Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2005.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

EDC brainstorming done right

Posted 16 May 2005 in technology


Andy and I have been trying to figure out a summer project for us to work on together, and we've lit upon tackling a Python programming project. The question then is: what should our project be? So today when we went to dinner we did some EDC-style brainstorming.

EDC is a course that Northwestern requires engineering students to take, and the brainstorming method that we were taught is pretty simple: Start out with a game or activity. Have food or snacks available and within easy reach. Don't judge, or think about feasibility of ideas, just write down every idea that pops into anyone's head. Keep the momentum going, and go crazy with creativity.

So Andy and I did exactly that, and here's the stuff we came up with (roughly categorized, and with more commentary than what I have written on this Chipotle napkin):


  • FTP

  • shfs

  • Lilypond

  • cdrecord

  • SSH options

  • Xorg options

  • SFTP (applet?)

  • The Sourceforge bugtracker

  • Multiple-file filename renaming

  • CUPS configuration (motivation)

  • Linux kernel configuration options

  • Octave (like MATLAB, sans teh suck)

  • Iptables options (look at Firestarter)

  • Libgaim (we want to have a replacement interface to Gaim)


  • The Apple file manager

  • The Foobar2000 interface

  • Muine (in Python instead of Mono)

  • iPhoto or F-Spot (photo management)

  • Weatherbug for Windows (except not bad)

  • A freeware loan calculator (no longer available online)

  • The GNOME copy-file dialogue (make Gnome BitTorrent Downloader look more integrated with GNOME)



  • Fortune applet

  • E-mail alert applet

  • Muine for TV shows

  • Replacement for gdesklets

  • Life planner (It Just Works! TM)

  • Flash format (SWF) disassembler

  • A more intelligent album art searcher

  • Apple lossless (AAC) encoder/streamer

  • Generic stats system for tracking things

  • Music cataloguer/player using a database

  • WYSIWYG HTML editor with PHP code output

  • Converter from Apple's Dashboard to gdesklets

  • Directory sharing (secure, monitored -- look at iFolder)

  • Single-window alert system (for RSS, e-mail, IMs, anything)

  • Directory reparenting (a smart moving and removal operation)

  • Database generator (creates database scheme in a script format)

  • Media management (books, cds, videos -- manages location and "borrowed" status)

Please leave comments about the ideas, and feel free to ask questions! Many of these ideas are small enough that we could do several of them over the summer if we really sat down and worked on them, but they are merely ideas, so we're open for feedback. I think both Andy and I will be fielding comments, so start talking!

UPDATE - 05/16

Andy and I talked a little more and came up with a few more ideas:

  • gdb frontend

  • DynDNS frontend

  • Media player frontend (Mplayer or Xine backends)

  • Mount an SFTP connection to a Windows drive letter

  • Checkbook app with a conduit for Palm's Expense application

  • Gnome menu editor (probably helping with work on an existing project)