Project Ideas

Herein I log ideas for projects I might do, someday, maybe.

Project Idea: Consultant Market for PhDs

July 19th, 2010 by Ian

For academics with doctorate degrees, consulting on the side is pretty common.  But it’s mostly the gray beards who do all the consulting.  They’ve been in their field a long time and have had years to network their way into a steady stream of side gigs.  For younger PhDs, getting into the consulting world is a mysterious step.  Kind of like landing your first job, how does a PhD get into consulting if they’ve never been a consultant before?

Then there are the companies that need to hire a PhD for a short project.  I can’t find a good place for these companies to go.  One option is to call their local university, rely on alumni connections or cold call an academic department.  But it seems like a crapshoot, who knows if there will be anyone there that is even interested, has the time, or relevant experience.

I’m thinking a solution would be something like rentacoder.com or elance.com, but for PhDs.  So rather than a job board, it’s project based.  PhDs post their profiles, including academic resume, past consulting experiences, rate, etc.  Read the rest of this entry »

Project Idea: Clean in these Countries

March 12th, 2010 by Ian

Today I made up a word to name a top sekrit project.  It’s one of those words you look at and wonder “Does this means something obscene in Croatian?”  I looked around for a tool that could quickly tell me what this word means in a bunch of different languages, and I didn’t have much luck finding one.

There are plenty of tools that will let you do translation, and even a few multi-translators.  But they all assume you know the language you are translating from.  In this case, we don’t.

What I want is a tool where you put in a word, it translates it from every language it possibly can, into English.  Then it would show all the results in a list.  It looks like Google AJAX Language API could be used to do this.

Project Idea: Bitchy Tweets

March 8th, 2010 by Ian

Bitchy Tweets would be a website where you quickly rank a person’s twitter stream on how much they complain about stuff, and determine their positive/negative tweet ratio.  The result would be a ranking of where they sit on the complaintometer.

I’m imagining you enter a user’s name (or just bitchytweets.com/domo_domo), and are given a quick ajax listing of their last 15 tweets.  You can then just quickly check off the ones that are considered bitchy.  You click ‘I’m done’ and you get one of those dials similar to DSL speed test, of where the person ranks on the bitchometer.  A link to this graph for future reference is given.

A history of rankings would be kept, so hopefully overtime the ranking could become more accurate, and given an average as the result of the ranking.

Project Idea: Annotate Screenshots, Easy Instructions

February 10th, 2010 by Ian

As part of my IT job, I sometimes have to put together instructions for how to install or use a program.  Would be nice to automate this.  The hardest part of the whole thing is taking the screenshots and integrating them into a document.  The more visual the instructions are, and the less words, the generally more effective they are.

I’m thinking of a webapp where you could import screenshots, and then easily mark up the screen shots with instructions.  Draw a box around the ‘OK’ button in a screenshot, and enter ‘Click this’ and an arrow with the text is automatically painted on the screenshot.

It would also be cool if you could customize certain fields based on a query string.  So if I am sending instructions to user ‘szissou’, the user field in the screenshot is automatically filled in with szissou.

Project Idea: Highscore Website

January 20th, 2010 by Ian

I’d like to see a video game leader board website.  It should have a super simple API.  Anyone game can submit to it once the developer has an API key.  It would not be tied to any particular game engine, totally neutral.

Each leader board would have an RSS feed that can be used be rebroadcast that data on other sites/within a game itself.  It would be nice if there was a way for people to ‘claim’ their scores somehow, so they all show under one unified account.  Not sure how this might work.  Maybe facebook connect/oauth is part of the puzzle.

XBox Live certainly has this concept, but it’s an island (a really big, totally awesome island).  But what about random flash games, iPhone games, etc.

There might be some sites out there doing this, but they seem to be tied to specific platform or engines.

Project Idea: Open garage door with iPhone

January 10th, 2010 by Ian

Garage doors are a big deal when a mistaken open means precious seconds waiting in the sub zero outdoors.

Current problems with my garage door…

  • I don’t know if the doors open or closed.  I have no line of sight, so I often close the door when it’s open, or am uncertain if I had really opened it.
  • My remote sucks and sometimes the signal is too weak to open the garage door, and I have to walk outside to do it.
  • Sometimes I just plain forget after I’ve already walked outside and left the remote locked in the house.

Once I get better at this electronics thing, I’d like to setup a rig that:

    • Opens or closes the garage door via an iPhone formatted web page
    • Checks the current open/close status of the door and posts that to the web page

    Read the rest of this entry »