UberEats food delivery

Dinner on the Run; An UberEats Experience

The Hangry Few

Every now and then I need to work nights. Not only do I work nights, but with only two of us there lunch (dinner) options can be limited. But a few nights ago one of my colleagues was talking about using UberEats. I personally had never used Uber for anything – I’m essentially a cave dweller… However, on this night I was starving and had a hankering for something other than what the local fare had to offer. I was skeptical, but I trusted the opinion of those I work with. So I formulated a cunning plan; well not really but you get the idea.

The Plan

I had downloaded the app a few weeks prior, but I had thoughts that told me the prices in Uber and the prices on the menu were quite different. In the end I decided that if a restaurant was going to charge a dollar more to cover their costs then it was probably worth it; if they didn’t then, that was obviously okay also, it is possible I never took note of prices before, but there you go. The $6.50 charge for delivery was reasonably standard, so that was a no-brainer. I opted for the delivery to be brought inside, instead of meet at the car, because I was at work and possibly could not meet them. All the boxes were ticked, and I was told a time – about 20 minutes.

The Delivery

My work is not that busy at night, and I had been watching my phone being mindful of the time as I knew delivery drivers of all types are under pressure and generally do not like to be kept waiting. But at the pivotal moment, I was called away from the front desk and I didn’t actually see the driver come in, but they left the food with a colleague. I was interested to see what the hand-off process would be, did I need to tap something on my phone to say received? I’m not sure, but it did come up with a rating review for the driver. So I did what was necessary and plowed into my pipping hot Schnitz.

The Review

I gave my driver 5 stars. Even though I never actually met her, my food was hot and the delivery was made. What else is there to rate someone on? She ticked to two most important (and only) requirements.

A Re-Do?

I think UberEats, and other food delivery services, are good for consumers. They can offer business who may not have a facility for delivery access to customers that may have otherwise spent their money elsewhere. I know on this certain night I would have. I feel that the service is too expensive to use on a regular basis, and this is something you might need to consider for yourself. However, as a means to get dinner when your options are limited or non-existent it is a brilliant thing, and provides competition where none may have existed before.

Final Thoughts

In our heavily active/working lives anything to make a thing easier is good. I have used food delivery when I’ve been stuck at work and couldn’t get home to feed the kids – they’re old enough to be home alone. I can order something slightly better than the usual takeout muck and have it delivered to them while I’m still punching out the clock.

This is not and advertisement for UberEats.

Feature Image: Bruno Martins on Unsplash

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)

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)

Using Memes in the Workplace

pity the fool
R. Williams – 2016 (created at imgflip.com)

The above image is one I created and put in a farewell card for my boss. When I did it I was really unsure how he would take it. Confidence is not my thing. I asked a few of my colleagues and they thought it was perfect. So I stuck it in, and it tuned out he thought it was hilarious. I still think it was a risky move as he is a serious about work, but chilled about social aspects of work – be on time, but a bit of a ‘havachat’ is cool.

It got me thinking about how something that is largely present online has started to creep into real life. Are they appropriate, and would you send one in an email to a colleague that you may not know very well or at all?

Recently my workplace was the recipient of large inter-store transfers of old and deleted stock, that we were going to clear out. The workload was going to be immense and create functionality problems for the store. When one store sent me their transfer list I replied with a meme:

barney
R. Williams – 2017 (created at imgflip.com)

Maybe a little context is needed… a part of the transfer consisted of eight replacement covers for an outdoor dog bed that we no longer sell, or have sold in over a year. I thought the meme was funny, and I still do. Although I never heard back from the person I sent it to so I have no idea if they thought it was or even understood it. That is one problem with memes, for it to work you need to know the character in the picture and the reference that it is alluding to:

The meaning is essentially – when an apparent impossible task is meet with unrelenting optimism. Which is how I started to view the task at hand – besides getting bothered doesn’t achieve anything.

I think that using memes in the workplace can add tone to an email, or a workplace sign. Take a look at the Mr T one again, it is not negative in any way, it’s humorous but it also conveys an important message without being preachy. The Barney one I sent was to demonstrate that there were ‘no hard feelings’ about my store being dumped with left over stock from another. If these were typed out without the image reference how would they sound then? The Mr T one would come of as threatening and the Barney one could be interpreted in many different ways, from smug to anger, it all depends on the reader.

Using memes in the workplace, as long as it doesn’t take too much time to create, is perfectly fine. I would probably think twice about sending one to a manager that I wasn’t that familiar with, but for everyday communication and if it is a part of your personality then go for it. We all need a laugh every now and then at work. They’re also a great deal of fun to create.

I’d love to hear stories about memes in your workplace, feel free to comment below.

Title Image: R. Williams – 2017 (created at imgflip.com)

Eternal Digital Living

When questioned about eternal life something that keeps surfacing is the idea that we could digitally map our brains and upload it to a cloud style server and live on in an electronic reality.

While there is nothing new about this concept, as it has been a staple of science fiction for a while, The Matrix is probably the most well known for a negative view and Black Mirror – San Junipero, for a more positive spin.

There are many other examples, such as Star Trek – Voyager where large portions of the show are dedicated to the Doctor whom is arguably a sentient digital being. On the show he is treated as an object, but as it progresses he develops a personality beyond his ‘programming’. Another example would be from Red Dwarf, where the entire crew has been digitally mind mapped and stored as back up copies in case of accident or emergency. The difference between these two is that Rimmer, from Red Dwarf, is a fully formed replica of an actual person, where the Doctor is not. Have a look at both of them – one is intelligent and insightful, and the other has fancy buttons.

This idea is well established in popular culture, almost to a point where it is an agreed upon state and we are just waiting for the technology to catch up. The point is would you do it? In the Black Mirror episode you can pick between several rooms or worlds to live in, could you see yourself living in a stylized version of a decade? Even though the world would be a total fabrication and all the things that happen to you would be the creation of a programmer just to keep you happy. Interestingly this is exactly what phone developers and gaming companies are doing right at this minute. Stimulating your brain to make you happy in order to keep signing in; one day you may go in never to come back.

As technology moves faster and faster toward artificial intelligence, surely it would become easier to digitally map our minds. Researchers would start to see the connections and how things work in order to recreate it. There is the brain in the jar thinking that because everything is a creation of our minds it is possible that we are not here at all. With that style of thinking would living in a digital reality be any different, you would still have the same wants and desires, and the same fears and phobias, but isn’t that what makes us what we are? Could I be on a space ship filled with multiple data banks sailing thought the endless void right now? I doubt it, but it’s something to think about. Knowing that there is no ‘life after death’ and if the technology could recreate the world so there appears to be no difference, I think I would sign up.

Title Image: Clever Clogs! by Piyushgiri Revagar (2016)