I’m literally going to explode.

Which is apparently perfectly grammatical to say now:

Gizmodo has discovered Google’s definition for literally includes this: “Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.”

[...]

Merriam-Wesbter and Cambridgedictionaries have also added the informal, non-literal definition.

I understand that the English language is always changing, but a word like “literally” used to be taken… well .. literally.

This is going to throw a wrench into my plans today. No, not literally, though who really knows anymore.

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.

If you call yourself “hip”, you probably aren’t.

The newest BlackBerry phone, the Q5, goes on sale in Canada in a couple of weeks:

BlackBerry Ltd. says it will launch its “fun and youthful” Q5 smartphone in Canada next month in time for the back to school shopping season.

The BlackBerry Q5 Facebook page says this:

BBM will be great on this hip, cool and ever reliable BlackBerry Q5!

This sounds a lot like it was cooked up by some 50 year old marketing folks. No offense – I’m over 50 myself – but I’m not the target market here. “Fun and youthful”? Really? The Facebook page looks as corporate as corporate can be. Why no pictures of these “youths” (I’m channelling the movie My Cousin Vinny here) using the Q5?

Forbes isn’t too sure of their success in this market either:

There is a market for the Q5, but I don’t think it’s the youth orientated market that BlackBerry is hoping for. I could see a lot of Q5s being bought in the enterprise sector for the ‘junior’ team members, and they would all be grudgingly used. The Q5 relies on the BlackBerry name to sell, because in terms of functionality, looks, styling, and apps, the competition is just too good.

If there was ever a time to actually ask some kids what they think of the phone, now is it. Though it may be a bit too late. But I’m pretty certain nobody is going to be throwing the word “hip” around.

We don’t make mistakes.

People make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. And it should be a sign of character to admit to your mistakes.

So why is it that politicians seem unable to admit their mistakes?

Waterloo Region councillors introduced the green bin for composting kitchen waste a couple of years ago. Uptake by local citizens has been slower than they would have liked. And they committed themselves – some would say overcommitted – to a very expensive 10 year processing deal:

When a new contract starts in October, taxpayers will spend $654 to turn a tonne of kitchen waste into compost that enriches farm fields, The Record has found in tallying costs. That’s five times the cost to dump the same garbage ($132).

At this price, kitchen scraps become more valuable than rice ($563), wheat ($323) or corn ($306) according to commodity markets.

But it wasn’t a mistake.

“We’re not getting value for money. And that’s quite clear,” Waterloo Coun. Sean Strickland said.

[...]

He resists the argument that council messed up in launching an expensive program that some cities have rejected and then misjudging use and processing.

No really, it wasn’t.

“It’s disappointing,” Kitchener Coun. Jim Wideman said. “I don’t think (council) made a mistake. I think that we made certain assumptions about what our tonnages would be.”

Councillors made the decision to start the program. To commit to a 10 year agreement at a high tonnage. But they didn’t make a mistake.

Nope. It’s your fault for not using the green bin that you didn’t ask for. So now they may have to punish you for your “mistake”:

To muscle people into using bins, council could ban food waste from the landfill. Another option is to limit garbage bags at the curb, effectively requiring some families to fill bins. Another option is to reduce garbage collection to every two weeks while collecting green bins weekly. This would invite people to fill bins to get rid of rotting food more quickly.

So now I’m wondering, once they have finished spending $818 million or so on the LRT, and the ridership numbers aren’t high enough, will that be your mistake  too? Of course it won’t be theirs. They won’t even be around then.

So will ridership be increased by muscling people into taking the LRT? Perhaps banning cars from the downtown core, or charging congestion fees?

Whatever happens, just remember, it’s your mistake, not theirs. After all, you elected them.