Concept Corner: Home Cache Server

This device is intended for home use. It is especially useful for users with bandwidth caps on their home internet connections. Even if you don’t have a cap, this could still be a useful piece of technology that would help to keep your bandwidth flowing more freely and not being clogged with unnecessary packets.Downloaded items like Operating System updates, Game patches, and movie downloads are generally very large and need to be downloaded for more than one computer in your house. Why download the same 800mb patch several different times, or worse at the same time?

Hardware wise, it would look much like your current wireless / wired router that you have at home. It would be almost identical to that kind of device, with the addition of either an internal hard drive or firewire/USB ports to allow for external storage. The device at it’s most basic level, would see that you are downloading an 800mb file called “OSupdate2010.dmg”, give it a unique hash that would include file origination data and store this file on the local hard drive. When your second computer tried to reach out to get this same file two days later, the device would intercept and serve it to you from the local hard drive rather than going back out to the internet to get it.

Of course, this device could either be used out of the box in “user mode” or set to a highly configurable “admin mode” with rules for how to handle data and file serving. Rules such as:

  • If a file has not been accessed in X days, delete it.
  • Only cache files larger than X mb.
  • Only cache files for the following computers.
  • Show warnings to user if the file is not currently cached and will use bandwidth.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

What I want Eye-Fi to make next!

I have been shooting with Eye-Fi cards pretty much since they were invented. Even after years of daily use, I still find myself being wowed by their magic. I recently got a new toy, an iPad, which I bought largely for use as a photography tool. The iPad has a camera connection kit you can purchase for around $30 that lets you either plug in your camera via USB or plug the SD card into the iPad to import photos. Now, if you use an Eye-Fi card, steps like this have all but been forgotten since you never have to do this with your computer. Long story short, here is what I want to see from Eye-Fi next!

A small dongle (colored orange of course), about the size of Apple’s camera connection kit device, with a dock connector on the top. This device would serve as an ad-hoc connection to your Eye-Fi card allowing you to take photos and have them pop up on your iPad without the need of a WiFi network. There would be a software component as well that would serve as a large preview for the shots in real time, perhaps basic editing, and means of uploading or exporting to other apps.

I would see this device being both a stand alone purchase for users who already have Eye-Fi cards, or bundled with a card and available right at the Apple store.

(Yes, this could work with the iPhone as well)

(@alcedine helped me (did most of the work) with this little mockup!) 🙂

Concept Corner: Yellow Tail Lights?

To continue with the “Concept Corner” series, this week we have a short write up about car tail lights. What about them? Well, an idea I had a while back to help with traffic flow and safety.

Living in California, I see horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE drivers everyday. Because of this, I am always looking for ways to make driving safer for those of us that can handle driving a car. This idea is actually rather simple, but could prove to be rather useful.

As I am sure you all know, when you are driving you have generally have two states that you are in: accelerating or braking. When you are accelerating you have no means of letting others know you are doing this other than the fact that they can see you moving. On the other hand, when you are braking, you have brake lights on the back of your car to indicate your action. This means that from the other driver’s point of view there is effectively no difference in what they see when you are accelerating, maintaining speed or have taken your foot off the accelerator and are coasting.

This is where yellow brake lights come into play. This would be another 1 or 2 indicator lights in the back (perhaps side markers as well) of you car that would illuminate when you are neither breaking nor accelerating but simply coasting. This would give other drivers insight into what your actions are most probably going to be. If you take your foot off the accelerator pedal in your car, you are most likely trying to slow down or are getting ready to apply the brakes. This yellow light would give the other drivers around you the opportunity to react accordingly.

I realize that in order for a system like this to work, we need to have an educated and intelligent populous when it comes to driving. This unfortunately doesn’t seem to be the case around here. People around here seem to have the idea that you are either pressing the accelerator or the brake; there is no in between. If only people understood the concept of throttle control..

I would love to work out a prototype of this system and do some real world testing. Unfortunately, due to cost and the vehicle code laws, I don’t think I can make that happen at this time. But, as always, feel free to contact me if you are someone that feels there is something to this, and we can work on getting it pushed forward. Of course, if you feel the opposite I would love to hear your feedback as well.

International Cell Phone Network (cell min vs. unit)

It is 2009, and time to fix the problem of cell phone companies. It most likely needs no explanation, since everyone, and I mean everyone has been screwed by their cell phone company at least once, but more than likely multiple times. I’m not just talking about them doing something unfavorable directly, but indirectly as well. I will be more focused on indirectly here, but feel free to vent your direct instances in the comments below. 🙂 What do I mean by indirectly? How is that possible? Well, look at your bill, pretty high isn’t it? Doesn’t really seem to be a fair price does it, for what you are getting. I am kind of getting off on a tangent from what the overall point of this post is, but it ties into what I am going to expressing soon, I swear!

So as far as the “fairness” of bills go, I want to pick on a couple of sections in particular. Minutes, Data, ETF, and Text messages.

Ok, now lets get into it. It is now 2009, and cell phones are now the defacto standard for communication for a lot of people. More and more people are dropping land lines in favor of cell phones, for many reasons: cost, ease of use, and convenience. This is great except when you look at what you are getting for the price you are paying. It seems to me that every part of the cell phone market is advancing except the business model of the “providers”. (Well battery technology isn’t keeping up either, but we can talk about that another time.) I don’t think that you can argue that cell phone providers aren’t working together to keep profits at a maximum, with little care given to the consumer. Arguments can be made that the minutes are “fair” but when it comes to data (which as a user group has exploded in recent years) we are getting ripped off big time! Generally as much as $60 a month. Along with this $60/month, we used to get truly unlimited data, not bad right? Well now that we as consumers are actually using the data, there is now a cap of 5GB in most if not all cases, so they can tack on some of their outrageous overage fees on us, just like with minutes.

Lets also not forget the, what should be illegal, act of charging you a fee to stop doing business with their company!? Sure sounds like extortion to me! Ever heard of a protection racket? Exactly. You have to pay off a lot of people (lobby much?) to have the ability to charge customers a fee for wanting to leave your terrible company. The worst part about it, is that they all do it, and they are all for the most part, equally terrible. What makes it worse is that they seem to all be in communication with each other and appear to be price fixing, simply because they can. One company charges X for a service, the next week, the other company changes the same. Where is the competition? What happened to earning customers’ loyalty through great service, instead of an extortion fee?

Finally, and the reason behind this writing, we as people are becoming more international, we are finding the need to have our phone work wherever we are at any given moment in time. Between the grossly expensive “international plans” and poor interoperability between carriers, this is no easy task. I am proposing we change from the old model of minutes to a newer model that is more aligned with our global society: units. For this example I will say that my Home Zone is the United States. The system works like this:

You will have a designated “Home Zone” which is the country where you will be primarily using your phone. You will purchase a plan from your carrier, but instead of getting lets say 1000 minutes per month, you receive 1000 units. Now with that said, when you make a call in your Home Zone, you will be assessed 1 Unit for every minute of talk time. Fairly straight forward so far right? Here is where the magic happens. Keep in mind your Home Zone is the United States, now you want to go to London. Normally you would have to either pay outrageously expensive roaming charges OR with this new way of doing business you simply pay (in units) the rate (in units) for that country, or Zone. So for instance lets say there is an agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom that when users come from the US to the UK, they will be assessed 1.5 Units/Min. Now, without any pain to the customer, all the customer has to do is travel to their destination, turn their phone on and make a call. Units will be deducted from their balance.

Worldwide, carriers already have agreements in place for roaming, so why not simplify the process for everyone? Now I know this would mean the poor phone companies, who are living in the past, would not be raping the profits that they are now, which is why this idea will never come to fruition. But just think of the possibilities of a truly worldwide cell phone network, the possibilities are endless.

I would love to hear any additions or comments you have about this idea. Throw them down below in the comments section.

Thanks everyone, enjoy your txt messages that are $1000’s/MB. 🙂

Concept Corner: Singularity

This is the first in what will most likely be an ongoing section on the blog. Concept Corner: short – medium length posts about concept ideas I have. No real agenda here, just getting my thoughts out on “paper.” If you like the idea and want to make a go of it with me, I am all for that as well. This initial round will be a concept idea I first had about 3 years ago. I call it, simply, Singularity. A more descriptive name without all the marketing feel would be “Single Use Tablet.” I will talk about this device as though it were one product, but would most certainly be a line of products.Ok, so what is it already? Singularity is at its core a mac. So picture this, a tablet style mac that has the form factor of a MacBook Air, with a full Wacom supported touch screen on top, and this devices sole purpose is to be lean, mean, and run one specific set of apps, Adobe’s Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator). This device would not be a normal mac with these apps installed, but rather 2 things.

Enhanced Mode: In this mode you would have access to your Adobe apps, as well as standard apps like web browser, email, and so forth.

Here is where the fun begins.

Singularity Mode: In Singularity Mode you have instant on access to your Adobe apps only. This cuts out all unneeded processes which maximizes your speed and battery life of this ultra light device.

Specs: The specs of this device would be very similar to what we see today.- 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo- 2GB Ram- 120GB SSD- 14 inch Wacom touch screen (with multi-touch capability)- Dock mount for external keyboard / Mouse (if needed)- 802.11N WiFi- (1) USB 2.0 port, (1) FireWire 400 port, (1) Display port- 3.5 Hrs battery life in Enhanced Mode, 5+ hours in Singularity mode.

Target Price PointVersion 1.0 – $1,799Version 2.0 – $999Version 3.0 – $799

I am by no means a graphics artist (as you can tell by the lack of sketches for this concept), but I could really see a need for a small, light weight, instant on device like this for the Graphic Designers out there. Why carry around a laptop and a Wacom tablet, when you could have this all-in-one device!