Friday, November 5, 2010

Limewire Alternatives: Who Will Die, Who Will Be the Next Limewire?


A few days ago, the almighty Limewire was forced to shut down by the US Federal Court. However, while this marks the end of one saintly service’s run, it also opens the door for a flood of new free music services.

Let’s face it. These days, not many people are willing to spend a dollar per song to craft libraries of two or three thousand tracks; it’s just not practical. That’s why Limewire was such a runaway success and likewise, why it was the prime target for a mega-lawsuit. Still, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) can’t shut down every last file-sharing service that becomes available for download. So as new revolutionaries see the notoriety that Limewire has gained, free music services will obviously begin to pop up fervently in the coming weeks.

And I know that as soon as the end of Limewire was pronounced, millions of people around the world asked, “What will I do now?” And I also know that never did paying for music ever cross their mind (sorry, recording industry). So I’ll be interested to see what sorts of fresh applications and online services join the action, and how existing services will promote themselves with the dawn of this new age.

I’ve already seen Limewire alternatives, many under the keywords “Limewire shut down”, heavily advertised on Google searches. But while this may be a great way to gain quick publicity and a throng of new users, creators have got to keep in mind that the more openly they promote their product, the more easily the recording industry will find it. If they’re smart, those pesky RIAA dudes will be circling like vultures around the internet in the next few weeks.

We’ll just have to see who the next victim of this organization is and after the dust has settled, who the next Limewire will be. Or better yet, will Limewire make some sort of miraculous return as totally legal software, like some rumors are hinting at.

But just to tell you, don’t worry. There’ll never be a catastrophic point in time where you’ll have to pay for music. It’s your job to find out how to avoid it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Hot New Halloween Fundraising Idea: Using Halloween to Benefit Your Charity or Cause


Some people love everything about Halloween; decorating the house is not a chore for them, while costumes are spooky, whacky, or comical, and not stupid, stupid, or boring. However, if you’re either an obsessed business geek or a die-hard charity-goer (two labels that both happen to describe me), every special day on the calendar is a chance to fundraise. Halloween is no exception.

For years, UNICEF has partnered with elementary schools to encourage kids to ask for spare change along with the traditional sugary treats. They call the campaign "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" and they even provide little orange boxes for kids to carry the donated coins in.

And recently “Free the Children” has followed in UNICEF’s footsteps. The "Halloween for Hunger" program pushes teens to say “Trick or treat, and food to eat,” asking for canned food to donate to the less fortunate.

However, there’s a new business model that I’ve thought of. What if an organization asked people to pledge to donate a portion of their candy to some sort of worthy cause? This would incite some serious enthusiasm, simply because there’s no hassle for the homeowners who are already giving candy (they already have the candy ready), while no money is involved either.

After this, they could sell these candies at some sort of community event for, say $0.25 each to generate a nice profit for a good cause.

And honestly, who knows what level this idea can be taken to? What if a food bank created a campaign like “Trick or Treat for the Hungry” or “Trick or Treat for an Orphanage”, where participants would give their candy to those less fortunate who don’t get a taste of these yummy sweets every day?

Just think about how easy it is to make someone’s day, especially a kid’s. I know a Kit-Kat or a Caramilk can quickly brighten my mood; think about how it could make an orphan feel.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How to Effectively Organize a Fundraising Event: Learning from Free the Children's We Day


On Thursday, I had the privilege of attending We Day, Free the Children’s annual kick-off party in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. As a result, not only was I able to skip school, but I was blessed to be a part of such a feverish and inspirational event. Around 18,000 youth leaders set their alarms for 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning, to cram themselves into the Air Canada Centre by 8:30. And even so, they had the energy to scream, sing, and do the “We Day Dance” throughout five spectacular hours of inspirational programming.

The scene seemed more like a Justin Bieber concert than your old charity event. But the amazing thing was that teens― yes, hormone-filled, good-for-nothing teens― screamed for world- renowned philanthropists, inspirational speakers, and newspaper editors rather than pop stars with obscenely high-pitched voices.

Simply put, each year, We Day is a feat in humanity’s collective quest to make the world a better place.

So how did Craig and Marc Kielburger, co-founders of Free the Children create such a successful event? Well, it’s a combination of two crucial things:

Remembering the Target Audience

Ask any successful speechwriter, business owner, or marketing manager; remembering the target audience is crucial. The basis of Free the Children’s outreach efforts is young people. Thus, We Day was made to cater to young people in every way possible. Down with Webster and K’naan, two hugely popular Canadian musical acts were invited to perform, while the atmosphere throughout the ceremonies was designed to encourage teens to scream and project their enthusiasm. We gladly participated in the usual “how’s-it-going―good―I can’t hear you― good!” routine, then moved onto stunts like a simultaneous photograph with flash on and an empowering chant of “Freedom!”

Setting a Good Example

So remembering the target audience pumped us up during the event. But what’s going to keep us pumped up for the rest of the school year is the example Free the Children set. Every inspirational speaker talked about dreaming big and following through in a youth-friendly way. Above all though, Free the Children exhibited what we can accomplish if we put our minds to it just by the kick-off party’s extravagance. Seeing everything that they were able to achieve with We Day inspired me to think about what I can achieve.


Now, if you’re running a fundraising event, just apply these two principles that Free the Children has perfected, and you’ll be seeing results in no time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Reason Why You Should Get Facebook: It's a the Best News Agency


Most of us would agree that being in the know is essential, especially in this fast-paced, digitalized world. These days, you’re simply expected to be aware of what’s going on in the world; newspapers and magazines litter every corner, in honor boxes, coffee shops, and street vending stations. TV and radio turn on with the push of a button. But above all, the internet means you can browse all your favorite papers with a few clicks of the mouse, while the dawn of the smartphone era means that you can be fed an incredible amount of information no matter where you are.

The fact in the matter is, if you don’t know which Congressman just visited where, which technology upstart just got taken over, and which superstar just won the Grammy for “Best New Artist,” your survival is at question. But there’s a dilemma.
Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in a day to spend two reading the Times, online or otherwise. That’s why I’ll rarely read the news more than once or twice a week. I seem to have a more efficient method. It’s called Facebook.

Yes, along with stalking co-workers, finding long lost friends, and sharing your latest break-up story, Facebook has yet another function. I mean, think about it. Why is being informed so important to you? For most people, it’s all about being socially accepted and being able to hold a decent conversation with your neighbor on the subway.

And this exactly why it’s a good idea to trust your friends as your most reliable news agency. They’ll post all the things that go on in the world that they’re happy about, sad about, mad about, etc. And if your friends are, to some extent, a good representation of the average person, what’s on their minds is probably what’s on a lot of other people’s minds. Suddenly, after your friend posted a rant about her disdain for Tea Party-ers, you’ll know what’s basically happening when somebody brings it up in conversation.

Brilliantly simple but incredibly effective.

Hackers Control Apple and All of Technology: Will the Blackberry Playbook Embrace Them?


The moment the iPad was released, computer geeks, amateur and professional alike, began their determined endeavors to hack the new gadget. And if you think about it, we can say the same thing for pretty much every piece of technology― that has achieved even marginal popularity― that has been released in the last 3 or 4 years.

Let’s face it, hackers control our technology. Companies spend millions of dollars and thousands of man hours trying fruitlessly to thwart the efforts of these people. But why?

Even if Apple has 100, 500, or even 1000 of the most capable programmers in the world working on solutions to hacking, there are probably hundreds of thousands of people contributing to solutions to those solutions. Sure, they don’t have fancy Ph. D’s in computer sciences from MIT but 500,000 novice programmers beat a thousand experts any day.

So my question to the mighty Steve Jobs is:

Why waste all these resources on trying to prevent the inevitable? Besides, so many users are drawn to Apple products just because they can be hacked, then decked out with some sort of custom operating system. If Apple is really all about satisfying its users at any cost, shouldn’t they be working with hackers to create better products? And shouldn’t they be open to “hacking” if in reality, it only improves their products?

And now, as the Blackberry Playbook was announced yesterday, I’m looking forward to seeing how RIM will respond to its hackers. The first company to embrace them might be the one to see profits stacking up like firewood, while its competitors wither in the background.

Didn’t I say that hackers were the most powerful people in technology?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Most Ethical School Fundraising Program: An Idea for School-Friendly Fundraising


Last year was the first year that I really got involved within my school, joining every last club I could get my hands on. And looking back now, it was a hugely rewarding experience in every respect; I learned a lot, had a lot of fun, and got to do my part to make the world a better place.

One of the groups I joined was “Free the Children”, which was basically our school’s chapter of the international humanitarian organization. So just another one of those fundraising groups. But not really.

From the beginning of the year, we were faced with a hurdle. The administrative team at our school was frankly, not too thrilled about another lengthy line-up of fundraising initiatives. This was because in previous years, some groups had gone over the top, forming irritating little clusters of fundraising events. Every week they’d ask the student body to bring in five dollars for freezies or ice cream sandwiches or cookies, often to benefit highly selfish causes. Thus, we were naturally not aiming to follow in these footsteps, and so we asked ourselves this question:

How can we get money without asking for money?

And by this, we didn’t mean that we wanted to use some subtle combination of psychological warfare tactics, to pressure our classmates into giving money. Rather, we actually wanted students never to have to bring in money to buy this or buy that. We needed some sort of alternative…

Then, voila! We came across an organization called Bag2School and what these guys do is that they provide your school with a bunch a blue garbage bags. You will fill these bags with clothes and for every tonne of material you collect and hand over, they will give you $200.

Now, at the time, that seemed like a whole lot of material and I didn’t believe we’d be able to get even half a tonne. However, in the end, we collected almost 1.5 tonnes of clothing and got a generous little bonus, so they gave us a little more than $300.

And we were an elementary school. Think about what a high school or college would be able to do.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to Easily Make a Million-Dollar Company and a Global Brand

One Million-Dollar Brand
I love having fun. I attend every little festival or celebration I can get my hands on and regular the local cinema with various groups of friends. It’s become a bad habit. Or maybe a good one.

To this day, I’ve never been disappointed in my grade average, which consistently hovers around 86 and 87. However, after every semester, when everyone loves to fervently compare their averages, I will never be on top. There are always those passionate students who commit themselves unconditionally to acing every test and crafting a masterpiece out of every assignment. They are almost dutiful in their devotion to whizzing through every 600-page philosophy book and then reading ahead in the history textbook in whatever time’s left over.

And honestly, I have the utmost respect for these people because of how much they are willing to sacrifice in order to reach their goals. Probably, by the time they’re 25, they’ll have amassed a degree at Harvard and a $2 million contract at some Wall Street investment firm.

But in this day and age, it’s not the all-out bookworm that founds the billion-dollar brands; it’s the intelligent socialite who was able to take in all the culture around him and make something of it.

Take Maureen Kelly, the CEO of one of America’s fastest growing cosmetics companies, Tarte Cosmetics. She operates strictly off instincts, never exploring price models or running cost analysis. Her brand’s latest product launch is a groundbreaking line of cosmetics formulated with the highly-touted Amazonian clay. But she didn’t read about this secret ingredient in The Economist or some century-old book on principles of warfare. She discovered it while on an eco-vacation in Brazil.

Now that’s taking “getting out more” to a whole ‘nother level.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Life's Guilty Pleasure: Lollipops with Gum in the Middle


As a kid, you would spend half your allowance on little toys and the other half on candy. But at the candy shop, it was always a difficult decision. Do I want that lollipop or that stick of gum? Well, it was a great day when you went in that door, and right after you heard the little chime, you witnessed history. It was a shelf full of gum-filled lollipops!

Could it really be possible? Yes! Now, you get gum and a lollipop all in the same package. How could you not love that?

And these gum-filled lollipops, well they started a revolution. A revolution of thing filled things. Jelly-filled donuts came after and now, decades later, we email-filled phones and game-filled MP3 players. So want to create a cool new product? Just combine two cool old products and voila, you have a creative hot banana pepper.

All great products are weird at first. Just take a look around this blog and you'll see that every post highlights something weird. Weird is awesome!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why Angry Users are Good Business for New Twitter


A few days ago Twitter decided to re-dress its site in an entirely new interface that it claims is “an easier, faster, and richer experience.” I love that. I love an easier, faster, and richer experience. However, the folks at Twitter have opted to use a gradual roll-out strategy where only a limited number of users get to try the new Twitter. Eventually, everyone will get a look out the new outfit, but for now, only a few chosen ones are lucky enough.

And that’s cool and all, as long as you include me. But unfortunately, I happen to be one of those kids whose friends all still use Facebook and therefore, is stuck with a follower count of about 35. So I don’t exactly qualify as a VIP member, and so me and my miserable follower count remain trapped in old Twitter. Sob…
Still, despite the fact that I’ve joined the ranks of countless users, frustrated that they don’t get new Twitter, the site may be making a good business decision screwing with everyone.

Remember when the iPhone came out in its raw, primeval form? And remember how pretty much nobody could possibly get their hands on one, unless they camped outside of the Apple store at 3 AM? Do you really think the all-knowing Steve Jobs couldn’t have predicted that Apple would run out of iPhones within the first few hours of its release?

Obviously, he planned it.

Why? Because if only a few people can get their hands on it, they’ll be quick to flaunt their good fortunes. And what happens then? Well, everyone else just wants the iPhone even more because one of their friends has it.

As a matter of fact, it appears that Twitter is executing this same strategy to perfection with its new site. All the users who have gotten new Twitter are conveniently tweeting about how much they love it, making us non-new-Twitter users green with envy. Hence, when we’re finally invited to the party, the satisfaction will be so great that we’ll have the urge to, yes, tweet about it. And maybe, two Twitter users will be so happy about getting new Twitter, that they’ll actually talk about it (yeah, REAL talk) and a non-Twit will be listening in. Then, the non-Twit might even be so intrigued that she’ll join Twitter.

And soon, Twitter will take over the world. The end.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How to Boost Creativity and Innovation in Your Business

First Date Dress Code
Today I was quite pleased to find out that I was granted an interview to join the DECA group school. However, what I was not too pleased to hear was that the group would enforce a dress code for the interviews; it was announced that we would have to don “appropriate business attire”. At first, I didn’t really make much of it. Fine. I’ll wear a dress shirt and some dress pants.

But what really got my eyes rolling was when I was informed that my definition of “appropriate business attire” didn’t entirely match theirs. No less than a full-out suit would be accepted. So on Friday, I’ll be bringing a suit to high school…

Neat, huh?

I’m still wondering why they’re so bent on seeing their applicants in such formal attire. I think it may be the need for “extreme professionalism”, which frankly, I believe is becoming outdated. Now, this by no means is a hit on the value of overall professionalism. It’s great to be considered professional.

On the other hand, what I’m talking about when we try a little too hard…

These days, you’re seeing more and more of those generation-y-driven, Fortune 500 companies that go with a more lax dress code. I’m a huge fan of this “first-date dress code” phenomenon that the best companies are gradually adopting. What I think this sort of dress code does is that rather than having an uptight and uncommunicative atmosphere in the office, it creates an air of friendliness, mutual respect, and most of all, creativity.

When you see your boss frowning in a suit and tie, you’re scared. You don’t want to mess up and you don’t want to share your semi-weird idea that might make him mad. The problem is, semi-weird ideas are the ideas that transform million-dollar companies into billion-dollar companies. Now, what if your boss is smiling with a dress shirt or maybe even just a polo on? In many cases, that will change your mindset a little bit.

Think about it. When you scan through those lists of the world’s best places to work and read the descriptions, you’ll often find very lenient dress codes. And often, these very lenient dress codes will be attached to companies with more relaxed, cool, hip, young, and creative brands.

Doesn’t that sound like a good brand?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Marketing Your Product to Kids: The Strategy of the World's Most-Loved Eraser

Erasers for Big Mistakes!
Browsing through any good office supply store, you’ll find a row of erasers featuring so many similar-looking pieces of rubber that you might think you’re at a tire store (but only if you’re blind, can’t smell the papery-ness, and can’t distinguish a nerdy voice from a tough-guy mechanic voice). But honestly, what’s the difference between them? They’re all in the same size range, have the exact same purpose, and I can’t say I’ve heard of a “luxury-level” eraser. The only thing that sets them each apart might be that some are white, some are pink, and some multi-colored (ooooh... you’ll be the envy of every one of the teacher’s pets). They don’t even include a little feature list on the package, just for the terminally analytical people in the world.

All in all, there is literally, no differentiation between the various brands of eraser. And no differentiation means really bad marketing.

That’s except for the revolutionary “eraser for big mistakes”. The eraser for big mistakes is a painfully simple concept; it’s just a bigger version of that generic pink eraser, positioned as a more effective solution for those really big mistakes that we make sometimes. However, is it really that much better than a Pink Pearl for fixing your pencil-related tragedies?

No.

But is it finally a brand that is slightly different, amusing, and maybe even cool in the eraser marketplace? You’d better believe it. If you’re a little kid going into the 1st grade, are you really going to be looking for the best-quality eraser? Or are you going to be looking for something that is unique, fascinating, and something that you can show off to your friends (trust me— kids love just this sort of humor… Why do you think SpongeBob’s so popular)? I think it might be the latter.

Now, don’t you think that this exact strategy can be applied to almost anything marketed to kids? Kids love something different and cool. Why do you think flexible pencils, smelly markers, and light-up shoes sell so well? Think about it. Can we do anything to change other brands for kids?

How about talking calculators? Now that's some real marketing.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why People Love Searching for "9/11 Pictures" on September 10th


Occasionally, I like to take a quick scan of Google Trends to know what’s going on, as a sort of idle alternative to reading the Times. And today, I came across a hot search list headlined by a few celebrities, Stand up 2 Cancer, and “9 11 pictures”. This was a curious trend to me. Why are people searching for 9/11 pictures?

I’m almost certain that millions of people don’t just want to refresh their memories of this horrific tragedy. Also, in the hot searches, “911 memorial” ranks eighth (three behind “9 11 pictures”), while “September 11” is all the way back in the eighteenth spot: You’d think that people who were looking to remember fallen ones, would be more prone to search for “9 11 memorial” or at least “September 11”, rather than looking for pictures.

So why are 9/11 pictures so popular?

Well, I believe that it’s not because people particularly want to view these photos, but because they want to publish and use them.

As soon as an anniversary of 9/11 arrives, the blogosphere lights up with posts regarding the terrible loss of lives, charities benefiting victims, and the “truth” about 9/11. In fact, according to Surchur, a web trends site, the popularity of “September 11th”, “9 11”, as well as a number of other terms relating to 9/11, are a 10 out of 10 in blogosphere popularity right now. Of course, naturally, photos of the event are an essential element in postings about 9/11, so every blogger is looking for appropriate photos to use.

At the same time, school has started and teachers are all preparing to assign the first homework of the year. I’m sure that many teachers would turn to 9/11 as a topic for an essay or study project, which many students will want to include photos in.

But why is it that “9 11 pictures” is such a popular search term on September 10th? Well, I believe this is the answer:

Think about it. If you’re a blogger wanting to take your blog viral, you’re gonna want to be the first one to post about everything. And the best way to be the first one is to post before things even happen. Numerous bloggers are either publishing or working on their posts today, in order to “stay ahead of the game”.

So that’s my explanation to this phenomenon. Just look at things in a different, more creative way, and you’ll start seeing explanations to everything.

Sharpie Has Permanent Pencils, I Want Self-Erasing Pens...


About a month ago, Sharpie came out with its brilliant “liquid pencil” idea. Basically, the appeal is that it’s a pencil that uses liquid graphite to mimic the sensation of writing with a pen. At the same time, the liquid pencil is also erasable for roughly the first three days, and then becomes a more permanent marking (quite practical if you think about it).

Now, I’ll admit that I’m no school supply nerd (and to those of you that are, I’m sorry your life had to turn out that way), so I only just found out about this. And here’s how I did:

So I’d just watched Agent Cody Banks for the second time (in widescreen though this time) and I was feeling inspired. I pictured how life would be as a spy… You’d go on missions to save the world, no one would ever be able to know where you were, and no one could ever find out about the secret messages you sent to fellow spies.

Wait. If you never wanted anyone to see those secret messages, how could you prevent them from being seen? What if you wrote the messages in ink that erased itself?

Sounds straight out of Harry Potter, eh? Well, frankly, I think it’s very possible to formulate a substance that would quickly disappear from any paper. Maybe the ink would be able to evaporate after a certain period of time. Or maybe the ink could dissolve into the air or the paper after a week. Or maybe the ink could gradually blotch until it became utterly illegible after about a month.

This would ensure that very few people other than the desired recipient would get a chance to read the message.

And think about all the other uses… What if a negotiator was in a tight situation and could only get out by signing an undesirable contract? He could use his trusty temporary pen to satisfy his counterparts for the time being.

Wanting to see if such an invention already existed, I googled “temporary pen” and landed on this page about the Sharpie liquid pencil.
http://marketinginnovation.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/08/the-new-sharpie-liquid-pencil-a-temporary-marker.html

On the contrary, if you think about it, my idea was the exact opposite of Sharpie’s: I want a pen that becomes temporary while Sharpie wants a pencil that becomes permanent.

Neat, huh?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How to Get People to Donate Money: Use the Nike+iPod Business Model


So I got a Nike + iPod sensor for my birthday this year and I have to say that it was a pretty sick birthday gift. What made it even cooler was the fact that I’d just read about it in “Brand New World” by Max Lenderman (a great book by the way) and had been salivating over product reviews like they were Sarah Roemer movies.

Basically, the Nike+iPod is a beefed up pedometer that you can put in your shoe. And not only does it compute simple stats like distance, calories, and pace, but it gives you spoken feedback, lets you set goals, and records a history of your workouts. However, the system is really only half the equation. The really funky part is the online capability. From the Nikeplus website, you can create a profile for your fellow runners to see, and deck it out with your workout statistics (all neatly graphed out to chart progression), which you can easily upload by syncing your iPod to iTunes. This allows you to challenge friends as well as the biggest running fanatics all over the world, to see where you rank.

And after a few weeks of using the Nike + iPod, what I noticed was that suddenly, I was running much more frequently. It seemed that a number of things, all having to do with owning this new thing, contributed to my newfound love for running. The satisfaction of simply navigating to the app and watching it work its magic was great, while the thought that my efforts would be both recorded and shared with the world (you can share your workouts with Facebook and Twitter as well) also gave me a little boost. How about how I could actually see my improvements in solid numbers or how I could admire the “total workout distance” (the sum of all workouts) meter slowly inch up?

The Nike+iPod model was, in general, a fitness motivator.

So why can’t other products mimic this model? What if high schools and colleges did this with grades? When teachers entered marks into a student’s report card, they’d be automatically sent to a site that could track progress. We’d be able to track our progress in various subjects, over multiple years, and maybe even get advice from our teachers over the web. People could compare their progress to others and maybe, there could even be a leaderboard.

And what if a fundraising organization did this for donators? Users could track how much money they donated and their progression, thus putting pressure on them to slowly donate more to beat their own records. There could be a leaderboard in this sort of community as well, while rich folks would definitely get a kick out of challenging friends to donation competitions. I think people would really be happy about publishing their donations on social networks to add to their reputations.

What an idea!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Adjust the Size of Your Hockey Skates: Reebok Pump Skates

Reebok Pump Skates
Watching the Blue Jays lose the other day, I was thoroughly fascinated by one of the ads I saw. It’s not that the ad was all that impressive; it was just one of those where the narrator— who sounds too professional for his own good— talks to you about important considerations to make before doing something. Yeah.

But the product did seem pretty awesome.

So say your son plays in his neighbourhood house league for ice hockey, and because he’s a growing boy, you have to buy bigger skates every year. And because you aren’t making the money that Ilya Kovalchuk is now guaranteed with his new contract, you’re not too thrilled about dropping a hundred bucks on skates every year.

Now, you can spend a hundred bucks, but every two years with the Reebok Pump skates. I’ve never owned a pair of these babies but the concept sounds pretty idiot-proof. The size of these skates is adjustable so you can actually customize them to your son’s feet.

How it works is that apparently, they’ve decked them out with inflatable air cushions on the sides, which, when you inflate, make the fit a bit tighter. And the best part is that, despite how his grade 2 teacher is always quick to point out his lack of fine motor skills, your son should be able to easily inflate the cushions. All he has to do is press this button-like pump a few times and voila! It fits!
It’s a miracle. He’s more comfortable, and not to mention a bit safer. But the truly miraculous part is that you can buy the skates a size bigger for him to grow into (saving YOU money!), without hearing his whiny complaints every time you drive him to a game.

The thing is though, I don’t see why this sort of pump technology isn’t on everything these days. Hats, shoes, gloves, knee pads, headphones, etc. etc. can all have this pump to make the size customizable. Instead of having a small, medium, large, and extra large, everything can just be one size fits all.

That would truly make the world a better place to be, especially for the terminally lazy race we’ve become.

Monday, August 30, 2010

How to Make the Emmy Awards Less Boring Next Year


The Emmy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, aired last night and let me tell you that they sure lived up to expectations. Too bad the expectations went somewhere along the lines of “Oscars wannabe…”

Let me make it clear that the Emmy’s will never be the Oscars. There’s simply a lack of full-fledged TV superstars to replace such huge Oscar regulars as Will Smith and Sandra Bullock. However, the best that television has to offer still constitutes some big time talent— talent that can surely put on a show that millions will tune into, just like they tune into American Idol or Mad Men.

Frankly, many people watch the Oscars simply because it’s one of the biggest gatherings of famous people that they can possibly see in any given year. On the other hand, there won’t be many people who’ll want to watch the Emmy’s, purely because of all the red carpet stars.

Thus, the Emmy Awards must be marketed based on a different attribute.

And I believe that attribute is entertainment value. I think that the Emmy’s should take a page from World Wrestling Entertainment’s book. Now, I don’t mean that TV stars should start performing suplexes and beating each other with chairs; what I mean is that the Emmy’s can mimic the WWE’s entertainment value.

The WWE is known for its ability to formulate intriguing plotlines to keep fans interested. What if the Emmy’s were based on a plotline that was portrayed by the various Emmy nominees? Maybe a big interrogation scene with Kiefer Sutherland, where he demands to know the whereabouts of the Emmy he is about to present. What if he then suddenly collapses, only to be taken into Hugh Laurie’s operating room?

This is the type of entertainment that people would pay to see. Why not attract some more viewers with it?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

7 Creative Things to Do During Your Last Week of Summer



It's the last week of summer vacation. BOOOHOOOO!!! School will begin in a week for most of us but here are some things to do during your last few days. These things have nothing to do with packing for school or studying notes. These are things that will keep your mind off of that horrible subject and let you savour your last moments of summer 2010.

7. Pet a bird.

You know those geese/swans/seagulls/pigeons that always waddle around your neighbourhood pond, just waiting to pounce on dropped fries? Yes, I’m sure you’ve noticed those little guys. And I’m sure you’ve also noticed how it’s pretty much impossible to get anywhere near them. Well, I challenge you to try and pet one! It doesn’t matter how long it takes you, you MUST pet one of those birds— I guarantee the sense of accomplishment that you’ll achieve will be absolutely amazing and will stick with you forever.

6. Have a food coloring fight.

Before scheduling your end-of-summer water-gun fight, consider stocking up on some food coloring. Then, mix a few drops in with the water source and you’ll all look like the Gatorade dudes after.

Or conversely, if you don’t want to look like you’re sweating orange stuff, you can clandestinely bring out your secret weapons in the middle of the match, unleashing the devastation upon the other team. Cheating at a water fight is the perfect way to end your summer!

5. Convince someone that they’ve been drafted into the CIA.

This idea was inspired by my favorite movie of all time, Agent Cody Banks 2. You can try this on some gullible little kid at a family gathering (don’t do it on strangers because you don’t want to look like a creeper). It works best if you plan out a story beforehand and supplement it with a few “spy gadgets” and a mission briefing report. And trust me, it’ll be a heck of a ride.

4. Bring $30 to Dairy Queen and spend it all.

The best part of summer is the ice cream. So why not cap off your break with an uber-awesome ice cream marathon? You can bring any denomination of money, depending on how rich you are, but more importantly, on how much Blizzard you’re willing to eat. Then, dig in.

And don’t mind all those people staring at you as you start your tenth Oreo Cheesequake. It’s summer.

3. Go into town with a Santa costume and give presents to random passersby.

This one is for the flamboyantly brave, who don’t mind being the center of attention in a bad way. If you have a Santa costume from last Christmas, whip it out and put it on. After that, you’re all set to go downtown and start giving away your, Batman stickers, half-used erasers, and limited edition Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.

2. Create a treasure hunt for somebody at the library

Meticulously leave a trail of clues for some curious reader who has a lot of time on their hands. Stick Post-Its saying stuff like, “Go to the end of the aisle and look right,” or “Go to the gardening section.” And finally, write a clue leading them straight back to the beginning and see how long they can keep going in circles.

1. Start a food fight at a fruit farm

This is probably the hardest one of these to pull off. It’s a summer must-do though. Pick someone who either looks really moody or really fun-loving, and fling something at them. If you get lucky, they’ll return the favor and then you can watch as the mayhem starts. MUAHAHAHAHA!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

How Marketers are Putting Advertising in Your Next Camera


Marketing and advertising are growing constantly. Various sources say that the average American is bombarded by anywhere from 254 to 5000 advertisements a day. How is that possible? Well think about the radio ads you heard in the car or the billboards you saw while driving. Think about the ads you saw on the bus that just passed by and the Goodyear blimp in the sky. How about the ads on the elevator's new TV or the site you were just surfing?

No doubt, humanity is awfully good at finding more and more ways to satisfy an addiction to furthering consumerism, for the sake of the economy. In other words, we're finding more and more places to put our ads.

And here is another example of an incredibly innovative idea being developed. Some might call it just more visual pollution, while others would dub it marketing genius.

But like it or not, new cameras are now being fitted with a system software that will create a new million-dollar industry.

Basically, a program will be able to detect the logos or products of a particular brand, in the photos that users take. In turn, the user will be shown an ad to correspond with the brand featured in their beautiful photography. For example, if someone were to snap a picture of a party, where a bottle of Coke happened to be present in the scene, the camera would be able to detect the bottle by its logo and colors. After the photo was taken, it would then proceed to show an ad for Coca-Cola or perhaps even a competitor like Pepsi.

This would mean that millions of dollars could be paid out for the advertising spots, to camera companies that adopt this type of software. And the additional profits could mean lower camera prices to convince users to brave the ads.

***

OK fine, this idea is nowhere close to being in development but I just thought it might be where the camera industry goes next. I believe it would be a very valid business model and a creative way to make profits and sell cameras.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back-to-School Special: How to Suck Up to Teachers for Good Grades


Now I’m sure that you’re easily intelligent enough to get A’s the old-fashioned way— with good ol’ determination, work ethic, and discipline. However, being the creative person that you are, I thought that you might be interested in a more efficient method.

The art of sucking up is not a difficult one to practice and if executed properly, it can boost your grades by up to 15%. And the funny thing is, you don’t have to be an A-student to be able to suck up and better yet, you don’t even have to act like a loser. Here is a guide to getting good grades the creative way, come September:

Make a good first impression.

The psychologists don’t lie. If you make a bad first impression, you’re digging a deep hole for yourself, very early in the year. The first few weeks are the time when it’s most crucial that you’re totally on top of your game. You know the deal: Don’t be late for class, hand in homework, work hard, don’t talk too much in class, etc. etc. If you put on those trusty goody-two shoes (see what I did there?) for the first little while, you’ll be able to establish your image as one of being a perfect student in your teacher’s head.

Then, as the months go by, you’ll be able to slowly fade back out to slacker mode, without too many repercussions.

Volunteer.

In the first few weeks, you’ll want to go all out with the volunteering. Be the first to raise your hand when she asks who wants to take the attendance down or who wants to take the recycling out. First of all, your teacher will automatically think of you as an enthusiastic learner and a responsible person. Further, as an added bonus, your peers will likely interpret that you just want to skip class and won’t treat you like a complete egghead.

Compliment them.

OK, this is a given. For amateurs, there’s always the “nice haircut” line but for the especially ambitious, add some “heart” into it. A girl can definitely get away with something like “I love your outfit today. It really matches well!” A guy should stay away from complimenting a female teacher on her fashion sense… However, if you have a male teacher, “Yo, those shoes are sick!” is not a bad line. Remember, every teacher loves to be respected by his or her students.

And speaking of that, complimenting a teacher on his teaching style or content is always a good idea. Everyone loves to be thought of as good at what they do.

Treat teachers like human beings.

This tip is without a doubt, the granddaddy of them all. This is pretty much the principle that all the other tips are based on. Treating teachers like human beings may be tough, but inside, they crave acceptance just as much as we do. Talk to them coolly and casually; crack some jokes and even ask them a bit about their personal life, (pretending to be) interested. And always talk about what they’re interested in, not what you’re interested in— you’ll be rewarded. If they like classical music, you’d better speak like Beethoven’s your idol.

Treating teachers like people will make them feel that you think of them as a friend, and thus, also feel an obligation not to disappoint you in your grades.

Trust me, this stuff is the real deal.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Your Very Own Survival Kit for Getting Through the First Day of School: A Back-to-School Special

The First Day of School Sucks
The first day of school is usually quite tame compared to how madly boring the rest of your year will be. But think of it as a diagnostic test for your school survival instincts and a great way to hone these crucial skills. Here is what you’ll need to do in order to get through the the first day:

STEP #1: Understand the Teacher.

You’ve been given a mission— to get past this year of school unscathed— and the only person in your way is, of course, your teacher. The first day is the best time for you to establish a good scouting report on each of your teachers. For your reference, here is a list of some basic types and the characteristics they will exhibit on the first day:

The Pure Meanie (severuso snapey):

-will likely make a show of how strict he is, perhaps handing out a few punishments

-will introduce about 5362345423 rules (may include “Loud flatulence is prohibited. Hold it in or make use of the “SBD.”)

The “Strict but Fair” (dumbledorio):

-will lecture you on his high expectations and standards

-will also likely try to have a little bit of fun with you, albeit academic fun.

The Nice One (hagrida):

-will play cheesy games with you

-will emphasize getting to know you better or having a positive outlook on school

The Fun One (lupine):
-will be funny

-will have some awesomely creative way to introduce herself and entertain you

STEP #2: Have Some Fun!

Each of these types of teachers will have something planned for the first day. They’ll undoubtedly think it’s super-awesome and really interesting, but unless you’re lucky, you probably won’t. Thus, here’s what you should do with each of the types.

The Pure Meanie:

You do not want to be a pure meanie’s scapegoat on the first day of school, so it would be advised for you not to try too much with this sort of a teacher (sad face). No matter how good your intentions, he’ll make you pay.

The prank to pull: Bring him a pet spider and say it’s a gift from your Uncle Earl. Pure meanies are very “ethical”; they think it’s morally wrong to judge people and will likely accept your gift. (happy face!)

The “Strict but Fair”:


“Strict but fair” teachers love the smart people who ask questions but that doesn’t mean that the C-students can’t have some fun too. Challenge all of his viewpoints if you can, citing made-up statistics to back up your arguments. If he says, “No chewing gum,” you go ahead and say, “Well a recent study by the Harvard University has shown that students who chew gum regularly while doing schoolwork have 34% higher grades. What do you have to say to that?”

The prank to pull: Ask her a bunch of extremely personal questions. As I said, they have a soft side for question-askers.

The Nice One:

With these teachers, you can literally get away with anything on the first day. Take advantage of this opportunity. Find loopholes in all of his cheesy games and complain loudly about them, or just mess them up totally. Talk with your friends, open a bag of chips, etc. etc. Today is your lucky day.

The prank to pull: Pretend to be someone else or better yet, act like a foreign exchange student from Zimbabwe. Again, you can do anything.

The Fun One:

Don’t do anything harsh to these teachers. You can probably have fun without screwing with their heads. Here’s the rule: If they’re cool, don’t be a tool. WHAT A TRIPLE RHYME!!!


OK, so you’re pretty much set. Go out and show those teachers what you got!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Worst Infomercial EVER



The Hawaii Chair and the Tiddy Bear are legendary in the universe of stupid infomercials. One sells a gyrating chair and the other sells a seatbelt pad. On the other hand, this one sells a wand that turns pickle juice into pickle slices...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Biggest Pool in the World: The Endless Pool


I’m not going to lie. The second I saw the ad for Endless Pools, I wanted one. I mean, the fact that this pool was endless seemed so exotically awesome to me. (Hippie voice) Like, whoa… You can swim…forever? Radical… (End of hippie voice)

How it works is that there’s a pump on one edge of the pool that pushes a constant stream of water towards the other side. And so when you swim against this “current”, you don’t move forward or backward, making the pool effectively endless. Think about it. You could swim for miles in your own backyard. Now, think about the pleasant conversations you could now have with your rich friends:

“I could swim 5 miles in my backyard pool without turning.”

“Whoa… Our pool is only 3 miles long. What do you do for a living?”

“I’m with the Men in Black (satisfied smirk).”

And not only are they great to boast, they’re actually really practical too. I mean, for a thoroughly incompetent swimmer like me, no turning is a nice perk. And how about the fact that you don’t need much space for an Endless Pool, since you can swim forever without moving?

All in all, if I had a choice, I’d sure as heck make my pool endless.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Handheld Electric Bug Zappers: Too Much Fun?

Handheld Bug Zapper
Bugs are annoying. That's why they're called bugs. Sometimes they're even frightening and probably somewhat detrimental to our health.

See, bugs are one of the few animals that humans have never really befriended. You'll never see a happy-go-lucky tween going nuts over how adorable a spider is, like they do to dogs, dolphins, and mice (for the really weird ones).

It's pretty natural to kill any bug that really gets on our nerves. As a child, we all stomped on ants for recreation (the especially sadistic burned them with magnifying glasses) and now, we'll go to unbelievable lengths to keep our homes bug-free.

There are thousands of little knick-knacks that help satiate our collective appetite for bug destruction, but this one was definitely one of the most creative ideas I’ve seen.

Bug zappers aren’t uncommon to see in backyards. They’re those lights that feature a few specks of insect remains. But for the especially proactive bug haters, there’s the handheld bug zapper. These babies look sort of like those mini tennis racquets that we used to flail around as kids except for the fact that their strings are electrified, to really dust off those pesky bugs.

In fact, the inventors of handheld bug zappers were even audacious enough to put listings of the number of points you score for each bug you kill, so you can almost make a game out of it. It’s 10 points for flies, 30 points for wasps, and I believe the king kill was a dragonfly. Now, the packaging says that the device is environmentally friendly and I suppose it probably could be better than those toxic insect poisons. However, what if indeed, people began making a game out of killing insects? What if it became a recognized sport: The Bug Zapping Federation of America (BZFA)?

I mean, people might even use the bug zapper as stress relief and entertainment, among other things. Trust me— if over 15 million people enjoy mowing down pedestrians with machetes in Grand Theft Auto IV, there will be some people who enjoy killing bugs.

It’s just simple probability. There’s an idea.

The 10 Most Creative Sports Training Equipment: Must-Have Pieces for Any Athlete


10. Cushioned whistles

A must-have for any referee who wants to penalize in comfort. The actual whistle is attached to a handle that features a cushioned grip. Now that’s what I call indulgence.

9. Basketball shooting sleeves

These sleeves tighten around your arm to force you to shoot with proper form in basketball. They keep your arm aligned with the basket and emphasize the arc of a shot.

8. Belt tennis ball holders

Tennis, especially for us beginners, usually involves a ton of picking up balls that have landed in the net on unforced errors. Thus, it’s now convention to keep a bunch of balls in your pockets instead of having to run after every fanned shot. And this little invention lets you keep an extra tennis ball clipped onto your waist.

7. Extreme slideboards

If you’re an American, first of all, just know that hockey is Canada’s game. Why? Because here in Canada, we get to freeze our butts off playing hockey year-round. 365-day rinks are everywhere and ponds are frozen for 5 months of they year. But for you Americans, there’s the extreme slideboard, which simulates the ice surface so you can practice your shots, passes, and handles. Now, you’ll never beat Canada at the Olympics but you can have some fun sliding.

6. Parachutes

Parachutes are awesome. Whoever thought of harnessing the power of air resistance as a method of fitness? We can run with parachutes dragging behind us, and we can even swing bats, sticks, and arms with parachutes to provide resistance.

5. Radar balls

The radar ball is great for amateur ballplayers who don’t want to spend 200 bucks on a radar gun when they can get a decent reading from a $20 item. The radar ball detects the impact of the ball on the glove in order to determine the velocity of it. An idea that saves me $180 is a good idea any day.

4. Roller skis

With a pair of roller skis, you can simulate the experience of cross-country skiing in any temperature. Roller skis are just skis with wheels at the bottom. Sure, it’s a dead simple idea but it took someone to come up with it.

3. Curveball trainers

Baseball’s second contribution to this list is the curveball trainer. Basically, these are foam balls that have spiral grooves in them to create the crazy movements of a slider, screwball, and curveball. This happens because the grooves in the ball are able to manipulate the way air travels around it, convincing the molecules to push the ball a certain way, and allowing you to practice hitting them.

2. Golf ball-finding glasses

These babies almost made it to number one on this list. How could you not love ‘em? Your cousin gives you a lucky golf ball but after 3 straight eagles, you lose it in the rough. Time to pop on the golf ball-finding glasses and voila— suddenly a little white speck begins to stand out.

1. Passback footballs

I absolutely adore the people who mass-produce those “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that” ideas. This is definitely one of those. If you’re friends prefer drinking Mountain Dew and playing Call of Duty to playing catch with you, you can now finally train your spiral on your own. Passback footballs are flat on one side so they can bounce back to you after hitting a wall of some sort. Brilliant! It may not bounce back as well as it does off your friend’s belly, but you’ll just have to live with it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A New Product that Cracks Your Eggs for You


So last night, I was watching some TV and this infomercial came on. You know the whole deal— a way-too-enthusiastic voiceover, narrating a day in the life of an aggressively smiley actor. Yup. Same-old, same-old.

But for some reason, I just watch a little closer when an infomercial comes on, sort of like we all do when “the man your man could smell like” starts talking to us. I mean, c’mon. You gotta admit that some of the ideas that are advertised are pretty amazing. Now, I’m not talking about Vince’s Shamwow (which I own and doesn’t work) or Slap-Chop (which you can’t make an edible salad with).

I’m talking about stuff like the EZ Cracker. So apparently the EZ Cracker can cleanly crack your eggs for you, without getting any of the shell into the eggy part.

A lot of people know that I’m no cook. I couldn’t make a bowl of rice for you without messing something up. Let me tell you that on the grounds of fear of causing the apocalypse, I haven’t even tried cracking an egg.

Finally, there’s a device that looks like it can help me conquer my fears.

And looking at the device, it’s actually quite astounding what a feat in engineering this is. Basically, you squeeze a handle and that forces two rings that are gripping the egg, to suddenly separate. This spurs the eggshell to separate into two different parts, allowing you to watch as the yummy part, as it miraculously drops out.

What amazes me the most though, is the fact that it claims that it can crack an egg of any size. My question is how did they engineer this device so that the rings could grip onto an eggshell of any size, without applying too much or too little force onto the shell? Too much force would obviously crack the shell, while too little, wouldn’t grip the shell hard enough that the two rings could pull the eggshell apart.

On the other hand, however awesome the engineering is, I highly doubt that little thing could separate an ostrich egg. And the infomercial does claim that it can crack an egg of “any size”. I’d like to see who else scouts this error out and pursues another one of those stupid lawsuits.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Creative Condiments: The Infamous Costco Onion Dispenser

The Costco Onion Dispenser
We know we're lazy when we need a specially designed machine to help us garnish our hot dogs. And what better way to make money then to cater to our work-shy needs?

That's the basis of Costco's famous onion dispensers. They're those big metal boxes that say "ONIONS" in big letters on them. And they're awesome.

All you have to do is turn a handle and out comes a stream of flavour. I can't believe we used to actually lift tongs and manually spread onions in the old. Hah! We were so naive back then...

But seriously, while it may seem like a very trivial little invention, having your onions neatly come out of a little machine lets us bypass so many troubles. I mean, with tongs, a number of things can go wrong:

1. You might take too much and then it’s impolite to put it back so you’ll just be forced to down a double helping of onions.

2. You might spill some. Then you’ll have to scramble from the condiments station before a Costco employee comes, making you feel guilty that they have to clean up your mess.

3. You’ll have a hard time spreading it properly. Usually, unskilled onion-putters just put a big glop on one part of the wiener, and then face the task of spreading the onions evenly with the yucky tongs that have gone who-knows-where.

So I was interested in what else the onion dispenser’s, manufacturer made. I did a little research on the company that makes these babies, Perfection Manufacturing, and apparently they specialize in condiment dispensers. Ketchup, mustard, cheese, you name it, they’ll dispense it.

Wow, there’s a company for everything these days.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why Don't We All Carry Around Glasses Repair Kits?

Glasses Repair Kits!
So I’m waiting for the washroom at a gas station the other day, and I spot something really funky. I’m not really the gas station convenience store type guy, so I’d never caught a glimpse of this idea before. Hanging from the bottom hook on the shelf was a row of “glasses repair kits”.

Now, I was sceptical at first— how often do you need a glasses repair kit? But then I noticed that I don’t wear glasses and thus, obviously have never had to endure the heartbreak of them breaking up on you. And if you think about it, it sucks not being able to see.

I mean, what if you’re playing basketball one day and you’re jostling for position in the key. Then suddenly, that mean bully behind you knocks your glasses off. After miming around on the ground for awhile, you’re relieved to find out that your glasses are alright.

Then a raccoon comes and steps on them. NOOOO!! THEY’RE BROKEN!!

Well if you happen to be playing right beside a gas station, you can go in and buy yourself a handy glasses repair kit! It comes with a beautifully crafted mini-screwdriver, a pair of mini tweezers, and some mini-screws.

So while that mean bully can’t miss a shot on the court, you can be on the sidelines fixing your glasses for only $2.99!

Honestly though, how do these things sell? Do you really need to be carrying a remedy to broken glasses around with you everywhere? Next thing you know, we’ll all be sporting grab sacks of Tylenols, sewing needles, and mustard packets. Not a very practical fantasy.

Anyway though, if you just happen to break your glasses right beside a gas station, it’s your lucky day because you can get yourself a glasses repair kit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

5 Tips to Giving More Creative Birthday Gifts


5. Write something.

Often, when you’re giving a very simple gift, the card becomes the most important part. Write something that will show them how well you know them. That means not just a little “happy birthday”. How about, “Hey man, happy birthday! Lucky fluke at that golf tournament last year, Tiger. I’ll beat you next time.” (Ok, I know that sounded cheesy, awkward, and stupid but that’s the best generic example I could come up with.)

4. Use an inside joke.

If you take a glance down this list, you’ll notice that I didn’t put the most basic tip of all: no cash. Why? Well, if you’re just going to give them a wad of bills, however fat and juicy, without any supporting acts, then no cash. However, last year, one of my friends gave me a card that said on the front: “Deep down in the bottom of your heart, you know there’s no money inside here.” This drew a bunch of laughs from everyone because we all knew him as extremely cheap. Then inside, the message was, “But you still had to look,” with a few bills attached. That gift stole the show.

3. Special delivery.

Give the gift to them in a funny and special way that again, symbolizes how well you know them. For instance, if you know they love hot dogs, maybe put the gift under that plate of wieners in the fridge. (Was that example any better?)

2. Hopefully something they’ll use, definitely something they’ll remember.

Your first goal when giving a gift should be to have the gift that the birthday boy/girl will think of first when they look back at all of their gifts. If everyone just wanted to give something useful, all people would ever get would be cash. Yuck.
Give something that will jump out at them like, “HAHAHAH!” or “Oh my gosh, this is so touching that it almost makes up for how she loves her Slap-Chop more than she loves me.”

1. Go to the extreme.

So a group of friends and I were planning a gift for one of our super-manly, super-awesome teachers. Logically, we went to our neighbourhood mall and began to shop. We thought that it’d be best if we could make it some sort of a joke.

But let’s just say that we got a bit carried away :)

We ended up wrapping a “The Keg” gift card in a “La Vie en Rose” lingerie gift card, a Barbie Princess Book, a Justin Bieber girls’ extra-small t-shirt, and plenty of pink ribbons and wrapping paper. Now that’s what I call going to the extreme.

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Essential Item for Any Camper: Instant Ice

Essential Camping Equipment
Where would humanity be without ice? Back in the day, people used ice for transportation and the first refrigerators were just ice put in an underground compartment. Now, ice cools our drinks, makes nice sculptures, and is fun to bite really hard.

However, in this day and age, ice PACKS have taken on a lot of the jobs that pure ice used to be responsible for. Now, if you’re keeping a few Cokes in a cooler, you might put a few ice packs instead of a lot of ice cubes. And nobody puts a bag of ice on bumps and bruises anymore. It’s always the ice pack.

Obviously, ice packs can be re-used, are much more manoeuvrable than those slippery cubes, and last quite a bit longer. Still, while ice packs ARE miracles (well maybe, not quite miracles), they don’t stay cold forever. And what if just when you need an ice pack, there isn’t a satisfactorily cold one anywhere around:

Say you’re camping and you find that the adventure-loving, uber-manly Old Spice dude is camping in the same place. He’s not pleased by the fact that you don’t smell like sweat, fish, and gorillas (because any real man can tame a gorilla), so he kicks you in the balls.

And it hurts.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to relieve the pain. You can’t use pain medication because that’s not what real men do and the ice in your cooler isn’t very cold anymore.

This is where instant ice can come in handy. If you have enough real-man muscles, you just pop the bag of air (well actually, it’s pretty easy) inside the ice pack and boom, you hear a cool sound! Well, the other, less rewarding benefit is that it suddenly becomes cold because of some chemical reaction between the air and the other stuff in the bag.

And there it is. Suddenly, you have ice, without even using a freezer.

But pain relief isn’t the only use of instant ice while camping. What if the ice packs in your cooler run out of iciness, meaning your steaks might spoil (steaks are the food for real men)? You can just pop one of these instant ice packs. What if it’s really hot and you need a pillow? Pop an instant ice pack. What if you find yourself surrounded by ferocious Siberian tigers? Pop an instant ice pack*. The awesome sound can be your last little pleasure.

Just saying, there’s a lot of uses for instant ice.

*Don’t actually do that.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How to Hide the Fact that You're Wearing Reversible Clothing


Reversible clothing is one sizzling hot banana pepper. If you're contemplating buying new shorts, here's the deal. You can probably drop $30 to get one nice pair OR you can get a 2 for 1 deal, without even using a coupon! No, it's not a miracle when you get two pairs of nice shorts for $30. It's just reversible clothing working its magic!

Reversible jackets, shirts, pants, and shorts. They're better value, they mean more outfits, and they save your closet space. Who could possibly resist?
The only problem is nobody wants to be caught wearing it because that just seems sort of cheap. However, you can still enjoy the incredible benefits of reversible clothing and avoid getting caught by following these three simple guidelines:

1. Never wear it on back-to-back days.

First of all, you may want to consider washing clothes before you wear them again, reversible or not. But whether or not you do this, just don’t wear reversible clothing on back-to-back days because if someone happens to see the side you wore before (RHYME!), it’s a lot easier to remember if you wore that side just yesterday.

2. Never leave it lying around in a position where people can see both sides.

This is a given. If people can see both sides, they’ll know it’s reversible. Cue the snickering and gossip: “Oooohh… Sharon’s wearing reversible jackets!”

3. Always have an excuse.

“Oh wow, I didn’t even notice that the other side has the same design as that other shirt I have. You have a good eye!”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Brilliant Business Ideas: Who Knew We'd Pay for "Collectible" Coins?



Yesterday, I caught myself submitting my blog to a blog directory. I was told that not doing so would lead to this page dwelling in relative obscurity for the rest of its life (sort of like Miley Cyrus’ brother). And obviously, I don’t want to be like Miley Cyrus’s brother.

So I put in the title of my blog, then the URL, then the directory prompted me for my “blog category”. So I was like, “OK, it’s ideas.” But scrolling through the dropdown menu, to my astonishment, such a category didn’t exist. So I thought of another one: innovation. Feeling proud of my ability to come up with such a great alternative, I went to select “innovation”.

But that wasn’t there either. Now slightly dejected, I thought I could get away with having “entrepreneurship” as my category, because I thought my blog might maybe encompass “business ideas”.

“Entrepreneurship” was one of the choices so I sat down and thought, “What are some good business ideas that no one gets any credit for, but are actually hugely successful?”

How about collectible coins?

Who knew that avid collectors everywhere would be willing to pay fifty, maybe a hundred, maybe thousands of dollars for coins with special designs imprinted on them? I mean, it’s understandable that ancient currency is quite valuable as a rare historical artefact, but whoever thought of simply manufacturing rare currency, just by changing up the emblems on their surfaces, is a true genius.

This means that we can mass produce different limited edition coins and expect people to pay big bucks for the privilege of owning any piece of junk, as long as it’s rare. Now that’s what I call a hot business banana pepper.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Advice for Transitions Lenses



There are two ways that a product can become cool. Either it has to seem so awesomely rebellious, that it convinces people to flock to some new revolution (like crocs). Or it can be moulded to current trends (like basketball shoes).
Unfortunately, to this point, Transitions Lenses has been neither.

Now, I would be the first to rave about how brilliant of a hot banana pepper Transitions are. They are the most practical and convenient eyeglasses in the world; I mean, they’re glasses AND sunglasses, all in one! That’s almost as incredible as getting a Slap-Chop AND a Graty for one low price of $19.95!

But then, why doesn’t everyone have a pair of Transitions? This is unthinkable! Well, the fact in the matter is that Transitions are so untrendy and unfashionable that people are willing to miss out on glasses AND sunglasses.
Why? Because in strong sunlight, they’re nice shades, and in the dark, they’re nice glasses. However, if you wear them in normal, fluorescent light, they sort of go into a halfway mode. People can still see your eyes, but the lenses are a bit darker then usual.

Believe it or not, this makes many situations extremely awkward. People think, “Wait, are you trying to conceal your eyes? Is there some sort of a facial expression you don’t want me to see?”

But I think there is a simple way that Transitions can avoid this unstylish tackiness, and cash in on their convenience. What if they just removed this “halfway mode” and stuck with either 100% sunglasses or 100% glasses. In strong sunlight, they can be sunglasses, and in any other light, they can just be glasses. Now, I’m sure that there are some scientific hurdles in creating a material that is able to react in this way, but if Transitions can create glasses like this, we might see a few more people wearing them.

Cha-ching!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ankle Weights: One Creative Exercise Idea


I know that this is old news but fitness is a big deal these days. We're in a culture where body shape and physique is paramount, while advancement in medical research has brought health into the spotlight.

One of our favorite things to gloat about nowadays is how intense our last trip to the gym was. You know the line: "Oh goodness! What a workout! I just did a 10 mile run on the treadmill and bench-pressed 113. I'm SOO tired!"

And at the forefront of masculine workout routines, is weight training. Dumbells and bench presses, biceps and triceps; the arms have emerged as THE part that gets you the most girls (along with that trusty six-pack, of course).

But then comes along the protagonist of this story. Let's call him Sam. He's a guy who thinks that all of his fantasies will be fulfilled if he not only strengthens his arms and abs, but the rest of his body as well.

So he wonders to himself, "There's plenty of ways to work out my arms and abs, but how about my legs?" Sure, legs aren't the first place chicks look to, but Sam wants to get everything right.

People had been telling him that jogging would be good for his legs, but he didn't just want healthy legs, he wanted muscular superman legs that he knew would be awfully attractive.

Then, a brilliant hot banana pepper strikes him. What if he attached weights to his legs and then ran with them on?

Perfect! He'd finally be able to get those beautiful legs he'd been fantasizing about. Every night, he'd dream about having beautiful legs, and now, he finally had them.

What? What did you think he was fantasizing about?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Umbrella Hats: The Latest Eccentric Fashion Statement


Sunscreen is one of my least favourite things in the world. It’s ooey-gooey and comes with its own distinct odour. That wouldn’t sound so bad if you were describing Cinnabons or some other sticky treat, but as for sunscreen, you put that stuff on your skin.

On the other hand, it’s no fun getting cancer, or more importantly, being forced to avoid the sun all day.

And that’s where the umbrella hat (<--- that's the link to the official homepage of umbrella hats. Cool, eh?) comes into play. There are several reasons why umbrella hats are such a beloved hot banana pepper.

First of all, they bridge the gap between the indoors and the outdoors, without making you endure the horrors of sunscreen. And unlike a normal umbrella, you don’t have to constantly hold umbrella hats; they go on your head! Naturally, this fact has endeared these babies to all golfers.

However, not everyone allows themselves the privilege of enjoying these benefits. Instead, they complain about the wacky image that you take on when you don an umbrella hat. But I say that this is good news for us co-weirdos. If nobody else wants to participate in the umbrella hat trend, then we have it all to ourselves! Umbrella hats can now be fashion statements. When you wear an umbrella hat, you’re proudly screaming to the world, “I’m crazy and eccentric and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

Still not convinced? Well umbrella hats make great costumes on crazy hat day too!
Now there’s a real hot banana pepper.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

One Creative Gift Idea: Glass Flowers


Glass flowers. Whoever came up with these babies must be a real thinker. I can see the inventor as a keen businessperson who loved to decorate her home, but had a lot of other things on her plate. Let’s call her Sally.

So Sally thinks to herself: “Real flowers are always ideal, but watering them and constantly making sure that they get proper sunlight can be a huge hassle. And then there are those hopelessly listless plastic flowers that just don’t look right, no matter how well you arrange them.”

It appears that she’ll have to make a choice: bear the hassle of those lovely real flowers or suffer the scorn of visitors who notice her plastic ones. Ugh. Decisions, decisions.

But then she suddenly has a brilliant idea. “Plastic flowers are only ugly because plastic looks really cheap. What if we use a better-looking material to make the flowers?”

Of course, the first thing that came to her mind was gold, but obviously, as an intelligent businessperson, she had her budget in mind too. After pondering this for a few days, she finally put her finger on the perfect material: painted glass!

It’s stunning, affordable, and low-maintenance. Next time, when you want to give the gift of flowers, glass is always appreciable. What a sizzling hot banana pepper!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Coming Up With Creative Little Ideas: The Life of a Hot Banana Pepper



Believe it or not, you have great ideas everyday.

Some of these great ideas will be patties (refer to the definition on the left). Patties are your million-dollar aha moments, where something just clicks in your brain, and before you know it, you’re piecing together your brilliant new invention. How about the airplane, the email, or the television?

"Hot banana peppers" is the other category these great ideas can fall under. Hot banana peppers are those teensy-weensy ideas that we barely even realize are floating around our heads, despite how important they are to us. Coloring books may not be on quite the same level as automobiles, but shading in princesses sure does make little girls a bit happier.

The point is, hot banana peppers are awesome and you can come up with them with this acronym:

Observe

Remember when your grade 1 teacher continually asked you to listen to her? Well contrary to popular belief, there might have been some substance to what she was saying. To come up with a hot banana pepper, you gotta listen, but more broadly, you gotta observe everything around you.

Find a problem

This may seem a little bit pessimistic to you, but while you’re observing, your goal is to find a problem. Actually, it’s easier to find little problems in life; humans are naturally nit-picky creatures and generally have a hard to looking at the big picture. So just find a little problem— say you’re hiking and you find it annoying that you perpetually have to stop to take your water bottle out of your bag. You don’t want to hold it so you’re stuck with this unbearable situation.

Fix a problem

Hmm… What if I invented a water bottle helmet. It’ll have the water bottle mounted on it, then when I’m thirsty, I can just suck some water out of the tube. Perfect!

And that’s the life of a hot banana pepper, folks!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What is a Hot Banana Pepper?

If you are doing a fifth grade science project on the anatomy of hot banana peppers, this is not the site for you. But hey, I may as well be a little helpful— here’s the Wikipedia page on “Banana Peppers.”

On the other hand, if reading up on veggie facts isn’t your thing, you may have come to the right place. But you also may not have come to the right place. See, not being a fifth grader is only the first criteria for you to care about this post, or this blog in general. If you have a problem with made-up words, thinking outside the box, or life, then this blog is also not for you.

If you’re still here, you’re part of a small fraction of co-weirdos who may be interested to hear a revolutionary new definition for ‘hot banana peppers’.
Although a hot banana pepper is first and foremost, an awesome sandwich condiment, there is another fairly obscure meaning. It can also be an awesome idea.

In a hamburger, all the attention is hogged by the patty and all banana peppers do, is provide a little kick in the background. This is very similar to what a banana pepper idea does.

It doesn’t garner much of society’s attention because we’re mostly focused on ‘the big ideas’. However, what it does do is spice up our lives and make the world just that much better.

To illustrate, even though they’re great ideas, Google and electric cars are not hot banana peppers. Instead, they’re the patties or the centres of attention. But safety scissors and water-spraying fans are both hot banana peppers because you’d better believe they’re awesome, but still not cared about.
A hot banana pepper is creative, useful and often improves on the little things in life that make us that much happier.