It's tough when you can't turn your brain off. Right now my head is spinning on friends, relationships, and technology... mostly technology. It seems to be one of the few things that it's actually really easy to wrap my mind up in for long periods of time. Almost everything I see becomes a possibility for betterment through technology.
A few examples that my mind is spinning on right now:
- A system that helps manage roommate households. It would have a household events tool that would help everyone in the house know what's going on when (roomie going on a trip, plumber coming, rent due, etc.), a tool for helping track things that the household needs and contribute to getting them (toaster oven, dishwasher, new microwave, TV, Etc), and most importantly, contribute to the finding roommates, or helping a potential roommate find a new place. The last part is the most powerful... but I'm leaving out the most powerful details.
- A tip jar and employee feedback tool for large corporations. The tip jar would let you "tip" someone that helps you in the company, giving some credit for contributing to another person. It would also allow for more extensive feedback about people throughout the company over the course of time. When it comes time for the usual annual review, the accumulation of tips and the feedback could be used to have hard proof and measurables for each employee's relative performance and contribution. It's better than most of the crappy review cycles out there where everyone is asked to provide feedback about someone's performance and contribution over the course of the last year. Most people don't think about the last year... it's only the most recent impression about someone that matters in such scenarios. So you can be crappy 9 months out of the year, but if you're great the three months leading up to review time, you'll look terrific on paper.
- A knowledge management tool that tracks questions asked and the answers to those questions. Most companies seem so focused on the FAQ... "Frequently Asked Questions"... they don't have a system in place to help people get to what really matters... the most frequently useful answers. Moreover, they don't have a way to hook the millions of ways the same question can be asked to the single clearest way to answer the same question. Ultimately this becomes the single repository for knowledge in the company, and another way to track employee performance and retention need. Combine this with the tip jar, and you have instant access to your most valuable employees, your least, and everyone in between.
There are more ideas that constantly float through my head... but those are the big ones right now. There's more to all of these, including the idea of founding a company based on taking the second two to a huge degree... but it would render practically obsolete the training function of a company... and since they'd be the ones that would have to implement it, it's unlikely they'd buy it. What a contradiction, eh?
The hardest part of most of these is really money. If I had money, I could make almost anything happen... but when you're a programmer for an enterprise corporation, it's hard to focus at the end of the day on your own projects... your mental capacity for writing code or architecting things is practically exhausted. At the moment, I'm saving up as much vacation time as I can. My goal is to get to a point where I can take a month to a month and a half off of work (PAID, YAY!) and write something useful... and maybe get to a point where I'm no longer relying on "the man"... but am a slave to no one but myself.