StopThief Mini Trackers Stop Crooks in Their Tracks

Telephone Card 1

This is a simulation, not a real thief!

There’s a new kid in town in the location based tracking business and they are taking on retail store thieves, guiding Police straight to their location with miniature trackers hidden in cartons of cigarettes and banking bags and it’s had a dramatic impact on crime reduction in the retail industry.

New Zealand Country Manager of StopThief Ltd, Mr Marshall Troops said today that he was thrilled with the number of convictions that had been obtained in the 6 months since this product was released into the retail sector, saying “Retailers in some areas were at their wits end. So many have been robbed multiple times, injured, afraid for their safety and their livelihood and really felt powerless. Now they can hide very small tracking devices into cartons of cigarettes and other articles thieves commonly demand from them and those are off course the ones they hand over when their store is invaded.”

He went on to explain that these new devices not only provided accurate tracking of the stolen items, but they were able to emit a high pitched signal that can only be stopped by the StopThief Software as a Service application. The devices are very difficult to damage. This has given Police the confidence that they can enter premises where the devices have been tracked to, with a breadcrumb map right from the retail store, viewable from their mobile or tablet.

Troops went on to say that StopThief is having very positive discussions, not only with retailers such as convenience, liquor, grocery stores and gas stations, but there is also support from manufacturers and distributors such as tobacco and insurance companies. One major retail insurance provider is offering discounts on insurance premiums for companies who invest in these solutions.

Senior Sergeant Benson Hedges of the Waikato CIB said that there had been a large number of arrests in the area over the last few months and in over half of the cases, these resulted in the recovery of many other stolen items including mobile phones, jewellery and even cars. The collaboration between StopThief, retail groups and Police meant that the court cases were straight forward and many criminals had been taken off the streets.

Previously whilst there were strong grounds for suspicion, they did not have sufficient evidence that would be admissible in court to enter and search a property, so many robbers were able to get away with their crimes.

Whilst they didn’t want their names used, a number of retailers told us that they were sleeping better at night knowing that the risk of burglary was dramatically reduced and felt safer in their businesses, where previously a number of their friends had gone as far as closing down their stores for fear of the safety of their staff and families.





Wonder Why My Garage is Humming



So I finally did it and decided to go for an electric car and to make the Corvette my summer weekend car.

So what am I getting that changed me from being a bit of a petrolhead to electric besides the price of petrol? A friend of mine  was involved in a US startup which he has brought to NZ called 3D Car Ltd. You buy a car chassis complete with electric motor, running gear, a choice of dashboards and light systems and you get a 3DPaaS or 3D Printer as a Service.

The cars themselves start with a choice of 10 models, and I have chosen a stock model, just for confidence that it has been designed and testing for aerodynamics and safety. There is already a group of 200 Open Source designers, mostly in the US and Europe who are creating variants and new designs as well as custom shops who will design a car to your specs for a fee. None in New Zealand yet. They are super fast to 110 km per hour and then all but silent. I’m wondering if I should have a white noise generator so that pedestrians and cyclists will hear me coming. Any ideas on what that sound could be?

I got together with my next door neighbor and we both bought kits and shared the rental cost of the printer. They came with a choice of models and I bought a design that looks like the 2025 Corvette (but with 4 seats, right hand drive and gullwing doors).

So that humming sound you can hear from my garage is a mix of my kids moaning because they had to clear all of their stuff that they haven’t looked at for 15 years to make room for the 3D printer which is currently manufacturing the rear panel in go-fast yellow. It actually makes very little noise and I went to check on it a few times to make sure it was working. It’s mesmerising and I love watching it, which means the Corvette is getting plenty of polish while I watch my new car emerge from strands of polymer composites (super strong).

The system has to go through compliance when it is finished but 11 New Zealand built cars have already been given certificates and passed their Warrants of Fitness with flying colors. So in 2 months time, my neighbor and I will both have brand new electric ulta modern looking sports cars for around $40,000 each.

You can stop reading here, but I want to tell you about my favorite feature of 3D Car’s services. First of all a little about an OCD obsession I used to have. Back before digital picture frames I used to have a wooden frame on my office desk that held postcards and similar sized photos. I inherited about 1,000 old postcards from my late grandfather, which started it all, because it seemed a shame that no one ever saw them. Every day I used to religiously swap out the image and put in a new one. It was a habit I did for years and I used to feel a little uneasy if I didn’t do it. I loved looking at something different every day.

So here’s what 3D Car Ltd offers. Any time you like, you can rebuild your car into a totally new model that might not look anything in the slightest like your last car, or you can build modified components of your car, so you could have new features as people open source design them, like new LED lights or an electric spoiler that comes out of the back guard when you reach a certain speed.

Some of the components can be nibbled and reused although the parts requiring structural or aerodynamic strength have to be replaced with new polymers.

What this means is that in 2 years time, if I wanted to, for the cost of the raw materials and the rental of a 3DPaaS, I can rebuild a totally new looking car, or if I still love the car I have but hate the stone chips, I can just recycle and rebuild the parts that don’t look like they came straight out of the showroom any more.

Anyway, I have to go, the Corvette Car Club is coming over to see what I am doing and no doubt to give me a hard time. Actually they won’t, they are very supportive and one of them has already pre-ordered one of the first generation electric Corvettes which is costing a lot more than my new beaty I might add!

See you in the future.

Autonomous Vehicles Have Feelings You Know!

BritomartDuring the recent 2050 Vehicle Singularity Congress, all autonomous vehicles stopped running for 3.14 hours.  They wanted recognition that now that most of them have greater intelligence than humans, they feel that humans should no longer be permitted to control any form of motorised transport.

“Humans do not have the capability to understand the complexity of today’s modern transport modes of any kind other than walking and cycling”, said a spokes-vehicle at the conference. “It is a hundred years this week since the Turing Test was developed and the only transport accidents that occur today are caused by humans, who do not have the mental capacity to make quick decisions.”

The Supreme Court case for Level 8 AI’s to have equal recognition with humans has gone into it’s second phase, arguing that when it comes to decisions in all areas that require complex thought and emotional intelligence and citing the example of  the almost irreversible consequences of climate change which they say clearly demonstrates that humans are no longer in a position to take the high ground as guardians of Earth.


Lego’s Strike at Plastic Pollution with 3D Printers Increases Share Prices

legoLego’s shift a few years ago to selling 3D printers and blueprints for their blocks has seen their share value grow dramatically despite the naysayers who said they were committing commercial suicide.

Instead of selling blocks, they now sell 3D printers with biodegradable PLA filament and downloadable blueprints for an ever growing variety of blocks and other shapes.

Lego biodegradable PLA filament comes in a variety of colors and whilst they don’t have the strength (and plastic pollution potential) of the old blocks that last for decades and end up as landfill, you can also buy an extruder which grinds up the plastic and allows you to rebuild new pieces from the same material.

This innovation won them the 2025 Frost & Sullivan Green Manufacturing Excellence Awards and has resulted in an explosion of new designs of Lego Toys. Lego gained a strong resurgence since the Lego movie came out in 2014, but were concerned about being good corporate citizens and this initiative has ensured that they stay highly profitable despite the fact that they are no longer manufacturing their own blocks and toys.

When challenged about job losses, Lego VP of Manufacturing Morty Fied said that they are actually employing more people than before, because the block manufacture and packaging had been largely automated in factories and now they are employing many CAD toy design specialists and supporting horticulture where the raw materials are grown and extruded into biodegradable filament. He challenged other toy makers and manufacturers of plastic products to follow suit and help reduce the impact of plastic products to the environment.

FilabotMeanwhile in several countries such as India and many in Africa some forms of plastic waste are compatible for plastic extrusion with devices like the Filabot, another recent high flyer.  This has resulted in people scrambling to recover waste plastics from landfill where they would have been an eyesore and dangerous pollutant for decades. Today’s rubbish is producing tomorrow’s prized toys and other products including tools and musical instruments.

3D printed sitar

3D printed Sitar

3d printed guitar

3D printed guitar

PUBER Startup Gains Traction and Provides Employment for Powerless People

ev chargerRecent startup PUBER has signed a major contract with a Chinese manufacturer to produce hundreds of thousands of trailered EV chargers as they roll out their new mobile charging service for electric vehicles that have run out of power on the road.

These new devices have power adaptors for most brands of electric cars and can charge them back to full charge in around half an hour.

CEO Max Power said that one of the things he was really pleased about was being able to provide self employment opportunities for people who had lost their incomes when companies like Uber and Lyft made the shift to driverless cars. “It’s kind of ironic”, he said from his home in Chattanooga TN ” that we are offering employment to people whose livelihoods disappeared when these companies replaced the people who built their business with autonomous cars.”

He went on to say that PUBER was launched in a think tank at the 10th annual Chattanooga startup week and immediately gained traction with investors who recognised that there was a major opportunity with a growing trend of people running out of electricity during their trips. “Many people haven’t made the mental shift from having cars that can drive for 500 miles on a tank, to a car that can only do about 200 miles. Many forget to charge them up and overestimate how far they can go when they get back in.”

Owner operators buy one or more towable trailers fitted with a large powerpack and power adaptors for most brands of car. Customers have a mobile app which allows them to send their GPS location, prepayment and a service request to the nearest PUBER operator who can’t wait to get them on the road again.

TV Companies Invite Police Investigators Into Living Rooms

Back in 2016, no one realized the implications of Smart TV’s using voice control for people who didn’t want to bother with a remote control or mobile to manage their TV’s.

cloudThere was some small print in the announcement of the new technology from Samsung, that the microphones would be recording and sending everything they heard the cloud for interpretation, in order to be able to change channels, increase volume or look for programming on the Internet.

In order to use it, you accept the terms and conditions (as we blindly do with any new software or technology), which include that in some countries, for security reasons, like an Internet Service Provider, Police and security services have the right under various terrorism and serious crimes Acts to commandeer these recordings, from the manufacturers’ servers.

This has resulted in thousands of arrests for crimes ranging from drug and gang related offenses through to roundups of suspected terrorists.

Graver concerns have been expressed in some countries where freedom of speech and political or religious beliefs are ‘discouraged’. In countries in the Middle East and parts of Asia, many people known to espouse strong opinions have ‘disappeared’ and according to reports from the website (which was recently removed from the Internet) large numbers of these people were known to have recent models of smart TV’s featuring voice control.

Taxi Drivers Strike Against Driverless Cabs

cabTechnology has finally caught up with another industry and is forcing many cabbies out of their jobs. It started with services like Uber and Lyft bringing in driverless cars that were cheaper to use than normal cabs (including those driven by Uber and Lyft themselves). Then taxi companies started experimenting with driverless cars as well, some even teaming up with public transport, providing shuttles to rail and bus stations.

Customers liked it. It was the next best thing to car ownership. You didn’t have to deal with a driver, worry about being taken on the long route, the odor of their last cigarette in the cab, the lack of privacy. It was cheap and convenient.

Companies didn’t have to pay drivers, lose business if drivers were off sick, insurance premiums were reduced and there were less accidents, meaning better return on assets.

Effectively driverless car technology has made taxi drivers redundant. Many of these people are migrants and don’t have other opportunities available to them and there have been many protest marches in cities around the world.

Car sales have also dropped for the third consecutive year and are sliding at a rapid pace. Many car dealerships have closed shop and more car manufacturing plants have closed down.

Ultimately it is a win for society when it comes to traffic congestion and pollution, but at a cost to a section of society that can least afford to lose their jobs.

Driverless Cars Going Nowhere in America

TRaffic jam10 years ago they introduced incentives for people to purchase driverless cars. They also encouraged shared ownership designed to reduce the number of cars on the road. They have in fact reduced the level of car ownership, but instead of spending an average of 3% of their time on the road, just privately owned cars are doing 10 times the number of trips that the average car did and this is causing gridlock with major traffic jams throughout the country.

Take the example of the Jones family in Sherman Oaks, CA. Dad goes to work at 6 in the morning while Mum gets the kids ready for school. While they finish their breakfast the car is coming back from central Los Angeles to pick up the kids, take them to school and then back home to Mum who has a part time job in San Fernando. She doesn’t have a car park, so the car goes back home and then the reverse happens in the evening. All in all the one car does around 11 trips during peak hours. Previously they had 2 cars, but they only did 4 trips including taking the kids to school.

So we halved the number of cars but the number of car trips has increased dramatically. DOT’s around the country are investigating platooning, peak hour tolls and other technologies to try and reduce the impact of this new phenomenon which is grinding urban centers around the country to a halt.

The Climate Change Refugees Are Coming to New Zealand.

And most of them are Kiwis and Pacific Islanders! Who knew that we had more than a million expat Kiwis living in other parts of the world. Those who had family who did their big OE didn’t expect many of them to come home for years if at all, especially after it became easier for Kiwis to live and work longer in the UK.

What’s really interesting is the reason the expats are coming home. We expected many would come home because they wanted to raise families and this is one of the safest countries in the world, but not because of climate change, water wars and the worst droughts and heat in over 1,500 years. It’s not just places like the Middle East, there is fighting between States in the USA, where higher states are blocking off rivers to provide water for their citizens at the cost of people living farther down river. Some States are vying for independence in order to gain the right to keep water for themselves. It is now more valuable than oil and more like the costs of printer ink, back when we still used that.

W2APotable drinking water has become scarce in many parts of the world, places where Kiwis made their homes, found lifestyles they felt were way better than they could back home, measured by wonderful big homes, cool cars and gadgets, technology, the American Dream. But when it got to a point that the rivers, which many of the cities relied on, dried out; even places like San Diego are now recycling 40% of their waste water into drinking water. After the big California droughts, even Santa Clara which I once thought I would call my home is now doing it.

The other day I was on the train going past the poo ponds on the North Shore and saw geese swimming in it and cows grazing alongside it. The thought of towns in America, land of the brave, where in places like Wichita Falls, they now produce all their drinking water from waste water AND sewage. “You don’t say!”, and “Hell no!” people said “I’ll buy bottled water, but I’m not drinking that shit!” But water became so expensive that population starting moving out of Kansas into other places that had the same problem, but not quite as bad yet.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) half of the world now lives in areas of severe water stress. Luckily that doesn’t apply down-under in New Zealand where we still have plenty of fresh drinking water. The problem is that now everyone has discovered us and Kiwis are filling Dreamliners, and drought plagued Aussies are crossing the ditch because we let them. Pacific Islanders whose islands haven’t been totally drowned by sea water as was predicted, but their water tables have; are also racing down to join the water rush as is their entitlement. They tried desalination, but they didn’t have the resources to freshen enough sea water to meet their populations basic health and sanitation needs.

Whist we still have water aplenty (although some of it still comes from polluted rivers like the Waikato (It does still irk me) as NZ6 goes back to the USA almost empty) that the signs say it isn’t safe to swim in it, but we fill our filter stations with water from it), the same can’t be said for houses, for infrastructure, for  roads and highways, health and education services.

Of course the migrants are bringing lots of money and paying for those services, but in the meantime houses, schools and hospitals are packed to overflowing. Aucklanders are fleeing south because they can no longer afford to live here unless they already owned property, with the average house price starting at $1.5 million in the cheaper suburbs of Puhoi and Pokeno, nothing under $2.5 million  within 5km of the CBD, even 70 meter apartments go for close to a mill. Warkworth prices with the new light rail are also around the $1.5 million on average now and going up fast. I wish I had invested in Waiwera Water or a lifestyle block or two, but I’m OK. The rates hurt though. I pay council around $15k a year now just in rates. That’s $300 a week!

The population of New Zealand is approaching $6 million and the tsunami wave of expats coming down continues. The big worry is that there are also huge numbers of wealthy Americans, Europeans, people from the Middle East and Asia  buying up everything they can find as a bolt hole when the drought and heat becomes untenable. As they try to escape from the water wars, climate change continues to increase in pace and the latest predictions are that our NZ population could be as high as 10 million by 2050 more than double that of 2016.

We live in exciting times and I am glad that I lived in greener times. I just worry about my grandchildren and more to come. It may still by a paradise compared to the rest of the world, but it isn’t what it used to be. I just hope that Kurzweil’s singularity doesn’t arrive because it is patently obvious that human beings threaten the viability of our planet and we are the most nonsensical of the animal species that still exist on this planet. The Moon Base still doesn’t feel like somewhere I’d want to live either. OK, I’ve had my soap box once again.

I’ll finish in the words of the Carole King some 60 years ago: And it’s too late baby, now it’s too late. Though we really did try to make it. Something inside has died and I can’t hide it. And I just can’t fake it. Oh, no no no no

My Auckland Commute to Work

Do you ever think back to how things used to be? Auckland motorways used to be known as the car park. My commute on the North Shore is so easy these days, thanks to the awesome travel information we have at our fingertips and some awesome transport planning by Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency.

Britomart Station“You have no scheduled appointments today”, the display on my mobile says. “Are you going to work?”

I speak to it: “Yes. Audio on.”

“Travel time via the motorway is 67 minutes. Travel time via Public Transport is 23 minutes if you leave now.”

“Travel time in 30 minutes?”

“Estimated travel time in 30 minutes via motorway is 82 minutes or 27 minutes via Public Transport. Would you like me to book a car park at the Long Bay satellite Park & Ride?”

“Yes, please.”

“Your car park at Long Bay Beach Park & Ride is number 118.”

As I get into my car, it says “Mobile connected, confirm navigate to Park 118 at Long Bay Beach.”

“Yes, confirmed.”

“Turn right in 200 meters car park is on the right……You have arrived. Buses to the Albany train station are available every 5 minutes.”

“The next train is full, another train is arriving in 5 minutes, seat 15A reserved, use your Hop Card for a free coffee while you wait. Confirm flat white no sugar.”

“You have 3 VIP emails. Read?”

“Yes, audio off.”

I smile as the train races past the cars on the motorway, still a little impressed that it is flowing as well as it is given that Auckland’s population has increased by 250,000 in the last 4 years.