Working From Home AND 7 tips to make it work.

IMG_1026This morning I read a great article by Stuart Crawford of Inkbot Design called 12 Tips for Increasing Productivity When Working from Home. It got me thinking about lessons I had learned from my own experience and thought I’d share some of those.

I have started a number of businesses from a home office and have also telecommuted for a Christchurch company until we got too big and had to move to an office, which meant rejoining the daily commuter grind. Here’s my take on the tips:

  1. Follow a routine. You may be able to be more flexible, but if you are serious, you are still going to work. If you listen to podcasts or read about highly successful people, they all have routines. They wake at the same time each day, they know when they are most effective and whether they are leaders of industry, writers or entrepreneurs, they have routines which work for them.
  2. Dress up. Some software developers might like working native, but I believe in dress for success. I wouldn’t wear a suit and tie if I am working from home, but I would still be smart. Of course working from home could also involve Skype or other video communications, so people may still see you. Bottom line is you are making a psychological commitment that reminds you that you are at work. IMG_2262
  3. Take breaks. Your brain works best when you totally disassociate yourself from your work. My favourite break, although a bit longer was a beach walk, which I used to do daily (I have always lived close to the beach). It could be a walk, playing guitar for 10 minutes. If your work is on a computer then best to leave that alone, because you’re likely to get distracted and get eye strain.
  4. Give yourself a deadline. I don’t know about you, but I work best under (good) pressure. A deadline will help you avoid distractions that are begging you to do something either unnecessary or not work related.
  5. Find similar people. You still need to socialise and how best to do that than catch up with other people having the same experiences. You can learn from each other and often help each other with tips and tricks and an appreciation of the environment you are working in. It’s always good to have relationships with people who are more experienced than you and of course successful. Don’t get your knowledge from people who aren’t doing it but have strong opinions.
  6. If you can handle the distractions, cafes and parks are a great place to work from and also a great place for meetings. Something about the ambience seems to encourage innovative thinking in meetings, or maybe it’s the caffeine.IMG_3383
  7. Stop multitasking. We try to tell ourselves that we can multitask and the hypothalamus is really good at managing autonomous functions concurrently, but when it comes to conscious activities we are not as adept as we think we are. We can train ourselves to do certain things concurrently like driving a car, flying a plane or playing a musical instrument, but try working on your business plan and budget at the same time as replying to an email, or taking a phone call and you will not be performing optimally at either task and if you do want to do them well it will take more time. If you still think you can multitask, Google for one of the many tests online. I’m not saying no one can multitask, according to this Infographic 2% of people can. Check it out, it might change your opinion.



Posted in Business Consultant, commuting, Consultant, home, People, telecommunications, Telecommuting, Tracking staff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where’s My Phone? How to make sure you can find it when it is misplaced or stolen.

IMG_1258People misplace their mobiles often. I challenge you to say that you have never ever spent time trying to remember where you left it. The industry does really well out of mobiles that have been lost on public transport, airports, planes, in bars and restaurants or just disappeared randomly, nothing criminal, just don’t know where it is, perhaps even in your own home, or left in the car.

I know of two people (who may be reading this blog) who have recently misplaced their mobiles and should know better. I’m just saying. Of course you do need to find it while there is still a charge in the battery.

Of course mobiles are also often stolen as they have instant cash value.

So how do you find your phone? It is really simple. You don’t need to be a geek. Just go to the links, and follow the instructions.

  1. Install an app like Find My Iphone (also versions for iPad and Mac) which can find it AND stop anyone else from using it, or Google’s Find my Device (will work for any Android device) which can also locate it, ring it, lock it, display a message or phone number on the screen or erase it.
  2. Do it now.
  3. Seriously, do it now, it will only take a few minutes.

Bonus: Find your laptop. A couple of years ago I wrote about Prey, which is still around and can not only find your laptop but even take photos of someone who has possession of it and is using it. I have it on mobile as well.

Have you installed it?

Posted in Apple, Apps, Best Practice GPS, Buses, Google Mobile App, GPS Tracking, iPhone, location based apps, Location Based Consultant, Location Based Servces, Mobile Apps, people tracking, Personal GPS Trackers, Smart watch, SmartPhone, Smartphones, SmartWatch, SoLoMo, telecommunications, theft, top apps, Track and Trace, track mobiles, Track phone, Track Smartwatch., Track Thieves, Track watch | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the best GPS Tracking for Dementia Sufferers? – Two Types

Do you know someone who has dementia? Have they ever gone walkabout? Did you have to search for them? I’ve been there and we were lucky, we found her before she got run over by a car or had a fall.

Recently I heard a lot about a different form of GPS, I’m going to call it the Ghost Positioning System. I wonder if I’m the first to create the acronym.

Back in February, psychic medium, Kelvin Cruickshank, who most people probably know from the TV series Sensing Murder, was able to guide a distraught family to the remains of dementia sufferer Raymond Sterling a month after he went missing, by identifying where to look on Google Maps after all else had failed.

This was a great comfort to his family and also very exciting for him to be able to demonstrate tangible results from a talent many people struggle to believe in.

However, wouldn’t it be better to find people alive using the other form of GPS, the Global Positioning System by having people wear or have a GPS tracker with mobile connectivity on their person?

There are low cost systems available, like the Wandatrak system offered by the Alzheimers NZ which uses radio frequency rather than GPS. I’ve written about this before. As you’ll see if you follow the link above, locating someone with one of these devices involves search and rescue people carrying a YAGI directional antenna and pointing it in the direction they hope to find the missing person. As soon as they get outside of range these devices are not of much use, at least with today’s system design.

I wonder if  enough people got behind a bluetooth beacon type system, we could potentially come up with a new solution?


Searching for Pat Wearn

Searching for Pat Wearn in the stormwater system

Pat Wearn, a Torbay woman of 74 went missing over a year ago and her body still hasn’t been found. My daughter Gemma was one of the people that spent weeks and months searching for her. She was fit and known to go for daily walks, sometimes as long as 12km. The range of one of these RF systems is not much more than 1 km depending on the surroundings.

There are a limited number of GPS trackers in New Zealand with GPS and connection to the cellular network. I don’t know of anyone who has used these to track a missing dementia sufferer. If you have, I would love to hear from you as to how it worked, or if you had to use it in a real case of missing person. Please comment or reach out to me if you have.

There are a few key challenges with tracking systems.

  • Range for a Radio Frequency tracker is a key problem. The batteries last a long time, but if the person has gone more than 1 km, it may not find them. I’ve heard of people with dementia hopping in a taxi and traveling 80 km to somewhere they remember they had previously lived.
  • Range for GPS with a SIM card is very good depending on the device and the features vary with the cost. Features might include being able to see their last known location if they are inside or somewhere where it can’t get a satellite signal. Some have drop sensors in case someone has a fall. Some have SOS buttons, but I fear that is of little use to a person with dementia. Some even allow you to communicate through a speaker and listen to the person, but that is more likely to helpful for someone who has a different disability, like being blind, because someone who is already confused, probably will have no idea where the sound is coming from or why.
  • The battery on a mobile network based GPS device also doesn’t last very long. More sophisticated ones might go on standby mode when they are not used, but average life is probably around 48 hours if it is running constantly.
  • Another problem is getting these devices charged regularly whether it is daily, over night when they are sleeping, or for the RF devices that might have a battery charge that lasts for months, having someone remember to check it.

“That’s not mine!” A relative used to say when we tried to put her RF necklace on her. I’m sure she also would not have worn a tracking watch and when she went walkabout, she didn’t take a bag or anything else.

As baby boomers continue to age and live longer more and more dementia sufferers are going to go missing. There are around 50,000 people with dementia in New Zealand today and the number is expected to triple by 2050.

So what sort of GPS would you like to see more of, Ghost Positioning Systems or Satellite based systems?

Do you have any experience as a user of a personal tracking system? I’d love you to leave a comment or tell your story.


Posted in ageing, Alzheimers, Best GPS, best GPS trackers, Best Practice GPS, Cool Tech, dementia, GPS, GPS Apps, GPS features, GPS Problems, GPS Tracker, GPS Tracking, GPS Traxcking, health, ICT, location based apps, Location Based Consultant, Location Based Servces, missing children, missing people, Mobile Health, people tracking, Personal GPS Trackers, Personal security, Personal tracker, RFID, SAR, search & rescue, track children, Tracking Apps, Tracking Children, tracking missing peopl, Wearable tech | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trucks to be able to Share Black Ice Information with Aftermarket Solution

There have been some great stories of V2V communications but they have typically been proprietary. Volvo for example are developing some wonderful systems whereby a truck can share information about a crash or other conditions, with other Volvo trucks, or any manufacturer prepared to invest in the Volvo vehicle to vehicle system, but of course many (not all) companies don’t like to buy tech from their competitors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo this solution which can plug into any CAN-bus and share information from the anti-skid braking systems when trucks hit black ice, something we commonly experience in the South Island and North Island alpine passes in New Zealand (many of which are freight routes) sounds like a real winner.

This innovation from Finnish company EEE Innovations Oy is being trialed by 1,000 freight vehicles in conjunction with the Finnish Transport Agency aka Trafi. You can find more information here. I’m sure transport operators around the world will be monitoring this.

The challenge is of course how to get the communications from vehicle to vehicle. In some of the worst locations in New Zealand mobile coverage is not 100% and we don’t have 5G which a lot of these systems are being built on. On the other hand for freight we do have good two-way radio coverage and many fleet management systems that support telemetry so I’m sure we can innovate in ways to share that information, not only with other freight users, but also with the roading organizations and contractors, who can be alerted to deal with the black ice and also alert other road users.

Posted in accidents, Collaboration, Communications, connected cars, Cool Tech, Future Technology, Futurist, Innovation, Intelligent Transport Systems, Internet of Things, IoT, location based apps, Motoring, New Zealand, Technology, telecommunications, traffic, traffic design, Traffic Information, Traffic Management, Traffic Optimization, Transport, Travel Information, Truck GPS, Truck Navigation, truck safety, Trucks, V2P, V2V, Why fleet management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the best way to track your car in New Zealand?

I need to do some research. Cars in my neighborhood are being stolen and I don’t want mine to become a statistic. The question for me is do I want something sophisticated that does a lot more than I need, or will a basic solution suffice?


Bay View Hotel in beautiful Kaiaua which hopefully is still in good condition after the terrible storm that flooded the area a few days ago

Ideally if my vehicle was stolen, I’d want to be able to locate it and while its illegal and dangerous to stop or govern a car while it is moving, it would be good to not allow it to get started again when it is stationary and at a good point where I could quickly guide Police to it, given it is not appropriate to take the law into my own hands.

Being a sports car, it would be good to know that noone is taking it for joy rides while it is being serviced, but most of the time it goes to Wall Motors who brought it in for me and I know and trust them.

On the other hand, I really would want it back in one piece and the person who stole it, having a new place to stay on my taxpayer dollar, if you get what I mean. So my question is, would a really low cost disruptive technology be good enough instead of the more sophisticated system requiring installation?

The simple answer is that I don’t know yet, but I will find out. I’m keen to compare conventional car GPS trackers with something quite different.

I made a little investment into Magpie “the smartest, truly global GPS Tracker around”  back in June last year on Kickstarter. They are due to ship next month so I’m getting really excited to find out if this product will live up to my expectations, which I’m sure they will given the pedigree of the founders Derek and Calum Handley, Raul Oaida, and Keiji Takeuchi.

So I’m really looking forward to testing this technology on its own and against traditional car tracking systems. Then I’ll be in a position to make a recommendation to you, dear reader.

If you have tried either of these systems, I’d love some comments as to what you believe is the best solution when all you are looking for is keeping track of your valuable car, not so much how fast it is going and whether it is being driven safely without harsh braking, lead feet (not me) or whether the young person who borrowed it is truly where they said they were.

Do you own a vehicle or other tracking device besides your mobile?

Posted in Accurate Map Tracking, Best GPS, best GPS trackers, Best Practice GPS, Bike tracking, Car theft, car tracker, car tracking, cars, Catch Crooks with GPS, cheap gps, disruptive model, find car, Future Technology, Gadgets, GPS, GPS Survey, GPS Test, GPS Tracker, GPS Tracking, GPS Traxcking, insurance, insurance risk, IoT, law enforcement, location based apps, Location Based Consultant, Location Based Servces, love of cars, Motoring, Personal GPS Trackers, Personal security, Personal tracker, Remote control apps, Sensors, Stolen cars, Stolen truck, track children, track crime, track mobiles, Track phone, Track Smartwatch., Track Thieves, Tracking a cellphone, Tracking animals, Tracking Apps, Tracking Children, tracking data, Tracking kids, tracking missing peopl, Tracking pets, Tracking staff, Tracking stolen property, Why fleet management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Social Location-Based Chatter is a Goldmine

I was listening to the latest Convince and Convert podcast with Carlos Garcia  from HYP3R this morning, which resonated with my passion for loyalty and location based services.

This is one of my current favorite podcasts and always has some gems. For example I like to think that organisations are doing social listening for people talking about their business and following the advice that Carlos  or Jay Baer suggested in this interview (sorry can’t remember which one it was) which is, amplifying positive feedback about your business or operation at a higher ratio than negative feedback, that is mostly not directed at your handle, because as well as developing great relationships with your customers, this can have a significant impact on your sentiment ratings.

Here’s an example of this concept at work. A little over a year ago I was heading for a domestic flight from Auckland airport. I got on the escalator from the carpark and took a little video.

Auckland Airport bagIf you haven’t clicked on it, it showed my side of the escalator not moving and the other one going up. I put a note on Instagram asking if anyone could see what was wrong with the picture.

What happened next impressed me so much!

I checked my Twitter account only minutes later and this is what happened.


Auckland Airport EscalatorThis is what I’m talking about! In no time flat they had made a fan out of me AND I have told dozens of people about Auckland Airport’s amazing response and the commitment they made to social media monitoring, especially when you consider how many grumpy people use social media to vent about things impacting on their airport experience.

I was really interested in what HYP3R had to say about geofencing social media around properties like Hotels, or in fact anywhere and capturing conversations on social media taking place at that location because most of the conversations are about business, service providers, corporates, government or a location, not with it.

I use social media listening tools, but what I understand is that if people don’t have location services turned on (especially with Facebook) their location is incorrectly shown by default as being in the US, which is not particularly useful in New Zealand. So they won’t be shown on the map on Brandwatch or in my HootSuite radius search.

The blog discussion then went on to Foursquare and what went wrong with that model for business use. I used to be a Foursquare Ambassador, I still have some of my Foursquare Ambassador business cards somewhere. It was an amazing opportunity which I really wanted to explore when I owned The New Zealand Smartphone and PDA Academy because I saw an awesome opportunity to develop loyalty programs for hospitality and tourism.

However, Foursquare would only allow me to have a one on one relationship with each of my customers which meant that I had to have a seperate account for each and every retail client. This was never going to be scalable and while plenty of cafes and other businesses were keen, the BCR was never going to stack up without some automation.

I strongly believe this could have been huge if they simply supported my model. I developed a new one, which can work for retailers and destination businesses, but it is so frustrating when you see a business model that is so close to being awesome. Their business model was to be a social network first and the loyalty part was soon forgotten. To me that was their USP.

Do you listen to what customers or potential customers are saying about your business, especially when they are not communicating with you. Do you agree about the value of amplifying positive feedback and communicating with ‘customers’ who like what you do?



Posted in Business Consultant, Communications, Customer Research, Customers, Foursquare, Hospitality, Hotel, Hotel Apps, Location Based Services, Map apps, New retail ideas, Proximity Based Marketing, Restaurant, Retail, retail apps, Social Media, Social Media Insight, Social Media Marketing, Twitter, Word of Mouth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment