The Worst Ideas. Updates every Monday!

Your weekly source for terrible ideas.

Month: April, 2016

Learn the secrets of the legendary “SIX STAR HOTEL” in this one weird cereal-focused post.

Background:

Most hotel ratings only go up to five stars. But perhaps there is something truly incredible that can cause a hotel to warrant a sixth star?

The hotel rating system is currently highly arbitrary. For example, here are some of the requirements for a 5-star hotel as listed on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_rating)

Five star requirements:

  • Personalized greeting for each guest with fresh flowers or a present in the room
  • Minibar and food and beverage offer via room service
  • Safe in the room
  • Bath robe and slippers on demand
  • Fax machine at the reception
  • Ironing service
  • Turndown service (“a chocolate or mint is typically left on top of a pillow”—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turndown_service)

This is a strange collection of demands. Presumably it was created by a small (but very wealthy) child.

Proposal:

Most hotels have some kind of breakfast service available, ranging from cereal and toast to a full multi-course meal.

To achieve the fabled “six star” hotel rating, perhaps we need to re-think the finite nature of hotel breakfast, and stare into the fathomless depths of the infinite.

Behold: the INFINITE CEREAL BOWL (Fig 1):

infinite-cereal

Fig 1: This cereal bowl interfaces with a special port in the hotel’s breakfast tables that keeps it constantly refilled with fresh milk and cereal. Cereal and milk is mixed under the table at the time of dispensing, to keep the cereal from getting soggy. Cereal reaches the top simply by floating up through the marked-in-blue refill tube.

Conclusion:

By removing the need to refill one’s cereal bowl, greater efficiency can be achieved while also adding an inimitable touch of class to a hotel’s breakfast service. The “infinite ____” refill system can also be applied to beverages, soup, chicken tikka masala, ramen noodles, and a host of other foods. In this case, cereal is simply chosen as a proof-of-concept system with no cooking required.

PROS: Adds the ultimate touch of class to a hotel.

CONS: May result in higher rates of obesity.

infinite-cereal-sketch

Supplemental Figure (Fig 2): A detailed technical schematic from the patent filing.

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Show how classy your phone app is with REAL fake GOLD text! Gold everywhere = high class operation.

Background:

PayPal recently announced a new font that they are quite proud of, which, according to the designer (https://klim.co.nz/blog/paypal-sans-design-information/), features “understated elegance” and shows the confidence and foresight to buck the neo-grotesque groupthink of their Silicon Valley brethren.”

Fig 1: Left: PayPal’s new custom font. Right: this approximation in “Hiragino Sans” (a default Mac font) lacks the Skia-esque whimsy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skia_(typeface)) of PayPal’s font.

Since this font is to be used in the PayPal phone app, it was designed “with special consideration for mobile devices.”

Proposal:

However, perhaps this font can still be improved.

To really convey a sense of “money” and “confidence,” a banking font can evoke the idea of gold. Everyone knows: gold = money, so this is a shortcut that brings trust and reliability to the forefront of the user’s mind.

The problem with making a gold-leaf font is that there isn’t just a specific shade of yellow-orange that you can make as a font and have it be “gold.”

Gold requires a specific kind of metallic reflection that can’t be faked with a single color.

gold-side

Fig 2: The “gold text” on this tilted smartphone just looks orange. That won’t do!

Luckily, we can fix this

  • Since this is on a phone, the accelerometers of the phone can be used to figure out how the phone is being held, and then a fake reflection can be generated on the metallic surface of the text.
  • The phone’s front-facing camera could even be used to detect light sources; then the gold could reflect light (and perhaps even the actual room the user is in!) in a convincing manner.

gold-tilt

Fig 3: Now that the phone’s accelerometer is being used, we can have a shiny specular highlight move across the text as the user tilts the phone (note the shine on the right side of this image). Instant gold!

Conclusion:

Only through the use of a gimmicky gold font can a bank (or other financial operation) prove that is a legitimate and venerable institution.

PROS: Brings gravitas to your online bank. And you don’t have to pay a custom font designer.

CONS: May dazzle users with its brilliance. Could induce epilepsy under unusual circumstances.

 

 

 

Is the U.S. Tax Code more complicated than Magic: The Gathering? The answer may surprise you!

Background:

Some games are notorious for having extremely complex rulesets. For example, the card game Magic: The Gathering has pages and pages of additional rules, commentary, and clarification.

An actual example: 8/1/2005 Goblin King now has the Goblin creature type and its ability has been reworded to affect *other* Goblins. This means that if two Goblin Kings are on the battlefield, each gives the other a bonus.”

Is this errata more complicated than the U.S. Tax Code? Probably not. But it might be close!

tax-haven

Fig 1: An example card from a hypothetical U.S.-tax-code-based version of Magic: The Gathering. Card designs were generated using the site http://www.mtgcardmaker.com/ .

Proposal:

It might be possible to create a solitaire-style card game out of the tax code—causing a player to be tricked into doing their own taxes while playing the game!

At various points in the game, the player would need to input certain pieces of tax information (e.g. W2 forms, any 1099s, stock purchase and sale receipts) to a web site. These numbers would then be used to affect the game somehow, for example:

  • W2: Input box #2 into this form. Now add that many Molten Lava Swamp Fiend tokens to your deck.
  • 1099-INT: Input box #4 into this form. Add that many Barrier of Woeful Rueing cards to your Fiefdom pile.
  • Clean air car deduction: If you purchased a qualified electric vehicle this year, place a Slithering Chariot card face-down on the Coastal Fortification board. This token is unaffected by HOV lane restrictions.

Fig 2: Here are a few more representative cards. With strategic play, you can have fun AND reduce your tax liability at the same time!

PROS: Makes taxes fun an accessible, which reduces procrastination. May increase your chance of getting a huge refund!

CONS: If you file your taxes this way, you will definitely go to prison.

When you purchase something, don’t get your change back as annoying coins—have it dispensed as delicious candies instead!

The issue:

Sometimes you pay for something in cash and get 19 cents in change. Who wants to deal with those coins? No one.

change-in-bill

Fig 1: Coins and a dollar bill. This is what people in olden times used to pay for things.

Proposal:

Instead of having to deal with annoying change in your pocket, or leaving it as a bizarrely unwanted tip at the DMV, how about getting your change back in delicious candies? These could be generic candies (chocolates, cashews) or perhaps a company could sponsor them and provide them at a discount to the government (“each M&M is worth 2 cents, each Red Vine is worth a quarter”).

change-options

Fig 2: When given the opportunity to pick between $1.62 in change OR eighty-one delicious candy-coated chocolates, the choice is clear!

PROS: No more annoying jangle of low-value coins in your pocket or purse. Saves the nation’s mint from having to create low-value coins that no one wants (so it’s more eco-friendly as well).

CONS: If peanuts are used for change, every cash transaction would become a Dangerous Game of Death for anyone with peanut allergies.