Solar Panel Innovations

We live in a fast moving world.  Fast both in development and motion.  And traditionally we have powered all this with fossil fuels.  We have long known that this energy supply will come to a natural end and now global warming and climate changes have accelerated to a point where we must act much more quickly to avoid further, costly environmental damage.

A sea change in finding alternative solutions for this has been the rapid recent development of electric power.  Although some of this is generated by traditional fossil fuel sources a growing amount is being powered by cleaner and greener options such as wind, wave and solar power.

For transportation to embrace this power source there is a reliance on batteries, from early developments in heavy lead acid technology, through modern Lithium Ion versions which provide greater storage and even new ideas still on drawing boards and in the test tubes of many industrial chemical institutions.

Presently getting the electric power to the transport medium is a bit of a faff.  High power electrical charging networks have only recently been planned and built also recharging batteries takes either massive amounts of time or massive amounts of power along with super cooled refrigeration mechanics.  This is because fast charging generates huge amounts of heat as a by-product which can seriously damage or impair the equipment of the charging process.

For this reason a good compromise is solar powered battery recharge.  Often readily available this is generally a fairly low powered constant supply, providing the daylight is present.

However, providing sufficient electric output for a high powered transport device such as a car is currently almost impossible to achieve other than for extremely lightweight prototype concepts.  This is why no attempt is made to cover the roofs or panels of fully electric vehicles with solar panels and why all these vehicles are creeping quietly around the country looking for a fixed high amp electric charge point which they can sidle up to.

And providing sufficient panels for more energy intensive vehicles such as trucks, lorries, boats or even massive ships is even less likely.

Unless you are an ideas man like me and can see a way to beat this problem.  And I present here a number of innovative concepts that may assist.

Solar Powered Cars

Let’s start with cars.

A couple of extremely light weight, prototype, hyper mileage, single seat, pram wheeled, ultra low drag vehicles with a streamlined plastic covering have been produced.  These concepts were built to prove solar power concepts or challenge for self invented high mileage travel records, usually carried out in perfect solar producing conditions.

However, as discussed above our standard, fully equipped five seater electric cars need too much power storage and are used far too often in too many differing conditions to benefit from a charge source via just a few square metres of solar panel on their roof, even if you did add in the bonnet and side doors.  There is just no more space to mount the panels.

This is why they are charged from a static point, either a mains public charger, from a parked charging space at home or something similar at a destination.  This system works fine, providing the owner remembers to plug the car in to the mains and isn’t going on an extended journey.  If such an undertaking is attempted a time consuming electrical fuel stop or two would be needed to be factored in.

So, the problem is the square meterage available of solar panels.  So why not just tow a solar panel array?  The increased surface area may just keep a car going for the number of miles needed for a longer trip.  Imagine a trailer being towed behind the car, stretching back as far as an articulated lorry, quietly sucking up solar rays and sending the charge back into the cars battery via an attached coiled wire.

This is obviously all well and good on main, open, multiple lane roads and shouldn’t be too much of an issue but that’s not the only place cars need to go.  On smaller, twistier, single carriageway roads, local suburban areas and cities a long trailer may be unruly and difficult to handle by the average driver so further innovation is required.

In these instances it is clear that the trailed array of panels needs to be shortened.  So why not have an unfurling array?  A twin axle trolley which automatically stretches out and also retracts to suit the road conditions.

The arrays will either have to be flexible enough to retract into a large roll or perhaps be designed to stack over and under each other in order to suit the trailer wheelbase length.

Maybe the ultimate version of this system would be a roll out trailer actually incorporated into the boot or within the rear bumper area of the car, which automatically deploys, dropping out and extending dependant on road suitability.  Neat and tucked away for parking in congested cities and adjustable enough to suck up some sunshine dependant on the situation.  With the advantage that the most effect will occur on longer runs on main roads, which is the weak point of electric propulsion systems.

Is it possible that this idea is so innovative and indeed needed that current, existing cars may be modified to remove the oily, noisy fossil fuel sucking engine with an electric powered transmission system and fitted out with an inboard, deployable towed power station?

Another associated thought may be that a future roadside recovery vehicle would be equipped with a trailer load of deployable, pre-charged, arrays ready to hitch to cars that have inadvertently run out of sun juice and are stranded on the edge of the carriageways?  ‘Eh, eh’, I hear you mutter.

But enough of cars for now, what about other means of vehicular transport?

Vans, Trucks and Lorries

A similar system could be adopted for vans and trucks.  But with these larger vehicles there is additional unused roof space for fixed panels and more space for incorporating a slide out additional array.  Already many vans and lorries incorporate rear mounted equipment such as fold out load lifting platforms and even especially designed slimline forklift trucks.

For larger lorries already incorporating articulated designs an additional fixed or roll out trailer would be too unwieldy however their roof space is even more generous in the first place so should be utilised.

And in the case of the many articulated lorries which are just independent truck and trailer models with the cab owner hitching up the trailers of others the two parties would need to work to a commonly agreed system to ensure compatibility.  Which makes me think that maybe the universal container design needs remodelling to incorporate solar arrays?  And to avoid having to bolt on ill fitting solar panels to the corrugated roofs why not ‘paint’ a solar panel direct onto the corrugations?  Surely this must be possible using laser etching?

But what if we consider other means of transportation?

Rail

The idea of roof mounted solar panels on trains is not required on much of the already electrified network.  However the rail network system certainly lends itself to miles of fixed solar panel arrays alongside or between the rails for use of the rail network or to feed other non-rail infrastructure, homes and businesses nearby.

Notwithstanding the above, much of the network is not yet electrified and to convert it may be very expensive and require a lot of disruptive construction often in remote and environmentally sensitive areas.  In these cases adopting roof panel mounted arrays on the long trains could be a good option and the towing of multiple, long, linked additional arrays is certainly a feasible thought.

And why isn’t wind power harnessed as the trains pass by?  If you are unfortunate enough to be close to a passing high speed train you would feel the rush of wind created.  Put up vertical fans near to the edge of the train which would spin up when a train passes and convert this mechanical energy back into electrical energy to help power the network points, lights and other infrastructure.

Canal Boats

Canals have some similarity to the rail networks.  Some of the bends may be a little tighter but it is still essentially a system that suits elongated design.  And much like the rail system many miles of it are very open to daylight.

Already many canal boats, usually those that house live aboard residents, take advantage of a few solar panels along with the necessary electronic systems and batteries to power their onboard electrical needs.  However, their roofs are often too congested with guy ropes, poles, brightly decorated watering cans and other useless ephemera to be fully equipped with major arrays.

This is because few canal craft rely on full electric propulsion.  Most instead rely on fossil fuel powered engines.  But if one considers that these engines are usually very low powered they could simply be replaced with a similar power output electric system.

It is doubtful that with current technology that a single boat, even one that extends a full 72 feet in length, would be able to site enough panels on its own roof, even if we utilise my earlier idea of spray painted arrays.  So instead, why not tow an additional hull packed with a full set of solar arrays?

I would add a couple of other extras onto this big fuel cell to make the system more easily manageable down the cut.  I would add a small seating area at the rear and a deployable electric outboard type motor, powered from the array, to make the craft individually controllable when needed.  This would be required when the towed power source is detached from the main boat in order to pass through the standard locks on the canal system.

Finally why not incorporate onboard the hull array a mechanical or electrically automated pivoting system to steer the individual array panels towards any light source to increase efficiency of the system?

The ideas are just flowing out now so let’s scale this up.

River Boats and Ocean Yachts

Already there are fully electric powered catamarans on the market taking full advantage of their generous roof and deck spaces being covered with solar panels which feed battery systems and electric propulsion.  At present their power is limited compared to other more powerful, faster boats and yachts but they can apparently sail continuously in the right conditions at a modest cruising speed.

The trouble with non catamaran design is the lack of roof and deck space.  Plus many yachts are designed with open flybridge cockpits and many, many more are already built already incorporating big, heavy, fuel sucking engines.  So I need to find a solution for these craft as well.

The natural energy source can be the same as the model suggested for the canal boats.  Towed solar panel arrays, powering an onboard battery storage, electric propulsion motor system.

Yes, I can hear you already picking up on a couple of key points.  Calm down I have already thought of these and have them covered.

Firstly, yes some modifications have to be made to the original watercraft.  The current diesel or petrol engines will need replacing with electric units.  But these will be much more compact and whilst being fitted likely to incorporate updated innovation such as steerable pod propulsion to increase low speed manoeuvring around the harbours and marinas.

The balance of the boat design caused by the reduction in engine weight from big heavy fossil fuel engines and gearboxes with huge fuel storage tanks to more compact electrical motors can be offset by judicious positioning of the necessary battery and charging equipment.

Alternatively just build new boats with design incorporated, electric motors and battery storage systems.

But, you exclaim, what about having to tow a massive solar panel array craft behind us whilst trying to pose around the Mediterranean beaches and tearing about in pointless but addictive high speed turns?  My answer is don’t.  The power source doesn’t have to go everywhere with you.  Just tow it to a convenient bit of empty sea, anchor it from tidal movements, disconnect and go off to have some fun whilst it sucks up some sun, only to return at the end of play to recharge from your own self sufficient ‘fuel’ station.

And if you wish to harness even more power why not incorporate some wave energy technology into your floating power station as well?  I’ll explain how when we really scale this up.

Ocean Going Ships

You may think that this article has developed from my ideas on road vehicles, adapting some of these basic ideas onto small water craft and now I’m going all in in an attempt to exaggerate and scale up a basic concept.  In truth it was the energy efficient powering of ocean going liners that made me come up with these ideas in the first place.

I have been on a few cruise trips, including ocean crossings on some magnificent vessels and enjoy it too much to want to give it up for the sake of the environment.  But I have a conscience and want my actions to impact the world in which I live in the most sustainable way.  I heard that cruise ships have an enormously disproportionate effect on natural resources and they are getting ever more popular so I wanted to come up with a solution to save the industry.  I know, it’s all me, me, me.

But how do you electrify a huge cruise ship without if being tethered to a large cable attached to shore?  The answer lies in utilising wave and solar power whilst out and about.  And much like smaller boats and craft the onboard surface area is not sufficient to meet the needs of the many decks of energy hungry occupants below.

I therefore envisaged an idea that the vast surface area of a massive solar array could be towed behind to power the ship, all fitted out with steerable panels to zero in on the source of light power.  Overall size and space taken up need not be a consideration due to the environment in which these vessels operate.  Why not tow massive panel sets over a mile in length?  If size requires it to be unhooked and anchored temporarily whilst the ship puts into ports then shore power can be used whilst the ship is there.

Yes, the towed power source will need some battery storage for harvesting power whilst unhooked, it would be best served with independent motors for manoeuvring and probably incorporate a small manned onboard control tower [and lifeboat for emergency], particularly if it is a mile long!

Finally add in some wave energy harnessing technology as well into this power station, possibly by articulation of sections of the craft and hey, I may just have had an idea that could help save the industry and our planet.  And more importantly, my future cruise desires.

And finally, as a call back to the section above entitled Vans, Trucks and Lorries, remember my idea that all standardised containers incorporate solar panels.  These adapted containers can all be linked whilst transported on massive container ships to provide more self sufficiency and even more planet saving.  I’m starting to wonder whether I could actually be saving the equivalent of two planets by now.

You’re welcome.

Oh, and as for powering all the oil tankers chugging around the world.  No need, they will all become redundant.

Summary Of Ideas

Wow, what a lot to think about.  Just in case you have been overwhelmed by the number of innovative ideas in this one single article let me summarise them below.

  • Towed solar panel arrays for vehicles
  • Adjustable length towed arrays – Retractable roll out and stackable
  • Adjustable towed arrays stored within the rear of vehicles
  • Roadside recovery vehicles carrying spare, pre-charged roll out towed arrays
  • Redesign of the universal container system to incorporate solar panels, adaptable enough to be joined up to help power a container ship
  • Spray painted on solar panel arrays with laser etching
  • Fixed solar panels within or without the parallel rail lines to power electrified trains and infrastructure on electrified and non electrified routes
  • Harnessing wind created by high speed passing trains to power the network infrastructure
  • Floating, towed solar panel arrays for canal craft, boats and even big ships
  • Floating, towed solar panel arrays incorporating wave energy harnessing technology

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk web site Version 5.284 dated 15 Jan 2020 [First Publication]

These are conceptual ideas, untested and made without engineering calculations.  For instance I have no idea how many more miles a towed array would make to an electrically propelled vehicle or craft.  I do however surmise that it would be more with than without

I have not overly emphasised the additional components of solar panel and battery systems.  I do understand that there would be other components such as solar charge controllers, inverters, wiring and isolation to consider.  I also understand that all these things would add both weight and cost and be needed to be incorporated in either the vehicle or towed array or both.  An unaccompanied, towed array left to soak up some sun whilst drifting quietly at sea would do no good to its owner when it returns if an onboard battery etc is not included

At the time of publication I had not fact checked whether any of the ideas listed above have already been produced, developed, patented or are in the process of development.  All I claim is that I have not come across them naturally.  If you know of such innovation already out there let me know and I’ll amend and credit accordingly

I place these concepts into the wild as I feel it wrong to keep them to myself and I also hope to inspire others and generate interesting discussion

As ever, my many ideas are never commercially exploited nor formally patented by me but I would like to see them used.  I presume if you are the sort who takes up the ideas of others and passes them off as your own you would not be the sort who credits the original inventor or chucks them a bit of financial thanks.  If however you are not such a dreadful monster my name is shown above.  Find me, thank me, credit me, reward me.  You’ll feel a much better human

These innovations have not been fully developed, tested, proven via prototype, safety tested, manufactured or fully engineered and are just conceptual ideas therefore the author cannot accept any liability for loss or damage in the testing, use or manufacture of any of these conceptual ideas

MashTop

In April of this year I posted an article proposing the concept of a novel range of mashed potato based take away outlets, arguing that it was more healthy and offered greater choice than traditional burger, curry and fish & chips franchises.

I even attempted to differentiate my idea by suggested a slight change in the packaging of the take away product by proposing a circular polystyrene container.  However this change is not radical enough.  It still has the unpopular use of a one time wasteful box.  So I set about attempting to find a solution to appease environmentally minded people.

I found a solution to this by merging two traditional take away ideas – Fast food and ice cream.

I propose the uniquely novel idea of a brand new food product which I have called The MashTop.

The Mashtop complete
The original concept for a MashTop showing the edible cone cut away revealing a tasty sweet internal treat

The basic concept is a scoop of mashed potato atop an edible wafer cone.

With the mashed potato top additional elements can be added to complete a tasty meal such as the use of frankfurters shown in the adjacent close up photograph.

Other toppings could include slices of various cooked or processed meats or even fish fingers.  Samples are shown within the banner photograph above.

Carrots, baked beans or sprinklings of peas could be vegetarian options or even be included with the meats.

Toppings could include peppers, gravy or selected sauces.

The other novel concept, which really sets this idea apart from what is already available, is the hidden sweet treat internally held within the cone.

The large photograph shows a filling of red jelly with chunks of dark chocolate and a Malteser plug.  But many other mixes could be added such as illustrated by the banner photograph.

Other sweets could be utilised such as Smarties, Jelly Babies, chocolate raisins or maybe healthier options like apple, orange segments or grapes.

The major benefit of The MashTop is the complete lack of environmental waste because the toppings, internal contents and the ‘container’, the wafer cone itself, are all edible.

Additional benefits include ease of use, convenience, the ability for customers to select their own choice of fillings and being quick enough to prepare to be called fast food.

As the original designer and so first user of this concept I am uniquely qualified to report on the success or otherwise of this concept.

For the purpose of this article I simply used products that are easily available at large supermarkets and I used no more ‘cooking’ than boiling a kettle.

I used a freeze dried potato mash option and warmed the frankfurters by emptying the water from a tin and adding boiled water.

With more effort in a full kitchen fresh potatoes could be peeled, boiled and mashed but the end result would look little different.

Because I like the way I prepared the food I was personally satisfied with the taste and texture of the mash based topping.

It was as easy to eat as a classic ice cream and didn’t spill anywhere.

The interaction between the mash, frankfurters and the room temperature cone was admittedly a bit unusual because this is not the normal way of consuming food.  However it was perfectly acceptable.

The only change I would make is a thicker wafer cone as the moisture from the mashed potato was easily absorbed around the cone perimeter.  This would be less likely the quicker the product was consumed.  Alternate thicker, stronger cones were not available in the supermarket that I used.

The internal treats were lovely as expected and no such differentiation between the cone and sweet filling was experienced.

When reselecting a different more substantial cone I would also seek a larger size.  The standard small cone wasn’t able to accommodate much filling and the mashed potato based topping was only a small meal.  Ideal for a snack between meals or for children but probably not enough for a main lunchtime meal.  Maybe cone size options could be offered at the retail outlet.

Overall I feel the product has serious potential as a new fast food option.

A complete meal in a take away cone.  Two courses, no waste

Do you like this idea?  Perhaps you have some comments.  The idea is not patented and therefore free to use.  Try it.  Enjoy it.  Sell it.  Sell millions.  Make millions.  Thank me later.

And finally if you think I haven’t also thought of serving other fast food meals such as burgers in a wafer box then you really don’t understand the breadth of my inventiveness.  Another great idea, just dropped in as an afterthought?  You’re welcome.

Author: Vince Poynter

The header image is a compilation of eleven photographs showing the concept of the MashTop product, along with the author holding one of the cones, taken by the author and his wife on 23 Sep 2017
The additional image is a close up of a cutaway MashTop, taken by the author on 23 Sep 2017
I had the idea of mashed potato based fast food outlets a few years ago but only publicly posted this as an idea in April 2019
The idea of the MashTop was fully developed by me by 2017, as can be seen from the date of the photographs. This article is the first WordPress airing of the idea, it was initially published on my web site under http://vinceunlimited.co.uk/mashtop.htm on 11 July 2019. Had I created the article immediately and not spent ages updating my web site as a vehicle for such thoughts I suspect that by now there would have been a sea change of fast food container use and as a result there would be no plastics found in our environment, Polar Bears would have been brought back from near extinction and David Attenborough would be having a nice quiet retirement. For this delay Mr Attenborough and all Polar Bears I am sorry

Ring-o-Mash

I seem to come up with several ideas including many for businesses across many sectors.  Occasionally my mind has to bat them off because they come at me so furiously at times.

And they appear suited to a variety of places but the best need to be sustainable.  After all, in commerce, why sell one of something to someone when there are options to sell and resell and resell all over again to customers.

The best business example of this is of course the food industry.

But the food industry is as mature as a stock of forgotten Stilton.  And often as impenetrable as a stock of forgotten Edam.  However I must stop these silly cheese based analogies to concentrate my best business brain cell on finding a chink in this already well developed market.

So let’s take a look at who does best here.

The most successful must be the high volume, massive turnover, big brand supermarkets.  Unfortunately to take on these giants would take a lifetime of hard work originating from a small base and this is where my forte falls unfortunately short.  By about thirtee-nyne.

The next most successful food based businesses must be the big brand burger and chicken establishments and it is here I see a possible way to sneak a crack into the firmament.

You see these fast food emporiums concentrate mainly on the meat part of the meat and two veg combo.  A burger outlet will mainly offer burger and fries or burger with salad or even burger alone.  The chicken outlets do the same only replacing the term burger with the phrase fried chicken.  And the Asian variants do the same this time invariably leading with the curried meat.  Even the original fast food outlet in this country leads with fish and whatever.

What is missing is the option in these places to vary the ‘meaty’ or ‘fishy’ bit.  So, I think it’s time to lead with the chips.

I could propose a chips shop, offering chips with fish, chips with burger or chips with chicken, all within one establishment.  But chips are as unhealthy as fries so let’s drop the whole frying thing and offer a simpler, basic potato option.

My proposal is to start a chain of take away food outlets with the emphasis on the potato.  And as jacket potato outlets already exist and new potatos are inconsistent and have a habit of rolling all over the place I suggest trying the mashed potato option.

Imagine a smart new food outlet headlined by a healthy, tasty mashed potato choice.  With a variety of additional side extras from meats like burgers and chops, via sausages to curries and stews.  Plus a variety of vegatable choices such as peas, carrots, beans etc.  All topped as desired with butter, black pepper, gravy or sauces.

Mashed potato is simple to produce, there are automated potato peeling machines, and cooking is a simple boiling and mechanised mashing procedure.  The product can even be mass produced in a remote location, freeze dried, easily stored and transported then enlivened by simply adding boiling water.

To further identify this idea from other more established branding and presentation I envisage that mashed potato based take aways should be offered on a circular platter with the non-mash options added within the circle.

Ring o Mash take away
An illustration to show how a take away serving of a Ring-o-Mash, served with sausages and peas, might look.  Note the unique circular design of the polysterene container

This design would help with containment of any looser items such as peas and for liquids such as gravy during transit.

Additionally the design has some familiarity, resembling the classic rice and curry presentation and allows for simple mixing prior to consumption.  In fact the brand Ring-o-Mash was inspired by such a take away design concept.

This concept would be unique, tasty, healthy and could be marketed as suitable for vegetarians, vegans, followers of halal choices or those with allergies.

Setting up a business like this would be relatively simple.  As a basic cottage industry it could be started from home, providing you have a working kitchen.  And on a more industrial scale the concept could be expanded or franchised.

And the best bit is that it is premiered right here.

So are you looking for a new business idea?  Do you have the skills to set this up?  The necessary food hygine certification?  The kettle?  If so please feel free to go for it.

I only ask that you show credit where credit is due by acknowledging me as the person who came up with this idea.  And for about 3% of turnover when you are established in more than three counties.

And a free lunch on Wednesdays.  Because I love mash.  Covered in sprinkled cheese.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Ideas and Food sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 16 Apr 2019
The header image is an original sketch drawn by the author to illustrate how a new mashed potato outlet might look on the high street
The additional image is an original sketch drawn by the author to illustrate how a ‘ring of mash’ take away meal comprising mashed potato, sausages and peas might look if presented in a uniquely designed circular polystyrene take away box

Window Vistas

Through The Round Window

Take a look out of your window.  What do you see?

The chances are that unless you are on holiday, you live on a ship or are currently slumming it in what the Americans call an “ArrVee” the view is exactly the same as the one you had yesterday.  And the day before.

And unless you are about to complete a property transaction or do a moonlight flit from the landlord it will be the same again tomorrow.

I for one find all that a bit monotonous.

And I won’t accept the changing patterns of trees in the winter/spring/summer/autumn argument.  The trees never move and for my money offer less distraction than a city-scape skyline.  At least with a city you may get the chance to live opposite a hospital nurses’ changing room during a curtain closing drought.

So I have devised a cunning way to relieve the monotony.  Let’s all share our views.

I propose that all windows be replaced with a big LCD screen backing onto a networked webcam.

Tomorrow I could be looking out of your lounge window and you could be looking out of mine.  And noting that Mrs Miggins across the road has just painted her front door green.

Obviously certain outlooks will be of more interest than others.  I’ve seen several windows that back onto the neighbours wall and others with fine vistas.

Which gives me the name.  Let’s call this ‘Windows replaced by Vista’.

Although I may need to do some research to see if this infringes any patented trademarks first.

Perhaps we could use a system where we state the number of viewing options available.  I have 7 windows in my house so I could call my place Windows 7.  You see Windows 7 really is my idea.

The system could even be monetised with the most popular views commanding high viewing figures and attracting ad breaks.

And guess which curtain drought outlook would be the most popular?

There are a couple of drawbacks.

In winter you may switch to a nice sunny outlook only to have your Hawaiian shirt thoroughly dampened when you step out into the real world’s shivering rain.

And, being the twenty-first century all soothsayers will immediately rally around the old chestnut of energy usage.  After all these screens would use more energy than a simple plate of glass.

But there is a response.  Ask yourself how a lot of the heat escapes from a well insulated property – through the glazing.  And with this system all windows will be bricked up and insulated.

I foresee that one day you will be able to say “That outlook is so much more improved”.

And that’s no bad thing.

However that potential trademark is also being considered.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 10 Aug 2018
First published in Mar 2010
Windows Vista is the name of Microsoft’s computer operating software released in 2007
Windows 7 is the name of Microsoft’s computer operating software released in 2009
When Windows 7 was released Microsoft updated their ‘I’m a PC’ advertising campaign, which had attempted to counter the Apple ‘Get a Mac’ advertising campaign, using the tag line “I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea”
Microsoft’s Outlook, a personal information manager, incorporating email, was initially released in 1992 and has since had many improvements made up to it’s current version

Monkey Business

Lynda in Gibraltar with a Barbary Ape tugging at her hair
A small monkey checking for signs of grey hair on a dominant female

It is fairly common knowledge that Kingpins in gorilla clans are called a Silverback.

These large males were, to my knowledge, silver in colour because of their age, because just like humans they go grey.  However, a fact I discovered recently was that there can only be one Silverback in each gorilla clan.

If a new gorilla asserted itself on the group and successfully challenged the dominant male for the role then the newly demoted Silverback will revert back to being a black-back – He would loose the silver.

I discussed this with the misses and we had wondered why.

This was a few weeks ago I had accepted that I couldn’t work out why and how this occurred.  However it now appears that my other half had been mulling over this for some time.

Today she announced with great pride, as if discovering the cure for cancer, that this was in fact due to the gorilla realising it’s dominance which promoted change.  A physiological hormonal reaction.

If I am being honest I hadn’t realised this in such clarity but I had given up considering the whys and wherefores because I realised that I wouldn’t be able to answer the reasons on a chemical scale.

But her clarity did make me think that if gorillas can hormonally change their hair colour from silver to black then we as humans, being 99.9% similar on a biological level should be able to do the same.  Or at least we should be able to artificially produce and use the same hormone.

Have we in our grasp the cure for age hair greying?

All we need to do is collect a hair from a Silverback and from a newly demoted ex-Silverback and make a DNA test for the difference.

All this supposes we can find someone brave enough to pluck a single hair off the back of (1) A dominant male gorilla who thinks he is the Lord of all beings and (2) A newly demoted gorilla who a few days ago thought he was the Lord of all beings and is now one very miffed monkey.

I deigned to suggest that I wouldn’t be keen to carry out this next stage of discovery and got accused of being a complete lightweight.

Sometimes it really is hard being a superhero.  The slightest crack in the armour and there are accusations of failure.  I failed to be fully heroic over quite an insignificant matter and was accused of being a big girl’s blouse.

My reaction? Typical Vince.

I likened the thought of being a blouse on a large girl as a positive thing.

But now she’s not talking to me.

And I have to be careful, I’ve noticed she’s going grey!

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog and Ideas sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 19 Jun 2018
First Published: Version 2.03 on 7 Jul 2006

The photo is of the author’s wife, Lynda, interacting with a native, wild Barbary Ape in Gibraltar

Speak To The Nation

A voice for all seasons

[written 2006]

Each decade seems to have its own individuality.  Examples like the 1950s Rockers, the 1980’s excess, even the 1890’s engineering.

However the 2000’s are too young and incomplete to judge but early indications are that the time we are living now may well be remembered as the time of celebrity.

In fact, a particular brand of publicly available, disposable celebrity that every young person seems to think is their inalienable right.

And I think maybe a little known Dutch company is to blame.

Endemol Productions devised Big Brother almost a decade ago but now its tentacles spread far and wide.  The phenomenon continues unabated and promises the dream of ‘being somebody’ to everyday nobodies.

The never ending contestants’ limitless desire to achieve a career [read richies] out of merely being known is almost eqaully matched by our own natural voyerism into these real-life soap operas.

So endemic is the problem that natural talent is being side-lined for manufactured pop-culture.

A good example of this is the huge list of singing competitions.  In the past to be a songbird usually meant teaming up with a writer and creating something, not rearranging someone else’s work.

And as a writer this gnarls at my groin.

It’s time to fight back and I’ll do it in my old traditional way – by joining them!

Although scathing about the concept of fame TV I actually have a desire to be part of it.

I too am seduced by the promise of eeking out an easy living and would relish the lightweight, unearned adoration that entails the lifestyle.  Cheap, but desireable nonetheless.

But Reality TV producer’s don’t come knocking at the door, at least not mine, so I need to get positive and the way I propose is to propose a way.

My idea is to set up a few video booths around the country and invite anybody who cares to leave any message they want.

They would be stationed in public squares, parks and stations and be the twenty-first century version of speaking at Hyde Park corner.

The messages will be recorded and sifted by a team of editors to extract the interesting from the banal, with the best featuring on a weekly programme.

Some may choose to record daily dairies, others may vent their spleen, but most will just be childish giggling and vociferous slang.

Not to worry, talent and interest will shine through and there will be gold amongst the dross.

I know you are now thinking that this has been done before.  After all, even the failed contestants of some singing shows get their chance to prove in a video booth why they were not selected the first time round.  So why would this format be successful?

The answer is money.

The twist would be that it would cost a nominal amount to record the message.  The booths would operate only on the basis of fiscal intercourse.

In the same way that TV companies love programmes that force viewers to pay by voting on a telephony device, producers would love a TV system that pays for itself to be made.

All I need now is a TV Production Company and I’ll be able to share the decade with the Dutch.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 13 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 in Jun 2006
‘Big Brother’ is a fly on the wall style documentary TV programme whereby miked up participants, chosen by their personalities and looks are grouped to live close to each other in a house surrounded by cameras to capture their every movement and conversation.  The footage is edited to entertain and as time progresses the viewers get a chance to vote out the least interesting characters thereby ending with a winner who receives a cash award
If you are thinking this idea is just YouTube which is a widely used free service please note that I offered this idea in Jun 2006.  YouTube was only founded as a web address in Feb 2005 and it took a few months to get funding and wasn’t formally launched until Dec of that year.  In mid 2006 it wasn’t that well known, certainly not by me.  In fact it wasn’t until 2010 that I uploaded my first video to YouTube

Coloured Chocolate

Colourscrumptious

For years my favourite colour was brown.  Even now I cannot decide on a suitable replacement.

Red seems so obvious and more interesting colours like burnt orange are too obscure and would mean I would spend all my time explaining why I chose that hue.

But brown is considered so bland.  It is the colour of the country when all the lovely greenery gets trampled and the washed out colour that multiple shades of plasticine turn to when mixed.

Mind you, real fresh conkers are the most beautiful tone…of brown.  And brown is the colour of chocolate, one of the best discoveries man ever made.

Chocolate is traditionally brown presumably due to the natural colouration of its main constituent, the cocoa bean.  But most other foodstuffs can be coloured so why not chocolate?

And I know by now you are probably screaming at the screen that white chocolate is as common as the Milky Bar Kid in a top ten list of cheesy, spectacled children in TV adverts.  But one alternative, sickly option is hardly a rainbow of choice.

Why can’t we buy red, blue or even purple chocolate?

Why isn’t a Terrys Chocolate Orange orange?

Terry's Chocolate Orange
A Terry’s Chocolate Orange.  The rare brown version

Kids would go crazy for the new hues, tempting them back into a snack that has been increasingly sidelined due to the modern obsession with skinny [I think chubby oiks are like that due to lack of exercise more than bad diet].

So Cadburys, Nestle, Terrys et al get your cochineal out and colour that choc.

Incidentally, I’ll know when my idea has fully matured.  Not when I can get strawberry chocolate in red but when I can specify my own shade.

And at that point I’ll choose fresh conker.  A gorgeous mix of browns.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas and Food sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 5 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 in Apr 2006

Intelligent Shoes

Thinking on your feet

The world of fashion footwear is a major business.  Each season top name manufacturers compete to produce more outlandish designs than their previous models and peers.  There must be millions spent each year on designs to wow an eager public and develop bold, innovative ways of capturing the cash of a world-wide audience.

So why is it that I can come up with a novel idea and offer it to anyone whom cares to patent it?  Along with suitable commissions of course.

It’s because I’m such a nice guy.

Although training shoes seem to have developed to their zenith there are still ways to make a version stand out from the crowd and like all good ideas it is just an amalgamation of two previously unconnected current products – hence easy to develop and market.

My idea is to mix footwear with pedometers.

Pedometers are simple counting devices that work by a weight shifting about on each movement.  After basic data is inputted the wearer of the device can calculate the distance covered and often more, such as calorie use and average speed.  All this data is important to an image conscious fitness fan.

And techno fans would love a pair of shoes with an inbuilt LCD panel.

Of course, restricting the idea to training shoes would be underusing the technology so a range of different shoes could include a mini-computer.

As is the pattern of idea development it is wise to consider the downsides.

Cost shouldn’t feature as pedometers often cost just a few pounds and shoes, in particular training versions, attract buyers even when the cost soars.

So the only downside is the potential big-brother factor.

Consider for a moment that the Post Office likes the idea and supplies all its postmen with versions.  The daily trips could be monitored.  Bonus paid on distances covered or deducted for skipping a street.  Although in fairness skipping does take more energy!  We already have spies in our vehicles do we want them on our feet?

And one last thought.  Could this develop into the chastity belt of the 21st century?

Develop the idea into other areas of clothing and put a monitor on the spouse’s underwear.  Then check when you get home how often they have been up and down.

Now, sex, that is a major business.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 21 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 in Sep 2005
At the time of writing my idea was genuinely novel.  However with the passage of time the idea of attaching pedometers to sports shoes now seems commonplace.  In fact the first and most notable example of integration between sports footwear and a pedometer came in the form of the Nike+iPod Sports Kit which was announced on 23 May 2006 and released on 13 July 2006, three quarters of a year after I published my idea.  Coincidence?

The Radio Text Idea

Cheap Texting – Saving a fortune on text messaging

Written in March 2004

An image of a simple mobile phone with small dot matrix type screen
A typical budget texting mobile phone that was used around 2004

As a writer I am still able to wonder at the beauty of the English language and derive pleasure from ensuring that my work is grammatically correct.

This is why I so despair at the gradual erosion of our beloved language into a staccato of symbolic minimalism encompassed so willingly in modern texting.

Other times I may view this mindset as a bit grammatically pedantic.  More French than our ever evolving English.  After all, as a writer a changing language gives you many more tools to construct with.  So why shouldn’t I abbreviate abbreviate to abbrev8 or abr?

So my real concern is not the flexibility that abbreviation gives but the fact that in truth the technique is developed as a lazy result of our modern immediate society.

Notwithstanding all that it will not prevent me from profiteering from an idea based on this trend.

From what I read in the media one of the most common places to find texting on a frankly industrial scale is within schools and I understand that even the youngest of kids is keen to get going.  The net result is a phenomenal profit for the big telecomm companies at the expense of the poor parent’s wallets.

So I have devised a way of texting within schools for free.

The idea emanates from a two-way radio I purchased.  The radio itself was pretty useless at the task that I wanted it for so it was consigned to the eBay bin but a feature interested me.  The radio included a button labelled Morse.

After discounting the fact that this might summons a policeman from Oxford in a tatty Jag I thought it wouldn’t be too hard to develop this into a simple radio frequency text facility.

A simple keypad and chip could translate the keyed entries into Morse Code and send them through the airwaves.  The receiving machine could pick up the Morse and translate it bk in2 txt.

Dmn, I swor I wd nvr do tht.

There would be a couple of technical hurdles to traverse.

The first to spring to mind is the problem of limited transmission frequencies but the chip could incorporate a simple encoding key.

Another problem could be the relative speed of keypad entry compared to the standard speed of Morse Code but there is no reason that if it is an inter-electronic communication that the Morse couldn’t be transferred at higher speeds.  In a way the dashes would become mere dots and the dots a blurry dash.

Do you know what?  I’m cming rd 2 this txtg idea aftr all.

In hndsite u cud cnsidr it a nw art form, clevrly constrctng new smpler ways 2 cmmunic8 evr mor rapidly.  Englsh has movd on frm Shkspere an we shld mov on frm the stffy grmmar of r parnts.

Ys, Im hookd.

Not.

So, the options are as follows:

  • You are a budding Engineer and want to develop the idea and deprive the giant Telecomm Corporations out of millions of pounds making yourself a fortune into the bargain – Email me and we’ll thrash out the patent details.
  • You represent a giant Telecomm Corporation and want to bury this idea – Email me and suggest a sum of money that would encourage me to remove this idea from cyberspace.
  • You are an expert in grammar and want to correct the syntax on this page – Email me nicely.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 20 May 2018
This idea was first penned in Mar 2004, well before the age of unlimited calls and texts.  The lack of reference to Bluetooth functionality in the article suggests that I was unaware of this technology at this time.  Bluetooth was first announced on 20 May 1988 and the Bluetooth 2.0 specification in 2004 with variant 2.1 not being adopted until 26 Jul 2007.  First Published: Website version 1.04 in Mar 2004

Football – Extra Time

4-4-3-2-1-nil

Photograph Vince, aged around six in shorts and white shirt on a sandy beach kicking a football
Pelé, Maradona, Ronaldo, Messi, Müller, Lineker, Poynter. All could kick a ball. Only one is known primarily for his skills on an Isle Of Wight beach

I’m male and English so statistically speaking I should be a football supporter.

Football is described as the national game and in any group of men numbering greater than two the subject is raised within 18 seconds of discussion.  The only exception to this is groups of homosexual men or serious music buffs.  And as the only place I’d like to see ‘three tenners’ is in my wallet I conclude that I am gay.

However I attempt to confront the serious issue of soccer and do try to follow the prospects of my local team.  The trouble is that recently [2005, when originally written] they have been demoted to the second best division which for reasons only known to Neanderthals and men in sheepskin coats is known as the First Division.

You see, football can be a complex issue and I haven’t even breached the ‘offside rule’.

But the most controversial part of any modern match is often the ending.  A point where there is some similarity with serious music buffs – unfinished work.

As football is so pervasive in the modern era the opportunity to string out an inconclusive match over several re-visits is near on impossible.  Couple this to the advanced skill level that the players perform to and the situation arises that it is almost impossible to differentiate between two sets of eleven overvalued prima donnas so match results are often stagnant.

Or to put it in simpler football terms – Modern knockout matches often ‘go to penalties’.

Penalties are undoubtedly an exiting form of entertainment.  The suspense of the situation, the simple errors that change fortunes and the personalised guilt all add to a thrilling conclusion to an otherwise dull result.

The problem with penalties is that they are not representative of the game that preceded them.

The game is a rich mixture of fitness, skills, strategy, challenges and tactics involving specialised components led by an on-field captain and supplemented by the wise knowledge of an off-field coach or manager.  Whereas penalties are just whacking a stationary ball.

An alternative end-game scenario has already been used many times before, known as ‘the golden goal’.

Here, both teams play a set extended time but if one team scores then they win, there and then.  The disadvantage is that very often the goal never comes so the match ends again in unsatisfactory penalties.

The reason golden goals aren’t scored is that teams are reluctant to attack as any failed offensive often leads to a reduced defence, so making an aggressive playing team vulnerable to counter-attack.

So called ‘silver goal’ options have been tried that continue a match at least to the half-way point of extended time to counter this negativity but teams are still reluctant to play positively.  However, developing these themes I think I have the answer.

The ‘golden’ or ‘silver’ versions are fine but an added element is needed to guarantee an outcome.

My idea would involve all members of the team including the coaching and managing staff and is relatively simple.  During extra time, every five minutes the coach should have to withdraw a player.

Eleven becomes ten, becomes nine etc.  Eventually a goal would be scored because if just two opposing players were on the pitch one would be able to outwit the other.

Long before that though there would be great suspense at each five-minute period when the teams are rearranged and each opposing coach is forced to make tactical changes.  For instance, at what point, if any, do you remove a specialist like a goalkeeper?

This idea would truly challenge the coach’s skills as well as the players adaptability and fitness all in a footballing context.

Whether this could be adapted to other sports is debatable.

For instance if it were applied to American Football by the time all four hundred* specialist players were withdrawn one by one at five minute intervals the Superbowl final might last until December!

And an alternative option on female beach volleyball match conclusions could involve the addition of an extra player every five minutes until the beach was full.  But is that just fantasy running away with me?

Still, it disproves the gay theory.

*I might be a bit out on these numbers by the way.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 2 May 2018
First published in Sep 2005 when the author’s local football team, Southampton FC, were being relagated to the Championship League following a poor showing in the Premiership.  They wouldn’t return until 2012
The image depicts the author on Sandown beach on the Isle of Wight.  It was taken around summer 1967 and was added on 2 May 2018

Excel Battleships

Click, click, BOOM!

Let’s face it, working with computers all day long is really stressful.

Despite their promises of releasing us from the tyranny of work they have created an environment where the best companies use their PC’s speed to trounce the opposition so creating a world that moves more efficiently using speed rather than smartness.

All at the cost of the PC operator, you and I.

To combat this relentless drive for efficiency we have devised cunning ways to relieve the boredom of computation such as surfing the net and playing the odd game of Solitaire.

The only trouble is that employers, under the guise of flattening work-structures and technospeak like flat-management and empowering, have increasingly opted for open-planned offices.

This means that the Pac-Man game on our screen can be seen by Sally from accounts across the room and she is one hell of a bitch when it comes to snitching, mainly because her own screen is facing her boss in that glass fronted office.

So what we need is a release from work without it being apparent and I think I have the idea – Excel Battleships.

Microsoft Excel is such an ubiquitous programme that we all have a copy, so if Sally spots a spreadsheet she doesn’t have to get apoplectic.

And Excel can be worked on by multiple users simultaneously so dual gaming will be easy to set up.

Plus using tabbed sheets you could develop a real sense of depth.

Are you starting to see the attraction?

So if you want to distribute this concept send me a mail and I’ll outline the details.

Obviously this idea may already be out there, that being the beauty of it we would never know.

But if it isn’t I’ll start – Try level 6/G54.

Did I hit your submarine?

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 30 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 in Sep 2005
The image is of the United States aircraft carrier USS George W Bush [CVN-77] anchored off Alverstoke Bay, Gosport in the English Channel taken by the author on 30 Jul 2017 and was added on 30 Apr 2018

Maintaining The Good Start

Another early blog post from my vinceunlimited website from August 2005

Although I never intended entries to be added daily the initial momentum carries me into the second [blog] entry under full steam.

However, I am already thinking that adding a [heading] next to the date may be an error.  Often one of the most edited parts of my new pages whilst in preparation are the quick-fire headings.  They have to be snappy and relevant whilst offering a subtle hint at the humour within the page.  Not easy in a word or three.

It is a working day again but I grabbed a quick browse on the Internet within the BBC site (again) which led me to their h2g2 page.  This is a growing collection of information that realises the ideas of it’s founder, Douglas Adams, who envisaged such an information source in his novel ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’.  I’ll no doubt return again to this ocean of knowledge in due course but today had a quick surf in the philosophy section where I discovered many fascinating gems.

One was a page answering the familiar conundrum about the chicken and egg (as I had already deduced it was the egg).  This itself was not educational but a link to an alternative answer by Alice Kaswell amused me.  In it she determined the result by posting both a chicken and egg to herself.  You have to click the link [below] to read the amusing story.

Another article within the philosophy section briefly described transhumanism, which is the convergence of humans and technology to give us more than our three score and ten.  Whilst reading this I had to suppress an urge to add a comment in a similar vein about an idea I have been working on.  I’m often suppressing urges like this.  It’s been my nature since very young.  Question and answer sessions following lectures normally see me asking probing questions.

In simple terms my particular idea envisages a future time when due to progress humans can live forever but as their reproduction would soon swamp the world a choice would have to be made between longevity and procreation.  Most parents claim they would sacrifice themselves over to protect their offspring but if it came to it would they?  And if they were given a choice of kids or long life what would they choose?  I think this could make a fascinating subject of a film so didn’t post it on the site.

It just goes to prove that when I spend time reading and regurgitating the thoughts of others I am not preparing my own.  Just like the writing of this blog prevents me from developing fresh new pages on my site.  So a genuine philosophical question arises, the sort that becomes harder to answer the more it is considered.

Is [my] website better without [a] blog?

Of course there are many other side issues developing here.

I’m reminded that yesterday I came to the conclusion that virtually no-one has an original idea and even the most original thinkers and raconteurs are merely re-stating in their own manner all things that they have previously absorbed.  Or at least that’s what I do!

Each person has a stack of knowledge that is in part passed on to a variety of others.

A few months ago I thought I might try to record all I know in some sort of database for no other reason than my ego thinks it would be useful to others.  I was going to add it as a sub-section of this [my website], entitled ‘The Knowledge’.

I procrastinated as it is a major undertaking that may take some time to develop into a useful database and the sapling versions would be hollow.  Further it would, by its nature, lack humour, the underpinnings of [my website], so it is still on the back burner.  Barely alight to be honest and now almost extinguished by the discovery of Mr. Adams’ BBC offspring.

My version had one feature not on the BBC site which is that I envisaged all my facts to be graded.

I figured that each subject should have three categories.  Firstly, the basic explanation, almost a precise brief dictionary expression.  In the second category there would be a few facts and interesting related asides, the sort of fact that would impress at a dinner party without appearing to be an anorak.  Then finally the third level would be the full anorakal description.

So I have a choice.  Develop my original idea – this will take literally years and may be superseded long before it matures.  Secondly I could invite the formal BBC site to take on my grading idea.  And thirdly just get on with my work again.

I’ll take three.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Blog section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 17 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 on 26 Aug 2005
The BBC no longer maintains the h2g2 link.  It is still live and can be found at https://www.h2g2.com
Wikipedia was launched in Jan 2001 and had about half a million entries by the time my article was posted from around 750 contributors.  The lack of my mentioning this source leads me to believe I wasn’t fully aware of this information source at the time of original posting
The Alice Kaswell link is https://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume9/v9i4/chicken_egg.html
I have not finished with my idea about human longevity and am currently working on a book called ‘The Southampton Conundrum’ which explores some ideas in this field

Supercoat

Is it a bird, Is it a plane.  More importantly does it keep out the rain?

Introduction

Coats – Can’t really be improved can they?  A few fashion changes, an odd button, pocket, colour or length perhaps.  Even an exotic material.  They have all been tried before yet our concept of a coat is still basically unchanged.

Until now.

I have two ideas that may be of interest to the coat suppliers of the world and one is so staggeringly simple I’ll wager that within five years half of all coats will feature it.

And this fantastic idea is presented here, published on the web, ready and waiting for it’s first commercial customer to sweep it up and make the supplier and I rich beyond our wildest dreams.

Well perhaps not that rich, but only because of my fertile imagination.  I’m not the sort who upon winning the lottery would suggest I buy my dream car then announce that it’s a Ford Orion.

But I am going off at a tangent here and in danger of everyone thinking that I’m talking about a coat of paint.  Which I’m not.

Overblown

However, before we get to the staggeringly simple idea, how about another simple idea, perhaps just not so staggeringly so.

The idea came to light whilst on one of my unbelievably long commutes in the company of South West Trains.

A passenger nearby, carried out his daily routine of extracting a felt-covered neoprene collar and inflating it to support his head during the next hour and a half’s sleep.

Instead of doing the same myself – that is going to sleep, not inflating a personal rubber ring – I started thinking that although he looked like a complete pimple he also looked very comfortable.

All I needed was to merge the idea of the inflatable collar with something less conspicuous.

It was obvious – my coat should feature the inflatable device.

That way I could discreetly give it a blow job [as it were] and rest in peace.  Then on awakening from my slumber I could discreetly exhale the air and carry on with my day, fully refreshed.

There are a few drawbacks, such as the potential for leaks when some careless mutton pins a badge on your lapel when you visit the local convention, or the potential for farty sounds emerging when deflating your ring piece [as it were]

But on the whole it would be a good accessory for long distance commuters.

Another added bonus would be the potential to develop the idea into quickly inflated airbags for accident-prone pedestrians.  Perhaps this aspect could be developed for motorcycle jackets, for accidents, not for resting on the motorway!

Further developments on the inflatable collar idea could be other parts of clothing with inflatable inserts.

A coat with additional comfort at the elbows perhaps, or a pair of trousers with a bum inflator for comfort.  Although, if you are thinking of developing a patent on that one with me I think we ought to check out J-Lo first.  She may already be on to it.

Sucker For Development

So, onto my main pièce de résistance in the redesign of the coat and as promised it is a simple idea.

As usual the idea sprang to mind when I encountered a problem and this one was where to put my jacket at the office I was working in at the time.

The usual places didn’t suit the suit.  The coat stand was overused and far to near the door for my liking and the back of my chair was too low to prevent the corners of a hung jacket dragging on the ground.

I wanted to hang it on the side of the cabinet but the office hadn’t thought of providing a handy hook.  Naturally, I went out and purchased, at great personal expense, a small plastic stick-on, white hook with peelable double sided tape.

Whilst waiting for the opportunity to purchase said item during that lunch-time I mused that it would be handy if the hook was already there in my jacket.  Thus came about the idea of a built in hanger and what could be simpler and cheaper than a built in rubber sucker.

So that’s it.  There’s the killer device.

A simple inbuilt suction pad installed behind the collar in every coat.

It’s O.K., no need for applause.

The Gauntlet

So who will help develop the supercoat?

With a built in inflatable collar and rubber suction pad.

Coats – evolutionally speaking just starting don’t you think?

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 13 Apr 2018
First Published: Version 2.01 in Jul 2005
Inevitable note due to the passage of time:  Unfortunately my second idea did not get developed in the first five years, or maybe not at all.  Yet.  So I was wrong.  Sorry.  I apologise, unreservedly.  You can have my resignation letter from the internet by next Wednesday.  But wait.  Idea one, the inflation of clothing to protect motorcyclists is with us today.  Someone ran with it and that’s not easy in an inflated jacket.  However both motorbike air bags and my idea are well pre-dated by inflatable personal buoyancy devices [life jackets to you and me] which were first developed in 1900 by French electrical engineer, Gustave Trouvé.  Later on, 1928 in fact, or about half past seven at night, the idea was developed into the ‘Mae West’ life jacket.  This fact led me on to checking Wikipedia to see when inflatable dolls were first invented but there is no record, plus I don’t think carrying one of these on the train to take a nap on would be very convenient.  Or socially acceptable.

Escalator Etiquette

Mounting Excitement

It’s a nice idea to be able to set a trend but I’m having a little difficulty getting this one going all on my own.  After all my influence on thousands is fairly limited so maybe all readers could help here.

I say all readers but in truth this only really applies to those in busy metropolii[*].  My personal experience is of the metropolis called London but I guess that this could be a worldwide idea.  Though not so much use in the Outer Hebrides.

On escalators it is now normal for those that are too fat, unfit or even have too much time on their hands to stand still and let the moving stairs do the work.

This is appallingly lazy and frankly a hindrance to all those who are too stressed to stand still for thirty seconds.

This lacklustre attitude causes mayhem in many places and as such it has become commonplace in big cities for those that stand to occupy just one side of the travellator allowing others to rush up the other side.  This system works quite well so I can’t express improvement here.

However, what I do find though is that the escalators are just not quite wide enough for this difference in speed.

Maybe we have all become wider?  I know quite a few that would fit that category and some so wide they would have to fit in the next category up.

And the problem is exasperated in winter when everyone dresses like they are in Siberia.  Big people in big coats mean a big problem.

But I have a little solution.

I thought of the idea whilst trying to hare up one of the escalators in London.  I had travelled halfway up and realised I was adopting a contorted angular shape with my torso.  Not easy in public, I assure you.  I had this strange forty-five degree gait to avoid crashing into every stationary pedestrian.  After all, crashing past with impunity is not only sometimes painful but so terribly rude.

And there is a simple solution that doesn’t involve shutting down the underground systems for years on end – sorry Unison.

Why don’t the stationary people stand at a jaunty angle?

Simple eh?

This would aide all parties with very little effort.  The hares could charge up and get to their heart attack with ease and the tortoises would not have their left shoulders dislocated.

This could be reinforced with signs such as ‘Stand on the left, at an angle’.

As an inventor of ideas I am of course duty bound to look at the pitfalls as well as the benefits but I am at a loss as to think of them.

There are even added benefits for the businesses that provide these escalators.  All those stood at an angle will be turned toward all the revenue giving advertising.  And those that stand still on rising escalators will not have to have their face buried in the bottom of the person in front.

I’m sold, I’ll be doing it from now, will you?

After all, as I said at the beginning – I can’t do this all by myself.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 2 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005
* Question: What is the plural of Metropolis? It is a Greek word so it should be metropoleis. However the word comes to English via the Latin so perhaps should be metropoles. Google cites a common spelling as metropolises. This is why I am not correcting my own spelling as Metropolii. Let’s see who wins here

The Big (Issue) Idea

You were begging for it

By some standards I am not an overtly charitable person.

I don’t set fire to Oxfam shops or kick Labradors or anything like that but equally if a ‘charitable’ group deluges my post-box with empty envelopes hoping that they may be filled with silver and returned then they will be sadly disappointed.

And I’m not the first to dig deep in my pockets to give money to the needy on the streets.

It is not that I dislike charity I just believe that as a society we handle the situation wrongly.  The more that individuals give the less the need for society to contribute.

I do not object to my taxes being used to help those less in need but do think that it should be a government or council body deciding on distribution to meet genuine needs rather than rely on the success or otherwise of money raising campaigns.  Why should a charity with a cute mascot or one with a big budget get the healthiest return?

Inevitably, one set of losers from my stringent policy is street beggars.  And there must be quite a few like me as begging has developed to become high tech to compete.  Well, I mean high tech in the comparitive world of scruffy tramps.

Now, instead of asking for money in a menacing fashion homeless people can now sell a service, a magazine called The Big Issue.  It even has its own website – I told you it was high tech.

Now I have often passed these one product newsstands and seen the vendor struggle to sell their magazine, despite some high profile guests and modern looks.  The problem is image and the thought that it is cover to cover with dreary stories of despair, which it isn’t.

But being me, I had an answer.

Once, when a scruffy lad asked if I wanted to swap one of my hard earned pounds for his magazines I initially politely declined and started to pass by, when an idea dawned on me.

I stopped and suggested he could either take the price of one magazine in exchange for said article or I could give him an idea to sell hundreds more.

Being a thoughtful, considerate man he mused over the offer for a second or two then demanded his pound.

Then announced in a slur “You’re my best friend, you”.

Alas, he had missed the opportunity of his lifetime.

In a charitable manner I am now going to give out the advice I had to anyone reading this article.

You see, it occurs to me that the street magazine sellers are missing out on one of the most populous parts of city society – the tourists.  And my idea will make the magazine appealing to all of them.

Add a map of the city

Simple.

Now, when you have recovered from the shock of such a simple idea and wondered why you hadn’t thought of it you might start to consider the pitfalls.

Copyright is the major downside.  Some companies make quite a profit out of selling ‘disposable’ maps of cities to tourists so they are hardly likely to allow their map to be used.  And our national map supplier is not known for it’s charitable work.

But this is where the idea still holds ground.  Why not draw the city from scratch?

I know that would be a labour consuming process but hey, isn’t that what these people do?  Walk the streets all day?

The only other pitfall I can see is the image issue.

Do our town mayors want all the tourists approached by a scruffy urchin offering a rain sodden map and a promise that “You’re my best mate, you”?

But to deny the scheme for this reason alone would be uncharitable, wouldn’t it?

Author: Vince Poynter
From the ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 31 Jan 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005 and reproduced here with minor editing
The Big Issue magazine scheme was launched in London in 1991 to help rough sleepers move from street begging to selling a service and now costs £2.50 per copy with 50% of that price going directly to the vendor. Their website is http://www.bigissue.com