Friday, February 6, 2015

Get out of your creative rut

Louis Foreman, CEO of Edison Nation and Edison Nation Medical, writing in, says inventors come in at least two types--those who spend years on a project and those who can suddenly conjure up a solution for a contest or to take advantage of an opportunity.

Yet, both types can come up empty at times.

Here are some ways to jumpstart yourself:

Foreman says there are two reasons people invent--to alleviate a pain or frustration using a product or to jump on an opportunity in the market.

To keep sparks coming, pay attention to how you interact with various products. Observe the intricacies. See how it could be improved. Think this way always. Ask yourself, "Why did that break so soon?" "Why is that so hard to open?"

You also need to identify trends or market opportunities. Go to trade shows, watch SHARK TANK on CNBC (my idea). Or catch Edison Nation, for that matter.

Surround yourself with creative people in a creative environment. Get constructive feedback. Mr Wonderful (Kevin O'Leary) on SHARK TANK often advises inventors to take the invention out back and burn it. Harsh shark snark, but constructive.

Good ideas take time and research. Control your expectations.

Know yourself and how your mind works. Keep a pad and pencil by the bed, TV and in your pocket. Write everything down--you think you will remember but you may not.  Or call your own voice mail and leave yourself a message.

Then wait and listen to yourself. There are ideas in there--don't miss them!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Boon to bike riders

Sometimes even compact car drivers and motorcyclists fail to trip the sensor at red lights to turn them green.

But this is especially true of bicycle riders.

So Nat Collins invented the Veloloop, a bike attachment that uses a battery to trigger the sensors.

There is also a LED light that tells the rider the sensor has been tripped.

It is in beta--and users say this shortens commutes by a significant amount.

H/t to Government Tech magazine ( December 2014.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

From Coke to...water

Not water to wine...but
From Government Tech Magazine, December 2014, comes this weird little story.

Apparently Coca-Cola is easier to come by in some parts of the world than clean water.

So Dutch artist Helmut Smits, working with the University of Amsterdam's Synthetic Organic Chemistry Group, devised a distillation method to convert soda pop into water.

He calls it The Real Thing--the device, that is. The soda is boiled in the device, creating water vapor, which is funneled into a glass and mixed with minerals to make it safe.

The whole mess was exhibted at the Sense Nonsense exhibition in the Netherlands during Dutch Design Week.

Smits thinks of this as an artistic endeavor--to make people think. But maybe you can think of this as a practical way to make people drink. Thwim!

Monday, December 22, 2014

THE PROBLEM SOLVER: At last, "creativity" beer

A lot of people think getting a little tipsy quiets the "inner critic" and makes some people more creative.

Of course, the idea is to get just the right amount of "drunk" and not so blotto that every idea sounds good.

Enter the scientists--who have helpfully done the no doubt onerous research to determine that a blood alcohol level of 0.075% is ideal for creative problem solving.

So how to achieve this level? Glad you asked. There is now an India Pale Ale called THE PROBLEM SOLVER, designed to get the average person to that magic percentage.

Each bottle has a handy guide on the side to match body weight to how much you should drink.

Alas, this is available mainly in Denmark--Copenhagen to be exact. And in only one store there.

Maybe they better drink some and come up with a way to get this distributed more widely.

And now--a toast! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Blessings--pick your poison.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Whiskey has talent

Ever looked at dried whiskey rings in a glass? They are beautiful!

A Phoenix AZ-based photographer and artist named Ernie Button ( photographs these--and he got curious about what causes whiskey patterning.  So he reached out to Howard Stone, PhD, at Princeton--Stone runs the Complex Fluids Group.

The fascination was how could a clear liquid like whiskey leave such a multicolored and ever-varying pattern.

We know single component liquids with a small volume of solids--coffee with cream, say-- leave an effect. Wine tears can also appear in wine glasses.

But not much was known--or thought about--alcohol and water.

Hmmm....seems the droplet of alcohol-water creates a complex mixing flow. Ethanol evaporates first and when it's gone, a pattern emerges.

They also wondered if the barrel in which whiskey is stored and the aging process would have something to do with this.  But younger and more aged whiskeys behaved the same.

This made be useful--because it set the brains on the trail of seeing whether different things can be more  uniformly distributed in a thin film--which will have many industrial applications.

From art to apps! Bottoms up--then grab a photo!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Creativity can come from adapting an existing item

My current screenplay project is PAW & ORDER. Obviously this an "homage" to an existing family of dramas--only animated and with animal cops. And humor. This makes it completely different. Instead of solving a grisly murder, the cops are trying to find some kids' TV satellite so they can watch again--or in the sequel, rescue the cop's sons' classmate from Kimodo Dragons.

Now comes Raph Koster, a veteran video game designer, who says creativity is a process. In his case, he starts with existing games--he studies them. He puts elements in new contexts.

Almost every video game they design is a variant, Koster says. True innovation is rare, he adds..

They break the games down, study their systems.

Take cards--the mechanics are simple...but the contexts vary and you get UNO and Texas Hold-em. The mathmatical relationships are common to each.

He also recommends working within constraints--such as a deadline. Or add a speed or defender and see how you would need to change the game.

Games are made out of games--how can you take a chunk of one game and put it in another.

Most games are about the player getting more and more powerful. This is not very interesting. Take Die Hard--the protag is not getting more powerful, he is trying to get his wife back. Pick an emotional hook.

The only failure is the failure to imagine.

Could you combine blackjack and ROBOTRON, he asks? Maybe. Try it!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Farm art in Wisconsin

Photo by Aaron Dysert
Wisconsin is a cool state (very cool in winter). My parents hailed from there, we went to a lake there every summer.

Octoberr 4-13, something called the Wormfarm Institute's Annual Fermentation Fest will be taking place i n Reedsburg.

Wormfarm, huh.

Accompanying this will be Farm.Art D Tour--a self-guided drive through Sauk County to look at "farm art."

This is partially supported by the US Dept of Agriculture and is aimed at publicizing the area for economic development.

The picture is only one of the pieces of art created on the tour.

Maybe your area could use an art makeover. Farms do not have to be duddy--the talent is probably lurking all around you.

Food for the eyes, food for the soul--as well as for the tummy.

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