Nottinghamshire County Council has announced an intention to ban smoking for its employee’s during work time. Its aim is to improve workers health (isn’t that nice of them), reduce sickness (not sure how that works, people can smoke at home & are they going to ban drinking for employee’s when they are off work just so that they don’t have a self-inflicted sick day?) also, they say their idea intends to increase time working – and now I think we get to the real reason, once we get past any faux concern about workers health. More hours for the same money.
Before the age old “smokers get extra breaks” is given, spend a little time considering what’s been taken away here. Do you think that if the smoke break is banned, the council will be happy with people instead taking 5 minutes to stand outside and inhale fresh air (in the name of healthy living), or is this more than just a ban on an easy target?
This is what the ITV is currently reporting.
Nottinghamshire County Council has said its 9,000 employees will be barred from smoking during work time with the ban extending to e-cigarettes, in the mooted plans.
Anyone who fails to stick to the rules could face internal disciplinary action.
So lets consider this. Its very fair to say that someone who smokes could end up having more breaks during the day than someone who doesn’t. That’s not always the case, but that’s the point some people make. The issue here though is that instead of cutting things out and taking away – something which many other workers in many other industries are privy to, the consideration should be for ensuring smokers and non-smokers get the same amount of breaks.
I believe this new scheme is more about something we see increasingly in the workplace – getting more out of the worker for less. How many people can say that they are not doing far more for the same wage now as compared to a few years ago?
I think the people who develop these schemes or ideas are not particularly bright, because if they were they would realize that a happy workforce is a productive one. Or maybe they are bright and this an attempt to erode another freedom of a worker whilst spreading a faux message of concern for health? You can work someone all the hours under the sun, but if they are not happy in the workplace, they won’t be as productive as a happy worker. That doesn’t just apply smokers, that’s everyone in the workplace. Here is the catch, since the world works on figures and what’s claimed on paper without regard to what people are actually doing, then a claim of lack of performance after your break has been taken away will be met with a visit to the job centre for you – after all there are plenty of people lining up to do your job.
We also have to consider what this could lead to. Its a slippery slope from here on in. Once the smoke break is gone, what’s to stop a quick break for a coffee being met with a line manager saying “Wait until lunchtime, the smokers don’t have a cigarette break” Coffee, like tobacco is not essential to life. You can have a water bottle on your desk and have your coffee in your lunch break.
Since Nottingham Council are concerned on the health of their workers, are they also going to ensure that the recommended practice for computer users (a break every 60 mins) is enforced with line managers responsible for those missing a break away from the screen? There are a whole set of recommendations for healthy computer use which are agreed upon by many people, are the council going to ensure workers have these? If they are so concerned about health then I’m sure they will.
I don’t think this is anything less than a removal of a break which whilst has health issues (and subject to laws as to where you can smoke) I’d suggest contributes to a happy worker – as does any break for a member of staff. Smoking is always an easy target, but lets also then look at coffee and tea. These are not essential for life either.
Maybe the council actually wants to get rid of smokers completely from its workplace? Maybe it sees a non-smoker as being that extra bit value for money? The argument about productivity and lost hours doesn’t cut it. 50 years ago when smoking was far more common, did industry and society grind to a halt because of a smoke break? Of course it didn’t, so why are people trying to “fix” things now when smoker numbers are reduced.
Do you have a job in front of a terminal? Lets get rid of the lunch break. You can eat a sandwich whilst working. Better yet, get a laptop with WIFI and you can continue working whilst you take a toilet break. This may sound far fetched but with a banning of a break is a slippery slope.
A cigarette may not be written into your contract, but its part of a productive, happy environment at work, not so much the cigarette itself, but the fact that people are able to take a break.
Lets keep the break and merely ensure that everyone gets the same treatment in the workplace.
UKIP are political pioneers! Whilst most parties wait until they get into power before performing U-turns on their election promises, UKIP have gone one step further and U-turned before that. With 1 seat the UKIP leader couldn’t have had a good day, failing to win his own seat, he fulfilled an election promise to resign…..and then he returned. I had already predicted he would be back in the leadership role by September, but even I didn’t expect it would be a matter of days before we saw “Politic Wars – Farage Strikes Back”. I would hope this in itself acts as a warning signal for voters in the future. The only good thing out of this is that Farage is able to inject comedy (at his own expense) into the often dull area of politics.
I managed to keep the Royals off my timeline with their latest arrival and I asked the question over on Twitter, since we get a warning about flash photography on TV, could we also have one when the Royals are about to appear on our TV?
Sky TV. Its not often I get the chance to watch UK TV. Over the summer even more so. I won’t miss it. For years I’ve paid for a full Sky package (at around £100 a month including telephone) some months the channels are off and never watched. I’d probably have been happy to keep paying too, the idea of landing and merely switching on the TV for some entertainment was convenient.
Over the last week the turning point came when Sky proudly announced its Star Wars day. I don’t watch much TV, but I’ve seen the Star Wars films many times over the years and this was promoted by Sky like it was an exclusive viewing. That was the turning point that made me realize I’m throwing money away. So I cancelled. The football season has finished in the UK so there was no reason to have anything other than terrestrial TV. The kids have little interest in UK TV too so it won’t be missed.
Sunderland Football Club have had some good results of late and its nice to see the club moving out of the relegation zone. The club is friendly and welcoming with passionate supporters. I’ve made trips to the Stadium of Light this season I thoroughly enjoyed going. With that in mind though I was disappointed to see that despite being charged, Adam Johnson is still playing. I personally think that awaiting his trial, the right thing to do is suspend him pending the outcome of the case. This is where I think the FA needs to step up and get involved. The Ched Evans case is still fresh in peoples minds and I think the FA needs to take responsibility here and make a blanket ruling that whilst on bail FOR ANY OFFENCE you cannot play football. I think the FA could easily set up a panel to decide if a convicted player can play again (if there is a finding of guilt) and each case looked at on its individual circumstance. The FA doesn’t seem to be getting involved and its about time it did.
There ends my collection of thoughts for today. If people are wondering why there is an “alien” theme to the site of late, its because work wise I’m on track, the football season for the team is now over and we are in planning stages for the next one. I knew in January I’d need a project of sorts to keep ticking over prior to a busy years end. Happily I’m again back on my travels and have a whole list of adventures in store. Me and the family will be meeting up with our close friend, author and thinker Laurel Rockefeller from Johnstown, Pennsylvania and I also hope to take a trip in the near future to Sedona, Arizona where according to some alien believers its where there is a spaceship hanging over it in space. I’ll report back if I get abducted and probed with any metal protuberances.
So providing I’m not taken away in a spaceship, there will be more updates on the site than has been the norm for quite some time.
Scotty, one to beam up.
Today we have an article about a digital dark age and how all the data stored for this generation could be lost:
Technology could mean that our lives are lost to history, according to experts.
What experts am I left wondering and what could happen that would destroy all the data? Lack of backup’s? an EMP from the sun? No.
As the way that we store information about ourselves develops, memories stored in files that use older technology are becoming harder to access
So what does that mean? The medium in which it’s stored? If say some data was on laserdisc would future generations have issues accessing it? Of course not, it would be read and brought onto a modern medium, or it could be put onto a modern medium now. There’s no degredation when duplicating digital, so back up as much as you like! Or is this vague statements relating to file formats? In 1988 I used a file format called .iff – and guess what, that data can still be read today. Emulation is the keyword here as I can run the original Amiga application which I used at the time to create the file and open it with no problems. The ability for clever coders to write emulators or conversion tools for old file formats won’t go away and if there is a potential historical significance to data at some time in the future, I’m quite sure the problem will be solved – and very easily.
evaporated because nobody saved it, or it’s around but it’s not interpretable because it was created by software that’s 100 years old
If nobody saves it then there’s nothing anyone can do. Just like if I think up an amazing sonet and don’t write it down. We have no problem emulating television transmissions or technology from the very early days of TV (if we so desired) so why is it any different for data? Unless our understanding of the universe and our technology takes a massive shift from the direction its going in, then future PC’s are still going to have RAM, they are still going to have a CPU and, shock of shocks people will still be able to write code on them. That’s not a far fetched prediction, I think thats based firmly in reality. Then we see who makes the remark, Dr Vinton “Vint” Cerf, vice president of Google – coincidently the same company digitising just about anything that moves (and that doesn’t too) – I’m sure if Google was allowed it would sit in the sewers of the world and digitize the waste paper coming down the pipes. I’m sure Google would very much love to offer mankind a “solution” and have all the “important” data they elude to here, controlled and stored by them. So is this a prelude to an offer to “help” by Google? Google was in court in recent years over its plan to scan/digitize books. You can read about that here. It should come as no surprise that Google would have comment (and I’m sure offer to help) with this “problem” its creating.
…planned to scan every book unless publishers and authors specifically objected.
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-19835808 No thanks Google, I’d rather have the sum of human knowledge stored on cassette tapes in a dusty warehouse underneath a large magnet field than “safe” in your hands. Not because I think you’ll lose it, but because I think you want to own and control it. Google is rapidly falling out of favour with me. Gone are the days where it was a trendy “be different” type firm. Its now turning into an altogether different beast in my view. I tolerate Google because I use the parts of its service that benefit me, but gone are the days that I support anything else the company does and I think its time people kept a closer watch on this company, lest we have another Microsoft on our hands in years to come…if they have not already become that whilst we have been distracted with the latest interactive Google logo on their search engine. This is fear-mongering in my view by Google and even if it ever became a concern, we should be looking at ANY other solution than Google.
I’ve advocated Linux and free software for years. I still do.
Over the years I’ve also stated many times that proprietary software (and indeed software running on any other license) is fine with me, so long as the user is aware of the limitations and potential consequences of such licence. That to me is choice, choice on the back of an informed decision and its also choice for the developers.
Elementary OS has a press release on their blog asking users to consider what they pay (or don’t pay) when they download their operating system.
we’ve decided to revise how we promote and handle payments.
Now the first point is there is nothing wrong with charging money for work and time invested in a project. Nothing at all. Elementary OS is fully within its right to want to pay people for the time and work they have put in. That’s fine. Where I see the problem is when requests or payment start becoming more of a play on guilt, rather than a request for support. Let me explain.
I firstly don’t use Elementary OS and certainly for the people over the years I’ve installed Linux for, there are far better (or at least just as good) distro’s in my opinion. But that’s academic, people do use Elementary OS and I’m sure there are many happy users of it.
We want users to understand that they’re pretty much cheating the system when they choose not to pay for software. We didn’t exclude a $0 button to deceive you; we believe our software really is worth something.
And if I hadn’t read it on the Elemental OS page I wouldn’t have believed it. Users who don’t/can’t pay are “pretty much” cheating the system? Fine. Don’t let them. Don’t let a user get something for free if you don’t think they should and want paying. Make it a purchase download. Have the Elemental OS developers confidence in their product to do this? It seems not, because if they truly think people are cheating the system by getting something for free then they should remove the ability to get it for free. Whilst they give a reason for this, we can look at it later in the article.
If you are about to buy a new car and the salesperson says “well you can pay ##### for it or you can get it for free” which one will people choose in the main? Its a perfectly normal reaction for people to seek out the cheaper option to save money and that goes no matter what pay scale you are on. There are of course people who will pay regardless and to them any developer should be grateful.
This maybe highlights a big issue of open source software. Whilst its turning out some of the best packages, there comes a time when someone, somewhere wants paying. It’s the way of the world and until such time we live in a Star Trek future, things are not going to change.
I would love a world where all software was open source, available to all, but I understand why Elementary OS would want payment. What I disagree with is the approach they take. If for a minute all distro’s went pay only and I was buying one, it wouldn’t be Elementary OS. I’ve my favourites and that isn’t one of them.
And it’s not like we’re making money to buy yachts;
And after the “cheating” comment, we seem to have a justification, is this saying “Hey, give us some cash, we are not living lavish lifestyles here” – fine, develop software elsewhere then. Better yet, write your own OS from scratch, make it great and then you can have the yachts and you can “rightfully” retain the source code for yourselves.
It’s about asking a fair price to offset the costs of development. It’s about securing the future of elementary OS to ensure we can keep making software that millions of people love and use every day.
Millions of people? Where does this figure come from? Total downloads? How do they know? – I don’t want to get into a debate about how many desktop linux users there are on the planet, but looking at Distro Watch as an indicator (non scientific) it ranks Elementary as 9 (and down 900 views) If the “millions of people love and use” had been referring to Mint I may have agreed. I would go as far as to say if Mint was a forced purchase and Elementary OS was completely gratis, I’d go for Mint every time.
Another comment, seeming to me to be made in haste:
While we could rightfully disallow free downloads, someone else could take our open source code, compile it, and give it away for free. So there’s no point in completely disallowing it.
Let me change that a little. Firstly let me ask Elementary to re-read the license. Then they can add the word “rightfully” to the part that says “give it away for free” also. And to be fair, I don’t think people would go to the bother of compiling the code and releasing OS free, with so many distro choices, it would be just another re-invention of the wheel and I can’t think of any feature Elementary OS has that is unique to the distro and hankered after by users that couldn’t be adequately accommodated in another distro. Maybe someone can help there? I can’t believe its Desktop is the unique feature/selling point in a world where we are migrating rapidly towards the web-based for all but the most traditional of packages. (Talking mainstream users now)
Most of the open source world is similar; Inkscape and GIMP
Distro’s are 10 a penny I’d suggest and in my view Elementary OS is not the definitive desktop Linux distro. With Inkscape and GIMP all the developers efforts are focused to one project, that one project appears on many distro’s and other platforms. The idea of contributing to the GIMP devs, I’d suggest is very different to that of a distro, where I’d guess if you used 1 different distro every day for a year you’d still have some left over at the New Year party. Is that a bad thing in my view? Not at all. But putting this sort of approach on your users is a little out of order in my view because they have so much already to choose from.
If we want to see the world of open source software grow, we should encourage users to pay for its development; ……..or developers will have to resort to backdoor deals and advertising.
Reality check here. The world of open source is growing and its not growing by distro’s or software putting on a guilt trip to their users. There are many who will find ways to make money from it and best of luck to them, but lets not assume that anyone who comes along and “makes a few changes” is welcome to financial reward. If you want something from your work, get a job working in a proprietary software house, release proprietary software. Don’t start working on open source projects and then complain when you’re not getting the lifestyle of Bill Gates. And back-door deals? what is that supposed to mean? advertising? shovelware? or are you playing on the paranoia of some that certain distro’s can and will be infected by government code set to spy? Are the Elementary OS team suggesting that if you don’t pay we have a future of shady government deals with code set to intrude on your private life? Just what are they saying from vague warning they give?
All quotes are from the Elementary OS blog: http://blog.elementaryos.org/post/110645528530/payments
We humans in the main, are social animals. Perhaps the ultimate example of this are the Alien believers who need to believe in life outside of our planet, but moreover it visiting us.
Is the desire to be “not alone” so strong that some people are susceptible to idea’s which go against logic and reason? Are there people who seek to blame the issues of their own lives on an external force and find the “alien conspiracies” a good place to channel some of that blame?
For those who have read OpenBytes over the years, they will know that its been a subject I’ve tackled on many occasions.
To be clear before we go any further, no, I don’t believe aliens are here, I don’t believe aliens have contacted us and no, ancient humans were not assisted by extra-terrestrials. Crystal Skulls? Pyramids? – As technology has allowed us to examine these things properly, we find there are no mysteries in the past, just very clever and resourceful people – and that is why ladies and gentlemen, humans became the dominant species on the planet – clever, resourceful and also adaptable.
To suggest that mankind’s great engineering feats are created by an outside source, downplays the human achievements of the past.
So we look at the Alien believers. I’ve been researching Darryl Anka aka “Bashar” who claims to be channelling an alien intelligence, who for a price (I presume admission to one of his talks) you can ask questions of Bashar. Perhaps what’s more unbelievable than Bashar itself is the fact that there are people buying into this nonsense, despite his whole pitch being full of holes.
I will now look at two distinct groups of “believers”. There’s many variations but to keep this piece shorter, the two main ones are covered.
The believers in “good” aliens
These people (like Bashar) are the ones promoting the idea that Aliens are here to help us. They want to open our minds to peace, love and who knows what else. Generally these Aliens won’t be making an appearance any time soon as the world “is not ready” although it seems that contacting people through the medium of Youtube or similar is ok.
The believers in “bad” aliens
Here you have the Area 51’s and all manner of fun and games. Arguably this is the more interesting side of the Alien belivers as you get conspiracies, impending invasions from outside our solar system. You get NASA covering up alien visitation (by shutting down the live feed on their Space Station every time one pops into view) and the sky literally is your limit for the variety of different conspiracies you can believe in. Want an example of bad aliens? David Icke has his theories. Which apparently are held in high regard by many who maybe forget (or chose to ignore) that a few years ago David Icke turned up on TV in a purple tracksuit claiming to be the Son of God. Bashar or Darryl Anka wasn’t always a channeller either (from Wikipedia)
Anka started his Hollywood career as a special effects designer working on such films as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I Robot, Pirates of the Caribbean, Live Free or Die Hard and Iron Man
If we take Bashar and Icke as two examples for the moment (and there’s hundreds) we can see a similarity – they are making a living out of it. Whilst Bashar doesn’t get the audiences David Icke does (having recently performed in Wembley Stadium) And in the case of Bashar in particular, remember that the messages he channels in his products are qoute:
© Darryl Anka – Licensed to Bashar Communications – All Rights Reserved
Before we go any further, I’d like you to put out of your mind your belief or non belief in aliens. Lets say for argument sake you were utterly convinced and had personal proof that aliens were either trying to help mankind or trying to conquer it. Would you charge people for this information? If you were utterly convinced would you not be shouting from the rooftops (figuratively) with no regard for what you could make out of it? Would you be writing books and holding talks in-front of a paying audience, or would it so profoundly affect your life that you’d merely be telling everyone you could at every opportunity? And that, whatever conspiracy you believe in, is the similarity between them all. There’s books to buy. There’s subscriptions to webpages (often laced with adverts). There’s t-shirts, merchandise and talks at stadiums. In fact, there’s a whole industry catering for those who “believe” and can part with cash.
I refer to my own passion, that of free and open source software. I have a strong belief in the advantages and benefits for open source software and I’ve written, promoted and highlighted that online for 8 years. Not once in that time have I sought to seek recompense for that advocacy. Why? Because I have an honest held belief in what I am saying and the idea of charging people to share that knowledge is utterly offensive to me.
Back to the wibbly wobbly world of aliens and we see that there are no such barriers. You could probably fill a football stadium many times over with what you can buy. There’s a whole industry involved now and that’s where the problem rests because you now have some people dependent on perpetuating a belief in something so that they can continue to remain in business. See for yourself, every year on Youtube its the year of alien invasion. Is this a warning or is it perpetuating a business model?
It seems that Youtube has also been elevated in status too and is seen as the panacea of truth. If a video is up on Youtube it must be true – or certainly you’d think that judging by the outrageous alien video’s and the people supporting them.
The sad (for some) fact is, there are no aliens visiting Earth. Either by messages on Youtube or spaceships with flashing lights. People can claim “open mind” all day and discount basic logic, but lets be fair, it’s all a nonsense isn’t it?
Well no, not for some. Since NASA has piped a live stream from their space station, alien hunters have been watching the feed and it seems to be generally agreed that when ET pops up in view the feed goes down. I’d ask people who believe this nonsense to take a deep breath and just think, think. NASA doesn’t want you to see any aliens? NASA shuts down the feed when ET visits? NASA knows all about these aliens? – Then why on earth did NASA create a live feed in the first place? Why would they give themselves these problems? They could have it on time-delay if they wanted or even just plain faked. So why would NASA give you the chance to see something they apparently don’t want you to see?
If Aliens are here already and taking over the planet (as in David Icke theories with his lizards) why would NASA even bother with a live stream at all? You could write a book (or several) on all the flaws of these alien beliefs. Bashar doesn’t escape here either. According to him the crystal skulls were carved by vibrations. It is only recently that modern technology has advanced to the point where after examination of the skulls we see that tools were in fact used to create them. We can even determine where the quartz crystal originated from.
It’s strange that believers in Aliens claim I don’t have an open mind, when they don’t seem to consider all these logical facts? I’d suggest that I have the open mind (I’ve not discounted Aliens existing in our universe) and I’d suggest they are gullible.
ET is not here, ET is not listening. And who is to say that us humans are not the first species to attain sentience in this galaxy? There has to be a first race, you could reasonably suggest that it’s us, but that is a topic where its pointless talking to Bashar or listening to David Icke about. They’ve merchandise to sell (get your Bashar merchandise here: http://www.basharstore.com/ ) Imagine trying to make a business out of us being the only advanced race in the galaxy.
For your enjoyment, here’s a small Bashar example. Maybe the most unbelievable part of this video is that people actually believe it. I’ll be looking at his “work” further this year.
I voiced my concerns at the time. I labelled the “glasshole” as someone who struts around with a silly looking Google device on their face.
It surprised me that when Prince Charles was seen with them that this didn’t act as a warning sign for the disinterest of the general public, who when faced with a $1500 price-tag, said “thanks, but no thanks”.
And Google really did try. It tried to appeal to those people who wanted to get into shape but can’t do it without making a “game” out of exercising – maybe because their desire to get fit is paper thin and just like washing down cod-liver oil with something sweet, they need a “sweetener” to keep them going?
It’s academic, Google Glass is reported to now be on the way out. I remember in May 2014 I voiced my concerns about the product, the dislike of its camera pointing at you and also mentioned the fan boys/girls who defended the device with cries of “Glass Hater”. Seems I was right, because the views I aired appear to have been echoed by potential consumers (or the lack thereof).
In a post to the official Glass Google+ account on Wednesday, the Chocolate Factory said it will quit selling the current version of its spy-goggles to individuals on January 19, although it reportedly will still be available to developers and companies if they ask nicely.
I would guess all the “trendies” who thought they were on the cusp of a technological revolution are feeling a little silly now if they forked out over a thousand dollars for them. Maybe they will learn a valuable lesson and next time listen when tech folk tell them its nothing more than an expensive and short lived fad. Or maybe they won’t, Google seems to be very pleased though:
“Glass was in its infancy, and you took those very first steps and taught us how to walk,” the Glass team wrote. “Well, we still have some work to do, but now we’re ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run.”
And so we can end on this:
……not clear whether future versions of Glass will be marketed as consumer products, or if Google plans to steer them toward business applications. While the specs aren’t well-received at parties, they have won some converts in certain industries, such as healthcare.
All quote sources: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/15/google_kills_glass_explorer_program/
Maybe in a few years time the “buy it now trendies” can put their Google Glasses on eBay. Here’s some more advice (and hopefully this time they’ll listen) start the bidding at $1 with no reserve – you might be able to shift them.
I’ve written a few times about the “promoted tweets” feature of Twitter, but today I’m looking at the release of news that refers to rogue Tweets that may appear in your timeline because Twitter thinks you want to read them. If that wasn’t unwelcome enough, you can’t opt out, so listen to Twitter, these rogue Tweets are what you want to read.
“One of our goals for experimentation is to continue improving your home timeline. After all, that’s the best way to keep up with everything happening in your world,” said Trevor O’Brien, director of product management at Twitter.
Source: The Inquirer
So, in theory this sounds great. But great for who?
But there are times when you might miss out on Tweets we think you’d enjoy…..To help you keep up with what’s happening, we’ve been testing ways to include these Tweets in your timeline – ones we think you’ll find interesting or entertaining………..
Source: The Inquirer
I’m not sure when the purpose of social media was lost. Maybe it was potential advertisers eyeing up the audience with greedy eyes? Maybe its Twitter trying to find ways to cash in on its massive user base? I don’t know about other users, but if I’m looking for a topic, I’ll search for it. If I’m interested in a trending topic I’ll click on it. What I don’t think is condusive to a good social media experience is for complete strangers thoughts to pop up in my timeline when they are not even responding to something I’ve written. When I want Twitter to give me strangers posts I’ll opt in, not have it thrust upon me with no option to opt out. Lets hope that this “experiment” finishes shortly.
Some users on Twitter have been quite vocal about their dislike for this new feature and to me its purpose it obvious, it’s a way for Twitter to explore future money making opportunities.
I’ve a policy of blocking any user who promotes their Tweets. Looks like I’ll be blocking the random strangers too. I think Twitter, like other online services will quickly realise that users have a plethora of other options open to them. Social media is transient and the next FB or Twitter is just around the corner (as well as the plethora of options already available). Having these type of “features” is no bad thing, but take away people’s ability to remove them and you’ll find your user-base looking elsewhere.