Inspiration without perspiration just intellectual masturbation?
September 15, 2009 9:51 PM   Subscribe

Is (1%) inspiration without (99%) perspiration just intellectual masturbation or what Ze Frank calls brain crack?

I have a full-time job that has some outlet for creativity, though never enough for this special snowflake, a wife to love and a kid to raise. I'm afraid that my grasping for an idea to pursue on the side is a result of working for a competitor of Liberate when it was valued at $8 billion in the .com boom, thinking I'd retire at 40 (I'm 41 now). [rhetorical]am I now looking for an outlet or a shortcut to riches?[/rhet]

Some ideas:

1a) dimming ballast for fluorescent bulb that filters output to DC to avoid (even imperceptible) flicker and b) hybrid fluorescent/LED light that gets "oranger" as it's dimmed so it looks like sunset (or dimmed incandescent) rather than moonlight. I could actually build this, but it won't be easy: I'm a software guy. I feel the strongest about pursuing this as most of the good ideas in energy efficient lighting are in commercial and retail and don't make it to residential, though the Italian & esp. Spanish lighting designers are making strides.

2a) A bit bangers amanuensis: hex calculator on steroids for Mac & later iPhone. b) a USB hex keyboard like classic "microcomputer trainers" had. Perhaps with hardwood endcaps like the Sol 20 had (these would be handbuilt, expensive and sold in very limited quantities).

3) A MIDI controller with a switch array laid out like a guitar fretboard and a bow controller [pdf] held like a cello.
posted by morganw to Work & Money (9 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: this is not really a question. -- jessamyn

I don't see a question here, but good luck!
posted by Palamedes at 9:53 PM on September 15, 2009

It doesn't have to be one or the other. But would you do it if you didn't make a dime? If the answer is "no", brace for disappointment. If the answer is yes, any money you do make is a wonderful bonus. People typically don't make a lot of money from their hobbies.

Rather than retire at forty, why don't you focus on doing something you enjoy more on a day to day basis?
posted by smoke at 10:02 PM on September 15, 2009

If you want to make stuff you have to actually make stuff. I don't understand the question.

Those all sound kind of neat. You should make them.
posted by aubilenon at 10:10 PM on September 15, 2009

If you don't know how to make that stuff, learn. Ideas are cheap. Execution is worth money (and satisfying). A friend of mine is now making a living custom-building hardware and writing about it after doing it as a hobby for 5+ years, so the transition can be made, but even doing it as a hobby is satisfying.
posted by Alterscape at 10:29 PM on September 15, 2009

I agree with aubilenon, and elaborating: as I understood it, Ze Frank's warning about "brain crack" wasn't about having ideas like these as much as it was about having them and not doing them. As the man himself said, "you're almost guaranteed that the first time you do something, it's gonna blow."

Or to cite another authority: Chuck Jones said something to the effect that everyone had a hundred thousand bad drawings in them, and it would be better if they got them out earlier than later.

Do you have a subscription to Make? You might like it a lot. If nothing else, it sounds like you've done a fair amount of the thinking--the next part is building, learning, re-building, and repeating as necessary until you start thinking "hey, this thing legitimately rocks the world."

Then you have to start selling it, which is a whole different ballgame, but it's time for yet another citation: I have it on good authority that Bob Metcalfe spent about a year inventing Ethernet and nearly ten selling it. I'm afraid that I've got to tell you, one idea man to another idea person, that the execution is about an order of magnitude harder than the idea, and the selling another order of magnitude harder.
posted by tellumo at 11:04 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Trite, but if you can do it, then do it.

It'll mean less Metafilter ;)
posted by the cuban at 11:52 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

1a would require a lot of electrical engineering, I think. Especially if it was going to be done simply by reducing the voltage like with an incandescent bulb. 1b would be pretty easy, there are already tri-color LEDs that output any color you want.

Lots of people get paranoid about sharing their ideas, which obviously you're not doing. That's good.

Why not download an android or iPhone SDK and start on your second idea? (the android SDK is free and comes with an emulator)
posted by delmoi at 12:37 AM on September 16, 2009

It's intellectual masturbation without a vocation of some relation to your inspiration for application of your perspiration.
With more information on your station we could provide more inflation upon our recommendation. Implementation gives amplification of the valuation of a revelation.
Don't rush to litigation before you make a determination that your innovation will cause creation of remuneration.

My aspiration is there can be some capitalisation on the information in this explanation and not just disorientation.
posted by lucidium at 4:22 AM on September 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

As for 2a), the Texas Instruments "Programmer" is (was?) a calculator that did octal and hexadecimal. (I used it back when I did that sort of thing.)
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:59 AM on September 16, 2009

« Older How can I tell if my auto glass was repaired?   |   Now playing at the yoga studio Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.