Back from a fabulous week’s golf in Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall (balmy temperatures and barmy companions) ….
The march of the robots continues — engineers are planning a new generation of traffic cones, which will automatically move themselves (what can possibly go wrong?) – or does it? Amazon, which employs an army of over 100,000 (gulp) robots in its fulfilment centres, has discovered that the machines lack “common sense” – a pool of spilt butter was sufficient to “throw them into disarray”. Back to the drawing board ….
The latest iPhone will encourage users to overcome their addiction to (er) mobile phones by using a “do not disturb” setting which hides incoming texts and e-mails while they’re in bed – and Eton College has gone one better by removing mobile phones from the pupils in the evening. Mr Simon Henderson, the Headmaster, had been expecting a hostile reaction, but the boys welcomed the break from social media.
And researchers from the Max Planck Institute have created the Huggiebot, which the boffins claim can give better hugs to humans than other humans can ….
The Zeitgeist is that the march of automation will make large swathes of business jobs disappear – but will it? It is true that businesses which make things have already seen widespread automation (think car-making), and some people fear that services are next – but in the Ed’s view that will depend on what your business offers the customer.
The success of Handelsbanken (which offers a local banking service, with polite and experienced staff who know who you are when you ring up or call in – never catch on, will it?) is a salutary lesson to the other banks – and it’s hard to see that restaurants and theatres are going to disappear, or be run by robots, any time soon.
The trick is to give the customer an experience, and (even better) a relationship – there will always be room for the personal touch, and it’s much easier to provide this if you run a human-sized organisation rather than a megabusiness. You can keep in touch with the customers, and you can take quick decisions – and if you’re wise enough to be a member of a TAB Board you can tap in to the collective wisdom of seven other business owners ….
As the late, great, Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
It is the memorial service today for Paul Dickinson, who co-founded TAB in the UK nine years ago, and before that was a business partner and good friend of the Ed’s over more than thirty years. Paul was a master of the personal touch, and strongly disliked large organisations. He was taken at a far too early age by a cruel disease – but he packed more laughter and enjoyment into his 57 years (not to mention business achievement, help to others, wisdom, and determination – and stellar golf) than many others do in a lot longer than that.
The Ed was helped on many occasions by Paul, and learned a great deal from him, and his friendship and camaraderie will be greatly missed by very many people.
Ave atque vale.
Moving on to much less important matters, and some of the trivia in the meejah over the last fortnight –
• attentive readers (and there is of course no other kind hem hem) will have noticed the Ed banging on waxing lyrical over the last few weeks about the benefits of sleep – so it’s rather a shame that members of our beloved Upper House have received a gentle rap on the knuckles – Lord Taylor (the Government’s Chief Whip in the Lords) has sent a stern memo to Tory peers asking them to improve their behaviour, including ceasing “sedentary shouting” and “resting their eyes” (good job Lord T hasn’t seen the Ed watching the telly ….). Presumably, though, Labour and Lib Dem peers are free to carry on snoring and grumbling
• consternation in other traditional quarters also – lovers of Heinz salad cream (not including the Ed) are outraged that the company is intending to rename it “sandwich cream” (barefaced PR stunt? – Cynical Ed)
• in another depressing sign of the times, parents of Ysgol Mynydd Bychan (that’s easy for you to say – Ed) have been criticised after filming events at the school sports day and using the evidence to dispute the results on behalf of their beloved offspring
• in the latest in a long line of studies-which-don’t-surprise-anybody, boffins from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have found that women are consistently more disgusted than men (often disgusted at men, one suspects ….). There are apparently six distinct types of disgust (bad hygiene, animal contamination, unusual appearances, skin lesions, spoilt food, and sexual promiscuity – but please don’t try to achieve all six at the same time). It is thought that there are genetic benefits to this (it avoids disease)
• churchgoers are likely to live for six years longer than us heathens ….
• …. while people who drink (in moderation) are much less likely to take time off sick than teetotallers (always thought so (hic) – Ed) ….
• …. but make sure you don’t drink too much if you’re ordering a taxi home – Uber has filed a patent for an algorithm which can identify whether you’re tight based on your clumsy typing (eeek! – keyboard-challenged Ed)
• if you live in Grimsby, did the earth move for you last Saturday night? No, this isn’t an intrusion into your sex life – there was an earthquake (measuring no less than 3.9 on the Richter Scale), causing damage including spilt cups of tea and an upturned garden chair (gasp)
• from the world of fashion – Barbour is accusing Levi Strauss of bullying, after the jeans company told Barbour to stop using small signature tabs on clothes (even though the B tabs are black and the LS ones red) (only in the US – Ed) ….
• …. if you’ve never been a fan of the avocado bathroom suite, you’ve been vindicated – it’s been voted the worst idea in home décor in the last 50 years (a proud claim indeed) ….
• …. and brickies (working for Bellway Homes) who were told they couldn’t wear shorts in the recent hot weather turned up for work in skirts instead
• apparently kids are getting less bright – IQ scores have begun to fall after rising steadily since WWII. Boffins can’t decide whether this is down to how maths and science are now taught, or the dreaded computer taking over from books (young people today ….) ….
• …. and the long-running spat over Oxbridge admissions continued this week with the claim that Love Island (apparently some kind of TV show – Blimp Ed) is harder to get into than Oxbridge – though this is based on the number of applications rather than the qualities needed hem hem.
On to Columbo Corner, and easily the Ed’s favourite story of the fortnight. Ms Claire Mountjoy is lucky enough to live in the picturesque village of Colyton, in Devon, and is very eco-aware, so she hangs her washing out to dry rather than use a tumble dryer. She was dismayed to receive an anonymous e-mail “on behalf of local businesses” asking her to hide her smalls from view so as to “keep a town we can all be proud of”. After Ms M posted this on Facebook, her splendid neighbours have started hanging out their own washing in protest. There is talk of making it an annual event ….
Have a great weekend – why not start by relaxing with a drink while you ask the Huggiebot to hang the washing out?….
Cheers for now
I presently run three Boards –
Dark Blue (for people who run large businesses) – one spare seat
Light Blue (for people who run large businesses) — two spare seats
White Board (for people who run fast-growing businesses) — two spare seats
“Life loves to be taken by the lapel, and told ‘I’m with you, kid – let’s go!’” (Maya Angelou) (thanks, Paul!)
“The Duke of Devonshire …. dreamed that he was addressing the House of Lords, and woke up and found that he was” (Lord Clarke of Stone cum Ebony, in the Bracton Lecture)
“I am unable to understand how a man of honour could take a newspaper in his hands without a shudder of disgust” (Baudelaire)
By Tom Morton, TAB Harrogate