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Lift buttons

10 November, 2009 | Posted in Bad Ideas by David Morgan-Mar

Coming back from buying lunch across the street today, we entered the lift and proceeded to go through the routine of pressing the buttons for floors 5, 6, and 7, since we each needed to return to our desks briefly and we are spread across those floors of our office building. We lamented the fact that the process of floor selection was so incredibly inefficient, requiring us to hit three separate buttons to indicate what floors we needed the lift to stop at.

DMc pondered the idea of having 128 separate buttons, each one wired to tell the lift to stop at a different possible combination of the 7 floors in the building. For example, button 74 might tell the lift that people want to get off at floors 2, 4, and 7. All you need to do is calculate the value of 21+23+26 to get the correct button.

And then we realised we could make this incredibly cool idea even simpler to use, if we just renumbered the floors, so instead of having floors 1 through 7, we have floors 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64. So all you have to do is add up the numbers of the desired destination floors, and press the button with the number corresponding to the sum!

Announcing Archive Binge

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.

Negative Currency

19 August, 2009 | Posted in Bad Ideas by David Morgan-Mar

Here’s an idea we came up with over lunch: Negative currency.

As well as having coins and notes for various positive denominations of cents and dollars (or pence or pounds or euro, or whatever), also have them for negative amounts. So if you forget to bring cash to buy your lunch, the sandwich shop can just hand over notes and coins worth minus $3.70 (or whatever). You take them, put them in your pocket, and keep them nice and safe, just like regular currency.

Later, if a friend still owes you $2 for something and it seems like he’s never going to pay you back, you just go and give him a minus $2 coin! And – here’s a really cool thing – unlike regular currency, if you ever accidentally lose a negative coin or note, you win! It’s almost like finding regular money!

What a great idea! Something that enables monetary transactions in cases where you’d normally just be unable to do anything, and which doesn’t have the disadvantage of being a bummer when you accidentally lose it. We’re still trying to think of any unforeseen problems.

Introducing: Film Forensics

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!

mezzacota Café obtains liquor licence

19 July, 2009 | Posted in Cafe by The Hyperstig

After several months of rave reviews for its imaginative menu, combining classic and contemporary cuisines, the mezzacotta Café is pleased to announce that it has been granted a liquor licence.

The Café is now serving a selection of quality wines from its extensive cellars, carefully chosen to complement its unique menu.

Short-Attention-Span TV

13 July, 2009 | Posted in Ideas by Andrew Coker

I hate ad-breaks in TV! What I’d really like to see is a dedicated channel that continually shows interesting tidbits of footage which can be enjoyed in 30-second or 1-minute chunks – perfect for swapping to during the ad-breaks of shows you are actually watching. A totally random assortment of cool snippets from nature documentaries, technology shows, owned/pwnd/FAIL videos from youtube, stand-up comedy acts, 3-d animation, music videos, laboratory demos, actual good and entertaining ads from around the world, stuff blowing up, travel documentaries, famous-moments-in-history/sport/news, old newsreel footage, movie trailers, reviews of upcoming video games… the list is endless! A few hours of new content each month added to the rotation would keep things fresh – all that’s needed given you are probably only going to watch this channel a few minutes at a time.

Awkwardly Fumbling

11 July, 2009 | Posted in Awkward Fumbles, News, Square Root of Minus Garfield by David Morgan-Mar

Sorry that Awkward Fumbles has been paused for a while. That one actually takes us some effort to write new strips for! We have a couple of dozen art submissions in the buffer, awaiting our dialogue addition, but we’ve been busy with a couple of other ideas we’re trying to get implemented. We will get back to Fumbles at some point though!

Oh, and we forgot to announce that the buffer for Square Root of Minus Garfield is now so immense thanks to enthusiastic reader submissions that we’ve gone to five updates a week. We may have to update even more frequently if the submissions keep coming in! Keep it up, folks! (Ah, I see now how we can succeed with bringing you fresh new content all the time… get you to do all the work!)

A new kind of remote control: Mark II

9 July, 2009 | Posted in Raw Ideas by Andrew Shellshear

I have received some interesting feedback on the “remote control that simulates ads” idea, and I’ve come to realise that the idea wasn’t particularly well formed. Fortunately, the process of discussing it has inspired some much better ideas.

Most importantly, I realised that a pause button that simulates an ad break with a countdown timer is just silly. There’s no way I would respond to it in the way that I would a real ad break. In order for this technique to work, I need real ads. It might be possible for me to download ads from youtube or snaffle them from a DVR, but there’s quite a bit of inconvenience to that. No, what I really need is a free-to-air ad channel, one that shows advertising 24 hours a day. This would make it easy. When you hit pause, the DVD player pauses, switches to the ad channel, and switches back after three minutes (and, as before, refuses to pause for at least 15 minutes).

There are problems with this idea, of course. It would very likely start and end part way through an ad, and what if it was a good one? So the ads would have to be pretty short and repetitive, to minimise this issue. The other question is, which channel should be replaced by ads? In Australia, I think we can safely say channel 7 or 9, and if we could create a reality show of TV executives competing for the privilege of becoming the ad channel, so much the better.

More feedback is welcome. I think we’re really getting somewhere with this idea!

A new kind of remote control

7 July, 2009 | Posted in Raw Ideas by Andrew Shellshear

I hate to say it, but I don’t mind TV ads. Sure, I never watch them, but they let me get up, do things (or channel flip), and get all the distracted energy out of my system. Then, because I still kinda want to watch whatever happens next, I go back to the TV.

My DVD watching experience is inferior. The additional convenience of allowing me to pause and unpause means that I pause, wander away, do something else for a while, and then an hour later don’t feel like watching the rest of whatever it was because it was up to a bit of humour based on excruciating embarassment (my very personal nemesis).

I have five or six movies that are partially watched in this way, and once they’re in this state, I don’t go back to them. They get stuck in limbo, because I don’t want to rewatch them from the top, and fast-forwarding means I might accidentally watch bits out of order. Also, I did stop watching for a reason, yes thank you David Brent, and I probably won’t get through a second time anyway.

What I want (yes, this is what society has degenerated to) is a different kind of remote control/DVD player. One possibility is to have a DVD player that simply puts ad breaks in the film every twenty minutes, consisting of two minutes of a timer counting down. It does not allow the movie to be paused.

Whoa! What kind of crazy dark ages wilt this bringeth? I might not even want an ad break! The movie might be awesome. I just want to pause when I’m watching a mediocre film, say a gross-out comedy, and I’m fidgety and hopped up on caffeine and greasy food. I wanna jump around like a loon for a few minutes, and sit back down again when the movie restarts, ready once more to watch someone getting kicked in the testicles while stepping in cow poop and being hit in the head by a large rock leading to them shouting “I’m alright!” before being run over by a tractor.

No, what I really want – neeeeeeeeed – is a remote control that creates a two minute ad break whenever I hit “pause” (with the countdown timer, sure, why not). Furthermore, it will refuse to pause if I’ve used the pause function in the last fifteen minutes. Thus will the ills of the world be solved, and I will finally finish watching my DVDs.

Except Fawlty Towers. Some experiences can’t be mitigated with technology.

More Garfield Insanity

27 May, 2009 | Posted in Lightning Made of Owls, Square Root of Minus Garfield by David Morgan-Mar

Square Root of Minus Garfield is going gangbusters, thanks to readers sending in lots of cool submissions! So much so that we’re increasing the update frequency from 3 to 4 times a week. You’ll now get an extra dose of Garfield wackiness on Thursdays. Enjoy!

We also have quite a few Lightning Made of Owls strips buffered at the moment, which is good, but we want to wait just a bit longer before we try increasing its update frequency as well.