My employer encourages their employees to participate in some sort of activity outside of normal office hours to keep learning new skills. For me, cracking code is both my job and a spare time hobby, but after eight hours at work it’s often hard to find the motivation to sit down to fix even more bugs or open a dry book on patterns. But this year - just like last year - I plan to make a simple Android app in my spare time. As it turns out there’s an internal contest at work starting these days that involves mobile application development. Convenient for me, since it means that I can, at least in theory, use some of my working hours to work on the Android application.

Whoever wins gets to go on a conference of their choice. My choice, should the grand price mysteriously fall into my lap? Black Hat USA. Some of the greatest minds in IT security come together to share some of the most impressive hacks you’ll see that year. Who would not want to go to a conference where they recommend that you to leave all your gadgets at home and just bring a notebook and a pen? If you bring any gadgets you can be pretty sure they are hacked beyond all recognition when you leave the conference. Sounds like fun to me!

But to win an app contest where the competitors are the “best consultants in the universe”1 can be challenging and a killer app is required. Unfortunately, I have no idea what to develop. I did have a pretty good concept outlined, but it turned out the data required isn’t public and collecting the data myself is impossible, or at least not very practical. Also, all the killer applications are already developed. But the thing is that most these killer applications are based on an idea so simple and trivial any idiot could come up with them. Another option is to take a great concept and do it better. But how many flashlight applications are there room for? At least 1000.

During the last couple of days I’ve worked really hard to come up with a good concept. I’ve even brought out that pen and paper all the creative people recommend. I’m this close to starting to write on Anniken’s napkins and I have still not had a great idea that hasn’t already been done. I’ve given myself a deadline until next week to come up with something. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll just have to leech off of someone else’s great idea.

The Simpsons did it.

  1. Totally unbiased management quote. ↩︎


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