Uber riders can now earn points at luxury hotels

In-between shenanigans, Uber actually offers a pretty nice car service, and users are about to get a perk besides free water: points from chi-chi hotelier Starwood.

Source: www.msn.com

A few years ago I wrote about a blog about a  book by Jeff Jarvis called What Would Google Do? In fact I wrote a few and this was one of them https://solomoconsulting.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/what-would-google-do/.

I still strongly recommend the read as a look at your business, because it forces you to think about your business through a new lens which very few people do. If you follow my blogs you will see some common trends, obviously location based systems is one of the main ones, but another is that business has to continually evolve and change, because that’s what your customers are doing.

In my blogs I looked at the demise of many of the businesses that I have grown up with and loved, like Borders Book Stores and Sounds Music. I believe that if the directors and managers of those businesses had applied the principles that Jeff Jarvis gave as examples for various industries from banking to airlines, those businesses wouldn’t just be still running, they would be thriving.

So here we have the taxi industry under threat by Uber. They protest and demand that Uber be banned to another planet. My suggestion is why not thank Uber for the great new ideas, pick them up and do better. Newcomers always focus on price, but if you talk to Uber customers, or customers of any goods and services, price is rarely the number one factor in the decision making. It’s meeting other needs.

Things Uber does well for example is the location based apps, you can see where they are, you have an agreed price, you might have someone interesting to talk to (perhaps one that knows the area they are driving in and can speak English).

The major taxi companies have phenomenal intelligence systems, years of development and great technology. Some of the senior management in these companies have great vision but rarely get to use it. I don’t understand what the handbrakes are, but they are one of the reasons that companies like Uber get in. As I have blogged before, I suspect that the reason Borders isn’t in this country anymore and why in countries like Canada they are making margin our of cuddly toys and general merchandise is because of accountants totally focused on stock turn and aged stock, or managers wanting to have every book ever written about gluten intolerance in stock in each store. We aren’t buying less books or music and people still like to shop. I by a lot of books from Amazon, both physical and digital, but I don’t want to wait a week to get them.

So my rant for the day is, if you are in business, especially a larger business, read What Would Google Do? Get your staff to read it. Then do some brainstorming and ask yourselves, what would you do differently? What do your customers want? What would make them choose you, EVEN if you charge more?

Then come back and tell me what you learned and what you are going to change.

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Posted in disruptive model, Google, taxi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

USA 2013 424,000 distracted driving injuries – Texting and driving is bad! (So why do we still do it?)

We know the law, we recognize its value – and then we ignore it completely. (To invoke a fictional pirate, they’re “more what…

Source: www.heraldnet.com

This goes in the truth is stranger than fiction basket. I’ve got some more bedside reading to do. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey.

According to a story in the Herald from Everett Washington, 59% of Washington drivers spoke on their phones while driving in the last 30 days. 20% admitted to doing it regularly, 27% reported sending an SMS or an Email while driving within the last 30 days.

Those surveyed pretty much unanimously agreed these behaviors are dangerous.

The footnote? “At least we’re not as bad as the national average!” So what does the average look like in the US?

The good news is that the US road toll is decreasing and only 32, 719 people died in road crashes in 2013 in the USA. That represents a major reduction over the last couple of decades which i great news.

BUT: The number of people injured in motor vehicles accidents where the cause was identified as driver distraction, you know things like texting and driving, is going up, with an estimated 424,000 people injured in 2013 due to distracted driving.

So here’s a message to the people of Everett Washington and everyone else who can’t wait to get that TXT message or email out before they stop the car and turn off the engine. Injuries in the US in 2013 due to distracted driving 424,000. Population of Everett Washington, 103,019.

I’m not picking on Everett, it just so happens that the story that motivated me to get on my soap box was written by one of your own. I’m not saying people are any better in my part of the world, in fact observation from the driver seat of my car suggests that we are doing it more too.

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Posted in car accidents, DistractedDriving, road toll | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

15 Travel Apps To Log Your Globe-Trotting Trips

“Wish you were here!” won’t work anymore. Now, you can share your journeys and trips with pictures, social updates, blogs and videos. Make new travel memories with your friends and family and revisit them in your travel blogs.

Source: www.hongkiat.com

I have traveled around the world a few times and have tried several travel apps. I won’t add any links here given that the writer has already offered you 15 apps which should be more than enough.

My grandparents left me extensive A3 travel diary books with postcards, sugar packages, matchbooks, menus and all sorts of cool things. I could never do that. I bought a couple of iPad diary apps and lasted about 48 hours in writing down entries which I have subsequently never looked back at.

What I did do was use Twitter and Foursquare (which has now split in two with Swarm, which I am still disappointed with. When I’m driving I use a TomTom PND and the rest of the time I use the maps on my iPhone.

I used Foursquare to check in to a lot of places where I could read reviews from other people who had been to those places and I took a photo at a lot of them. Because it was Foursquare, wherever I took photos it geotagged them and I was then able to map out my journey by generating a report from the app on my PC. This allowed me to work out where I had taken all the other photos on my iPhone.

Rather than use a diary I then took advantage of a really good local deal and had a large beautiful hardcover photo trip book printed. That has pride of place until my next trip this year when I will probably do the same.

A lot of apps look really cool and if you have the discipline as many of my friends do, then they are well worth it for quality laid out memories. When it comes to what’s around you, you are best off in my humble opinion to use apps like Foursquare and Google based on sheer numbers of users. Then of course there is social media like Twitter and Facebook. When I tried Twitter for a question on finding a good cafe, when I had 2 hours to spare in Amsterdam, I got a whole raft of replies from total strangers, starting with whether it was coffee I wanted (which it was) or something more exotic, which Amsterdam is notorious for. I’m sure if I had asked more questions I probably would have found someone interested in showing me around or sharing some local knowledge for an hour or so before I got my train.

This is a great article and if you are traveling and don’t have much experience with apps, its a good place to start. Just remember who you are and what you will be prepared to use. Don’t be one of those people who spend so much time taking photos and keeping notes that you have to go home to find out where you have been. As Baba Ram Dass said. “Be here now”.

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Posted in Maps, nav apps, photo apps, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Google Maps vs. Nokia HERE: two great Android map apps compared – AndroidPIT US (blog)

Google Maps might be the king of Android map apps, but Nokia HERE maps has been gaining popularity. See how the two face off in our Android map apps comparison.

Source: www.androidpit.com

Well put together review. I haven’t tried Google in the car other than Waze and I should have used it on Saturday when I was driving in an area I don’t know, helping someone look at cars. We struggled in an industrial area to find somewhere to eat lunch because most of them were closed for the weekend.

It would also be interesting to see how it went with suburb definitions, because we were on Great South Rd in Auckland, where the street numbers start again at 1 in each suburb and a lot of companies choose vanity suburbs, i.e. they are on the cusp pf 2 suburbs and tell people they are in the one that sounds more upmarket.

Where I find Google really useful is when I am walking to meetings in a  city I don’t know well and I’m not driving.

I don’t think Nokia is available on a iPhone, so will make a start on giving Google a test this morning.

I’m keen on comments from anyone who has tired both.

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Spies Can Track You Just by Watching Your Phone’s Power Use | WIRED

Researchers at Stanford University and Israel’s defense research group Rafael have created a technique they call PowerSpy, which they say can gather information about an Android phone’s geolocation merely by tracking its power use over time through…

Source: www.wired.com

There is no question that technology from Israeli experts, many of whom are ex military on a level with DARPA are extremely clever and these new concepts make some sense. In the case of the average person, all you really need to do is invent location based apps using GPS that sufficient people want to use, or capture the unique signals and MAC addresses of mobiles via WiFi and Bluetooth that already pervade the ether.

I’m assuming a key issue they are trying to deal with are burners, such as we see on TV shows and movies. Today you can buy Burner Apps so you don’t even necessarily have to replace the phone! Prepay mobiles that people wanting to commit crimes buy and use on a one off basis so they can’t be identified. They would therefore not be running apps (at least not ones that are registered with Apple, Google or Microsoft, unless they were wolves dressed as lambs. This is probably now common practice amongst more intelligent criminals, or ones with a lot to hide and if the purpose were to monitor terrorists, they would have additional difficulty identifying them.

Interestingly, these phones would be very attractive to the manufacturers because they would get full price for them, but keep replacing them.

Location based tracking is something that is becoming pervasive and will become significantly more so, mostly for good reasons rather than bad, but as a side effect, each new development chips away at our privacy. For me, I don’t have a problem because I don’t deliberately commit any crimes. However, if I lived in a country where my private information could be abused, I would have a very different attitude and therein lies the real concern.

When a state that denies people their rights of belief, of individualism, of freedom of speech and to democracy abuses its people, this inevitable technology including IoT, Bluetooth, RFID, Drones, smart cars and mobile apps can become a powerful means to control society to a point where human rights cease to exist. Orwell, Kafka, Philip K Dick and many others if they were still alive would be sending Tweets out right now saying “We told you so”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of benevolent use of these technologies. I just have the luxury of living in a country that fundamentally cares about its people regardless of their beliefs, the color of their skin, their lifestyle and their physical and mental health. We can use those technologies to improve people’s quality of life. That can’t be said for many other countries right now. Technology does not recognise borders of sovereignty or of right or wrong. It just is.

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Posted in Crime, democracy, GPS Tracking, people tracking, police state, Society, terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Planners and drivers disagree on traffic control strategy – Washington Post

Planners want to manage lanes. But drivers say that’s not enough.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com


In the Travel strategy environment we live in a world of experts. They range from operational through to theoretical, all typically highly qualified. Then we have the customer and obviously we want to understand our customer’s needs and what lies behind them.

Many customers have all the answers and I believe there are some very good answers. We want to know what customers need and what they think to add into the melting pot and today with words like agile and scrum bandied about like hot potatoes we are looking to create an environment that allows us to test new ideas fast, which is great as long as it doesn’t risk lives.

I tend to drive to work because I sometimes use my car for meetings, I never know when I will start or finish my work and I also want to experience being a customer. With a bus station handy between the two offices I frequently visit I am also a regular bus patron.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of using a T3 lane driving onto a motorway, bypassing many cars and not having to use a ramp signal. It was wonderful. If I was in a hurry I would find this very helpful, but as the article says, these are very expensive so the trade off is highway optimization and cost.

The question I have is whether it s possible to have HOT lanes, certainly in our small economy. We have experimented with exclusive bus lanes, so far pretty successful, but we need to increase patronage so we can put in even more buses, or manage the pricing so that people don’t all go to the park and ride to catch the bus, because they are very quickly full. That in itself proves the demand and it must be cheaper to grow a car park than a highway.

A HOT lane that could only be used by a vehicle with 3 or more users in it, could be combined with the bus lane in such a way that the cost of being on it was relatively high. It would need to exact strict penalties from those who used it when they didn’t meet the criteria. Then comes the question of should there be freight only lanes and how do you structure a highway that has freight, bus and HOT on the same freeway that gives them all access on and off without having to cross into normal lanes or requiring other vehicles to merge through them.

The biggest argument for tolls seems to be to try to force people into either public transport or to change their driving times or get them into car sharing or pooling. The other point of tolls is all these exercises cost a truck load of money, if you’ll pardon the pun. They seem to be working in some parts of the world. I’m all for solutions that give customers better journeys but don’t turn our cities into noisy concrete jungles. Auckland is growing as fast as it is able and this comes at a price. I don’t want Auckland to look like Los Angeles. I want a city designed for people, not for cars. A city where I have viable choices and I don’t mind if those choices include economic decisions such as ‘do I make it a multi-modal journey, for example using car, bus and or train?’ It does also have to be economically viable for me and the city. The economy and the livability of the city won’t flourish if we all stay home in our non working time.

What do you think?

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Construction crew uses GPS to track down thieves – ActionNewsJax.com

Two men were arrested Thursday afternoon at a convenience store off Edgewood Avenue North for allegedly stealing batteries from a construction zone.

Source: www.actionnewsjax.com

Here we go again, have I ever told you I love these stories of thieves being caught by GPS. It won’t be long before you can protect pretty much anything with GPS. If you look through my blogs you will find loads of stories like this.

What is most frustrating in a story like this is the potential consequences. These lights are there to protect people’s safety. For the few dollars the perps would get from selling a few batteries, someone could crash and hit a road safety worker, or crash into whatever it is the lights are there to warn them about. Then of course someone will blame the ‘system’ for not maintaining the batteries. So cap off to the people who came up with the idea of putting GPS on them. The shame is these idiots will probably get a slap on the wrists for stealing batteries rather than reckless behavior that could risk other people’s health and safety.

So what do you have that could be protected by GPS tracking devices?

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Posted in Crime, Crime Prevention, GPS Tracking, IoT | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment