Tom Walma

Web Site/App

Neverending Open Mic Web Site

Business, Web Site/App, TV ShowTom WalmaComment

The idea is to have a streaming video channel that runs live 24-hours a day, 7 days a week showing ordinary people doing standup comedy in front of their webcams at home.  Also, a subset (around 100 max) of the people watching the streaming video would use their microphones to be broadcast (audio-only) on the streaming video channel as audience. 

A never-ending open mic sounds like a nightmare if you were required to watch bad comics for hours at a time,.  But it would be good to watch for short periods of time, such as when on the toilet, during commercials on television, etc.  And it would be a great resource for aspiring comics, especially those who live in rural locations.  Also, maybe professional comics would find it useful to test their material in front of small crowds who aren't expecting them.

Signing up would be open and free.  Maybe some "guest spots" or preferential treatment of good comics would be used, but there would be a guarantee of at least half of the time being comics from an open, equal signup process.  Also, maybe those who watch the channel more or broadcast themselves as audience more would be able to jump up the queue to perform.

The web site would need people to fill the following (paid) roles 24 hours a day:

1. MC:  The MC would introduce the comics and encourage applause and such, just like a normal MC.  They would have the power to cut off the comics (i.e. transfer the audio and video stream from the comic back to themselves) in case the comic was super racist or trying to show their dick, or in case of technical difficulties.  The MC would also need to fill time in the case where nobody signs up.  So they would need to have at least an hour of material plus the ability to improvise to fill a lot of time.  The MC would also read short commercials to pay for the web site.  The web site would never completely cut the video to a commercial, they would always show either the MC or a comic.  Banner ads would also generate revenue for the site.  They would also only show ads (even banner ads) when the MC is talking, never when a comic is performing.

2. Bouncers:  The people watching the comedy show on their phones or computers at home (aka the audience) would be encouraged to turn on their microphones so you can hear when they laugh.  Also, the comics waiting to perform would be required to watch with their microphones on for an hour or so before they perform.  The bouncer(s) (1 to 4 people) would see a computer screen with 20 to 50 volume graphs each showing the volume an individual audience member is making on their microphone.  They would be able to listen to the combined volume or to isolate a single audience member.  That way if somebody is heckling on their microphone, or if there's too much background noise from somebody's house, they can mute/disonnect that user from the broadcast audio.

3. Screener:  This person would communicate with the comics before they perform, answering their questions, making sure their video and audio connection is sufficient, queueing them up and providing information about the comics to the MC so that the MC can introduce the comics.

The idea is to have one streaming channel for the entire world (maybe adding more if it becomes successful).  The channel would be in English.  So you could have 4 locations around the world where the MC would broadcast from, and have 4 6-hour work shifts.  So you could have England, East Coast US, West Coast US, and Australia.

You could also broadcast from real-life open mics.  And if the real-life open mic has a small audience, you can connect the audience from the web site to the stereo system and make it sound as if the audience at home was in the real-life audience.

I'm not sure it's technically possible, specifically merging 100 microphones into one common "audience" audio signal.  But with Twitch and Periscope and such, it seems like streaming video technology has improved a lot recently, possibly making this feasible.

House Shopper Traffic App

Web Site/AppTom WalmaComment

When you're buying a house or looking for an apartment, one of the main concerns is how long it takes you to get to your job or your kid's school or your most common driving destinations.

You can just guess the best place to live by looking at a map.  But your proximity to a highway or busy traffic light could have a big hidden impact to the driving time.  You can run Google Maps to see how long it takes to get from one place to another at the current time with the current traffic conditions.  Maybe even the average traffic conditions.

But typically you need to arrive to work at a certain time every day, or leave work at the same time every day.  So what you really need is to know how long it will take AT THAT EXACT TIME OF DAY.

So if you're looking for a place to live, it'd be nice if you had an app where you can save your common destinations and the time of day you need to go to those destinations, then you can cut and paste the addresses of available places to live into the app, allowing you to accurately compare the travel times to pick the best place to live. 

It'd also be nice to have a feature for couples to help find a place to live in between their two job sites, allowing them to split the driving time equally for each person, or to minimize the total driving time of the couple, or whatever their goal is.

MC Squared

Invention, Web Site/App, BusinessTom WalmaComment

Einstein rocked the world of physics with the theory of relativity.  Now its time to use relativity to rock the music world.

If you rate your music by giving it a fixed value as a rating (such as 9/10), you run into some problems.  You may sit there trying to figure out which rating to give, i.e. is it a 8/10 or a 9/10.  Also, if you have 1000 songs rated as 9/10, and you want to decide what to listen to, how helpful is the rating?  And if the quality of music changes over the years, you may go back and find that all of the 8/10s you gave recently are better than the 8/10s you gave years ago, or vice-versa.

The solution is to abandon the approach of giving a rating a fixed value, and instead rate songs based on relative quality to other songs.  It may be hard to figure out whether to give a song an 8/10 or 9/10, but it is very easy to figure out of the song you are listening to is better, worse, or about the same quality as the song you just listened to.  In time, after rating songs in this fashion, the good songs will rise to the top.  You won't have to worry about deciding which of 1000 songs rated 9/10 are better.  You don't have to worry about your ratings drifting over time.

Karma Peacock

Business, Web Site/AppTom WalmaComment

According to Freakonomics, despite the reasons people say they give to charity, the strongest reason is peer pressure.  So to convince people to give to charity, "Karma Peacock" is a web site to allow people to brag about charities they have given to or worked for.  Also maybe environmental stuff such as buying hybrid cars.

Possible features:
• Integration with Facebook:
    • Show friends your karma acts
    • Invite others to karma acts 
• News of upcoming charity events in the region such as 5k runs, etc.
• Cooperation with charities to verify that the person did what they said they did.  A verified icon would indicate whether the item was verified or not
• Coordination of karma such as organizing meetups, raising money a la Kickstarter, etc.
• Assign karma scores to yourself or others 
    • Karma scores could be based on your own karma priorities.  For example, you may not consider owning a hybrid car as good karma.
    • Organizations can give people karma scores based on their specific karma priorities, and you can view the karma scores that these organizations give to you or to someone else
    • Karma scores can be based on a total karma sum, karma rate, or recent karma
    • Karma scores can take into account karma potential, i.e. rich people or smart people might have to do more to get good karma

Items which will NOT be featured:
• Karma based on personal relationships, such as weddings, break-ups, etc.
* Negative karma for doing bad things