academia | advice | alcohol | American Indians | architecture | art | artificial intelligence | Barnard | best | biography | bitcoin | blogging | broken umbrellas | candide | censorship | children's books | Columbia | comics | consciousness | cooking | crime | criticism | dance | data analysis | design | dishonesty | economics | education | energy | epistemology | error correction | essays | family | fashion | finance | food | foreign policy | futurism | games | gender | Georgia | health | history | inspiration | intellectual property | Israel | journalism | Judaism | labor | language | law | leadership | letters | literature | management | marketing | memoir | movies | music | mystery | mythology | New Mexico | New York | parenting | philosophy | photography | podcast | poetry | politics | prediction | product | productivity | programming | psychology | public transportation | publishing | puzzles | race | reading | recommendation | religion | reputation | review | RSI | Russia | sci-fi | science | sex | short stories | social justice | social media | sports | startups | statistics | teaching | technology | Texas | theater | translation | travel | trivia | tv | typography | unreliable narrators | video | video games | violence | war | weather | wordplay | writing

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Daily life problems no one has a solution to

Daily life problems no one has a solution to:
  1. I have computers/suits/graphic novels/items I’d love to sell and don’t care about the money, just feels wasteful to throw away something that could sell for a few hundred bucks. How can I do that?
    • Want easy way to dispose of items: someone picks them up, they sell or distribute them, give share of money to you or to charity
  2. I want to share my wifi, but set a limit on it.
    • Current solutions are very complicated. Want wifi router that lets you set up separate networks, open and/or closed, and rate limit
  3. At a cafe, I order, then go sit down far away and focus on something else. Turns out someone has been shouting my name for 10 minutes.
    • Buzzers are impersonal and expensive but work.
  4. I want to buy premade food in the morning, without having to reroute myself or wait for everyone else to deal with payment and choice.
    • Want a $5 breakfast burrito to be waiting for me at subway exit — that I can take or leave.
  5. I want to access data from my apps like weather, movie times, NBA playoff wins, etc.
    • Want a central API service that I can ask for different data, and have them source it and deliver it to me at a reasonable rate, with the same key. Pricing could work like Heroku — free for delayed and infrequent use, expensive for frequent access and updating.
  6. I want to hire a French tutor to come tutor my daughter. Um, how on earth do I do that?
    • Seriously, it's crazy this question doesn't have a better answer yet
  7. I want to sign up my kids for summer camps. Which ones are free, when, and which of their friends are signed up? It's a mess and every site takes a long time to register.
    • Single site that camps and afterschool programs list on, which handles registration and connects to social media
  8. I want to be able to filter the internet's nonsense by preferring to see information posted by people with a social or financial track record of decent behavior and credibility
    • Opt-in internet-wide reputation. What could go wrong?


Blogger Tyler on Sun Apr 21, 12:56:00 PM:
#1: That’s sort of the role that pawn shops and consignment shops sort of fill, no? I suppose the question is: why haven’t those sorts of businesses consolidated/focused online/modernized/offered an end-to-end time saving no-hassle solution? There’s clearly demand for this service, so is the supply side not being met because it isn’t very profitable? I’m not sure, but I want this too.

#2: I know that small-business level solutions have that sort of functionality built-in (UniFi, Meraki, etc), but I suppose that I don’t have first hand knowledge about setup complexity/difficulty. Have you looked in to those?

#3: Part of me wants to push back on engineering a tech solution to this one in favor of preserving the messy human and analog aspect of this, but you’re right that yelling isn’t exactly pleasant either!

#4: Mmm breakfast burrito. Are the key features the pre-made aspect and the “on my travel path” aspect? In Toronto we have a software startup called Ritual which solves part of the problem. You order/pay for an order at normal take-out places on your phone and then just grab it off of their shelf (if the restaurant is trusting enough), or just quickly ask the person at the front to grab the prepared order from behind the counter.

#5: Ooh, this one is fun. I need to wrap my head around it. Doesn’t exist because: something something data ownership, silos, resale, probably(?). An interesting question to ask is if/why this is/isn’t on Google’s roadmap. Their mission is to organize the world’s information and they probably have the widest/deepest database and they have the scale/infrastructure. All (!) they’d need to do is unify some APIs and monetize?

#6: Surprising that this is so hard. Clearly a business opportunity. I always just assume that the “Uber/AirBnB for…” Silicon Valley startup space throws money at and conquers all these types of problems immediately! :)

#8: Now we’re getting ambitious. Love it!

Keep it coming. I like these “needs a solution” threads. Meta-idea: where’s the curated/crowdsourced list of life’s unsolved problems? A shared todo list for the world!
Blogger Ben on Thu Aug 29, 09:28:00 AM:
1. I think pawn shops tend to focus on a narrow range of items that are physically small for their value (and thus easy to store), do not degrade (contra, say, comics), and are resaleable (because people come to shop for jewelry in general). The type of business I'm describing would be much more logistically complicated, but would save money by not having to rent retail space. Is it possible to make money in that business? I'm not sure. Not easily, at least.

2. I've used a UniFi router for 8 years or so; it allows separate open and closed networks, with traffic limits. But the traffic limits are only per-connection, not per-network, so many simultaneous freeriders could render my wifi unusably slow to me.

3. I'm not complaining about yelling! In fact, I wish cafe workers were much more creative and/or aggressive about getting me my coffee. They seem to be very tepid about it! I'm just surprised it's not more of a solved problem.

4. That sounds great! Chipotle does this too, and that would basically be the solution if they were open in the morning and had a morning menu. However, I want to go beyond having to affirmatively order the meal; ideally I could just swing by the location on a whim, and it would know me and charge me.

5. This isn't in Google's DNA, but it is in Amazon's. I'm curious if there's a project along those lines -- a two-sided marketplace that makes it easy to provide data and make money from it, and easy to spend variable amounts of money to consume it.

6. Yeah, there are many ok answers, but no central, reliable one

7. This is actually the one I think about most often!

8. Ambitious, but risks reinforcing existing power dynamics, and incentivizing trivial hacks, as demonstrated in the Bryce Dallas Howard Black Mirror episode!