Monday, October 27, 2014

Free app as a service gateway

When I came up with an app idea for a way to make sure people showing up for an event, like a party or wedding, were invited, I stuck in a revenue stream automatically--the app would be free to get, but would charge to help you host for an event.

Thinking that through I thought of areas where that's obvious, like if you have an app for car service. There are some out there but will not give them free advertising by naming any. And obviously most people expect to pay if some stranger drives them somewhere.

But no one would want to buy an app for such a thing, I would think.

Someone might figure out some way to charge for such an app, but for business ideas that occur to me that would be silly. The money is to be made at the point of transaction, like, getting a ride.

Imagine instead someone hollered that all rides should be free!!! And pushed for an industry standard that free apps should involve free car rides.

And they could call it: Free-ider!

And claim they'd revolutionized human society, like imagine! A world, where everyone can get a free car ride! Can you see it? Then everyone could ride, right?

Well, of course no.

They could declare that people want to ride for free. Yup. Duh. Plenty of people would like to TAKE a free ride, but how many people would really like to give one?

To me there are notions that involve giving away human effort, where it's easy to SEE that with a car ride. It can be harder when you discuss things more abstract, like writing a novel, music, code, or taking a photograph.

There is an intrinsic community value though in giving things away. And it feels good. But it is a gift, claiming otherwise is disingenuous.

So I think there is a great community aspect to the web, which in many ways is the biggest community ever, where people do happily give free rides, both literally and figuratively. That's a great thing which really helps build a more communal world because the web allows for a free flow around the globe for the greater benefit of us all. But that shouldn't be forced upon everyone.

Human effort is not free. Whether a person who works at something is paid or not, she or he still worked at it. Not paying someone for their work is not some revolution in human thought.

Transactions are the point at which money is to be made. Apps can be a gateway to a transaction, so do not necessarily need to be purchased and I suggest that the dominate business model within the app space will become apps as service gateways.

And of course the transaction side should be upfront. It's easy with a car service, but for other areas it might not be as intuitive so should be clearly stated well before anyone has the app, as I've talked at length about how much I dislike what I call stealth transactions.

But then again, to me that will make having the app make sense! You don't get an app for a car service puzzling about where they make money, now do you?

Soon I think apps will dominate where no one wonders how the business makes money, and it will have NOTHING to do with ads.

Using a car service as an example it's clear exactly how people can use the web and pay for a service, as people will pay for a desired service at the point of transaction. Naively one might think that if people could just steal the car they wouldn't pay, but that's the fantasy world. And if you believe that everyone can get free rides indefinitely then you're also in a fantasy.

The app can be the gateway to a service people pay to have. And for that reason I think most apps will be free.

James Harris

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Guest validate app idea

Started wondering to myself about how you might use smartphones to validate guests, and came up with an idea. And it's a free and open source idea.

The way this app idea would work is with it on your smartphone, and on the smartphones of all your friends or guests or whatever. It could be a free app, which only charges you if you use it for a wedding or a party or whatever your social event is.

So with this, um, let's call it Guest Validator app, you could send invites to a list of people, where I guess they would be contacts on your phone. They'd get the invite telling them the time and place of the event.

When they arrived at the event, they'd push a button on the app, like a button on the screen, and it'd show a randomly created color coded "ticket", which would be unique to that event. And would not show until they arrived either by time, or location or both, where the Guest Validator would check the web for the time or GPS for location, to keep people from doing sketchy things like changing the time on their phone.

Of course it could be any kind of image, including ones the host had taken. Like here's an opportunity to toss in a photo of mine:

So this unique ticket would show, to the surprise of the guest who wouldn't even know what it looked like until the event, and the host could just look at their own phone, which would show the same thing, and let the person in, and from then on, anyone valid would have the same ticket, for like five minutes.

For more security it could change every five minutes, until lock out, when it would lock to the last image.

Or the color could slowly shift minute by minute.

And for additional security, the image would only show for 2 to 5 seconds with each check. Quite long enough for most people to see what it is, and compare without it just sitting there.

(You can keep adding security layers depending on your level of paranoia.)

And yeah, security is what you'd be paying for if anyone ever implements this idea, as otherwise you could just email a photo to all your guests for them to show when they arrive. But what if they share that photo with someone you didn't invite?

If the host or anyone at the event wishes to check a guest they'd just ask them to show their smartphone and hit the button, and the app would show the image from when that guest arrived, validating them. But by then, everyone would have the full list of pictures so anyone at the party could validate anyone else, by matching their smartphone's image against the valid list of images.

(Oh yeah, need to make sure it's actually their smartphone of course, if you get suspicious.)

The host would also be able to see which guests are checked off in the full list of invitees.

And that's it.

I like it because it's visual. Also it allows anyone at the event to check guests, so it allows you to in a sense crowd-source to some extent. Say, people know whomever is near the door would app validate people who are just arriving.

It'd be really hard to counterfeit a "ticket", as images change for a while, and also it has the backup that based on the image you know roughly when a guest arrived.

And that's just a quick throw-out-there idea for me. I don't like investing too much time in these things. Have them a lot. So not worth it to think it out too much.

Oh yeah, I have no idea if such a thing already exists. Did a real quick search and didn't see anything which doesn't mean it's not out there, but at least I do try.

James Harris

Monday, October 06, 2014

Prime counting benchmark

One of those activities certain students may be asked to do is write a prime number counting program.

I've talked about my own simple prime counter often enough but thought I'd give a result from a more advanced algorithm I developed from it, using this applet I built to demonstrate my research. Took the relevant portion from a screenshot I did today for this post:

That is the count of primes up to 1010 and it took a bit over a quarter of a second, which is slow.

But it was my research so I felt it was solid for just coming from some guy who isn't even a mathematician.

If your code isn't close to that speed you're not even trying yet.

The basic prime counter isn't that fast, but you can optimize it easily. I wish I still had the source code. Lost it. I had something I called which is in the applet, but I only have the .class files, and lost the Java files.

I lose TONS of things. Just don't care. Luckily I throw a lot of things up on the web as otherwise it's just gone. One guy had an even more optimized version of my code up on the web, but I don't know if it's still up, where he'd sped it up greatly.

In any event, counting primes is one of those things where lots of people do it, so there's lots of tables around to verify your counts. And it might help to have some perspective on how fast your counter should be.

James Harris