SEANFX

Media Rants, Podcasting, Filmmaking, Production, Design

Zip Train

When I worked in the city I really enjoyed the train. Most people say they like driving home from work because it relaxes them. Being on a train is the best way to relax where you can tune out even take a nap not to mention all the other things you could be doing like sketching ZIP  Trains. Not something you can do in a car, well till we get our Google Cars!

Here’s the ZIP Train. This train is meant to fit on the current highway systems. If you live in the Western Suburbs of Chicago you know the train system is designed to get people into the city not around it.

With Flexible car sizes that can be linked together by extra mini electric engines to push more cars.

(Above:)  Notice how the rails are vertically spaced.   With wheel that hug the track just like a roller coaster.  Passenger Cars would also have a wheeled system built in.  With limited mobile power but they could still move on their own in case of an emergency.

The concept behind ZIP Train is you don’t need extra land and it can be built right in the existing median. No more land to buy and it only should take up one car width. ZIP Train is a cross between a roller coaster and a train.

(Below: )The seating is single file with seats that can swivel out to great the passengers.  This is to take advantage of the small footprint of the train.

As you can see you can have a bi-directional train on the same track.  It would also have a solar panel cover.  Something maybe Solar Roadways could design?

 

Inside the cabin it would function much the same way all METRA trains works.  But maybe with more added features like outlets both power and USB and hideaway tables.

 

I love the idea of the Hyperloop and it will be perfect for long distance travel.   The ZIPTrain concept is designed to take better advantage of less available property and existing roadways.

If you want my data, you need to give me something.

I think if you’re going to mine my data you need to give me something in return.  No, I don’t mean 20% off, some special access code or even points.  I mean something that makes my life better or easier.  Give me my time back to do the thing I really want to do.

Make My Life Better!

Marketers, if you can make my life better you’ll get better data that will make my life even better and make me a more loyal customer.  After all isn’t that what you really want my loyalty, my brand loyalty?  Here’s 2 examples of how you could expand your data mining to produce products and services that will make me spend more money and feel better about me handing over the information you deem so valuable to advertisers.

My 2 ideas center around food, and caring about your family and friends.

cart

Your Grocery Store

Let me start with a simple trip to a grocery store.  Yes many stores offer loyalty cards that track my every purchase and might, I mean MIGHT give me relevant coupons for my next visit, which they never are…  I have news for you I rarely look at those and to me they are a waste of paper.  I’m sure to some people they are not.  I in fact I get too many receipts throughout the day.  Just get rid of them.  But a better use of the receipt would be to make it digital.  Then it could talk to other apps like “My Fitness Pro” that helps you keep track of your food intake.

Okay we’ve really been dealing with deep data mining for more than a few years now. Now it’s time to put it to good use.  Here’s how my grocery store can make my life better.

Here’s what you know .

  1. You know who I am.
  2. You know what I buy.
  3. You know when I buy it.
  4. And about what time I might be coming into the store.

Look this is just a small example of what you really know about be me but is never put to good use.

Offer These Services

  1. Cart Service
  2. Meal Options
  3. Upgrades
  4. Health Tracking

Cart service?  Yes you take all the information above and after I opt in because this sound so fantastic to people like me I say YES let’s do this!  Have a cart ready for me when I come into the store.  It can have anywhere from 30 to 90% of the products I normally buy every week.  You might even send me a text alert that says want all these?  Then I check off all the things I don’t.  When I walk in that Saturday afternoon.  I grab the cart that my phone directs me too.  Most of my shopping is done!

Guess what I have time for?  More shopping.  More shopping for things I wouldn’t normally have time for because I really, really just want to get my stuff and get out of there.  Because yes I have better things that I’d rather be doing than spending my day at the store.  I like eating but I’m not a foodie.  I might linger at that soda or chip display.  Pick an more expensive meat or look at that thing I’ve never tried.  I might even partake in the sampler displays because I have more time or more interest in trying something new.  Maybe now they should show my how to cook something new?

Meal Options. What can I make with all the stuff I have and regularly buy?  Believe me I don’t know.  I’m lucky if I happen to run across something that mention.  This makes my life better how?  I hate spending time figuring out what I should eat this week.  I spend a lot of my time being creative and food is not one of those things I want to be creative with.  You could even dial in your dietary requirements to pick better foods and recipes.  That doesn’t mean I won’t buy the junk food.

Upgrades.  Everyone else knows them as add on.  But really you can upgrade my meal by offering tips.  Like, “did you know if you bought these 5 other things you could get 10 different meals.”

Drill deeper

Now now that you can start predicting those details.  What other things you could predict.  How much salt I go through and when I’ll need more.  I could plug in my diet restrictions and you could really build menus for me.  And yes put that in the cart.

To me this seems like a real opportunity for companies like food, health and lifestyle to really work together and create services to make our lives better.

Send the Very Best like a Hallmark Card

cards

I don’t like E-Cards. (Sorry to anyone who has ever sent me one.).  Not because I think it’s lazy or anything I’m mostly worried about all the spam and malware that comes with it.

I know this is scary to some people but what if I gave Hallmark Cards my whole Google address book and Calendar?  What would they know?  They’d know my relationships, birthday, anniversary’s well all the major events in my life along with those of my address book.

OKAY, This Is The Scary Part. (For Brands) 

Don’t get too greedy or go for the over sell here. Provide a good service and everyone will want to join in because they will see how much time this will save them.  Here’s how it works.

Save me a trip to the Card Store.  I know they are beautiful places and the help there is always outstanding.  But I always find I run out of time to go to the card shop.  The stores won’t go away but the I think there’s a certain segment like me that just can’t find the time for it.

So, here take my address book.

  • 3 Weeks before any event you send me an alert for X event.  You know it’s their birthday and their relationship too me.
  • Show me cards only related to that.  ( After a while you’ll see the kind I like to get, yum more data!) This will help you design better cards.
  • Let me pick the card through your app.
  • If I have other events around that time I can do them then too.

Now

  • You send me the stamped envelopes, pre-addressed ready to go back in the mail to my loved ones.
  • All I have to do is Sign, write a little something.  Insert a check add my personal touch. ( now offer ideas for those personal touches. )
  • Go all “Apple” on the box it arrives in and that might even become a keepsake.

Here’s another fine line you have to worry about crossing.  You can’t just take the address of all the people I just gave you and start spamming them to get your new service.  It will be a hard carrot to ignore by you’ll have to do it.  I think people will talk about this to but they might also want to keep it a secret.  They wouldn’t want to think people aren’t putting in the effort to go buy a card.

  • Keep in mind they are still putting in the effort to buy a card.  The creative, reading, and becoming touched by something is still happening.
  • You are helping to save my time getting to the spot where that happens.
  • Looks like I never forget, EVER.  You’re also making it look like I care more because now I don’t EVER miss anything.
  • You’re making me look more organized.
  • You’re giving me back the fun part with less effort on my part.

Everyone knows you care about your family and everyone knows you’d like to do more.  Why not make it so easy for them to do it.  You figure out the pricing. Per card, subscription fees, postage mark up.  You make my life better and I’ll give you stuff like money and my data without complaining.

I believe if companies can find a way to make my life better they’ll start wining with better customer loyalty and data to make better products.

Get Your Geek On Radio Shack

Let Your Geek Fly!

I have a bit of advice for Radio Shack and it’s current struggles.  Let’s be honest, I don’t think you can compete with the electronics stores of today and Amazon.  But you can go back to your roots and get your geek on.  Yes you will have to close some stores.  But you have to look at what made you, you.  All those little parts on the wall that the normal consumers would never know what to do with them.  Don’t you even remember where your name came from?  I do!  If you think you do put it in the comments.

Radio Shack you need to go back to your roots and help everyone’s inner nerd shine.  You still have all those same parts there but only the die hard users know that.  Even to me when I walk in all I see is a cell phone kiosk.  You used to be so much more than that.

  Here’s what I would do.

    1. Go FULL ON NERD!
    2. Hold tech clinics right in the store!  Help your customers build robots, electronics and computers from scratch. Nerds should know how to do that blindfolded. (hum that might be a good contest…)
    3. Put 3D printers and other rapid prototyping devices in your store for people to use and try out.  Maybe you become a real test lab before they buy.
    4. Hold invention contests.  Help them invent and create new stuff. Go all Apollo 13 on stuff. Sell grab boxes and say make something with this, promote the heck out of that!  There is a new nerd movement growing jump on and ride.
    5. Mentor programs.  You know how many older hackers go into stores or at least use too?  What a great way to put an older person to work giving advice and working with young people.  What if they could pass their knowledge down to new hackers?
    6. Partner with Life Hacker, How, DIY Networks and let them build shows around your parts and products.  You’ll be able to sell kits for things you’ve couldn’t have dreamed up on your own.  Then you can show them how it’s really done.  Don’t you see the new age of DIY?
    7. Connect!  I mean really go all out on video and audio connectors and adapters.
    8. Maybe even partner with a coffee or snack shop encourage people to come in and hang out, test, learn and build.

When I was a teen I loved Radio Shack. I loved it when the new catalogs came out, it was my “Sears” catalog.  Let me tell you I spent a lot of time there, so much time there they offered me a job right out of high school.  The manager figured I knew their products and I did!

Look at what I made when I was a teen.  Yes, I’ve kept it all these years.  I built this before I had access to anything like an internet and life hacking websites.  Luckily my Father is a Mechanical engineering and he was able to give me a lot of help and advice.  Every electronic part you see here I got at Radio Shack well other than a few parts I picked up at the local hardware store.

switchboard

This is a light board I build for when I was DJing and working with bands.  It was the low voltage lighting controller for the stage lighting system.  I even had LED indicators so I’d know which switch was on.

 

connection

This is where the telephone lines came in to the switch board.

 

pcboard

 This was the control board I made.  I know it’s not pretty or that complicated.  If I plugged it in right now it would still work.  You can still see the date I etched into the board when I made it.  1986.

 

relays

These are the relays I used to switch the lights on and off.  The great part was I only needed a few extension cords to power the lights.  The controls were near the lights and I ran the telephone line up to the control boxes.  So everything was a very light weight system.  Saving time setting up and carrying things around.

 Don’t forget the Audio and Video Connectors

Like I mentioned in option G. you (Radio Shack) has always been the best place to get connectors.  I could patch into anythings.  Play that up and expand that selection too.  You still can.  It’s my default place to go to get my gear connected up.  Here’s my tackle box full of connectors.  I guarantee every Film or video-maker, audio engineer has one of these.  I even have a mini bag for emergency audio/video patch jobs.  There some contests in there where you’d have people show off their boxes and try to connect things.

connectors

Radio Shack is for the REAL DIYer, it always has been and always SHOULD be.

I made stuff and not just kits I took the stuff off the walls of Radio Shack and I made new things out of it.  I learned a lot!  I learned how to make things, I learned how to make it look interesting and useful.  I learned how these part could work together and what they did. I learned how to use new tools.

I think you’re really missing an opportunity to double down and go real geek. Please don’t turn into a kiosk in the middle of a Mall selling iPhone cases and Bluetooth ear buds.  You’re better than that.  I learned so much when I was a kid.  Your stores made me feel like a mad scientist and it made me a better artist and product designer.

 

 

Drive with a view

image

 

I can’t be the only on who hates being behind an 18 wheeler in a town you don’t know and I can’t read the street signs because of the wheeled wall in front of you.

So here’s the idea.

Mount low cost flexible video screens on the back doors of trailer trucks. Someday soon these screens will be able to go on to surfaces like this just like a giant sticker or wallpaper.

The front of the truck has a camera lens with a similar view a car might have traveling behind the truck. (In a perfect world the lens would change based on the rear car distance.)

From the Drivers POV you can see and read what’s in front of the truck almost like wasn’t even there. The trailer door latches and mechanical parts are still visible so it doesn’t totally disconnect drivers from reality.

Now the question is, do you cover the whole trailer to improve the view from all directions?

Funny faces

Trying something new with Paper on my iPad.  If you’re an artist, have an iPad and don’t have Paper, get it!  You won’t regret it.

[nggallery id=29]

My problem is I so many other apps I always forget I do have it.  But it’s a great app to use and I thought I’d used to practice making stylized faces.  I don’t do faces to well but practice make perfect or kind of goofy in my case.

Now I need to go sit in a mall somewhere to get some better reference.

I’ll add more to the gallery as I make more.

Moving Art

Shouldn’t most art move you?

The other day sitting at the tracks waiting for the train to pass. My wife and I really enjoyed the art show that was flying by at 20 miles an hour.

This particular train had nearly every other car tagged with some kind of graffiti art. Some of the art seemed intentional while others were clearly graffiti. What I really enjoyed was was the difference in the cars and waiting to see what came next. I also noticed I didn’t mind waiting for the train. I was more entertained by is passing train cars than just being annoyed that I had to stop.

ART TOUR

Could this be a new form of an art show hitting the road? Brands are buying ad placement on trucks, trains and planes, by skinning images and text over the whole vehicle. This could be a great way to get more artists working while helping to make industrial containers more visually appealing. Hey, maybe if the cars are placed in the right order a story could be told.  Plus the entertainment level had some value for me even if it only serves the railroad company by giving me that moment to stop and smell the roses.

 

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