New Idea Monday #11 Perforated Dryer Sheets

fabric softenerWhile this is not a profound idea I think it is one that P&G could use to make a their dryer sheets stand out.  Divide a dryer sheet exactly in half with perforation such that you can use half the sheet.  Why use a whole sheet for a small load when half a sheet would do, or when you just want to use half the sheet for economical or environmental reasons. Sure you can rip it in half but wouldn’t it be nice if the manufacturer encouraged you to do so?

How To Convert Men’s to Women’s Shoe Sizes?

In college I used to work in the shoe department a Kohl’s department store. I learned a handy little trick there that you women can use when buying shoes. If you like a style of shoe that is only offered in Mens then you can subtract 2 sizes from your shoe size and find that size in the shoe you are looking for. Say for example you are a woman’s size 8 then you would buy a men’s size 6. This however will not work if you are smaller then a woman’s size 8 since men’s 6 is the lowest that you can find. Happy shoe hunting!

Yahoo Shortcuts

I wanted to try out the Yahoo! Shortcut app for WordPress. It is really a neat little plug in. As you type your post a widget or slug on the side of the editing window shows you how may items it finds that relate to your post. It is really a clever idea and should help you make blog posts more interesting. I am going to try out some of the features in this post.

So I live in Chicago IL. Yahoo Short cuts is able to identify this as a location and display a map of it if I choose to do so. This might be nicer that mapstraction plug in that I am using already.

If I decided to Blog about a company like Yahoo! or Microsoft or Google the shortcut tool will suggest links to these companies stock tickers.

I can also talk about products like a Palm Treo or BlackBerry Pearl and the shortcut tool will give me product links fro these. Although I think I should get a refferral fee or PPC payout for that.

Lastly the tool will allow you to find and enter Flickr Photos into your post. This is a very handy  way to add photos to your post instead of linking to them

One thing that I don’t like is the the lack or a way to exactly position the size or location of the widget. Your are at the mercy of the tool as to the size and your are limited by the editor on location.  If you only plan to use one or maybe two widgets at a time this is a cool little tool. I plan to keep using it for now but would like to see Yahoo! implement some type of revenue share with the tool especially if it pushed paid for content.

Wrting Reports May Actually be Fun Now

Chart

For as long as I have been writing software professionally there has always been a need to create reports. I have always found this be be boring but a necessary evil. The basic idea is to query a database munge the data and display it. The hardest part was showing the data to people in a format that they would understand and want to use. I have used different methods from table to graph to create excel spreadsheet. It was always the presentation of the data that seemed to take the longest. Well I think that is all about to change. Last week Google released their Charting API. It provides a nice and easy to use interface to create all kinds of configurable charts. As a developer you specify the url for the browser to retrieve and thier engine does the rest. For example here is the code that I used to generate the 3D pie chart:

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=p3&chd=t:10.0,20.0,70.0 &chs=300×100&chl=Savings|Taxes|Expenses

That was all there was to it. I didn’t have to understand some crazy graphing javascript code, I didn’t have to play with image magic, I just had to load the url. While this method isn’t great for larger datasets this method is perfect for small datasets. I have already thought of a couple cool ways to use this api, It has actually made me excited to write reporting software now.

Block Buster Total Access

Ever since my local Hollywood Video store closed it’s doors I have been in search for a new place to rent my DVDs. At first I started to use the Redbox machine that was located in my local Jewel-Osco, however this got to be very inconvenient, since the movies are due back the next day, and expensive 1 dollar per day per movie. So this sent me out in search of a new way to rent movies. What I liked about renting movies from Hollywood video was that I could rent as many movies as I could watch taking out three movies at a time with their MVP program. I didn’t have to wait for movies to come to me in the mail  and since the store was less then a mile from my house I often walked there. None of the available options were able to replicate this experience.

I knew that I had to choose at least on online rental option for DVDs. In my mind there are only two choices Netflix.com or BlockBuster Total Access.  These two servics seem to be battling it out for king of the online DVD rental market so I has to give them a try. While Netflix is the king of the hill in this market right now I choose not to go with them because my only option for renting DVDs would be to wait for my postal person to deliver my videos. With Block Buster total access I can trade in the movies that I have for movie in the store, when I drop the movies off at the store Block Buster sends out the next batch of movies. I can watch many more movies this way then I can with Netflix.

I have have been a member of the  BlockBuster Total Access program for about a month now and am pretty happy with it. While I am renting fewer movies then I was a Hollywood Video I still have stuff to watch. The added bonus is that I can watch quite a few older movies that I wasn’t able to get before.   The actual website is ok, I am using the recommendations from Sourcelight to populate my Blockbuster “Q” as I don’t prefer Choicestream recommendations.

If you have a BlockBuster close to you I encourage you so sign-up and see how it goes for you. The first month is free so you have nothing to loose. If you use an online DVD service, which one is it and how do you like it?