Don's Blog

This year – Infrastructure!

School Starts In The Morning and IT Wasn’t Ready

The uniform was purchased a month ago before Christmas – $300 dollars worth.

The stationary was purchased last week – $75 dollars worth.

The new BYOD Chrome book was also purchased last week, the software updates done to make sure it was on current release, the bag purchased to keep it safe, everything named – $650 dollars later…

11 am “school introduction meeting, parents and the child attending”, we were on time, of course you’d expect a few delays but even the principal stepped up to do our interview to pick up the slack…

Following the introduction meeting, in the school hall, we called into the classroom to meet the teacher.  The classroom was prepared like a stage ready for opening night.  So prepared that labels had been printed with every childs name and attached to the desks so that every child could visually see their space in the domain from the very first moment in the classroom, a place of belonging, and identity.

All going well so far…

Earlier in the week we’d got this some what strange email which left us with the impression that the new BYOD would be locked in a storage locker for up to 3 weeks before the IT guys were able to get it set up to use properly in the classroom.

This seemed a little odd so I challenged the principal about it.  He quickly pointed out that they had a new IT contractor, explained that it could take a few weeks to get all the computers ‘on boarded’ in to the managed environment but he could get ours fast tracked so my child could use it right away, so we popped down the hall to meet with the IT guys and I arranged to drop back with said Chrome book later in the day to be sorted out….  bit if a waste of my time but trucking on…

So I dropped back with the offending device and that’s about when the wheels fell off for me…

The first part of the on boarding process was to put the device in to ‘developer mode’.  The device then proceeded to sit there and spin some time.  I asked what it was doing but the “IT guys” couldn’t tell me.  Given how long it was ‘away thinking’ I’m going to guess it pulled down a binary image and was updating the OS.  A few ‘reboots’ and the IT guy entered the wifi password again, the schools details, my childs name and we were done… other than he didn’t yet have the log on details for my son to actually use the device, for that he’d have to wait until the next day.  The whole process sorted in about 15 minutes.

My problem with this is that I feel IT has become nothing but a fraud, and a really expensive one at that!

It actually feels like a fraud which is taking quality food from our childrens mouths and robbing them of experiencing our world and that just makes me angry and sad at the same time.

I actually get why the school wants Chrome books.  14 hours of battery life, a light weight OS which is faster and easier to manage.

What I don’t get is just how poor the whole on boarding process is and how unprepared the IT department was given that for 40 years we’ve been telling our kids that computers and IT are the future, they’re really important and they’re efficient, they’re about working smarter not harder.

Two guys have to ‘on board’ 400 computers.  I would say ‘400 unknown computers’ but every Chrome book I looked at over the Christmas break runs on one of three chips, these are hardly ‘unknown entity’.

I don’t understand how provisioning of these things it’s a completely automated process that we completed from home before we even showed up at the school this morning.  Actually I really don’t understand why the local retailer didn’t do it for us, the local retailer was able to brand $300 dollars of uniforms and ‘all they’re doing is making cloths”!

I don’t understand why my son isn’t setting his own password and I don’t understand why his primary school account didn’t carry forward with him, a duplication of effort to build him a whole new environment.

It just annoyed me, and perhaps it should, but it did, that his classroom teacher already had his name in a computer system that enabled her to print out a label for his desk (in a world where we talk more and more about shared cars, shared desks, resource sharing) and she was completely ready by mid day the day before the ‘opening night’ yet the IT department (the bastions of organization) didn’t yet have his name in their computer system ready so he could have his device (you know, that one I spent 13 weeks food money, for him, on) on “the opening night”.

I also don’t understand why he still needs $75 dollars of stationary, another week and a half’s quality food, when the whole idea of computing technology was to make us paperless and empower us to make better use of our resources.

I might add that my son now has 6 digital devices…

Phone – Adroid
Laptop – Linux
Laptop – Windows
Laptop – Chrome OS
iPad – Apple OS
Desktop – Windows

…oh, and in a domain where we’re making more and more free access to data, I’m really not sure why we’re locking anything down…  you’re really just kidding yourself.

How To Pick a Cheap Surveillance Camera

Low cost surveillance cameras can be found on many international web sites like Best Gear, AliExpress and Alibarba.

In my view, the best cameras to get are IP cameras with TF/SD card slots in them for memory cards.

Here’s a picture of a good little example I found on AliExpress just now.

Key Features

  1.  Those RED LEDS!Check out how the ring of LEDs glows red in the dark.  Nothing like a little glowing camera in the dark to remind folk it’s there.  Those little red lights add light that every camera can use too.  So the more cameras you put up the more light there is for all of them.  While you can’t see the light they produce your other cameras can, so think about how you use them to light up areas.
  2. It’s ‘WIFI’.The advantage of it being WIFI is that you only have to connect a cable from the camera to a power source, not all the way back to your internet wifi router.
  3.   It has a TF/SD slotThe camera will record the video to itself even when your internet goes down.  Remember the card will only have so much storage and will over write the oldest recordings each day, so if you have an event you need to get the card out before it’s over written.  It’s no good if you’re broken into 2 weeks ago while you were on holiday and only had 7 days storage.
  4. It’s low power!Adding $100 dollars a month to your power account to protect your $20 bus card is silly.
  5. It’s small and lite.Most of these camera only need three small screws to hold them in place and you can normally get away with only two.  This is great if you’re renting and concerned about damaging the outside of a landlords building.
  6. It’s 1080P / 2mp.The higher the resolution the better picture quality.  Sites like AliExpress still have lots of the older cameras for sale too but they’re lower resolution.


These things typically all run on 12 volt 1 amp power supplies but when ordering make sure you ask for the AU (Australian)/ NZ power pack or you’ll get a 110v US plug pack.  Plug packs are cheap enough and you can get them locally.

These little cables are called POE splitters and they don’t come with the cameras but they are your new ‘best friends’!

These cables let you use cheap network cable to power your cameras without any fuss.

Wiring Them Up.

Don’t you dare share this post with my purist IT cabling friends because they will hunt me down and beat me with left over network cables, but here’s some tips….

You can buy cheap ‘indoor’ network cables with the ends already on them which will do the job for as long as the cheap camera will last!

You don’t need to drill holes in everything to put up a camera in a tidy way.  You can loop cables up over gutters and then use some cable ties to hold the cable out of water and tuck them into your roof space to find a path to a power source inside.

My purist IT mates will tell you that you should always use ‘out door cable’ outside, you don’t.  Sure your cables won’t last for ever but your camera won’t either.  If you’re a council putting a camera up a pole over a busy intersection then use the best cable so you don’t have to come back to your $1,500 dollar camera within 10 years, but if you’re just putting up a $65 dollar ‘Ali’ camera then $20 is the most you need to spend on the cable.

Definition of drip loop

: a downward loop (as in a wire entering a building to permit rainwater to drip off or in a pipe to collect water condensed in the pipe system)

Remember the Drip / Service Loop.  You need to make sure that rain water can’t drip back down a cable into your cameras connectors.

Understand the Cloud

Many of these camera come with a ‘free’ cloud service.  These services can be very cool but remember that they’re putting images from your cameras on someone elses computer which you don’t have full control over, so don’t put your cameras up in your back yard pointing at your swimming pool.  Also don’t put them up in your house anywhere you wouldn’t be dressed to be seen in your local shopping mall if you’re going to use the ‘cloud services’.

Many of there cameras can be used without the ‘free cloud service’.  They can send photos directly to your own email and store video on your own NAS (Network Storage Device).

Cameras Use Internet Data

If you’re using a Cloud Service then remember that the camera is sending a stream of video to the internet all the time so make sure your internet plan is appropriate.  You can normally change the resolution that is sent to the cloud too, so choose one that gets the right balance between data use and performance.

Understanding the Specs

How many did you understand so far?  How many do you really need to care about?!

CMOS Size – don’t care

Resolution – Do care, and this one is what we’re looking for.

Lens – We care – 110 degrees is good, that’s nice and wide to cover a limited area like the front of your narrow drive way

PTZ – Point, Tilt, Zoom – it’s not, we don’t care, we’re not going to be moving it about, for the price difference we’ll buy 4 more cameras!

Day/Night – we do care.  The more LEDs the better because they give more light for the camera to see at night, but there’s nothing like a sensor light too to scare people off and add colour to your video – remember Night LEDs only make black and white images.

Min Lum – we don’t care, if we don’t have enough light when they’re running then we’ll just add more.  Most of these low cost camera are fantastic given the cost.

Video compression – they’re all H264 or you’re not buying.

Network Speed – they’re normally all 100mbit but you don’t care because you’ll use wifi

Wifi – they’re all the same, most of them are G not N, and you do care a bit about that.  Consider how far your Wifi router is away from the camera.  If it’s to far with to many walls you’ll either have to use a cable or add another router to get closer.  Remember adding a router can also improve your coverage for phones and other devices anyway.

We just don’t care about the warranty as long as it doesn’t arrive dead, though we do care about ‘buyer protection’ when buying off Ali’ANYTHING’.  I’ve ordered and paid for stuff before, forgotten about it, it didn’t show up and then it was to late to claim (typically 60 days).

I’ve also paid thousands for locally supported high end camera systems only to have them fail a year out of warranty.


Talk to Your Neighbours

Some neighbours may not thank you if your cameras are pointing over or at their property, on the other hand they may also thank you a lot if they get an intruder who isn’t seen by their cameras.

Your neighbour may also like your help to put up some of their own.

Find a Geek Kid

You really can do this yourself but there’s real value in giving a kid $20 to help you out.  Kids have mates and they all talk at school.  One kid boasting about how they’ve been putting up cameras quickly sends a message around the whole community that your street isn’t easy pickings any more.

Get smart and think about how you can use your minimum investment to cast the widest net.

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook!

Do your research and share on social media.  Share links to cameras you’re thinking about and ask others.  Drive the discussion.  The more of these we put in place and the more awareness we rise up about the existence of cameras in our suburbs the more the message is sent to offenders to find a new hobby.


Something is better than nothing.  Two cameras is better than one, three is better than two.  Putting up a couple of cameras doesn’t need to break the bank.  Do your research, make posts on Facebook and ask for feed back.  POE splitters are your best friend, preterminated  cables are your mates, a screw driver is all you need, you don’t have to drill holes and you can do this yourself, you really can!


How We Fix The Broken Family Court and OT in One Hit

We start with real time information systems.  Every time a child is uplifted, a real time, public facing web site is updated showing the number of events in a graphical format with the ability to drill down to post code, gender and age.

We have to change public policy to one of keeping children with parents at all costs.  “Parents” means ‘mum and dad’.

We have to make sure every child is connected with unmetered access to information systems.

We have to design social policy that keeps everyone in the boat.

We have to provide better parenting education from a younger age but also to the whole community.

Do these things and the rest will fall into place all by itself.

What? Why?!

Ok, that was the easy bit, now let me explain what all that means and why we have to do it.

Real Time Systems

Recently I saw an article where people seemed to be excited about Oranga Tamariki updating systems to be able to report stats about harm events every three months.  By the time that data gets to us it’s as good as useless.

We need a real time system that tells us every time there is an event which we can get a daily and weekly summary for an area by gender and age.

I need to know what’s happening in real time in the physical area that students at my sons school come from so I can react to that information with support.  I need to understand when we’ve had a more ‘tramatic’ week than normal and be able to draw my family and our teachers to the issues.

In my home I need to be having conversations around the fact that some of our students won’t be coping as well as normal.  In the class room I need to be making sure my son’s teacher feels supported.  That doesn’t mean I need to come and run a class to give her time out, I’m not a teacher and that’s not my area of skill, it means that I just reminder her that we understand this week might be more complex and that ‘we have her back’ in terms of understanding that the week might be harder to plan with more unexpected events.

A real time system also means that when I’m getting my coffee at the local cafe at lunch time, and I see the local police parked up out side, I go and have a quiet word.  Police have so much information coming at them all the time that any normal human can become overwhelmed and loose focus on what we consider most important in our suburb (and last time I checked, even though their blood is blue, they’re still just humans like the rest of us).

Real time also means that when I see a growing problem in someone else area who I have a friend in, I will pick up the phone to have a chat.  We forget that most people, most days, want to help, we just need to draw their attention from their otherwise busy lives.

What goes up must come down…

If I cut my finger I’ll apply some pressure until the bleeding stops.  When the bleeding stops I stop holding my finger and get on with life.

The same logic has to apply in our real time information systems.  When events rise we have to deliver resources but when the tide pulls back we have to pull back the resources in an agile way.  We also have to understand that issues may come and go like tides for some time until we get some stability.

Public Policy of Keeping Mum Dad and kids together…

At present we’re using kids as a weapon in the war on drugs and it’s not actually working.  The minute something looks out of place in a family where there might be drugs we appear to pull the kids out.  Reading the social media space it quickly becomes obvious to me that the problem with this is it’s like a death in the family.  The knock on is that people on the edge just self medicate with drugs more than normal.  It feels like the state approach is that if they take the kids then the parents will have breathing space to sort their lives out and that this can be used as leverage to ‘make’ the parents engage their issues.  At best this approach is arrogant, but in reality it doesn’t work, it just makes lots and lots of angry people who strike out at everything and engage in the blame game and personal minimisation.

We have to start from a position of keeping the family unit in-tacked as a first priority.  In some cases that might mean moving the whole family unit into accommodation with supervision.  At the other end of the spectrum it needs to mean bringing supervision into the home to make sure that daily routines are supported.  Cooking, cleaning, working, study, relaxing all need support when you have a complex family dynamic.

We can not have a situation of our kids growing up feeling as though they lost one or both parents just because a parent became ill.  Addiction is an illness.

Connection to unmetered information systems.

I’ve already written two blog posts on this question – GOOD MORNING Mr 13 and Sadly, Hello Mr 16

Children at risk have to be able to reach out.  They have to be able to stay connected with extended family and friends and we have to keep stability in their lives.  The classroom is one important safe place, but what happens at 3pm?

We also have to consider how we keep kids connected with parents in jail.  When you’re 2 having a parent in jail doesn’t mean to much to you, but when you’re 10 you really do understand.  Life goes on for the child, life tends to stand still when you’re in jail.  We have to consider the impact of taking a parent out of a childs life, and we don’t do it well enough right now.  We forget that friends are something that come and go and that you can always collect, parents are something you only ever get two of – a mum and a dad.

Keeping Everyone In The Boat

When we think about public policy we have to think about who’s in the boat, what size the boat is and how we’re keeping everyone in it.

The family court and OT space is like one of those massive US aircraft carriers, but much bigger.  You might think that the captain is in charge of those things, but reality check, they’re not.  Something that large has a life of its own and things happen by agreement between many stakeholders.  No one ever gets thrown over board because if they did then the whole boat would be stopped while the man over board is found and recovered.

We have to think about designing public policy in this space in the same way.  If we have 20 family court judges we might only need 15 if we improve things, so that means we need to also think about what we do with 5 judges that we now don’t need.

Judges earn at least $375,000 each per year.  That means they have enough money to exert a great deal of influence over public policy.  This doesn’t mean they’ve got cash to just hire a hit man to knock off an objector, but it does mean they can take part in ever public engagement, go to every ‘policy’ event in Wellington, join all the right clubs, play golf in the right places… you start to get the idea.

You also have to remember that we only have one government in this country to work for, so if you’re a public policy writer then you’re not going to bite the hand that feeds and you’re not going to go writing policy that throws government workers under the bus (or out of the boat).

This means that when we think about policy ideas we not only have to cost our idea, we also have to consider who else our idea might impact and how we keep those folk in the boat.  For example, 500 new police in Auckland might mean 10,000 more cases in court which means we need 1000 more staff there to manage the load.  It might also mean police better manage crime in Auckland which knocks on to less jobs before the courts and less going to jail which means we need 1,000 less corrections and court staff.

Better Parenting Education

No one teaches you how to be a child, you just are.  Hopefully your parents and the community will teach you how to be an adult.

No one is born a teacher, they go to a school to learn how, same with police, same with judges.

We just assume that when the baby pops out that we’ll become good parents.

We need to start teaching kids about being parents sooner.  We need to do more to engage with teens about what a good parent looks like and we need to do more with couples to talk about the realities of being parents.

My life in the club…

When I was in the club, she was ‘hot’, all dressed up and looking ‘fine’.  My friends were joking that my chances of her even giving me the time of day was so low that I should give up before getting started… she was on my radar and she knew it.  Flirting was fun, the game of cat and mouse, would I get her number?  Our dates her hot and steamy and I remember my friend hitch hiking to work so he’d have more petrol in his car come the weekend to take his date out.

My life as a father…

Our house didn’t have any doors for 18 months while reservations were being completed inside.  There’s nothing romantic about seeing your partner sitting on the bog.  My friend rings me up stressed because his partner is about to loose her drivers license after being caught speeding a few to many times because she works late nights as a cook in a city cafe and just ‘rushes a bit hard’ on her way home in the middle of the night.  The local cub master emails to say that this week my son is to run game night, he’s autistic and doesn’t cope well with that idea….  this world is so far from the club.

Learning to be a parent…

My teenage friends prepared me for my life in the club, but who taught me to be a parent?

We got lots of help because we have an autistic child, I’m bipolar and my wife identifies with a range of issues.  We tick a whole pile of boxes for all sorts of social support, we’re also a bit older, I was 37 when my son was born.  I wouldn’t like to guess what sort of parent I would have been at 17 or even 27.

I live in a community of broken homes.  We when were planning to get married it was pointed out to us that 50 percent of ‘Christian’ marriages fail.

Right now I’m looking at my son heading into teenage years and wondering where my education to be the parent of a teenager is about to come from and if I’ll even engage with what’s put on offer well.

Do these things and the rest will fall into place all by itself.

Tell 100% of the community where the problems are with real time systems and we’ll instantly knock 10% of the issues on the head.  You can choose to believe me, you can choose to question my suggestion, but I’ve been working with databases and information systems as an analyst  computer programmer for 30 years.  I’ve worked in health care and see first hand the impact of just providing good information to people.

I build ‘internet networks’ and I’ve been looking at the social impacts of the internet and telecommunications in this part of the world for 25 years.  I’ve seen first hand the impact of giving unemployed people technology that just rises them up.  I understand how keeping people connected with each other is vital in the 21st century.  I know that leaving a child to sleep in the cold just so they can have an internet connection is just a pathway to jail.

Do these two things and we’ll free up enough resources to start working on keeping families together.  We know that’s going to be expensive.  We know it’s harder than just taking kids and “rehoming” them, but we also know the current approach just isn’t working.  The data is showing that removing children from homes is just a path way to a generational life in jail.

Holding an attitude of keeping everyone in the boat means we’re more likely to get more support from more people to change the direction of the boat.  We’ll always have people who won’t agree and some of those will just want to jump ship too, but we have to provide the rest with security and confidence that a change in direction isn’t going to tip them out.

If we do more to teach more people about what being a good parent is all about then we simply have a bigger army to support people who are parents at different stages.

Do these things and with a bit of agility we can make the rest fall into place.


Edit:  Less that 24 hours after writing this blog item, the following showed up in the media.  I brings me confidence we’re heading in the right direction:

What’s Next for City Security?

Is this week in crime really any different to any other or has it just touched me a little more closely so I’ve noticed it?

Posts on Facebook with photos of young women walking up drive ways checking windows, sculptures being stolen from community gardens and to round out the week, a whole ute load of tools taken in an over night break in.

As always, I have been setting my mind how technology might impact these problems.

The traditional old security camera really is limited and easy to thwart with a hoddie and sun hat and an IR driven burglar alarm is only really useful for annoying your neighbours, so we need some new answers as those little blue lights on boxes outside peoples homes and office’s aren’t keeping the offenders deterred.

My technology interest is what happens when we start to integrate stuff and be more creative in the ways we’re using it?

Every home has a wifi access point these days, every mobile phone has Bluetooth and we’re all carrying those.   Network connected cameras are getting so cheap now that it’s just silly.

Advertisers and shopping malls are using ‘device’ tracking to know when you’re in their mall, which shops you go into and how long you’re there.  Open source software already exists to identify everything in a cameras domain, that tech is being build to driver-less cars.  Routers track MAC addresses to move packets.  Mobile phones ‘ping’ just about anything that moves trying to make instant connectivity the best user experience it can.

So what happens if we pull all this together?  What happens if we start to record the MAC address of every device that hits your wifi network, geo-locate that data and push it to a ‘big data’ store in the ‘cloud’?  What happens if the wifi camera on the out side of your house feeds video images to that same cloud and matches everything up?

CCTV in your home is only useful when it catches something we can recognise to figure out who the person was who broke in.   What happens if we can ‘follow’ the offender through time, traveling to your home and away from it by following the signature put out by their mobile phone?

Ok, now you’re just thinking “dummy, the offenders will just stop carrying phones!”… and you’re right, they will… there won’t be the ‘look out’ at the end of the street sending a ‘text message’ to say “hey, get out, someone’s coming”.

However an active network is smarter than this too.  What if the network ‘figures out’ that it can’t see a ‘signature’?  A person carrying a phone in a world where ‘everyone carries a phone’ isn’t a ‘person of interest’, a person who doesn’t carry a phone is of interest.

I was talking with an IT friend about these ideas and he laughed as he expressed “perhaps a drone flying over head?”   I joined him in laughter, but as my afternoon has worn on and I’ve given what he said more thought, I pondered, what if I had a drone housed at the front of my house which just took off to take aerial footage when my ‘street’ sees a ‘person of interest’ enter the area and then quietly parked it self when the person or ‘thing’ leave the area?  Ok it’s starting to sound a little far fetched but let’s do a quick check of what drones cost right now at my local online retailer…

Hummm….  I had IR sensors on my last house alarm which cost way more than half of those.

It will never happen…

One thing we know about technology is that ‘never’ is the only thing you should never say.  The question is when it will happen?

Manufactures like D-Link are already pushing vision from their cameras to the cloud now.  They’re also pushing all the information in your router there to so that they can give you a better user experience with configuration and management of features like parental controls.  Other vendors also have most of the information needed in their databases to manage devices from the cloud.

5G is coming like a freight train too and vendors and network operators are looking for points of difference and features they can build on top of existing infrastructure.  Is “security” going to be the next killer application in the mobile space?

Yes, I can already hear you thinking “oh but what about the authorities?!”, but what about them?  They’re not keeping up with crime now.   Police are just closing cases unless you can provide them with information that could help them.

I suggest the question isn’t ‘if’ it’s ‘when’.

Who will move first?

Like many technologies that are driven by a clear need it will be an early adopter community who will just build this technology first.  Most of the bits already exist, it’s just a question of interested IT geeks starting to craft home cooked solutions and publishing open source components that the market will pick up.

Managed wifi solutions are bleeding into homes now as people want great great coverage in more than one room and covering the rest of their property.

Retailers are always looking for something different to put on the shelves to pull in consumers.

LTP – The Christchurch Lolly Scramble

It is the great Christchurch lolly scramble and everyone’s lining up for their share of sweets.

Nick Truebridge’s headline just annoyed me and so did many of the comments made in his article.

The council asked rate payers for feed back about their priorities for the next 3 years of the 10 year plan and they showed up to tell people want was important to them.

I can quite understand the thinking from so many who have had their part of the city sorted out, they’re looking forward and wanting new projects that create jobs in their areas and add value to their local investment.

I can also understand the folk from Edgeware Pool and others who feel they’ve had value taken from their community, are looking around at other parts of the city which have had extensive new facilities provided and want that same value restored into their communities too.


What Nick doesn’t talk about in his article is the fantastic networking that the LTP process rises up.

In my own submission I confessed that I’ve been asleep at the wheel.  What I didn’t say is that I’ve been asleep for almost 30 years in this town and it’s just all there for the taking.

My wife presented her project “”.  She wants a new community centre.  A month ago when she started on her quest to learn everything about the world of “the Shirley Community centre” I had no idea how we might pull off such an idea.

Today I have every idea how we can get that project over the line with or without council support, funding and engagement.

Thanks to the LTP I now have a library of videos introducing me to hundreds of people around the city with a passion for these kind of projects who will repart the Red Sea to bring the all the help we might need, to our door.

Door To Door for Edgeware

After todays announcement on the Denton Park project, I frankly think that every pool, community centre, skate park, you name it, is going to be on the back burner for council funds.

The $300m that Megan Woods scored for the city seems clearly ear marked for a ruby ground and a smattering of minor roading projects around the east if we’re lucky.

But Edgeware Pool, with a budget of just $5 million dollars looks more and more to me like a simple ‘door knocking’ project, a ‘street appeal’, if they can present the right case to the community to dig deep for $300 each.

What Happened to the Old Fashioned Way?

One LTP presented asked the question of what happened to the way we used to do these things?  I have to agree.  My own grandparents (and fathers family) build a mountain road.  They got most of the way to the top before central government stepped in to finish the job they started.  In my family it looks like ‘a right of passage’ and I don’t actually feel like I’m passing that test in this community right now.

On the Silver Platter Please!

Actually I got that wrong… here in Christchurch we’ve been expecting everything on a Gold Plated Platter NOW!

Some in our community are looking about at what others have been getting around Christchurch.  Personally I’m wondering how many around the country in small rural towns are looking at Christchurch and asking “what the!” as we build new thing after new after new on the public credit card.

The Driving Technology Whacking Stick

Today Cr Sara Templeton posted an article on Facebook about road speed changes in an area after some signs were recently upgraded.
The comments followed on as you might expect, cyclists pointing out how bad drivers are and drivers claiming they never speed and always give bikes as much space as they need.

This space is about to get a big whack from the ‘technology stick’.
Recently we’re seeing more and more video feeds showing up on media and social media sites showing off bad driving.
What most people have no idea about is that we’re on the cusp of a landslide technology upgrade that’s going to bring a massive change to the way people drive.
My Facebook feed fills with new technologies all the time, but it’s not until I see ‘integration’ that I really get interested.  In the telco space everyone’s just buzzing about 5G, in the CCTV space it’s xG enabled camera and in the AI space the noise has been all about face recognition in supermarkets this week.
Today I paid for my parking at a local car park, I got in my car and drove to the exit, the boom gate, to my wife’s surprise, rose up without her putting the ticket in the machine…  yes, someone has just integrated the number plate recognition camera on the exit with the one on the entry with the ticket machine which saw that we’d already paid.
DIY ‘speed camera’ applications  already exist on line and they’re fun to make if you’re a hobbyist.
The ‘whacking’ stick comes in when we start to see the IT department start to tie all these things together.
Picture Sara riding her bike down the road in the offending 60 km space with the ‘dash cams’ on her bike looking forward and behind just calculating the speed of every other user on the road and streaming that data back to the ‘big data’ network in real time.  Sara’s health insurance company is going to just love this data.
At present, this sort of data, in my view, is still just the domain of councils with networks of CCTV cameras at intersections, but those days are coming to a close as G5 network providers look for ‘mobile applications’ to put on their networks.
Big data just loves to chew data.  Autonomous vehicle software is working hard to figure out how to get rid of drivers, but a stepping stone is going to be integrating the software into devices that drive road safety and a consumer level and then empower companies.  Insurance companies are going to get interested in this kind of data to better understand risk, but trucking companies are also going to better understand issues that relate to fleet management (and I can tell you this isn’t new, I worked for a global tyre management company 20 years ago who specifically focused on tyre management in mining truck, but the same issues translate).
The consumer market is going to drive this technology as bike riders like Sara look to make their spaces safer and gain traction with robust, real time, evidence about what’s happening around them.

Christchurch City Council Long Term Planning Submission

Today was the big day!!!  Stepping up in front of the mayor, the council and online viewers.

I decided to have some fun!  I’ve been watching so many of these presentations and just so many are boring.

The mayor had told people time and time again that their submissions have been read, and I heard that message.

So my presentation involved ‘goodie bags’ along with the serious message that there needs to be focus on ‘core business’.

You can watch my submission back here:

You can also review my (this time spelling corrected) notes here:  Don LTP Presentation

Parking Technology in Christchurch

Today I discovered just how much the parking technology in Christchurch is just doing my head in.

I lost the ticket for the parking machine and ended up having to pay the $20 to get out.

I don’t understand why I even need a bit of paper to loose.  I don’t understand why the monitoring system in the car park didn’t just see my mobile phone and know it was me, or a camera see my number plate.  I don’t understand why my metro card isn’t just linked.

IT in our transport space is poor, nothing is talking to anything else and it’s just continuing to frustrate the daylights out of me.

I know our cities IT workers are well paid.  It’s time to pull the sox up folks because the rest of the world is calling to take your jobs unless IT starts to deliver much better outcomes.

It was interesting to see the level of frustration in last weeks council meeting.

Never Delete Help

Help comes in many forms and from many places.

As a child I was taught never to kick a gift horse in the mouth.

It’s a great morale but in the social media world it’s often really hard to spot the difference between a gift and a horse.

Social media is about making people think. It’s about engagement and drawing people out.

You have to be careful about not “deleting” your help when it shows up, especially when you worked so hard to attract it to your space.

Social media moderation is a mine field, just ask the moderation team at who have written thousands of words in their community rules.

Knowing the rules is important. Also knowing when to break the rules is important to.

The week I broke some rules and my content was removed. The problem is that I needed that content to send a message to some people I needed to draw in to rise up a space.

Moderators should engage. They should close down and stop conversations when they derail. But never delete history.

History has the right to be forgotten, but let it be forgotten rather than removed.

Embrace rather than eradicate.

There Is Just Nothing More Important Than Sharing

First, before I say anything else I have to extend a massive note of thanks to Cr Sara Templeton, who by now must be just thinking I’ve lost the plot and gone a bit nuts, but has been trying her hardest to humour me, Thanks Sara!

I also have to thank a few other friends who helped to inspire today’s blog post and worked hard to help me prove a point, you know who you are.

Sara made the mistake of suggesting I installed an “App” on my phone to get around the problem I was facing with getting bus information for a trip from home to the city to attend an event.  She had no idea that she was actually opening a real can of worms.

You see, ten years ago the local residents gave me an assignment, “help us to get our council to clean up our suburb”.  The problem was that while the local council had assigned a ‘special detail clean up crew’ for the area because it was right behind a $265m dollar shopping mall, it just wasn’t getting done.  The contractor would just drive through the streets and only pick up the bits they could see why doing a 30kmph lap.  My solution was to photograph every bit of rubbish and just raise tickets with the council’s call center via email.  It was time consuming, I only had a big DSL camera with a memory card and had to manually upload two photos each time, one of the closes letter box and one of the problem.  The problem got worse because I managed to just crash the councils mail queue which just didn’t have capacity for my photos and the couldn’t share them with the contractor actually doing the work.

Ten years on we’re still having the same “sharing” problem, but not just with photos of rubbish but all sorts of things!

Last week I used Telegram to ask my wife to look up the bus route information I wanted to get to town.  She looked it up on the Metro web site and ‘pinged’ me the URL for the route.  Problem is that Metro doesn’t share well.

I ‘shared’ this problem with Sara, who kindly suggested that I just ‘install the metro app’ on our phones.  I have to be honest, this just annoyed me.  It annoyed me because it was just last week that I was watching a council meeting talking about how IT is just a sink hold for money.  I wondered “why can’t the bus guys just make their web site work?!”

Back to the rubbish problem…  Today we have an APP called “Snap Send Solve” which you can use to take photos of problems in the area, photograph, it geocodes the images and sends an email to the council for me!  LOVE IT!  The problem is that once it vanishes into the dark hole if council IT, you guessed it… they still can’t share my photos!  I’m told “they’re working on it”…  But the real issue is getting locals to install it on their phones.  People in my area can’t install apps, their phones are full by the time they have Facebook, banking apps, email, web browser and about a dozen other things they find important they just don’t have space for something that’s going to do a job they really feel is the councils job, not ours.

I don’t always like to just tell people stuff… I like, some times, to show them, to help them understand the problem.

Sara has been engaging me in conversation about the importance of using our public transport system and biking via social media.

Imagine this you’re my mate from Spain, come to visit, staying at my house, want to pop into Epic for a tech event, so you reach out to me via Telegram, Facebook Messenger, WeChat or some other random IM program that we used (yes I have dozens on my phone).  “Don, how do I get there?”. I ping back “use metro web site”… “what?” comes back, I just do the look up and ping back the URL… opps, it’s broken, so then I try to use Google translate to tell him to use his app store in Spanish to install the Metro app and look it up himself.  It’s just a big fail.

I pondered this problem in my own mind and decided to point out, via illustration that what Sara was asking was just not particle.

When I rang Sara last week I was under a building on my back, so not really concentrating to much as I was deep in insulation helping a mate with a little DIY job.  So I left her a message voice “the info is in the other place”, with out leaving my name, I figured she’d have caller id, but doubted I’d be in her address book.  I followed up with a text message “left info in messenger”, then I sent a message in Dutch, to check her email and a Spanish message, via email asking her to install Telegram.  She responded “have you been hacked”?  Ok, good so far, she’s using google translate, quite intrigued about where this is heading but we’re not there quite yet.

A few more follow ups to install telegram so I could send her the ‘promised file’ (which was actually going to be this post, in a word document, but we never got that far!).  Sara jumped back on social media that she already has any number of apps on her phone for messaging “bingo!”  Jo (my wife) and I already have a web browser and it’s one thing you can be assured everyone does but we can’t share bus info with out installing yet ‘another app’!

My plan, as evil and cunning as it was, had failed to get to the installation of a messaging app, my locals don’t have Snap Send Solve on their phones but what about my other random friend?  (remember, I said I had others helping me with this little project).

I had told him of my plot, he’s asked ‘what’s telegram” (he’ll never do that again!!), I said ‘it’s in the app store’….  His phone prompts him for his AppleID and password to install anything (lots of people do this).  Problem is that he’d forgotten his password so had to do a password recovery just to install an App that he is likely to only ever use once (not unlike the need for MetroInfo).  Twenty minutes and a cup of coffee later, I’d made my point about how long it takes to install an app.   Four days later I’ve made my point about how people are just resistant to install apps and in some cases actually can’t.   Not to mention finding the ‘wrong app’, my mate almost installed a random dating app while looking for the right ‘telegram’ in the app store!

This wasn’t the only time this week that I was using an app and having ‘sharing’ problems.  “Sharing” data between users is becoming one of the most important things in the IT world today.  Getting the right information to the end user quickly in a way that they can pass it on.

Instant messaging apps mean that people ask me to find information and share it all the time.  Addresses, phone numbers, locations and ‘paths’ (directions) are things that just have to share well.  I compounded a conversation with Sara with different languages, different messaging platforms and partial information.   While my illustration was a bit over the top, I’m sure you can see how elements of all these issues bleed into everyday life in a modern ‘tourist’ city.