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Virtual Inventions


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

The ideas in this essay are not computer projects, but ideas for inventions. You are free to run with them.

Forensic Paint

If automobile paint used on each vehicle were given a unique chemical signature, perhaps with a combination of microscopic traces of radio-isotopes, when a flake of paint were found, on a hit a run victim or vehicle, for example, it could be traced back to the vehicle.

Writing on Polyethylene

You may have noticed there is problem with labeling objects made of polyethlene and similar plastics such as bottles and cleaning product sprayers. Paper labels come off. Embossed writing is almost impossible to read. The surface is slippery so inks, even permanent markers won’t stick to it. My solution to the problem is inspired by Cloisonné. You mould the white bottle with relatively deep wells for the lettering. Then you fill the wells with red liquid plastic, allow to harden, then polish to expose the precise well boundaries. The trick is to figure out how to make the process cheap and fast. You might just specialise in one thing, e.g. the little cap on a sprayer bottle you twist to various angles for spray, dribble and off and sell caps to all the big cleanser companies.

Sink Cleaning Supply Basket Basket

This is simply a basket with feet to raise it slightly out of pooled water. It has many small holes to drain. You can use it to store sponges, scrubbers etc beside the kitchen sink.

Self-Draining Counters

Kitchen counters are typically flat. If water spill on them, it just sit there until someone wipes it up. They should have a slight slope so they tend to drain into the sink. Further, there should be no lip around the sink to block that flow, perhaps assisted by a sponge wiping.

Decent Dish Pan

Rubber Maid dish pan (aka dish tub, aka sink liner) have flat bottoms. This blocks the drain. They should have feet on the bottom to raise them us so they don’t block the drain. Rubber Maid™ sink tubs come only in white and cream. This mean they show every little stain. They could come in a variety of colours including very dark ones. In the meantime I added some feet from Canadian Tire (the local hardware store) for mine. The feet have adhesive which is amazingly strong. I also applied feet to the containers that sit on the counter to raise them a bit out of any spilled water. I unsuccessfully tried to pitch this idea to Rubber Maid™.

Smart Toilet

Easy-Move Furniture

Some people move frequently. They have to box all their belongings and the unpack them at the other end. The idea here is to design household items that double as shipping containers. For example, a chest of drawers would have a way to insert a rod to lock all the drawers shut. Furniture would come with heavy duty slip covers for moving. Computer desks would have locking doors like cabinets on sailing ships. Bookcases would have a panel normally hidden behind it that the bolts onto the front with finger-tight thumbscrews and holds all the books in place. Internally, there are locking clamps hold books firmly even when the bookcase is not full. Cookware is designed to nest. Lazy susans in the kitchen cupboards have locking covers. Computer equipment has panels that usually sits underneath that bolt on to protect delicate connectors. Desk trays have a locking top that usually sits underneath.

Another way to tackle the problem is not to move so much personal junk. For example, if you set up a set of standard furnished apartments in various cities containing standard shells, all you would have to move are the customising skins, e.g. slipcovers for the chesterfield, lampshades, colour accent panels, … These are guaranteed to fit no matter where you go.

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