Traveling with Passion, Dignity and Security: Travel Tech Under the Scope

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Travel is a lifestyle, an escape and passion for millions of people and the current age of constant technological development brought about a new trend into the business: travel technology that makes the experience so much more desirable and enjoyable. Whether it be reserving a nice spot at a prestigious hotel through a smartphone app or visiting a website to get an Indian visa online, travel technology is becoming more important for global tourists on their path to perfect satisfaction squeezed in between a couple of weeks or months, away from life’s dictations and distractions. The digital transformation of travel business most definitely benefits from technological developments in the field on its pursuit of transforming the clueless traveler into a master of research, profit and efficiency. As more travelers enjoy the benefits of using such technologies, the market seems to be flourishing with new ideas and projects that will not only renovate the given technological paradigm in the years to come but also increase competition among rivalling firms to produce better products and services for the sake of the customer and the market alike.

In the old days, travel agencies had loyal customers who relied on them for everything related to their plans and experiences, while today, the introduction of digital tools and technologies created ‘the online traveler’ who does everything on the World Wide Web. One of the primary advantages of using online systems for travel needs is the ‘experience economy’, with 95% of all leisure travelers reading an average of seven reviews before reaching a decision regarding their plans. In today’s world, 27% of all bookings are made through online systems, which shows how the customers direly demand online information to make travel plans. The introduction of ‘Big Data’ into the game has given birth to the ‘Demand-side Platform’ method that allows customers to access a multitude of advertisements and offers through a single interface. The accumulated user data enables marketers to identify customer types and preferences with ease to provide the best deals to them and increase their companies’ sales. Stella Artois has recently released a new app that lets its user locate the nearest bars serving their beer, which is a great idea to promote sales. Timing has become more important than ever in the battle for the highest sales of tickets and packages to travelers, as travel brands spend more time focusing on seasonal realities to attract customer attention. The app, ‘Weather Sync’ for example, enables its users to choose between different scenarios for leisure according to weather  conditions, making it possible for them to make the most out of their time at a touristic site, saving them from dissatisfaction and disappointment due to unforeseen weather events.

The millennials are a fascinating group of global youngster who have made it a necessity for themselves to integrate high technology into every aspect of their lives and travel is no exception. Jeff Fromm of Forbes Magazine has interviewed Michel Karam, CEO of müvTravel, an online travelling platform, to understand how the company is designing its travel-planning platform to target such millennials and understand the changes and challenges facing the travel industry in today’s world. Karam believes that sustainability and personalization are key factors for success in the given paradigm. The first issue is important because local authorities “are looking for ways to limit the impact that the increased influx of tourists may have on the environment, heritage sites and local populations,” leading the millennials to take advantage of seasonal opportunities. The second issue is important because millennials are specifically interested in certain locations, activities and experiences that lead them to plan their travels by relying on personal recommendations and information found on various websites and online services. Millennials are also quite spontaneous in their pursuits of making the best travel plans and thus utilize high levels of social media and online services such as Airbnb to reach decisions. Google Maps, as an example, is a definite favorite for such youngsters on their quests to have a great time in safety and welfare. Online booking systems and price comparators help such millennials save time and money while companies such as Uber definitely help them on a local scale, saving them from the troubles of finding a trustworthy driver at a reasonable price.

Given the global nature of travel in today’s world, airliners are under a significant amount of pressure to provide the most desirable services to their customers. Integrating technology into their services is a necessity for such companies and a recent travel report by Traveloka reveals important findings about the issue. The company compared best 50 airliners “in terms of Wi-Fi speed and cost, power outlet availability, in-flight entertainment and access to text messaging and phone calls” to find out that Qatar Airways is the most technologically advanced company in the game today. Most fliers have a demand of staying connected during their flight, which has initiated Qatar Airways to integrate ‘Super Wi-Fi’ systems into their planes, offering internet access at 50 Mbps to their customers. In a similar vein, Emirates provides TV access including “3,500 channels of movies, TV shows, music and games,” as well as “20MB of free Wi-Fi to be used within two hours.” The US based Delta Airlines also offers free access to mobile applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and iMessage while also providing all-day Wi-Fi access for as low as $16. Qatar Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways and Virgin Atlantic provide Live TV to their customers while also providing them with the necessary infrastructure “to make phone calls and send text messages” to keep them connected to the world on their ways to different destinations.

Numerous travelers fly on airplanes with laptops and other crucial portable technological devices for business related and personal needs but following the recent incidents of global terrorism, certain airliners have been banned from allowing their customers from carrying such devices on board. Emirates, Etihad Airlines and Turkish Airlines (THY) were both on the list of such airliners but luckily, both airliners have been removed from such a list as their fliers are rejoiced after hearing the good news. Currently, the UK is still not accepting such technological devices belonging to the mentioned airliners’ passengers while the THY CEO Bilal Eksi believes that such a ban will be lifted soon as well. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has named 10 specific Middle Eastern airports as possible sources of terrorist travel and thus necessitated that such devices will not be brought on board accompanying any passenger regardless of status, occupation or intention. With the addition of the Trump Administration’s travel ban for Muslims, the issue became mainstream again while US airliners flying from such destinations were exempted from such a ban. Interestingly, UK airliners are also subjected to the same policies as their Middle Eastern peers. The paranoia in the States became so widespread that DHS necessitated that European airliners would be subjected to the same policy, later reducing the regulation to “improved screening equipment [and] better explosives-detecting dogs.” Soon, Saudi Arabian Airlines is expected to be exempted from the laptop ban regarding its flights to the US.

Privacy is also a measure of security for travelers and the recent discovery of a hidden camera by a Carnival Cruise passenger during the family’s getaway in 2017 raised significant controversy. Chris White, the passenger of complaint, states that he and his family are extremely disappointed at the fact that Carnival never apologized for the incident, even though they acknowledged it. While having an allergy attack, White moved the TV “to inspect dust” and discovered a small secret camera “sticking out from the wires… with its lens pointing directly at the bed,” while also discovering an antenna broadcasting the live feed to unknown receivers. An officer from the ship’s security team arrived at the scene and tried to convince the family that the camera was not in working condition, claiming that it was left behind by a recent guest, while White stresses the fact that the machine was covered in dust and was in working condition. White also believes that the security staff acted extremely unprofessional regarding the incident, collecting no evidence or securing the room against possible interference. He stated that it was him who reached out to the FBI regarding the incident and not the team, voicing his concerns over the team’s real intentions. Carnival on the other hand insists that the camera was dysfunctional and the security team “conducted a “full investigation” in accordance with U.S. authorities” and notified “U.S. law enforcement, including the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and local police, when the ship arrived in Mobile following the cruise.”

A rapid rise – Online gaming industry gaining popularity

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The evolution of gaming has seen many eras phase in and out, but the traditional brick and mortar casinos have stood the test of time – until now, that is. While traditional casinos are not likely to dissolve any time soon, the rise of interest in online gaming has caused a gradual shift from traditional gaming methods to more modern, digitised versions. Gaming is one of those activities that appeals to many people, rather than a set demographic, and so interest in platforms of gambling was always bound to shift and evolve. Casino classic online games have become increasingly popular, with players from all over the world making the transition from gaming at traditional casinos, to online casino gaming companies. The rapid rise in online gaming popularity is because of society’s continuously strong grasp of the worldwide web and all it has to offer.

 

The online gaming world has been steadily rising over the past few years and is now experiencing a state of rapid increase that is the direct result of supply meeting demand. As the global gaming industry began to experience a decline in consumer activity, they realised that the evolution of the internet, and social constructs as a result, were largely responsible for the change of pace. The gaming industry has always been popular, but it has never experienced such a global level of exposure as it currently is now, thanks to the evolution of virtual gaming companies and platforms. Because of the internet’s strong (and, at this point, likely unshakable) threshold as the entire world’s global connectivity platform, it has been able to provide the gaming industry with a unique opportunity to phase from one era into the next easily and without much backlash.

 

It is not exactly a trade secret that the world wide web has changed practically every industry at some level. But with the evolution of the internet, gaming has made the transition from being a specialised action to a casual past time. The online gaming industry is appealing to consumers for many reasons, but perhaps the most common of them all is that online gaming platforms allow easy access with efficient usage, as well as the convenience of being able to jump in and out of games as the user pleases. Giving the power to the gamer in this way allows the gamer to feel more in control of their gaming activity, giving them the confidence to also learn their limitations on a more personal, strong level.

 

This is beneficial not only for the gamer themselves, but for the industry as it moves forward. In the past, online gaming is an industry that has experienced much criticism, but with the social constructs of modern society evolving with the rest of the world, the universe of online gaming is becoming more popular the world over. With disruptions to the industry like Bitcoin involvement, the market for online gaming is looking more promising all the time. As more innovators and industry leaders begin to jump on the bandwagon, online gaming inevitably experiences further growth. It is this growth that has allowed so many people the opportunity to engage in gaming in a way that does not take too much time, energy, or financial stability from their daily lives.

 

Because the needs of the modern consumer differ so vastly from those of consumers of the past, industries the world over have had no choice but to evolve to adapt, and the gaming industry is one of the most strongly affected at this point in time. People no longer have the time or the priority in mind to schedule in gaming time at traditional casinos, but having the availability of online casino-style platforms at their very fingertips 24/7 is creating a burst in popularity – and it is one that is not likely to go anywhere any time soon. Society today has a broadening dependence on online activity, and so the gaming industry’s expansion to online platforms is neither unexpected nor is it unwise. In fact, refusing to make the expansive move to online platforms could likely be the beginning of the end for any casinos that refuse to adapt and enhance their methods.

 

Thanks in large part to the gradual shift in social constructs, online gaming is becoming more popular all the time. The world’s shift to online activity is ever-increasing, and the gaming industry is taking note and expanding its reaches to include online casino-style platforms as well. consumers want convenience, efficiency, and speed these days, and the consumers that supply the gaming industry are no different. This evolution has made way for an international consumer base that has the power at their very fingertips. In allowing the gamer to choose how much time they spend playing, when they play, and how they play more efficiently, online gaming companies are reaping the rewards of listening to the consumer’s needs. This is only the beginning for online gaming.

The Power of Hackathons – Gamifying the Recruitment Process

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What’s the most bizarre thing you’ve ever done to score the job of your dreams? Flirted with your potential boss over dinner? Ben put to the test in a grueling physical challenge? Composed a song, dance, or a story, on the spot? Divulged your worst professional experience to date to a boardroom full of corporates?

Well, how about the idea of embarking of a tech-whiz-sprint-like event alongside computer programmers and other IT geniuses (interface designers, graphic designers, software developers, and so forth), working together collaboratively to create a functional software or hardware product by the end of a single sitting. We call it a hackathon. And boy are they becoming increasingly popular in the world of recruitment.

Generally hackathons or ‘hackfests’ are given a guiding theme, which could be the programming language used, the demographic group of the programmers, or an application program interface, and programmers are generally placed in teams based on skillset and interests. The competition can last anywhere from a few hours to several days – usually with participants living off pizza, energy drinks, and with the odd hour of sleep stolen here and there. Hackathons are usually organized for fun or as a novel challenge for programmers seeking to gain new skills, and there has been a lot of talk about using gamification in education as well as language learning. Hackathons can also sometimes take the form of a marketing gimmick – but increasingly so, they are being touted as a wonderful recruitment tool for those seeking top programming talent. Apparently, according to 65 per cent of recruiters there is a consistent and serious lack of ‘the right candidate’ in the programming industry. But by setting a challenge to connected, tech-savvy employees and inviting them to gather and recruit like-minded programmers who might not yet be known to the company, many an enterprise is today finding new and incredibly talented IT staff through organizing hackathons.

Through this particular kind of gamification – gamification being the application of typical elements of game playing or the use of game design to enhance non-game contexts – recruiters are finding new and novel ways to increase interest from potential employees, recruit top talent, all while enhancing company engagement, loyalty and participation. In particular, gamifying the recruitment process makes hiring WAY more interactive, worthwhile and rewarding for employees and candidates. And boy does it make things easier for the recruiters themselves. Forget about asking awkward personal questions and deliberating over the best way to assess new talent: gamification through organizing hackathons is the most effective means possible of finding keen-as-bean programmers and ensuring that the very best talent is that which shines through during the event itself. It’s an additional bonus that gamification makes hiring fun for existing employers, who are inevitably rewarded for their referral of suitable candidates and participation in the hackathon. At the most basic level: using a hackathon for the recruitment process means eliminating incapable or under skilled candidates much faster than usually possible via an ordinary interview process, with time management, innovative thinking and handling pressure in the moment all key skills for surviving and thriving in a hackathon. It helps recruiters develop a realistic understanding of what that candidate would look like as an actual employee, while simultaneously allowing the candidate to become familiar with the company, its ethics, its general approach and its IT team.

Hackathons are certainly no new phenomenon. In fact, not many would realise this but the game changing Facebook “Like” button, as well as Facebook Chat, were created during internal Facebook hackathons.

Nor is using hackathons to recruit top talent particularly new or novel.

The king of all tech firms, Google, has been a key user of gamification for recruitment purposes for almost 14 years. It launched a Google Code Jam software-writing competition as a means of finding new, capable talent for the company many years back, offering USD$50,000 to the overall winner to drive the competition to dizzying heights. Shell is another company fond of gamification as a means of recruiting top talent, and Marriott International Inc was another known to have adopted game mechanics as a means of enhancing its recruitment processes – though not necessarily for IT talent. Marriott International created a hotel-themed app which demands users to navigate the complex terrain of hotel kitchen management through game-style tasks and through solving real-world problems.

The recruiters at Jet.com, a Walmart subsidiary, who were tasked with enhancing the company’s recruitment process and find more suitable candidates for online job adds, brought together talented software designers, product designers, software developers, and aspiring students to identify an algorithm to better match online resumes with key criteria in job adds. And it worked.

What is important for recruiters and HR specialists to keep in mind is the importance of doing hackathons right. Otherwise, they simply become unhealthy 36 – 48 hour marathon programming sessions participated in for bragging rights. If done properly, hackathons can offer a better return-on-investment than forking out for a recruitment company.

Firstly, ensure that you take the right approach to the hackathon. Opt for a subject, theme or angle that actually suits your company and its values – you want the candidates to have an honest introduction to the company they may one day be working for, right? Secondly, focus the majority of efforts on networking and leveraging the valuable relationships and knowledge of your existing programmers and IT employees. Lastly, make it fun. There is a reason your company has opted to reject the traditional 30-part-question-and-answer-interview process – make sure you don’t forget that.

Creating opportunities for mixed-income housing developments

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Mixed-income housing developments have proven to improve social and economic outcomes for low-income individuals, yet a quick assessment of available options – whether at the community or national level – reveals that such housing options are highly limited. So why are these mixed-income residences so restricted? Though the 2016 Housing and Opportunity through Modernization Act (HOTMA) offers a housing voucher program tied to units rather than households, it’s difficult to incentivize property owners to support such units.

One significant barrier to mixed-income housing comes in the form of property managers who are concerned about conflict between tenants of differing income levels and class backgrounds. In Massachusetts, for example, all housing-authority managed senior citizen housing must also earmark 13.5% of units for disabled people under age 60, with a financial support system similar to that provided through HOTMA. As such, the tenants in these buildings may be higher income older residents and low-income, young people. Because the two tenant groups don’t understand each other, they’re less likely to amicably resolve problems and instead seek outside remediation, creating more work for property managers.

Greater use of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) resources can help minimize conflict between groups by training property managers. The department offers valuable certifications, like Certified Manager of Housing, which train property management professionals in business, finance, and interpersonal skills and prepare them for the difficulties inherent in managing public housing units. Additionally, local workshops and trainings by nonprofits can help property managers learn more about the diverse communities residing in their units.

As a result of interpersonal conflict, many mixed-income housing managers complain about frequent tenant turnover, but one of the great benefits of employing property management support is that it can help ease tensions and reduce that turnover. In fact, according to property managers, 77% of landlords see an increase in rental periods when property managers interface with tenants. Additionally, research by Paul Brophy and Rhonda Smith determined that mixed-income housing can only succeed when, in addition to excellent design and value differentials between market-rate units and low-income units, there is excellent management in place who can provide opportunities and activities for all residents.

Obviously location plays a significant role in the success of mixed-income housing; you’ll only attract higher income tenants if the location is appealing enough that they can move beyond any concerns about class (and, often, race) mixing. This was the theory behind the mixed housing development Urby in New York. Heavily supported by government funding and containing mandated public housing units, the property is in a trendy, rapidly gentrifying area. That location helped draw young, upper-middle-class tenants to the property, but has also created so much conflict that the property is now facing a racial discrimination lawsuit.

The reality quickly revealed by any housing map is that the majority of Americans live in racially homogenous areas and, as such, individuals simply lack the skills to live alongside each other. This is a consequence of decades of redlining, segregation, and white flight, not of any individual housing complex, but tenants need to be prepared to understand and cooperate with neighbors who may not share their culture or history. Great property managers know how to do this through community building events and social justice work, but not all mixed-income properties have managers who are sufficiently prepared to help tenants bridge that gap.

If we hope to see an increase in the number of successful mixed-income, landlords and property owners need to look to the few existing, well-functioning communities. Ethnographic studies of mixed-income housing have shown that success is often determined by the ability to organize around non-class social identities. This works better in mixed-income communities, rather than isolated mixed-income buildings, but the ability of residents to organize around age, religious affiliation, family structure, or other social elements. Additionally, they’re often contingent on access to other shared community spaces, like parks and schools.

Ultimately, as researchers note, communities are malleable – they can be reshaped by the ongoing efforts of tenants and community leaders. Moreover, if the last several years have shown us anything, class is increasingly malleable as well. Recent economic changes have left behind many younger members of the middle class and the growth of the gig economy suggests this won’t change any time soon. Additionally, a more socially conscious younger generation may be better prepared to support and participate in mixed-income housing.

There is no simple solution to the challenges posed by mixed-income housing, and while it is ultimately a social good, that’s only the case when residents can find a way to peaceably co-exist. As it stands, the majority of such complexes offer only forced proximity. What new models need to embrace is mixed-income housing as intentional community. The desire to participate in such a residential model needs to be the primary motivation for participation, rather than an afterthought.

 

More balance, same (or even better!) results – Online education

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Education is one of the most important parts of an individual’s life. Throughout our lives, we go through (on average) twelve years of compulsory education, and then we are given the choice and opportunity (most of the time, in lucky circumstances) to further our education if we wish to. For some students, expanding on their education means spending their summers at summer schools like Oxford Summer School, and for others it means taking a gap year after high school graduation, before embarking on a further three to four years of higher education to earn a degree. Traditionally, the chance to go to university meant that students had to schedule the rest of their lives around their academic timetable for each semester. Old-school universities and colleges demanded that students dedicate most of their time and energy into their studies at university or college, and that consequently meant that they had to sacrifice other aspects of life in the name of ensuring they got all marks possible during their studies. These days, those traditional methods of schooling are no longer the only option, effectively opening the world of higher education to students that, previously, were unable to even dream of it, much less live it.

Over the years, it has become increasingly obvious that the education industry is in need of revitalisation. Traditional learning demanded that students be present at classes in real-time, with universities and colleges going so far as to even mark attendance for classes. Furthermore, if students did not attend a certain number of classes, they either failed that percentage, or the entire course as a result. This policy was initially introduced as a way of getting students to stop slacking off, but what it really meant was that students were having to sacrifice shifts at work – their way of earning a living – even more, meaning that they were attending classes but being frustrated with the fact they had to. This is not down to students merely preferring working over studying; it is due to the fact that, for most full-time students, their timetable demands that to attend all classes and tutorials, they must be on campus three to five days a week (sometimes even more). This demand for so much time on campus obviously takes away from their time to be able to work shifts to earn a living. A solution has finally been found, however: online education.

Online education is an inspirational advancement in the sector; a stroke of modern-day genius. It is a known fact that mental health struggles are increasingly present and noted among the global student body, and a large part of the reason for this is because students who attend traditional schools are forced to sacrifice so much else of their lives in order to make it through university or college successfully and with their degree to their name. The introduction of online education platforms allows students who struggle with the traditional education system to learn in a way that gives them the balance they lack with the old-school methods and practices. This is not to say that all students are moving away from traditional education institutions, just that there is a need for adaptive, flexible education options as well – and online education has filled that gap perfectly and without hesitation. As the education industry adapts to shift itself into alignment with the needs of new and future generations of students, it becomes more inclusive, and thus more relevant moving into this next transitory era.

While the development of online learning is incredibly exciting, it is important to note that open education is unlikely to ever completely surpass traditional education. Studying online is a fantastic option for thousands of students, but for others they will always have a preference for traditional learning environments and methods, and there is nothing wrong with that. The future of education does not lie in changing the foundations of its success, but rather it lies in adapting to the changing needs of the generations that will be going through the education system in the future and beyond. Catering to students with all preferences is an important part of allowing the industry to move forward and go confidently from strength to strength.

The education sector has been in a state of consistent evolution for years now, but with students not appearing to be overly perceptive to the little changes that were in motion, it became increasingly obvious that a much bigger, more inclusive change was necessary. When the concept of online education was first breached to industry professionals, many laughed it off. The education system was not broken, as they saw it, so why fix it? The answer comes with listening to the requests of the students themselves. Current generations of students – and future generations as well – are leading increasingly busy lives, and many simply do not have the time to schedule the rest of their lives around their education. Online education is the perfect answer to balancing the system, allowing learners who prefer either the old-school methods or modern technologies to have access to an education system that speaks to their needs, making it the perfect alignment for the education industry going forward.

 

 

Personal security companies on the rise due to privacy issues and safety concerns

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For some citizens, having close protection is necessary. Depending on their life situation, it may require extra personal security in the form of bodyguards. They may need complete security such as the use of surveillance technology and a personal group of bodyguards to escort them to varying locations. Typically, individuals who require this type of constant protection are politicians, country ambassadors, high-ranking military personnel, businessmen, or celebrities. Often legal cases that gain large media attention may require the use of close protection due to the fact that the plaintiff or defendant may be in danger as they are the center of the public controversy. Personal security companies are there to provide whatever protection an individual, group, or business requires. For many retailers, they often require a high amount of protection due to the fact that many people try to commit theft or cause harmful damages to the business. For this reason, it is wise for any business, especially larger ones, to invest in some type of security and protection. Some businesses may just choose to utilize CCTV surveillance technology whereas larger stores and locations may invest in security guard to stand at the door or patrol. The use of a security guard at the door immediately warns consumers that there is someone there, but also may provide peace of mind and relief to know they are protected in the store.

Retail security services often include packages that can help protect against theft. Having highly trained security guards from reputable security companies can help in loss prevention for company assets and products located within the store. Some personal security companies will come in to assess the risk and threat at the venue before providing a security guard. Although many companies already have some type of theft prevention measures in place such as ink tag attachments and door alarms, having added security is still a good idea and can benefit the business in the long run. Along with security guards, CCTV can help identify potential theft and other crimes. Having a security guard monitor the surveillance cameras can benefit the company by having this person communicate any problems in the store to the floor team. By having communication lines open about the ongoing security and happenings within the business, this can help to reduce or eliminate theft and crime.

Often personal security companies operate in accordance to the law and beside the law. Because security and privacy are legal matters, it is important that all communication is open and understood between the contracted parties of the security company and service recipient. Not all surveillance has to be video surveillance. Although 24-hour video surveillance is an excellent step to prevent crimes and utilize for police investigations, it’s not the only way to discover and monitor things. Along with video surveillance, many personal security businesses offer their clients photographical and written evidence. This information is often gathered by an individual or team of professional private investigators that are heavily vetted and earn security clearance before given the chance to do their job.

For personal security services, some individuals may require it for an event. Event security guards can help minimize and reduce the chance of event attendees getting harmed in anyway. They can also monitor to make sure only people on the guest list are allowed inside. If a potentially harmful situation arises, these individuals are able to step in and remove harmful individuals or break up a situation. This can also help guests feel safer at the event. Some private security companies offer event security guards that are trained in customer service, conflict management and control, and even first-aid if someone is harmed at the event. Having event security even for a private-wedding can be beneficial and alleviate worries of the event hosts.

For any type of personal security, it is important that a person first and foremost remains protected. In a digital age of continual tracking and data mining, it’s crucial that high-profile individuals are not in any danger. Even for individuals considered low-profile, if they are in danger or just want the added protection of a bodyguard or surveillance, these are all things that a personal security company can offer. When searching and researching personal security companies it’s important to go with the ones that offer quality over quantity and are highly regarded with an outstanding reputation in their industry. Some personal security companies may claim to be the best but be sure they back up any claims with solid evidence, with links to any accreditations. When it comes to private security of any kind, being protected from all fronts is the most important aspect. Remaining safe and secure at all times should be of high priority for all people because without protection for someone who needs it, they may be at risk or become harmed or hurt in some way. The first priority for personal security companies should always be the protection of their client.

No Love here – Sexism in tennis ignites after US Open Williams controversy

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Tennis has long been one of the most loved sports in the world. Thousands of viewers tune in from home with thousands more flock to the matches to be spectators for coveted matches. One of those infamous coveted matches was this year’s US Open tennis match between Serena Williams and new kid on the block, 20-year-old Naomi Osaka. The match had it all: riveting tennis, outstanding displays of talent, and drama. Drama surrounded this year’s match on a scale not seen in women’s tennis in many years. From the beginning of the match up until the moment Williams essentially handed the game to Osaka on a silver platter with all the trimmings, there was more to watch than the average US Open match offers – as if that were not enough. From yelling at the umpire to smashing her racket, it sounds like the historic game Williams was set to play against Osaka proved her a “drama queen” of the sport. Only, that is not what happened at all…not even close.

Every athlete in the game has their quirks and preferences within the world of their sport. Star athletes have their favorite tennis racquets and fans have their favorite tennis markets. Each tennis player also has their own unique characteristics that play out during their matches (from the grunts that explode as they put their entire being into every racket hit, to the way they treat the umpires and their opponents). Williams topped Forbes list of the highest-paid female athletes this year, with her annual earnings for this calendar year equalling $18,162,000 US ($62,000 in winnings and a further $18.1 million from a monumental endorsement portfolio which is, thus far, unparalleled among women in sports). This proof of her financial value as an athlete, coupled with her advanced skillset, make Williams a weapon in tennis. For Serena Williams, she is infamous for her winning talents and her astonishing smile. A global star on and off the court, Williams is a fan-favourite and an idol for other players in the industry. Her opponent in this recent US Open match, Naomi Osaka, is one of those key players who idolises Williams.

The highly-anticipated match between a titan of the sport and a fresh-faced rising star began as any tennis match does. The players acknowledge one another, the ball bounces, and the game begins. As the match powered on, however, the tides began to shift and the mood on the court began to change. Carlos Ramos, the umpire of this particular match, was a man doing his job – nothing more, nothing less. Throughout the match, Williams was given not one, not two, but three code violations. By the time the third violation was handed out, Williams was done with the game and Osaka was handed the victory; this is the equivalent of Williams essentially letting Osaka best her at her own game four times consecutively.

The first code violation was handed to Williams for receiving signals from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, from the stands – signals which Mouratoglou himself later acknowledged were carried out. On the back of her first code violation of the match, Williams smashed her racket, costing herself a point. While the action of athletes smashing their rackets is by no means unheard of (it is in fact quite a common occurrence in the sport), Williams cost herself the point because the action came almost directly after her first citation of the match. Williams then proceeded to verbally abuse Ramos, calling him a “thief” because, in her words, he had never taken a point from a man for the same thing. And there lies the deep-rooted problem.

It is by no means uncommon for male tennis players to verbally abuse their umpires. Williams is not wrong in stating that fact. It is also true that women are marginalised in the sport and not always treated fairly – on average, the male players get away with far more than female players do on (and off, for that matter) the court. Despite these facts, there are countless occurrences where male players have been penalised or even suspended for verbally abusing the umpires or other players. The issue here lies in the fact that Williams has suffered racism and marginalisation her whole life. Mere months ago she was reprimanded for wearing a catsuit during a match; despite the outfit being designed to control muscle movement following an emergency C-section delivery of her first child, Olympia, in September last year, Williams was cautioned and advised that she would not be able to wear it again. She responded with humour, wearing a back tutu to a following match.

Instances like this are just those of Williams herself – one in a million faces of women who deal with sexist, even racist action and remarks every day of their lives – and they are prime examples of how women have been treated unfairly in the industry. While Ramos was not wrong in his decisions to penalise her multiple times during this US Open match, it comes off the back of a history of being marginalised because of her gender and her race, and Williams was well within her rights to make her feelings and her voice known – she just chose to take those feelings out on the wrong umpire. Even this can be forgiven, because the history of gender marginalisation in tennis speaks for itself. There have been instances of female players changing shirts during their matches and being penalised – whereas male players change their shirts constantly and receive no violation. Just one example in a deep pool of hundreds, this is where the issue lies. Not with Williams.

While there are those who believe that Williams merely used her fame and name as a means to act like a diva on the court, the vast majority post-match have showered the tennis star with support and words of encouragement. One key example of this encouragement post-match came in the wake of a cartoon of Williams at the US Open match that depicts her as the stereotypical, highly offensive “angry black woman” trope. The artist, cartoonist Mark Knight of the Herald Sun, defended his illustration by insisting that he simply drew her as she appeared at the match. The uproar over the drawing, however, begs not only Knight, but the world to realise the deeper issues at hand.

While the events that unfolded at the now highly publicised US Open event were troubling, and verbal abuse is never okay, the deeper-rooted issues at hand demand that more be done to right the ship for female players in not only tennis, but across all sports. Sexism has long been an unfortunate tidal wave in society for years, but the simple realisation that in 2018 we must do better, must be better, should be more than enough to drive the issue home, and to find a viable solution. Williams misspoke, she reacted poorly, but as just one of the many faces of sexism in her sport for years upon years, Williams was strong enough to take a stand and demand a better future for women in sports – even if her stand was directed at the wrong person. Let this be a lesson: we must all do better, we must all strive to be better.

Mental health awareness as important as physical health

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We just had World Mental Health Day on October 10th which is a day set aside to educate people about the importance of taking care of their mental health and to reduce the social stigma attached to it. As part of that educative process it is important that people understand that there are lots of different mental health therapies that are available to treat many different mental health issues. These do not have to be earth shattering or extremely debilitating problems before you seek out help with them, the recent admission of Selena Gomez for a little “check in” to help her deal with some issues she is having shows that the right approach is to deal with these issues as they arise rather than waiting till they become significant problems. With that in mind I am going to give you a brief rundown of the types of therapies available to help you cope with any mental health issues you or your loved ones may be having.

One of the newest forms of therapy that has been getting very good results is Positive Existential Therapy or PET as pioneered by the Naya Clinics. It is a therapy whose philosophical underpinning are the existentialist tradition of european philosophy and focuses on concepts that are universally experienced such as death, freedom, responsibility and the meaning of life. Instead of seeing anxiety and depression as mental illness it views that as a natural part of life that can be dealt with by emphasising the individuals freedom and responsibility to facilitate higher meaning and well being in their life. It has a proven record of being useful in treating postpartum depression, marriage therapy and life coaching among other things.

In many ways PET is a reaction to the shortcomings of another school of therapy that has a wide following, namely Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. CBT seeks to change people’s behaviour by challenging and changing cognitive distortion (thoughts, beliefs and attitudes). It is a problem focused and action oriented form of therapy that is based on the principles of behavioural and cognitive psychology. It focuses on overcoming thought distortions and maladaptive behaviour by using coping therapies such as information processing skills. It has been used to successfully treat PTSD, substance abuse and eating disorders as well as in combination with drug therapies has been used to treat OCD and psychotic disorders and is the recommended frontline treatment for most children’s and youths disorders.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy  is an attachment focused psychotherapy that is distinctive by its time limited approach. Originally called high contact therapy is was developed at Yale University in the 1970’s as a treatment method for depression. It is now used to treat a variety of disorders including Bulimia and Bipolar Disorder. It focuses on interpersonal sensitivity and is based on Attachment theory and Interpersonal Theory. The aim is to help patients by improving their interpersonal communication skills and develop social support networks. Along with CBT it is the most common form of therapy for mental health professionals in the United States to be trained in.

The last form of psychotherapy is the one that most people would recognize from Hollywood movies. It is called Psychodynamic Therapy and is based on the idea that most emotional problems are caused by unresolved unconscious conflicts from childhood. The goal of this therapy is for people to gain a greater understanding and cope better with their feelings by talking about their experiences. It works by exploring feeling that sometimes the patient is not even aware of by making the unconscious part of their emotional life part of their present. It is philosophically based on Freudian psychoanalysis and unlike structured approaches like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy it tends to be free flowing and open ended. Originally developed to treat depression it is now used to help patients to better understand the unconscious beliefs that drive behaviors as well as developing psychological resources and a much greater capacity for dealing with psychological issues that have caused them emotional suffering.

Whichever treatment you think would be a good fit for any of the mental health issues you may be having understand that it is perfectly normal to have these issues and the most responsible thing you can do is attempt to deal with while they are small before the have a chance to grow into much more debilitating issues. Attitudes have changed and people are not going to think less of you because you utilizes the help of mental health professionals to overcome issues you may be having. The first step to getting well is to admit you have a problem that needs help and seeking out that help. It is in its own way an act of love not just for yourself but also to those that love you. Don’t hesitate to seek it out if you think you might need it.

Getting the story straight – Drug addiction a health issue, not a criminal issue

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Across the world, drug addiction is one of the most violent and dangerous causes of death. In fact, in the US alone, mortality from drug overdose is the leading cause of death from injury, with opioids stacked as the most common choice of poison. Countries around the world have been trying desperately to fight the growing number of drug-related deaths, and yet it appears that, as one wall is overcome, another is built a few hundred metres ahead. The availability of drugs essentially fuels the demand for drugs, and as a result the epidemic is in a near-constant state of teetering between finding a way through the fog and falling down the next hole that comes up. As far as treatment facilities go, traditional addiction institutions have a low success rate, with addicts either not recovering at all or relapsing nearly immediately upon their release from the addiction treatment facility. However, new-age addiction treatments such as the Ibogaine treatment method at the Holistic Sanctuary are paving the way for higher success rates, healthier clients, and ground-breaking treatment methods. Even with these incredible innovations to the cause, there is much more to be done, and a long road to be paved before the epidemic ceases.

First and foremost, the misconception that drug addiction is a choice that is easily put to bed is incredibly damaging and frankly irresponsible. Individuals who suffer with addiction are at the mercy of the substance of their addiction. In short, addiction of any kind is essentially a chronic brain disease. In the case of drug addiction, this disease of the brain causes or at the very least increases significantly compulsive drug seeking and use, regardless of the consequences to the user themselves, as well as all those around them. Rather than treating drug addiction as a criminal offence, we should first and foremost be looking at it as a breach in health. The tragedy of drug addiction is that it swallows a person’s entire life, leaving them dependent on it and lost without it. It is a cruel, unyielding disease, and it is one that affects more people than we are perhaps comfortable admitting or realising.

The biggest problem in the face of the epidemic is society’s blatant refusal to accept or at least be open to discussing drug addiction. When all the possible channels (aside from treatment facilities, of course) for support and assistance are tainted with negative impressions and misinformation, the result is that addicts are often left out in the cold, feeling as though the problem does not matter to the whole and that they are alone in their disease. It is a heartbreaking realisation, but it is one that must be brought to attention if anything is to be done about it that can have profound, lasting impact. First and foremost, drug addiction destroys the life of the individual that is directly affected. Addicts become literally hooked on the feelings that are a result of the drug, or the substance itself, and once that addiction is kicked into high gear it is near impossible for many to break out of it and improve their lives.

Additionally, the loved ones of drug addicts are left broken and unsure where to even begin picking up the pieces. Friends pull away, unsure or unwilling to deal with the consequences of the disease their friend is battling. An addict’s entire life is changed. Getting the necessary help is a difficult step for some to take, and when they do get there, the battle wages on. Mindset is at the core of addiction as well as subsequent recovery; for addicts to be able to recover successfully, they must be in the right mindset to do so. an addict seeking help before they are ready nearly always results in quick relapse, built up resentment, and overriding impulse to fall back into old, unhealthy habits. Having a clear, sure mindset is essential to anyone actively seeking treatment.

Criminalising drug addiction is the core of the greater issue. When a disease is treated as though it is a crime, then victims and their suffering circles are left to deal with the explosive aftermath on their own and under public scrutiny. Yes, drug addicts have a responsibility to themselves just as we all do, and they make the initial choice to fall into drug use. The decision to turn to drugs is very rarely a choice made simply to “see what it is like”. Often times there are underlying root causes that lead to drug use, and the brain becomes hooked – this is when the disease takes over. Criminalising drug use makes sense in a lot of ways, but it also unfortunately does not solve the problem. Addicts should be given understanding, kindness, and viable options for recovery, but instead they are often given disrespect, disdain, and disgust. While addiction has been known to be more common in marginalised groups, no one is immune, and so acting as if drug addiction is beneath anyone is not only disgusting behaviour as a human being, but it is damaging as it results in addicts relying more on the one thing in their lives that is a constant source of support – even if that support is twisted.

Drug addiction is a health issue, and the treatment of it as a criminal act is frankly irresponsible. We cannot hope to demolish this harrowing global epidemic if we consistently look down on those who suffer at its hands and act as though drug addiction is a simple choice of deciding to quit. Drug addiction destroys lives, and the only viable way to combat it is to treat it as what it is: a breach in health, not a breach in character. Nobody is immune to drug addiction, and so understanding and willingness to assist those who suffer is vital to ensuring the future health and successes of those who recover. With any luck, the recovered percentage will continue to grow as the number of drug-related fatalities falls.

Shop the outer rings – Taking active control of your health

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Taking control of one’s health can be challenging. Life is busy, and it is easy to default to the easy options for meals, most of which are fast foods or other unnecessarily unhealthy options. The obvious result of this is that individuals who resort to the perceptively easy options for their meals ultimately end up being unhealthier for it. It is not a difficult concept to grasp, but it is one that requires forethought and knowledge to truly understand the weight of the concept. Essentially, the healthier a diet one eats, the healthier their body is overall. It can be difficult to get into healthy habits, but once one has locked them down, eating healthy becomes second nature and the body thanks them time and again; a healthy body is a happy body. There are some tricks of the trade that can make transitioning into a healthier era easier, and thankfully there are also genuine bonus tips that actively work towards targeting and lifting the health of one’s body.

Eating a healthy balance of foods and drinks is vital to ensuring one’s physical health, but supplements and vitamins can also work wonders for the body. Companies like Pure Encapsulations make it their mission to provide consumers with healthy provisions that are proven to work. These magical little capsules, powders, and pills (such as fish oil or vitamin B, for example) work by providing the human body with additional essential elements, such as extra vitamins, iron, or natural fatty oils. But these supplements and vitamins are intended only as a natural boost, not as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle (though some people do genuinely need them as one).

Making the decision to pursue a healthy lifestyle is about more than intention. As the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. In short, simply intending to be healthier later does not solve anything; to actively life a healthy lifestyle, one must consciously choose to now, not later. Incorporating whole foods into one’s diet makes us feel better and gives us a more wholesome approach to life. To make the transition into healthy eating easier, one simple (but incredibly effective) tip is to shop on the outer rings of the grocery store. The reason for this is very simple: processed or otherwise altered foods and drinks tend to be stocked within the inner isles of grocery stores, while the whole, natural foods are stocked in the outer rings of the store. Organizing your grocery shopping like this is an easy way to ensure that you don’t overspend on food and drinks that are not healthy for your body, and it also helps you subconsciously stock your trolley with more fruits and vegetables, helping us to “eat the rainbow” (eat brightly colored fruits and veggies) more actively and easily.

Adding spicy ingredients into one’s cooking is another way to assist with putting a healthy lifestyle into consistent action. It has been proven in multiple studies and through research that foods and meals that are spicier in nature take us longer to eat, due to the spice taking longer to handle and digest. This results in eating more slowly, allowing the body to fill up naturally rather than plugging fattier, more unhealthy foods into our systems. When we eat with intention, and include spicy ingredients into our meals, we eat slower and the body consequently fills up faster. Obviously, this is a win-win for the body (unless you don’t like spicy foods, in which case avoid this tip).

It is about more than just what we want for our bodies, too. Our diet has a monumental effect on the brain and general well-being, even going so far as to work to protect against mental illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Proven to consume more than 20% of the body’s total energy haul, the human brain genuinely needs to be fueled with fatty acids in the forms of fish like salmon, mackerel, and anchovies (the best natural source of the sole kind of fat the brain needs). Additionally, fruits, vegetables, and glucose (the only energy source for the brain) are necessities to fuel the body in all the right ways. Every day, what we put into our bodies is gradually broken down and turning into nutrients. Travelling into the bloodstream, the nutrients is then carried through the body to the brain, where it replenishes energy, activates cellular reactions, and essentially becomes the very substance of the human brain. It is an incredibly intricate web, and one that must be fabricated in the healthiest of ways in order to thrive and function wholly.

Making conscious decisions to be healthier is something that quite a lot of people struggle with. It is not hard to understand why – with so many more convenient, fast options out there, individuals tend to default to the meal options that take the least amount of time while simultaneously filling them up the most. If one truly wants to live a healthy, wholesome life, they should pay close attention to what they put in their bodies, including how they do their grocery shopping and their active choices for their meals when eating out. Each of us has only one body – we should do our best to keep it at its best.