Recently I discovered an article on one of my all-time favourite websites Stepcase Life Hack (www.lifehack.org). Although I don’t always agree with all of their articles, most of them are fantastic and short enough for a quick read (plus it’s great to learn something new or have a different perspective that I may not have thought about).
Anyway, the article this time is about 8 Ways to Get Smarter Every Week (http://j.mp/uAONhh).
Have a look, they’ve given these really simple steps which are oddly enough similar to what I’ve been doing for a couple of years now.
I’d like to add in here that I highly recommend podcasts for learning. Check out the iTunes store for some great topics or even do a web search. My personal favourites are on the BBC Radio 4 website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/podcasts/) - The Bottom Line, Thinking Allowed, Four Thought, Material World and the list goes on. There is also Wahnhoffs Wunderbare Welt der Wissenschaft, a science/technology podcast presented by Thomas Wahnhoff in German (helps me keep up some practice with the language).
So when do I listen to my podcasts? At the gym of course!
I load them on to my trusty X10 Mini Pro and off I go. There’s a great app called Astro Player (this is on Android, I’m not sure if it works with other phones) which allows me to change the tempo of the tracks being played without changing the pitch (BONUS!). Music is increased to 1.05 but with podcasts I usually go for around 1.2 or 1.25. The people speak much faster but it’s still understandable.
What’s the point? Well, this way I can listen to a particular podcast in a much shorter time, so I can take in more information during the same workout.
In a way I make my own radio station depending on my mood. I can choose a podcast topic or I can go with music (high energy techno is great for getting me to speed up my workout, run a bit harder, push that last rep on a machine).
Even if you don’t go to gym or exercise (gasp!) you could load a podcast and listen to it while you’re doing housework, in the car, shopping or anywhere really.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Living in a more interconnected world certainly makes for interesting times, especially since humans are now interacting with each other much more than ever before.
Interestingly though, with more and more interaction, it seems now that people aren’t evolving or improving. Strange considering there is so much information at our disposal these days. We can learn about almost anything with ease just by having a computer and an internet connection.
What do I mean that they aren’t evolving? Well, people are not hesitant at all in being rude to someone else or demanding what they want from another. Society has become very individualistic and self-centred. This is also apparent in the way people raise their children. Even in church, people allow their children to act as they like without reprimand. Teenagers in a cinema don’t mind using their mobile phones to make calls or send messages without a care for others that they might be disturbing.
Now the question is “How do we fix this?”
Well, firstly parents should discipline their children correctly. Many times they warn the child of a consequence to a certain behaviour and then don’t follow through. Bad move - this only diminishes the respect the children have for their parents.
Secondly, adults in society should be setting better examples for each other and for children. How can you reprimand someone else for smoking if you are smoking yourself? Do you honestly declare your income for taxes? Do you complain that government isn’t maintaining infrastructure when you don’t pay the correct taxes?
Thirdly and most imporantly is self-discipline. Each person should set a standard for himself/herself. Don’t neglect your body and allow yourself to become overweight - eat less or take up exercise (or both!). Get rid of that clutter around your house and office - you don’t need all that stuff, and it only adds to making you feel depressed. Take time out for yourself, but not so much that you neglect your family or your job.
In the journey for happiness, you are the only one who can take steps to reach that happiness, so take those first steps - enjoy life!
Investigation finds evidence of draconian rules and excessive overtime to meet western demand for iPhones and iPads
The research, carried out by two NGOs, has revealed disturbing allegations of excessive working hours and draconian workplace rules at two major plants in southern China. It has also uncovered an “anti-suicide” pledge that workers at the two plants have been urged to sign, after a series of employee deaths last year.
The investigation gives a detailed picture of life for the 500,000 workers at the Shenzhen and Chengdu factories owned by Foxconn, which produces millions of Apple products each year. The report accuses Foxconn of treating workers “inhumanely, like machines”.
Among the allegations made by workers interviewed by the NGOs – the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations and Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom) – are claims that:
Foxconn produced its first iPad at Chengdu last November and expects to produce 100m a year by 2013. Last year Apple sold more than 15m iPads worldwide and has already sold close to five million this year.
- Excessive overtime is routine, despite a legal limit of 36 hours a month. One payslip, seen by the Observer, indicated that the worker had performed 98 hours of overtime in a month.
- Workers attempting to meet the huge demand for the first iPad were sometimes pressured to take only one day off in 13.
- In some factories badly performing workers are required to be publicly humiliated in front of colleagues.
- Crowded workers’ dormitories can sleep up to 24 and are subject to strict rules. One worker told the NGO investigators that he was forced to sign a “confession letter” after illicitly using a hairdryer. In the letter he wrote: “It is my fault. I will never blow my hair inside my room. I have done something wrong. I will never do it again.”
- In the wake of a spate of suicides at Foxconn factories last summer, workers were asked to sign a statement promising not to kill themselves and pledging to “treasure their lives”.
When the allegations were put to Foxconn by the Observer, manager Louis Woo confirmed that workers sometimes worked more than the statutory overtime limit to meet demand from western consumers, but claimed that all the extra hours were voluntary. Workers claim that, if they turn down excessive demands for overtime, they will be forced to rely on their basic wage: workers in Chengdu are paid only 1,350 yuan (£125) a month for a basic 48-hour week, equivalent to about 65p an hour.
Asked about the suicides that have led to anti-suicide netting being fitted beneath the windows of workers’ dormitories, Woo said: “Suicides were not connected to bad working conditions. There was a copy effect. If one commits suicide, then others will follow.”
Let’s not forget about all of the pollution Apple contributes to in China, including widespread water contamination with heavy metals, which is extremely toxic and dangerous.
Recently I watched Black Swan on a flight from Johannesburg to Sydney. A very good, makes-you-think winner-of-best-actress movie that would naturally feature on the art circuit (which makes it all the more my sort of film).
Now I know many of you will say that the small aircraft screens aren’t a choice viewing medium and I would agree, but this post isn’t about cinematography or music scores. No, this post is my retrospective, “how ironic” deja-vu take on my life relating to the film.
In Black Swan, Nina is the perfect white swan (innocent, pure, a perfectionist) but is too reserved to play the black swan (passionate, sexual, almost a dominatrix) . As the film develops, we see how she becomes more able to play the part of the black swan (for those of you who have watched this film, I know this is a very simplistic summary and for those who haven’t watched, this summary won’t spoil anything for you).
The irony for me is that, now six weeks since watching, I am now faced with a somewhat similar situation in my own life. We have begun learning the Argentinian Tango in dance class. Passion, seduction, suggestive movements, legs brushing legs - you get the picture?
For me, I have no problem dancing a Hustle or even getting the hips going for a Cha-Cha. Oh but now it’s so much more! Sensuality & knowing glances aren’t something I really know how to do. Give me my german science podcast when I go to the gym and I’m happy, but me as Don Juan de Marco or Casanova (no not Julio Iglesias, that’s too awful!), you must be kidding!
At least for now it’s a matter of perfecting the feet and indications, then I’ll move on to adding in all of this to make my black swan metamorphosis (let’s hope I get this right)
Wish me luck!
Today the world seemed to go mad. It’s the ROYAL WEDDING of course - Prince William and Catherine Middleton are now married. The queen conferred new titles on Prince William - Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, and of course the bride is now also titled. Mrs. Middleton must be so proud, she’s just become mother of the future queen of England, something that isn’t exactly an option one can easily choose in life. And somehow I have a feeling that this Royal Couple will stand the test of time. I see them together for the rest of their lives, and I hope I’m not proved wrong, especially since the royal family has lost track of a sense of moral decency of late. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’m still of the opinion that people who are in the public eye should hold a higher standard and in doing so, they set an example for others. Heaven knows we need it - our modern society has also suffered this moral decline of late.
Maybe it’s the fault of television? People watch a movie, their favourite soap opera, the news or even a sports match and their minds are filled with images and ideas which are seen as acceptable “because it’s on T.V.” Grown men beat each other up over something that should be just a game, married couples now cheat on each other with regularity, high school teens commit murder and 11 year olds rape other children…
Can we really say that we are proud of ourselves? A human race that is so technologically evolved, yet at the expense of our souls? Being a Christian, I wonder sometimes how many people who profess to be Christians are truly Christians living a Christ-like life in the world. Even for those who don’t believe in God or Jesus or a Holy Spirit, surely we have some sort of self-respect. Or do we? It’s all to easy to commit a crime these days, and get away with it. The thought then becomes “If I can get away with it, why can’t I do it again?” This leads to a more daring crime, and still there is no retribution. From this, people become more and more selfish - their deeds and actions are all about what they want, they don’t care if someone else along the way is affected or not. If a teller at your local grocery store forgot to charge you for one item, would you point it out to her, or just leave without paying for it even though you knew it wasn’t paid for? Do you start swearing at someone pointing out your wrong-doings even when you know you are in the wrong? Would you give a fellow motorist a space to change lanes when they’ve indicated to change a lane? Truly, deep down, we all know in our souls when we act in a way we would be proud of and again we know those moments when we are embarrassed with our behaviour. Can you look into your own eyes in a mirror and say to yourself “I’m proud of you - you’ve done well.”? How about saying “I love myself” (not in the vain sense mind)?
Did you look away?
Today I received a combined Christmas / New Year card & calendar from a supplier in China.
Now, this is not remarkable, postal delays do happen so that might explain why it’s a bit late. The remarkable part is that this supplier isn’t one we do a lot of business with - in fact, my company has only ever bought from them once.
But even more remarkable is that the letter included with the card was written by hand and signed by nearly all of the employees from the company (22 in total)!
Also, they certainly put some effort into the card itself - the print quality and also the type of paper used were of a very good quality. Ok, so in South Africa the same card probably would cost quite a bit more to manufacture, but by the same token a worker in China probably earns less than the South African counterhuman (counterpart sounds terrible - how can a human be a part?)
I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that this company and its staff put some extra effort into their day’s work to make the card and sign the letter (when last did you receive a letter from a company in South Africa, written by hand, signed by several employees?). They also chose to send a card of great quality, which looks like the printing company also put extra effort into printing something they were proud of.
Can we really say that we give our best in our jobs every day? Most days maybe (we all have the occasional off day)? Most of the time South Africans are content to be complaining about something:
“It seems that the whole billing system at the City Council is in a mess and they don’t know how to fix it.”
“Does any management from Telkom look at the performance on their technicians.”
“The new Cell C voicemail is driving me nuts - I can’t take it!”
What would our country be like if we all put in our best effort (yes, every one of us) each day? Not to be rewarded financially for this extra effort, but a part of doing our bit for each other and with the view of making this the best country to live in! We all came together as one nation when we hosted the 2010 Soccer World Cup - let’s get that feeling back!
I think it’s about time we see the positive in life, give praise instead of criticism (“If you can’t say something nice, shut up.”) Give praise where it’s due, and keep the complaining down to a minimum. Don’t give in to complaining, you’re only making yourself more miserable, plus by practicing something, you become better at it because your brain builds neurons for those actions you repeat often - please don’t let your brain build neurons for negativity.
Think positive, be positive and let’s all make the most of it.
Why not have a look at the following links?:
In October 2010, Telkom (South Africa’s monopoly landline company) launched their own cellular network in the country (the fourth for South Africa).
Although they haven’t actually gone live with their own network at the time of writing this (they rely on a roaming agreement with MTN), I thought I would set out a post here about why I don’t think they will survive.
Telkom was formed from the original Post Office which ran the telecommunications for South Africa in the “old” days. It was still controlled by government until it listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange a couple of years ago. Apparently the government still owns a significant portion of the shares in Telkom at this point, but they should be aiming at running like a private company.
Fat chance of that! The past mentality still pervades the company and unfortunately it’s a terribly bad “I don’t care” attitude. Last Monday (10/01/2011) I reported our business line out of order (it’s completely dead and gives callers an engaged tone, so most likely a short somewhere, easy enough to fix).
It’s now 8 days later and after calling every day, a technician is still being promised. Yesterday when I complained to the lady at the call centre, she just hung up the phone on me. Now, before you say I was being rude, I wasn’t shouting/swearing at her or insulting her. I did tell her I felt like cutting their large aerial cable to get their attention - a large number of customers reporting a problem would certainly get their attention. Was there need to cut me off? I don’t think so - it’s part of her job to sort out my problem. She works in the fault reporting section for heaven’s sake!
So what does this have to do with 8ta? Well, if Telkom can’t keep its existing customers connected, how are they going to manage additional cellular customers? Couple this with the recent news that their CEO Jeffrey Hedberg (ex Cell C CEO before Lars Reichelt) has decided not to renew his contract in March, and you can imagine a company in trouble (http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/article857638.ece/Telkom-CEO-resignation-a-calamity—Solidarity)
Coupled to this, there is a company called Trudon (previously Telkom Directory Services). They are responsible for the entire South African printed telephone directory service. Having dealt with this incompetent organisation for the past six years, I can safely say they will help bring Telkom down. Has anyone noticed how much thinner the Johannesburg Yellow Pages is from 10 years ago, and even from last year? They are losing revenue quickly.
Relating to my company, I am still waiting for invoices from the 2007 to 2008 billing year, which they have never sent through. I’m sure this must be against SARS (the South African Revenue Service) legislation?
I was evaluating the 8ta offerings for my company after their launch and was really quite keen to give them a try (a big plus is they don’t have Trevor Noah as the voice for all network messages like Cell C, but that’s another story). Seriously, would I still be considering signing up with them now after the way they’ve handled this fault?
(For those Telkom employees who may read this - the answer is NO, you lost out on our business cellular telecommunications needs).
Just ask the average South African about how unreliable and non-consumer-orientated Telkom is, and you’ll see that my viewpoint here is not unique.
So, now it’s coming down to the crunch - the all-important resolutions for the year.
I recently read an article about writing out a business plan, but do so in pencil and I’m going to use this idea for my personal 2011 plans too. After all, who can predict the future? Also, I’m not one for making plans / lists / goals - I change my mind too often for them to be so rigid. But having said this, I’ve put my super-computer upstairs into processing mode and it’s working some things out, making decisions along the way (please remember this next time we meet - then I needn’t explain why the smoke pouring out of my ears :-D)
So what resolutions should I make for this year?
These must be personal, meaningful, relevant and of course also achievable - the question is should I share them with everyone here or rather keep them to myself?
I think I’ll opt for the latter option - I don’t like incriminating evidence being so widely available, nor do I really want all and sundry knowing my deepest darkest secrets and desires (sorry for you!).
Ok ok, I’ll share four with you:
1.) This is the year of the earlier bird
I’d like to try waking up earlier each morning. If it doesn’t work for me it’s not a train-smash, but I’d like to try something different (oh that need for change again ;-)
2.) KA-CHING! It’s time for a new business idea - I have quite a few to ponder over, just hoping I succeed in putting one into action.
3.) Old Father Time, please can I have some more?
Instead of wishing for more time in my life, the first thing to work on is S-L-O-W-I-N-G D-O-W-N. Being more deliberate and concentrating on each moment more is my plan to make more time from what I’ve been given. Of course the balance to this is to use time more wisely (something like listening to Podcasts at the gym - have you listened to Thinking Allowed?)
4.) All I’ll say on this one is IT’S TIME - I’M READY!
In case you thought I might be resolving to eat less chocolate - HEATHEN! I SAY NEVER!
I like to think of myself as being fairly well disciplined in life - I have a regular gym workout routine, very diligent at serving in church and have attended various classes along the way where I put in quite a bit of effort to make sure I do well in them.
But when it comes to certain things, I’m actually quite slack.
Especially with household chores! I have a calendar worked out for what needs to be done and by when, but I must say I’m a bit slack at getting round to them. Now the trick will be to more organised that I do get round to them.
Along with this I’m going to try waking up earlier in the morning. I would love to wake up around 5am, but unfortunately I’m one of those people that needs 8 hours of sleep. I don’t function well on less.
The catch comes in when I have a “late” night, such as with JPO concerts on Thursday nights - they finish between 10:00pm and 10:30pm, so by the time I get home, have a shower and in to bed it’s usually an hour later. Add eight hours of sleep and that’s 7:00am or 7:30am!
So much for the early mornings…
I suppose my ideal would be the ability to habitually sleep around 11:00pm and wake again around 5:00am but six hours of sleep “just ain’t gonna cut the mustard”.
I guess this means that for once in my life I’m making some New Year’s Resolutions!
Hope I can stick to them :-)
Happy New Year everyone - hope your 2011 exceeds all you’d like from it!