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Monday, August 29, 2005

Practically Brilliant
Sometimes the most ingenious solution to a problem is as plain as the hand in front of your face.

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...or at least as plain as the finger of the hand in front of your face.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Lessons from The
World of Warcraft

Or, All I really Need To Know
I learned from Fighting Orcs.

1. Join a Guild.
Commit to a team of people banded together toward a common goal. A group with diverse backgrounds, talents, and skills can help solve problems, complete quests, share knowledge, equipment, and support. A great guild can help you advance player levels as quickly as possible.

2. Share your Magic.
Have a power, skill, or talent that someone else does not? Would you normally share this skill is asked to do so?

Then, why wait to be asked?
Nothing can give a person's day a positive spin like a little bit of magic or unexpected assistance thrown their way.

'Cast a spell' over someone as you pass them by. In WoW they are called "buffs' -- little power bonuses to increase another player's armor or strength for a limited amount of time. What sort of buffs can you bestow upon a friend, coworker, family member, (or complete stranger!) as you interact with them today?

3. Dragons are more easily slain when someone's got your back.
The quest/tasks in WoW are designed to be challenging, and some are specifically designed to be completed in groups. You need trusted allies (see 'Join a Guild' above) in order to survive these threats.

But, what if you're of a level high enough to sweep in and grab the prize without harm? Or perhaps you've successfully completed a task that another player is just now facing? How about watching the back of someone else who is just now encountering a trial you've already faced? You both get to gain experience from it, and the lower level player gets to benefit a bit from your wisdom.

4. Expand your Network.
There are dozens of unique villages and towns throughout the World of Warcraft. Within each town are specific characters that can help you along the way. These shop owners and skill trainers can help you grow stronger by saring knowledge and selling you tools and weapons to accomplish your quests.

Just knowing the right people in the right towns can prove valuable knowledge in the game. The most frequently asked questions in the game chat window are usually about finding specific characters within the individual towns.

Don't be so focused on completing a single task that you miss interacting with the people and surroundings you encounter along the -- the extra time spent building your network of people can make completing the next task much easier.

5. Do all your Trogg hunting at once.
Already have a trip planned to Old Town or the Dwarven city of Iron Forge? Why not see if any quests need completed along the way and in the surrounding area? Nothing can slow you down more than realizing while you were busy killing Troggs who were terrorizing the town, another quest in the same area was going to ask you to collect their teeth or bandanas -- requiring to go out Trogg hunting a second time.

Combine your tasks and share your quests with others. Completing multiple goals will help all members of the adventuring party advance more quickly.

6. Enjoy the Scenery
There is a lot of beauty in the details of this game. Don't get so wrapped up in checking quests off your to-do list, that you miss your surroundings.

Look up and enjoy the sunny sky. Climb the mountains and gaze upon lush forests and cool streams. Stare up at the stars in the night sky and don't forget to keep an eye on the horizon -- you just never know when you'll see a gryphon flying by.

If you see Falchion the human warrior playing on the Gilneas server, be sure to say "Hi" to the Idea Guy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This is Why.
People are constantly wondering why mega-corps refuse to accept ideas from outside sources. The primary reason I have found this to be true, ISN'T because they are not interested in new ideas, innovation, or bettering their position in the marketplace -- it's because there's a very good chance a similar idea may already be under consideration or development within the company.

Being the litigious society that we are, there is a HUGE risk that the company would be sued for seeming to "steal" the idea they had accepted from an outside source. The corporation has a much better chance of defending its position if they simply don't put themselves at risk -- which means adopting a zero-tolerance policy for accepting ideas outside of their corporate walls.

While some great ideas can certainly come from consumers and 'amateur' Idea Guys and Gals, these same streetwise innovators are notoriously egotistic and adamant when accusing someone of stealing their idea. They seem to leave no possibility that more than one person could have arrived at a similar, even identical, conclusion.

And it doesn't just happen to some Joe Schmo off the street -- witness this news blurb about a lawsuit from a pair of tv producers from Minnesota who have syndicated a show to over 125 stations across the US. Their show is call "Million Dollar Idea" and it is filmed at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. Contestants on their show compete for 50,000 in seed money to develop an idea pitched to a panel of celebrity judges who choose a winner.

There's really nothing that original here.
It's American Idol meets The Staples Invention Quest Contest -- and there's the rub. Idol judge Simon Cowell, ABC, and some associated entertainment producers are being sued by the Minnesota pair for "unspecified damages" and to prevent a similar show (called "The Million Dollar Idea") from hitting the air waves.

Truly, I don't think there was any theft of intellectual property. If there WERE, I'd certainly hope there would have been a better attempt to disguise it. I think this is a classic case of multiple people coming up with the same idea. Granted, I think our Bloomington group should win an injunction against the show, causing Cowell and company to buy their rights (if they're interested in selling), but I don't think they should be awarded any damages -- ABC's show never hit the air. What damages could they have suffered?

That said -- I don't think the core idea is original enough to protect it against similar competitors. After all, look how many spin-offs American Idol, Survivor, and The Apprentice have spawned. Cowell and ABC simply need to adjust their concept enough to (slightly) differentiate it from the show already in existence.

The easiest path? Instead of having the celebs pick the winner -- open it up to online voting, 976 numbers, and text messaging. Match it up more closely with the American Idol formula (as a matter of fact -- called it "American Ingenuity") and I think they'd be in a position to have the lawsuit dismissed.

As a matter of fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I seem to remember a tv show from several years ago where people tried to introduce their ideas for creating a new "fad" product (like the Pet Rock).

I did some quick Google-ing, but the only thing I can find is what appears to be a kid version of the concept being developed by Dr. Fad, creator of the "Wacky WallWalker." Again, different creators, same doggone idea.

Anyway... THAT'S why no one at the 'corporate office' wants to receive your packet containing really cool ideas -- they're afraid of ending up in court.

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The Idea Department | PO Box 26392 | Columbus, OH 43226 | Phone/Fax (614) 340-7910