They aren’t gone yet.

Today the press – online and offline – is awash with stories about BlackBerry being for sale. Everyone has a story on how they fell. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.

I live in Waterloo, Canada. These stories hit home here. It’s a constant topic of conversation in coffee shops I frequent, even among folks who don’t seem like they’d be interested in technology. But they aren’t gone yet. I live just a few minutes from many of their buildings and trust me, they’re still there.

This stuff makes great front page news, as bad news always does. And no, I don’t expect that there is much of a way out for the company at this point, but they are giving it the old college try.

I’ve been among the first to comment when they’ve done something I thought was dumb. But now it just seems a bit sad, and I can’t bring myself to kick them when they’re down.

Though they were the architects of their own situation, and I adamantly oppose any attempt by the government to bail them out, I do hope they survive in some form.

Catastrophic!

Quebecor has finally weighed in about a potential move into Canada by Verizon. They’ve called it catastrophic:

“… Nothing in the current rules prevents Verizon from acquiring half of the prime spectrum blocks in every region of the country,” Depatie said.

Similarly, nothing prevents Verizon from limiting its deployment in urban areas, he said.

Limiting deployment in urban areas? So basically acting exactly like the incumbent Canadian carriers? Feel free to glance at the Rogers Coverage map to see how they pretty much stick to urban areas too. All I can say is don’t get too far from a major center.

Yes, it might be catastrophic for them. These companies don’t care about their customers; they’re worried about their businesses. They’ve had a virtual monopoly until now. They claim that they provide excellent customer service, yet for some reason they seem to be worried that customers will flock to Verizon. Odd, isn’t it?

They’ve rolled out a Fair for Canada campaign to fight Verizon’s entry. Lots of quotes and comments about why Verizon is bad, bad, bad for Canada. You won’t find any comments from customers though. For that you might try the Anti-Fair For Canada sites, where customers tell their side of the story.

These companies don’t want competition to ruin their little fiefdoms, and they don’t care in the least about customers. Let’s hope that the government doesn’t fall for their sad story.

You say “unsavoury”. I say “common practice”.

The City of Guelph plans to resell the waste processing capacity that the Region of Waterloo isn’t using to other buyers:

“What we do want to convey to other municipalities is we have excess capacity,” said Bell, who helped guide construction of the composting plant in his ward. “And if they want it they can buy it, but they won’t get a long-term contract like the region got.

“Any contract that we would get with another municipality would be one that we could walk away from because we need to serve the Region of Waterloo first.”

One regional councillor calls this “unsavoury”:

Waterloo Coun. Sean Strickland calls double-selling “unsavoury” but Bell says Guelph taxpayers deserve any extra cash to help pay for the $32-million composting facility. “We built and paid for the plant,” he said. “We took the risk.”

But overselling inventory is pretty common practice when it comes to perishable goods. Airlines oversell seats to prevent empty seats when passengers don’t show up. An an airline seat is just about the most perishable thing there is.

The region got themselves locked into a poor long term deal. If they can’t deliver waste to be processed then there is nothing “unsavoury” about Guelph selling their excess capacity, provided they first honour the terms of their contract with the Region of Waterloo.

Trying to make the City of Guelph look like the bad guys for running their business effectively just isn’t going to absolve the Region of their mistake.

What can we depend on?

It seems that more and more we can’t depend on people to do the right thing when we should. But we could always depend on a Xerox photocopier to copy a page faithfully. After all, they invented the thing, so they know a thing or two about copying. Until now it seems:

In this article I present in which way scanners / copiers of the Xerox WorkCentre Line randomly alter written numbers in pages that are scanned. This is not an OCR problem (as we switched off OCR on purpose), it is a lot worse – patches of the pixel data are randomly replaced in a very subtle and dangerous way: The scanned images look correct at first glance, even though numbers may actually be incorrect.

  1. Incorrect invoices
  2. Construction plans with incorrect numbers (as will be shown later in the article) even though they look right
  3. Other incorrect construction plans, for example for bridges (danger of life may be the result!)
  4. Incorrect metering of medicine, even worse, I think.

If you can’t depend on a photocopier to photocopy a page properly, what can you depend on?

Trust us.

By now we’ve all heard how the NSA is capturing the activity of millions of Americans. A little more dribbles out every day:

President Barack Obama’s national security team acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that, when investigating one suspected terrorist, it can read and store the phone records of millions of Americans.

Claims that this intrusion and violation have foiled terrorist plots are being treated skeptically even by the government itself:

Meanwhile, at a hacker convention in Las Vegas on Wednesday, the head of the NSA said government methods used to collect telephone and email data helped foil 54 terror plots — a figure that drew open skepticism from lawmakers back in Washington. “Not by any stretch can you get 54 terrorist plots,” said the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

And every says seems to make it clearer that the government is merely lying when they respond:

The newest NSA leak has just been posted at the Guardian and it gives credence to Snowden’s earlier claim the he could, “from his desk,” wiretap nearly anyone in the world. US officials, including NSA apologist/CISPA architect/Internet hater Mike Rogers, denied Snowden’s claim, with Rogers going so far as to call the former NSA contractor a liar. The documents leaked today seem to indicate otherwise.

Of course they are only doing it for your security. To protect you from harm. Trust us.

The claims about only surveilling foreign targets are clearly lies as well:

Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which begs the question: How’d the government know what they were Googling?

So when the government tell you they are re-evaluating, what do you think?

“We are open to re-evaluating this program in ways that can perhaps provide greater confidence and public trust that this is in fact a program that achieves both privacy protections and national security,” Robert Litt, counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told skeptical members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The NSA has this technology. They aren’t going to give it up, no matter what any silly government says. Or that old Constitution. That would be letting the terrorists win.

And regardless of what the government says, you probably shouldn’t believe them, if only based on their track record regarding the situation. They are just going to tell you what you want to hear anyway.

After all, if you aren’t doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to be worried about. Except for an ever changing definition of “wrong”, which now includes googling pressure cookers, and may soon include disagreeing with the NSA.

The Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves.