Support Open Source through non-profit bundling

A week after Heartbleed wreaks havoc on the internet, I read this article that says unless Open SSL is properly funded, it could happen again.

Open source software is probably the greatest use of the internet; a utopian idea many were shooting for in the first years of it’s existence: the ability to bring bright minds together for the advancement of society.  Their contributions have benefited most everyone–as the wide swath of people affected by heartbleed will attest to–and yet none of these people have ever contributed a dime.  If they had, heartbleed might never have been an issue.

Utopian ideas are well and good, but the fact of the matter is we live staunchly entrenched in a capitalist society.  I’m not saying that it’s a better solution, I’m saying that is reality.  If you give something away for free, you cannot expect people to do the right thing.  People will use your product and be ever so grateful it existed; then feel a little bad when they don’t contribute anything toward your product, but still have many excuses, or just avoid you altogether, when asked to put a little money in the pot.  *cough*wikipedia*cough*

I am one of those people.  My excuse?  I’m poor.  All my friends will attest to that.  In fact, if there’s one thing in my life that has been consistent, it is my dismal financial situation.  I write a blog no one reads for heaven’s sake.  But, in reality, I could probably spare $20 a year.  The problem is, after living hand-to-mouth for so long, thinking about that $20 as a lump sum always makes me nervous.

What I propose is a way to tack on non-profit donations to my internet bill.  I don’t want to think about donating any lump sum, much less to more than one organization.  But if my internet bill were five dollars more a month, I probably wouldn’t notice.  That extra five dollars could be divided up between Open SSL, Wikipedia or whatever else I chose to support!  And since it’s bundled with the internet I already pay for, it doesn’t feel like another burden on my meager income.

You could take this concept and run with it, and make a whole business out of bundling non-profit donations.  That way instead of having twenty bucks here and thirty-five dollars there taken out piecemeal, you could enroll in a program that will auto-deduct a certain amount every month.  Then you can support your NPR, PBS, ASPCA and whatever else feel you need to.  You won’t be surprised when your membership comes due at random times during the year, it will just automatically renew if you’re enrolled.  And you’ll be able to plan for it every month, since it will be a regularly recurring transaction, like other bills.  You can feel good about yourself and forget about it!

Smart Doggie Door

A good friend of mine has a dog, Lola, and lives in a building with four other condos.  Three of the four other tenants also have dogs–so there are a lot of doggies running around at any one time.  In case you’re unfamiliar with the size of a condo in San Francisco, it’s not very big; in fact I believe my friend has the smallest place–in the entire city.  A long with the other tenants, he’ll let his dog out into the back yard to run around.  Which is less the backyard of my childhood in small-town California than an enclosed paved area with a couple planters.  And by running around, I mean in circles about ten feet in diameter.

Trouble started brewing when the neighbor who had lived there the longest started stirring up dust because my friend would leave Lola outside all day to run laps while he was at work.  I guess she would bore of this after a while and would walk up the stairs and pay this neighbor a visit, which freaked her out.  Apparently closing her door is not an option, because then her dogs can’t go outside.

What these people need, are doggy doors.  But not just any doggy door, because then all the doggies would figure out they still had access to all of the apartments.  The doggy doors need to to open only for that dog.  Lola would wear a special collar, or fob-tag that would be activated when she stands next to her door.  The door would recognize the tag and let her in.  If she stands next to a neighbors door, it would recognize that she is not wearing the right tag and remain closed.  If Lola leaves the house, the door would lock, not permitting other dogs (or unwanted animals) in.

Sure enough, this idea is too good to not have been invented already.  After searching online, I found this, which is pretty much exactly what I described.  However, I think there’s room for improvement.  What if you already have a dog door installed and just want to make it smart?  Someone could create the electronic component that could be added to any dog door similar to this, which could be used a number of places (scroll down for helpful instructional DIY video).  Just replace the button with the fob-tag, unless your pet has opposable thumbs.

I also wanted to reference this, just has an awesome site.  Of course, something called “hi-tec” woulc still look like it was designed fifteen years ago…

Anyway, my friends problem is solved!  All I need to do now is convince him and all of his neighbors to install one.  And pick up after their dogs.