Category Archives: Technology

(Comic) Highway To The Thunderdome: A Story About Pirating Music

PROLOGUE

Once upon a time in a galaxy far enough away where anything could happen and we’d never know about it, there was a barren desert planet called, “Rock and Roll.”

Life on Planet Rock and Roll was hard, and only the strong survived much less made a name for themselves, but there was one musician named Larz Fanning who was so rock and roll that he legally changed his name to “Rock and Roll” and the people let him get away with it. This is the story of how he became the greatest hero in Rock and Roll history.

(Comic) Highway To The Thunderdome: A Story About Pirating Music

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Introduction To Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies are like stocks. None of them have any inherent value. The only reason they’re worth money is because people have enough faith in their percieved value to trade real money for them, which isn’t so crazy, because money has no real inherent value either. Money, stocks, and cryptocurrency are all just tokens we assign a value to on faith.

The value of these tokens is based on two things: scarcity and the reputation of the person issuing them. For example, the U.S. government says, “We’re putting 10 trillion dollars into circulation. You can trade 1,000 of them for a cow. The more stable our economy is, the more our dollars will be worth. Trust us.” IBM says, “We’re putting one billion stocks in circulation. You can trade ten of them for a cow. The more profitable our business is, the more our stock will be worth. Trust us.”

 

Note: The video above says stocks represent ownership of assets in a company, which isn’t always true.

 

These promises are worthless until someone actually accepts these tokens as payment for real-world goods. Bitcoin was just an empty promise until people started accepting it as payment. Once other people saw that happening, they said, “Holy cow! This is worth real money!? Let’s buy and sell it too.” The more demand there was for it, the more money people would pay to get it, and the more it became worth, just like stocks. So you can think of Bitcoins like stocks in Bitcoin Incorporated. It’s even sold on cryptocurrency exchanges that work like the stock market.

The difference between cryptocurrencies and stocks is that there is no Bitcoin Incorporated. There’s no head office, CEO or profit margin because there’s no product being sold. Bitcoin is like a stock in a company that doesn’t exist. There are just a bunch of servers all over the world owned by volunteers, which run programs that were originally invented as a way to back up digital files in multiple locations simultaneously and securely.

Hospitals and big businesses used this technology so they could guarantee they’d never lose important records, and those records could never be tampered with. So employees couldn’t go back in and cook the books to cover up their mistakes or hide fraud. The system works sort of like Utorrent. There are a bunch of people all over the world running a program that allows their computers to collaborate with each other to write chains of data. Unlike torrent programs though, the data isn’t copied. Each server just shares the responsibility of creating and hosting a set amount of data.

The value of a Bitcoin isn’t backed by this data. The data is the money. So a Bitcoin mining machine is like a money printing press, but no matter how many mining machines are online, they collectively only create a set amount of data every day, which is distributed between all the printing presses. Ultimately, the Bitcoin printing presses will produce 21 million bitcoins, and then they will stop producing new ones. I’ve heard the number 21 million is supposed to reflect the amount of gold in the world, which is, in theory, should make Bitcoin the gold standard of cryptocurrency. The last bitcoin will be generated sometime around the year 2040. This system makes inflation impossible, but while Bitcoins are still being created, the more miners there are, the less each person gets to keep.

 

 

If this sounds ridiculous, think of Bitcoins like digital diamonds. Diamonds have no inherent value either. They’re just common rocks. The only reason they seem scarce is because DeBeers has a monopoly on the diamond supply and only lets out a few at a time. Plus, they’ve hyped up the value of diamonds so much that people believe they’re worth money.

 

 

If DeBeers flooded the market with all the diamonds they’ve hoarded, the price of diamonds would plummet, and your warehouse would become full of stupid, worthless rocks. Bitcoin miners can’t flood the market with Bitcoins and crash their value like DeBeers could with diamonds. They can’t split or reverse split a number of Bitcoins it has issued like IBM can. They can’t print 10 trillion more Bitcoins tonight and crash its value like third world countries sometimes do with their money supply. A foreign country can’t overthrow Bitcoin and crash its economy like America did to Iraq. In a crazy, turbulent world, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will always be stable… as long as the internet exists. That’s more than most currencies can boast.

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26 Things I Wish People Would Invent

Below is a list of things I wish people would invent. If you want to steal any of these ideas, feel free. Just make them so I can buy or borrow them.  I’ll be adding more items to this list as I think of them.

 

1: Toilet seats with pedals that lift the seat.

It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to invent a toilet pedal, and you don’t have to invent a whole new toilet. Just build an attachment that connects to existing toilets. Every day millions of people press a pedal at the base of their trash can to lift the lid to throw garbage in. Move that pedal into the bathroom and have it lift the toilet seat. I don’t know why the people who make pedal-operated trash cans aren’t mass producing these.

(Update: It turns out someone has invented a pedal operated toilet seat lifter, but it’s only sold on Amazon as far as I know, and it’s been out of stock for several years. Plus, some of the comments from people who have used it say that it doesn’t lift the seat up all the way. So if you could solve that design flaw you could easily establish yourself as the market leader in the untapped toilet pedal market. Somebody is going to get rich improving on this existing product. It could be you.

 

2: Laser/Sonar walking sticks for the blind

Blind people carry walking sticks so they can tell what’s directly in front of them, but they need to know how far the next wall is before they get there. Blind people often have friends and family tell them how many steps they’ll have to take to get to reach the edge of an unfamiliar environment like a restaurant. You can solve this problem by putting a laser or sonar device into the handle of a blind person’s cane.  When you press a button on the cane it’ll measure the distance between you and a wall or object you’re facing. Then the cane tells the user how far the object is. The cane could have a speaker in it that beeps the number of steps or it could say it in a sexy British voice. You could even have the cane transmit the distance to a hearing aid device so the distance just gets whispered into their ear. Or the handle could vibrate once for every step.

 

3: One website to rule them all

I go to Reddit to get most of my news because it’s the only place that offers most of the world’s news in a convenient layout. I go to Facebook to see what my friends are up to. The only other site I go to on a regular basis is WordPress to do my blogging.

Back when Myspace was the premier social media site I was able to do my blogging and keep up with my friends on one site. If Facebook offered blogging, I’d spend a third more time on Facebook. If Facebook stole Reddit’s wall of crowd-sourced news articles with its robust comment/karma tracking system I’d spend even more time on Facebook. If Facebook provided E-mail and cloud storage then I’d never go to any other site unless I needed to buy something.

I’m just saying, the first person to combine the functionalities of Facebook (networking with friends and strangers), Reddit (news feeds of user-generated web-content where you can discuss content, create your own forums and message other users), and WordPress (a strong, versatile blogging platform) and Myspace (the ability for friends to see your blogs in their news feeds) into one site is going to become a billionaire. To this, you  may reply, “Hey, Google + can do all that.” That’s true, but Google + accomplishes that by clumsily tying together multiple web services that each have their own site. I don’t want to have to jump back and forth between web pages. I want one web page that does everything. If this website had an 8-bit virtual office somewhere in there too, so much the better.

 

4: An 8-bit virtual office

I want a fun virtual office, and I can build one in Second Life, but I don’t need or want to use the software or bandwidth that would require. Graphically, all I need in a virtual office is an environment like Final Fantasy 1 or Dragon Warrior. I need a game like Farmville, except instead of wasting time I can walk around a fully functioning virtual office where I can interact with other real users in real time using real project management software.

 

5: A rechargeable solar-powered car battery in a box with household electric sockets on the side

Take a small box and put a car battery in it. Then mount a solar panel on the lid. Then put a regular household power strip on the side of the box. Then install whatever electrical conversion devices you need to charge a car battery with a solar panel and provide power to a standard 110 or 220 electrical power strip. Then let me buy that so I can power all my household appliances when I go camping. Also, people in third world countries may find this useful.

Update: I saw a product sort of like this in one of those shopping catalogs you find in airplanes, but it was the size of a standard family  BBQ grill. If someone could bring the size down to a hibachi grill that’d be great.

 

6: Tea bags with powdered cream and sugar in them

You need three things to make a good cup of tea: tea leaves, sugar, and milk. This means you need a box of tea bags, a bottle of milk and a bag of sugar. If they made tea bags that already had powdered creamer and sugar inside the bag (possibly in a separate compartment) then I wouldn’t need to carry a box of ingredients everywhere I went just to make a simple cup of tea… and neither would the millions of people raised in the British Commonwealth.

 

7: Memory foam pillow lifters

The pillows on my bed always seem to be too big or too small. So I usually end up stacking two pillows that are too small, but their combined size is still usually too big, and they get separated when I toss and turn at night. If I want to roll to the other side of my bed I have to take both pillows with me and restack them, and that’s a nuisance when I’m trying to sleep.  I’ve solved these problems by folding up a thin blanket and laying it under the fitted sheet at the head of my bed. That lifts my pillow up just enough to be comfortable even if I roll from one side of my bed to the other and back. My solution to this problem was free. So I’d be stupid to spend money on a product that does the exact same thing, but if I saw a thin strip of memory foam pad specifically marketed as a pillow lifter I’d probably buy it, and I bet a lot of other people would too.

 

8: Mousepad lifters

I use my computer a lot, and I also move a lot. I’m constantly finding myself sitting in different chairs in front of different desks, staring at my same old computer. None of the desk/chair combinations are exactly the same.The only variable that never changes is the optimal distance from my shoulder to my mouse. I’m constantly having to find creative ways to arrange and stack random home furnishings to lift my mouse as close as I can to the optimal ergonomic height.

This problem would be solved if I had an adjustable-height mouse pad. It could be a thin box with a mouse pad mounted on the top. Preferably, the box would be polished wood, and the mouse pad would be an imitation Persian rug. The box could raise telescopically. Or it could lift the same way most adjustable height office chairs change height, or the way some raise-able platforms extend.

 

9: Mini battery backups for desktop computers

I don’t need a giant, heavy battery backup for my desktop computer that holds a 9-hour charge. I just need 5-10 minutes of battery power to keep my computer from shutting off if there’s a power flicker in my house or I accidentally kick the power cord out of the socket. They already make power strips with a built-in battery backup function, but that’s still too big, and I don’t need all the electronics in my office on battery backup. All I need and want is one small battery that connects between my computer and the wall socket. Actually, in a perfect world, this battery would come pre-installed inside my desktop computer. If we can put a battery in a laptop, why not a desktop? To this, you might reply, “Because you don’t need a battery in your desktop.” To that, I would reply, “You don’t need one until you lose all your unsaved data because your computer turned off all of a sudden.”

 

10: Healthcare timeshares

Instead of me paying 100-200 dollars per month for medical care that I still have to pay a $6000 deductible for that effectively prevents me from receiving basic medical care, how about 100 people get together and pay $1,000 per year to a doctor. Then that doctor only sees those 100 people, and those 100 people can see that doctor anytime they want without worrying about any of the financial paperwork, deductibles, copay or any other bullshit we normally have to deal with when going through a health insurance company. The only out of pocket expenses would be the cost of whatever consumable/disposable medical equipment the doctor has to use on a client. If a large enough company oversaw 1000 doctors who sell their services at a flat rate for time-share-like access I believe the company could be profitable and both doctors and patients would be happier.

 

11: Sustainable eco office neighborhoods

The suburbs are unsustainable and inhumane. They’re destroying the planet and making us miserable. An architect named Jacque Fresco has already drawn up all the plans for a sustainable replacement for suburbia. I don’t know why everyone else hasn’t stolen his ideas and made billions of dollars off them while saving the planet.

I don’t need anything as fancy as Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project. When I was a kid I lived three blocks from the actual projects. The outside of my house doesn’t have to sparkle. All I need are sandbag walls, concrete floors, basic utilities and a greenhouse. If you built a sandbag building big enough you could house an entire sustainable intentional community with space to live and work Then the residents wouldn’t have to leave their house to get to work or the grocery store.

There are people who wouldn’t want to live in that kind of environment, but if the number of drug addicts and Emo kids living in suburbia is any indication of how frustrating and unfulfilling living in the suburbs is, I’d say it’s a moral imperative to try something different. Point in fact, since suburbia is unsustainable, it’s not a matter of if it will collapse but when. Sooner or later we’re going to be forced to try something different. So why not get rich doing the thing that everybody is waiting to happen… right now? I’d do it myself, but I barely have enough money to build a sandwich.

If you’re having a hard time imagining what I’m talking about, let me draw you a picture:

Occupy LOL Street: A Brave New Village

Secular Intellectual Monastery Designs

What I’m Going to do When I’m Rich

 

12: Floating island communities

We have cruise ships, submarines and aircraft carriers that can stay at sea for months at a time and sustain hundreds of crew members. Those are expensive as hell because they’re designed to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible in as much style as possible. I want to move out to sea and never come back. So I don’t need a floating vessel that goes anywhere. And I don’t need style. I’m used to austerity, and I think minimalism is aesthetically pleasing anyway. I’ll trade all the cannons and chandeliers for a garden. To fulfill my needs the island doesn’t need to be anything more than a really, huge floating drum with a garden on the top and an anchor on the bottom. That’d be really easy to make. You could make one out of cement using a cast cheaper than it costs to build a 5 bedroom house. And yes, concrete floats.

Rich people like to live on boats. There’d be an instant market for luxury floating drum islands. You could even make floating campgrounds and hotel chains to test the market first. And the best part about it is, you don’t have to buy land. I don’t know why Kim Dotcom isn’t hosting MegaUpload in a floating fortress in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or why Pablo Escobar wasn’t throwing a permanent Mardi Gras on a massive tract of floating resort islands or why every hotel in Waikiki doesn’t sell their property and build twice as many rooms off the coast of Hawaii. Or why the Red Cross isn’t building sustainable flotillas for refugees where they can live safely and sustainable while the warlords in their home country figure out what to do after all their farmers leave for greener pastures at sea.

If you’re having a hard time imagining what I’m talking about, let me draw you a picture:

How to Build a Trailer House Boat

Occupy LOL Street: The Freedom Flotilla

Monk and Punk: Book 2

 

13: A comfy eye pillow/audio headset headband

I really like sleeping masks that you cool down in the refrigerator and then put over your eyes while you sleep. I especially like them if they’re soft and smell like lavender. They cool down my eyes and help me relax and think. I like the sandbag type more than the gel type because it’s softer, gentler and more conforming. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a sandbag type with a band to hold it on my head so I can roll around and bed without it falling off my face. So I’d really like a soft, lavender scented eye pillow with a soft, broad elastic band that holds it on my head as snugly as Bane’s mask. I want the bands wide enough to just wrap around my ears, and I want speakers sewn into the fabric where the band covers my ear. I want to listen to relaxing music in those speakers while my eyes are cooled under the soft, sandy eye pillow wrapped around my head like a plush halo.

Update: It looks like someone made something pretty close to what I’m talking about. But I wouldn’t buy that because it’s got hard surfaces and strings. I want something that looks and feels like an oversized sweatband.

 

14: The ultimate sloth chair

If you sit in a chair all day every day staring at a computer you’re going to develop back problems. We all know we’re not supposed to sit in chairs too long, but we do it anyway. We sit at our desks at work all day, and we go home and sit at our home desks there. And that’s how many of us are going to spend our entire lives even though it’s wrong. We need chairs that aren’t designed to sit in for 6-9 hours. We need chairs that were designed to sit in for 10000000000 hours. I’m not asking for a chair that you can sit in for that long without developing any health problems. I’m just asking for a chair you can sit in for that long and will minimize the inevitable damage as much as possible.

On a similar note, I’d also like rolling office chairs that are made from reclaimed car seats. Imagine sitting at your computer desk in a Lexus car seat.

 

15: Psychology for the masses

While there’s no one size fits all approach to psychological therapy, there are a lot of common themes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A lot of people have the same mental/emotional problems, and a lot of those people come from poor, broken homes. As a result of the social caste they were born into and their traumatic childhood they’ve grown up into poor adults who can’t afford to see a dentist much less spend $60-$250 per hour getting the counseling they so desperately need.

If a publishing company teamed up with a team of top-notch mental health professionals they could create fictional stories in the form of books and movies based on typical real-life stories of trauma and neglect that show the reader they’re not alone in their suffering, they’re not responsible for the actions of the people who hurt them and they can heal. These stories wouldn’t be an attempt to make professional therapy obsolete. They would be a way to help people understand the need for one-on-one therapy, and therapists could even prescribe them to clients as supplemental homework to be used in conjunction with therapy. For the poorest of the poor, who mental health professionals have told don’t deserve help because they can’t afford the extortionate rates therapists price their sessions at, it would be the only access to help they have. It would be a shame for people to replace one-on-one therapy with watching television, but it’s better than nothing, which is exactly what the mental health profession is giving them right now.

 

16: Modular injection-molded greenhouses

Greenhouses are very expensive to build, and the more durable of a greenhouse you build the more expensive it is. So if you want to build a greenhouse in a snowy region, you’re going to pay a lot of money for a structure that won’t collapse under the snow.

If the companies that make modular quanset huts or bow roof sheds could make a mold of one of their buildings and then use injection molding to fill that mold with glass, plexiglass or some other clear, durable material they could cheaply and easily mass produce super-durable, low-cost modular greenhouses. You’d have to transport them on a flatbed truck, but you’d probably need a flatbed truck to transport all the beams and windows it would take to build a traditional snow-proof greenhouse. If this product were available it would allow more people to be able to own and maintain a greenhouse (especially in snowy areas where flimsy greenhouses aren’t an option).

 

17: Good story building software

The technology exists to build elaborate databases easily in a day. Tons of specialized text editing software has been invented to help authors organize novels. There’s even a lot of freeware that does all of these things. What doesn’t exist is a program that walks you through the stages of a story by having you answer a series of questions that will then generate a story as well structured as an episode of The Twilight Zone. The plot templates exist. The right people just haven’t gotten together yet to build software around it, but they will.

 

18: Techno music played solely by orchestras and designed to facilitate thinking

Imagine sitting at your computer listening to rhythmic, softly rolling techno music played entirely by symphony instruments. That would pretty much be the most soothing, inspiring, alpha-brain-wave-producing sound you could hear. If someone made that there would be a lot of people who would buy it, and those people will probably get smarter by having quality background music to listen to while thinking and studying.

 

19: A physical model of the perpetual motion machine I designed

 

Perpetual Motion Machine

 

I don’t expect this, or any of the other perpetual motion machines I designed, to actually be able to run under its own power indefinitely. It should just sit there stationary and sad looking, but I put so much time and effort into coming up with this design that I’d really like to see and possibly own a physical model of it. Why would anyone build a machine that doesn’t work? Either as a novelty or out of the kindness of your heart. Would you please build one? Pretty please?

The concept is that the device is a wheel on a spoke. The wheel is shaped sort of like a water wheel. Solid planks or rails connect the center of the wheel to the outer frame. The wheel has no side walls, like a bicycle wheel. A rod-shaped weight longer than the width of the wheel is stuck through the area between each spoke. Then ramps are constructed on either side of the wheel so that the rods rest on them when they come in contact.

The idea is that the bottom ramp will guide the rods that are stuck through the bottom half of the wheel’s spokes to roll to the right,  pushing the wheel counterclockwise. Another ramp will guide most of the rods stuck through the top half of the wheel’s spokes to the left, pushing the wheel counterclockwise. In this configuration, there should always be more rods pushing the wheel counterclockwise than clockwise.

I’ve never taken a physics class. So I can’t explain the math behind why this won’t work, but I’m sure there is one. If any physicists would like to explain it to me, feel free to leave a comment.

 

20: A dismantle-able luxury cot

I like to camp, but I don’t like sleeping on the ground. Sleeping mats and inflatable mattresses suck, and portable beds are too bulky to travel with. Cots are a little easier to transport, but not much, and they’re not known for their comfort.

What I’d like to take with me camping is a cot that doesn’t fold up like a taco but is fully dismantle-able like tent poles. I want a bag that slings over my shoulder like a quiver that all the components of the cot can be stored in. I don’t want a cot that has a million moving parts that allow you to fold it up like a camping chair. Those kind of cots have too many breakable parts and extra weight. I’d rather just detach all the poles and throw them in a bag.

I don’t want to sleep on a canvas hammock or a thin, military cot. I don’t need something light weight enough that I can hike 20 miles with it on my back. I’m just carrying it from my truck to my tent. And I don’t need a heavy duty childproof/weatherproof cot, because it’ll only ever be in a tent, in my truck or in my closet. My only two priorities is that it’s portable and luxuriously comfortable. In fact, I want a portable cot that’s so comfortable it can be used as a guest bed in my house. To that end, someone should invent something like a super strong, two-ply, Egyptian cotton (or spandex) hammock that’s filled with memory foam and can be suspended from a cot frame or rolled up into a tube for storage.

 

21: Thick clothing with ambitious technological gadgets sewn into them

Technology has reached the point where this is possible. There’s no reason we shouldn’t all be walking around like Inspector Gadget with retractable propellers in our hats. Think about it. Every child who has seen The Goonies loved Data’s quirky, wearable gadgets. We would have bought clothing with completely impractical Walkman-sized gadgets in them then, and we’re still waiting even though technology has advanced to the point where legitimately useful gadgets can be manufactured small enough and durable enough to hide in clothing easily.

When I shout, “PANTS ACTIVATE!” I want something to happen. I want two-way speakers in my collar and a HUD that flips down from the brim of my hat. I don’t care what it does. I don’t care if shows me Google Maps, my heart rate or it just makes everything look all psychedelic.  I’ll buy one pretty much no matter what. I want to shoot Nerf bullets and breath spray out of my coat sleeves, and women should be able to shoot mace out of theirs. I want to be able to open my wallet, call a friend and have a video chat. I want LED lights around the rim of my coat sleeve. I want pistons in my shoes. I want a video screen on my back. I want every piece of clothing I own to do more than keep me warm.

Our pocket books are as deep as your imagination. I wonder who the first major clothing brand is going to make the Swiss Army Knife of leather jackets and become associated with extra-utilitarian clothing. You’d think the Swiss Army Knife company would have done that by now, but they haven’t. So the market is wide open.

 

22: Posture-correcting jewelry

Bad posture can lead to crippling muscle and bone dysfunctions that become more painful and, on a long enough time scale, potentially lethal. Good posture is something everyone needs to be vigilant of all the time, especially people who already have muscle and bone dysfunctions.

People use bad posture to begin with, because they either don’t know what good posture is, and they forget to think about it. They need a constant reminder. That means they need someone or something to constantly measure their posture and notify them when they’re not holding their body correctly.

The technology exists to put sensors in jewelry that measure distances between itself and objects around it. We can also make jewelry that measures the angle it, and objects around it, are tilted. We can make jewelry that measures your posture and notifies you when your body is off balance by beeping, shaking, flashing, texting, or recording the information in a database for you to look at later, like a Fitbit does.

 

23: Exoskeleton pants designed to help you stand for long periods of time

In a perfect world, I’d ask for an exoskeleton suit like in the video game Crysis. That kind of technology is still a few years away, but they’re already making expensive, clunky, bulky mech suits, but honestly, I don’t need a mech suit or super soldier exoskeleton, and neither do most people for the same reason most people don’t need an all terrain vehicle: because we live in suburbia and don’t do much. One thing we do an awfully lot of in suburbia though is standing around. A lot of people have to stand around all day at work for decades. They would pay good money for an inconspicuous way to take the weight off their feet.

Make a pair of pants that has a strong, flexible tube sewn into the lateral side of the pant legs. At the ankle, the tube connects to specially designed footwear. At the waist, the tube connects to an underwear harness that’s attached to the pants. The center of the tubes are hollow and have a strong wire running through them. A wire pulley around the waist allows you to pull the wire taut, which compresses the tubes, making them hard, inflexible and able to bear weight. Then you basically hang by your underwear until you loosen the wire that’s holding the external frame rigid.

In order to distribute the weight more you could attach the tubes to your body with additional straps around the ankles and thighs. You could also extend the tubes up the torso where they attach to a chest harness. If the tubes went all the way from your ankles, up over your shoulders and back down to the dorsal side of your feet, you could have more attachments sites all the way up and down your body and have twice as strong of a frame. The most effective design may be to have a full body leotard suit with the exoskeleton tubes sewn through it, but that’s not as discreet as the pants. So if I had to choose between buying the efficient body suit and a less efficient but more inconspicuous pair of exo-pants, I’d probably pick the pants.

 

24: Utility vests with fully customizeable, interchangeable pockets

Every day millions of workers wear utility vests to work because they have to carry around a lot of stuff with them all day that they need to access quickly. Since every one of these work environments are different, there’s a demand for vests with different amounts, sizes and types of pockets. There are companies that sell vests with strategically placed pockets to meet this demand, but those vests are only perfect for one single type of work environment. Everybody else just has to settle for a vest that fits as many of their requirements as possible. In other words, they’re buying the vest that sucks the least.

Somebody needs to make a utility vest that has the entire front torso area from hip to shoulder covered in Velcro. Then sell a variety of different types and sizes of pockets that have Velcro on the back of them. That way you can buy as many of whatever kind of pockets you need and stick them to your chest exactly where you need them. There may be some combat vests that have limited rearrangeable pockets, but warehouse workers don’t need a tactical military vest that can endure wartime conditions. They just need light weight (and/or warm) vests that don’t get in the way. At any rate, there are no military or civilian vests that are 100% hip-to-shoulder customizeable anyway.

Velcro may not be the best way to attach pockets to vests, especially if you work in a dirty environment. The vest itself could have a magnetic sheet sewn into the front torso, and the pockets could have magnetic sheets sewn in the back of them. There are lots of ways these pockets could attach. Somebody find one that works and make this product so workers can have the right vest for their job.

 

25: Magnetic stretching gloves and bands

Everyone needs to stretch in order to keep their body working optimally and pain-free, especially couch potato commuters who work long hours at stressful desk jobs. Ideally, you would have a sports therapist who would stretch you out every day. In lieu of that, you have to stretch yourself. Many stretches require you to grab external supports and/or parts of your body. This makes self-stretching inefficient, since gripping, pulling and holding require you to flex muscles in your arms, shoulders, neck and back. Eliminating the need to grip and hold things will significantly reduce the number of muscles you have to flex while stretching.

To achieve this, you could wear hooked or magnetic gloves on your hands, and hooked or magnetic bands around different parts of your body and/or objects around you. You put your hands on the strips, and they hold your hand in place, allowing you to use gravity and tensegrity to pull your muscles without needing to flex the muscles required to grip and hold.

If these stretching devices came with instructions for how to use them to stretch while sitting in an office chair or on the couch, there would fill a huge consumer demand.

 

 26: Appalling Bible verse refrigerator magnet sets

 

"Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property." Deuteronomy 21:20021

 

Sell packs of refrigerator magnets that have the worst passages from the Bible on them. These would be popular with rebellious young atheists, and personally, I would buy a few extra sets of these to give to Christians as a way of helping them realize that Christianity is mythology.

 

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My Opinion On Online Piracy, Sharing, and Etiquette

I recently received an E-mail from a woman, which read,

 

“Hey there Wise Sloth. Not so wise about copyright. You’re using one of my images on this post without permission. Please either remove this image or provide credit/copyright info and a link back to my website. Many thanks.”

 

I’m not going to give the person’s name or the details of the image because I don’t want to start a flame war. All you need to know is the image was a picture of an animal captioned with a popular quote. I hotlinked the picture to one of my blogs without linking it back to the author’s page or giving attribution in the caption. This situation raises some important points regarding online piracy, copyrights, and hotlinking that everyone should think about, but I’m going to write my analysis directly to the author of E-mail.

 

Dear Stranger,

I apologize for hotlinking your picture to my site without using attribution. I have removed the image and will not put it back up. Now I’d like to share five pieces of wisdom for you to think about.

 

1: You never know the full story, and it’s rarely as bad as you think.

Most of the images on my site are linked to their creator’s website because I know I’m supposed to do that. I’ve spent 200 hours in the past month fixing 550 blog posts that broke when I transferred my domain to a new host. After the 100,000’s click, delirious with exhaustion, I got lazy and skipped a few clicks. That doesn’t make me a bad person with criminal intent who has zero respect for the work of anyone but himself and deserves to be personally insulted. Next time you feel like attacking someone, take a breath and assume the best about your enemy instead of jumping to the worst conclusion.

 

2: People tend to treat you the same way you treat them.

You chose to send a snarky E-mail to a stranger. You didn’t cuss, but your words had rude intentions. If you were under a lot of stress already, I apologize for triggering your anger and pushing you over the red line. However, you chose to behave uncivilized, and as you well know, there are consequences for bad conduct.  If you had approached me politely, I would have apologized sincerely and linked your site with a caption encouraging people to look at your work. I’ve even been thinking about buying a print of your picture because I liked it so much. But since you came at me incorrectly, your window of opportunity for free advertising is now closed permanently, and I’m not going to buy your picture. If money is important to you, your actions were unwise.

 

3: Look at yourself before casting stones at others.

Money might not be as important to you as the principle that people on the internet should have the professional courtesy and respect for the law to give proper credit where credit is due. If that’s how you feel, you’re not wrong, but find me a courteous person who doesn’t plagiarise to give me that speech. Even though your E-mail was discourteous, I probably wouldn’t have said anything because of that alone. However, your image didn’t give attribution to the original author of the quote you used. How am I the bad guy for doing the same thing you did?

You’re actively selling physical prints of someone else’s work. I just used a copy of your image to illustrate a point. You didn’t lose anything, and I didn’t gain anything. The only person who really benefited was my viewers, who just got to see a picture. Your actions fit your own definition of stealing and are well within the legal definition. What I did more closely fits the definition of sharing and barely meets the strictest definition of stealing.

 

4: It doesn’t matter.

In a perfect world, nobody would fault us for cultural appropriation enough to bother us about it, because nobody would care. Even now, nobody has contacted you about your plagiarism because nobody cares… because it doesn’t matter. No one would have ever seen your picture on my site and assumed I drew it. So I was never going to steal your valor.

Using your picture would never have dissuaded anyone from buying yours. If anyone saw my page and wanted to buy a physical copy, they’d quickly realize I don’t sell pictures. Then they’d do a Google search for the quote and find your site. So you could have only gained by ignoring my actions. The chances of that happening were small, but there was never any possible negative consequence of ignoring the problem. Maybe if a problem doesn’t have any negative consequences, then it isn’t really a problem.

 

5: It’s good to share.

Before you ask, “How would you like it if someone used your work without permission?” I can tell you from experience, it hurt a little at first. I’ve seen people steal my words and art over a dozen times. If you look on Zazzle or CafePress you can find multiple vendors selling mugs and magnets with my Wise Sloth logo that I own the rights to. I could go after those people, but I decided the cost/benefit analysis doesn’t add up. They’re not hurting me. I’m helping them, and it might inspire someone to do a Google search that leads to my site. I have nothing to lose and everything gain.

I used to put all my books up on the Pirate Bay in hopes someone would steal them. I even made a comic book titled, “Steal These Comics and Sell Them.” I finally took them down because nobody ever did. I discovered more people would buy my stuff than accept it for free. So I started selling my books on Amazon.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get rich, but I do know I’ll die one day. When I see my creator and have to explain how I spent my life, I’d rather say I shared things that made the world brighter, than have to confess I put my lamp under my bed. At any rate, science has proven, generosity makes people happier than selfishness.

 

 

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Tweets by The Wise Sloth #32: The Internet and Online Culture

Cartoon image of a sloth sitting on a mountain top. He is wearing a yellow robe. His head is bowed with his eyes shut, and beams of light shine from around his head. With his left arm, he is holding one finger in the air. Above him are the words, "Tweets by The Wise Sloth."

You might think it says something good about society that we look at more cats on the internet than porn, but I worry about our cat fetish.

If you play the song “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen” while watching internet porn, the lyrics will sync with the action every time.

I bet Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, and Isaac Newton would be happy that their work led to the Internet, which is mainly used to share porn.

Nobody replies to your Facebook posts asking who your real friends are because they unfollowed you for posting dumb shit all the time.

Cussing people out on the internet proves nothing except that you desperately need to take a conflict resolution class.

The angrier you behave on the internet, the more you need to talk to a therapist about your past traumas.

Your character is reflected and created by what you talk about. This applies to your social media posts too. Share genius or be foolish.

The more people you correct on chat forums and message boards, the more likely you’re just an arrogant idiot.

I hate it when you watch a video on YouTube, and afterwards, you think, “Fuck. That’s what you just did with that time in your life.”

It baffles me how people absorb news and wisdom from around the world on phones, then use the same apps to say technology is tearing us apart.

Nobody would know technology is tearing us apart if technology hadn’t connected us.

The popularity of click-and-wait smartphone games proves if humans don’t have stress in our life, we’ll create it.

Friends playing on their phones around you is either a sign technology is tearing us apart or Candy Crush is just more interesting than you.

Would someone please invent a website that exports my Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and Medium feeds into one scrolling wall?

I want an app that calculates the shortest path and with the least amount of turns to mow your lawn.

I wish every page, video, picture and audio file on the internet had a button on it that lets you rank its quality and usefulness.

 

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My Tweets About Self-Help
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My Tweets About Pop Culture

Cost/Benefit Analysis of Internet Trolling

Picture of Morpheus from the movie, "The Matrix" surrounded by the words, "What if I told you that trolling and pretending to be an asshole to mess with people, is the same thing as actually being an asshole?"

I define “Internet trolling” as posting comments on blogs, chat groups, forums, or any other venue on the internet that makes disparaging remarks about other people, their statements, theories, questions, beliefs, or anything else they post on the internet. It’s irrelevant whether the troll’s comments are intentionally constructed to cause other people anger and pain or the troll’s communication skills are just so uncivilized that they incidentally infuriate and hurt other people. As long as the end result is anger and pain the perpetrator is trolling. You could say that unintentional abuse isn’t trolling but flaming, but unless the offender spells out their intentions then the victim doesn’t know the difference. It all looks like trolling to them.

Every troll is unique, and each has their own motives for their actions, but after watching trolls in action since the birth of the internet and even questioning them directly I’ve gathered that most trolls are trying to accomplish one (or more) of five goals by attacking strangers on the internet.

  • Correct other people’s mistakes.
  • Force other people to better refine and articulate their ideas.
  • Punish stupid people for being stupid.
  • Reinforce their own sense of self-worth by proving to themselves that they’re better than other people.
  • Derive pleasure from other people’s pain and discomfort.

Let’s take a look at each of these goals and see how well trolling achieves them.

1. Correcting other people’s mistakes. 

Regardless of whether your intentions are pure or even if you’re right, insulting people makes them angry. When people get angry they don’t think rationally; they think emotionally. This makes it nearly impossible for them to think about your point of view objectively. Thus, if your goal is to change people’s minds you’ve just shot yourself in the foot.

Another reason insulting people reduces the chance of you successfully arguing your point to them is because it changes the subject of the argument away from the topic altogether and turns it into a personal argument about the quality of the individuals arguing. Abortion, gun control, politics, immigration, health care reform, drug laws, religion, and other sensitive subjects have many compelling arguments on both sides, none of which are addressed by the statement, “You’re fucking stupid.”

When you make people angry and steer the conversation away from the actual topic you’re destroying any chance of changing your opponent’s mind. In fact, you’re accomplishing the opposite; you’re shutting down their brain and reaffirming their belief that people who belong to your school of thought are arrogant dick heads. Even if you “win” the argument the other person is going to walk away more convinced of their position, which may, in fact, be wrong about, but they’ll never know it because of you. Trolls aren’t the agents of truth they believe they are. They’re the guardians of ignorance.

2. Forcing people to better refine and articulate their ideas. 

Again, starting a flame war shuts down people’s minds and changes the subject to an irrelevant straw man argument. I’ve seen many trolls defend themselves against this criticism by saying things like, “I don’t have time to sugar coat reality for your dumb ass.” Or “If you can’t take a joke then fuck you.” Or simply “You’re a pussy. Fuck you.”

Regardless of whether or not there’s any truth to those defenses, the reality of the situation is that the only people who are going to listen objectively to someone who insults them personally are the most brilliantly stoic and objective thinkers society has to offer. Thinkers of that caliber are probably going to objectively challenge their own ideas themselves without waiting for a belligerent stranger on the internet to offer them that service. So your criticism isn’t likely to help anybody who isn’t already helping themselves.

What your criticism is likely to do is cement ignorant people’s beliefs, discourage budding minds from reaching out to society for help in their quest for understanding, and hurt innocent people who are making the same honest mistakes you’ve made in the past.

3. Punishing stupid people for being stupid. 

Imagine an abusive parent who beats his children when they misbehave. When this particular parent beats his children he doesn’t explain to his children why the thing they did was wrong, how they can correct their behavior or what the benefit of correcting their behavior will be. The parent just beats his children while screaming at them that they’re bad people who can never do anything right.

After years of this kind of abuse, the children will learn one thing from their parent, that they’re inherently bad people who can never do anything right. That “truth” will define their reality, and they’ll go through the rest of their lives hating themselves and destroying themselves and everyone who comes into their sphere of influence (including their own children). They’ll never be motivated to fulfill their human potential because they’ll be convinced that their individual potential is crap.

That’s what punishing people for being stupid accomplishes. It reinforces and breeds stupidity.

4. Reinforcing your own sense of self-worth by proving to yourself that you’re better than other people. 

Self-esteem is something that everyone struggles with. Defining your self-worth is an essential and inevitable part of growing up. It’s also one of the most difficult parts of growing up, especially if your parents are bullies.

We should all be honest with ourselves that there’s an intoxicating lure to establishing your self-worth by putting others down. However, it’s just a quick fix. It creates an external illusion of self-worth. Your true value is internal and has nothing to do with the value of the person next to you.

Measuring your self-worth relative to the accomplishments of someone else is an honest mistake that everyone makes a couple of times in their life. We all deserve a pass for a few lapses of self-control, but if you consistently tear down other people to prove your superiority, that’s a sign that you don’t believe your value as a person is good/solid enough to stand on its own. That or you’re just ignorant of what determines a person’s worth. Either way, trolling provides written documentation in a public forum definitively proving to everyone who crosses your path that you’re worse than everyone else, and everyone can see it except you.

5. Deriving pleasure from other people’s pain and discomfort. 

If you derive joy from causing other people pain then you don’t have room to criticize anybody else’s personal or intellectual flaws because you possess the greatest personal and intellectual flaw humanly possible.

Furthermore, while the pleasure of hurting others may seem intoxicating at the moment, when you look back on your life years from now your memories won’t be defined by honest, solid happiness. They’ll be defined by torture. While the happiness you experience by hurting other people may be real, it’s also a lesser form of happiness than can be attained by helping other people and celebrating life.

Gaining happiness in life is like a business gaining money in the economy. You’re like a business that’s making a profit. You might be content with the amount of money you’re making, but if you changed your business model just a little you could make a lot more profit. Again, you might be happy without how much money you’re making, but consider that the money you’re not making is money you’re losing.

In order to understand how important that is you need to understand how important money is. Money is a medium of exchange that represents all the hopes, dreams, fears and values of mankind. Money can do anything. Money really does make the world go ‘round.

What I’m talking about is more important than money. I’m talking about your life.

Whether your goal is to correct other people’s mistakes, help other people to better refine and articulate their ideas, vanquish stupidity, define your self-worth, or achieve happiness, trolling won’t help you accomplish any of those goals; it will accomplish the exact opposite. What will help you accomplish all of those goals is reaching out to your fellow human in kindness, objectivity, and patience to help everyone arrive at truth in a productive manner. In doing so you’ll make other people smarter individuals, which will help them fulfill their potential, which will cause society (which is nothing more than a large group of individuals) to improve and fulfill its potential. By being an agent of truth and productivity you’ll fulfill your own potential and prove your worth to the rest of the world and have written documentation in a public forum definitively proving to everyone who crosses your path that you were/are a great human being. Finally, when you look back on your life years from now you’ll have a long history of creating happiness in this world, not just for yourself but everyone you’ve met and everyone they’ve met, and everyone they’ve met and so on across the world and across generations yet to be born. The happiness you experience from those memories will be compounded a billion times, and when you die you will be one of the few humans to ever live who knew true greatness and true happiness.

Or you can just keep being a dick and devote your life to creating a world defined by ignorance and hostility, chipping away at everything good in this world while making yourself angrier and angrier as you sit in your mom’s basement cursing the world you’re creating.

 

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10 Tips To Follow When Calling Your Computer Help Desk

1. Before you call make sure your computer is plugged in and turned on.

I’ve actually gotten about 6 calls from people whose monitors were black because their computers were turned off. I’ve had about 3 calls from people with unplugged computers. One person actually asked me, “Will it work if it’s not plugged in?” Don’t be that guy. It’s embarrassing for you and a waste of the help desk technician’s time.

Image of Roy from "The IT Crowd" answering a computer help desk call by asking, "Hello, IT, have you tried turning it off and on again?"

2. If your screen freezes, then reboot your system.

What do you expect a help desk guy to do for you? There’s no unfreeze switch in the back. There’s no secret button combination that unfreezes computers. All a help desk guy is going to do is reboot your system. Save him the trouble. Save yourself the wait, and do it your self.

3. If you want to know how to add bullets to your PowerPoint or insert a picture in Word, then use the fucking Help menu.

Don’t call the help desk to find out something you could have figured out on your own in less than 15 seconds. If you ever call your help desk and ask how to use any of the Office programs, chances are they’re going to open Office on their computer, pull up the help menu, type in your question, and read what it says to you verbatim. So basically, their boss is paying them to read to you. Your laziness has reduced your I.T. technicians into overpaid nannies for illiterate adults.

If you type almost any problem into an internet search engine and find the answer to even the most obscure problems in minutes.

4. If your internet connection is down, or your mouse or keyboard stopped working, make sure your wires are plugged in.

80% of problems with network connections and peripherals can be solved by jiggling the cables. If you call the help desk they’re going to ask you to jiggle cables. Now that you know it, do it yourself before you call.

Drawing of two men looking at an unplugged computer. One man is saying, "I've already submitted a ticket to IT."

5. If your account is locked out don’t tell the help desk that you have no idea how it got locked.

I’ll tell you how it got locked. You put in your password wrong too many times. The more you try to deny that you’re responsible the dumber you’ll look in the eyes of the nerds in the help desk. Do you want to be looked down upon by nerds? No. If you want to minimize the shame of getting locked out of your account then minimize the time the help desk guy has to spend unlocking it. You can minimize the time by wasting everyone’s time with transparent excuses.

An image of a fake Windows error code that says, "An ID10T error has occurred. Location: Between keyboard and chair. You must eliminate the problem before proceeding further."

6. Don’t yell at the help desk because your computer is broken.

It’s not their fault. In fact, the help desk technician is the last person you want to yell at, because he’s the only one who can help you. And think about this. Every call the help desk guy gets all day is from some frustrated idiot at his wit’s end. You’re the 10th today and the millionth in his life. The help desk technician is not in the mood to deal with your shit.

I’ve put many angry customers on hold for no reason and bullshitted with my coworkers while the guy on the line fumed. If I had to go out to the person’s workstation to help them I’d wait anywhere from 30 minutes to a day before helping them. On a few occasions, I even told them that a fixable problem was unfixable. For really nice customers I’ve taken their systems home and worked their problem on my off time or hooked them up with extra software or hardware. The helpdesk technician is not your punching bag. He’s a human being, and you need him.

7. Don’t explain how important it is that your problem gets fixed.

The technician doesn’t care, and your babbling is only keeping him from fixing your important problem. If you absolutely must explain how important your work is, then only do it once.

On a related note, know that if the technician says your hard drive has exploded and there’s no hope of salvaging your data…you can not get the technician to change his mind by repeating over and over how important it is that you get your data back. If a doctor told you that your spouse was dead you wouldn’t stand there repeating to the doctor how important it is for you to get your spouse back. Face the facts. Move on. Back up your data next time.

8. If you know anything about computers, then don’t try to impress the technician with how much you know.

And don’t try to start a dick waving competition about who knows more about computers or who has the better home computer. You will only make yourself look like a dick, annoy your technician, waste the time he could be using to fix your problem, and cause him to give you worse service now and in the future.

9. Try to describe the actual problem you’re having.

This means taking ten seconds to analyze your screen and at least read labels correctly.  I don’t know how many times someone has called me because they say they can’t log in to their computer, but when I get to their office they’re logged in. They just can’t get to a website. I had one guy call up and say he deleted the Internet. The whole damned thing.

Just because your internet connection doesn’t work, doesn’t mean that the entire building’s internet connection is down. Before you tell the technician the building’s internet is down, ask the person next to you if they have a connection. I understand that everyone can’t be tech savvy, but explaining what is right in front of you falls more under common sense than tech sense. Use common sense. Take the time to analyze the problem you’re having if only enough to describe it accurately. It will help the technician help you.

"Common sense is not a gift, it's a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone who doesn't have it."

10. Rewards your helpdesk technician

Unless you’re the old lady who gives the help desk candy all the time, or you’re the hot young girl who wears low cut shirts, your help desk technicians hate you and don’t want to serve you because you’re an idiot who makes their lives hell.

They only help you for the money, and they don’t get paid enough to make dealing with you worth it. They would quit and get a better job, but they’ve got bills to pay just like everyone else. So they man up and take shit from idiots day in and day out like good, hard-working adults are supposed to.

Try to look at life from their point of view. They deal with real, catastrophic tech problems day in and day out. The more time they can spend on real problems and the less time they have to spend on wiping stupid, lazy people’s asses the better they’ll be able to improve everyone’s computing experience.  So try to fix your problem yourself before calling. If you do have to interact with technicians then get to the point, shut up and let them do their job. And give them candy.

11. The help desk cannot fix your Hotmail. 

Don’t ask.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

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Trending Topics
Movies, Music, and Television
Sports
Art
Fashion
Food and Drinks
Technology
Social Justice Warriors
Liberals and Conservatives
Baby Boomers and The Younger Generations
Racism and Xenophobia
Conspiracy Theories and Theorists
My Tweets About Pop Culture

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