Wonder Why My Garage is Humming

 

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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.

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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.

US Motorists Road User Charge Taxes Create Windfall for Kiwi GPS Developers

The solution to a massive nose dive in US domestic tourism has come from an unlikely source, specialists in GPS vehicle tracking, Road User Charge rebate and electronic in-vehicle tax payments by Fleet Management companies in a place that many Americans couldn’t even place on a map, close to the bottom of the globe, New Zealand.

When the USA introduced national Pay As You Drive road user tax for all other than electric vehicles a few years ago, no one appreciated the impact this would have on a variety of industry segments. The intention was to encourage commuters and urban business travelers to make more use of public transport. Having a blanket rule resulted in a significant negative impact on the cost of living for rural Americans who typically have to travel much greater distances even for basic needs such as food, health, shopping an getting to work. It also decimated the domestic tourism industry.

Whilst rental vehicles were exempted which ensured international tourist numbers weren’t impacted, the tourism industry still  went into free-fall as domestic tourists couldn’t afford the increased cost to their trips. In the last few years US residents ‘for leisure’ person trips have dropped by a staggering 350,0000,000 from the 1.6 billion person trips recorded back in 2012.

Enter new rules designed to encourage people back onto the  freeways and into small town USA, which allowed rebates for motorists who met certain conditions. These included a ratio of distance traveled on non urban roads, or on private roads and proof that the vehicle was more than 100 miles away from home for one or more nights.

In Car RUC System

In Car RUC System

New Zealand Fleet Management solution companies, having had many years developing Road User Charge tax rebate solutions with GPS tracking for commercial diesel fleets, were able to offer a ready made answer. Not only did they have low cost solutions ready to plug in to most vehicles manufactured since 2007, they also had the ability for people to pay those taxes direct from the vehicle and included an in-vehicle display which both Police and the public could use to ensure that taxes had in fact been paid. Several Kiwi companies have now partnered with US organizations including domestic Fleet Management companies and major vehicle brands.

The AAA and insurance companies also welcomed the move as the Fleet Management systems monitor car driving behavior, encouraging green driving and enabling PAYD (Pay As You Drive) insurance, where premiums are reduced for people who don’t use harsh breaking, over-acceleration and other behaviors which reduce risk. Several car and motor-home manufacturers are now considering putting this technology into their vehicles as standard features.

According to US Travel Association research in 2012, 1 out of 8 US jobs depended on travel and tourism (representing 14.6 million jobs supported by travel expenditures), which was in the top 10 income earners for 48 states.

It is hoped that domestic tourism will make a big swing back in the coming year, with the costs of the initial investment for motorists being offset by a variety of discounts, special tourism industry offers and off course road user tax rebates for those who meet the criteria.

Poor GPS Map Data on Aftermarket HUD Car Nav Devices Turns Heads

New aftermarket GPS car nav units have been blamed for a spate of car accidents due to inaccurate map data. The wave of new aftermarket HUD (Heads Up Display) aftermarket car navigation devices over the last few years were ,et with much enthusiasm. Being able to purchase devices like the Garmin HUD (How did they manage to get that as a brand name?) that launched in 2013 for under $200 bundled with a nav unit or $150 on its own, made it the next car enthusiasts must have device (toy). 

With in car options (admittedly including in-car entertainment, climate control, car computer etc) adding an easy $2,000 to the bill for people who could afford a new car, a solution that cost that can go into virtually any car was a great starter for 10%.

Touted as being much safer than in dash systems because you don’t have to take your eyes off the road, it appears to have unwittingly revealed a much more critical situation that has caused stress and confusion and has allegedly resulted in accidents and assertions of liability being placed on the manufacturers of the nav systems.

The reason is that in many cases the map data is either out of date or inaccurate. This means that the driver is seeing both the road in front of them through the windscreen as well as a laser image representation of the road from the HUD. When these do not match and the driver is in a relaxed frame of mind (partly due to confidence in the GPS car nav data) confusion may arise. For example driving late at night or on a foggy morning on a country road with poor visibility and the nav displays a sharp turn (but the road has been realigned) could result in a nasty accident. Urban roads (such as Wellington in New Zealand) where one-way streets were changed to run in the opposite direction are another classic example.

Psychologist John Doe from Lost Highway University said “When drivers used traditional in-dash car nav devices, they relied mostly on auditory instructions, glancing at the nav unit from time to time to confirm the details, but then interpreted the information and commands based on what they were seeing. This meant that if there was a discrepancy in the directions, common sense usually prevailed and they would act on what they actually saw through the windscreen. Since large numbers of people started using HUD systems, they mentally merged the heads up data with what they saw through the windscreen and when they contradicted each other, this caused confusion and stress. It only takes momentary confusion at 50 miles per hour to find themselves in an accident situation,” he explained.

The more sophisticated units such as the Pioneer system released 2013 in the video below, do have some advantages over the cheaper units because they also include character recognition of outside objects such as speed signs. This means that if the car navigation database says the speed is 50 mph but the sign on the road says 30 mph, the navigation instructions will give higher credence to the physical roadside sign.

John Doe went on say that many car nav companies have managed to get their prices very low by purchasing cheap car navigation data and not updating them as often. People accepted that for a low price, they weren’t going to get high detail map updates and because the map wasn’t in their face, they were able to deal with the discrepancies.

Portable HUD car GPS manufacturers are now adding modular components to their systems including WiFi cameras and adding software to their Smartphones and Portable Car GPS devices including character recognition, distance and speed of the car in front and connection to in car entertainment such as streaming audio. Legislators are now looking at enforcement of restrictions, ensuring that drivers can only see car control related information on the HUD, ensuring they can’t be distracted by videos. email messages etc which can also technically be displayed on the screen whilst driving.

I Found the Real Auckland Transport Plan

Everyone thought the new Auckland transport plan was going to be about a second harbour crossing, a tunnel, more busways an extra lanes. The new Labour Government together with Auckland Transport came up with a much cheaper plan and it only took a year to complete!


Yep, it was pretty obvious given input from rich list Kiwi, Allan Gibbs of Aquada fame. he started with cars, then trucks and then he said to the Government (I didn’t get where I am today by building tunnels) why not give me a small fraction of the money you were going to spend digging holes under the harbour and we’ll drive on water?

So now he is building Gibbs Amphibious Buses for Auckland Transport (yes I know Aqua Ducks have been around for years but not for commuters) and we now have a regular stream of amphibious cars going from Gulf Harbour all the way through to the city, the inner harbour, and even a special commuter lane to Onetangi on Waiheke Island. It was pretty obvious really wasn’t it? I just don’t know why they didn’t think of it back in 2013?

The toll booths on the boat ramps can be a bit annoying on sunny days, but I guess that’s the price you pay. The bonus is you can try to catch your dinner on the way home from the office.

Facebook Goggle Phone Is Better Than I Thought

Facebook has joined the fray with not just AR Goggles, but the Goggles are the phone and its quite cool.

When Vodafone  gave me the glasses to review, my first reaction was, to be honest, pretty much, whatever. It reminded me of way back, maybe 2010 when I was presenting at a conference at Auckland University and Telecom announced the Bebo phone. I don’t know how many they actually sold, but I doubt there were more than a hundred. Bebo Phone

Then in Barcelona 2014 Facebook launched a mobile of their own. It wasn’t spectacular and I thought they would give up at that point, realizing that whilst most people used Facebook, that didn’t mean that it was the number one communication tool in their lives or that they wanted FB getting too much private information about them, not that they hadn’t already been doing that with Google for most of their lives.

Through Facebook Goggles

Through Facebook Goggles

Anyway, I took them to a SMCAKL event to try them out. Social Media Club Auckland now provides a live list of who is attending via their Facebook page.

Using the Goggles plugin I identified the people I want to meet up with from the list. I was also able to send them a notification that I was going to be there and was keen to have a chat.

Sure enough, just like the AR in Daniel Suarez‘s prophetic books  Daemon and Freedom, I was able to see the names of the people I wanted to see, above them in the crowd, which was very cool. I was also able to see the names and profiles of virtually every person in the room.

Everyone wanted to try them on and it was a couple of hours after the event closed that Vodafone pushed me and a last few Facebook Goggle fans out of the door.

As to the smartphone functionality, it is pretty well featured. I am now one of those people who are constantly looking up into the corners of my eyes as though I have a nervous twitch and am waving  my hands in the air like a New York Italian singing the praises of the veal at my favorite deli. Of course it won’t be long before you are doing that too.

Long Bay Finally Gets Ferry Wharf Approval

Transport Auckland finally bowed to pressure and has approved a Ferry Terminal installation to cope with the gridlock after heated protests from residents of the new Long Bay development. 

Long Bay DevelopmentLong Bay was highlighted by former Prime Minister John Key as a sign of growth and opportunities for the construction industry back in 2013. It started with 2,500 houses housing an average of 3 people. Then they opened up 3 more subdivisions and another 23,000 people moved into the area.

With 30,000 more people trying to make the trip to school and work, combined with people from all over Auckland heading to and from one of the most popular beaches in Auckland, the roads have been gridlocked. Minor widening of the local roads hasn’t appeared to make any difference.

Jaap Botha one of the early buyers said “This was our dream purchase. A beautiful new home with views of Auckland Harbour. The problem with it is that I hardly get to enjoy it. In order to get to work in the city I now have to leave home at 6 AM to get to the office by 8 and more than half of that time is spent getting from home onto the motorway on-ramp  The total distance is only 21 km!

“By the time I get home its nearly dark. Four hours of commuting at an average speed of just over 10 km per hour is enough to raise the stress levels far higher than the benefit of living in a nice area like this. Property values are going down because buyers don’t want to spend 4 hours in their cars every day either.”

Auckland Transport advised that ferries should be operational from the new Long Bay ferry terminal within 18 months. Locals say this is something they will look forward to, but many will have left the area by then.

Asteroid Risk in USA Explodes Real Estate Prices in New Zealand

Real Estate prices in parts of New Zealand are reaching atmospheric highs after authorities announced that the risk of Asteroid 1997 XF11 hitting Earth close to New York State on 28 October 2028 has been raised to 1100:1. Earlier indications were that this asteroid estimated to be between 1.3 and 2.8 km in diameter would pass at about 2.4 times the distance of the moon. Calculations have now established that it will pass between the moon’s orbit and could possibly impact. 

Whilst 1100:1 are still pretty good odds, the damage would be catastrophic and not limited to lives lost as the impact could be the equivalent of a million megatons of TNT. This could easily impact on climate change and consequently crops and many other aspects of climate change. Whilst the President has urged people to not panic and carry on as normal, the test project ‘Don Quixote‘ between the European Space Agency and NASA failed in spectacular fashion, leaving many people racing to new lives in New Zealand and Australia, ‘just in case’.

In Auckland, developers have been building a new city called New Hope, on the West Coast between Hamilton and Auckland and properties are selling at lightning pace. Existing properties all over New Zealand and areas in New South Wales and Queensland in Australia have increased by 800% since the announcement and are showing no signs of touching down. There has also been significant construction movement around the new US military base north of Darwin Australia which now houses over 15,000 US Marines. No public announcements have been made around this expansion or the reasons behind it.

Many Kiwis have sold their properties taking advantage of the increase in property values, but others are saying they can’t even afford to rent in their own country and this is stirring up heated sentiments. The Prime Minister has pointed out the new job opportunities and that there is plenty of undeveloped land in New Zealand. She pointed out that the important issues are not around land prices but in beefing up agriculture and utility resources to allow New Zealand to be to some degree self-sufficient should petrol and other imported resources become scarce should the strike actually occur.

Health Problems Caused by Augmented Reality Glasses Over Usage

ARGOS (Augmented Reality Glasses Overuse Syndrome) has recently been identified by the Mental health Research Centre  in the USA. People are being bombarded with constant data being displayed on their glasses and the subsequent dopamine overload is having serious consequences on the health of many users of this technology.

Dr Louis Hatmaker, a social scientist with the New Zealand founded Imersia AR, a sister company to the well known Imersia Tourism Limited said from their Auckland AR Lab that this was not unexpected given the huge volume of big data available and was in fact one of the reasons that Imersia developed its Calm Tech, to ensure that people’s eyes and brains were not bombarded with information overload.

Hatmaker said “What we didn’t anticipate in the early 2010’s was the Dopamine factor. Effectively people found the use of AR glasses extremely enjoyable.  The ability to control the glasses just by looking at them and getting a wealth of information, everything from facial recognition and identifying information about every building, business you could see was overwhelming. In a similar way to playing computer games (which of course hundreds of thousands of people now do using AR glasses sic) every time a result was presented on the lens, the user got a squirt of dopamine from their brains as a reward. Dopamine is like a natural opiate and makes you feel good. The user feels excited and becomes addicted to the use of the glasses. When they are not wearing them, they become bored and listless, affecting their relationships with other people and their ability to concentrate. We are particularly concerned with children and teenagers whose brains are still developing.”

Imersia has developed technologies to reduce the amount of information delivered through AR Glasses by making information contextually relevant and personalised. Effectively you get the information you want, when you want it, but you don’t get all the spurious information that has no relevance to you, even if it might be interesting.

Who will the future leaders be? perhaps Sight?

Vodafone Phases Out Telephone Numbers

Vodafone has announced that phone numbers will no longer be necessary for mobile subscribers in New Zealand. New and existing subscribers who do not run POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) landlines will from next week have the option of not having a phone number, they will be able to use their own name or a pseudonym username.

7aselectorA spokesperson for Vodafone explained in a brief media Telephony 101 presentation that the concept of phone numbers has evolved from the early days when telephone exchange operators used to manually connect phones. Exchanges automated this process with rotary exchanges with technology such as in this image which is the technology that many New Zealand exchanges such as Wellesley Street in Auckland, where a relay tripped to select each number, then routed the call through to exchanges where typically the first two numbers represented the exchange area. For example Ponsonby numbers all started with 76 and Howick numbers with 83. Over the years this technology became computerised and with number portability the number no longer had to relate to a specific location in the country.

Over the last few years the majority of people communicate with VoIP and numbers have largely become irrelevant. Emergency numbers will remain indefinitely for a number of reasons, but with most people having Unified Communications across their various mobile devices and appliances there just is no reason to maintain an antiquated system. People may continue to use a number if they wish, according to a spokesperson from TUANZ, in support of the baby boomers who are still a large number of people who may no longer have copper wires fed into telephone exchanges, but are more comfortable with the analogue concept of a number.