Agriculture Information Index

This is something thats been hovering over my head from the past 2 weeks. One of my extremely smart friend talked to me about this idea and without spilling a lot of details about it (since he still wants to pursue this as a business) – I want to give my 2 cents on this.

The idea is very simple – basically create a searchable index with a REST API in the front for the agricultural information for a certain region – in this case it would be some county/district in India. This index would be a subscription based one for people who want to sell services and goods to farmers in this farmland. That’s the idea – but when you get down to implement it – it’s an uphill task. Since I have been thinking about this I want to take a crack at this – in theory for now. The difficulty is in collection of data – it needs to be cheap but network connected. The one thing that comes to my mind when I think about it is – Raspberri Pi – RPi has made inroads to some serious business models from a hobby and I think a simple prototype can be built which have multiple sensors and can capture them and store it temporarily. This could further be powered with solar (yeah I know the cost might go up with this one). The networking part can be solved with a simple solution. The Rpi unit doesn’t need to be online all the time. It could be a simple app running in background on an Android phone which will collect data as you pass by Rpi and send it across to a central location. There is a lot of scope for innovation in getting the data out from fields to a central db.

Then there are human problems – like vandalism and people stealing these things away for copper in it. This is going to be tricky. The farmers are mostly poor and they would need a incentive to keep these Rpi’s buzzing and collecting data. I think there is a scope here to involve a CBO or a micro lending company to turn this into an interesting investment option for the farmers. Imagine treating Rpis as cattle and as the data gets collected they would get paid some amount. It might be less than what they can make over cattle – but this one would be reliable and more recurring. Also the fact that the data might actually help them find the resources like fertilizers etc faster and might raise their land value is pretty convincing.

That’s just a small sample of what I think about the Agri data. I would love to jump into something like that and build a nice usable prototype if I have enough backing.

I did explore a very similar idea in Education area with another friend of mine who is equally skilled and passionate about bringing in cheap hardware and rich content to teach kids in remote areas – but that’s another blog post.

I think if you scale back and take a look at bigger picture – the bigger index is the social index – which would be hard to create but with incentives and some good planning it would be possible to create a social aspect index of Indian rural area which would then help other CBO and NGOs to be able to target specific issues at grass root level in the areas they want to.

The possibilities are unlimited and my imagination is buzzing!

Google please make this…

I have a request for Google. I believe only Google can make this happen, well Apple can too but they won’t. Given how Google maps trump Apple maps and given how the usage of WiFi everywhere has gone up, I firmly believe this will be a great device. Here are the details.

– Create a GPS device with Google maps on it.

– This could be android based and it doesn’t really matter.

– I should be able to see the device through some Google interface.

– So, when I am looking for directions on my laptop – I should be able to save the directions and send it to my device.

– The killer feature of this device would be – in addition to GPS connection, it would also be connected to a cellular network.

– This device will take the cellular network and spit out a local WiFi network. Like what those Verizon MiFi devices do.

I believe this would be a cool device. Imagine if you can stream Elmo on Netflix to your kids in the backseat of the car (on their iPads or iPhones). Imagine that every address search you make online is saved as a maps search history on this device which you can conveniently use it. The device could be small enough so that when I am out of my car I can carry it with me and still use it as a MiFi device.

So, Google please make this device and I am willing to pay for it!

Creative Movie Reviews – An Idea

I have been reading “Wisdom of Crowds” and have been wondering how the idea of ‘Wisdom of Crowds’  would work out in a world’s most populous country of the world. One thing which is very popular in India are movies. There a hell a lot of movies that get released every Friday. I would not be surprised that India is the largest movie make in the world.

So here is an idea to combine these 3 things:

  1. Wisdom of Crowds
  2. Lot’s of population
  3. Movies

I have been a great fan of the site called Movie Mistakes. I love the idea. But in India anything about finding mistakes in movies won’t work because in the first place the whole movie is a mistake! Just kidding. But I don’t think the technical standards here are on par with Hollywood so that we can have some site which can be a watch dog for movie mistakes. So, what else can we do?

Why not use the good opinion about movies? So, here is how it’s going to work. Every week, the site would add in all the released movies that week. Some one would review the movie just like regular newspaper. But this is where it differs. Once the user logs in, he can point out the mistakes in the plot and if he/she is creative enough can propose an alternate plot line. This in turn can be voted by other users and in the end (usually after 1 week) when others have found the loop holes in the plot line – basically we would end up with almost an alternative plot line which could be actually better than the actual movie.

This would make the movie writers to get more creative as a bunch of people can get together and find loop holes in his/her story. Also, this could find hidden talent in people who can come up with more stories.

My Vision Book – An Idea

Success in this world depends up on Clarity. A lot of people don’t understand that if only they could just be clear of what they want – then they can achieve it. We live our lives wanting and fantasizing a lot of things. But very few make a list and out of them a minority makes a very specific list. After becoming aware of The Secret, I have been planning on to have a “Vision Book” for myself. Sangita already created one for herself and it looks so good. So here is an idea for creating a vision book site.

  1. A user would open an account and can select a book type.
  2. This is a book made in software but looks like any themed notebook from any country
  3. Once the book is created, the person can start creating pages. Vision pages.
  4. One goal may have many, many pages.
  5. It’s all about getting visual. If you have ever done scrap book then you get the idea.
  6. Then the user chooses to install a browser extension
  7. So whenever I visit a site, I like something – it could be a video, audio, image text etc – I can take a snapshot of it using my browser extension
  8. Once the snapshot is taken, the user can insert it  anywhere in his vision book and rotate it, play with it.
  9. It would be cool if the snapshots are in SVG format then the user can stretch it or skew it and it would still be the same.
  10. In the end, it all about sharing and spreading the vision. So, the user can choose to share his/her Vision book with his friends.
  11. If the user wants to print the vision book – it can be printed at Ink2

Spiritual Force – An Idea

I am a fan of SaaS (Software as a Service). I love the Salesforce’s model of hosting software. Even though ASP (Application Service Provider) model has been around for a long time, I think Salesforce has injected fresh energy into this market. But this is mostly for business people. I think we should have something called spiritualforce.com. A web services hosting provider for all the new age guru’s like Deepak Chopra, Bob Doyle, James Ray, Wayne Dyer. This site would have facilities for:

  1. Hosting each Guru’s  course ware in all media formats: audio, video, text etc
  2. Providing easy contacts and mailing list options
  3. Able to conduct selective pilot programs with pre-selected members
  4. Provide discounts for members of one Guru to another or across the domain
  5. Once a week or month have a public panel of all the Gurus’ together online at one time so that member can watch them discuss and ask questions.
  6. Providing live chat with Gurus.
  7. Every teacher will have his/her own blog.

This basically will make it easier for any spiritual teacher to open up his own shop and teach what he/she believes in. I am sure this could either be done as a Salesforce module but I think it would be cool to have just spiritual people gather around one set of software services. I also believe the with enough customizations Drupal or mephisto could be used too. This will reduce a lot of redoing of the software for these teachers.

Virtual Bookshelf – An Idea

I was always fascinated by books. I read, buy and collect so many of them every month. I believe a person’s bookshelf tells a lot about a person. When I see pictures of famous people sitting in their library or holding a book – I am more interested to see their book collection or what books are they reading right now. That is one way of knowing what their thinking(at least) for that period of time. May even tell a lot about their tastes if you get a list of the books they are reading. So, following this idea I think there should be an easy way to maintain a virtual book shelf online. So, here is an idea…

  1. Registered users will key in the ISBN # for the books they have or own.
  2. The site would create a virtual book shelf and store it online
  3. We will also have small widgets, for blogs so that I can show off my book shelf on my blog
  4. The books in my book shelf (that is being shown on my blog) link to my choice of book seller (amazon/bn) there by if someone follows the link and makes purchase I would get an incentive.
  5. I should be able to mark the book public or private or protective meaning only people I choose can see that I own that book
  6. Whenever you make a online purchase, you are also given a choice of adding it to your virtual bookshelf.
  7. Ideally I should also be able to keep my e-books and audio books in my book shelf.
  8. Amazon can advertise, discount and sell a whole row of a bookshelf from any popular person’s bookshelf.

I am sure someone must have thought about this. There must be a site which already does this. But I have never seen one so far and also this could be a great pet project to do in Ruby on Rails.

Hand Painters Network – An Idea

Hand Painters Network would be creative network of artists who would hand paint things of imagination, photos, ideas, concepts and thoughts. It would work in the following way.

  1. A user would submit a photo of his childhood to the website.
  2. You also specify the price you are willing to give and time you have.
  3. This would get posted to all the artists, some of them who choose to take up the project.
  4. Say, for example – 5 artists draw up your childhood photo using various colors and hand painted them.
  5. They get posted as reply to your photo.
  6.  You pick the best photo that you like.
  7. The artist gets paid the amount you specified
  8. You hold the rights to the painted photo. You can get it printed at any digital printers like Ink2.
  9. Or better you can make a poster of it.

What I like the best of this is – this is such a creativity task when you want to draw/paint up a idea or concept. Our figment of imagination, a community logo etc.

Secure Passwords – An Idea

How can we have a secure passwords which are not easy to hack but also easy to remember? I was thinking about it and thought I would share a idea which I got recently. How about making the password a square root of some number? For example – I can  say my password would be square root of number 786 which is – 28.035691537752372695618339855308. This way, I don’t have to remember my password and it’s not hackable and a calculator is easily available on all the computers I access.

I know that different computers might give out different number in the fractions, so I can agree that I would just take first 10 characters as my password. That way I avoid all the problems with fractions. I can’t think of anything else that might be very wrong with this idea. I mean, yeah if people were looking over your shoulder they would know your password but this trick could be used for some extremely annoying accounts like online registrations for NYT or Fandango etc.

We can  expand it and make it Cosine of it or Tangent of the number. Or for an advanced user may be a MD5 sum of a number. We can build a Firefox extension which would computer a MD5 checksum of a number and give you the value and you can drag drop it in password field.