Automation in the Terminal

A few weeks ago I had to go to the airport. I had not been to the airport in a while and some drastic changes had been made! At least from my point of view.

Big Trouble at the Check-In

I was dropping my kids off and we were running late (airport late, not late late), which really didn’t help the cognitive thinking. So we got there with a few minutes to spare and to my surprise the baggage check-in is missing. There were lots of touch screens and conveyor belts and people seemed to know what they were doing. But the one thing missing was a person to ask. We had about 5 minutes until check-in was closed, I looked about and found a counter and a person to ask.

Waiting, waiting, waiting… and when she was ready, ‘Hi, umm what do I do here?’. And she just looked at me as if I’d just removed my own head. Based on her meager instruction, I took to tapping on the screen. It was so simple, press button and type in flight number. Oh yeah, well maybe if someone got their shit together to get here earlier…

The last time I was at the airport there was a person to do this for you. And now that job has gone? Sure it was probably reassigned or something, and maybe it wasn’t the most interesting thing to do all day, but it was a job! Now that has been allocated to a program and savvy engineers.

Automation of the Soul

I have written about AI replacing human jobs previously. And I am still looking forward to a time where AI replaces many jobs, but it does need to be handled properly, especially in a service industry. In the airport case, it was almost an assumption that you would understand the processes. The ticket said NOTHING about automated check-in, and there was no one to help. A simple ‘help me’ button somewhere would have done it.

Automation has been replacing jobs for a long time, but more thought needs to go into training people on how to operate under the new regime. I felt completely in the dark. We are all busy being swabbed for bombs, but someone can’t help me load a bag?

As I said I don’t go to the airport all that often and it does feel like the place is run on the understanding that you know where you are going and what you are doing. There wasn’t even a sign pointing to arrivals, only departures – one has to figure that out. However after one visit I’m confident that I know what to do now and the next time will not be as challenging. Unless in the next five years it is all drones and personal flight systems… OMG.

Perhaps it was the shock, more than the experience. It was not as I expected, and perhaps that is the trick to dealing with fast paced automation. Be prepared to learn something new, give it a go because it probably isn’t all that hard.

Feature Image: That Way by Kerry Lannert (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Not a New Years Resolution…

I hate the term New Years Resolution. It has come to hold little meaning when discussing personal change. But I do like the beginning of a new year to try and make changes. I much prefer the idea of challenge over resolution, as one shows that making changes are hard and that they should be difficult, where resolution just sounds like something drunk people sprout out at midnight only to be forgotten by the morning. A challenge means some sort of thought has gone into it, something planned and nurtured.

The Challenge Habit

Month long challenges are something that I have been doing for a while; mostly they have been personal and I have rarely told anyone. Usually, they are to break a bad habit, or something that I don’t like about myself. I wouldn’t call them self esteem builders or anything, but completing the challenges and being successful does make me feel better about myself. Probably the most successful challenge I completed was to make my bed every morning. Not really that hard… But I’m a messy person, always have been and always will be. Turns out I love making my bed in the morning, and although the challenge was completed a few years ago it is still something I do today. It seems such a cheesy thing to be proud of, but it showed me that I can make changes in my life, no matter how small.

A Year of Change

So back to this year. A year long challenge, but I think I’m up to the task. Something I do a lot of that I hate is eating take out food; it’s wasteful, expensive and does not satisfy. When it comes to food prep, planning and cooking I am lazy and unorganized. So this year I am giving up eating out… But wait there are a few rules:

  • Once a month I can have a reward of takeout, if the previous month was successful.
  • Not including the Fam, only I must suffer.
  • Takeout means mass produced food – proper restaurants are okay, but need to be planned.

So far I’m 10 days in and I am yet to buckle or cave. It has me thinking more about what I’m going to eat and when. I am really hopeful that this terrible habit that can be broken. It may even result in eating better and possibly some weight loss? Who knows but I am looking forward to the challenge and what changes it may bring with it.

I will update this challenge regularly through the year, so follow this blog to keep updated.

Feature Image: Exausted by KeWynn Lee (CC BY-ND 2.0)

How Effective are Requests to Turn Off Your Ad-blocker?

Probably one of the biggest threats to the reality of the internet and its integrity and stability is the fact that people expect what they find there to be free. If you have not enjoyed the onslaught of annoying and obtrusive ads then, like myself, you probably have an ad-blocker installed into your browser, and if you don’t, well you’re a stronger person than I.

First let me clarify what I said about the internet having integrity and stability. I realise this statement may in itself be slightly laughable. However, producing content takes time and money, and if the information is being given away for nothing then there is little time for fact checking, or writing properly or anything.

Imagine for a second a paper with all that ads removed. In fact, go and get a paper, a pair of scissors and remove all of the ads, and then go find a wedding with the hand full of confetti you’re left with. Writers and editors may drive the information bus, but without the advertising wallet filling up the tank it wont get very far. While we may not like it, advertisers pay for the majority of the content we’re reading.

Most ad-blockers operate just to remind the visitor that the ads you may be seeing are there for a purpose. Sometimes you can choose to ignore them, and other times they block access until you ‘white list’ the site. This one, encountered at Inside Retail, blocked access.

Screenshot: Adblocker – www.insideretail.com (2019)

All of the requests I have seen have been professional and polite. Usually when confronted with a message, I take a mental exam of the site in question:

  • Am I here for a purpose?
  • Is this content I really want?
  • Is the content laid out in a functional way?
  • Do I trust the information from this site?

If the answer to these are yes, then the ad-blocker is turned off. However, once it is off, it depends on how the ads are displayed if it gets turned back on and the site closed; the main culprit for this are the scroll following ads.

I find the request to be highly effective and if your site needs the revenue from advertising streams to keep plugging out valuable content, then I suggest you keep using them. It is a simple and clever way to keep readers aware that online content is valuable and needs to be paid for by someone. I doubt there are too many people that would be shunned by a simple request to do something that costs them nothing.

Feature Image: Sign: No Entry by Matthew Paul Argall (CC BY 2.0)

Can I Share Links for Streaming Content?

A while ago I bought a product online, to be more precise it was a rented film. When I paid my money I was given a link and access to the film for two days after I started playing it. Now currently my family is away and I thought, could I share the link so they could enjoy it also? This brought up an ethical conundrum for me, is this legal? It prompted a bit of a google and the answers I found were surprising.

The answer simply seems to be, yes. And it looks like they don’t care. Obviously if you are sharing with lots of people they may look into it. But for the most part it’s all okay. But why is this? Essentially when you share a link you are advertising the company and this is a good thing. You are endorsing the site where you got the content from and this is more valuable than the thing itself. You’re being the influencer for them; an employee of little cost.

Imagine for a second if these companies cracked down on people sharing content. Many of my purchases are via one company, say if they get upset at me for sharing something and decide to send out cease and desist letters, what am I most likely to do? Well in a near saturated market place, I’ll most likely close my account and go somewhere else. I could even return to buying the DVD from the store!

They need our custom, and if looking the other way for a second allows them to succeed then they are willing to do it. So share away, advertise your steaming service of choice – it’s what they want you to do!

Feature Image: Watch (328) by Doug Waldron (CC BY-SA 2.0)