Oh, Well

There are so many interesting things I could have done with a few hundred million dollars…

No, I didn’t win the Powerball* lottery last night. I’m fairly sure no one reading this blog did either. If I’m wrong about that, (a) congratulations and (b) drop me a note so I can bounce some ideas off of you.

* Interestingly, the official Powerball website is a candidate for a WQTS writeup. A few highlights: the name of the lottery is capitalized differently (“Powerball” or “POWERBALL”) sometimes even withing a single paragraph, multiple typos–I saw a couple of occurrences of “teh”–and, perhaps most annoying, not all parts of the site have been updated. The FAQ, for example, sometimes says there are 35 red balls and sometimes 26. The change happened in October, 2015; that’s a long time to leave the site partially-updated. I actually wondered if I hadn’t stumbled onto a look-alike scam site, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I’ll admit, most of my ideas would benefit me more than you, unless you’re planning to move to my neighborhood–how would you like to own a hospital or an in-fill transit system?–but isn’t that traditional when asking a lottery winner for money?

One of my more geographically diverse ideas was to fund every open Kickstarter that hadn’t met its pledge goal as of a particular unannounced day. If you did it today, that would be a bit under 4,000 projects. That would certainly brighten a few people’s lives.

On the other hand, where would you put all of the T-shirts, postcards, and other Kickstarter incentives? No, don’t suggest donating them to charity. I doubt you could find anyone willing to handle them as they trickled in.

For that matter, what would you do with the accumulation of actual Kickstarted items? As I write this, there are almost 400 unfunded books out there. Your local Friends of the Library is probably not going to take 400 self-published books. Nobody, not even the food bank, is going to take the 350 assorted beers, salsas, and discounted meals in restaurants around the world.

And then there’s the ethical concern. We’ve seen some awfully dubious projects on Kickstarter. Would you really want to fund the inevitable useless cancer cure? Or even just the smartphone app that lets you “communicate with your pet through personalized sound and scientifically developed vibration patterns”? No, I’m not making that up. I communicate with my pets through sound and vibration every day. It’s called talking to them and patting them. Why would I want an app to take over for me?

What really killed the idea, though, was this “brilliant” project. That’s right. A wireless thermometer with an accompanying smartphone app that tells you when your hot beverage is cool enough to drink.

That’s it’s only function; the FAQ specifically warns against using it for non-beverage purposes. We won’t even get into the expected battery life. OK, we will: one hour per charge. For most people, that would be a single use on a charge. They’re hoping to push that to eight hours by the time it ships in May.

The stupid, it burns! If only there was a way to tell if a Kickstarter was safe to drink…

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