Grow as a Person, Not as a Group

If you only surround yourself with people you are comfortable with, and who agree with you, you will stop growing. Worse, you may even lose your self, as agreement becomes more important than truths.

However, if you surround yourself with people who challenge you, and who you look up to, you will continue growing, while forming a strong, independent self that others will eventually look up to.

Losing Stuff

Always remember the first place you looked for something when you cannot find it.

Then, once you find it, you know where to put it. Put it where you first looked for it. You’ll find it right away the next time.

This is also how I organize my kitchen when I move into a new house. I think, if this wasn’t my house, where’s the first place I’d look for this (or these). Then I put them there.

Anti-Big

What if instead of being anti-big-government and anti-big-corporate-America, we all kind of agreed to be anti-big-anything?

We all know “where there’s power there’s corruption”, and that money is likewise highly correlated with corruption, so why give corruption so much latitude?

And all ethics aside, isn’t the real, and nearly universal problem with big entities, whether public or private, is that thy are just too damn inefficient? They run slow, stop innovating, and shift their policies from trying to please their customers (or constituents), to trying to get bigger.

Plus, there are other problems associated with being too big that you and I pay for:

  • The big entity’s spending gets reckless. Our costs go up (taxes or prices)
  • In order to save costs, the big entity’s quality of products or services provided goes down. Our value, excitement, and enjoyment goes down.
  • The big Corporation acquires competitors who made a better product, for way too much money, in order to ensure a stranglehold on their industry. Our costs go up, our value, excitement, and enjoyment go down by the time they integrate their new toy into their large portfolio.
  • The big Government becomes a service provider and the quality of the service plummets while chaos ensues.

So, what if big entities were capped? With regards to revenue that is.

Graph of Cap

First, let’s look at capping corporate revenue (if you dare…).

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Time is Greater than Money

When you are busy, do not spend time saving money. If you can, spend money saving time instead.

In other words, time, and what you do with it is far more important than money, and what you do with it. Unless you are using money to save time. Money can buy you time, if you pay other people to do the things that do not directly add quality to your life. That frees up your time to do more quality things.

Once you get too busy, every decision to do something becomes a decision not to do something else. That is important to remember.

For example, recently my very busy wife and mother of our 3 year old and our 9 month old, wanted to save money on vegetables by making a weekly trip to another store. I advised her not to. Why?

It would take her an hour to go to this other store, shop, and return. When we calculated the savings, she would have saved roughly $1.00 per 5 lbs of produce. That’s about a week’s worth for us, since we do not cook all that much (mostly microwave since we’re busy). She just valued her time at $1.00/hour.

Plus, she wants to cook more. If she spent another hour of her busy life shopping, that is less time to cook. We decided it would provide more quality to her life, and our family, if she spent the extra dollar or two at our regular store, and used that hour to cook a weekly meal.

Ideally, if we were wealthy, we would hire somebody to do our shopping for us, or have it delivered, saving another 4 hours a month. That is now a goal of ours.

Make Astronomy Accessible

You ever see a kid’s face when you start talking about “outer space”? Like dinosaurs, monsters, or fairy tales, outer space is one of those enigmatic subjects that foster a sense of wonderment. The advantage outer space has though, is that it currently exists. The proof is that you can see it, and you don’t have to go to Disneyland and pretend it.

But, it’s small. I mean outer space is huge… but everything in it is small. Other than the moon, it all looks the same to the naked eye. Just lots of tiny bright dots. The coolest stuff up there is tucked away beyond what our eyes can see. Which is why we need telescopes.

But why don’t more families have telescopes?

Well, I have one, and I can tell you why not. It’s expensive. It’s heavy. It requires advanced skills. It takes forever to set up. And in the city, it is very limited in what it can show you. If I want to take a picture of what I am seeing, add more cost, and way more technical know-how.

If I weren’t such a geek, I seriously wouldn’t put in the effort. For most people, I assume the payoff just isn’t there, for what you put into it.

This post is my open letter to telescope manufacturers to take an “Apple approach” to making a telescope. I will tell you how to make it cheaper, lighter, easier, and portable — and how you can still make money doing it.

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Life’s Reset Button

Kids.

Kids are life’s great reset button.

reset button

Before you have kids you might look back on certain events of your life and think, “I shouldn’t have done that”.

Maybe it was a bad relocation, a poorly executed career choice, losing a lot of money on a venture, losing a “soul mate” to a stupid mistake, or spending too much time on what you thought was your soul mate, or a combination of those; but we have all had regrets.

All of us.

Period.

To say “I regret nothing” is just tossing a blanket over your regrets, tucking them in, and waiting for them to wake up pissed off one morning when you’re at your weakest.

Everybody has done something they wish they hadn’t – and that is the simplest definition of a regret. How you cope with it, or rationalize it, or gloss it over with a trite cliche, does not change the fact that it was a regret.

As a matter of fact, using trite cliches like “I have no regrets” actually acknowledges that you have had regrettable events in your life worth rationalizing. Unless you have kids…

Once you have a child, and fall in love with him, her, or them, you submit to the reality that every regrettable act in your life contributed to the pavement that helped deliver your shoes to the right place, at the right time, to have this wonderful child.

Changing even one event in your past live could trigger a butterfly effect that changed your life just enough to not have that kid.

So you accept it all, and stop regretting any of it. Because it was all worth the reward.

 

Acquisition Tip for Apple, Google, or Amazon

Here’s the scenario…

I’m driving along in my car, and a great song comes on the radio. I want it.

Why can’t I say “Siri, get me this song!”, or tell Google’s Android to get it, whichever applies to you.

Then my mobile would “listen” to what I’m listening to, ask me if I want the song or the album, and then use my iTunes/Google Play/Amazon Prime account to put it on my device immediately?

Seems like a pretty good way to sell music, and a killer feature for a phone.

Who do they acquire to make this happen in a hurry? One of these two:

 

Shazam

Shazam

 

SoundCloud

SoundCloud

 

Make it happen.

Video Recycler – A Mobile App Idea

When somebody builds this, please let me know. I thought it up in 2009, and figured I’d have done it by now. I’m too busy, so you can have it.

The Nutshell

I fire up the mobile app, hit the Start button, and my mobile starts shooting video. Then, based on the settings I have configured, it shoots for X amount of time, saving N number of videos, and deleting any videos older than the Nth, until I hit the Stop button. Then it keeps the current video, and the 2 – N videos in my picture gallery.

The Use Cases

  • My infant/toddler son is about to do something cool and I want to capture it. But I don’t want to shoot for an hour and edit later, nor do I enjoy hitting Record => try capturing it for a minute or two => Stop Recording => Repeat indefinitely.
  • I’m driving down the road and the car in front of me is swerving. If he is loaded and takes out himself or somebody else, I want video to show the police. But I don’t know if or when he’s going to actually crash. Rather than take a half hour video, let me film for a minute at a time, saving the last 3 minute-long videos as evidence.
  • I’m at a baseball game, it’s the bottom of the 9th, tie game, and Matt Kemp is at the plate. I could record for the entire 5 minute at bat and edit later, or record in 30 second intervals, saving only the last 1, in order to capture his walk-off HR.
  • My odd neighbor is mowing his lawn with a machete and I just know something bad is about to happen. Rather than capture the hour long experience, I just want 2 minute intervals, saving the last 5, so I can capture him losing a leg, and the ensuing aftermath.

I think you get the picture.

So why not just film and edit? Because first, this would be simpler. And second, these days you want to get those videos up on Facebook or YouTube as fast as possible. Especially if you are somehow involved in the event, you would kind of like to get back to watching, helping, celebrating, or staring in awe.

It shouldn’t be too hard for an experienced app maker to build, and I’ll gladly pay you $4.99 for it. I think others would too. So hit me up on Twitter when you’ve got it released in the iPhone app store would ya? @criddar on Twitter.

Thanks!

It is Time for Personal Robots (and Apple Needs to Do It)

Hi Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, are you listening? Here’s what I want as your next revolutionary product…

The iPal.

robot arm

It is a robot, built to the standards of Apple products, controllable by iPads, iPhones, and iPods, and comes in under $500. Say $499 shall we?

Most importantly, and the reason why you should do this before someone like Google, is that you will put ease-of-use above an overwhelming feature list, and therefore make it easy enough for a 5 year old to use. Dead simple usability is crucial to product revolutions, right? Then others just copy and try to make a buck by loading it down with features for the geeks (like myself).

But I want the Apple version first.

Here’s your requirements list so you can get started:

  • Again, controllable by other Apple products.
  • Camera, that streams live video to my iProduct, and take snapshots or records at the press of a button.
  • Speaker, so that I can speak into my iProduct and somebody or some animal on the other end can hear me.
  • Siri. Let me also control it by voice, using conversational terms like “go up the stairs”.
  • So yeah, it must climb stairs.
  • A telescoping arm with maybe 3 fingers. Three should be able to get most of the tasks I would need to do remotely done.
  • And most importantly, locate its docking station, which will be sitting on the floor in some corner of my house, and plug itself in automatically upon sensing its battery is getting below say 10%.

Why would people buy one?

Here’s what could be done with it:

  • Feeding the dog or cat if I’m not home in time.
  • Issue commands to my dog, like “leave it!” when he’s digging in the garbage.
  • Turning off the lights if I forgot.
  • Or turning on the lights if I’m gone overnight and want the burglars to stay away.
  • Turn on the heater or air conditioner 20 minutes before I get home.
  • Operate my TV remote control to record a show if I’m out longer than expected.
  • If I’m sick and in bed, go downstairs, open the fridge, and grab me some Gatorade.
  • When I’m working on a project in my garage, it could grab me that tool so I don’t need to stop what I’m working on.
  • Bring me my shoes from upstairs.
  • Clean up a spill.
  • Etc., etc.

I think this could be done now, for under $2000, with room for profit, using mass production and Apple’s built-in, already enormous, economies of scale for their products. Plus, it would drive even more people over to iProducts so that they could have one.

I also think that people are ready for this. The Roomba has been around for over a decade now, and social media will drive ownership as people find out what iPal owners are doing with it.

The Next Killer Product

Ok, someone needs to do this….

We’ve all seen the commercial, or read the blog article, by now… you know, the one where somebody attaches a camera to a weather balloon and sends it up into space. Pretty cool!

Until they have to chase it down and find it.

Well, that whole contraption needs to be made into a product, improved, and sell for under $500. Up to the challenge? Here’s the specs…

Requirements

  • 8MP camera
  • HD Video
  • Altimeter
  • GPS
  • Wifi
  • Micro SD Memory Card (to record pics/video/flight data)
  • 3G or even old GSM chip
  • Achieve a height of 80,000 – 100,000 feet
  • Take video the entire flight
  • Take a 8MP picture every 10 seconds
  • Owner registers it on a website upon purchase for tracking
  • Work a deal with Mobile ISPs to use their towers just to send a small bit of data periodically (the product ID and coordinates) to the webserver. Could also look for open WiFi connections). Follow how Besos managed free data connections with the first Kindle.
  • User tracks it on the website.
  • Upon recovery, users uploads data from Micro-SD to website, and offloads pictures.
  • Website displays flight data graphically, and compares it to others.
  • Is as simple to unpack and use as buying a remote control car from Radio Shack.

How you make money:

If you’re thinking that the equipment alone would be break-even at $500, you’re probably right. So how do you make money, and how do you pay ISPs for that tiny bit of traffic per product?

The website.

See, it’s optional. The SD Card has the pictures, so at a bar minimum the purchaser gets that gratification. If they can find their product when it lands.

They have to pay for the GPS tracking, and for you to disseminate the flight data, using the website, per flight.

See… it’s reusable.

$500 out the door. $19.99 per flight to use the website. You’ll sell millions.

I’ll buy one.

Next

Then you’ll take your millions, pay your taxes and yourself, then use the remainder to figure out how to make one that:

  • Sends real-time video to a receiver on the ground, that also acts as a…
  • Flight controller so that when the camera doo-hickey,
  • Which now has wings,
  • Breaks away from the balloon with a signal from the receiver…
  • The user can navigate it to the ground using the video.