Category Archives: What I Want

Online shopping for items with lots of options that doesn’t suck?

I just speced out a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop for a new employee at work using the Lenovo website.  I chose a half-dozen or so non-standard options, and now I’m stuck, because I’m not the person with the credit card who is going to place the actual order.

Ideally, I’d be able to save the configuration without creating an account with Lenovo, and then send a link to the person with the credit card.  No dice.  There is an e-mail link at the bottom of the shopping card page, but it just sends an overview.  There may or may not be enough information there for someone to recreate the configuration I came up with, but if there is, they’ll have to do it by hand, which takes time and creates opportunities for mistakes.

There is an option to save the cart, but to to so, I have to create an account, which is a pain in the ass.

Lenovo isn’t the only one who does this.  The Apple Store seems to do pretty much exactly the same thing.  It’s the same way too when you are buying a bunch of items from NewEgg.

This isn’t an uncommon situation.  It’s often the case that the person with the want/need and the person with the money are two separate people.  Lots of purchases in homes and businesses, big and small, are group efforts.
Retailers, make it easy for us to work together to trade our money for your goods.  Is that too much to ask?

Better Project Management Tools

I would like to use a mind-map like interface to organize data in multiple hierarchies.

So, for example, I’d start out using “FreeMind”: to capture and organize ideas according to one hierarchy, like the type of feature they represent, then I’d switch to a different dimension and organize them according to relative priority & timeframe, then another to organize them by who is responsible for completing the tasks.

Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t really want to use a mind map UI to do all the organization. What I want is to be able to do my first organizational pass using a mind map, then I want to be able to switch into a spreadsheet view to add additional hierarchy information. Then I want to be able to view and perhaps tweak the map in a hierarchy based on the information I entered in tabular view. Most importanly, I want to be able to toggle between all these views, and have the changes I make in one view be reflected in the other.

As an added bonus, it would be cool if I could then easily map all of those dimensions into fields in the “change management system i’m using”: Again, I’d like these changes to propagate bidirectionally with the mindmap and tabular view.

Update: I’m not sure this is exactly what I want.  I am sure that I’m not happy with the existing tools for organizing and interacting with task information.

I want a WordPress performance tracker

I use “WordPress”: to publish this blog.  I like the package, but sometimes it seems more than a little slow.  I suspect a big part of the problem is my shared hosting with, particularly the mySQL database.  As a result, I’m looking at other options for hosting a friends blog.  The thing is, I’m really flying blind here.

It would be cool if there were a service that kept performace statistics for WordPress performance at a variety of web hosts.  It could watch the ping services (like to discover blogs, visit them and check for tell-tail signs of wordpress-ness, and then track the performace of the site over time.  Statistics could be rolled up using IP addresss and routing info so as to group blogs by web hosting provider.  It could also look at the performance information that many WordPress templates include as a comment in the generated page source.

It needn’t be limited to tracking WordPress performance either.  It could also track the performance and availability of other common dynamic web applications, like Drupal & PHPbb.

Virutal Makeup for Celebs in the HDTV Age

In the late 90s, I was involved with a company that produced high-end animation. Most of our customers were in the TV business and HDTV was finally getting a little investment.

At the time, I figured that HDTV would shorten the careers of a lot of on-air talent. I’m not sure that it has, yet, but it might soon.

Memorandum has captured a cluster of recent articles and posts on the “cruel impact of HDTV on our valuable national celebrities”:

I have a solution: Virtual Makeup

Virtual makeup starts with a 3D model of a celebrities head, neck and shoulders. This then used to layer “virtual makeup” on their live image to correct imperfections and conceal flaws.

I have another solution too: Bring on the new blood!

I want my own personal news editor

Over a decade ago I spend a lot of my free time on Usenet. I learned a lot there.

One of the things that got driven home is that some people are full of shit, no matter what topic they are writing about; other people are worth reading within their area of expertise, even if they don’t have the sense to know their limits; finally, other people are worth reading on just about any topic they decide to write about.

This really shaped my thoughts about the potential for the way the internet would change the way media was created, filtered and consumed.

Almost since my Usenet days, I’ve wanted a way to use computers to help me see all the sides of a story. In my ideal, the software could identify differences in POV between different comentators on the same event and provide excerpts of the differences in opinion. I’m sure that that is a long way off though, so I’d be happy if the computer would just do a decent job of identifying the different commentators for me.

Google News already does this with conventional media sources, to a large extent and “Memorandum”: mades a good go of it with political and technology blogs. Unfortunately, both of them rely on other people’s judgements about which sources of information are actually worth watching in the first place.

What I really want is to have a personal memorandum. I want to define a “personal reading list (using OPML, perhaps?)”: around a broad topic area and let the software scan the feeds and present articles to me a view of the current topics of discussion in that sphere. Furthermore, I want to be able to define other reading lists for other topic areas and get a similar view of those spaces. Even better to bring in points of view on the topics from outside my selection of sources but connected by one degree of separation.

So, when can I have this, or does it already exist?

I want a voice activated iPod

I’ve been waiting for portable music player with voice navigation since before the display-less iPod shuffle came out. What’s taking so damn long?

The latest full sized iPods have got to have about as much CPU power and RAM as the Pentium PC that was able to do a decent job running freetext dictation software 8 or 9 years ago. I’m sure they are faster than the circa 1991 AV macs that had a workable voice driven interface for the menus and dialog boxes.

What’s more, the vocabulary of words and phrases is known since it’s limited to the artists, songs and album titles on your music player plus a handfull of commands, which would allow a lot of preprocessing to be performed on the PC you use to load the music on the player.

Voice recognition has been slow to take off on PCs because the alternatives (keyboards & mice) are generally faster and more accurate. I don’t think you can make the same argument for portable media players.

The iPod has a great UI, but it can take a long time to find a specific song or artist amongst all the options, and I only have a puny 10GB model. Furthermore, it can be easy to overshoot a given menu selection on the first try. What’s more, the voice recognition doesn’t have to be perfect. I’d be happy if speaking a song, album or artist name gave me ~5 possibilities to choose from, just as long as one of them was the item I was looking for. Done right, this would make it much easier to build on the go playlists (something I never do) and just generally use something other than shuffle mode.

So, what’s the deal? Why can’t I have what I want?