Tag Archives: Blog

Fidget Gadgets

For a few months now there has been a craze gripping the kinds here in the UK and I think all over the world.

Fidget Spinners.

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These small gadgets are basically a spinney thing that you hold in the centre hub and spin. These things come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and colours and kids can’t get enough of them and they do all kinds of strange things with them. They try and spin them on their nose, one fingered and any other tricks you might be able to think of!

I’m told constantly that this was invented by a 14 year old boy, all I can say is that if this is true this 14 year old boy might never have to work a day in his life! Lucky blighter!

The best thing we did was to use a jet washer to spin my son’s spinner and boy did that sucker spin! It was so fast it sounded like a whizzing turbo and the spinning created a suction that kept it stuck the the surface it was on.

Apart from silly trick, what are these things for? Very simply, as the same implies it’s to fidget or fiddle with. Something for an overactive mind to do while bored and it has been said that these help children with attention deficit issues. But fore the most part these things are unsurprising banned at school!

 


 

Move on a couple of months and there’s a TV advert for something else fidgety – I present the fidget cube:

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On every surface there’s a little fiddly function to play with. Judging from the response from kids it holds some interest, but not as much as the spinner. But this nonetheless has given rise to all kinds of widgety fiddly things cropping up.

The only thing I can think of saying is… How do these silly, nearly useless things like loom bands of fidget spinners capture kind imagination, no one can predict these thing! What is the world coming to???

Is it me?

Simon 🙂

Phobos Photobombs Hubble Mars Shots

The sharp eye of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured the tiny moon Phobos during its orbital trek around Mars. Because the moon is so small, it appears star-like in the Hubble pictures.

Over the course of 22 minutes, Hubble took 13 separate exposures, allowing astronomers to create a time-lapse video showing the diminutive moon’s orbital path. The Hubble observations were intended to photograph Mars, and the moon’s cameo appearance was a bonus.

mars_moon_gif_for_karl

via NASA’s Hubble Sees Martian Moon Orbiting the Red Planet | NASA

No ownership claimed on images or material – Credit NASA

Simon 🙂

#NASA #Space #Mars #Phobos #Hubble

Employers – Valuing Employee’s

This is part of a series of posts that have been inspired by the attitudes of employers over recent years. Having worked in a few places and seen how the ‘Inspiration Leadership Handbook’ is applied (or in most cases not) I feel that getting this out into the blogging is long overdue.


 

Rewards

Rewards are great aren’t they? Nothing makes you feel better than when an unexpected surprise bonus or something comes to you and you can spunk the extra cash in five minutes flat and feel good about it… or not as the case may be. It’s a sword with two edges and if wielded like an idiot, it will get ya!

This happened maybe 10 years back now:

“We had a bonus a few months back” my colleague tells me “everyone got one!”

“No, we didn’t – I’m sure of it” was my reply. My colleague however was adamant (not the pop singer). We agreed to dig out out payslips and compare, sure enough we compare June’s payslip and there it is on hers, not on mine. At this point you can imagine I feel really good about myself… not!

I was encouraged to talk to the CEO about it, being the non-confrontational person I am this isn’t what I like doing! Besides it smacks of begging and I don’t do that and right now I feel a bit unworthy too. So she drags me by the arm and marches me to the CEO’s office and explains to the CEO what’s happened. He says that this will be sorted out.

A few weeks later I have a meeting with the CFO, where he explains that my line manager had essentially forgotten about me and there was an apology with a rather whiny excuse that the bonus pot has all been used now. As a goodwill gesture they would give me £150 in my next pay packet. This was a mixed blessing, it was great to get something but at less than half of what my colleague got and after I had to ask for this the goodwill was kind of lost.

 

I wish I had never asked!

 


 

Treating everyone the same

This kind of thing is a minefield for employers and to some degree I sympathise becasue no matter what you do there is always one complaining and you know what – I’ve never wanted to be the one to complain.

But let face it forgetting people isn’t great and this often happens where people are invisible. What the hell are you talking about I hear you cry? Is there a whole workforce or invisible on Earth.

Well no, it just seems it. What I’m talking about is about not seeing what’s gone on in the background. I’ve had to watch while people who have asked me to prepare something for them. They’ve sat down for a few hours and worked out what they need. Then it’s given to me, I create the design, get it approved, raise the orders and arrange the manufacture. They then take this, test it and go yep, that’s good.They are then packed off on a jet somewhere for a week.

When they come back these people are applauded for their efforts in getting this demonstration done and well done and get awarded for their efforts as it pulled in some sales and things are good.

After you’ve seen it for the twelfth time it wears thin believe me. Just becasue you can’t see what the person in the background has done doesn’t mean it matters any less. It often matters more. On the back of this this also includes the office admin who arranged their air tickets, travel and hotels. The IT guru who makes sure he can get internet access, email and phone for their time away.There were loads of people involved in getting this to happen, but they’re rarely even given a nod.

I imagine if you go an a cruise (I can only imagine this) it cool to go and see the bridge and chat with the officers. But this ship would be going no where if it wasn’t for the poor sods in the engine room. They matter, just as anyone working in the background matters and trust me it pisses them off when this isn’t acknowledged. One of the lovely thing these corporate people like to tell us is that there is no I in team. Right, so start acting like it!


 

Giving Employee’s Value

Rewards is just one way of giving employee’s value, but let’s be honest perhaps the best way is to not forget them and give them the credit they deserve becasue everyone makes a difference. The hot shot who bring in the money is the flashy git who everyone see’s and may even have all the witty one liners. But I bet it would be a different story if he was the one that had to organise his own flights!

Simon 🙂

 

Technology & the elusive next BIG thing

Looking back about 10 to 15 years it’s easy to see that technology has taken a great leap forward and the big companies of the world are looking for the next big thing that going to give them the kudos they need – along with keeping their shareholders happy that things are going to keep moving forward.

This is where this post is going to look at – the big question on everyone’s mind  is:

“What is the next big thing for Technology?”

In order to even have a clue about answering this, let’s look back 10 years at two garganutan’s of technology – Apple and Google. Two companies with two different approaches. Apple had just released the first iPhone and Google was the biggest search engine going and had bought YouTube and we had Google Maps introduced to us. In a nutshell Apple had put a supercomputer into an MP3 player and had advanced this to the point where we now had a supercomputer in a phone and Google was making sure that whatever anyone searched for they could find it with a Google service.

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As we move forward these two giants move ever forward to colliding, Apple continues the iPhone advance and then creates the tablet computer. Google however is moving outwards, creating a web browser, then an open source operating system based on this and then comes Android. At this point the giants collide as every electronics company in the world can now have the rights to an operating system for mobile devices that is on a level with Apple’s IOS.

 


 

The basic movement has been the advancement of bringing the internet to everyone with mobile devices and searchable content. This now means that we have supercomputer’s everywhere, in your phone, tablets and wrist. Why do I say it’s a supercomputer? Because believe me they are, they have more processing power than the MET weather supercomputers of the 1980’s. These devices wouldn’t be possible without this kind of processing power in such a small package.

In more recent times we’ve had Google glass, which wasn’t the great success it was looking for and now the world is looking at cars that could drive us around without assistance. The key to this revolution is the term ‘smart’ smart phones, smart watches and ultimately smart cars that will drive us about. Smart is about enabling devices to do what they couldn’t do before by giving them a computer that can access the internet. This is happening now and things are at the stage where they’re struggling to find things to make smart, we even have things like heating, and basic home functions being driven by devices to make them ‘smart’.


 

This brings us to the future – what is next? Is the next big thing going to carry on the principle of making something smart? Or will it be something else? When will it happen?

When we look back the iPhone / Smart Phone gave us something we never had before. That’s why it was big, sure it’s essentially a retrofit of existing technology but it was really cool that’s why it was big. The smart revolution is over the way I see it, as it stands we’ve almost reached saturation point in terms of what it can give us in terms of new features or things we can enable.

So smart isn’t the next big thing and it can’t be. The only exception I hold to that is if they start embedding or attaching smart devices actually in / on us so were integrated with our devices. But there’s also an ethical and technical can of worms with this. From the point of view of the everyday user we’re likely to enter a period of time where we don’t see much advancement, it’s going to be broadly speaking a slightly better flavour of the devices we’re using now. They’ll get better and more compact and more efficient, but the same old thing. This is much like a period of technical stagnation that took place from the late 90’s to 2006.

Why is this?

Simple – the rest of the world needs to catch up. This kind of technology needs to reach other sectors like medical and defence where things have stood still for a while and this is starting to happen now. The consumer market has been the guinea pigs to test these technologies and their robustness. Sure, some genius may come up with another clever gadget that will be loved but it’s likely to be a fleeting wonder.

There are two other things to note, we are using more energy now than ever before. This is to the point where the infrastructure struggles to cope. A catch up period is needed to make energy more available and whatever does come next will need more computing power and that needs to also become available. This is exactly the kind of thing that happened with virtual and augmented reality, the technology has been around since the 1990’s but it never took off until the computing power needed for it became available.

As for what it will be next… my gut feeling is that whatever it will be it will free us to some extent from the physical constraints of having to touch a device to make it do what we want it to and perhaps from the limits of screen size to a completely immersive experience that we see before our eyes or maybe in our minds? Who knows… we’ll have to wait and see. The likely hood is that while we might know what the next big thing might have, no one has yet dreamed up the device.

Simon 🙂

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Short Stories

Over the last couple of years I’ve written a number of short and not so short stories and trying to give them the visibility they deserve is a bit hard when they’re hidden behind a menu system on my blog page. So I’ve put as many of them as I can find on this post and I’m going to pin it on my page.

Many of them aren’t finished, but you know – Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that.


 

The Titan Mystery

Planet Simon - The Titan Mystery1
The Titan Mystery – Main image not my own (Deviant Art)

The Titan Mystery is my longest running story, set in the far future the commander and crew of the star ship Tycho become trapped in time and space while investigating a gigantic spacecraft that seems to be from distant future.

The only way for them to find a way to get free is to board the Titan and see what they can find out. What they discover is beyond they wildest dreams and nightmares.

 

The Titan Mystery                    The Titan Mystery – Part 2         The Titan Mystery – Part 3

The Titan Mystery – Part 4     The Titan Mystery – Part 5          The Titan Mystery – Part 6

The Titan Mystery – Part 7      The Titan Mystery – Part 8          The Titan Mystery – Part 9

The Titan Mystery – Part 10    The Titan Mystery – Part 11       The Titan Mystery – Part 12

The Titan Mystery – Part 13    The Titan Mystery – Part 14       The Titan Mystery – Part 15

The Titan Mystery – Part 16     The Titan Mystery – The Conclusion

 


 

Scorched Planet

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While on a less than routine mission to recover the data from a monitoring station David Hicks watches as a spacecraft passes over him and lands in the distance. Rather than being rescued by his partner he disobeys orders to find out more. He was prepared for aliens and maybe death, but not what’s inside that spacecraft.

The Scorched Planet                                                                                   Scorched Planet Part 2

Scorched Planet Part 3                                                                               Scorched Planet Part 4


 

Dark Horizons

Planet Simon - Pluto 1

Dr Harry Tressler runs the New Horizons mission to Pluto, the mission is going well until a government official arrives with armed soldiers and a few other strange looking visitors. The mission is secretly hijacked and Dr Tressler and his team are forced to stay and help until the flyby is complete. But why is this happening?

Dark Horizons (Chapter 1 – Obol Discovered)

Dark Horizons (Chapter 2 – Interference)

Dark Horizons Part 3 – Encounters

Dark Horizons Part 4 – Aftermath


 

On the Brink of Midnight

planet city 2

Midnight fails to fall on Sela’s home world and the consequences are going to be catastrophic for his whole race if he can’t find out why this is happening. With time short, Tira his partner and his brain as his only tools Sela finds out that their world is under attack with little to fight back with.

On the brink of Midnight #Blogbattle #Scifi

On the Brink of Midnight #Blogbattle #Scifi

On the Brink of Midnight #Blog Battle #Scifi

On the Brink of Midnight #BlogBattle # Scifi

 


 

The Adventures of Minecraft Steve

Planet Simon -Minecraft

Minecraft Steve is having a load of adventures with creepers, zombie pigmen and rogue crafters. It’s hard to know what’s going on sometimes.

Minecraft Steve and the Lost City – Part 1

Minecraft Steve and the Lost City – Part 2

Minecraft Steve and the Lost City – Part 3

Minecraft Steve and the Lost City – Part 4

Minecraft Steve and the Lost City – Part 5


 

Eternal Darkness

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This short piece is part of a concept and I’m excited about where it may lead. Chronos is entering orbit of a supermassive black hole, it’s mission it to take humanity further into the future than it would ever survive. Perhaps until the end of time.

Eternal Darkness


 

There’s loads more and I need to work and promote all of them, and this is something I hope to do more of so keep watching!

Simon 🙂

 

 

Just another… Manic Monday

So, here we are again at another fun filled Monday, outside it’s bright and sunny and the week if full of hope an expectation… Isn’t it Friday yet?!?

This week there is finally something happening here, among the musings of Minions and the memes I’ve finally got together a post of all my larger writings (most of which is unfinished) and put them into a handy little post which I’ll pin on my main page.

After this I’ll put out a separate post of the different stories split up and this is a good thing! Why you might ask – well this is the thing, keeping archives of posts or stories is great but it’s normally in reverse order, which is good for no-one! So this has also inspired me to do similar things to some of my other features so it’s all in one nice little package!

I’m also planning some page updates and stuff and to try and finally get some of the unfinished stories moving towards finished – so watch this space bloggies!

Why not also look at my social media list, by way of input does anyone actually use Facebook anymore? I’ve got a page set up but it’s largely unloved.

Planet Simon Facebook Page

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

Stumbledupon 

Wattpad

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Also make sure you guys look up the sci-fi and fantasy hub I still need contributors and readers to make this project work for anyone and everyone interested.

Employers – Employee / Company Loyalty

So this is one of the most highly charged subjects regarding employment in my point of view. Loyalty to a company is a very one sided affair and when we look at today’s job market is very old thinking.

Loyalty is a trait where no matter what, through thick and thin people remain loyal to each other and don’t give up on each other no matter what happens. Company loyalty is a different affair however and it has to be. They want the employee to be loyal to them and in return they will get to keep their job for as long as it’s convenient for them and you’re useful.

Ok, that’s not what they say to you but it’s what it means becasue in the harsh economic world we live in people are laid off, sacked and all that kind of wonderful stuff. But despite this there is still a loyalty expectation on an employee. This really is a little unfair, in the business world this kind of one sided agreement wouldn’t be tolerated, so why expect it of an employee.


 

Apparently ( I saw this online so I take it with a pinch of salt) Richard Branson says:

“Train your staff so they can leave, treat them so they won’t want to”

No, this is the kind of thing which is is an actual agreement. The company you work for wants you to work and you want to work for them. Train them to do the good job you want them to do and in return reward them for extra effort and good work.

There’s no mention of salary in this, this is perhaps becasue it’s a given. The company makes money from the employee’s work if it’s properly organised and in return you’re paid. This goes beyond that, it’s telling people that it wants to invest in an employee and help them to do great work so they’re rewarded. There’s no obligation on either side to expect loyalty as we all know no-one can guarantee this. But while working for this company you’ll feel empowered and appreciated.

Who would want to leave that kind of company?

Simon 🙂

#employees #employers #jobs #companyloyalty