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?

President Announces New Moon Base Project Collaboration

President (Hilary) Clinton has announced that the USA is going to collaborate on the creation of a permanent moon base together with China and Virgin Galactic. This base will support further exploration of the moon and provide a stepping stone to explore Mars and other planets. 

Jointly Controlled Moon Base

“Our plan, together with our partners is to create a base which will be both scientific and commercial. This is a 10 year plan which has parallels to that of President Kennedy so many years ago, to put man on the moon before we even knew how to achieve that.” said President Clinton. “Now of course we know exactly what we need to do and how to do it and are in a position to achieve this new dream well within this time. So many discoveries and inventions resulted from the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. We anticipate a new renaissance of technology, bio-engineering and hi-tech industries which will help the USA and its partners grow out of the fiscal slumps of the last 5 years.”

She went on to say, “This initiative will create thousands of new jobs for both the USA and our partner China as new industries that can benefit from low gravity are developed. Additional funding will come from commercial activities of companies such as Virgin Galactic who are going to build a lunar hotel and resort, the rights to do this come with an agreement to provide a percentage of space on their craft as payload for the base development. They have also won the rights to ship finished goods back to China from the lunar factories.”

Branson on the MoonVirgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson, said that he was delighted to be involved in this initiative which will help him realize a lifetime dream to have his own space port and space tourism business. “Some people said I was just a dreamer. I say that if you don’t dream big, you won’t achieve big results.” Virgin Galactic has already pre-sold over 1,000 room nights in their first hotel before the ground has even been broken.

 

Are domestic Robots Spying on You?

Back in 2012 an article featured widely in the press, quoting the CIA Director David Petraeus saying “We’ll spy on you through your fridge”.  The article talked about the Internet of Things, which effectively meant that various devices in our homes would be connected to the Internet. The result of this would be that organisations like the CIA could potentially get a wealth of information about what is going on in people’s homes and workplaces, without having to break and enter in order to install cameras and other ‘spy’ technology.

Most people weren’t even aware at the time that they were actively and publicly investing in  hi-tech start-ups and developers through their investment company In-Q-Tel. Great that they are though, because it offers the opportunity for a lot of new technology to be developed for all to benefit from. A huge number of the technologies that we ‘enjoy’ today were the result of World War II and the space race. For example IBM built a computer in 1944 funded by the US military which needed a large scale automatic calculator that could rapidly perform an enormous number of ballistic calculations. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if it weren’t for the transformation of the world brought about through computing and communications technologies.

domestic-robot-lawn-mowerToday we have technology in the home that talks to our mobiles and allows us to automatically replenish our pantries, control the home climate, see who is on our doorstep and if appropriate let them in, even if we aren’t home.

I used to hate lawn mowing, but now it is a breeze.

VacuumThe vacuum cleaning is now done while we are out of the house so I don’t have to listen to that horrible sound and it even empties itself.

Many people in Korea and Japan  have had domestic robots doing their chores for many years and countries like the US are following at a rapid pace.

Most of these devices are manufactured in Asia and there are now concerns that these devices, which use cameras to understand their surroundings in order to be able to function, are transmitting this data to sources other than those required in order to ensure they are functioning correctly and have the latest firmware updates. Stories have started to come out in recent times that not only are our domestic agencies able to see what is going on in our homes, it may be that foreign powers from the countries where they are being manufactured also have that capability.

Have countries like Korea and China created Trojan Horses that we have joyfully invited into our homes? What are the implications of this? I’d welcome your comments? I’ve always been into gadgets and I love my connected home which allows me to focus my time on things that I want to do, rather than have to do and I doubt I am of interest to anyone. But what about the homes of politicians, industry leaders and those who may have something to hide?

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.

Loving the Auckland Ferry Commute

I once said that I would never commute across the bridge any more for any job. Spending an hour each way from home to work just didn’t make sense, what a total waste of time. Well almost, because I used to listen to podcasts on the way that I might not have made time for otherwise, but I have to say I hated it.

Then with the increase in population and the lack of initiative and imagination from Council, NZTA and Government in creating a decent mass transit system it become an hour and a half each way at peak times and still an hour each way in off peak. When Imersia was a relatively small company, it wasn’t such a problem because I could start work from home and head in the office once the traffic died down, but these days it doesn’t really die down at all.

The book Urban Legend that came out back in ’12 said it all. What would Auckland have been like if they had listened to Robbie? We could have been a phenomenally successful city. But we didn’t and now we have a nice ring system that travels at 10km an hour at peak and the Northern Motorway slows to 8km per hour. I used to feel like hopping out of my car on the motorway, leaving it there and running home.

Heading to Long Bay on the Ferry After Work

Then they managed to give the PC brigade the slip and followed the example of Sydney and put ferry wharf’s into Long Bay, Browns Bay and Takapuna and it was problem solved. Our offices are in the Viaduct and commuting is now a pleasure. I walk down to Long Bay, unless its raining, then I park my car in the ‘Park and Cruise’ just up from the beach. I have a flat white on the ferry and clear my inbox using their WiFi, whilst enjoying our awesome coastline on the way into town.

On the way home, especially in winter, I get to enjoy the beautiful city lights, instead of inhaling diesel fumes on the clogged motorway. I just have to wonder why they didn’t do this years ago. More people get to enjoy our North Shore beaches, the wharf’s are great for fishing and strolling along and there are less cars on the motorways. It cost a hell of a lot less to build too.

 

 

Crime Stats Are Tracking Way Down with GPS Anklets

Philip K Dick would be shouting warnings from the rooftops if he was still in the matrix, but you can’t argue with the numbers. Since GPS anklets became mandatory for all parolees national crime statistics in almost all sectors have reduced by over 25% and growing. Sure people tried covering the anklets in aluminium foil and other tricks, but as soon as the location signals stopped, the alarms were raised and the penalties for tampering are high.

Prison populations are decreasing and levels of offending from domestic violence to gang related crimes have reduced dramatically. Call centers have been established all over the country and as soon as it appears that people are not adhering to their parole conditions, action is taken.

If someone doesn’t turn up to their job in the morning, they will get a friendly call asking if they are ok. If people come within proximity of someone they have a non consorting order against, or someone are not allowed to be near, an alarm goes off on their anklet as a warning. Initially it is just a vibration, which also sends an alert to the call center and the CRM database monitoring them in case it is an accidental situation. If they do not back off, it becomes an audible alarm and security or emergency services are called in.

In addition to many success stories where parolees have been able to start a new life through the restrictions imposed on them, those that have tried to go back to old habits have inadvertently guided police to gang locations, meth labs, car theft enterprises and other places where crimes were being committed. The criminal landscape is being mapped in such a way that police are able to predict where criminal activity is about to take place and shut it down.

Some activists are saying that the GPS anklets deprive people of their civil rights, but most people are just happy that the streets are safer to walk on. I just wish I had invested in the company that developed the anklets and the knowledge based software behind them. Now if only I could go back in time to around 2014.

Production of New Zealand Bank Notes Continues Decline

Cash

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Remember cash? Do you still carry any? In the last few years with eMoney it has almost become non existent. New Zealand was one of the first countries to adopt EFTPOS as a way to reduce the risks and costs around cash management many yeas ago.

With so many people buying everything from groceries to electronics online or on finance, cash has become almost a thing of the past and something Kiwi travellers now find quite novel when we travel overseas.

It has been very interesting for the Government to deal with because in many cases where goods are purchased from overseas, they miss the opportunity to charge GST or other duties when parcels come from overseas in the mail.

New forms of virtual money have appeared and companies like Google, Facebook and Zynga have started creating their own value systems and many new barter organisations have appeared, while the old vanguards such as Bartercard are growing in popularity.

The old system of cash jobs, the grey market is probably the main area still propping up physical currency at all because even money transferred via eWallets through intermediaries such as the Telcos  is still auditable. Out of interest, New Zealand hasn’t minted 5 cent coins since 2004, 20 cent coins since 2008 and the number of bank notes produced has been in decline at a rate of over 10% p.a. since 2010 even though our population has grown dramatically with increased immigration.

It is expected that within another 20 years bank notes and coins will become collectors items and future generations will look at them as an interesting historic item and wonder why anyone ever bothered with them.

Enhanced Human World Champs

The Enhanced Human World Champs are coming to New York next year and I’m wondering if it is going to change everything. Whilst the glamour sports of the Olympics like gymnastics will continue to draw a crowd, things are going to change dramatically for athletics in particular.

It started with the military with HULC as per the video above and with products from New Zealand from companies like Rex Bionics, which was of course about helping disabled people, but the obvious thought was “If disabled people can move and compete with able bodied people, what could strong and fit people do?”

The rest as they say is history, now we have people running the Super Marathon (126.6km) in under 4 hours. The question is whether people will continue to support the traditional sports or will just consider them as boring in future? The irony is that whilst much of this technology was developed for military use, most of the things that humans would have done in these exoskeletons are now done by robots.

NZ6 Goes Pop Pop Pop

I was just sitting down to dinner this evening and I heard this loud noise, POP, POP, POP, POP. It reminded me of back when I was a young fella riding a Triumph Saint which used to backfire when the timing was slightly out. At first I thought it was lightning, we seem to get a lot more storms these days, semi tropical. One minute the weather isn’t that bad, nek minit its persisting down. Perhaps Auckland weather has always been like that, but it does seem to be more dramatic these days.

NZ6

But no, I looked up into the sky and there was the new NZ6, Air New Zealand‘s supersonic passenger aircraft, breaking the sound barrier with its new green low impact mini sonic booms. Not only is the noise reduced, which is just as well given that  I live under the flight path from Auckland to LAX, but it meant that these super fast planes were approved for the long haul flight.

I remember back in the day when that was a 12 hour flight and was an absolute major. You would lose pretty much a full day each way and arrive jetlagged heading for business trips to the USA. Now its a meal and a quick movie, it just about takes longer to get to and from the airport, through immigration and security than it does to get to Los Angeles.

I’d love to have another ride on that old Triumph again though, backfires and all.