefit that they show up in address bar searches and are backed up via chrome sync.

I'd love a "Bookmark selected tabs" kind of function that lets me quickly click on a dozen or so relevant tabs. Usually, I'll have 20+ tabs open with 5-10 on a given subject, so "Bookmark All" captures a lot of useless tabs.

Better yet, a "Bookmark similar subject" plugin would be awesome - Leverage Google's search to automatically figure out tabs that are about the same thing and bookmark them by subject. Ignoring pinned tabs would be a bonus.

Usually I find tabs I want are next to each other, or easy to drag together. If there are a log of tabs in the window that I don't want then I use the Tab Split Extension[1] to put them in another window, or I just edit the bookmarks once I've created them.

[1] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tab-split/imjbfepo...

I started using OneTab after I saw this comment last Sunday. Just wanted to come back and thank you for bringing this to my attention :) It's added a lot of value for me.

+1 - tab groups are great

It would be great if each tab belonged to a project and I could add new tabs to a project when I open the tab.

If I could, all at once, close all tabs that aren't part of the project I'm working on, that would free up resources for the things that currently matter.

And if the browser could keep track of how much time I browse for a specific project, I could use that to track how much time I spent on each project.

That's kind of what I've found myself doing with multiple Chrome users.

Each project I'm working on is a different user, with a different set of open tabs, and separated cookies, allowing multiple sessions (e.g., Gmail accounts) to be open at the same time, one in each "project".

Firefox has tab groups, have you tried them?

Not a perfect solution but might help: The Great Suspender:


"Unload, park, suspend tabs to reduce memory footprint of chrome. Tabs can auto-suspend after a configurable period of time or be suspended manually. Tabs can be whitelisted to avoid automatic suspension. Suspended tabs are retained after closing and reopening browser, preventing many tabs from all reloading after a restart."

Have you tried Onetab for Chrome? It has some of the functionality you're looking for in that it pulls all of your open tabs into one tab and vertically orders them on the page for you to go back and access later. Neat tool, I use it quite a bit. http://www.one-tab.com/

I second 3rd3's suggestion of tree-style tabs. (I ended up with mine as a narrow strip on the right that expands when I mouse over.)

But I'll add that I mainly solved the "as a reminder" thing in other ways. I use Instapaper for a "read later" queue. For to-do-ish stuff, I use KanbanFlow to wrangle short-term tasks, and Trello to manage a deeper backlog. For "maybe I'll want this someday", I use Pinboard.in. Events and related links go into Google Calendar. And for "don't forget X" things, I sometimes use a dry-erase marker on the bathroom mirror, so I glance at things while brushing my teeth.

Now I've got my open tabs down to things I'm actually doing, and it has been a huge relief. Now I don't have to search through a bunch of open windows and tabs trying to find that one thing.

I'd like some UI element that lets me know how long it's been since I read/used a tab. I tend to open lots of tabs and then browse them as is convenient later. Sometimes this means tabs get "lost" (i.e. become stale before I read them). This would let me know which tabs I might have overlooked or should close, bookmark, etc.

I've started using Pocket for this.

They need a better browser UI, since they seem to have been focusing much more on their mobile apps, but their recently-added "highlights" features accomplish the "bring them back to the front occasionally" part of your description.

Opera, up to 12 has the best tab management, groupings, etc that I've ever seen. It's a real shame the new webkit based Opera still isn't up to par. As such I'm in the same place as you hoping for Opera's tab management but left with hundreds of unidentified tabs in Chrome. Plugins help a little bit but nowhere close to Opera's innovative management. Hopefully they'll restore parity soon.

I'm disheartened by their conversion to Webkit. Tab grouping + session save is one hell of a killer feature : I used to archive websessions in order to track my references when writing a academic paper.

I've switched to Firefox from then, but it's not as convenient as Opera12.

The Windows feature (in the sidebar) is especially helpful.

Agreed! I'd love to have something like this. I discussed it a bit in a previous comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4714341#up_4715785

Maybe this? http://twin.gl/

Another tool for organizing on-line research is Zotero:


I made something that addresses this: www.seekaizen.com. I haven't advertised it before and it's mostly just friends/me that use it, but it seems like you might like it. Let me know if it fits your use case.

How about tab grouping? Or multiple windows?

I use SessionBuddy to manage this.

perhaps a followupthen for tabs?

Along these lines, what if the tabs could pop back up at a certain day/time or if you could just snooze tabs? I see people use tabs as a pseudo todo list. Reminding you to do, schedule, research, or buy something. What if you could continue to use tabs that way, yet not clog up your computer, use up memory, or distract you from getting stuff done with open tabs.

*> ... what if the tabs could pop back up at a certain day/time or if you could just snooze tabs?

There are several GTD-type web apps that support "desktop notifications" that might fit the bill.

I have a strange fascination with knowing exactly how I discovered a particular artist, film, website, etc.

I'd really love a browser extension that could keep track of how the user reached a given site. Then they could go back later and input, say, a YouTube URL, and it would show exactly what lead them to that song.

I started writing such an extension myself, but I was clearly out of my element. So when Mozilla shut down their Firefox Add-on Builder, I lost motivation completely. For someone with experience created extensions, though, I imagine this would be pretty straightforward.

EDIT: no, using the browser history is not good enough. Browsing is a non-linear activity (especially with multiple tabs open), and to visualize your path through the web you need a graph, not just a list of sites.

> "I'd really love a browser extension that could keep track of how the user reached a given site."

I used to love to have this. I called it "browser history", but then Mozilla decided it made the browser so terribly slow that you can now no longer really configure how long history is retained. After a while it just disappears.

I used to have my history all the way back from 2006...

Is this true? I checked and I seemed to have lost my history from before 2012, and assumed I'd messed up somewhere in transitioning between computers. I couldn't find any info about Firefox doing this (arbitrarily deleting history from the past), but I'm almost sure it does.

Edit: This time I found it: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/Projects/Places_async_expir...

I find it rather annoying, however, that this isn't obvious. I like keeping all my history :( I'd rather I could at least keep the history somewhere, even if it didn't stay in Firefox's history view.

Well, it's stored in a simple sqlite file (places.sqlite), so you can just do regular backups or import it into another DB.

I've seen this a few times, once as a firefox addon which is no longer available by the looks of it.[1]

I'm pretty sure Mosaic tried a similar thing about 20 years ago.

The other time I saw it was in the form of a DAG which appeared in a panel above the address bar which could be selectively hidden. The graphics were crude as I think it was rendered in GraphViz. I can't for the life of me remember where I saw this - tried searching for it again with no look. Pretty sure it was in a video demonstrating an experimental browser, but I'm lost as to which. (Maybe I dreamt it)

I just found another while searching too.[2]



I have this exact same fascination and the need to know how exactly I discovered a website, etc. I used to think I was alone, finally I know I'm not. I guess I gotta make something for this, as I would not only be helping myself, but others as well.

Same here! I've found that people often have really interesting stories surrounding their discovery of a favorite album (for instance), especially when they have strong emotional or sentimental attachments. I think it'd be really cool to tap into that and even help people recall things that they might not otherwise recall by showing them the "path" by which they arrived to an album, the date when they first listened to it, etc, and then collect those stories to share. Could also become an interesting approach to content discovery—through personal stories instead of similarity algorithms.

This is a very cool idea - for me the application would be more in research, when quite often I stumble across an idea, or go back to read an open tab, or read my Pocket, and when I want to see how I discovered it, can't figure out how I got there. Just a simple graph of history chains would be great.

This already exists for most browsers. Pressing Ctrl+H should take you right to it.

Yes, but it sucks - if you browse using tabs (and everyone I does), then the simple time-order list that comes by defaults on Firefox and Chrome just doesn't cut it.

You can poke around and find the right history eventually but we've come to demand more of computers these days.

Keep Writing. I, sometimes, would like to write on a subject but I fear no one will read the material. If I had X people simply suggest to "keep writing" I would be more willing. Keep writing is something like Medium but it allows someone to post text (news, fiction, stories, anything) that is not complete. Writers set a (hidden) number of votes they should reach before they keep going then they publish what they currently have.

While it doesn't address the problem of not having an audience, you might be interested in the Iron Blogger concept: http://blog.lazerwalker.com/blog/2013/12/24/one-post-a-week-...

That's a fantastic idea. It might be tricky to find a balanced reader/writer dynamic but it if it worked it would be very cool.

Check out http://helpmewrite.co/ - submit the title, lets people vote.

What about riffing on the Povio idea (http://pov.io/) where people "ping" you to request a photo, but in your case they instead request you to write something on a particular topic?

So someone might request a blog entry on the most interesting accommodation you've stayed in overseas, or the biggest waste of money you've experienced, or the most memorable meal, etc.

I'm interested, but where would an author get people to vote on the piece? While a fiction story could get votes from various communities, I imagine it would fail for specific posts? Feel free to email, mail at namanyayg dot com

I think it could be a simple like button, hence it could be anywhere. You could also build the platform to write and publish if you wanted, but regardless of where it is it would work the same. I will email you.

Maybe you could nominate the minimum number of reviews or votes you want and then "owe" that number of reviews to the community.

I've been having this in my mind for a while:

A nice way to organize & share my knowledge. I know that lots of people have a self-hosted wiki or similar where they write nice tricks, something that they learned about and might be useful in the future, nice ideas...

Well, I'd like something like this, but more "social". Pages could be shared (or public), anyone could write a comments on something (I'd love to see comments a-la Medium), and it would be nifty to have a way to "fork" and submit a pull request for every page.

I guess it could also have the usual "follow user" that will show all of his pages in a dashboard, a "trending pages" for the most seen pages and similar.

It isn't really the normal use for it, but I made my own subreddit for this - I only use it as a personal repository of information, but it would suit pretty much all of your requirements, and it has stats on usage etc built in :P

This went over my mind, but I've read about other people using a subreddit for that. Indeed, it looks like a nice option - free, can add content (using markdown!), other people can comment/vote on it, easy searchable.

One key component would be SEO juice. The knowledge should be easily findable by others, even if people use different words to describe what they're looking for.

An open question would be how to make the site sustainable monetarily. About.com is this idea (but non-wiki editable) and they've plastered so many ads on the pages that it's become nearly unusable.

I like the idea a lot, and have started the most barebones version of this at http://aboutfact.com . If anyone else is interested in chatting more about this, let me know.

It's funny, Notedock[1], one of the things I'm currently working on is kinda like what you've described. The original vision at least.

It's currently being offered as something like a self-hosted wiki or similar as you say, but has some hidden, unadvertised "social" features.

Like sharing pages to other sites in the Notedock system. And pages can also be public (you can choose to set individual pages as public or private). Here's an example of my "public" site: https://jb.notedock.com/public Members of that site, and the members of sites each page is shared to can add to the Comments section. But for public pages, there's also a Disqus[2] option at the end (which I've turned off for my public site).

The original vision also included being able to "follow Notedocks" instead of "follow users" like you've described. What I didn't have in mind was the Medium type comments and "forking". So it's leading me to think that we probably have/had the same inspiration, but different ways of implementing this.

[1] https://notedock.com

[2] http://disqus.com/

I like this. Some ideas that come to my mind:

Text analysis. Automatically match pages with similar content, so that even if everyone just posts their own stuff it will be connected to the rest automatically. I think the problem of a wiki-kind-of knowledge base is that pages are easily orphaned, especially if people just do brain dumps. Nobody wants to spend time tagging content, and you also don't want to manage a site-wide structure. It would be great if the content would organize itself. Could also be used to automatically link terms within text (to the most relevant page about this in the network).

To extend on the "nice tricks, something that they learned about": Let students (or even professors) put their lecture notes up, structurally and visually enhanced. KhanAcademy and edX do a great job providing professionally produced courses, but maybe my friend or I can explain a specific problem better in easier terms, and you'll be even able to comment on it or provide a fix for some error.

Smallest Federated Wiki[1] is something you may be interested in.

Smallest Federated Wiki is a distributed wiki. It allows anyone to fork a page by clicking the fork button; this copies the page to their own wiki and they can edit it. The original wiki owner(s) can then decide whether to merge the change into the original page.

Ward Cunningham has a few short videos about it at http://wardcunningham.github.io/.

[1] http://fed.wiki.org/ and https://github.com/WardCunningham/Smallest-Federated-Wiki

This falls under the "Why didn't anyone think/built of this yet?" Where is the global knowledge base? I am sorry, but it is not wikipedia. Wikipedia is what all us know/think to be XYZ?

What you are describing is a place for you to share everything you know about a subject, and I can use to find what 200 other people know about it.

This is simple and extremely powerful.

I'm happy you're liking it. I've posted this over HN exactly because I like it, and hope someone will pick it up (I might think about doing it myself, but I'm not exactly a good coder, so who knows if I'd manage).

I know this thread is old, but if anyone is interested and want to talk about it a bit, my email is in my profile :) (also spittie over freenode)

A team and I built something like this (www.pilot.me). It's written in Ruby and we're looking to hand it off to new owners. Unfortunately, there is a government stakeholder who put some money into it and they'll probably need a small amount of money to release it completely. andrew dot peek at gmail if you'd like to know more.

Did you take a look at https://coderwall.com/ ?

I didn't, thanks, it looks pretty similar to what I meant.

I would like it to be "more wiki", coderwall seems more a social profile where you can share small tips, not a wiki where you can write whatever you want.

It's also missing the "git" stuff, which I think could be huge (or maybe it's just silly, but it sounds good in my head).

And I also don't really like the "closeness" of the site. for example I can't even see every tip shared by an user without having an account (it just show the first ones and then a blurry mess, a-la Quora).

some influencial tech blogs (in order less famous) in France use a lot this delicious-clone : https://github.com/sebsauvage/Shaarli.

It's a one-click bookmarlet with public/private separations, RSS built-in for syndication, and there are implementations of dashboard multiplexing sources : http://shaarli.fr/.

No comments though (the author seems against it).

As the proud owner of mypro.tips, I'd be totally down to create this. Piggybacked off GitHub Gists, maybe?

Interesting.. I can finally put my domain have.tips to good use.

Sorry, I accidentally down-voted you..

You just described a wiki.

Idea: Airbnb for food. An app where you buy meals cooked by your neighbors.

I see two big trends these days.

1) People seems more willing to connect back with their neighbors and community.

2) People have less time but want to eat more healthy.

Imagine this scenario:

While going back home, a student could check on the app what's available to eat for tonight. Next to his place, there's a family willing to sell the extra tacos for a few bucks. The student would then just stop by and pick them up.

Obviously, there would be quality rating and the possibility to reserve a few days in advance.

Major legal problems with this, unfortunately (at least in the US). You pretty much HAVE to have a commercial kitchen in order to legally sell food in the United States, as well as be licensed by the state. It is cost prohibitive. Some states have what are called "cottage food laws" that enable individuals to sell food cooked in their home kitchens on a small scale, but there are many restrictions. (For example, in my state, you cannot own any pets, and the food can't be the sort that goes bad if you don't refrigerate it.)

Granted, what Airbnb does isn't altogether legal much of the time, but food safety is taken much more seriously than hotel taxes and zoning laws. If you did build a startup like this, the second it started to become popular, I expect that you would get shut down.

What if there is no money involved in this, but more of an exchange/barter with points? If a point was roughly equal to a cent, then imagine the neighbour makes 3 tacos that could be 500 points... This student then will offer up a $25 Amazon gift card that is worth $25 to him, that he could offer for sale on this site (like ebay) and he gets to keep his points which he can barter.. At no point is cash redeemed/exchanged.

Does this break any of the various regulatory laws in place?

The laws are at the state level, so you'd have to dig deep into your particular state's laws to find out for sure (or hire a lawyer to do it). But since the concern is about foodborne illness, I suspect that you will run into a problem with the law in any case where you are offering food to the public that was not cooked under your state's watchful eye, regardless of your particular compensation scheme or lack thereof.

I am aware of one way around this, though (sort of). As I recall, if you come to my house and cook food for me in my kitchen, then I can pay you and everything is fine. I don't think you even need a food handler's license. But obviously, that's a lot less convenient for both of us.

I'm no expert on this topic. I've just looked into it enough to get discouraged!

You can do it lyft/sidecar style

Your neighbors happen to be cooking dinner, and this app is a convenient way to provide tips, write reviews, etc.

What if it was donation based, like lyft or uber?

http://us.dinnersurfer.com does this. It's only a few months old and may not have that many users outside of its native Denmark yet, but it has potential.

hah. I am surprised you have not heard of any of these!!


Wow, quite the list! Now I feel compelled to read through some posts tagged "AirBnB for X".

Interesting discussion on whether this model can succeed: http://www.quora.com/Will-Airbnb-for-food-be-a-successful-bu...

And I just stumbled onto another one of these last week: http://cozymeal.com/

Ha, yes well, I guess "Airbnb for food" might not be the best explanation then.

The pain point I was focusing on was to provide good food at cheap price for neighbors, less about "Living an experience with another family".

Oh I see. I actually like that! I don't think I would ever use one of these services to eat at a strangers house. However, if I could go on and see a list of what people in my area are planning to make (oh boy my neighbour is planning to make a batch of brownies this weekend). Then I could opt in and pay for a certain amount before some deadline.

Then the person making the food sees that they need to make an extra x amount of brownies (but they were already planning to make them, but now can make some extra money!). Then when they are ready you get an alert and can go pick it up.

That would be pretty sweet! I'd use that.

In the Netherlands, this exists. Thuisafgehaald.nl

Wish granted: cookening.com

I would say it's a bit different, it's more akin to going to a restaurant and grabbing something to it, rather than eating with the family.

A programmer social network. I find myself with two distinct sets of friends on Facebook: my tech friends and my normal friends. With my tech friends, I just want to post neat snippets of code as statuses and share github gists on walls and whatnot. So I'd like basically github with more social elements thrown in.

Imagine seeing a cool repo, then being able to friend the owner, and open a chat box to have a quick chat about it right there on the page rather than having to go to another communication method.

EDIT: I know this super similar to github. Really I just want github to implement the equivalent of friends, chats, and public profiles people can post things to (a la facebook wall).

This could be solved by something like Google Plus, if circles could be defined by topics that people subscribe to rather than by people you want to send a message to.

e.g.: I want to know what Jim thinks about coding, but not politics

What you describe sounds like the existing Communities feature, but until there is code block formatting in posts it'll still be a pain to read code in G+

That's why we've built http://DoerHub.com . We have hackers, entrepreneurs, surgeons, PhDs, and doers of all kinds posting and contributing to projects. The purpose of the site is to enable everyone to share what they are working on and grow it with help from others who care about the same topic (teammates, advisors, beta users, feedback, single-task contributors, word of mouth, you name it ). You can already message anyone, but we're adding group chat and anything else doers request that makes collaboration easier. You can just connect with GitHub.

I'm part of a huge Facebook-group (maybe 2000 members) with only programmers in my city. It's really great and the only thing that I like and enjoy about Facebook nowadays.

I'm a part of a similar thing, except for high schoolers. ~700 members and it's easily become my favorite part of Facebook.

I think GitHub is in a strong position to do this. They can easily turn it into something more social that allows you to add friends and share codes in your feed.

Github already let's you follow people, and has something vaguely akin to a feed to track followed users and watched repos

Dude. I've often thought about doing exactly this, but I felt like there was probably something already out there and just haven't taken the time to research whether that's true or not. If there's not, and there still isn't by the time I finish launching my current project, I might just look into taking this on next!

I built something like this about 4 years ago called BigStartups.com. It was built to help network the startup community and was moderately successful. Unfortunately, there were co-founder issues and we shut it down. I often think about what it could be in todays world if we kept working on it. Oh well...

This looks really cool :D

This sounds like something, that if it started to gain traction, could be replicated by Github almost instantly.

Really I just want github to implement that functionality, rather than make an entire new site.

http://www.coderwall.com seems similar to that.

Could these features be added to Github via browser plugin? (I really don't know)

Only dead trees there. It used to be a great place, but after it got acquired, acquired, sold and then acquired again, all of the community was long gone. It had its peek under Kyle Bragger when he was actually running a community with staff full-time on it, but after he sold it, it went downhill. Fast.

There's some recent attempts to bring back the community and improve all sorts of things, but it's just renovating and feeding a rotten tree. Sure, it will live for a long time but it will never be as beautiful as a real living tree fed by nature.

Facebook Groups work well for this for me. Twitter too. And IRC...

Geeklist, Coderwall, Github, sub groups on FB/Twitter

https://geekli.st is trying to be that.

Geekli.st is "social network" for tech recruiters.


It's called Github

As I said at the end of the first paragraph:

>So I'd like basically github with more social elements thrown in.

So Facebook. :) How about limiting the audience of your Facebook posts to a list of developer friends?

Popcorn Time for quality children's programming - Bill Nye, Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, Avatar. Shows that are entertaining AND educational, none of that advertising filled, sassy attitude, Disney Channel crap.

edit: Seems like there is some interest in this. If anyone wants to discuss this more, email my username at me.com

This extends to regular quality programming as well.

Sometimes I spend 30 minutes looking for a good movie before giving up and watching The Bourne Supremacy again because at least I know I won't regret the 2 hours I invest in it.

I would pay $1 bounty every time someone just recommended a good movie that I end up liking.

Criticker solved that problem for me. You do have to invest a little time rating movies you've already seen, though.

1 million more...

Given the source is open, it may be more like curating a list of children's programming torrents and providing a delivery system for people to add their own child appropriate work.

I wouldn't be opposed to ads but not the sort you currently find on kids tv hawking toys

What if it was a Spotify-like model. ~$4.99/mo unlimited streaming, money is pooled and then pay out a % to content owners based on # of plays each video gets? The more popular episodes earn more of the money.

That seems to be the direction Amazon is going with Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, also includes books and apps. Not the best library of content just yet, but it seems to have potential. http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?&docId=1000863021

Jyst compiling lists of Youtube vids


This a million times.

Parents all over the world approve this idea.

An app that allows you to have a meeting with someone anytime both of you're available for the meeting.

So it's schedule-less.


You want to talk to Paul. Paul wants to talk to you. But not as much.

Paul is ranked "a1" in your book and you are ranked "b5" in Paul's book.

Paul notes that he is in a "b5 and above" time period. Maybe he just got done exercise so he is more interested in talking to anyone (you are a b5 after all). Or maybe he is sitting in the dentists waiting room and has time to kill and is ok if he has to stop the conversation right away abruptly.

In your book Paul is an "a1" so he can call in the middle of the night and you will take the call.

Paul marks his availability as "b5 and above" and then app proceeds to start to contact anyone who matches.

Someone else is ahead of you at b3 so they get the first call. Next guy is at b4 but he doesn't answer. So you are next at b5 and your phone rings and it's Paul.

You have your conversation.

Advantage: No need to schedule calls by time. They happen by importance.

With granularity on both sides.

Why I like this:

I can make the most efficient use of time. Some people are more important and you want to take the call anytime anyplace. Others are less important and you are more picky. Also ability to use time that normally goes to waste. And prevents you from having to think "I've got a minute who should I call".

I really like this idea, although I'd be unlikely to mark my availability often. Maybe have a 'get me a meeting now' button, which raises your availability until a meeting matches.

That's part of the idea. You don't map anything out. You hit a button that says literally "get me a meeting now" but further you can give it an idea of the level of importance of the meeting you want "now".

Using the example I have given elsewhere if you are waiting for a plane that might take off in 10 minutes you don't want to call someone that you can't quickly get off the phone with. (You don't want to be rude to someone important). Otoh the person pitching you or the local realtor that you know that you need to check in with is the type that you can say "hey have to catch my plane talk to you later" (or your aunt). Or the guy at Home Depot with the size of the garden hose.

That's a bit different in that it requires you to map out specific times. And people's mood and availability changes for various reasons. Things come up. People need to cancel. Maybe a more important thing comes along. This actually encourages more "iffy" meetings for that matter. Since you aren't obligated for a specific time. [1]

Imagine needing speak with your doctor. You doctor might grab a minute sometime and then call you. You, with anxiety waiting for your test results, might take that call anytime (and in fact people do). But the doctor does not want to map out a specific time to call you as he might just have a few minutes between patients. And he will dial those from a note he has. And many will not be there when he calls. (This could in fact pre queue up just as if you are the President and you tell your secretary "get so and so on the line I will be out of this meeting in 5 minutes".)

So really this solves another problem but is not necessarily a replacement for a separate general scheduling issue.

Same concept could be adapted to, say, a handyman. He might have two hours in between fixed jobs and say "what job can I pull of where the person is home and within 3 miles from where I am right now".

(Although to be clear that wasn't the original point of the idea but now I'm thinking of that twist to it.)

[1] For example a salesman calling is normally interuptive and scheduling a meeting for something that you have only trivial interest in is not going to happen. Otoh sitting waiting for a plane which is delayed opens up the potential desire to possibly take meetings and conversations over things that you don't necessarily want to schedule.

  - When will the next bus/train be at this spot?
  - a non-DRM ebook reader with Project Gutenburg installed
  - auto convert from client/server to webapp or phoneapp
  - grocery delivery for us not in SV,Seattle,etc
  - reservation-only restaurants that have tables avail now
  - auto turn cell phone to vibrate in certain locations
  - auto forward cell phone to close land line (work/home)
  - old Google maps
  - a no wifi or cell Palm Pilot replacement
  - cell phone direct to .txt email for all but certain callers
  - mini-blogging platform: 400 chars < every post < 800 chars
  - yelp you can actually believe
  - forum software that filters trolls
  - forum software that filters idiots
  - salad bar locator
  - buffet locator
  - televisionless / audioless restaurant locater
  - chess with n moves forward/back what if 
  - shock nearby driver on cell phone not paying attention
  - missing commercial airliner locator

> - When will the next bus/train be at this spot?

I think Oona Räisänen solved that already: http://www.windytan.com/2013/11/decoding-radio-controlled-bu...

> auto convert from client/server to webapp or phoneapp

What? Client/server is a network model, webapp and phoneapp are applications. You mean like a web/phone app that you can use to talk to random server applications or something?

> old Google maps

More specific..?

> auto turn cell phone to vibrate in certain locations

There's an app for that

> auto forward cell phone to close land line (work/home)

You can do that with VoIP.

> forum software that filters idiots

That would be a major breakthrough. Hellbanning probably does a good job already though.

> shock nearby driver on cell phone not paying attention

The police calls that a Taser.

One thing I have noticed is that if I look at my phone while driving but hold it lower out of sight no one reacts. But if I hold the phone up so I can actually see where I am driving while glancing at the phone, people honk and act like they want to kill me. So I often just try to hide it, even though I feel much safer holding it up so that it is in the same field of view as the road. So this is an example where people think they are helping righteously but they are actually making the road more dangerous.

Anyway I think that cars should come with heads up displays that overlay information on or in front of the windshield in front of you without obscuring the road.

Also I should get a hands-free setup.

> but they are actually making the road more dangerous

Or you could just stop using your cellphone when driving instead of rationalising the blame onto others?

> Anyway I think that cars should come with heads up displays that overlay information on or in front of the windshield in front of you without obscuring the road.

Yes, for instance some cars are designed to put things like speed indicator just below screen, but most bury them behind the steering wheel where it's hard to see, never understood why.

I had an errand service and a lady would pay me to get her groceries every week. I think I charged $10/hr. She would also give me a stack of coupon items to pick up. Her way of rationalizing the expense was that the coupon savings was usually more than she paid me. I would buy all the crap and she'd just write me a check for that amount plus my fee.

> buffet locator

There's probably a market for a Buffett locator as well.

cell phone direct to .txt email for all but certain callers

How much would you pay for such a service?

HulloMail does this for your voicemail.

Many people on hacker news have explicitly asked for this: a platform for listing your open-source project that needs contributors. I tried here:


But nobody cared. Perhaps I was doing it wrong or I have not do many/any promotion. Anybody wants to take this idea and solve it for us I will really appreciate it.

The monthly "who's hiring" guy should post "which open source project need help" as well.

It's a bot, but agreed :)

for what it's worth http://solvers.io was featured on HN recently and seems quite similar.

http://solvers.io is this for charitable and scientific ideas (by me and davedx)

https://openhatch.org/ is this for open source software in general

http://up-for-grabs.net/ is trying to make it so that new contributors can easily find projects that they can contribute to.

Downloadable sounds for electric cars.

Electric cars must make noise under new EU rules:


Aesthetics is another (arguably more marketable) aspect of car sound.

Have you seen The Dilemma? About two guys (tech founder and business founder) working on a system for giving traditional muscle car sound to electric cars. (And some romantic comedy type stuff too.) When I saw it I thought - that idea would really fly. Whilst silent cars may be great for the majority (especially those living near busy roads), there is still a sizeable group that will pay extra for a great engine/exhaust note combo. See also recent criticism about the sound of the new hybrid Formula 1 engines, including from world champ Sebastian Vettel "sound like sh*t". There's a definite market there, but obviously depends on the electric car market itself.

For blind people, they must make a sound that person recognises as a car. So they can't download their favourite bands latest single.

From the article:

> MEPs agreed that in future the vehicles must be fitted with devices to make them "sound similar" to cars with combustion engines.

So you'll have a limited choice to choose from.

But personally I'm hoping they can make them a bit less rough and more of that smooth "Hummmm" you associate with luxury cars.

Michael Stipe had that idea back in 2004: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/28/electric_car_rington...

All those fart app developers will have a new home!

blink and sound when the pedestrian is detected is way better for him/her and the driver.

Would really make an impression passing along a crowded sidewalk :)

That's an April's fool, right?

Cars that are so quiet you can't hear them are very dangerous for blind people trying to cross streets, for example.

How about a program that watches for certain input patterns, takes calendar, location and maybe camera data to determine the best times to deliver push and email notifications without interrupting.

Maybe one could figure out moments at which the user would be interrupted the most, for example shortly after opening a new window or tab, or shortly after switching programs, since these moments are risky for forgetting things (if the same psychology applies): http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17470218.2011.571...

It would probably make sense to prohibit interruptions during intense writing. I also thought about an option to blacklist certain apps or websites like Skype, Facetime etc. and to whitelist activities that don’t require focus like browsing news websites or playing a game.

A service for blind/partially sighted people where they can use a smart phone to connect to a service where volunteers (if any are connected) describe what they can see from the video streamed from the smart phone.

The volunteers are given ratings afterwards, and their video streams checked against their descriptions by other volunteers.

Monetized later via a paid service where the person is reliably connected to trained describers rather than volunteers.

Have a look at bemyeyes.org it is just that its in public beta: https://beta.bemyeyes.org

A web API that consumes phone camera captured photos of nutritional labels, and spits back a structured JSON response of the data.

Primary consumers would be developers who're building products that depend on the user inputting this type of data - or warehouse logistics companies who could catalog this sort of data and middleman it to everyone else.

This would make my idea for a mobile app that renders pictures of the sugar/salt/fat content in foods by OCRing the label a trivial problem, and it could lead to many other applications like a shopping assistant for diabetics, athletes, etc.


This was the startup I was CTO at. We organized peoples' whole diets and we used the barcodes rather than OCR to get the nutrition facts of labeled products.

The product recommended home-cooked meals (web-only), found the healthiest restaurant dishes near you (mobile and web), and evaluated the nutritional fit of labeled food products in stores (mobile-only). The recommendation algorithm was all backend.

Too bad we got acqui-hired.

I didn't follow the acqui-hire and went on to work for a genetics startup.

Email me if you want more info or to see about making it exist again. We had an alpha test group of some very happy users :)

Dibs. I'll start working on it. If anyone wants to help out, message me or email me karan[at]goel.im

(Apologies if you're an OCR guru and this is a stupid comment, but...) I wonder if it would be easier to get an MVP together using Amazon Mechanical Turk. A quick Google search reveals that there are lots of commercial products providing OCR on nutrition labels, but getting open source OCR to work reliably with phone-quality images (poor lighting, curvature of containers, etc) is tricky.

Either way, I think OCR-as-a-service would be really useful, and nutrition labels are probably a great place to start. I think there's lots of room for improvement in the nutrition/meal planning space.

I know FoodEssentials used to do this on mTurk. I did them myself on that platform. They haven't been around in a while, though. I'd be more than happy to enter nutritional label information on mTurk should that method be chosen.

I don't know how hard it might be, but we have a team already (wow HN), and have started the work.

You can scan barcode most of the time.

Just be aware that they're proposing a change to the current format used in the United States. This post covers the proposed changes:


The product should already have a UPC code that is trivial to capture. From there, it would be a simple matter of looking up that code to map it to its nutrition information. There may even be databases (eg: FDA) where this is available. MyFitnessPal seems to have the nutritional info on just about every product I've scanned, and I can't tell if they crowdsourced all that data input and/or if they seeded it with some database.

I believe it's crowdsourced. There are many items I eat that they don't have in their database. The app allows you to submit the nutrition info to their database and it gets recognized afterwards. MyFitnessPal is very popular. They should have one of the biggest databases out there.

This adresses a pain that I suffer:

An app to easily compare SQL execution plans.

I believe the better way would be graphical. I have needed this on MS SQL Server, SQL Sentry Plan Explorer has helped but lacks this comparison. Today I do it by diffin execution plans on XML format.

On my wildest dreams I would have a REPL accepting a DSL that would allow me to query the different DMV's (those are SQL Server data management views which give you insight on the inner state of SQL Server, Red Gate has a nice site on them http://sqlmonitormetrics.red-gate.com).

If it already exist is some form or platform please share.

An IaaS provider which meets "paranoid" security requirements -- essentially, being able to remotely provision a box in a trustworthy way, and know you "own" that box at least as much as if you'd carried it to colo yourself.

Then, the ability to secure those boxes (and boxes you drop off in colo) against tampering short of powering them off.

(tech details: Intel TXT, TCG TPM, cheap HSMs, Intel SGX, etc.)

PrivateCore has a product to do this for OpenStack:


Not sure if any IaaS providers are offering services based on it yet, though.

Hey, interesting, I'm a researcher working in this area as it happens. Have you any particular classes of application you'd want to use this for? What level of performance hit would you be willing to take? Would you be happy to just have a mechanism that enables you to determine after the fact that you've been hacked or data has leaked due to a misconfiguration, or would you mainly be interested in mechanisms for preventing such issues ever happening?

I have been wanting this for a while as well. Performance is not a huge issue in this scenario for me, as security is the really the reason anyone would use this. I would want to prevent data from leaking completely if possible. My ideal scenario is that an adversary/host could take down my box, but they couldn't get at the content inside without my authentication. I don't want my instance to be clonable/rootable by the FBI, NSA, the hosting provider, or anyone else. Ideally I should be able to set up a Tor host in this instance, no one should be able to see inside under any condition, and I should have some proof/verification that it is secure from outsiders as claimed. If they realize that something undesirable is going on, I have no problem with the instance being shut down, but I don't want my privacy/security compromised.

So you don't ask for much then :). As I'm sure you're aware, even with TPMs/TXT/SGX/Trustzone etc, once your threat model includes a capable adversary like the NSA with physical access to your box, it's hard to see how you can provide bullet-proof guarantees. I'm excluding fully homomorphic encryption based systems on the grounds of practicality here (although there are interesting 'somewhat homomorphic' systems out there that achieve practicality by restricting what kind of operations you can perform on the data).

I guess, but it still seems like no one offers this and its not trivial. Do you know of any research/systems/practical offerings in this area? This has been something that I would be interested in learning a lot more about honestly. I agree that bullet-proof guarantees are basically impossible and that physical security is probably going to be the weak point at the end of the day. Maybe some system could be created that made it hard to individually tamper with one instance without alerting others, or made it hard to isolate one from another from a hardware view? Do you think even something like SGX can't prevent some level of physical threats? It seems like it would at least make it harder/reduce the scenarios in which hardware is vulnerable, but I haven't researched it extensively.

SGX is pretty reasonable IFF you believe in the Intel PKI.

I have been looking at how to do cheap ($20-50 slow USB connected (essentially smartcard), $500-1000 PCIe) HSMs. If you do shared-computation with a host (with or without SGX/TXT), you can get pretty decent performance with quite modest HSM hardware.

Those provide NSA-type protection -- in that attacking a single instance isn't guaranteed, and takes time, so a system with key rotation or k of n split across locations is going to provide pretty reasonable security.

Private Core is definitely the most interesting TXT-based solution today; if you built an IaaS provider with that tech plus live video monitoring, alarms, etc., you could probably offer quite reasonable security assurances to people. (i.e. the tools to defeat it require physical access, and if no one can gain physical access to a rack once the rack is put into production...)

The k of n split across multiple locations idea is interesting.

I agree that if you're paranoid about the NSA it probably doesn't make too much sense to have faith in the Intel PKI. When you say pretty decent performance for your HSM, do you mean less than 10 % for real world apps?

I'm currently assuming a threat model where an attacker doesn't have physical access however, and looking more into how to use hardware to bootstrap a minimal TCB that doesn't require OS or application rewrites but still gives good performance. Even if only for specific use cases.

ARM or possibly Atom in a box, so pretty decent performance. The pain of the HSM is the physical packaging, and my ultimate goal is to make that reusable and let users select their own components and do their own final assembly and certification.

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