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Month: January, 2020

Never face “decision paralysis” due to a few one-star reviews on items you’re buying online, thanks to the “SURPRISE ME” purchase randomizer!

Background:

In the post-online-shopping world, there are now nearly innumerable purchasing options for every style of item.

If a person wanted to buy a particular style of baseball cap in the pre-Internet world, they would have the following option:

  • Go to a store
  • Purchase one of the, say, 4 or 5 suitable caps that are in stock.

But in the Internet-shopping era, the process is as follows:

  • Go online
  • Find literally thousands of options at nearly all price points
  • Find hundreds of reviews for each cap, ranging from “This hat saved my life ★★★★★.” to “This hat burned down my village and destroyed everything I ever loved. However, shipping was fast: ★★★☆☆.”

The issue:

A person may be unable to decide on a suitable purchase due to two factors:

  1. The overwhelming quantity of options (“overchoice“).
  2. The incredible amount of information available about each option (“analysis paralysis“). This is especially seen in purchasing of consumer electronics (e.g. a new stereo system or a television).

The solution:

Fortunately, the solution is very straightforward, and can be implemented by any web shopping site (see mockup in Figure 1):

  1. The user finds an item on the web site that is similar to what they’re looking for.
  2. The user adds this item to their shopping cart with a special button marked “SURPRISE ME.”
  3. Instead of adding the exact clicked-on item to their cart, the web site adds a similar randomly-chosen item that costs anywhere between 75% and 125% of the price of the clicked on item.
  4. The user is not informed of the actual contents of their shopping cart at checkout, only the total cost.
  5. A few days later, the mystery item arrives at the user’s house by mail.
1-shop-online

Fig. 1: Here, we see an online store that has a “surprise me” button that will allow the user to purchase a random item that matches their requirements (at left). (This is an alternate version of the situation described in the “solution” section above).

Conclusion:

Using the system above, decision paralysis can be avoided. This increases both the rate of all-devouring consumption of your customers, AND your company’s profit margins!

PROS: Could be legitimately implemented, probably does not break any local or national laws!

CONS: The rate of returns might be extremely high.

Vastly improve your whale watching tourism business with this new “guaranteed whale appearance” whale jail, A.K.A. the “cetacean cube.” Never disappoint a demanding and entitled tourist again!

TITLE: Vastly improve your whale watching tourism business with this new “guaranteed whale appearance” whale jail, A.K.A. the “cetacean cube.” Never disappoint a demanding and entitled tourist again!

Background:

Tourists in certain countries are willing to pay money to embark on a short boat trip in search of some sort of evidence of whales existing (e.g. a dorsal fin, waterspout, tail).

The issue:

Unfortunately, although this activity is billed as “whale watching,” there is no guarantee that a whale will make an appearance during the voyage, even if there is, in fact, a whale somewhere in the water underneath the whale-watching boat (Figure 1).

This is because the whales do not receive a cut of the tourist proceeds and thus, under capitalism, are not incentivized to appear at any particular schedule.

1-whale-barely-visible

Fig. 1: Despite there being many exotic marine animals in the water in this example, none of them are visible due to the opacity of the ocean water. The whale watcher is completely dependent on the whale deigning to come up for air at some point during the whale watching expedition. Outrageous!

Proposal:

The solution to this AWOL-whale problem is simple: an enormous transparent cube that is partially submerged into the ocean near the route of the whale-watching ship.

After the cube is partially submerged, most of the air in the top is pumped out, thus causing the water level to rise substantially above the normal water level (due to the lower atmospheric pressure in the cube).

The cube actually only has five sides: the bottom of the cube is open to the sea, thus allowing sea creatures to enter (or leave) the cube.

 

2-whale-visible-after.png

Fig. 2: Thanks to this “cetacean cube,” the whale can be observed as if it is in an aquarium. Additionally, other sea life that does not need to surface for air can also be observed in the cube.

Conclusion:

This system should be of great use to coastal whale-watching tour boats.

PROS: Gratifies many tourists who would otherwise have had a whale-free vacation.

CONS: It may be difficult to create a structurally sound transparent cube for millions of gallons of water and to somehow anchor it in the open ocean. Even if it is possible to construct, it may be beyond the financial resources of a whale watching business.

Never get run over by a car again, thanks to this high-visibility LED modification for your laptop bag! Might save over one million lives per year in the world’s most crowded cities.

The issue:

In large cities, there are many perils for pedestrians: cars, bicycles, motorcycles, horses, etc.

Even the sidewalk is not a safe zone from scooters and bicycles!

At night, the problems are even worse, since pedestrians are generally un-illuminated and are frequently wearing all-black coats in the winter months.

Proposal:

Since many commuters carry a laptop bag, briefcase, or purse, it would be easy to put some sort of high-visibility indicator on this object: for example, an LED light (see animated designer laptop bag in Figure 1).

This would be less intrusive than wearing a high-visibility vest, and might be an easier sell to fashion-conscious commuters.

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Fig. 1: Fashionable designer laptop bag with caution tape and an LED light. Possibly OSHA-approved?

Figure 2 shows the same briefcase as a still image.

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Fig. 2: Thanks to this LED strip, the pedestrian holding the laptop bag is less likely to be hit by a scooter, bicycle, or car while walking on city streets.

Conclusion:

This is clearly the next evolution in fashion: reserve your designer laptop bag now!

PROS: Should reduce pedestrian fatalities and the city’s overall fashion rating at the same time.

CONS: May make your coworkers jealous and cause them them to plot against you.

Improve your nation’s Scrabble championship performance and learn new and exotic words with this one amazing license plate proposal! Call the DMV now and reserve a new plate!

Background:

English has a wide variety of rarely-used short words that are extremely useful in various word games (e.g. Scrabble, Words With Friends, Bananagrams), and not in very many other situations.

Specifically, there are (in the 1993 FreeBSD dictionary that comes with Mac OS X), a total of:

  • 139 two-letter words
    1294 three-letter words
    4994 four-letter words

…out of the 234,936 words in the 1934 Webster’s Second International dictionary, according to the following commands:

grep -E -i '^[A-Z]{2}$' /usr/share/dict/words | tr 'a-z' 'A-Z' | sort -u | wc -l  --> Result: 139 two-letter words

grep -E -i '^[A-Z]{3}$' /usr/share/dict/words | tr 'a-z' 'A-Z' | sort -u | wc -l  --> Result: 1294 three-letter words

grep -E -i '^[A-Z]{4}$' /usr/share/dict/words | tr 'a-z' 'A-Z' | sort -u | wc -l  --> Result: 4994 four-letter words

The issue:

This is a fairly large set of words that a person would need to know at minimum in order to be a pro at a word game.

In order to make our nation more competitive at international word game tournaments, something will need to be done.

Proposal:

Car license plates should incorporate the following: a short word (from the set of valid words above), plus the definition of that word (Figure 1).

Then, as people are stuck in traffic every day (or are waiting for a bus), they can learn new words just by observing the nearby cars!

As a bonus, this may make drivers more attentive of the in front of them.

Z1-license-plates-with-word-definitions

Fig. 1: These proposed license plate numbers contain an uncommon English word and its definition. Top: “AIT.” Bottom: “EME.”

“Grassroots” Alternative Proposal:

If you don’t want to wait for your state to implement this new license plate design, you can still implement this idea right now by just making your own bumper sticker with a word & definition on it. Put the sticker on the back of your car, and you’re done!

PROS: Increases literacy and national performance in esoteric word games.

CONS: May encourage extreme tailgating (in order to read the tiny text on the license plates), which could lead to more traffic accidents. This could be solved by making the license plates huge, or using a set of bumper stickers instead.