Tuesday, November 24, 2015

High-Markup Peripheral: Washer Pedestals

You know those nice, modern, high-efficiency front-loading washers that have become the upper-middle-class standard in the last 5 years? Notice how big they look? It is true, they are a little beefier than their top-loading predecessors, but mainly it is because they are mounted on ~14" pedestal drawers. I think I have discovered why those pedestals are so popular--scooping all the laundry out of the capacious front-loader is unpleasant stoop labor.

The cost of those pedestal drawers though, is beyond belief. A quick, I think represetantive search on Amazon indicates $250-$350. Per drawer. If the machine costs $600 (on the cheap side compared to what some people pay, but that's what we paid for what I find to be a very nice unit), that is like 50% for a freaking drawer!!

Screaming business opportunity. Idea #1: create universal pedestals with adapters for specific makes. Idea #2: create a platform that fits both washer and dryer, with drawers underneath. Basically a pre-fab version of this kind of DIY project.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Apple TV App Idea: Photo-Sharing

The latest iteration of Apple TV will run iOS and thus apps. There has been a lot of speculation about whether and what will be the "killer apps" for the iTV.  I personally think slideshows and photo-sharing has got to be at the top of the list.

For a decade, since the advent of HDTV in my household, I have been looking for better ways to turn my TV into a photo screensaver. With the Wii, I could use SD cards. That was OK, I would do it for special occasions, but way too inconvenient, on multiple dimensions.

We got HDTV #2 about a year ago, and I have been using Chromecast for the same purpose. That works okay, but it still isn't that good, and totally doesn't lend itself to casual, ad-hoc management on the TV itself.

I'm not even completely sure what feature set I am looking for, but I am sure there is potential. (Whether there is potential to have high enough volume to make money--I have no idea. This might be a good one for Apple to build in.)

Two-Factor Authentication

Bruce Schneier, for whom I have massive respect, said 10 years ago two-factor authentication is useless for consumer internet (another post more technical, along the same lines).

I think I understand some of what they are saying--it is not a panacea, and probably will do little to deter mass thefts. But it seems to me like it is an important defense against targeted thefts:
  • Targeted doxing, as happened to the CIA director, where someone who  is your personal enemy wants access to your email to embarass you.

  • Acquaintance-theft. Where someone you know gets your password (watching you type it at work, etc) and wants to access your accounts. This would include domestic incidents.
  • Public or shared-computer theft, via the dreaded keystroke-logger.
The second case is particularly important for financial fraud. At least if you are part of a mass-hack, you have some post-facto protection. If you are a one-off, there is a far heavier burden of proof.


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Groupon: Down 70% from Google's $6B Offer

I've always been a Groupon skeptic. Every now and then I check their Market Cap, to see how much lower it is from when they turned down Google's $6B offer. Today it is $1.7B, so down about 70% below.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Uber: & Lyft: Only Use Location if Accurate

Used Uber and Lyft for the first time. Overall, experience was excellent, exactly as advertised. However, we did have a glitch. My Mom (most senior person I know using Uber) summoned them from deep within the movie theater. Good news was--she had a data connection. Bad news was--no GPS line-of-sight. So instead of obtaining a very accurate location via GPS, the phone provided the Uber app with the extremely approximate location, provided by the nearest cell tower. Driver confusion ensued--thank heaven we had mobile phones to straighten that out.

Seems like it would be good if the Uber app would be smart enough to know whether it has an accurate location from GPS, or a questionable one from WiFi or cell tower. Not 100% sure if this is allowed in Android, let alone iOS, but I am certain it is possible. And very desirable.