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Archive for the ‘Good Ideas’ Category

2D glasses for 3D movies, redux

Saturday, 3 March, 2012 | Posted in Good Ideas by David Morgan-Mar

Hey, these guys owe us royalties. Or something.

Slotted Soap

Tuesday, 22 June, 2010 | Posted in Good Ideas by David Morgan-Mar

You know how the old soap turns into a skinny little sliver until you can no longer use it any more, then you have to start with a whole new bar of soap? Some people recycle those unusable slivers by putting them in a cloth bag and using them to make suds when washing clothes or dishes or whatever. Other people (me included) smush the old sliver of soap on to the new bar and hope it sticks so that it will become integrated and can be used along with the new bar. And sometimes it doesn’t stick properly and splinters into dozens of little soap shards that get all over you and you don’t notice them there until you try to dry yourself off with a towel and then you have these soapy lumps stuck to your legs. And some people just throw it away.

So here’s the idea: slotted soap! New bars of soap come with a thin slot in the side, and you just slide the old sliver into the slot when it gets too small to use by itself! Voilà! It’ll get melded into the new soap and used efficiently, and you don’t have to worry about smushing it together and the possibility that it might fall off the new bar.

Rather than put the slot in the middle of the bar, which would run the risk of the soap wearing down to the same old sliver each time, put the slot 1/3 of the way through the thickness of the new bar. This guarantees the old sliver will get used before the new soap turns into a sliver itself.

Complex Movie Plot FAQs in real-time on your iPhone

Wednesday, 17 March, 2010 | Posted in Good Ideas by Andrew Coker

If you’re like me, then you have sometimes gone to the cinema and become completely and utterly confused by the plot, unable to keep up with the astonishing number of characters, shifting allegiances, and non-linear narratives. What I need is some sort of dynamic FAQ that I can download to my portable computing device before going to the cinema (or watching a DVD), and when the movie starts I hit “go”. The application displays answers and reminders about questions that other viewers (or the film producers) have anticipated might be troublesome, but only once the events relating to the question have been revealed – so as not to telegraph spoilerific information early.  So any time you think some important detail has passed you by, a quick glance at your device allows you to catch up on important details that you should have already noticed, but were too confused to properly absorb.


Tuesday, 12 January, 2010 | Posted in Good Ideas by David Morgan-Mar

So, I was installing Visual Studio today at work. (The reason is unimportant and I can’t tell you anyway, since it would probably violate some clause on my employment contract…) The install took so long that I actually had to leave for the day before it had finished. While installing, it shows one of those pseudo-progress indicator splash screens that doesn’t actually give you any useful indication of how far along it is – you know the sort of thing. And since Microsoft apparently know how long the darn thing takes, they try to amuse you by having it cycle through a series of cunningly designed ads which tell you how great their product is.

Which just seems like a waste of processor power.

Back in the day, when you used to load games on to your Commodore 64 computer from a cassette tape and it took up to half an hour to actually play the tape and read all the bytes into memory, they had things called Loadagames. These were tiny footprint games that could be loaded into memory within the first few seconds of the tape read, and that you could then actually play while waiting for the main game to load. An example is Invade-a-Load.

This is what modern software installers should do! Rather than spend half an hour staring at the uninformative and annoying “progress” screen while installing something, and unable to do anything else because you need to have all the other apps closed, you could actually be playing a cool game!

Announcing Archive Binge

Monday, 31 August, 2009 | Posted in Good Ideas, News by David Morgan-Mar

A while back we had an idea that was so cool, we decided to fully bake it ourselves. After some beta testing, it’s now ready for launch.

First, the problem: There are lots of webcomics out there. And many of the best ones have been going for a long time, so have extensive archives. So if you look for cool new comics, you might find something like Wondermark, with over 500 strips, or Arthur, King of Time and Space, with nearly 2000 strips.

The standard way to catch up on these is an archive binge – spending hours or days trawling through the archive to catch up to the latest strip. This can be gruelling, takes a lot of time in big chunks, and you run the risk of losing your place when you inevitably need to stop to use the toilet, eat, or sleep. There must be a better way!

Archive Binge is a site which constructs custom RSS news feeds for webcomics. Not normal RSS feeds (which deliver the latest new comic a few times a week), but custom feeds which deliver strips from a webcomic’s archives, at a rate of 1, a few, up to 10 strips a day. So you can use your feed reader to keep track of the comic for you, read at a rate faster than the comic updates so you can catch up, but without investing hours at a time. And you can pause it if you go on vacation.

It’s like a digital video recorder for webcomics. Check it out. Tell us what you think.

Introducing: Film Forensics

Friday, 24 July, 2009 | Posted in Good Ideas by Andrew Shellshear

Sometimes, one of our projects will start as fully baked and gradually make it’s way down to half-baked. Such is the case with my project Film Forensics.

The high-concept: It reviews flawed movies, and rewrites them to make them more awesome, whether that means making a credible twist for the latest M. Night Shyamalan film, adding a T-Rex to the latest romatic comedy or just cutting an hour out of the latest Transformers movie.

Because I am not a creativity-producing machine (unlike some Mezzacotta collaborators I could name), Film Forensics went enthusiastically for a while, and then fizzled. I update it once every few months at the moment. Still, it has a bunch of reviews I’m proud of (especially Snakes on a Plane).

Mr McLeish has written and posted a new review of Terminator: Salvation. Check it out!


Thursday, 30 October, 2008 | Posted in Good Ideas by David Morgan-Mar

At work we’ve been playing the game Bananagrams (see also here and here). It’s a word game with lots of tiles with letters on them, similar to Scrabble tiles. I won’t explain the rules here; you can find them with those links.

After playing several games and having fun (yeah, we recommend it), we decided to implement a version to test our adage that “any game can be improved by drafting”. Drafting is a concept that comes to us from Magic: the Gathering – a card game in which a common competition format is to build your deck of cards by “drafting” them. Drafting involves getting a set of cards, choosing the one you want, passing the rest on to the next player, and repeating the process until you have enough cards to play the game. So at each step you get some choice of the “best” card to suit your deck, restricted by what other players have already taken from the hands of cards that are going around.

Anyway, we decided to draft from sets of 3 letter tiles, and at each stage replenish the set to 3 tiles by taking a new face-down tile at random from the unused pool before passing it to the next player. At each step of the draft, you then have a collection of letters, which grows by one letter each step. And at each step you must arrange (or rearrange) all the letters you have into words. The restriction is that you must have either 1 or 2 words; they must not intersect like a crossword (so they can’t share letters, unlike in canonical Bananagrams); and to prevent players being knocked out too easily, any single letter is considered a valid word. If at any step you can’t make one or two words, you are out for that round. Last player knocked out wins the round, then play again!

We had even more fun with this than the original game. At one stage one set of three drafting letters being passed around had two Qs in it, plus one random tile from the pool, which severely restricted the choice of whoever got that set at each step. (You can certainly take a Q if you can use it in a word, but it’s better strategy to take more easily usable letters for later in the round.)

So there you go, a half-baked idea which was suggested off the cuff, we tried it, and it turned out to actually be good! Oh, and we dubbed our new game “Mangograms”, to keep with the tropical fruit theme.