Everywhere I’ve worked, a common problem has been that of deciding where to eat lunch. After a while, everyone has tried all possible restaurants and the process of choosing one becomes tedious. “I don’t know where I want to eat, where do you want to eat?”. Quite a few years ago, I devised the perfect solution to this but only in the last week has that solution been implemented and given a real-world trial. My solution? The Food Wheel. The Food Wheel is a wheel upon which can be placed the names of all the nearby restaurants. Someone spins the wheel. It comes to rest on a restaurant and that’s where you eat lunch. Spinning the Food Wheel takes just a fraction of the time taken by the typical “where do eat” discussion.
But until a week ago, my idea was just vapor-ware. Just an idea that got repeated until someone would say, “so, build it already”. Last week, Susan took the initiative and turned the Food Wheel into reality. She bought a small lazy-susan (which spawned a few jokes of its own), and used the Dymo labeller, which normally generates little sticky labels for our servers, to put the names of a couple of dozen nearby restaurants on the wheel. And, I’m pleased to report, it actually works. It has been used several times and came up with an acceptable solution every time.
In a strange coincidence, Freshmeat carried an annoucement for a Java applet called “Wheel ‘O Yum” this Wednesday which is based on the same idea. It’s probably not as much fun as having a physical wheel to spin but it’s still pretty cool.