Facetiming home on the new Air New Zealand 787

Its a wonder that I flew with Air New Zealand again, I said several times in the past that I wouldn’t, given that their service just didn’t meet my expectations on many flights. I stopped flying with them other than for domestic flights a few years ago after the flight I blogged about to Rarotonga. Then was a gap of a couple of years before that after they left me sitting at San Francisco Airport for about 10 hours stuck with all my luggage when I flew in from Munich because Air NZ didn’t interconnect luggage with Lufthansa, which is a whole different story about a trip back in time. I had loads of plans to do sightseeing there, but all I saw was the inside of the airport for a day. I felt a bit like Tom Hanks in that old movie The Terminal. So other airlines got my business for a few years.

I remember when I first flew on an Air New Zealand flight that had the ability to use mobile data during domestic flights. I was quite excited to be on one of the first flights, but horrified when I saw the cost. From memory it was something  like $10 for 10MB.

Anyway, enough whinging I wanted to tell you about something cool on their new 787. When I got on the plane the other day, instead of having them tell me that I needed to turn my mobile off in case my phone told their fly-by-wire system to do a sudden bank, I was invited to connect my iPhone to create a local WiFi network with my in flight entertainment system. Nek minute I’m talking to my daughter using Facetime and then Skyping the hotel to tell them that my flight had been delayed and not to give my room to anyone else.

There was also an iPhone dock on the fold out table so that I could charge my mobile at the same time. Sorry Android lovers but the fact that Apple still has a uniform plug means that it continues to take pride of place in planes, cars and consumer electronics. Apple did release some new products with the new micro dock connector, but there was a huge resounding protest from people who couldn’t plug their new iPhones and iPods into their cars and home theatres, that it was dropped again.

There are rumours on Mashable, TechCrunch etc saying that next season’s iOS devices won’t have docks at all and will be totally wireless, including coming with Powermat chargers. This does make a lot of sense given that some car manufacturers have already supported this technology.Watch this space.

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The first private enterprise moon landers have arrived on the moon!

These have been some of the most exciting times in space exploration. Since the US Government mothballed the shuttle program and the Discovery was sent to its final home at the Smithsonian, the space program has accelerated at an amazing pace.

Just when you thought it was over, Nek Minute it goes crazy, with over 30 entries into the Google Lunar X Prize, the first 3 landing craft have actually landed safely on the moon’s surface. The $30 million prize reminds me of something out of Jules Verne’s 80 Days around the World. Even more so the great race to find new exciting lands and conquer the world in the days of Christopher Colombus.

Santa Maria

The $30 million itself won’t go far and its more about credibility and the potential mineral and metal mining of asteroids and whatever else they find is much more exciting.

It was little surprise to see the team from Moon Express amongst the first to arrive, as they were able to hire the entire Mars Rover team when their NASA funding was cut.

So what comes next? I guess there will be some interesting debates over mining rights and we will start to see little settlements develop over the next decade as entrepid explorers and wealthy entrepreneurs look for metals, minerals and potentially water that could help them sustain prolonged or indefinate stays on the moon.

Meanwhile Virgin Galactic hasn’t wasted any time and have contracts with a numberr of the entrants to help them get building materials to the moon for the first commercial hotel on the planet. Virgin Spaceship Four has now made dozens of tourist flights out of the atmosphere and is showing wealthy and healthy citizens the first views of their investments into the space hospitality and tourism industry. When it comes to tickets, money seems to be no object for the wealthy who are all desperate to be able to say they were amongst the first. What a shame my grandfather isn’t still around. He won a raffle many years ago giving him a ticket on KLM‘s first commercial flight (which he achieved) and the first commercial passenger carrying space flight, but no one knows what happened to the ticket.

Santa Maria

Remember Borders Book Stores?

Who’s next?

I was so excited when Borders arrived in New Zealand. I used to love going to the Borders stores on trips to the USA. There were frequently book signings, bands and recording artists, like the BB King autobiography launch in Chicago. You could read books in the cafe and no one would look at you as if to say don’t smudge that page, cause you’re buying it. People in the different departments knew about their topics and loved books and sharing their knowledge.

I walked past the site of the old Westfield Albany Borders store site yesterday, it had changed to Whitcoulls brand in 2012. A year later they were back in a much smaller site, obviously the sales volume didn’t cover the cost of such a big site. They had tried to embrace eBooks for a while, but selling expensive readers and not making it simple for your average reader to get books for them just further demolished their traditional business.

Meanwhile some of the smaller owner operator stores followed the example of retailers such as Pages & Pages in Australia, by installing eBook Kiosks in store back at the end of 2011.

In recent years eBook kiosks have arrived all over the place. They are in convenience stores, magazine stores, libraries, airports and train stations. They all come with their own WiFi network and are very user friendly.

Many combine loyalty and the profiling that we continue to enjoy from Amazon, giving us recommendations on what we may enjoy reading and the instructions are simple enough for most people to step through.

If you’re heading for a flight or will have time to read the book within 21 days you don’t even have to buy them any more. International libraries mean that pretty much any book you could want to read can be available to you on demand.

Personally a favorite feature for me is the international eBook gift registry system. I remember a couple of years ago when I was having a browse at the kiosk at Schiphol Airport on the way back from a location based marketing conference in Amsterdam and saw that my wife had prepaid for copy of the second in the new Stephen King Joyland series for me to read on the flight home. Just as well she doesn’t read King books though or I might never get her into an amusement park again!

The other thing I love about these kiosks is we now get books released all over the world at the same time, which was one of the reasons I used to buy my books from Amazon, I didn’t want to wait 2-3 months after the official US launch of King books before the publishers launched the new best seller here in New Zealand to coincide with Fathers’ Day.

Anyway, RIP Borders, you left too soon. It’s a shame you stopped innovating. You didn’t need to go under, you just needed to be smarter than the rest which you used to be. It’s funny how industries work so hard to create a self fulfilling prophesy that they can blame when things go wrong.

The cool thing is that people haven’t stopped reading. If anything they are reading more than ever and smart writers and publishers are doing very well:)

Toyota Bundles Solar Panels with new Electric Car in New Zealand

Toyota came up with an innovative coup with the launch of their new NS5 hybrid car in New Zealand, bundling the electric car with solar panels designed to charge the car during the day while it is parked.

The car effectively comes with the solar panels and a voucher for them to be installed on the building, be it a house or an office.

The solar panels are designed so that fleet buyers can connect multiple panels like a jig-saw and have them connected to a smart power meter.

Government departments and corporations with sustainability policies have welcomed this new innovation as a great step forward in EV technology, designed to ensure that a lot of the electricity generated to power these vehicles comes from renewable energy rather than from other sources which may be less green.

The Super Debate in New Zealand

The debate over retirement age and superannuation just got interesting in New Zealand and in ways I certainly didn’t expect. Treasury increased the age of eligibility for the old age pension from 65 to 67 back in 2013 and now they want to scale it up every year to the age of 70, claiming that the burden is now too high for tax payers with average life expectancy in New Zealand for men and women combined now reaching 84 and almost 40% expected to reach 100.

Holidays may be out for seniors who don’t keep working

A large percentage of seniors actually want to work and recent job sharing programs have proven very popular with many working 2-3 days a week. A survey recently established that not only did people want to keep working in order to maintain their lifestyles, but they enjoyed keeping their minds active and the social contact that comes with employment.

Many businesses have said that they value the experience and the work ethic of the baby boomers, even more so as there are less graduates coming out of New Zealand universities and it takes a number of years before they become financially productive to their companies.

On the other hand there is now a backlash from the new generation of young job seekers claiming that the grey generation is stealing their jobs and forcing them onto unemployment benefits, or to move to better paying jobs in the mines in Australia or the fracking operations in North America.

Petrol Prices Cross the $3 Barrier

Well it hovered at the high $2.90’s a litre for about 6 months but now petrol is averaging $3.09.9 at the pump and it doesn’t look like it’s going to drop below $3 again. Between the political problems in the Middle East, North Korea and North Africa, America has been stockpiling much larger levels.

It looks like a major employment boom is starting in North America after approvals were given for fracking of shale rock and drilling oil in national parks. The Government said that this is unlikely to reduce the price of oil in New Zealand and that we should get used to it by investing in smaller cars and making better use of public transport. Of course the park and rides are so full by 7AM on the North Shore that people are forced to drive to work anyway.

The Government has given approval for the first gas fracking operation in Southland on the proviso that a large fund is deposited to restore the national park to its previous condition once the operation closes. It has pretty much been accepted that NZ is very low in the pecking order as oil supplies gain increasingly higher demand in North America and the massively growing economies of China and India.

TomTom Live Gets Real Time Car Park Availability

I’ve been a fan of TomTom Live products ever since they launched HD Traffic which was put set up for New Zealand and Australia by GeoSmart has saved me so much time over recent years, whether its getting to a business meeting on time (or letting them know exactly what time I would get there) or to my childrens’ concerts and sport competitions.

I love the new TomTom Live Carpark feature! It doesn’t just find a car park it finds an available car park closest to the destination you enter!

The signs on city streets that tell you how many car parks are available are ok, but you have to drive to where the signs are to find out which car park to head to and it could be quite a way from your destination. The new TomTom feature now hooks up to curbside car parks that have sensors monitoring them which connect to the network. It even tells you how long the car parks are available for and how much they cost.

It’s been really good for local residents in Ponsonby who had a real problem in the past with commuters parking outside their homes, many of which don’t have off road parking, they get exclusive resident access to those parks after 6PM and they don’t show on the TomTom again until 7 the following morning. It’s also really good when I go to visit business partners like Tech Day in Ponsonby, notorious for having to circle like a seagull a couple of times before finding a park.

The other day I went to my Second Friday Networking Lunch meetup in Ponsonby. I often get there a little late and scramble for a car park and hoping they haven’t started without me.  This time I  just set my destination on the  TomTom and it found me a car park on a side street about half a kilometer from the restaurant I was heading to.

That was OK, it wasn’t raining for once, but then just before I got there, it chimed and said, “There is now a car park closer to your destination, would you like to re-route?”  Nek minnit (OK I know that’s a bit old school now) I’m getting out of my car right at the front door of Safron.

They say there are two kinds of people in the world, those that find car parks and other people. With my new TomTom feature I am definitely one of the former.

Shortland Street Goes 3D and I Get my 84″ TV

I don’t know how I did it but I finally managed to get my wife to agree to the new TV with a bit of help from the sales person at 100% Electrical. It will be a long time if ever that I achieve what I’ve always wanted, which is a whole wall that is a TV, but of course that’s still too expensive. Anyway, its an 84″ 3840 x 2160 UD. Its lucky that we have a big lounge, but it still makes the photos and other things look small.

The old TV was starting to play up. It’s probably from all the power brown outs we had over the last 2 winters, the substations don’t seem to be able to handle the levels of rain that seem to be the norm in Auckland these days.

The clincher was that the new TV doesn’t need you to wear glasses any more to benefit from the 3D experience. It was really frustrating when we had the Olympics in 3D HD but we only had 4 pairs of glasses. Even back then with HD it made it so much more exciting watching sport in 3D but it meant if we had visitors we turned the 3D off, which was frustrating, besides the glasses were a pain during the day when you looked away from the screen and got pulsating lines all over the glasses.

I wasn’t really surprised when Shortland Street went 3D, they were one of the first programs back in the day that went wide screen. What’s really surprising is that the program still exists. There must be a lot more people that don’t admit they watch it and staying ahead with the technology won’t hurt them.

The whole 3D thing went quiet for a while, but when the Olympics were on it was just amazing. It was like the sprinters were going to come crashing into the lounge. Then of course came the league. Gate sales are down of course, they used to say that TV was better than being there except for the atmosphere, but I have to say that with the 7.1 surround sound, its almost hard to realise that you aren’t right there watching the Warriors looking to win yet another NRL. I guess the only thing that brings it crashing home is that the girls still think the football is a chance to have a good chat, but they do like seeing the boys in 3D UD.

Mitre 10 Gave Me A Leaf Blower

It was just another ordinary Saturday morning. I woke up, showered, made myself a Capuccino, scanned the now empty milk bottle out of the fridge and listened to the new Rolling Stones album on Spotify. Who would have thought they would be launching another album? I have to tell you mockers, it has some really good tracks on it. Maybe you forgot what great songwriters those guys are.

My wife and I decided to go out to brunch and I plugged my iPhone into my Belkin car mount which still has that bit on the top that broke the second day I got it. I love it but I must get around to claiming on the warranty. It connected to the Wi-Fi entertainment system in the car and we drove off listening to the rest of the album. I must say, whilst I still have all my record and CD collections, that I am loving Spotify. I just can’t believe how long it took them to get to New Zealand.

Anyway, so we were heading down Oteha Valley Road in Albany when the heads up display in my car told me I had a notification from Fly Buys. I used to mock those loyalty systems, but things have changed since they picked up Proximity Based Marketing. Anyway, it said Mitre 10 Mega had an offer I couldn’t refuse if I could get there in the next 15 minutes. Well we were about to drive right past, but we agreed we might as well stop, and their cafe on the 1st floor was pretty good.

We arrived and I put the Belkin in the boot (next car I get the entertainment system will just connect to my phone and it won’t need a mount, isn’t it funny that no matter what advances there are we are never satisfied?) so my car wouldn’t get broken into and were walking through the car park into into the entrance, just as my mobile got another alert.

It said “Welcome back to Mitre 10 Mr Cappel, glad you could make it. Please look up and to your right.”

I did that and all of a sudden there was a bit of loud music and a green light started flashing above the information counter. There were a few people entering the store with us but when the girl called “Over here Mr Cappel”, I figured she meant us.

Well to cut a long story short, I had purchased a new battery powered lawn mower there 6 months earlier and they were running a location based promotion. The deal was that the first person who had bought a lawn mower from them in the last 12 months who responded to the promotion by coming into the store within 15 minutes of the of the proximity based notification, was going to be given a free leaf blower / leaf vacuum mulcher, and guess what, the first person was me. Our neighbors still hadn’t cut down the giant oak tree that bathes my driveway in golden brown crunchy leaves every May, so this was a pretty good win.

Of course while we were there we bought some more plants and had our brunch, did I say they are nice people in that cafe?

I enjoyed sucking up those leaves with my new toy in the Saturday afternoon autumn sunshine (sunny weekend? I know, right!) that afternoon and made sure it got locked up in the shed straight afterwards, so the dogs wouldn’t chew up the bag like the did on the one I bought a few years ago, the day after I bought it!