How to make your first million: "On My Way Home"

29 Apr 2008

Business Ideas 

Ok, maybe not. What this is is an idea that came to me yesterday while expending more effort than really should be necessary to do something relatively simple, and I reckon someone could make a bunch of cash making this. I don't however plan to do (sheer laziness for one), and hereby relinquish any and all rights to the idea. Although if someone wants to send me lots of cash they're free to do so...

Yesterday, I wanted to get a powerstrip thingie so I could finally get around to plugging in my desktop machine (issues with power points/existing adaptors). So, 1) where do I get this from and 2) is there anywhere I can get this from on my way home?

Critical items here: I don't really care where I need to go to get it, provided I can get there before the place closes for the evening, but preferences for less travel time from my work and from wherever to my house.

Currently, process is as follows:

  1. Think of places that might have such an item and will still be open in the evening. Notably, trying to do standard search gets you either a) American shops or b) online stores. Maplins suddenly springs to mind.
  2. Go to Maplins site, get faced with bog-standard store finder. Note that I don't actually care how many miles away something is, but I do care how long it will take me to get there, which is more a feature of tube lines than anything else.
  3. Between Maplins site, tube map and google maps, establish location of a late-opening Maplins, nearest tube, and map from station to location.

Ways to improve this:

One of the major stumbling blocks is a nice programmable interface (XMLRPC, JSON, etc) to the TfL journey planner (which is otherwise quite good, despite its quirky weighting system). Given that they make their money when more people use the Tube/Bus system, I would have thought that providing this sort of information would tend to be a net gain for them. If anyone gets an opportunity to query $MAYORAL_CANDIDATE ask them about this. Well, "free access to information" is probably a more mediagenic soundbite, but you get the drift.

Anyways. This may well be one of my various posting initiatives that dies a slow death, or I may write a few more of these as ideas come my way.

Previously: Portal Next: The Everything Store: proxying for network-mediated barter