Jun 16, 2016

Two App Ideas (please send money)

Dear Venture Capitalists, Developers and Marketers,

I have two great app ideas and would like these developed as soon as possible please.  Please note these are my intellectual property but I am open to sharing the millions of dollars we make on them under a reasonable arrangement.  Please let me know when they are ready.

1. HairNow!

 You know when you go to a hair salon and they have posters of hair styles in their windows or on their wall that look weird because they're always just slightly out of date?

Hairdressers can never keep up with current hair images, either in poster form or in their stacks of style books and magazines (do they still have those?)

The app:
A searchable database of hair styles, and a constantly-updating poster display for screens mounted on a salon wall

How hairdressers would use it:
Replace posters with huge screens and display an ever-changing rotation of latest hair style images. Optionally filter what styles, or types of styles, to display.

How customers would use it:
Phone app can be searched for images by hair style and type, e.g. "cool hairstyles for short thick brown curly hair" (just to throw a random example out there that has nothing to do with me).
Or search for current trends, e.g. "London 2016"

Does not promise to solve this problem

How it will make money:
Free for regular people. Hairdressers to pay a small subscription which gives them the rotating images of latest styles.  I guess the subscription has to be pretty small, if we compare it to the amount hairdressers spend on updating their posters once every few years.

2. PlantLife!

You know when you see a tree or plant you like but you don't know what it is? Or you think, "Is that a maple tree or not?" and you have to Google maple tree images and trawl through them trying to match them to what you are seeing?

Or maybe you live in North America and are hiking through the woods and want to make sure you're not about to walk through a patch of poison ivy.

We can't all be botany experts. That's why we need....


The app:
Like Shazam but for plant pictures. You hold your phone up to scan a plant or tree, focussing on leaves, for instance, or flowers. You press a button. The app trawls through the whole Google/Wikipedia images database or a botany database of some kind and bam! comes up with the name of the plant and some information.

How it will make money:
Obviously this is so useful that the money will just come rolling in from advertising we will host on the app. We will offer a premium edition with no ads but over time we will gradually put ads on the premium edition too, and raise the price. We will market this as an educational tool to schools and universities and maybe create a tie-in game? You guys can figure this stuff out, I am sure. I can't do everything.

OK so that's it for now, please go ahead and make these and I look forward to getting rich soon.
Thank you.

Jun 12, 2016

The Art of Leisure

I just came across a post in my Facebook feed called The Lost Art of Leisure, which I didn't have time to read but which I have bookmarked for later. I think I know what it says though, and the title struck a chord with me.

When I was younger, and the world was not yet digitised, I had ample time for leisure and I used it for the most part wisely - reading, walking, visiting art galleries, trawling bookshops, dinner with friends (we didn't do coffee or breakfast or brunch back then), going to see bands at pubs.  I had a big music collection and listened to it. I did painting classes. I sketched, and wrote poetry.

In short, I was probably an insufferable young idiot, but I did know how to enjoy myself.

When Y. and I lived in Santorini, many years ago, we spent our precious free time coasting around the winding roads on his bike, lying on the beach and drinking coffee or beer in cafes. This was high quality leisure time.

When I lived in Twickenham, my favourite activity was to walk the towpath to Richmond and back, snug in my army-surplus parka, a Kate Bush or Blur cassette in my Walkman, headphones on.

When I lived in St Kilda, my favourite activity was to go to the Espy with my boyfriend to see a band, and wander home in the early hours of the morning to his untidy flat, feeling happy and at home.

When I lived in Auckland, I loved cooking up dinner parties with my university flatmates and the sorts of long, honest conversations you only have at that age.

Growing up in Auckland, we were conscious of being at the outer limits of the world, and we lapped up everything that visited our shores. We saw every visiting art exhibit (though I only remember Monet), and every band or singer (Billy Idol, Bryan Ferry, America, David Bowie, U2 - it didn't matter who, in general if they came, I went to see them - though I did draw the line at Dire Straits, and was pleased to have my decision borne out by everyone's judgement the day after that "the laser show was really good").

But of course, as everyone knows by now, that all disappears when you have kids. And honestly, you don't mind. I didn't miss any of that stuff. Well, except walking on my own, and reading in a quiet corner - I could do both of those things forever.

When you have kids you grab your leisure where it's available, and when it's available you're not always ready. Or you only have a few minutes or half an hour, or a two-hour block, or whatever - not enough time to really sink into a full leisure activity and enjoy it without an eye on the next obligation.

Nina Cheng / Flickr CC

And of course we're all so busy. Kids, no kids - we're all busy with work and with keeping up with all the ceaseless household, personal and digital administration that is part of modern life.

All of which creates the situation we now find ourselves in, where leisure time is a five minute break huddled over your phone playing whatever dumb game is your secret shame, or strapping on your exercise shoes and convincing yourself that the 20-minute power walk you are forcing yourself to take at lunchtime is "relaxing" instead of a guilty workout.

We don't seem to have time to enjoy proper leisure, doing activities that absorb us and bring us joy, often enough.

Well, maybe this is only me.

But my guess is that an article called "The Lost Art of Leisure" means that it isn't.

The reason this article struck a chord was that I found myself, one day last week, quite unexpectedly enjoying some leisure time, that was actually leisurely.  I set myself the task on Sunday of doing nothing much, except beefing up my Spotify playlist and cooking a good winter meal for the kids.

I used to have a lot of CDs and a stereo, and I listened to music all the time. Then I had an iTunes account and listened to music on my iPhone. Then I changed to a Samsung phone and converted my music to Google Play, and.... I sort of forgot to listen to it. Or maybe I got older and music just gradually fell down the priority list, competing with podcasts and reading articles and watching Cracked videos on YouTube?

Phil Mike Jones / Flickr CC

But recently one of my daughters set me up with a Spotify playlist (it needs some work, but you can check it out here) and I have suddenly rediscovered the joy of music.

Jake Kitchener / Flickr CC

I dug out a couple of CDs and played them while cooking on Sunday. Then when they were finished I put on my Spotify playlist and listened to that. As I stirred a slow-cooking meat sauce and chatted easily to my daughter, with nothing else planned for that afternoon, I felt a strange sensation. It was a sweet surge of joy - a simple, swelling happiness that lifted with the music and reminded me that these moments, while fleeting, should be more than just gaps in a busy life.

I liked it.

Do you possess, or covet, the art of leisure?


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