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Month: December, 2015

This incredible camouflage for computer programmers and other office workers who snack at their desks will ensure that the dreaded mustard-on-white-shirt-before-crucial-meeting scenario is never repeated.


Camouflage is a useful tool for hiding something in a distracting pattern that it blends into.

Most frequently, camouflage is used to hide a person (for example, a hunter or soldier) in an environment where they would prefer not to be spotted.


Fig 1: Traditional forest camouflage, used to hide from snakes, owls, and other woodland predators.


Camouflage can also be used by individuals who don’t actually need to hide themselves. For example, computer programmers can apply camouflage techniques to hide undesirable stains on regular clothing.

Figure 2, below, depicts one of the classic hazards of snacking at a desk:


Fig 2: The main hazard that sedentary computer workers face—the sudden and unexpected assault of artificial-cheese-flavored snacks. These can easily stain clothing in an obvious and unsightly fashion.

In order to avoid having the cheese-product assault become a career ending injury, we can apply camouflage techniques to the user’s clothing. Behold, the cheese-patterned cargo shorts (Fig 3)!


Fig 3: These fashionable cargo shorts would most likely be advertised as “Cheeto-proof” or “Cheez-It-proof,” except that these are both trademark-protected brand names. Presumably the fallback name would be “artificial cheese product-proof cargo shorts.” This soon-to-be-ubiquitous pattern is the generic “woodland camo” of the high-tech office world.

Other camouflage patterns would also be available for non-cheese-product consumers (Figs 4, 5).


Fig 4: The “ketchup and mustard” variant protects against two of America’s favorite condiments. Essential for the hamburger connoisseur.


Fig 6: Other types of snack food would warrant different patterns. This example may protect against the colorful outside coating of M&Ms, Skittles, and a wide variety of other candies.


You can create one of these today at any custom-shirt-printing company. Be sure to send royalties to this blog!

PROS: An elegant and fashionable solution to a classic problem.

CONS: Since these new patterns do not blend into the forest, you may be attacked by a snake or an owl if you wear them while traipsing through the woodlands.



Never show up at the airport again without your passport with this one weird luggage trick! The trick is: remember your passport.


When packing for a trip, it’s easy to forget something.

One way to solve this problem is to make a list, but even that requires planning ahead of time and is prone to error.


To solve this problem, we will adopt a technique that is seen in prison kitchens (at least, the one in Alcatraz)—having a silhouette for each item that belongs in an area, so it it obvious if a specific object goes missing. In the Alcatraz scenario, the silhouette technique was applied to ensure that kitchen knives remained in the kitchen.

kitchen-silhouetteFig 1: In a prison kitchen, silhouettes can be used to ensure that a knife’s absence from the kitchen is obvious.


In the packing scenario, your luggage will come with a roll-out mat with black silhouettes of all the items you need to pack.

Simply put each required item onto the poster until there are no obvious silhouettes visible, and you’ll be done packing. Never arrive at the airport without your passport / money / socks again!

Silhouette mats could be customized for each user; for example, not every traveler is going to need a pair of glasses or a vial of anti-venom.


Fig 2: A roll-out mat with silhouettes of all required items would make it almost impossible to accidentally leave an item behind when packing.


Is it possible that this may actually be a legitimately marketable idea, even if it is just a more complicated version of “make a list?”

PROS: You probably won’t forget anything for your trip!

CONS: Bulky clothing, like a winter jacket or ski pants, would probably take up an entire roll-out mat all by itself. May work poorly when multiple copies of an item are involved (e.g., 6 pairs of socks, 20 pairs of contact lenses).

Regain hours of your life every day with this one weird anti-procrastination tip that may involve horrifying injury! You’ll never believe what happened next.


Sometimes, a difficult task or obligation hangs over a person, and is said to be “heavy” or “crushing.”

The issue:

However, until now, there has been no way to properly represent a person’s currently unresolved obligations in a three-dimensional space.


In order to reduce procrastination and make it easier for a person to determine how far they are along in resolving their current to-do list, the proposal is as follows:

  • In certain important rooms of the user’s house, or potentially in their workplace, a huge metal plate is installed on one end of the room, immediately in front of a wall. (Ideally, this location would also be directly across from a door on the opposing wall, although this is not mandatory.)
  • This metal plate is attached to a telescoping arm that can push the plate away from the wall and into the main space of the room.
  • In this fashion, the metal plate can take up as much of the room as needed, partitioning it into a “still usable” space and a “hidden behind the crushing wall” space.
  • The crushing wall would be linked the user’s email and calendar programs. If the user has many un-resolved email messages from days ago, and a large number of outstanding obligations (for example, “do taxes” or “repaint living room”), the wall will extend to take up a large amount of space in the room.
  • When the user resolves these tasks, the wall will retract back towards its origin. For example, if the user only has a few minor tasks to do (e.g. “go shopping for bread”), the wall will retract so that it only takes up a few inches along the wall.


Fig 1: In this figure, the crushing wall is mounted on the left wall. The remaining usable space in the room (right side) has only a table and door in it. Judging from the position of this wall, the user has a large number of currently outstanding tasks that they need to resolve if they want the crushing wall to retract.


Fig 2: Side view of a room similar to the one above. Blue area (left): a heavy-duty mounting bracket to attach the crushing wall to the floor and ceiling. Green: a telescoping hydraulic arm to allow the wall to move. Yellow: the crushing wall. In this diagram, the wall is taking up approximately two-thirds of the room.


This new room furnishing will make it easy for a person to visualize how many un-resolved tasks they need to work on, and will provide a satisfying sense of accomplishment when a task is complete and the wall retracts a few inches.

PROS: Provides sense of accomplishment. Reinvents the classic to-do list in three-dimensional form.

CONS: May result in injury, especially if the crushing wall is installed in a fashion such that there is no door on the opposing wall. More details, including a video re-enactment of this scenario, can be found by doing an Internet search for the term “Death Star trash compactor.”

This “smart carafe” will streamline office coffee acquisition and, if it is smart enough to use Microsoft Excel, possibly replace YOU as well! Smash it before it is too late.


In many office environments, communal coffee is brewed periodically. But it is difficult to tell how old the contents of the carafe are (or if it’s even coffee from the day before).


Fig 1: The classic coffee carafe. No bells or whistles. How barbaric!


The carafe should be able to easily tell you the following information:

  • How long since it was filled
  • How full it is
  • What temperature its contents are

The simplest proof-of-concept “smart carafe” would just have a small switch on the lid that would start a stopwatch on the side of the carafe. This would tell you when the lid was last opened, which would normally be a reasonably estimate for when the coffee was last made.

More complicated systems could use a floating sensor to determine the percentage filled (which would work even for liquids of other densities, in case you need a carafe full of liquid mercury for some reason) and a temperature sensor. Of course, a frosted glass window on the side of the carafe would also be sufficient for determining percent-fullness without any electronic gizmos.



Fig 2: The upgraded carafe. It’s been an hour and 24 minutes since this carafe was filled with a liquid of unknown type.


Your office should switch to the smart carafe for all future breakroom-liquid-containing needs.

PROS: The smart carafe upgrades the coffee-drinking experience from “satisfactory” to “transcendent.”

CONS: The carafe might be too smart. Did you ever see the Kubrick film 2001? Like that.