#14: Escaping from tv advertisement mentality

14% of all spending on advertisements in Britain is now invested in online marketing. I expect a lot of that goes on slush funds and junkets to the Maldives, but even so, that’s a hell of a lot of money. I suspect two things are driving this:

1) That more people are frustrated by the low quality of contemporary tv.
2) That advertisers are starting to get the fact that in online advertising, you don’t just fire a campaign out there: you can actually monitor the results in terms of clicks, or even £ spent, as a result.

Which leads me to today’s idea. It’s hardly an invention, more just common sense.

At the moment, whenever I reload this page (with its admittedly diverse content) the ads which our friends at Google send to my browser include:

  • one from a driving school
  • one from a hotel in Manchester
  • one from a vacuum flange manufacturer
  • one from a rental villa near Disneyland
  • one for some medical gas systems
  • one for a red consumer product ‘as seen on tv’ which is so indistinct that it’s unclear what is being sold (maybe the mystery element is supposed to provide an incentive to click?)

Today’s idea is that one way to improve online advertising effectiveness is to place less emphasis on tuning the ad. content to reflect the page content…instead, if I haven’t clicked on an ad. in say the last two or three showings, it can safely be assumed that I’m not interested…so don’t show me that ad. again: ever. This can all be arranged easily via cookies, without placing that much extra strain on anyone’s ad. server. I’d be happy to opt-in, even if a privacy obsessed minority object (do they actually ever buy anything?) Given that the current click-through rate on banner ads is only 0.39%, this must surely be worth a try.

#10: Wind resistant traffic cones

I’ve noticed that in particularly windy parts of the country, two traffic cones are used at a time, one purely being employed to hold the other one down in high winds. It occurred to me that it would be better to equip each cone with a moulded-in compartment into which water could be poured from the cone laying truck. The weight would allow each cone to stay securely in place in even the wildest weather.

When the roadworks have been completed (it does happen sometimes) a plug could be pulled before loading cones back aboard.


An alternative, involving no extra weight, would be for the base of each cone to incorporate an inverted aerofoil moulding which, as the wind rises, would suck it down harder onto the tarmac (a similar process to the ‘wings’ on F1 racers). This would also be a useful addition to the existing wheelie bin designs which routinely overturn in the wind, spilling household waste all over the pavement.

#9: Deadline downcounter

A clock which allows you to enter some deadline time and then says ‘Two minutes until deadline’, ‘One minute to go’, ‘You are cutting things a bit fine now’, ‘Get a bloody move on’ and eventually ‘…ok, you are now officially late.’

The voice could range from relaxed and encouraging to frantic and hectoring (Think 1980’s Montego but without the velour upholstery).


#8: Autonomous satellite vacuum

An attachment for a standard vacuum cleaner consisting of a small, simple robotic ‘mouse’. The mouse is connected to the cleaner by a light flexible, smallbore hose.

It is capable of moving itself about randomly on a floor surface using only tiny battery-powered motors and its small size means that. it can reach into corners and under furniture. The suction is provided by the main vacuum cleaner which remains stationary.


Based on existing, low-cost robotic mouse toys, this device could be fitted with a timer and clean a small section of a floor each day without the owner’s intervention -and it can reach places the $300 Roomba fears to tread.

#4: An end to ironing

Long, long ago I used to iron clothing and so this idea seemed like a winner.

Imagine a shirt which is a flat sheet with a single zip (or the like) running around the outer edge The sheet could have its edge zipped up to form a 3-D shirt.


For ironing purposes, a single press could deal with 100s of the damn things at a time -no more staring at the tv across the ironing board for hours waiting for the appearance of a good programme.

#2: Petcam

Where does your cat or dog go when out of the house? Strap a wireless webcam around their neck and your immediate vicinity (within range of your router) starts to accommodate a wildlife safari. Pipe the pictures to a big screen and get close-ups of midnight mousehunting, roadcrossing roulette etc. An inbuilt microphone adds extra excitement.

Now it seems that this has actually been implemented.