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S09 E01 – Ramble Auctions

In the ninth season of the Tao of WAO podcast, Doug Belshaw and Laura Hilliger casually discuss their personal technology use, ranging from e-readers and work devices to gaming, and touch upon broader topics such as AI’s impact on jobs and unique websites like the German customs auction platform. They note a trend of professionals, including themselves, experiencing job market shifts, potentially influenced by AI integration in various industries. The episode ends with Doug’s suggestion to the audience to engage with the podcast through social media, reviews, or direct contact for work opportunities or feedback.



Find all of our guests’ reading recommendations at our The Tao of WAO book club.


Important note: this is a lightly-edited AI transcription of the conversation. If you require verbatim quotations, please double-check against the audio!

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:23] All right. Welcome to the Tao of WAO, which is a podcast about the intersection of technology, society and internet culture with a dash of philosophy and art for good measure. My name is Doug Belshaw.

Laura Hilliger: [00:00:33] Hello, I’m Laura Hilliger. This podcast season is currently partially unfunded. You can support this podcast and other we are open projects and products at

Doug Belshaw: [00:00:46] So this is season nine of this here podcast. And this podcast season is kind of an antidote to the last podcast season, which was getting all academic. So season eight, if you haven’t listened to it yet, was us being more planned than usual and getting guests on and synthesising stuff and, um, putting on our little mortar boards and pretending to be academics? This season is a bit of an experiment with us just having a bit of a ramble chat. We might have guests, we might not, who knows? And we’re going to put a bunch of links of stuff that we’ve come across on the internet over the last kind of week or so. We’re currently recording this on Thursday, the 18th of January, and we’re just going to have a bit of a ramble chat, aren’t we, Laura?

Laura Hilliger: [00:01:27] I feel like it’s a good idea because the season eight, it was great. We had great guests. We really like Nerded out around literacy and literacies. Uh, we actually had an academic, uh, paper that paired with the podcast season and was published in the Journal for Media Literacy, uh, and had a, had a guest host and yeah, it was super planned. So I am up for, fun, random, I don’t know, let’s just, um, let’s see what we got on our list and then talk about it.

Doug Belshaw: [00:02:03] Well, let me let me throw this one at you first of all. So Matt Jukes, who’s been on our podcast before, he shared last week, um, a post called I use this, carry that and Wear them, which is kind of in the same vein as Life Hackers, “How I work series”, that uses this website, which I love, and so he’s just listed all of the hardware he uses and the software and the stationery and the stuff that he carries around and his quote unquote uniform, the stuff that he wears quite a lot. So do you want to kick things off by telling us what you use on a daily basis in terms of hardware and software and all that kind of jazz?

Laura Hilliger: [00:02:40] I feel like you were gonna ask me, what are you wearing?

Doug Belshaw: [00:02:44] That would be weird.

Laura Hilliger: [00:02:46] It would be super weird. Especially because, like, my wardrobe has been the same for about 15 years. So I got a hoodie on. I got a pair of jeans on, uh, you know, t shirts. I, I really just don’t try, I guess. Um, so you’re welcome. Listener. That’s what I’m wearing, a hoodie. Neat. Um, stuff I use. Yeah, I. Have been. You know, I have some things I want to replace this year. Um, so I was very late to the e-book scene. Um, I did not buy an e-book reader until. Well, what happened was I used to carry books with me whenever I went to conferences, and I used to go to conferences a lot. Uh, and then I started to buy books when I was away. You and I, Doug, have been in many a bookstore together. I just buy I have a lot of books. I love books I read a lot. Um, and so I got my first e-reader in 2018, and I’m still using it, and I’ve noticed it’s a Kobo Aura, Hydro Aura 2 or something like that, I don’t even remember, um, and it’s great, except that because it’s from 2018, it started to be not that reliable. Uh, so it doesn’t remember my pages, i can’t switch pages very easily. It’s sort of starting to get a little bit annoying to read on. Um, so I want to get.

Doug Belshaw: [00:04:08] I think it’s, I think it’s fascinating that you went straight to reading. Like, for example, Matt’s gone straight to his, like, work laptop, and that’s possibly what I would do. I’d go straight to like, the device that I’m talking to you on and things, but you went straight to an e-reader, which is interesting to me.

Laura Hilliger: [00:04:25] Um, I think it’s I’m leaning more into the writer side of me, uh, the last year or so. So I read more than I used to. Um, and in terms of, like, you know, I mean, jeez, I got my first 4K monitor in, like, September of last year, and I just got a second one for my office, um, 4K. And you’ve been making fun of me for not having, like, a proper monitor for a while, but I’m just like, I think it’s because I replace stuff when it breaks as opposed to upgrading because tech has changed.

Doug Belshaw: [00:05:00] Well, I’m not going to comment on Laura’s age, but I would suggest to anyone listening to this as soon as you hit 40, make sure you’ve got the highest resolution screen you possibly can.

Laura Hilliger: [00:05:08] Wow. Really? It’s an age thing. I don’t know, I feel like it’s. Well, I think it’s more of a like, you work with this piece of technology every single day. It’s okay if you upgrade maybe more than once a decade, which is my old monitor I bought literally in 2008.

Doug Belshaw: [00:05:26] Okay, well, I’m a little bit of a monitor nerd, it turns out at this point. So I did have a Dell 4K monitor that I bought pre-pandemic, which was great, but my son said didn’t do enough Hertz for gaming on or whatever. So next to me is the gaming monitor, which we use for the PlayStation with HDR and crazy refresh rates and all that kind of stuff. But the one that I use right now, and I’m looking at you through and I look at most of my life, is an Apple Studio display, which I have paired with my Apple Studio Mac. So I ran Linux for years and years and years and years and years. But I decided I just wanted things to work all the time reliably. So I, I used this and then I’m out the house because I can’t be bothered configuring a mac when I’m like, separate to my main Mac, I run, um, a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 titanium, I think with Chrome OS. What’s it called? The one where you can just install any device remix or something. Anyway, it just works. I open it up, I have all the privacy browsers on and all that kind of stuff. Um, all the privacy extensions. And then I use that when I’m outside the house. I use that for like my MSC work. And when I’m in here, like at Apple Studio, um, device like Mac Studio is so overkill for the kind of work I do, but it means I never have to wait. And I’m an impatient person.

Laura Hilliger: [00:06:51] Well, now you just said my MSC work, but I’m not sure that our listeners actually are aware that you have decided, uh, out of boredom, I think, but, uh, possibly, uh, out of something else, uh, to go back to school and have just started another master’s, uh, in systems thinking at the Open University. So congratulations to you for continuing your education and going after another degree. Well, that’s pretty cool.

Doug Belshaw: [00:07:19] When I was about to. I was thinking about doing a master’s the first time around. And so, uh, a friend of my mother’s said, don’t think about how intelligent you have to be to do postgraduate study. Think about how stupid you have to be for spending time and effort on doing something. Um, it’s not to do with intelligence. It’s got to do with determination. And so, yeah, it is a little bit to do with boredom, but also its not mainly to do with boredom, it’s mainly to do with to do with just thinking. It’s like the it’s the natural progression from all of the different kinds of stuff that I’ve done in my career to date. And Laura, you would love it as well. It’s just that it’s a lot of work. Like I reckon this MSC is the most part time postgraduate work I’ve ever had to do. Um.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:07] To be fair, and I don’t know if I should say this on the podcast, but you did tell me that part of the motivation was because you don’t yet have a master’s of science degree. You’ve got master’s of arts degree.

Doug Belshaw: [00:08:19] I said that a little bit flippantly, to be fair. So yes, I’ve got a master’s in, I’ve got a BA honours in philosophy, I’ve got an Ma in modern history, which I almost got a distinction in, but I didn’t get on well with my supervisor, and he gave me the exact number of marks to balance out the external examiner, so I didn’t get a distinction because he was an arse. Um, I’ve got a postgraduate teaching qualification in, um, teaching qualification in history, and I’ve got a doctorate in education, and now I’m doing this MSC. And what I would say is it doesn’t make you any happier.

Laura Hilliger: [00:08:54] Yeah. No, I, um, honestly like listeners, I was last year toying with the idea about getting another master’s. Um, I went all the way through the rigamarole of getting accepted to a program that was outside of my field of specialisation. I was going to go after a master’s in creative writing. Um, and then right when I had to push the button to make the first payment so that I would be able to start at exactly the same time that you did. Doug. Um, I had a thought, a series of thoughts that, uh, made me decide not to do it. So instead of spending my determination and time on a creative writing qualification, I’ve actually just been writing more, um, which is, you know. Good. I guess I should share some of the writing I’ve been doing. I’ve got to. I’ve been sitting on some things, and I don’t put them anywhere because I’m not sure what I want to do with them.

Doug Belshaw: [00:09:49] Listeners might not have even read your maybe zombies book yet.

Laura Hilliger: [00:09:53] So, you know, at some point that’s going to be outdated. When I wrote it a number of years ago, I think I finished it in. 20, 17 or 18. Um, I was like, oh, look at all this technology knowledge. I have augmented reality contact lenses. Woo woo. Um, and now it’s like, you know, everybody’s, like, looking at the actual state of technology, and my stuff’s going to feel like it was written in the 70s.

Doug Belshaw: [00:10:21] Well, I guess, would you would you ever use not AI to write some of your novel but like to to as, like a writing companion?

Laura Hilliger: [00:10:32] I don’t think so, because, um, I would use it to help with research. Possibly. Um, by actually writing, um, basically everything that I’ve asked AI to write for me is so generic and ridiculous, um, that I find it embarrassing and that I, you know, that I wouldn’t like for the creative writing stuff, fiction stuff that I just like. My brain is so much more interesting than anything that AI is going to, is going to spit out. I just, I think that the human emotion bit of it is actually quite important in creative writing.

Doug Belshaw: [00:11:09] So I was, I was, um, someone emailed me a while ago. Um, oh, sorry. Since since the new year of something which I must have mentioned on LinkedIn or somewhere about training and LLM a large language model on my own blog, not because I wanted to to replace me in writing because I enjoy doing that, but mainly because, as you know, and as you do as well, I forget stuff I’ve written. And so I have to like search my name and a topic and I’m like, oh yeah, I wrote about that in 2017 and stuff. Um, and I’d like to be able to ask an AI assistant that, but I don’t want to keep putting all of my data into maybe open AI and stuff. In fact, this week on a community call, we trained or trained, we made a GPT. Um, using Chat GPT Pro or Plus or whatever it’s called for this open recognition toolkit. And I thought, oh, I could do that or whatever. And that prompted me to have a look at ones you can run on your own device. And so I’ll put a link in the show notes about LM studio, which allows you to discover, download and run, um, local like LLMs.

Laura Hilliger: [00:12:25] Have you tried it out?

Doug Belshaw: [00:12:26] Yeah. They’re not as good. Um, it doesn’t feel like interacting with.

Laura Hilliger: [00:12:33] Like yourself?

Doug Belshaw: [00:12:34] No, no. Like, you know, when you just. This might sound a bit stupid, but, you know, like, when you interact with ChatGPT, obviously there’s no there’s nothing there, but it feels like it’s got some kind of personality, whereas this is like very like I’ve tried a 2 or 3 different models. It just feels very like this is a stupid machine. Yeah, I don’t know. Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:13:04] Anyway.

Laura Hilliger: [00:13:05] Sorry. I’m just. I’m just looking at. I’m just looking at the links that you just put on the pad. So, um. Well, it will include everything we mentioned here, dear listeners. Um, I haven’t, I haven’t tried out.

Doug Belshaw: [00:13:16] I’m going to mkention some other stuff. Um, so things that I’ve got that people might be interested in, I’ve got this gigantic mouse mat, mouse pad which lights up at the edges. It’s, um, is it a it’s a Razer one, you know, as in, like, they make headsets and whatever. So I think it’s called Goliathus or something like that, this huge mouse pad and around the edge, it’s got these, this like light which changes colour and you can make it go different colours depending on different things. So it’s just pulsing between all the different colours all the time. And I’ve got a gaming keyboard which also changes colour all the time, and I’ve got a vertical mouse so that instead of your hand being like, like downwards and normal, it’s kind of on the side, which is supposed to be better for RSI and things. Um, and then yeah, that’s what I’m looking at most of the time. I tell you what’s really useful, the Apple Studio display, it’s really useful. It’s got the webcam built into it. And is this front, um, what’s it called? Centre stage thing. It always puts you in the middle.

Laura Hilliger: [00:14:17] We’re going to have to pause for one second. Sorry. I’ll cut that out.

Doug Belshaw: [00:14:44] Okay.

Doug Belshaw: [00:14:46] So, yeah, it’s good to have this kind of, uh, I, I know I can just turn on my machine. It’s going to boot up quickly, and everything is just going to work. And I don’t have to, like, configure Bluetooth stuff and this and that. It’s just it’s really good. So I’m enjoying that. Um, and you, did you get a new phone in the last six months?

Laura Hilliger: [00:15:05] Uh, yeah. So I replaced the battery on my pixel 4a twice. Uh, so that means it went through three batteries, finally had to, uh, get a new one because basically the battery was lasting, like an hour if I used my phone at all. Um, so. Yeah. So I just got for my birthday last year, I got a pixel 7a, which is great. I like the pixels I’ve had. Um, I had a Pixel 1, a Pixel 2. I had the Pixel 2 for a really long time. Then I got the pixel 4a. I had that for a good six, seven years? I don’t actually know. I think I think the 8a is probably already out, but the the A series is like the slightly less expensive one. And it’s I mean, you know, for it does all the things I don’t, you know, I don’t need anything more powerful than that. I don’t actually understand why people buy like twice the price. Um, for like the regular pixel or like iPhones, the pro version, like, who needs a pro version? I don’t.

Doug Belshaw: [00:16:09] People who like showing that they’ve got a pro version.

Laura Hilliger: [00:16:11] Oh, Is that what it is?

Doug Belshaw: [00:16:13] Yes. Um, so I’ve got a Google Pixel six, but I the reason I bought this was specifically because it is compatible with something called graphene OS, which is a hardened version of Android. Um, and so you can run it completely Google free, but I don’t because we use Google at work and stuff. So but you can put all the Google stuff in a sandbox and it works perfectly, but it means that it gives you very granular controls over like location access. And because it’s running stuff in a sandbox and not just allowing everything through, the battery life is incredible. Like, this is going to be two years old, and I’ve used it every day quite a lot. I’ve tethered with it and all that kind of stuff. And the the phone battery still lasts more than a day, so it’s pretty good.

Laura Hilliger: [00:16:57] Yup. What else have I gotten recently? Um, well, I’m still, uh, still on my PlayStation 4. Um, everybody else has now upgraded, so dear listener, Doug and I play PlayStation together with a couple of other folks, uh, usually on a Sunday night. Um, it’s it is hilarious. And, yeah, everybody else is now upgraded to the PS5, but I have not still not, uh, I was thinking about doing that this year. Possibly. Um, I think that there’s a new Grand Theft Auto coming out this year, and it only works on the PS5. And I was a huge, uh, GTA fan. Um. Up until I basically up until I started playing Assassin’s Creed, and now I’ve been on Assassin’s Creed. Um, but I yeah, I play like one big open world game in the winter when it’s dark at 4:00 in the afternoon. Um, and I think maybe this year it seems like this year there’s a lot of, um, stuff I need to replace for one reason or another. So I said about the e-book reader kind of conking out, um, the monitor thing was also, you know, there’s only so much you can come to work every day and have a line across your monitor before you’re like, you know what? Maybe I should replace this. Um, yeah. And now, like, the the phone I got just last year, I feel like like my tech purchases are piling up, and I always feel a bit, um. Uh, guilty isn’t the right word. I don’t I don’t like to have the newest of the new for like, I am climate conscious, so, like, I feel like for me, like playing into consumerism, getting the newest thing, it just makes me feel not great. Um, so. Yeah. And it seems like that feeling has kept me from purchasing new tech equipment, um, a lot. And now I’m getting to the point where if I don’t do it, then I just don’t have a device, whatever that device is.

Doug Belshaw: [00:18:59] Well, I remember reading Balthasar Gracian, the 17th century Jesuit philosopher. Um, and he said something like. Um, some people kind of delight in the mediocrity of their tools, as if it, like, shows them to be a better person. But actually, um, that is, I’ve forgotten the exact words he uses. But basically he pours scorn on people who are like, oh, look at me. I’m just using, like, these tools, not the best ones or whatever. And I thought, yeah, I’ve done that before. So now I just get the best stuff and expense it through my business. I’m just like, whatever. Don’t care. Um, about the e-reader.

Laura Hilliger: [00:19:35] Ouch. They say, is that direct? Huh?

Doug Belshaw: [00:19:42] It wasn’t directed at you.

Laura Hilliger: [00:19:43] It totally was.

Doug Belshaw: [00:19:44] I recognised it in myself. And so. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:19:47] But, um. Yeah. No, I but it’s like, you know, like it I think that, um, you know, we are climate conscious and it’s just at what point did at what point does the reflection that you do internally, where does it actually play out and change your behaviours. Right. Um, and that’s what I really struggle with is like, I’m quite aware of a lot of things, but I also know that I behave differently than what my values are. And so it’s trying to strike that balance between, um, thinking you’re a good person and being a good person. And that’s not like a, that’s not a comment on like, oh, if you got a nice monitor, then you’re not a good person because you’re a consumerist. That’s not, you know, that’s not the direction, but it’s something that I struggle with internally.

Doug Belshaw: [00:20:31] Can I trot out the line? There is no ethical consumption under capitalism. Um, which I think is true. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:20:37] Good line.

Doug Belshaw: [00:20:38] Um, but on the, on the Evita thing. So I used to use a Kindle, then I used, um, this open source one from Spain, which actually one of my kids has got now. And then I got this books b o o x books note air two. Um, last year or the end of the year before maybe I’ve had two years and it’s Android based, which means you can run like a web browser in it, and you can save things to pocket and read pocket in there, and you can have different reading apps. And so I read a lot of my ebooks through Google Books, which is installed on there. Now, as you know, Laura, I’ve got extremely sensitive eyes. I’ve got thin corneas, very blue eyes, and so I get a lot of glare. Um, so there’s only so much I have to, like, shift all the colour temperature on my screens and do all that kind of stuff. So especially in the morning or late at night, um, like, I need to read stuff on that e-ink screen, and because it’s because I can go on a web browser on it, it means I can actually do kind of work related things or study or whatever at a time when I just can’t physically look at a screen. I can look at the the e-ink screen.

Laura Hilliger: [00:21:46] And does it, um, I mean, I’m on the website, but I’m lazy. Hashtag lazy web. I’ll just ask you, um, does it support all the different e-book formats? Because that was one of the big. Yeah, because I was like, well, I mean, I don’t use I try not to use Amazon at all anyways, which is why I never had a Kindle. But the other thing about the Kindle was like, I don’t like being locked into one format because I like to read like a lot of like indie writers too. And sometimes people just, you know, they don’t know what the difference is between an epub or a mobi or a PDF or whatever, so.

Doug Belshaw: [00:22:18] Well, because it’s Android, you can install the Kindle app if you want to. You can install the Google Books app it natively. You know, um, allows you to open almost anything. You can install any e-book app. Um, I use one called Readly. I’ve got the Guardian on there, loads of stuff. It’s great. The only thing is. Like it comes with a cover. It’s pretty expensive, but I use it every day quite a lot. And again, it was a business expense. Because it’s like 10.2in, like it’s the size of an iPad kind of thing.

Laura Hilliger: [00:22:52] Ah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:22:53] Like, there’s something different about holding. It’s heavier and more awkward to like, change pages and stuff. It’s a two handed job rather than a one handed job, which, when you’re lying in bed reading and your hands are cold, is a thing.

Laura Hilliger: [00:23:06] Yeah. Yeah. I’m also like, I’m, I’m quite attached to smaller devices and like, that’s one of the reasons that I didn’t upgrade my phone actually, because the pixel seven A is ever so slightly bigger than the 4a, and I thought that, like, I would have a problem getting used to it. It’s fine now after six months. Um, but I, I mean, part of the reason that I haven’t replaced my Kobo yet, uh, is because I really like the size. It’s it’s like you can read, it’s super lightweight, it’s waterproof, which is important for me. Um, and you can read like, I can read it with one hand. Um, and I really like.

Doug Belshaw: [00:23:43] Waterproof is important for you because you read in the rain or the bath or.

Laura Hilliger: [00:23:45] Yes, you’re just.

Doug Belshaw: [00:23:47] or you just sweating? Like.

Laura Hilliger: [00:23:47] What’s. Yes, it’s my sweat problem. That’s that’s what it is. Um, yes. I sweat profusely while I’m sitting here doing nothing. And that’s why I need a waterproof. Uh uh, no. So I’m often on the water because I am a water rat. Uh, I go on boats quite a bit, I.

Doug Belshaw: [00:24:06] Oh, When are you sailing? Right.

Laura Hilliger: [00:24:08] Okay, uh, I go, I’m a diver. So, you know, being on a little RhIB and being able to read when you’re on the boat for 45 minutes before you get to the dive location is kind of cool. Um, and in the winter time, I take a lot of baths. Like, it’s like a mental health thing. It’s a comfort thing. Um, I basically don’t shower in the winter. I just take baths. Which is weird to say today, because I totally took a shower this morning.

Doug Belshaw: [00:24:34] One of the things I’ve noticed, because we’re currently as we’re recording this, um, we’re currently renting a house and we’ve, you know, hopefully moving soon this year. But the process of moving it reminds me that I used to sell a lot of stuff on eBay, and then eBay became just like an awkward place to sell stuff because the buyer’s become awkward and they try and get discounts and, um, whatever. So I’ve got all of this stuff, and one of the things I’ve got is a Kobo Mini. Did you ever see those? No, it’s a tiny little e-reader, which I got for for my daughter when she was just like getting started. It turns out it was even too small for her when she was like eight. Um, but I sometimes think, oh, wouldn’t it be cool to just, like, have that in my pocket to read stuff every now and again? But then who am I kidding? I am always at home. Like I only go out to like, take my kids to sporting activities.

Laura Hilliger: [00:25:29] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, to be fair, I don’t really carry my e-reader around all that much either. Um, I have more flashes, but it is really nice whenever I travel. Like, um, we were in Vienna for the epic conference at the end of last year. I had my e-reader with me. Um, every night before I went to sleep. I was reading quite a bit. I was reading two books at the time. Um, and actually, Vienna is the reason that I got an e-reader in the first place, because in 2018 I was reading three books, had to go to a conference, couldn’t decide which one to take, and so I took all three of them. And then I bought five books. Uh, and then I had eight books, um, while I was on a train from Vienna to come back home. And I could not lift my suitcase into the up thing. And I was like, okay, now carrying around eight books when you’re gone from home for literally four days is that’s that’s a little over the top. So. Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:26:30] Okay. Um, cool. Okay.

Laura Hilliger: [00:26:31] I got to figure out what I’m what I’m going to buy here for an e-reader. So thanks for the note on the, uh, books note air 2. I’m going to read about that and I’ll put in a link.

Doug Belshaw: [00:26:41] I think there might even be a new one of that as well.

Laura Hilliger: [00:26:44] Yeah, I just saw it on the Kobo website. There’s also a new Kobo, so I need to do some research.

Doug Belshaw: [00:26:49] Ideally what I would like for this screen in front of me. Now this um, 5k for whatever it’s worth, Apple Studio display, whatever. I’d like to be able to press a button and for it to change to colour E ink. That’s what I that’s what I’d ideally like. Yeah, but there we go. Right. What should we talk about next. We’ve got stuff about oh I don’t know.

Laura Hilliger: [00:27:10] Um. Oh there’s so much random on this list. Yeah, I don’t know, it would be cool if, like right now, a reader would call in and be like, hey, can you guys just tell us about X? And we’d be like, oh yeah, we have plenty of stuff to say about that. We should get more reader interaction this year or this season.

Doug Belshaw: [00:27:29] Yes, we should do.

Laura Hilliger: [00:27:32] I said reader interaction, listener, listener. Although we are doing transcripts now, so.

Doug Belshaw: [00:27:38] We are. So, um, the International Monetary Fund that um, uh, terrible organisation, um, has said that I is set to affect nearly 40% of all jobs. Uh huh. Um, and interestingly, I was wondering about our work, so I think I said this in our meeting earlier, like, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of awesome people in my network who would usually just be like, oh, it’s my last day, it’s X company. And I’ll tell you where I’m going to be, like next week. And then they just start the next one. Yeah. And there’s a lot more people who are just like. Finish their work. Either they’ve been let go or they’ve decided to leave, whatever reason, and they’re just not picking up another job easily. And also, there’s a lot of consultants who haven’t got enough client work and like where we’ve got some spare capacity at the moment. And I wondered to what extent that’s to do with organisations thinking, oh, I’m just going to use AI for this. Like Duolingo apparently fired a lot of its translators and is just using a lot of AI.

Laura Hilliger: [00:28:48] Really? I hadn’t heard that.

Doug Belshaw: [00:28:49] Yeah, I’ll find the thing.

Laura Hilliger: [00:28:52] Yeah. Um, I’m definitely noticing an uptick of, like, open to work. Uh, avatars on LinkedIn. Um, maybe maybe maybe I should do that. Like, that’s what we should do. We should put open to work and see if anybody. If. Does that work? The little green banner thing that you put on your LinkedIn profile that, like, superimposes. I think I’m going to turn it on after after we get off the phone here. Um, yeah. So and I actually have a couple of friends, um, who have been looking for work for quite some time. Not exactly our industry, but I think that the economy is just in a bit of a tailspin at the moment. Um, here in Western Europe, there in the UK and in the United States. Um. Yeah. I don’t know whether or not it has to do. I don’t know, I don’t think it has that much to do with AI, because you still need people that can actually, you know, use AI like you can’t just you can’t just like take an entire team of people in the marketing department and replace them with AI without like having somebody there to a prompt the AI, b check what it spits out, you know, can you.

Doug Belshaw: [00:30:02] I’m not going to make any disparaging comments about marketing departments I’ve worked with before. Um, but like I was, I was in a supermarket, um, this morning, local supermarket this morning. And, you know, as almost everywhere they’ve replaced in the last ten years, I would say all of the people work on, on the checkouts with like two people working on the checkout and one person supervising the self checkout. So the labour has been there has been externalised to, to us, which I don’t. Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:30:36] I’m sure that there’s like studies on the impact of that of specifically like self checkout. I’m sure that I’ve seen them and I can’t recall any of the numbers, but that might be something to like rabbit hole on. Um, because I like I know that I’ve read that it’s not like self checkouts didn’t necessarily make it. It’s not necessarily like, um, making the profit margin of the supermarket better. Um, because with self checkout then comes like jobs, like making sure the self checkout actually scans things and fixing it when the tapes are broken or whatever.

Doug Belshaw: [00:31:12] Yeah, I mean, like I don’t think a fulfilling job for most people, I mean some people like. I’m sure enjoy scanning stuff and being on there and oh, it’s like my retirement job, but I don’t see, like, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s like a job that people should aspire to potentially, but I do like being able to scan things quickly and get out of the shop as fast.

Laura Hilliger: [00:31:35] I love using the self scanner, but also one of my first jobs was as a cashier at a grocery store and I absolutely loved that job. Now I was 16 years old and I was getting my own money, you know, like being paid to to scan things. But also I was, um, you know, I’m quite I used to be a lot more of an extrovert than I am now, and I very much enjoyed, um, talking to the customers. I won’t say which chain I worked for, but I did, um, so big. Um, shopping chains have something in their budget called shrinkage. It’s the amount of money that they lose to people stealing from them. And I’m happy to report that I helped that, um, grocery store shrink. It was a corporate chain of grocery stores that I work for, and I, um, they had a program, a welfare program, which was called women with Infant Child, the Wick program. Um, and they would get these cards, people on the program get these cards, and they could only buy a certain brand of, of cereal, a certain brand of milk, whatever. Like eggs, you know, nothing extraneous. Um, and it happened all the time that they just didn’t know that they couldn’t buy, you know, the the the milk with the little cow, they had to buy the milk with the, you know, the other cow or whatever. And so they would come to the register with, with the wrong milk. And it was the, you know, $0.20 more expensive milk. And I would just like whatever, I don’t care, I’m just going to go ahead and scan this. I also gave away quite a few filet mignons, but that is another story entirely.

Doug Belshaw: [00:33:10] Well, exactly. Um, where should I go to next? There’s some stuff about copyright and AI.

Laura Hilliger: [00:33:17] This is definitly like a ramble chat. Love it.

Doug Belshaw: [00:33:18] What’s

Laura Hilliger: [00:33:20] Oh, my God, this is the coolest thing ever. Um, okay, so in so zoll in German is customs. Uh, this is one of my favourite websites. And this is a auction website. Like, um, like eBay basically. Except that it’s all from the customs office. So these things that they are selling are things that they have repossessed because somebody didn’t pay the proper tax, the proper customs fee. And you can find the weirdest stuff on this. So if you even if you just look at the top auctions like so, on the front page, there’s a Dodge Charger, a Sony PlayStation 5 and a bronze sculpture on a marble base. Um, and if you just like. So what I like to do is I like to flip through and come up with stories about how people actually got into the situation where their, um, old timer tractor was repossessed. That’s probably not a good example, given the, um, the state of Germany and the the protests that are going on right now. But sometimes there’s some really funny stuff, you know, like one time there was like a man and a woman’s mink coats. Um, that have been repossessed. And the woman’s was a xx or no, the mans was a xxl and the woman’s was a xxs. And I was just like, that is a crazy how. That is a very interesting set of mink coats.

Doug Belshaw: [00:34:53] That’s a fascinating thing to do. That shows how much you are kind of a writer and storyteller. And that would be that would be a great prompt, wouldn’t it, for for lots of people.

Laura Hilliger: [00:35:01] Yeah. I was I mean, I’ve, I’ve literally been thinking about doing short stories based on this because, um, a couple of weeks ago, I was on this site and there was like a slew of gold platinum records from, um, German rappers that had like 15 minutes of fame in, like, the early 2000. And it was like 3 or 4 gold records from these, these quote unquote famous, um, German rappers. And I had no idea who they were. But a friend of mine was like, oh my God, that’s so weird, because I was like showing the website and, um, and told me about the fact that the one of the German rappers had definitely had some sort of like mafia, Berlin mafia, Lebanese mafia job. And that’s how he got famous. Um, and so then I went down into the Wikipedia rabbit hole, and I was like, looking up all these crazy German rappers that, you know, and their gold records were on the customs auction.

Doug Belshaw: [00:35:59] This is this is what the internet is for. It’s not for TikTok videos. It’s for, like, finding some weird stuff and then going down a rabbit hole. That’s what’s all about.

Laura Hilliger: [00:36:08] All right. Okay, so here’s here look at this one. Because this is just this is amazing. Hold on I’m going to send you this link. In slack. There you go. This there is on this website that the customs folks have repossessed a rainbow design parachute. Um. Combination suit. It’s like a wingsuit. Um, costs 150 bucks. Um, how’s rainbow colours? I mean, like who? How? What is the story behind getting your rainbow coloured parachute wingsuit taken away from you? This is amazing.

Doug Belshaw: [00:36:52] Yeah.

Laura Hilliger: [00:36:54] It’s a wingsuit. Do you think it works?

Doug Belshaw: [00:36:57] Well, there’s one way to find out. I did see, actually, and I won’t be able to find this again very easily, but it had a list of all the different kind of things you could do, which would be considered some form of extreme sport. And it was like number of fatalities per a number of average fatalities per hour spent doing that sport. And wingsuit use and gliding was like number one most likely to make you die.

Laura Hilliger: [00:37:27] Was it really? Yeah. It was so weird because like in a lot of video games, the wingsuit is like the best thing to have.

Doug Belshaw: [00:37:34] Have you ever, um, you there’s a game. So I, um, started the pandemic. Hannah said this, so my wife said this was a stupid thing to do. I bought one of those. Um, it wasn’t the Oculus one. It was the face, the one which was bought by Facebook, but just the one where you could. Put it, you had to connect it to your phone. How does it work? It wasn’t one way. Just put your phone in the thing. It was like a separate device. But it didn’t have like all of the different sensing things. It wasn’t like a Oculus Rift or anything. But before I sold that, when it, um, when you had to log in with Facebook because I don’t have a Facebook account, but that one had a game where you were in a wingsuit going down a hill or mountain, and that was insane amounts of fun.

Laura Hilliger: [00:38:23] I just. Yeah, that. But you don’t have that anymore do you?

Doug Belshaw: [00:38:28] No, like I said, I sold it when you had to log in using Facebook.

Laura Hilliger: [00:38:32] Oh, right. Right, right. I see that they have another platinum award on this auction website from that guy. So now I’m reminded of his name. And when you’re randomly curious about the the Mafia and the German rappers, then there’s a Wikipedia article for you. Because why not? Why not?

Doug Belshaw: [00:38:55] Cool.

Laura Hilliger: [00:38:56] Well this has been really fun. I feel like this was a very productive, um, podcast that we just just had.

Doug Belshaw: [00:39:04] I don’t even care if anyone listens to this, to be quite honest. I think it’s a nice way for us to end a Thursday.

Laura Hilliger: [00:39:08] Maybe we should just do this for like all of season nine. We just say, you know, we start recording Thursday afternoon, hang out, um, share some random things. I mean, that, you know, I think that most of the links we shared are pretty evergreen.

Doug Belshaw: [00:39:24] Um, so for context.

Laura Hilliger: [00:39:26] Customs office, uh, auction site pretty regularly.

Doug Belshaw: [00:39:31] For context, Laura doesn’t work Fridays, so Thursday afternoons is our last kind of interactions of the week. And sometimes it’s a bit weird because we have like a client meeting and then we just say goodbye and then it’s kind of it. So this would be a nice way to finish things off. Is there any are there any other links there that we should include in this episode?

Laura Hilliger: [00:39:51] Yeah.

Doug Belshaw: [00:39:53] Oh, I’ve got a question for you, Laura. Um. Have you. I know that you looked at Blue Sky, that kind of Twitter replacement, at some point, but have you looked at it recently?

Laura Hilliger: [00:40:04] So this woman who works in our field, Laura Olin, um, she has been she took a bit of a break from writing and has sent a couple of newsletters in the last couple of months, and one of the recent ones, she, um, said that she was one of the people that didn’t know where to go when Twitter essentially collapsed, and that now she’s sort of feels like she’s found her home on blue Sky. Um, but I still haven’t. I haven’t looked into it at all. Are you on Blue Sky?

Doug Belshaw: [00:40:31] I’m just redownloading the app. I decided to not use it because I thought. I’m not sure that I like. They still haven’t federated with anything. They’ve got a different protocol to the fediverse. Um, so I, I am on there, but I haven’t been on there, if you see what I mean. For a while. I’m redownloading it now anyway.

Laura Hilliger: [00:40:55] Yeah, I’ve started to get really annoyed with all of the various, um, internet services where you can’t even see what something is like without giving your data. So if you go to Blue Sky, you can’t like, you can’t see anything about it until you make an account. And I I’ve started to just not bother. Like if I’m not even allowed to, like if I have to go look for a screenshot of the app because I can’t even get an example on your home page, then I’m probably not going to sign up.

Doug Belshaw: [00:41:24] But I have just put a link in the chat like they’ve launched RSS feeds, which means you can subscribe to accounts without having an account on blue sky, which might be quite useful. But then how many people are putting their blue sky accounts on their profiles? I don’t know. I think Matt Jukes, who just to bring this full circle, Matt Jukes, who we talked about at the start of this podcast, who’s been on a podcast before, I think he talks about using it a lot, and I think a lot of like the open gov, kind of people who have active on Twitter are using it. But I’m going to get back into you and let’s see, I’ve got 13 notifications.

Laura Hilliger: [00:42:03] Oh.

Doug Belshaw: [00:42:07] Guess I’m doing this afternoon?

Laura Hilliger: [00:42:08] Answering people who contacted you aeons ago on Blue Sky, and then you just ignored because you uninstalled the app.

Doug Belshaw: [00:42:15] I hadn’t had such a fully formed thought, but yes.

Laura Hilliger: [00:42:20] All right, well then let’s wrap up the podcast, because we’re almost to 45 minutes and I couldn’t tell you what we talked about other than, uh, custom auction sites and a random bunch of stuff around, uh, hardware. So, yeah. Welcome to season nine, everyone. Um, see you next time.

Doug Belshaw: [00:42:39] Well, you can’t finish like that. You see, Laura, because you have to do some kind of audience request for feedback, like a call to action. So you have to say like, like and subscribe or you have to say, please leave us a review on some kind of app store, or follow us on some social network, or get in touch. If anything resonated with today, or if you’d like to hire us to do some stuff. Um, so that’s my five calls to action. There we go.

Laura Hilliger: [00:43:04] Cool. I’ll, um, listen back to this bit and put some links in the pad so that that’s easy for listeners. Very good write up. Okay. Bye, everyone!