Notifications are incredibly useful but only when the information is important. You wouldn't want the bat phone on silent, but you also don't want it ringing to be sold insurance.

I realised how badly my notifications were configured when a comment on Facebook caused my phone to ping and two computers to make a noise. Thats a lot of attention. So that's an email sent an a push notification to my phone.

I've started to reconfigure all of this because of the level of annoyance. The problem is that the levers that I have to use are all a bit unsubtle. Email or not, notify or not.

What about importance and engagement? I'm not talking about AI a few simple rules would do it, they actually manage it pretty well with the feed. Can't be hard to detect if I'm actively engaged in a conversation or just chiming in to cause trouble.

The intelligence doesn't actually have to be in the service that your interacting with there could easily be a middle man service that you forward everything to. I would have to work out two things, the importance of the message (hard) and where you are.

If its important sent a push and have it make a noise, make of note of whether I have seen it. If I havent make sure that it shows up when I move to a different device. For less important information queue it up into a feed that can be looked at later.

This isn't a spam filter, its something more I think. Google are getting there with voice which does part of the job, maybe of Apple could come up with a similar service and roll their push notification into it that might get half way there.

A long while ago I was thinking about how all electrical stuff in the home is incredibly dumb, its not its fault it was built that way. The problem with anything in the home is that infrastructure is expensive, especially in old homes (mine is 105 years old, insulation would be a start). One of the reasons that wireless has become so popular, to the extent that people just forget how well cables work. One day I'll be able to get a Gbps over wireless and I'll be happy.

Anyway back to the point, houses are dumb. I was thinking that is should be possible to hijack existing infrastructure. Specifically light switches and sockets, they are all over the place, the conform to a standard size and they have power.

So why now, well I've just seen a video of an Arduino micro controller working with a touch screen. Now I know its possible to communicate over power lines, and you could throw in a load of sensors: temp, infra red, sound etc. To Actually do stuff you would need a speaker and probably a big fat mains switch but that again is totally doable.

So what coud you do with this setup, here are few ideas:
  • Smart heating controller
  • Lighting that follows you round the house
  • Baby monitor
  • Home alarm

All I need now is for Apple to go out and build them, shiny. Google have made a move in the right direction with the Android Open Accessory stuff, but that will be less shiny.
I've been thinking about building something like Exceptioneer for a while. I'm always vaguely jealous of nice simple services for developers that do something useful. They are generally always things that you could do yourself but its just easier to have someone else work out all the bugs.

Pingdom is another one that's smart, especially their pricing model. You only pay for blocks of texts, the implication being that if your site is up all the time you won't have to pay.
One of the books that I'm reading in my current book binge is the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. There are some interesting ideas in there about creating small companies just to ease you out of hourly work. I've been ranting about being paid by the hour for a while now, I'd rather be on the beach to be honest.

The one thing that stand out from this is its emphasis on free time to pursue interests. Id always thought about wanting to have ass loads of money before but this made me think. When the objective is free time all you have to do is cover costs and make sure that your involvement isn't required.

There are loads of resources in the book as well so it saves time on finding things, I'm sure that there are a bunch of companies doing well out of his links.

I've already been in touch with an outsourcing firm in India to get them to do some research into an idea for me. If it turns out that my idea is useless I've wasted far less money than if I invested my own time.

We shall see.
Every one who knows me knows that I've always got a next great plan or something I'm going t o build normally based on a book that I've just read. Well I'm reading a lot at the moment and a bunch of ideas are rattling around in my head. Most of them are to do with Project Management and communicating progress and status to people outside the project.

Email is not the answer nor is Excel. As a very good developer said to me the other day "If your using excel, your doing it wrong"

When the idea is fully formed I'll write more on it.