In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Category: mistakes Page 1 of 3

Canadian news and guns

I watched CHCH news this evening and one reporter was on location showing viewers where a crime took place. She described where the accused jumped out of a vehicle with a shotgun and shot the victim. A moment later, she explained that the bullet grazed the victim’s neck.

Again, Canadian news people show how little they seem to know about guns. In this case you likely know that shotguns do not shoot bullets. Generally, shotgun shooters load their weapons with either slugs or shot. In my fact-checking for this post I learned that shotguns also shoot a plethora of projectiles (including flechettes, for goodness sakes) but shot and slugs are, by a vast margin, the most common shotgun projectiles. Regardless, none of those possible projectiles are bullets.

I was going to ask why these people don’t look up the things they don’t know, but I suspect the problem is bigger than that. They don’t even know that they don’t know! And to think, they’re informing us?

Details from “Shotgun,” posted on Wikipedia, retrieved December 15, 2015

I missed the memo…

I use EyeTV to record television programs for later viewing, turning my Mac into a PVR. I suspected that the software allowed me to capture still images of recordings or live TV, but I’ve never been interested enough to investigate how to do it … until last week.

The software ‘over-records’ if it can, to make sure it doesn’t clip the beginning or end of a program. I sometimes get the news headlines at the end of a one hour program that starts at 10pm because the software continues to record for an extra minute or two after the program ends.

After one such program, the news reported that a Canadian couple was involved in a tragic helicopter accident in Hawaii. What had me investigate how to do capture a still of the recorded video was the map that CityTV news displayed to show where in Hawaii the accident took place.


As you can see, Lake Ontario has been relocated to Hawaii!

You’d think that would have been the lead story.

We spy on your children!

Another fine chapter in the book of “what were they thinking?” was brought to light by Blake J. Robbins. And what a chapter it is!

His school’s vice-principal disciplined Robbins’ son for “improper behaviour in his home,” according to a Boing Boing article. Setting aside the questionable jurisdiction the school has over what a student does at home, you might wonder how the vice-principal knew what Robbins’ son did at home. It turns out he had a photo of the unnamed transgression. How he got the photo is where things go beyond what you might think is ridiculous.

The Lower Merion School District issues laptops to its high-school students. These laptops have webcams. What the district seems to have failed to tell anyone is that they also installed spyware on the laptops so they can activate the cameras at will.

Mr. Robbins has filed a class-action lawsuit against the school district.

Since this story broke earlier this week, school district superintendent Christopher W. McGinley has issued a statement confirming the presence of the spyware, but denying any wrong-doing. In fact, they claim they installed the software so it could be activated if a laptop is stolen. They’ve also claimed to have disabled the spyware while investigating the issue.

I suspect things will not go well for the school board. They made no claim that Robbins’ son’s laptop was reported stolen. For the sake of argument, let’s assume the software was activated because of some mistake or misunderstanding. How on earth can anyone think it would be okay to take improperly obtained information and punish a student based on it? In the event of such an error, the information should have been immediately deleted.

But the district did not claim there was any error. The statement repeatedly claims the district takes privacy seriously, despite this event clearly disproving this claim.

The district made a mistake. A big mistake. Nothing in the superintendent’s statement begins to explain what really happened.

More Rogers and me

I received a response, and from management-level support, no less. I was initially incredulous. This is what management-level support rep Darren said:

You have reached Management Support via email.

I do want to take the time to apologize for any inconvenience that has been caused by receiving mailings from Rogers.

When you remove your name from the Marketing Opt-Out list this would stop all mailings coming to you in your name only. This will not stop any bulk mailings from being sent or to generic mailings being sent such as the one you recently received addressed to “Resident”. As this is generic mailings this would not be a violation of privacy.

So I get two messages from this note. First, we’re sorry that you don’t like our mailings. Second, we’re allowed to send them and we intend to continue doing so.

You know that rule about e‑mail correspondence that says you should not respond right away? Yea, I didn’t follow that rule. Here is my reply:

Okay fair enough, but shouldn’t your membership in the Canadian Marketing Association give you access to their “Do Not Contact” list and cover this situation?

The CMA site states, “If you wish to have your name and address removed from marketing lists held by our members, please follow the registration instructions.”

I did enter my address and it seems that you, a member of the CMA, have not removed my address from your list.

Or is this also a case where simply removing my name and replacing it with ‘Resident’ makes it okay?

In thinking about this afterward, I realize that I made a mistake. I went all adversarial far too early and it became about bring right. This is not about being right. I simply do not want their ad material and I asked them to stop. They told me they would and didn’t keep their word. It went wrong at that point. I should’ve written to tell them saying that the ads are still coming and the solution they promised seems to have failed … and then let them talk.

Yes, I made a mistake, but I’m amazed that a management-level support rep went along, instead of defusing the situation. It’s pretty obvious to me that if I’m right, we both win. They stop sending ads and we part ways with their having done as I asked, leaving a positive impression. Someday perhaps, I might just go back to them. We forget over time, and even if we don’t, things don’t seem so severe after time passes. This is really the best Rogers can hope for with me.

On the other hand, if he wins, he loses. Let’s say they refuse to stop sending ads to me and despite my best efforts, there’s nothing I can do to stop them. What’s the result? They continue to pay money to piss me off. Every time I receive an ad, I’m reminded of how Rogers can’t honour a simple request. First they promise and fail to deliver, then they take perverse pleasure in proving they’re right, ignoring my request. If they can’t manage such a simple request, I certainly can’t trust them to deliver a more substantial service worth paying for. So they’re paying to periodically send me a reminder to not do business with them.

It seems Rogers has entirely abandoned any value in their brand. They’ve decided to rely on being one of the two re-broadcasters in my area. What a spectacular failure of imagination. Competing with Bell, they could wipe the floor with them with the smallest amount of genuine customer service and attention. It wouldn’t take much, but it seems even this is beyond their grasp.

Eldrick Tont Woods

You didn’t think his name really was ‘Tiger,’ did you?

Something has been bothering me about this whole Tiger Woods disaster, but wasn’t able to put my finger on it.

Tiger made a bad decision. He’s not a murderer, and I’m not terribly interested in him, or in golf, so it all seemed remarkably overblown. He screwed up, he’ll suffer the consequences, and that’ll be that. But as I said, something bothered me about it. I realized that there are actually two ‘somethings.’

First, and to his credit, Woods was penitent from the beginning. But accompanying his apologies were comments like these, from his December 2 press release:

no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don’t share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.

Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone.

He’s right and he’s wrong. Woods’ fame comes with a price. He was fine with it when everyone had only cheers for him, but to now suggest that everyone should mind their own business because of a failure of his is disingenuous at best. He’s doubly disingenuous because I don’t believe the only reason he’s upset about the attention is because he’s embarrassed and trying to protect his family.

Second, only a small percentage of Woods’ income comes directly from playing golf. According to the Forbes article “World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2009,” Woods easily takes the top spot, making two and a half times more than the second person on the list. Further, he’s topped the list for eight years running. Woods earned $110 million in the 12 months ending June 2009 and only $5 million came from playing. Although Woods earned some of the remaining $105 million from designing golf courses, the lions share is from endorsements and licensing. Nike alone paid him $30 million.

Certainly promoters wouldn’t be courting him if he weren’t such a talent, but his image is also much desired by those wanting to shower him with cash in exchange for the use of his name and image. So his image is incredibly valuable. If he can encourage the press to lay off, the scandal will fall off the front page sooner. The faster the public moves on to the next bit of celebrity gossip, the less sponsorship money he will lose.

I’m sure he cares about his family. I’m sure he cares what people think of him as a person. But to use a press release to suggest that ‘personal sins should not require press releases’ is too much for me to stomach. He didn’t have to issue a press release. He could keep his private business private and continue to play golf and design golf courses. I bet he’d hang on to a few sponsors and still earn more money than most of us can imagine having.

But he didn’t do any of that.

Tiger grudgingly accepted the consequences of his actions only because of the money he otherwise stood to lose.

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