Alexa Changed my Life AND Has Almost Stopped TXTing and Driving

Crushing It CoverI first installed Alexa on my iPhone back in ’18 after reading the @garyvee book Crushing It: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence and How You Can Too.

I knew about Voice First Technology of course. I had been using Siri for ages and played round with Cortana which was a little less impressive. I just didn’t feel I needed it on my laptop. I still touch-type fast.

When Alexa started connected to my WiFi and Bluetooth displays, things changed. I had a mix of audio and video in the rooms in the house where I wanted it. Then there’s my car.

I didn’t get to CES 2018 unfortunately but I didn’t really need to. I got the picture from videos.

A big difference was getting Alexa in my car.

Navdy goneOf course I already had my Navdy, which had hand gestures but the company went under as I was waiting for my software update, because the navigation maps were no longer current. I can’t tell you how gutted I was about that. I’m still using it, but a lot of the new freeways and subdivisions aren’t on it. With Alexa a lot of the the other features are now redundant.

Anyway, two major things happened.

One is how my life has changed with VFT and the other is that distracted driving accidents from people TXTing and driving have reduced by about 10% each year for the last 5 years and its not because of driverless cars. They STILL haven’t become popular. I guess people still enjoy the drive. I still do, that’s why I have a Corvette right? I didn’t buy a muscle machine so it could drive me.

This is a little bit of what my day looks like with Alexa

I wake naturally, I have a good body clock. I ask Alexa the weather. She says its 11 degrees (That’s just under 52 degrees for my American readers.) and we are heading for a high of 15 C.

I get her to turn up the climate control for the lounge dining area and go to the bathroom where she is connected to my shower speaker from AliExpress and get my personalized news. I have a mix of New Zealand news as well as CNN and BBC.

Then its time for a traffic report. It’s school holidays so it is only going to take me half an hour to travel the 12 km to work, that’s great. I can linger over breakfast (asking her to add milk and English muffins to my grocery list) and dictate my morning vlog.

20160507_153136 (2)I get Alexa to open the garage door and unlock my front door and the car, she points out that I am not carrying my phone and gives it a quick chirp so I know where it is.

I start up my driveway to work, confirming she has locked the front door and closed the garage door, all the lights are off as is the electric towel rail which I always used to forget to switch off! ; and I get her to open Spotify (yes I’m still using it) and start my Daily Playlist 5.

I don’t use Alexa much at work, except while I am walking to the Sushi shop the long way and listen to a podcast. It’s an open plan office.

On the way home, I use it to ask Gaspy where the cheapest 98 octane fuel is for my car. It’s getting very expensive and not many gas stations have it any more.

When I have my tank full ($150! Petrol is heavily taxed and way more expensive than in the US or just about anywhere else in the world), I turn on the heat pump at home to 24 degrees so the house will be nice and warm when I get in and turn on the front door and hall lights.

She opens the garage door and front door as I’m getting ready to reverse into the garage.

My wife isn’t due home for another hour so I get Alexa to order our usual Chinese takeout from Uber Eats for 7 PM. I’m not much of a cook and we couldn’t cook a meal cheaper than that for two anyway.

Getting changed I ask Alexa for another news update and for my fitness info. I only walked 3,000 steps today, a little over 3 KM. Most of that was the 2 km circuit I do after I buy my sushi.

I then play a quick game of poker online and use Alexa to translate the Portuguese that the Brazilians are talking because it frustrates me that I can’t understand them and they often dominate the table. Then I get Alexa to translate my English and dictate it back to them, telling them to pull their heads in. They lol.

We sit down for dinner in the lounge and Alexa finds where we are at on Suits Series 12 and casts it on the 85″ TV that I finally managed to get spousal approval for, on the basis that the US Tennis Open would look so much better on the 16k TV screen. The resolution is way better than being there and the sound is amazing. I’m still frustrated that they are not broadcasting 3D, but she doesn’t like it anyway.

Bedtime and Alexa turns off the heat pump and the lights, as we leave the lounge. she confirms the front door is locked and it’s goodnight world.

Just another day.

 

 

 

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I’m getting an eInk Tattoo

I was inspired by this technology way back in 17 and thought it would be great to be able to express myself. You only have so much skin right. You get a tattoo on and it’s there forever.

I still like my existing tatts, don’t get me wrong. They’re on my legs so they don’t impact on people judging me because of my ink, but I always wanted something I could change whenever I liked and I wanted color.

Now I can control my tatts with my phone. I stopped wearing watches back around 2012, but I always felt awkward looking at my phone when I’m in a meeting with someone, it felt disrespectful, so soon I’m going to have a watch face just above my wrist, that appears and disappears on command and I can still change the watch face any time I like.

watchesI used to buy digital watches so that I could have a different watch face every day. I bought a few from AliExpress that interfaced to my phone, but I couldn’t be bothered charging them every few days and most of the features like the Facebook and Twitter interface or controlling the phone camera were just gimmicks. The killer app for a watch is still telling the time.

I love the steps feature for Strava and now that they have included navigation to the tattoo interface, that’s really cool. I have this goal of always walking on different streets every day, so with this new tattoo I can change the clock to a step and distance counter as well as having it point in the direction I have to turn at the next street and guide me back to where I parked the car.

It’s funny really, this all goes back to the postcard collection I inherited from my Opa. I had a frame in my office and every day I had a different postcard in the frame. My collection had enough for me to have a different picture every day for a few years. So now with the new electronic tattoo I will have a different tattoo on my arm every day too, it can fit the mood I’m in and I don’t have to cover my body or pay lots of money for new art.

 

Mercedes Files Amygdala Hive Patent to Emulate Human Emotions to Improve Autonomous Car Safety

Congestion GermanyAfter a spate of high speed crashes on European Motorways involving large numbers of vehicles, Mercedes has come up with a solution for their Level 5 autonomous vehicles that emulates the way the human brain accelerates its processing power during a critical event like a car crash.

Whilst even today with some 30% of vehicles on the road being fully autonomous, there are still frequent car crashes on the autobahns and motorways involving large numbers of vehicles. “The 6G telecommunications network has improved speed of communications” according to the Mercedes Head of Motoring Brain Sciences, Tolle Gerhirnbox, “meaning that we can invoke a large number of virtual servers, replicating the increased speed of thought in the human brain during the fight or flight response. We believe that we can reduce the number of vehicles caught up in these large scale crashes which sometimes involve 30 or more vehicles and cost many lives.”

He explained that traditional computing systems did not have the speed or processing power to deal with complex concurrent events in the way the human mind does when it perceives danger, for example taking into consideration a 360 view of events as they occur in real time including, weather conditions, human behaviour, flying debris and other elements which allow a human brain to go into an accelerated mode.

Gerhirnbox went on to say that even though the Mercedes V2V system was proprietary to their brand of motor vehicle, (ed: despite the attempt to legislate common systems back in 2023), they could share information with the BMVI V2I system, alerting other brands of car that there is a serious crash ahead and forcing them to slow down.

He went on to say “If we can force the 30% of vehicles that are being autonomous on the highway to slow down, many lives can be saved because other vehicles will also be forced to slow down at critical times.”

Mercedes Amygdala Hive is being tested on the German A9 Autobahn to evaluate the impact on all motorway users to see how quickly all vehicles can be slowed down during a major unplanned event.

 

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

 

20160511_073523

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 http://www.JournalismTruth.com (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.