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Month: November, 2018

For your next job application / rental apartment selection / house purchase: you would be able to make an INFORMED decision about your commute thanks to this incredible piece of software!

Background:

In the United States, an employed person has two conflicting goals:

  1. To commute to their job as fast as possible (ideally by “hyperloop” or helicopter),
  2. …and to live as far away from their workplace as possible.

To these ends, thousands of man-hours have gone into new legislation preventing residences near places of employment (zoning laws which help with goal #2, above) and to developing new and complex commute-easing technologies such as self-driving cars or trains that travel at a thousand miles per hour (addressing goal #1).

The issue:

When accepting a new job, it’s hard to know how long or unpleasant your commute might be.

Although a person can get an idea of the total amount of time a commute is expected to take by checking an online map service, it’s a different matter to actually experience the commute.

Proposal:

In order to figure out if a commute is tolerable, a “Commute Test Drive” is proposed: this is just a piece of software that generates a realistically-long commute on the route that you specify (example in Figure 3, perhaps using data from OpenStreetMap) and then requires that you drive it in real-time.

 

1 Commute test drive.png

Fig. 1: This “Commute Test Drive” commute simulator would be similar to the delivery truck game “Euro Truck Simulator,” but with realistically-excruciatingly-large maps.

If a person wants to use public transit instead of driving, then a more sophisticated version of this software might allow the player to simulate the process of walking to a bus stop, waiting for a bus, and sitting on the bus for the correct amount of time.

By enduring the commute in the comfort of their own home (Fig. 2), a person can make a better-educated decision about accepting a job (or buying / renting a house) in a given area.

2 Home driving setup.png

Fig. 2: Although it would be possible to play this simulator with a gamepad or a mouse and keyboard, the steering wheel adds realism.

 

3 real-time route.png

Fig. 3: The route would be simulated with traffic and any other elements of a commute that might cause a delay (like railroad crossings, police checkpoints, and drawbridges).

Conclusion:

PROS: Inexpensively allows a person to make informed decisions about where to live and work.

CONS: This software probably already exists in some form as a fan-made Euro Truck Simulator mod.

This cutting-edge “Dial-up Internet” simulator enriches the web-browsing experience and promotes strong moral values even in a decadent Caligula-esque era!

Background:

Part 1: As Internet speeds have increased, web sites have become more and more enormous (Example: Figure 1).

Part 2: Additionally, people have become more and more accustomed to impulsively wasting time on the Internet.

 

usa_today_loading_2.png

Fig. 1: The USA Today front page in 2018 consists of 8.1 megabytes of data (including images and ads) over 1047 unique requests. It takes 47 seconds to fully load all resources.

The issue:

Here are the two problems that we can solve simultaneously:

  1. Enormous web pages are slow to load
  2. People impulsively browse the Internet and have no attention span, since new content is only a few moments away.

Proposal:

Although there already exist tools to artificially restrict Internet bandwidth, none of them provide the full “1998 desktop computer” experience.

Here, we propose a “Dial-up Internet simulator” that re-creates the dial-up Internet experience of the 1990s (Figure 2).

dialup-internet-simulator.png

Fig. 2: When you attempt to use any Internet service for the first time, a lengthy modem connection process occurs, as illustrated here. If you leave your connection idle for more than a few minutes, you will be disconnected and need to endure the dial-up process again.

This “dial-up simulator” system could be implemented either as a browser plug-in, or at the system level.

Conclusion:

The benefit of this system is two-fold:

  1. Web site designers can use it to preview their site in a low-bandwidth mode, encouraging them to design faster-loading sites.
  2. Site visitors can use it to encourage self-discipline and reduce impulsive time-wasting browsing.

PROS: Encourages reduced-size web pages, and discourages time-wasting on the Internet. Brings back the nearly-forgotten “modem connecting” noise.

CONS: None!

Errors-by-Mail: the new feature in computer operating systems! It supports the printer industry and makes it easier for you to keep track of any problems with your computer!

The issue:

When clicking “OK” on an error message on a computer or phone, it’s easy to instinctively dismiss the message and then later wonder what it said.

Unfortunately, the moment has passed, and there’s usually no way to read the message again!

This is especially true with phones, since an error message typically takes over the entire screen while it is displayed, making it impossible for a user to just put the error message into a corner and deal with it later (or never).

Proposal:

All logged errors on a computer could be sent to the user by physical mail (as in Figure 1), as follows:

  1. An error occurs on a system
  2. The system sends the error and the user’s postal address over the Internet to Errors-by-Mail, a hypothetical hip startup in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  3. Errors-by-Mail prints the error message and puts it in a regular envelope, then puts it in the mail.
  4. A few days later, the user has a hard copy of any error that occurred on their system. The user can then re-read this message at their leisure.

 

error-message-by-mail.jpg

Fig. 1: Here, a python error message has been helpfully mailed to the user. With this service, you would now have a record of any error messages that you encountered on your phone or computer.

PROS: Supports “Big Printer,” lets users easily keep a physical record of any problems with their computer or phone.

CONS: Postage could add up. But perhaps this is a positive feature, as it would encourage users to never do anything that might generate an error.

Stop challenging my opinions! Never see an alternative opinion again, thanks to this new feature that will save gaming and also your sensitive feelings!

Background:

Sometimes, a game will have a political statement to make, which you might disagree with.

For example, in the game “Papers Please,” you must perform bureaucratic duties in a stifling faux-Eastern Bloc nation, and there is a strong negative message about the oppressive regime. But what if you think that totalitarianism is actually a great sort of government?

Similarly, in Super Mario Bros., you must save the princess, but what if you aren’t a monarchist?

The issue:

If you disagree with the political statement of the game, it is possible that you will find your opinions challenged in some way, which could be either annoying or informative.

Proposal:

In order to prevent this, we introduce the following proposal: an option in the game settings that will let you customize the political message of the game (Figure 2), as well as the normal settings that most games have already (Figure 1).

 

1-normal-settings

Fig. 1: Most games already have a basic set of user-configurable options, like the example here.

 

2-politics-left-right.png

Fig. 2: By modifying the “POLITICS” slider here, the user can pick their desired political message along this single-dimensional axis that represents early-2000s United States political affiliation. This may be insufficiently granular: see Figure 3 for one possible alternative.

3-politics-slider.png

Fig. 3: The classic two-dimensional “political beliefs” plot may be somewhat more useful than the single LEFT / RIGHT slider.

Details:

The implementation of this “politics slider” would vary on a per-game-genre basis.

In the easiest example, dialog could change to uncritically praise the the player’s actions. For example, a gritty military shooter might feature the dialog “Good thing we burned down that village, those civilians were definitely going to betray us!” or “Good thing we didn’t burn down that village, now the citizens have joined our cause!The gameplay would remain the same, so this would be an inexpensive change.

Graphics could also be altered; for example, if a map appeared in a game, there could be different borders displayed for areas such as Taiwan and Kashmir (depending on the player’s opinion of the proper political affiliation of the region in question). Even bodies of water could be re-labeled: for example, “Sea of Japan” vs. “East Sea of Korea”).

Differing graphical options could also be used to avoid political controversy or antagonizing important markets. This has already been partially implemented in some games: in the simulation of San Francisco in the game “Watch Dogs 2,” no Taiwanese flags are flying in Chinatown—only (mainland) Chinese flags are present. One could imagine this being a user-defined setting, or perhaps automatically set based on a user’s location as inferred by their IP address.

Even in a game like Dr. Mario, the pills could be relabeled as “VITAMINS” or “HOMEOPATHIC REMEDY” or “JUST A PLACEBO.”

4-advanced-sliders.png

Fig. 4: For the gamer who never wants to see an opposing opinion, this high-dimensional settings option will let you customize the game to parrot back your exact beliefs in every conceivable axis.

Conclusion:

No one wants to feel like they’re wrong: now you can have a game affirm your beliefs at every turn!

PROS: No more hurt feelings when a game challenges a person’s opinions!

CONS: May only be applicable to a tiny set of games that actually have a message to convey in the first place.