Cool Idea #11: Japan Support of the Day (via The Graphic Side of Life)

I probably haven’t mentioned it before, but good art is (to me) one of the greatest things since sliced bread. Here are some great takes on the Japanese flag.

Please donate to humanitarian efforts in Japan, North Africa, or anywhere else your help is needed.

Japan Support of the Day

Read More

via The Graphic Side of Life

Cool Idea #5: The Secret Stash Project

The Secret Stash Project can be useful to spies, secret agents, and you.

What is it? Here’s what the project’s official website tells us.

This project is about concealing valuables, secrets, bad habits and personal information in our workplaces. Here, hidden spaces/ messages were created within 8 general objects such as wood boards, lamps and disposable coffee cups.

Why doing this?

We all have the need of hiding.

We hide our valuables from being stolen, we conceal our past from our loved ones, we never show our real side to colleagues, we all have secrets. Or, sometimes we just want to keep something only for ourselves.


Utilize stereotypes and visual camouflage.

We make judgments based mainly on our experiences and what we see. This dependency on visual information can create large blind spots. Thus, usual stereotypes of how we perceive solid, transparency and lighting are employed in this project to play with notions of ‘solid and void’, and ‘true and false’.

In essence, the project is just a clever way of utilizing the ways that our minds fill in the blanks. When we see a nondescript box for a chessboard, for example, we more or less automatically assume that the pieces inside and that the box is just two five-sided pieces of cardboard that fit with each other. By utilizing the mental processes behind the assumption, the Secret Stash Project allows for the concealment of objects of value. The box may just be the uppermost piece of cardboard, or it may not store a chess set.

I like this idea mainly for the items that it has spawned. Some of the ones that I’ve heard of probably came about independently, but the ones like the book used as a Kindle case on The Compost Pile and the implementations shown in the video (link to Vimeo) on Yiting Cheng’s website are directly related to the project as I know it.

If you’ve seen any cool secret stashes or products that make use of assumptions, please share them below. Do not include ideas that are illegal.

Idea #19: A paperback book sleevecase

Though my school has let my classmates and me out for the season, I’m still recovering from the heavy spinal trauma of carrying several textbooks and other heavy items to and fro during the last few days of classes. The tomes including a 700+ page physics book, a Pre-Calculus text of similar length and with post-it notes protruding at every angle imaginable, and a skinnier but abnormally tall Spanish resource. In addition to several folders, two calculators, a clipboard with papers attached, a reporter’s notepad, and a Rubik’s Cube, I also carried three paperbacks: a class copy of The Kite Runner and my own editions of The Da Vinci Code and Unmasking the Face.

By the end of the school year, the carnage that had taken place within my bag was terrible. The textbooks, being hardcover, weathered the jostling pretty well. I easily marked “Good” or “Same” in the condition space right before my teachers collected them. However, this wasn’t so true for the other books. My calculators sank into the pages of The Kite Runner the day before I had to turn it in, and the pages ended up wrinkled and folded inward. The other two paperbacks were similarly afflicted, as was the notepad. I had recently paid roughly $30 for two books that were now fraying like string.

</Uppity Diction>

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s faced this issue. Plenty of students carry books in their backpacks, and this damage doesn’t occur exclusively when the bag weighs 30+ pounds–I’ve had the same issue without textbooks in my backpack. As long as a book opens enough to allow things to get lodged into its pages, it happens. To solve this is as simple as creating a small sleeve that’s just tight enough for a paperback book to fit into. Ideally, the sleeve would be adjustable so as to accommodate several different sizes, but the basic idea is to create an envelope for the item so that it doesn’t open. One example of this design is the be.ez notebook sleeve. Of course, zippers might be overkill for a book protector. As long as the case wraps tightly around the item, it should function perfectly.

Questions? Qualms? Ideas? Seen this in action and would like to let me know so that I may live a life less worried? Post any of these below or at the wiki. While you’re at it, don’t forget to rate this post. The buttons are near the top of this post.

Question: What happens to the vuvuzelas after the World Cup ends?

Image uploaded by Manuguf

In case you don’t know this already, vuvuzelas are those love-them-or-hate-them noisemakers that you hear in the background during broadcasts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. My guess is that thousands have been sold, and that people who bought them solely for the sake of the event will eventually get bored of them. What happens then? Will they get pitched (har har) into the trash? Recycled? Sold as collector’s items? Or something else entirely?

If you have any questions, suggestions, ideas, or facts about vuvuzelas post-2010, please post them below.

Idea #18: Use actual maps in race surveys


Being a student, I’ve taken my fair share of standardized tests. ACTs, PSATs, SATs, and APs should really be called FAMILIAR2MEs. On many of these, I’ve had to fill out something stating my ethnicity and citizenship. I often leave ethnicity blank, only marking the “US Citizen” bubble. Don’t take that the wrong way–I’m fully capable of indicating where my ancestors were born, but I feel as though ethnicity shouldn’t play a huge role in my life. However, my guess is that a fair share of students may want to respond, but simply don’t know how to until they look it up after the test. For example, walking out of an ACT prep session, I had a Middle Eastern friend ask me what his race was. He wasn’t sure whether he should have marked Asian or White. A similar situation occurred on the 2010 US Census. In essence, the definitions of race on these questions.

The Concept:

Replace the questions about race with an outlined world map that asks something along the lines of “Where do you trace your ancestry to?” Instead of marking that they are black, white, etc., responders can shade the inside of a nation’s borders.

The Pros:

  • Except in cases of disputed borders, there’s no ambiguity on the map. This solves almost all of the confusion that confronts analysts.
  • This also works in relation to questions that ask not about nationality, but about state/provincial residency. “What state do you live in?” becomes “Please shade the inside of the borders of the state you live in.”
  • This approach allows analysts to fine-tune their data much more than a choice of four or five races. It also nearly eliminates the hassle that I imagine there must be in handling the response “Other” for geographic/racial questions.

The Cons:

Enough said.

Just kidding. Some nations are so small (Liechtenstein, anyone?) that they may be difficult for responders to find and for machines to read. Other than that, though, I can’t really think of any major issues besides cost.

Cool Idea #2: Anti-theft sandwich bags

I’ve renamed “Check this idea out” to “Cool Idea,” as it’s much easier to remember.

Though I’m fortunate enough to have never dealt with gimme-your-lunch (or gimme-your-lunch-money) bullying, I imagine that it isn’t fun for victims.

This idea, up at Clusterflock, involves putting dark spots on traditional sandwich bags. The  food inside looks moldy and therefore unappealing to lunch thieves. It’s probably not something that’ll work in the long run, but something about the idea makes it too cool to not post.

Again, the idea is posted at Enjoy.

Idea #14: Combine Mancala with a pool table

For ideas that pop into my head and require little clarification, I will likely not use the P-C-P-C format that accompanies most of my posts.

Before reading this, you should probably familiarize yourself with some essential background information. In case you don’t know how Mancala is played, here is a video guide to the method most players are familiar with. Just in case you’re not sure what a pool table looks like, here’s an artist’s representation.

Pool Table

This is a standard pool/billiards table's layout. Recognize it?

Frankly, I’m not positive as to how exactly this might work. However, if one were to blend the two games together by adding enough pockets to a pool table, great things may happen.

Ideas as to how this might work? Let us all know in the comments. Alternatively, I’ve set up a wikia site where readers can discuss ideas and propose their own solutions to problems. The first official page corresponds to this, and the URL is Check it out, and post any suggestions there.