NetHui 2011 – Day 1: Digital Citizenship – 21st Century Parenting

21st Century Parenting – Challenges and Solutions

Lee Chisholm, Operations manager, NetSafe

This was an obvious choice as a session for me to attend, and it opened with an attention grabbing quote…

“Three times as many smart phones every minute are activated than there are babies being born” – Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson

This quote sets the stage for the overwhelming influx of technologies into our lives and especially the lives of our children. The problem is, parents are being fed these lines time and again to the point where many throw in the towel and give up trying to stay current with what their children are doing.

Even more worrisome than the parents giving up, is the parents abdicating the responsibility of teaching and modelling these skills to schools. Schools do not have the resources to do this stuff alone

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NetHui 2011 – Day 1: Innovation & Emerging Issues – Privacy Issues

Privacy Issues for business in the new digital age

Marie Shroff (Privacy Commissioner)

This session started with a fizz and a whimper, I think based more on the usual audience for the Privacy Commission than the subject matter itself. I did enjoy the comics though 🙂

  • Customers are starting to take an ACTUAL interest in their privacy (~80-90% are concerned or ‘very concerned’)
  • Media starting to pick up on these stories as the articles drive interest
  • Bigger companies are starting to see the moral and ethical necessity to adopt privacy
  • Expectation of future tweaking suggestions for privacy act
  • “Value your CIO as your would your CFO”
  • Despite the cloud context, people are expecting the same flexibility and control over their data as when it was locally domicilled

The discussion that followed was interesting

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Visualising Public Data – Auckland Transport

Chris McDowall is a very, very clever person. In addition to all the other cool stuff he’s done in the NZ data space, he has just released this post on taking the Maxx public transport data feed of movements over a day, and plotting it out on a map. It’s hypnotic and astounding in the sheer volume of movements – but you need to see it to appreciate how cool it is.


An animated map of Auckland’s public transport network from Chris McDowall on Vimeo.


Well done Chris, my hat is (once again) off to you sir – keep creating…

Profiling my Power

To celebrate the introduction of the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS*) in New Zealand today (1 July 2010), I thought I’d publish the following article on what I’m doing in terms of residential Power Monitoring.

Read on for:

The Back Story

A few years ago, I was working on what devices would sit in an ‘average’ connected home and, given the sheer volume of ‘things’ – it be came clear that not only would a homeowner need to justify the existence of each device, but also their unseen costs in terms of installation, maintenance and ongoing power usage.

To answer the last of these, I bought a device called a Centameter which, aside from the benefit of being designed in NZ, measured the current power usage via an induction clamp and transmitter which sits in the power meter box and sends the data through to a LCD display.

After a couple of attempts to elicit a response from the manufacturer, I asked an electrical engineering friend of mine to see what information they could pull from the display unit as we wanted to capture and graph this data over time. The short story is, while we could get some information out of the device, the time required to make this meaningful far exceeded what he was able to donate to the project so things were shelved – until now.

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These *are* the Droids you’re looking for…

Hat tip to @VodaphoneNZ for re-igniting my interest in having another crack at the following post which I originally wrote for an internal publication for my employer. I’ve changed some of the phraseology,but the basic content – apart from the opening paragraph – remains pretty similar. Once again, these are my personal opinions and are presented as such.

Vodafone NZ Tweets about it's new Android lineup [24th June 2010]

If you are in any way connected to the mobile phone world, you would have heard of the Android phones, an increasing number of which are now starting to make their way into the New Zealand market. Vodafone have been quietly selling android phones since the middle of last year, and third party importers have been importing them in increasing numbers since around the same time. With the release today of ‘FroYo’ (Android 2.2), Vodafone NZ have come out with an impressive looking list of devices sporting the Android stack.

The disappointment for me being that, like other Telcos in the space, a number of the devices announced are running some fairly old versions of the stack, and there is no clear message for the as to how to update their devices, or indeed if this is even possible. I’d certainly like to see the Telcos, or the community, or a collaboration of the two – to come out with some simple HOWTO guides (or simple “Sorry – but you can’t” messages) around updating the device to more recent software. Let me know in the comments if you have come across anything which may help the average Joe (or Jane) with this…


What is ‘Android’

‘Android’ is a software stack including an operating system, middleware and core applications – kind of like Windows on your PC. It was first unveiled in 2007 by a firm who was subsequently bought by Google, who’ve since released most of the code under the Apache (software and open source) license. And that decision is what has captured the attention of the community.


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What is this “Android” thing that people are talking about?

The first week of April 2010 saw the announcement of Telecoms first Android handset, with the exclusive launch for the XT network of the LG GW620.

Telecom is not alone in the New Zealand market with Android handsets. Vodafone have been selling the HTC Magic since the end of June 2009 and independent device importers also have a range of Android phones.

Globally, the industry is expecting big things from the handset manufacturers as well as the Android platform in 2010. At the Mobile World Congress (the world’s premier mobile event) in February, it was announced that 60,000 Android handsets are shipped every day (though what ‘shipped’ means was not clarified).

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Google Maps Navigation

Oh very very cool… and if you are lucky enough to be able to source an Android 2.0 based phone (like the Motorola Droid) it’s also very very free.

Couple this with the just announced Google Music service and Google Voice and you have a take everywhere, contact, entertain and communicate solution – Not much else to add apart from, what will this do to the dedicated GPS device market?!

Health Monitoring 2.0?

Sensewear DeviceSorry about the headline, the 2.0 tag is getting waaay too much air time of late – that aside, I was reading an interesting article on some of the technology advances in the realms of health monitoring.

A few years ago I was researching some of the advances within medical monitoring and how the devices could be integrated into a connected home*. At that time we were looking at near field communication devices which would upload via Zigbee or a similar low range, low power technology, as well as a concept toilet in Japan which measures and reports on glucose levels detected in ones urine.
Anyway, with the advent of specifically addressable devices thanks to IPV6, as well as advances in near-field and Personal Area Networking (PAN), the reality may well be closer than we thought.

The self-care market is hotting up, especially in this difficult time where concern about the economy and ones future financial well-being may well be impacting on peoples immediate, and long term health.

Some of the more interesting companies making headway in enabling health monitoring are:

  • Proteus Biomedical who have just released their platform for body monitoring dubbed ‘Rasin’

Proteus ingestible event markers (IEMs) are tiny, digestible sensors…Once activated, the IEM sends an ultra low-power, private, digital signal through the body to a microelectronic receiver that is either a small bandage style skin patch or a tiny device insert under the skin. The receiver date- and time-stamps, decodes, and records information such as the type of drug, the dose, and the place of manufacture, as well as measures and reports physiologic measures such as heart rate, activity, and respiratory rate.

All of the data collected by the Proteus system can be sent wirelessly to the doctor for remote monitoring.  The system is currently in clinical development.

  • Body Media have their Sensewear device which allows “monitoring of calories burned, dietary intake, duration of physical activity and sleep”. It’s USB connected, which is fine, but I’d prefer to see a device that automated the processes for more ‘real-time’ monitoring and feedback possibilities – all in time I guess and the biggest issue will be size and battery life, just like every other mobile device.
  • The Toumaz device recognises the ‘you must remember to upload your data’ issue, and has created their ‘Sensium’ device with the capability to stream the data to a logging device (within ~5m). This is the kind of thing I’d be looking for, but would want to incorporate into a meshed network within the bounds of a home (or health-club) to make truly useful.

Of course, with my day-job hat on as a Security type person, the biggest concern, given the very personal nature of this data, is how security will be treated. Recent reports attribute [a potential link to] cyber terrorism, with the ability to cause widespread blackouts. Whether that threat is credible or a causative action with the cited 2003 US blackouts is debatable. What isn’t up for debate however is the fact that as more systems which control or influence our lives become network aware, the more this risk profile will inflate. How we deal with this is something which needs to be built into the monitoring protocols from the outset – especially with the potential to link into the online health record repositories being toyed with by big players Google and Microsoft.

Comments?… Fear? Uncertainty? Doubt?

*A ‘connected home’ is what marketers refer to as a ‘future home’ – a term which I really hate as I agree with William Gibson “…the future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed…” (time code 11:55).

Social Search features coming for Google?

Google just started trials of search editing, allowing the user community to vote up/down links returned by the search giant. This not only supports rumors of their impending purchase of Digg, but may well be game-changing for SEO firms who will need to not only understand the mechanics of the search algorithm and ranking systems Google currently uses, but will also need to engage with the community to ensure their clients sites remain ‘above the fold’ in the search results and don’t get buried behind the ‘page three firewall’.

Hat tip to Caroline McCarthy – her article here.