How do your hobbies make you better at your work

I came across this question from Dave Kerpen on LinkedIn; How do your hobbies make you better at your work?

Exercise, reading a book, painting picture etc things we associate with winding down, relaxing and forgetting about work. Many of us try so hard to keep our personal life separate from our work life that we don’t always realise that experiences in our personal lives can actually make us better at our jobs. This question got me thinking about how my own hobbies and without realising how they have helped me in my work and shaped the person I am.

Kickboxing

Over the years my range of hobbies have varied, up until the middle of last year I regularly attended a kickboxing class. Finding the right class with the right people is important, the activity itself is a contact sport but it also teaches discipline and respect for each other. We don’t all walk into the class as black belts, it takes hard work, determination and practice to get the moves right. None of this happens if you don’t have the support of your club, your team and your instructor. Everyone at all levels working together to encourage and teach, you have no idea the positive effect a few words of encouragement can have when you think you haven’t got enough energy to survive that last minute in a round of sparring or if like me your lower body isn’t very flexible when you can finally get your round kick that little bit higher. It is those qualities that can be transferred to the workplace. Support and encourage your team, we all fall down sometimes and need a little help to get back up again knowing you have your team in your corner can make all the difference to how you progress, handle certain situations and projects.

Reading

My other hobbies include reading. When needs must, I have resorted to reading a book on my mobile phone using the Kindle app, but you can’t beat reading from a physical book. Yes they take up space and to the untrained eye can be seen as clutter, however there is something about a good book that can help you escape from the drama of life and help you relax. I’ve recently discovered audio books on YouTube and when I want to block out the world oddly enough having my headphones on and a book playing in the background helps me to concentrate, maybe I’m just odd like that but whatever works to help make me productive can’t be a bad thing.

Yoga

I’ve not ever been a fan of yoga until I discovered the online videos which I can do at my own pace and to my own ability. I’ll not ever be able to move in those pretzel shapes but just doing the short bedtime and morning yoga videos help me feel a lot calmer, the tight muscles and knots get stretched out and I feel much better within myself. The breathing techniques learnt from yoga help me bring myself back to a much calmer place when I’m feeling stressed at work. I have been known to have essential oils at my desk like peppermint to help my sinuses and altogether feel ready to tackle the task at hand. The office can smell of peppermint but who doesn’t like that scent?

As individuals we are always learning and changing, I’m a believer that depending on the job role our personal and work lives can and do influence the other. I know from working for the NHS has benefitted me and changed my thinking for the better.

So, how do your hobbies make you better at your work?

My body combat class experience

I have thought about going back to a kickboxing class but due to financial constraints this isn’t yet possible so in the mean time I’ve been on the lookout at the gym for a class that can give me the same release as kickboxing and came across the body combat classes. Plus side with the gym is that it is already paid for and fortunately my monthly membership isn’t extortionate as long as I go the gym every week. The class my youngest siblings and I attended was on Saturday morning, double bonus in the way that I get fit and I save money by then not going shopping and spending money on things I don’t really need. See how I am bigging up the positive points of trying out a body combat class on a Saturday morning? Now comes the evil part!

The class is intense, being my first time at this class I should have taken things a bit easier but with the music pumping and the instructor shouting out her words of encouragement you get caught up in moment until every part of body, inside and out, starts screaming at you to stop. But did I stop…person of course not! There were people in that class that were at least 10 years older than me and then there was my siblings who 10+ years younger than me, there was no way I was going to show weakness and give up.

e7e9c9e574890a90f57082e2a51fdb57--body-combat-les-mills afterFast forward as we come towards the end of the class, although I’m breathing deeply fortunately I’m still conscious. I thought when we were asked to use the mats to cool down I would have the opportunity to lay down, getting up would be a different story but laying down sounded good. Through my exhausted, sweat drenched state I was clearly getting this class confused with body balance where the cool down  involves laying down and closing your eyes. This ‘cool down’ involved sit ups and planks! My experience of body combat did remind of my first kickboxing lesson at a new club which I did have to leave early to go lay down in my car whilst I fought of the urge to vomit, I did go back again and went on to achieve two belts.
With the body combat class I felt like a part of me had died and my legs were feeling like jelly but I was able still able to drop my siblings off home and sit down for a bit before I drove myself home, by this point I also desperately needed a shower.

After shower and food I was good for nothing and spent the rest of the day on the sofa reading a book & my appetite shot through the roof, I kept eating what felt like every hour! It has taken my body nearly two days to recover and be able to raise my arms without the muscles in my upper arms and shoulders screaming in resistance. Crazy as it sounds, though my body was put through its paces and pushed to its limits it was worth it, I slept well that night and know that if I was to keep up with this class my stamina would improve as well as my recovery time. I’m being over dramatic but it does make for a good blog article.

All that said and done I’m no quitter and am aiming to attend the class again this Saturday, guess I’m just glutton for punishment.

Punctured tyres & eventful journey to work

What a start to the day, I woke up early to take my car to the garage to get one of the back tyres looked at before work. I already knew there was a slow puncture as I have been having to pump it up every few days. Got there, got the pressure checked it was low again and the mechanic found a nail in the tyre, 45665b770c045e69459c50c723b00e5e--silver-lining-quotes-cloud-quotesbecause of the position of the nail he was able to save the tyre. Excellent news or so I thought. At this point I was feeling quite positive and thought while I’m there ask him to check the pressure on the other three tyres when he discovered the pressure on the other back tyre was also very low. I had only checked the tyres a few days ago and the pressure was fine, another bloody nail only this time the tyre wasn’t salvageable. Plus side I now have a car with four road safe tyres, always look for the silver lining.

I had already messaged ahead to let work know what was happening, if it wasn’t the second punctured tyre I would have been in on time, realistically at least not as late as I was. The roads were clear so at least that worked in my favour but clearly I have peeved someone off somewhere as they didn’t want me to get to work so easily, or it’s a sign that it could be time to find a new job, just a thought. A driver in front of me couldn’t make up their mind which lane they wanted to be in and kept swaying into my lane until they had figured it out, either they weren’t sure which lane to use or they were distracted by something. 

I get closer to work and am on the roundabout in the right hand lane and about to turn off when the car in the left hand lane decided he wants to go all the way round the roundabout and cutting in front of me close enough that my heart momentarily stops, I still managed to find the horn on the car to let him know that any closer and I would have been sitting in his lap. Give me the crazy drivers during the usual work rush hour, the quieter the roads the more dangerous the roads seemed to me!

As I’m writing this you can tell both me and the car got to work in one piece. In comparison to my morning work day has been a breeze, busy but who wants a day where you’re clock watching. My office doesn’t have air conditioning and is prone to create sauna like conditions that we have at least three fans on the go, either myself and my work colleague have climatised the conditions but the temperature hasn’t been too bad, put it this way it has been a lot worse.

I have my summer school fete biscuit stall again this year so tonight I am preparing for my stall. Let’s home the journey home is uneventful.

Life changes, but it still goes on

Like most people I do have a side of me that tends to worry about completely unnecessary things but I wouldn’t say that I would get overly anxious. I don’t think I suffer from crippling anxiety issues and can’t even begin to imagine how those who do suffer from this condition. But ever since my dad passed away if feel that my own confidence has taken a bit of a hit. It is entirely possible the way I react to some things is an emotional knock on effect and that over time it will pass but it’s a case of getting a handle on things now.

It’s not even like the things I over think are even that significant for example part of my guttering has decided it would become lose, it’s not dangerous and not likely to fall down. But of course with my over active imagination every time there is a gust of wind and I hear the guttering rattle in the stop it has become loose I think not only will it fall down but it will also rip the fascia off with it!

cartoon_car_01_vector_156346Then there is my car, in all likely hood it is possibly just the way I drove riding the clutch a bit too much. The few times the car has stopped in traffic I thought there was something wrong with the car, every other time the car has been fine with no problems. No warning lights flashed up on the dashboard, took it to the mechanic where it was hooked up to a computer and no warnings flagged Fuel cleanerup there either. Spark plugs have been changed but because no warning signs have been flagged up the mechanics are going in blind as when they drive it they can’t find anything wrong, these are mechanic I trust and have been going to them for years.  Not content I still think the car is just going to stop in the middle of the road, I have now put a cleaner into the petrol tank. For £5.00 it was worth a try, if nothing else it will clear out any gunk from that side of things.

Prior to the above non problem with the car I had to drive to Hertfordshire for a work event. I have driven many places with varying distance by myself and not every been that worried about it. But even my sister asked me what the matter is as I haven’t ever been like this.

I think it’s because my dad was a bit like a safety net, if anything happened or went wrong I would just call him. I know I have RAC breakdown cover but it’s not the same thing, if things broke down in the house I would phone my parents who would come help me figure out what to do. Now I feel like life, fate has thrown me a curve ball where I feel not all but some aspects of my life have been flipped upside down. A lot of things just carry on as normal but then there are the moments when you realise that no things are not normal, you just have to try and create a new version of normal that hopefully doesn’t involve  worrying about situations that realistically only exist in your own head!

Sometimes I think I need to go back to kickboxing, punch and kick out those anxious feelings. Kickboxing was always something I loved to do, if I did no other physical activity that would be the one constant activity I took part in, when dad became unwell that all stopped and even afterwards my heart wasn’t in it. Now I tend to do yoga at home, body balance class at the gym and the odd Zumba class. I have tried out a kickboxing for weight loss aerobic style workout YouTube video at home, it is only 20 minutes long but I had to lay down afterwards the first few times I did the video. Baking helps, that also stopped for a period of time. Gradually I’m getting back into making other people fat again, I mostly bake biscuits to help raise money for charities friends and colleagues are taking part in, recently I baked some biscuits raising money for the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research. I have my regular spot at a school fete next month, it’s worth the hard work and effort that goes in making the biscuits and decorating the table. The whole event from the PTA to the children and their parents is always a great experience, I even have a few regulars.

I do feel that physically I am getting better, eating habits have improved, the exercise though different from before is helping and as I don’t feel like my clothes are suffocating me! Mentally I have my good days and bad days. Sleeping can be an issue at times, one week I’ll go to sleep at a reasonable time other weeks I would could be wide awake until gone 1. I have found that a bedtime yoga YouTube video, I can either do the 7 minute or the 20 minute version that reduce me to mush, ideal when I am trying to wind down to sleep.

I’m don’t expect I’ll ever be the same person I was before dad passed away but I do hope that I’ll be able to take something positive out of this heart breaking life event and the changes I do make will make me a better person.

Indulgent Asian food

It’s not often that I get to cook with my mum, it’s always an opportunity to experiment with new recipes.
This particular weekend we decided to make some homemade vegetable samosa’s with homemade pastry followed by some instant homemade jalebi. It was a completely indulgent weekend because both the samosa’s and the jalebi are fried so copious amounts of tea were drunk to help the delicious food to go down but then it’s the best way to eat this type of food.

The samosa’s were more my mum’s idea I simply assisted. She had already boiled the potatoes 20170604_132135before I arrived I simply had to make the filling. I had no recipe to hand so in my usual style I winged it, making it up as I went along tasting to see if there were enough spicies, salt etc.

For the pastry my mum found this YouTube video, (please note it doesn’t have any sound) my mum watched it mostly for the technique the lady in the video used to make the samosa pastry. She rolled out the round discs and cooked them slightly on a flat pan! It sounds odd but the technique worked, you have to watch the video because the way I would describe the technique wouldn’t do it justice.
This is a time consuming method and much easier when there are two of you making them or if you make them in bulk then freeze them but the end result is work it. The pastry when fried was light and crispy just how a samosa should be. My youngest sister is extremely fussy and even these won her seal of approval.

Jalebi is one of my favourite Asian sweets, it’s sticky and very sweet. Using a piping bag or squeezy bottle a batter is piped/squeezed into hot oil in a swirly round pattern until a nice golden colour then soaked in a sugar syrup to give it’s sweet sticky taste and texture. It is because of it’s sweetness that I can only eat one of two at a time so thought a homemade version to suit my taste would be ideal. A normal jalebi batter is expected to sit overnight to allow so the jalebi once fried is light in the middle and crispy on the outside. I didn’t have the time or the patience to wait almost 24 hours for a jalebi batter to be ready, luckily I found this instant jalebi batter recipe from Tarla Dalal, you can add colouring to the batter if you want but I left mine au naturel. This was my first time making them so my piping technique needs some work but I did make some interesting shapes and patterns with the batter.

This is how they are meant to look. 220px-Awadhi_jalebi

This is how mine looked.

20170604_170253

The texture of the finished jalebi’s is slightly different to the overnight batter mixture but they taste just as good and quite addictive. They were sticky, crispy and the right amount of sweetness for my taste. I personally found they weren’t as crispy the following day but still nice to have with a cup of tea.

This type of food it a treat, I couldn’t eat like this every weekend but it doesn’t hurt to be a bit indulgent now and then.

Delivery Robot coming to a doorstep near you

Us humans are an impatient bunch, we want things to be quicker, more efficient and slot in around our busy lives. If you order something online we want it delivered yesterday, unless it’s food then we want it immediately and hot, not lukewarm, not stone cold but scald the roof of your mouth piping hot.

The latest on the streets is the delivery robot, this isn’t exactly new but is being trialled by large company’s. Don’t be alarmed if a robot turns up on your doorstep delivering your online shopping or takeaway. How else will companies be able to keep up with the demands of their consumers without costing them extra money in man power?

Just Eat teamed up with Starship Technologies to trial these robots in London using them in place of takeaway delivery drivers. These little bots can travel at 4 mph for 10 miles, uses GPS and cameras to get around so in theory they won’t get lost or need to ask for directions.

More recently, also working with Starship Technologies was Tesco who trialled this very robot which can hold up to 3 shopping bags and will still work in 20cm of snow. Considering how our public transport grinds to a halt at the hint of a snowflake that is impressive.

Don’t worry about potential thief’s.. ‘Earlier tests found people who tried to break in by jumping on it ended up with it trapped on their leg’, that’s one way to stop a chancer. Customers can access their shopping by typing in a pin and voila access to your shopping.

Future of delivery jobs

This can be a cause for concern for some delivery driver if these mini bundles of circuitry takes off. There will be companies who will find monetary value in using robots for small deliveries, they can only carry up 10 kg or three shopping bags and cheaper to employ.

‘…is cheaper than the average human delivery, costing £1 to transport within a 3 mile radius, compared with the £3 to £6 it costs for a human courier’

There is also the lack of human contact. We do like to complain especially if we can get ventingsomething out of it, that won’t happen with a delivery bot. These robots will remove that human element of being able to complain to the delivery driver when your delivery is late, items are missing or your food is cold! Where is the satisfaction in that?
Off to customer service you go to vent, until to you discover the person on the other end of the phone has been replaced with a chatbot!

Lets look at the pros and cons before we decide to vilify the deliver bot ;

Pros

  •  They are efficient, the aim of Start Technologies is to have about 100 robots that would need one person to step in and take over if they needed to
  • Can make short distance deliveries
  • They are secure
  • Won’t get stuck in traffic

Cons

  •  No more friendly delivery driver until you yell at them then they are no longer your friend
  • Loss of jobs
  • What happens if they break down on route, malfunction or get lost?

 

So, what do think, fancy a relative of R2D2 turning up on your doorstep?

Body shaming

The action or practice of humiliating someone by making mocking or critical comments about their body shape or size

I don’t follow celebrities on social media, I don’t watch reality TV shows like the Kardashians, and Big Brother but recently it was in the news about the singer Rihanna being body shamed in an article published by sports blog Barstool blogs titled “Is Rihanna Going To Make Being Fat the Hot New Trend?”, this article received a lot of criticism and has since been deleted from their website. What right has anyone to comment on someone’s weight in a negative way?  It hasn’t gone noticed that Rihanna appears to have put on weight but is it right for the public to comment on it in such a negative way?

The short answer is no but the reality is we have all done, maybe not in such a public way but we have made comments about peoples weight be a gain or loss, I know I have. That’s all without knowing that person’s story, have the changes in a persons weight illness or medication related or maybe they are just happy and comfortable with themselves and it is the rest of us that have the problem.

Rihanna isn’t the only celebrity to have been a victim of this body shaming trend, performing at the Super Bowl Lady Gaga wore a top that showed her midriff which according to some critics was not toned enough to have been put on display. Looking at the pictures I wouldn’t say she was fat at all but by celebrity standards you could be considered obese.

Both stars in these examples have hit back, in an Instagram post Lady Gaga is captioned  promoting the need to be happy with your body by saying;

‘…I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too,” 

Lady Gaga is no stranger to promoting a positive body image, in 2012 she posted pictures of herself in her underwear without the glamour of makeup after being body shamed about putting on 25 pounds.

We are always seeing stars bringing out exercise videos and showing how they went from looking like an unhealthy version of themselves to a svelte figures with toned abs and arms and how they are now so much happier. Yes be healthy but being skinny doesn’t necessarily mean you are happy. Tess Holliday an American plus sized model promotes her shape and size, though plus sized in terms of her cholesterol etc she is healthy. Yet her image doesn’t conform to the rules so she has received some criticism.

body positivity

People like Lady Gaga and Tess Holliday are focusing more on the need for people to happy with themselves but also highlighting the dangers of body shaming people and how trying to conform to what society deems to be an ideal body shape. Not all of us have the same body shape, I am just about a size 8 occasionally flirting with a size 10 but have been told that I am finally looking like I have some curves and look better for it.

Snow white PosterYou would think that by now society would have learnt that there is no ideal body shape, publications have been criticised for their heavy handed use of Photoshop. Lets not forget how the marketing team messed up with the advertising for the animated Snow White film, Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarfs with the line ‘“What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the 7 Dwarfs not so short?”  As you can imagine this didn’t go down to well. The advertisers have since apologised but come on in the world we now live in why would you want to give the impression to kids that being short and overweight is unattractive?

You don’t even have to be a celebrity to be body shamed, you could be going about your business unbeknown to you that someone is surreptitiously taking your picture to plaster all over social media. This is what Dani Mathers did, her post didn’t receive the reaction she was expecting resulting her in going to court. She had the choice of a prison sentence or community service, she opted for the community service. The victim has chosen to remain anonymous whilst Dani Mathers has been on TV to cry and apologise for her actions, I personally don’t have any sympathy for her she knew what she was doing she’s is just upset that others didn’t agree with her post and got dragged over the coals for it.

Eating disorders

According to the eating disorder website BEAT based on a study they commissioned PwC in February 2015 to carry out they estimated that 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder.

“725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder

11% of those affected by an eating disorder are male”

You hear the horror stories and the lengths models will go to, to maintain or lose weight such as eating tissue but France have now put their foot down banning the use of excessively thin models. It doesn’t promote a healthy image nor a realistic one. “Models will need to provide a doctor’s certificate attesting to their overall physical health, with special regard to their body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight in relation to height”

Employers who choose to ignore this ruling could face fines of up to 75,000 euros and up to 6 months in jail

I spoken a lot of the whole body shaming from a female perspective but no one is safe from this abuse, male celebrities have been ridiculed from once having the body that their female followers dream off to now having what is considered a ‘dad body’, the expanding waist and belly. Though usually associated with females, eating disorders affect both male and females

I would rather be happy and healthy than be concerned about what someone irrelevant person thinks about how I look, for some this is easier said than done and there are a lot of other issues that can relate to a persons weight gain / loss.

I’m content for now just pass me the plate of samosa’s, and leave me to it.

Thou shall not bake with eggs

My experience with eggless cake hasn’t been a rip roaring success, something always goes wrong;

  • The cake doesn’t rise
  • There is the bitter aftertaste of the bicarbonate that some of the recipes use
  • Just tastes awful, no accompaniment of icing, ice cream can save it

I’ve tried this eggless vanilla cake recipe from Sharmis Passions with some success, I remember it wasn’t very tall but looked like a sponge cake, needed a bit more sugar if you didn’t add any icing.

I’ve have tried this teen tiny eggless chocolate cake recipe from Cake Merchant before and the first time I made it the cake turned out perfect, it used to be my go to recipe.

Lately I’ve not been having much success with it.

It either comes out with the bicarbonate aftertaste or the cake is stodgy that it glues itself to your mouth. Am I using too much liquid, not mixing enough? Answers on a post card.

Why you are asking am I going to all this trouble to find a successful eggless cake recipe when I can knock up a decent cake with eggs? These days not everyone eats eggs due to allergies, religion become a vegan. Some of you know I have a regular biscuit stall at Kingswood Primary school fete, to be on the safe side I avoid baking anything that contains nuts and have a mixture of biscuits that both contain egg and are eggless. No parents have ever asked my if the biscuits contain egg but I just like to have a mixture just in case.

Back to my perfect eggless cake recipe quest

Eggless CakeI had some ripe banana’s and no eggs, found this vegan banana cake recipe from the Viveka Gardens which was adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe, I was pleasantly surprised.  Even people who don’t usually like banana cake liked this one.
This recipe gave me hope that I could produce something that not only is eggless but also edible!

 

Eggless Chocolate CakeFollowing my success with this the banana cake I had renewed faith that I was getting closer to finding a go to recipe. I have discovered this chocolate cake recipe from BBC Good Food. I forgot to add the 3 tablespoon of water to the glaze and it was a disaster. I then made a normal thin chocolate icing and that worked out fine. I made some holes in the cake so the icing drizzled through. This recipe was more like a brownie cake, and tasted nice with ice cream. My only criticism would be that it needed more sugar. With some tweaking this could become my go to eggless chocolate recipe.

Below is the recipe if you want to have a go, let me know what you thought of it.

Ingredients

  • 85g Butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 300g Self Raising Flour
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 25g Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Chocolate glaze

  • 100g Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 3 tbsp Golden Syrup

Method

  1. Heat oven to 160C/ fan 140C/ gas 3 and grease a 20cm round cake tin
  2. Tip the butter, syrup and vanilla into a heatproof jug, add 300 ml boiling water and briefly whisk with a fork to combine
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, then in tip in the butter mixture. Stir until you have a smooth batter, then scrape into prepared tin. bake for 50 – 55 mins until the cake is well risen and springy to touch. Cool in tin for around 15 mins before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
  4. To make glaze, put chocolate and syrup into a small glass bowl with 3 tbsp of water, and microwave for 30secs on high until melted and smooth. leave to cool, then pour over the cake before serving.

Is Artificial Intelligence something to be afraid of?

I wrote this post Artificial Intelligence in a human world not too long ago, talking about my own concerns about AI despite all the good that AI is reportedly already doing and hoping to achieve in the future.

 Have I changed my mind and now have both feet in the AI camp?

In short no.
It’s not because I fear technology at the moment I don’t feel comfortable with the thought of putting my complete trust and giving control over to a machine That is just my viewpoint but I also don’t think there is any need to be scaring the public into thinking that in a few years time their jobs could be taken over by a robot. Or that it’s already difficult enough for graduates to find suitable employment but now they could find themselves also competing against a machine. Of course not, but news reports can’t help themselves with a bit of scaremongering keeps readers on their toes.

AI doesn’t have to be this big scary monster that is coming to take over the world, it is about us adapting to a different way of life, isn’t moving forward about evolving and trying to improve the way we currently live?

When talking about AI I liked how this article from Venturebeat.com; 3 types of artificial intelligence, but only 2 are valid  broke down AI into three categories with simple explanations.

Transformative AI; The kind of AI that will “take over the world” — or at least have the most dramatic effect on how people live and work. Think driverless cars
DIY (Do It Yourself) AI; is any artificial intelligence platform whose end goal is to make you, the user, more informed so that you can then do the remaining work yourself.
Faux AI; They look and act like AI agents, but they are not really using machine learning. They are pretenders.

From my own perspective AI is still in its developing, there is a lot of testing, trial and error going on. Yes there are driverless cars in development but we won’t been seeing them as the norm for a while, then we have police robots despite the name they don’t have the same function as a police officer.

Medical

Regardless of how far technology advances there will always be a human in the background or working alongside the technology in question. A California based company have created a health scanning machine that uses AI to detect any ailments a person may have. This device will work alongside doctors who can then discuss your health using the visual scan, it will contain your medical history. This isn’t a way for doctors to get out of reading their patients notes but an easier way for them to keep track of their patients medical health.

The exoskeleton suit or wearable robot giving hope back to paralysed people enabling some to walk.

This suit can also help elderly people predicting when they are going to fall, no it doesn’t have a crystal ball. Quote below from Silvestro Micera, the lead author of the research by École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne explaining the suit.

“This device is able to understand whether there is a change in locomotion behaviour – in particular at the onset of falling,”

Think about the positive effect smart technology can have in people’s lives, it can give some people back their independence.

Customer Service

Chatbots you phone customer service or IT support and you’ll speak to a chatbot first and if they can’t help us will then be passed onto a person, this type of service is already in place with some companies. The idea is to save time making people more efficient at their job and focusing on the important aspects of it.

Chatbots a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.

Autism

I’ve mentioned in my previous AI post about the robot Zeno, this type of advancement is close to my heart having a brother who was only diagnosed with Asperger’s at 21. Anything that will help those with autism is something I will always advocate. From my own experience and knowledge of it, depending on where the person is on the spectrum things are in black and white, a logical approach is adopted much like those of machines. They are programmed with possible logical options, for humans that is like our emotions and how we interact socially, skills we learn when we are young. Skills that aren’t so easy for people with autism, my brother doesn’t always understand how sarcasm works but I can assure you he is getting better at dishing it out these days!

Law enforcement

Law enforcement is also getting in on the action with a robot police officer making an appearance at shopping centre’ in Dubai. Don’t worry if you’re young enough to remember it’s not the Robocop you’re thinking from the 80’s it doesn’t have the power to arrest, it is more a walking, talking information board.

‘People will be able to use it to report crimes, pay fines and get information by tapping a touchscreen on its chest.’

Part of me is still concerned about how dependent we could become on technology and the influence artificial intelligence could have. Just look at how the NHS Cyber attack affected health trusts including the one I work for. Everything came to a stand still, worry that patient medical information could be compromised, no functioning email for a period of time, we had to resort to going old school and picking up the phone to speak to people.  Then there was the worry of a second attack and measure taken to make sure the NHS IT network wasn’t vulnerable. So you can understand why I feel a bit sceptical about but my complete trust in technology because things can go wrong. Saying all this there is the other part of me that just from these handful of examples can see the benefits of AI. Imagine how many children could have benefitted from a robot like Zeno in the past and how a police robot with the right programming could help with the shortage of police officers on the street.

Driverless cars I am still on the fence, I haven’t even managed to move away from a manual drive car to automatic one let alone consider a driverless car. Who knows over time and once the bugs have been ironed out I may change my mind.

#Eggless pancake recipe

20170520_103941During the week I don’t always have the opportunity to eat a proper breakfast so I have started making my instant oats to take to work but there is only so much oats you can eat in a week.

This weekend I fancied some pancakes but didn’t have any eggs. Usually I always have a stocked cupboard with baking ingredients but it’s been a manic week so didn’t have time to do a proper shop.

I looked online for a recipe that was quick and easy but more importantly I had all the ingredients and they tasted nice. The recipes looked the same as normal pancakes just without eggs.

I made a small amount of batter and bread at the ready to make toast just in case they turned out awful. I usually work in gram measurements but for pancakes I used cups, it was just easier.

Ingrediants

1/2  cup Self raising flour
1/2 cup Milk
1 tbsp. Sugar or to taste
1 tsp Vanilla extract (I guestimated)

Method

Mix all the ingredients altogether to make a batter. If you find the batter is a bit too thick add a bit more milk.20170520_102925

Make pancakes as you normally would. Spoon some batter into the pan until bubbles start to appear then flip it over for about half a minute or until golden brown. Add your topping of choice and chomp away!

I took some to work and heated them in the microwave, maybe I heated them for too long as they did go a bit rubbery, still tasted nice.