Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Always train your employees

Sometimes, you assume that people know certain things that are held universally to be true. After all, there is a reason people say "Don't saw off the branch you're sitting on". No?

Well, turns out, it's a fairly common mistake people make.
Peter Aspinall, 64, had been asked to prune a sycamore tree in the grounds of a hotel, but instead of leaning his ladder against the trunk he placed it against the branch he was hacking down. [...]
Now Mr Aspinall, who had worked at the Egerton House Hotel near Bolton, Lancashire, for just two weeks, is suing them for compensation. (Source)

You see, one must not think that the placement of a ladder is self-evident. There is in fact a lot of technique involved, and pruning must not be left to the untrained and/or inexperienced. For all of you whose initial reaction was a slight chuckle of disbelief, the rest of the article offers further enlightenment as to the course of events.

[T]he accident happened on July 18, 2008 when Mr Aspinall was helping gardener Alan Ashworth remove the branch because it was shading the lawn.

The men placed their ladder against the branch and Mr Ashworth held the bottom of it while Mr Aspinall climbed up with a bow saw to chop it down.

They did not realise their mistake until the branch finally snapped and Mr Aspinall fell to the ground.

So as you see, there were actually TWO people involved, and neither of them realized that the ladder was badly positioned. I imagine the exchange between the handyman and the gardener to have gone something along these lines:

Gardener: Hey Pete! Can you help me chop off this branch?
Handyman: Sure thing, Al! Which one?
Gardener: This one right there! Look, I'll set up the ladder for you. That branch right there.
Handyman: You sure you want me to saw off this branch? This doesn't look quite right.
Gardener: Don't worry, Pete, I know what I'm doing! It's perfectly safe. Look, I'll even hold the ladder for you!
Handyman: Well, you are the gardener, after all.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

True or not?

The problem with reading stuff on April 1st is that you're never quite sure whether it's real or whether someone is trying to pull a quick one on you.

This post from Tech Dirt is either a well-crafted April Fools, or an example of an increasingly scary trend in the world of business.

We've been noticing a trend in recent years of companies that sell physical goods trying to figure out ways to have those goods get some of the "advantages" of digital goods. For example, with physical products, once you sell it, in theory, the seller no longer owns a piece of the good. But with digital goods, they still hold the copyright, and often try to limit what you can do with the product even though you thought you "bought" it. So we've been disturbed by the rise of things like artist resale rights, which take away the right of first sale on artwork, and require you to pay the original artist every time you sell the product.