18 Things I Want Invented Right Now

I live a mobile, tech-dependent life.  I make full use of my cell phone, Blackberry (yes – I have both), DVR, desktop pc, laptop and netbook.  My life is, in a very real way, run by the collective genius of Google, Comcast, RIM, Verizon Wireless and Netflix.

Here is a short list of things I’d like those geniuses to create.

#1  A Smartphone That Combines the Physical Attributes of an 8300 Blackberry Curve with an Android OS.

I love the physical features of my Curve (twss).  I especially love the ease of use in typing with one thumb. But the browser sucks. And it is slow.

Plus, all the apps on my Blackberry pretty much shut the thing down when they activate.  I’ve played with a few droids, but I don’t like the way they feel in my hand (twss). Having these two things combined would be peanut butter and chocolaty good.

#2 The Virtual DVR.

When I record a show, I want it stored on some server at Comcast headquarters and not on my home DVR. There are a few reasons for this.

First, when the power goes out at my house I miss my recordings. Second, I won’t have to worry about my own DVR storage. I’m sometimes on the road for a week and a week’s worth of HD shows simply won’t fit on my DVR.  This means I usually have to a) juggle which shows I record and which I watch on-demand or b) watch some shows from hotel rooms that usually don’t have HD (though more and more do – thank you Hampton Inn).

If the shows were stored at Comcast HQ then I’d still get them recorded and I wouldn’t have to worry about storage.

#3 A Text Alert When My DVR is Nearing Capacity

In lieu of giving me unlimited virtual storage (even though we all know that’s coming), just let my DVR communicate with me when it reaches a certain threshold of memory.  Then I’ll know I need to either a) watch some shows or b) delete shows I’m not really interested in keeping.

And along those lines…

#4 More Remote Control Over My DVR

One of the best things to happen recently with Comcast is the new “MyDVR” feature that allows you to program your DVR through your computer.  But that’s pretty much all it lets you do. It would be nice if I could also delete programs through my computer.  And make it nearly simultaneous.

And Comcast, if you want to give me complete control and allow me to actually watch shows on my PC that are stored on my DVR (like Slingbox) that would be even better.

#5 A “Record This” Button During Commercials

So, you’re sitting there watching the Discovery Channel on a Sunday night. All of a sudden a commercial for a great new show comes up. The show will be broadcast two Tuesday’s from now.

At that exact moment what I want most is to push a button and have my DVR figure out how to record it.

I don’t want to have to scroll through the listings to find the show. If you want me to watch it, give me a button to push.

Isn’t this the promise of Digital TV? To have a more enhanced television experience?

#6 Pop-Up Video On Everything (or most things)

More and more people are watching TV while they are on their laptops. If they’re like me, at least one of their web browsers is opened to IMDB so they can see what other shows that hot actress has been in.

Pop-Up Video was one of the best things about VH1 back when VH1 was good.  With digital TV can’t we now have this on everything – as an option? The answer is yes – of course we can.

Hire some interns, have them fire up their IMDBs, their Wikipedias, etc. and let them watch a show. I don’t know why this hasn’t happened on a major show or a major network yet.

You can start with House M.D.. Everytime they diagnose a disease, put a little blurb about the disease up on the screen.  The hypochondriacs will love you for it.

#7 Close Caption While Watching HD

I’m a big fan of watching TV with close-caption on. I’m not hard of hearing, but you never know when a dog barking is going to cause you to miss a good piece of  Son’s of Anarchy dialogue.

But here’s the deal. You can’t get close-captioning through the HDMI cables. At least not with my Comcast-DVR-Vizio TV combo. The only way to get it is to hook my TV up without using the HDMI cables.  So I have to choose close-caption or picture quality.

I’ve chosen picture quality, but I don’t like having to make that choice.

#8 I Want Netflix over my Blackberry (or Blackberry-Droid Hybrid)

There’s a rumor Netflix is working on this for Android. If they get it done, then I might make the leap and retire my Curve.  The point is, I can’t watch any kind of videos on my Blackberry.  This might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people.  But try to remember, there are very little entertainment options when you’re stranded at an airport for a long 6+ hour layover.  It would be nice to be able to watch a movie (or two) from my Netflix queue.

#9 Everything On Demand

This kind of ties into #2, but I want everything on demand. It frustrates me that some shows on a network are available On Demand and others aren’t.  And I’m not sure what the economics are behind what movies and shows are available from Netflix instantly over my pc or xbox, but the answer is they should ALL be available. All of them.

The CD is already toast. The DVD isn’t far behind it (even Blu-ray disks).  Everything now is digital.

In fact – everything now starts out as digital. It is an unnecessary step and expense to even put it on the DVD/Blu-ray in the first place.  Just make it available in a streaming format. All of it. Always available to me (and everyone else). I’m willing to pay for it (within reason). Rhapsody seems to have figured this out with music (for the most part), why is video taking so long?

If you’re going to tell me that “all of it” simply can’t be done, then just pick a date (1/1/1990) and move forward from there. I’d like to have full access to every episode of Friends or the West Wing when and where I want it.

#10 “Send Later” for Gmail

I make an appointment with someone over Gmail. I want to send them a follow-up reminder email the day before our appointment (example: I send out monthly reminder emails to Literacy Council board members once a month). Ideally, I’d create the reminder email immediately and then schedule a “Send Later” like you can do in most other mail programs.

For some reason (probably spam related) Gmail doesn’t have this feature. It is one of the biggest drawbacks of Gmail. The workaround involves using Google Calendar and reminders, etc.  A “Send Later” would be better.

#11 Recurring Emails for Gmail.

This is related to the above. Let’s say I want to send an email to my kids reminding them to get an oil change every three months. It would be nice to just set this up in Gmail and let it ping them every three months. But since this is pretty much the definition of spam, Gmail obviously doesn’t allow it.  Again the workaround is some kind of event in Google Calendar.

The problem with the workaround is that my kids need to opt-in to it. They choose not to. I want to remind them even if they don’t opt-in.

I should be allowed to spam my kids. Spam is the new nag.

#12 An Over The Air Podcast Aggregator

I currently use iTunes to aggregate my podcast feeds and then I sync them with my iPod through a physical USB connection (what decade is this?!?)

I want an over-the-air podcast aggregator – that syncs with the radio in my car, my ipod/droid/blackberry – everything.

Admittedly, this is something that may exist and I just haven’t found it yet.

I’m currently playing with/trying out Stitcher for the Blackberry, but I don’t think I can select my own podcasts with that (or I haven’t figured out how to yet).

Viigo keeps promising it, but I don’t think it is yet available.

From what I’ve read, Google Listen might be what I’m looking for – so I just need that on the Blackberry/Droid combo. And I need it available through my web browser. And I need it to remember where I was from one device to another.

#13 Google TV Released Already

I’m tired of reading about it and I want to try it. Google TV needs to just be released already.  I’m hoping it will solve some of my video issues above.

#14 Google Docs to Keep Getting Better

It would be an understatement to simply say that Google Docs has changed the way I work. Whether I’m working on a solo project or collaborating with family members in the next county or virtual assistants half-way around the world, Google Docs is above and beyond the best way to do things.

I just need their spreadsheets to be better. Always better. Always improving. Improving every month. Improving every week.

I live by my spreadsheets. And I probably won’t be happy until Google Spreadsheets are as good (or better) than Excel. So let’s work on that.

#15 Search Google Docs and Gmail At the Same Time

Example: I spend an hour or two writing out a rather involved process on how to download MLS data for a special report.  A week goes by and when I delegate the task, someone asks me for the process.  The problem is I don’t know if I wrote it as an email and sent it to myself (I tend to do that so I can proofread it later on my Blackberry) or if I wrote it in a Google Doc.

A quick search of Gmail and Google Docs will turn up the answer, but it would be better if instead of two quick searches it was just one quick search across both Google Docs and Gmail. Why no one at Google has thought of this is beyond me.

#16 Plain Text Agendas from Google Calendar

As you’ve likely figured out, I do a lot through my Google Calendar. I actually do everything through it. And every morning I get an agenda sent to me by Google Calendar that tells me what I should be doing that day.

The only problem is, it is in HTML format. Which is fine if I’m reading it on a computer. But I happen to read it first thing in the morning on my Blackberry.  And even though the Blackberry renders the HTML, the email is all misaligned and out of whack.  The option to receive my Daily Agendas in plain text would be better.

#17 When I purchase a song on iTunes, It Should be Available for Download FOREVER.

Do I really need to elaborate on this?

#18 A Cheaper Kindle That I Can Use Under 10,000 Feet

So, even though I’m an avid reader and a bit of a bibliophile, there are lots of reasons I haven’t yet jumped on the e-reader bandwagon.  A few of those reasons are:

Your Amazon e-books aren’t really yours

You can’t give away/hand-down your favorite books throughout the generations

My books are autobiographical. Someone can go through my stacks of books a hundred years from now and discover the kinds of things I was interested in throughout my whole life. You can’t do that with a Kindle.

You can’t read a Kindle below 10,000 feet on a plane (otherwise the plane will supposedly plummet to the Earth in an abrupt fashion).

Still, there are reasons I might want a Kindle:

I already read a lot pdfs and ebooks, so an e-reader would be helpful.

I tend to jump around from book-to-book, topic-to-topic throughout the week, so an e-reader might be easier for me than carrying a few books and/or getting bored while on the road.

Magazines on an e-reader would be a better alternative to the stockpiling of “to read” magazines I have throughout the house.

So, what I want it is a cheap e-reader (which may already be coming) and one that I can read while on a plane below 10’000 feet.

The TSA has already said that iPads don’t have to be pulled out separate like computers do (some TSA agents have told me Kindles do). Why is it not possible to have a Kindle that we can use below 10,000 feet?

Anyway, that’s my immediate wish list. I’m sure I could go on and on (for instance a better alternative to Jott would be nice), but this is my list – for now.  Considering this is almost 2011, I don’t think anything on this list is unreasonable.

It’s not like I’m asking for a personal robot to walk my dogs or a jet-pack or a hovercraft.


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