Alexander Leidinger

Just another weblog



This page is ded­i­cated to present some ideas which come to my mind. This can be every­thing, even bad ideas…

Food related ideas

  • Auto­matic food recipes trans­la­tion, inter­na­tional web­site: When my wife searches for a recipe she looks at a French web­site, as this is her mother lan­guage. And a French web­site mostly has recipes which are com­mon in French. I do not expect that some­one can find a typ­i­cal recipe from Thai­land there. The wife of a friend is Thai, and she cooks very deli­cious Thai meals. The ingre­di­ents are sim­i­lar to stuff we can find here, pork meat and spices and so on, but you have to search around to find such recipes on a Ger­man or French or what­ever food recipes site. Maybe you are even unlucky and can not find a recipe in a lan­guage you under­stand. So my idea is sim­ple. Instead of writ­ing down the recipes as text on a web­site, an inter­na­tional web­site with the food recipes of the world could work with objects and pro­ce­dures. If there is no object (ingre­di­ent), cre­ate one and the cre­ator can pro­vide the trans­la­tion at least for those lan­guages he knows the trans­la­tion for (or only for his mother lan­guage). Peo­ple which want to trans­late stuff should get a way to ask for untrans­lated objects in lan­guage X in the web­site inter­face. For the pro­ce­dures it is also easy. If there is no pro­ce­dure for what you want to do, cre­ate a new one and write the text in your lan­guage. Pro­ce­dures can have mul­ti­ple inputs and out­puts. Ide­ally a pro­ce­dure is bro­ken down into the small­est com­po­nents (“mix A and B, result C”, “use object D on C, result 5*E”). A pro­ce­dure can be split into syn­tax (input type, num­ber of items per input type, input unit, oper­a­tion, result), and seman­tic (the words used to describe the pro­ce­dure). An exam­ple would be “Take %%ITEM1_NUM1%%%ITEM1_UNIT%% %%ITEM1_TYPE%% and put them into %%ITEM2_NUM%%ITEM2_UNIT%% %%ITEM2_TYPE%%. This is now %%RESULT1_NUM%%%%RESULT1_UNIT%% %%RESULT1_TYPE%%.”. With 3 Eggs and 1 bowl as input this would be “Take 3 Eggs and put them into the bowl. This is now the bowl with eggs.” (the soft­ware is respon­si­ble to pick the cor­rect trans­la­tion of type depend­ing on the num­ber). Another pro­ce­dure could be to scram­ble what is in “bowl with eggs”. Yes, in case of type “bowl with eggs” this can cre­ate a lot of trans­la­tion effort needed because of the huge pos­si­bil­i­ties what is inside, but maybe a “bowl with ingre­di­ents (step X)” is user­friendly enough. Cre­at­ing such a recipe is more work than just writ­ing down in your mother lan­guage what needs to be done. The ben­e­fit is on the con­sumer side. Peo­ple look­ing up a recipe could chose from a huge num­ber of world­wide recipes (if this ser­vice would get enough con­tent pro­duc­ers and trans­la­tors), and the pro­ce­dures could even have links of detailed descrip­tions how to do some­thing, or links to videos/animations/pictures show­ing how to do a pro­ce­dure. For cul­tures where are spe­cific ingre­di­ent is not allowed for reli­gious or what­ever rea­sons, there could be an opt-in for such ingre­di­ents (detec­tion based upon browser lan­guage and/or geo­graph­i­cal region).
  • No-name prod­ucts track­ing: Write an appli­ca­tion for mobile phones (if pos­si­ble even for sim­ple ones which come only with Java, e.g. via inter­nal DB lockup instead of online-lookup, not only for Android/iPhone) which scans the prod­uct bar­code, the date (of last con­sump­tion or man­u­fac­tur­ing date or what­ever), and the num­ber of the man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany (at least manda­tory in the EU for meat, fish, milk, eggs and sim­i­lar) and return the name(s) of sim­i­lar no-name or even branded prod­ucts. With the num­ber of the man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany you can see which brand could be the pro­ducer of the prod­uct. While this does not mean it is the same (ingre­di­ents and/or qual­ity), so does it give a hint what to buy or to avoid for what­ever rea­sons. With the prod­uct bar­code and the date you could get the prod­uct his­tory (when the pro­ducer changes). With user sup­plied input to the main data­base the match can be improved (e.g. “tastes the same as the branded one”). It also allows to find cheaper alter­na­tives to branded prod­ucts, or to see if some­thing sim­i­lar is also avail­able at another place. Addi­tional user sup­plied input (or maybe even offi­cial input from com­pa­nies) could be the (regional) price. This would allow to find the cheap­est price for this kind of product.

Alter­na­tive energy related ideas

  • Non-optimal weather opti­mized pho­to­voltaic solar cells: Could the aver­age power gen­er­a­tion of a pho­to­voltaic solar cell in non-full-sunlight con­di­tions be improved by using a fres­nel lens (the Wikipedia arti­cle sug­gests that it can be used there, but so far I have not seen any use of it on small (pri­vate house­hold) instal­la­tions)? What impact would this have on the peak power gen­er­a­tion? The same ques­tions for ther­mal solar cells. UPDATE 2010-03-16: I found a com­pany which seems to be doing this. They use a heat-exchanger to move the addi­tional heat as dis­cussed in the com­ments here to a water pipe to gen­er­ate hot water (a com­bi­na­tion of a pho­to­voltaic and a ther­mal solar cell). They use the lens and some mir­rors to reduce the amount of solar cells (and thus the cost). Unfor­tu­nately they do not com­pare the out­put of the pho­to­voltaic part with a nor­mal solar cell (the same sur­face area but no lens), they only com­pare the com­bined out­put power of the pho­to­voltaic and ther­mal parts with a nor­mal pho­to­voltaic panel (so they com­pare apples with oranges and show a huge dif­fer­ence in this unfair comparison).
  • Lotus flower effect for solar (photovoltaic/thermal) cells: If the glass of a solar cell would be mod­i­fied to show a clean­ing effect of the lotus flower, would this reduce the amount of main­te­nance? If yes, is this sig­nif­i­cant? Would this effect cause a change in the effi­ciency of the cell? If yes, how much?
  • Using com­pressed air to auto­mat­i­cally remove snow from solar cells: Is there an energy effi­cient way to auto­mat­i­cally clean e.g. snow with com­pressed air from solar pan­els when the time of the day sug­gests that there could be sun but a light sen­sor does not detect more light than dur­ing the night (this “the pan­els are cov­ered by some­thing” detec­tion does not take into account that pan­els can be par­tially cov­ered, and maybe this/it could be improved by tak­ing the power out­put of the pan­els into account too)? The power con­sump­tion of the light sen­sor and the con­trol elec­tron­ics need to be taken into account. Is this a sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment (with a pos­i­tive return of investment)?
  • Gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity with heat: Ther­mal solar cells gen­er­ate more heat power than sim­i­lar sized pho­to­voltaic cells pro­duce elec­tric power. How effi­cient would it be to use ther­mal solar cells to drive e.g. a stir­ling engine to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity in a nor­mal house­hold (I have only found big instal­la­tions, but no instal­la­tion for a nor­mal house­hold)? To cool down the rel­e­vant part of this setup, the exces­sive heat could be used to heat the house or the water for domes­tic use.

Car related ideas

  • Constant-power cruise con­trol: Now with more and more elec­tric cars being announced, this would allow to cre­ate a cruise con­trol which can be switched from con­stant speed to con­stant power. The con­stant speed mode is like we all know how a cruise con­trol oper­ates (designed to bet­ter cal­cu­late the arrival time… in the best case), the con­stant power mode would have a vary­ing speed, but would try to have a con­stant power out­put per distance-unit (designed to bet­ter cal­cu­late the travel dis­tance the power source is able to handle).
  • Per­sonal GPS track­ing: It would be nice if the GPS devices in cars would grow a track­ing fea­ture which records where I was, how was I drove, and at which time I was there, and at which day of the week (opt-in for each time, off course). With this it would be pos­si­ble to see for exam­ple if it mat­ters if I drive 20 speed units faster on a spe­cific way at a spe­cific time or not (not directly, you would have to drive often the same way to get some sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant answer). It would also allow to gain bet­ter insight into which way to take at which time of day to get from e.g. work to home.
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2 Responses to “Ideas”

  1. Eric Anderson Says:

    Using a fres­nel lens to focus a larger quan­tity of light onto a smaller area is good, how­ever keep in mind that cur­rent pho­to­voltaic solar cells are 10 – 20% effi­cient only. The idea is good, but there is more to it than sim­ply aim­ing a fres­nel lens at it, since dur­ing peak times you prob­a­bly do not want the fres­nel lens focus­ing that energy down on to the smaller area (it will prob­a­bly make the solar cell less effi­cient dur­ing those peak times).
    I am glad to see you think­ing about alter­na­tive energy!

  2. netchild Says:

    Thanks for the info. Some inter­est­ing info would now be, if the aver­age power gen­er­a­tion (pho­to­voltaic) is higher or not then (maybe with some addi­tional (non-electrical) cool­ing improve­ments), and how much a fres­nel lens can cost from an eco­nomic point of view. But this highly depends on the instal­la­tion environment.

    Regard­ing alter­na­tive power gen­er­a­tion… I even have some links to DIY ther­mal col­lec­tors which look inter­est­ing, but with­out heavy changes in my house first (adding just the tubes from the heat­ing room to the roof means that I have to ren­o­vate the bath as I have to destroy a good part of it), I can not explore this inter­est­ing field.

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