Thinking outside the box

Jim Collins, author of Beyond Entrepreneurship (recommended by Cory Miller of iThemes at Pressnomics), suggests that budding entrepreneurs can innovate by studying something that may seem completely unrelated to your craft – “thinking outside the box.”

Lately I’ve been interested in cycling. When I’m riding, rather than putting my mind on auto-pilot (like many drivers do), I find that my mind is more alert. It’s partly due to the fact that I’m trying to avoid getting killed by drivers on auto-pilot. But it is also because I’m going slower, exposed to the air and the elements. I can hear a deer in the passing woods or smell fresh bread from the bakery. It turns out that “slowing down” is an excellent approach to problem solving. In my case, “thinking outside the (computer) box” had just become “thinking while outside.”
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My friend poked fun at my bike saying it looks like a “cop bike.” I took stock and realized he had a point. From the cop bikes I’ve seen, I’d say mine fits most of these criteria, which is to say cop bikes are really just city-going mountain bikes:

  • Flat handlebars
  • Rack/trunk bag
  • Knobby tires sometimes replaced with semi-slick tires
  • Useful lights front and rear

cop_bike

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From touring Miller & Budweiser breweries, I noticed both sites have caves – which have steady year-round temperatures. I assume the caves were used to lager, which means “storage” in German. ¬†Lager yeasts, unlike ale yeast which ferment at room temperature, do their primary fermentation in the mid-50 degree¬†range. ¬†During secondary fermentation the temperature is dropped steadily to slowly deactivate the yeasts. ¬†Back in the day, the barrels could be moved deeper into the cave day-by-day to slowly lower the temperature from the mid-50s down to almost freezing (35¬įF).

Yogurt Maker?

I had an idea to automate this process using an Arduino, especially after reading¬†Chris Reilly’s Arduino yogurt maker¬†from¬†Make Magazine volume 25. ¬†Everything I’ve done here was based on that, so I’ll assume you’ve read it.

Lagering is essentially the same process except instead of using a heat source (crock-pot), we use a cooler (refrigerator). ¬†Getting the refrigerator to maintain temps above 40¬įF can be tricky, so normally an external¬†temperature regulator¬†is used. ¬†But this requires me going out to the fridge every day to lower the temperature by one degree. ¬†So why not automate it? ¬†Laziness FTW!
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Ahh, the Internet.  It’s primary usage has changed over the years, from file sharing, to pornography, to movie streaming.  But one thing has always been at the fore-front: social interaction.  But before the advent of Facebook, there were bulletin boards, newsgroups, and forums (some of which are still in use)… and all of these discussion outlets, once they hone in on a particular subject or subculture, become cesspools of riotous mobs, ready and willing to press THE CAPSLOCK KEY, and add copious amounts of exclamation marks at will!!!!!!!111one

A friend of mine said:

There’s something about the niche nature of [insert forum topic here] that attracts supercilious and argumentative people.

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In the aftermath of what the Bike Snob calls “Shitstorm 2012” (the doping scandal primarily revolving around Lance Armstrong), professional bike racing is being reevaluated.¬† Long-time team sponsor Rabobank has decided to stop sponsoring the sport entirely.

Several pundits are now chiming in, posturing as to what the future of professional road cycling will look like.¬† One of the most thought provoking articles I read actually suggests that doping should be allowed, or at least not prosecuted, by implementing a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

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