Rise of the Machines

Rise of the MachinesSeveral weeks back I was in my local post office and noticed staff ‘training’ customers to use their self service kiosk that had recently been built into the shop following a recent refit. A lady, who was learning and there before me (I went in the usual human service line), finished up about the same time as I and thanked the staff member for making it a trouble free and much faster (?) process than waiting in line to be served. I recall going home, mentioning it to the other half and stating that the ‘trainer’ working there was ultimately working themselves out of a job.

Some time over the weekend been, I caught a interview on the radio about our postal service going through restructuring. They highlighted these new kiosks, as well as discussing that local city deliveries would be cut down to three days a week to ultimately save money (well, lets be honest, AND make a profit). As a result, yesterdays newspaper reported a looming 2000 staff reduction in the coming years for NZ Post.

In a similar story, not so long ago, I recall a local manufacturing company reporting they were moving overseas. Usually this is for cheaper Asian market labour, but in this case it was cheaper automated manufacturing.

If I think about it long enough, this really does concern me.

As someone who’s job is based around technology, and a fair deal of hobby interest also, I find advances in technology fascinating. At the same time, depending on the advances, I also wonder ‘at what expense?’

We live in an age where profits and cost cutting rule. If a machine can do away with 20 staff on a production line, and work 24 hours without a break it makes logical sense that that business will run more efficiently. But what about the people?

My old role at my organisation saw me assisting people to find and keep work. A number of those I assisted came from either fairly manual task driven jobs, or had little work and education experience. In the 7 1/2 years I was in that role, economy woes aside, I saw a fair sized reduction in jobs they could enter and work in. One persons answer for people like those I assisted was ‘up-skill’, ‘go back to school’. Its not always a viable answer for everyone…

Im not sure where its all taking us. We wont drop our technological changes in industry. Back in the day ‘they’ said technology and computerisation would mean we can all have a better work/life balance. Reality is, in some fields of work, its meant we can have less people and pay less salaries. Work/Life balance is arguably worse than its been before…


On a lighter side, I mentioned last week about Gimp not working in OSX 10.9. I mentioned reinstalling on my laptop, which worked a treat. My initial try on my desktop did not however. What I found is one of the releases from the Gimp site works, and the other does not. For anyone on 10.9, I recommend you use the 10.8 version from HERE 

Todays shot, taken on the iPod and processed in Gimp is of (if Im not mistaken) Autobot Swerve. I wonder if Cybertron ever had growing world unemployment?


Here Comes Summer!

Summers on its wayLabour Day here in New Zealand today – a national public holiday!

After mixed weather forecasts, we had an overall fine, sunny and hot weekend. A signal summer is on the way!

I mentioned the other day having issues with Gimp since updating to OSX 10.9. I since confirmed an identical issue on my laptop, suggesting something goes not quite to plan whilst updating. I uninstalled and downloaded another version of Gimp 2.8 on the laptop and it seems to have fixed the issue, so I’ll do the same on my desk unit.

Until then, todays image shot on the Sony Nex 5N and minor adjustments made in CS5.


Under the Tree

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA trip up One Tree Hill to see the lambs proved to be a bit of failure with the Olympus E500 this weekend. I think the combination of fast running lambs, overcast light and long zoom tested the old DSLR beyond its comfort zone. Upon opening at home, the majority were blurry. Never mind, perhaps I’ll try the Nex one weekend soon!

For today, ‘Under the Tree’, shot on the E500 and converted to B&W in Gimp.


White Fronted Terns

White fronted TernsOne of the main draw cards to Muriwai for tourists is the Gannet colony. Perhaps a little less known, or viewed are the smaller, but equally impressive Tern colony that rests a little lower down the cliff line on the south hills of the beach. Once owners of prime real-estate,  these ‘large swallows of the ocean’ were booted out of their areas by the gannets in the 1970’s when they started nesting on the mainland. When you see the size difference between the two, its no surprise they no occupy the smaller ledges of the cliffs. That being said, all bullying aside, both groups of birds appear to thrive on these rocky ledges.

Sleek and quick, Terns are terrible nest makers. Or perhaps its not so much that they are terrible, but more that they hardly even bother. Around the world, they lay eggs on very sparse nests or branches – some on nothing at all. With clutches of 1-3 eggs, they usually group together in mass. Interestingly, they are even found at Antarctica. Although coastal sea birds, their plumage is not waterproof, so they dont rest in the sea.

Sadly, both in NZ and around the world, several species of Tern are endangered. We (Humans) didn’t help, buy eating masses of their eggs, and as in New Zealand, introduced species like Magpies have added to falling numbers of our Black Fronted Terns.

To finish on a positive note the white ones at Muriwai seem to be doing well and in mass!


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