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Stuart White

Results of a study by researchers at Southampton University out this week, reported in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, and claims that buildings and locations including public libraries, railway stations and shopping centres could be unwittingly making people ill through the effects of ultrasound. 

This virtual noise in public places can be generated from a number of sources including loudspeakers, automatic door sensors, pest repellents, public address systems and spotlights and according to the new report might cause dizziness, nausea, migraine, fatigue and tinnitus.  This was news to me but then so was the fact that there are actually professional Vibration Consultants in this world, people who work alongside engineers, planners and architects, advising on and correcting vibration and noise problems in construction and building design. 

There are also professional golf ball divers who make their living jumping into water traps on golf courses to retrieve lost balls; professional pet food tasters to ensure the quality and flavour of premium pet food products; and eel ecologists who spend their days wading into rivers to monitor the sizes and numbers of endangered European eel species.

If the idea of tasting doggy chunks for a living is food for thought then that’s just my point this week.   Let’s face it, life is just too short to even waste being in a job you hate; working with people who don’t relate to you; doing tasks that feel pointless; suffering through performance appraisals that don’t make any sense; putting up with corporate politics where individual agendas overpower the collective good of the organisation; being treated like a child and tortured by micro-management. These bullet points have all arisen during the countless discussions I have had with people about their job, or at least the ones who are unhappy about it. I often ask “if you knew then what you know now, what career would you have followed or what would you be doing?” It’s a great question because the answer often uncovers people’s true passion and what they would like to be doing.

Deciding on a career for the most part isn’t a one-time decision or the sole territory of the school leaver or graduate. Nowadays it should be seen as a succession of decisions, made while you progress through various stages of life, experience, and responsibility. At each stage we begin to adapt our lifestyles and family commitments to conform to our present employment needs or demands. Or maybe for the more empowered it’s the other way around.

Passions change with time. I can testify to that as I get older my appetite for challenges, results and rewards is different from when I was young so it makes sense that I like others, should be adjusting my career accordingly. As my passion shifts so should my environment to match this.

As with all kinds of planning, career planning is a thinking process that starts with identifying a goal or asking the questions what do I want to do? What am I really good at? What will make me happy? What job will align well to all of this, regardless of age? Unfortunately very few people really ask these questions. The clear majority of people seem to fall into their career by accident with little focused decision-making based on structured career guidance or coaching. What is available at school or university appears to fall dramatically short of requirement and at your place of employment, career departments and career planning are even more useless and there is almost no support to employees. This might be because until recently, employees could join an organisation fully expecting to stay with it for their entire career but now, life-long careers are a thing of the past and so this HR function is gradually falling away.

What I have picked up as the most common error people make in career choices is choosing a job based on salary. This is so established in our culture that it’ll take a strong commitment to change it. While a big salary might give you a good lifestyle and a certain amount of peace of mind, it will not guarantee job satisfaction. Another frequent error in choosing a job is familiarity – because that’s what your parents do. So don’t follow in your mother’s or father’s footsteps unless you have exactly the same size shoe and want to end up exactly where they are.  Even worse, don’t choose a job to fulfill your parents' unfulfilled dream. Parents must be careful not to steer their children to something they themselves would like. Rather, children should be encouraged to follow a career path that best suits their talents and abilities.

So what would my advice be to those wanting to make good career decisions? Well firstly spend time clarifying your purpose in life. Whilst I know this is sometimes difficult especially when you are young, it’s important. Your purpose may change but if there isn’t alignment at a particular time with your raison d'être, chances are you will be all out of sorts. Discover your natural inclinations and how to use them effectively. There are many was to identify strengths (there’s a plethora of psychometric testing available or for something free try  HYPERLINK "" t "_blank"  Alternatively simply investigate where you have found success and happiness in the past with work or leisure activities and you will start to develop a profile which is then easier to match to a career. Investigate several occupations that fit your talents and personality. Focus on professions that are a potential good fit. You can also interview people who hold similar roles, learn about them from reading on the internet or visit job sites in order to identify jobs that best suit your talent profile.

What is really relevant today is becoming a lifelong learner. There are many subjects and skills that weren’t available 20 years ago. It is essential in today’s world of continuous development, innovation and change and that employees keep up to date with these changes so that they are not left behind and remain irrelevant.  There are new pet food flavors being developed all the time and don’t forget the wonderful world of white noise – the truth is out there.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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