My Brilliant Idea
At my new job, although I spend a fair amount of time at my desk, I’m also up and about quite a bit. I’d say I’m at my desk 60% of the time and not at my desk 40% of the time (for many of you, those numbers may be even more skewed). Somehow I seem to get 99% of my phone calls to my work phone while I’m up from my desk, so I’ve been telling people just to call my cell phone, which I always carry.
The only major problem with using my cell phone for work calls (besides the fact that I foot the bill) is that I often have no medium on which to take notes if I’m walking or driving while I’m on the phone. This occasionally leads to me forgetting a crucial part of the conversation or a small task to complete (like Caroline’s request for me to buy the vegetable trifecta of cucumbers, celery, and beets). I often find myself thinking, “If only I had a transcript of that conversation….” Just as often, I find myself wanting written confirmation of something someone said to me, so I type an e-mail after a phone call to the person with the same information we just discussed. It’s redundant and time-consuming, and it leaves too much room for error.
My solution: A phone that automatically records every conversation you have, transcribes it, and e-mails it to one or both of the people involved in the discussion with the push of a single button. I call it the earPhone.
This phone would take quite a bit of computing power, but I think that voice-recognition software has come far enough to give you a pretty accurate transcription of a conversation. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple is already working on something like this, since they have that software on iPhones that converts voicemail to text. The key to it is the ease of use. You don’t want to have to fumble around with your phone every time you get a call, deciding whether or not to press the “record” button. It needs to happen every time you talk on your cell phone. All you’d need to do is preprogram your e-mail address and your contacts’ e-mail addresses into your phone, and after every conversation you have the choice to send the conversation to yourself or to both parties.
(Afterthought: Ideas like these make part of me happy, because I’m brilliant, and part of me sad, because I have absolutely no idea how to produce something like this.)
Their Great Idea
I just want to pay homage to a great idea that has made my work life easier. It doesn’t use the technology of the earPhone, but it’s just as useful. The invention?
The paperclip dispenser.
You’ve seen them. You probably have several of them on your desk. They’re small, clear plastic boxes with a hole at the top circumvented by a magnetic strip that prevents the paperclips from falling out. It’s such a simple invention, but it works flawlessly every time. It never runs out of gas. It never burns out. It always catches paperclips when you drop them in, and it never lets them back out unless you want them.
I salute you, paperclip-dispenser maker!
I read an article recently about a pair of British twins who were separated at birth, met each other years later (not knowing they were brother and sister), felt an “inevitable attraction,” and got married to each other, only to learn later that they were twins. The odds of this happening are slim to none, but it’s one of the reasons that America (but not, apparently, England) requires couples to take a blood test before they marry. Despite my initial shock over the phrase “inevitable attraction,” I can’t stop wondering this overriding point:
Who still separates twins at birth?!
What gynecologist is delivering twins and handing them to separate parents? Does he really think that’s a good idea? Does he tell the birth mother, or does he pull a little sleight of hand and whisk away the second baby before the mother has any idea?
Separating twins seems like a tradition reserved for biblical times or the 60s, when all twins were separated at birth for nature vs nurture scientific studies. Are people really still doing that? Really?
The Vault (if Caroline obliges…)