My New R.I.M. Blackberry for Seniors

Written by Harold McNeill on April 20th, 2011. Posted in Editorials



Harold doing some in-store testing of the new Blackberry Playbook for Seniors

 

It was chilly with a dusting of snow when I left home at 2:00 am yesterday to join the line a Future Shop to get my new Research in Motion Blackberry “Playbook for Seniors’. My trusty Tim Horton’s super mug in hand – a double, double, triple, triple with a couple of shots of Kahlua (and small bottle in my backpack) – helped to ward off the cold and calm the knot in the pit of my stomach. Would I be too late? Not to worry, by 9:30 am I was inside and the supplies looked to last.

Harold at Tim Horton's 

Photo: Harold bikes our for his usual morning cuppa at Tim Horton’s. The two litre cup cuts down on refills.

 

My first surprise was the size. The new Seniors Edition was at least 32 X 55 cm (12 X 22 inches) but with a high definition screen and large print (even at 36-40 pt. you can still get a full page on the screen) it is certainly easy to read.  You know, you can actually enlarge words and flip pages with just the flick of a finger? Amazing!

Now, a word about price! At $700 (2 gb storage) a crack, plus $200 for the tax and extended guarantee, it is well within the means of most seniors. Just don’t forget to factor in an average $400 per month for Apps, internet access, download fees, book purchases, etc. so you don’t over extend yourself (1). My bets – move over Apple – this new RIM Seniors Edition Playbook is about to take the market by storm. 

 

The only real challenge I found was trying to fit the device in my jacket or briefcase and I am wondering whether getting through airport security is going to be a problem.  Perhaps, in the future, RIM will consider a folding model.

 

Congratulations to Jim Balsille and Mike Lazaridis, you and your RIM Team from Waterloo have made Canada proud – another first for Canadian Technology that is on a level with the Canada Arm.  From this Canadian Senior – two thumbs up.

 

Harold McNeill

Victoria, BC

 

(1) For BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) there is connectivity from that BES to RIM’s NOC, and that’s an extra charge. This is done via the SRP (Service Routing Protocol). Each BES has a unique SRP, just like our handhelds have a unique PIN. BES has better guaranteed service versus a BIS plan. On a BES you get way more functionality than BIS and you get more security, etc. These are matters are near and dear to most seniors.

(My young friend Riyad at Future Shop, passed along these helpful tidbits)

 

 

 

 

Staff Top Up

 

Staff at both Future Shop and Staples had to catch a coffee on the run as business was so brisk.

 

IPad vs Blackberry

IPad vs Blackberry:  While IPad has a jump on the market, the Blackberry Seniors model is likely to become a very big hit with the boomers who are just now entering those mellow years.  My guess is the larger Blackberry will outsell the IPad by a factor of two or three.

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PAX Canadiana

Written by Harold McNeill on April 7th, 2011. Posted in Editorials


Pax Canadiana

Pax Canadiana

Pax Canadiana in the Twenty-First Century

PAX Canadiana:    In the 20th Century the term PAX Americana came to indicate the pre-eminent military and economic position of the United States in relation to other nations, just as PAX Britannia was used the 19th Century (Wikipedia background).  In the 21st Century, Canada will eclipse the United States and PAX Canadiana could become a reality. This article provides a satirical look at the alternate path we may choose to follow.

February 10, 2016 Update:  PAX Canadiana  (March 27, 14716)     April 17, 2018 (14,888)

It seems like the time is ripe to again bring forward this post.
 
With President Trump about to take office and promising to build walls between Mexico and the US, as well as between Canada and the US (by ripping up all the trade deals), we need to add a little protectionism of our own. You might not realize this (most Canadians don’t), but compared to the rest of the world (particularly the USA) we have the lion’s share of the world’s natural resources with water, yes water, topping the list. Water to the US will soon become (in many areas such as California it now is) more valuable than oil.
 
And, speaking of oil and gas, it is spread across Canada in thick layers and pockets from British Columbia to Labrador/Newfoundland and back. Bring on the XL pipeline where we can put a meter on the Canada side of the US border that will suck in US dollars faster than if we had our own US dollar printing press. President Trump may think it is a windfall for the US, but he needs to remember who controls the taps and the Premier of Alberta has just told him who that is. Let’s just process our oil in directions that will make CANADA GREAT AGAIN, not America. Thanks Donald for the offer, but Alberta is calling the shots on this not you.
 
For most of our history we have been the “hewers of wood and drawers of water” but the time is ripe to change that and if the US chooses to pull the pin on NATA and try to turn us into the 51st state, let’s just slam the door and let our resources work for Canada from sea, to sea, to sea and across that new wall that protects us from the USA.
 
Remember, our new BFF’s are China and the far east as well as the newly emerging European Union. We could also work with the new Britain unless they decided to kick us out of the Commonwealth because we are to Liberal. In preparing for the later, we could simply prevail upon Harry to become our new king as noted in Part 7 of the following.
 
Cheers,
Harold

1. Corporate Taxes

What got m thinking of this was the whole issue of “Corporate Tax Reductions.”  With our Federal rates approaching 15%1,  I checked the G20 major economies and found none below 25%.   Then I checked on Ireland  – poor little Ireland (not a G20 by the way) – they went bankrupt – just when they achieved a Corporate Tax rate of 12.5%, lowest in the EU and lower than the rest of the world, save for a few OPEC countries.

MoneyThis happened even after Google and dozens of big companies moved to Ireland to catch a piece of that generous corporate tax pie.  As supply-side economists, trickle down theorists3 and deregulators predicted, unemployment shrank to near zero and “things were booming”.  Ireland was sitting at the top of the EU financial world.  Then bang – the crash – banks folded and massive debt took the country down.  The prescription for a sound financial future sounded great but the patient was dying.  On their knees, they went to their EU partners for a bailout.

Could this happen in Canada?  With a projected national debt exceeding half a trillion, with further tax cuts promised and cash being handed out for everything but the kitchen sink (well that too if the Conservatives reconstitute their billion-dollar “home improvement program”) it could happen.  We might very well be headed down the same path as Ireland and our good neighbour, the USA, whose move to supply side economics and deregulation over the past several decades lead to the worst economic meltdown they have ever experienced.  They are now printing money so fast many of their presses have overheated and, if the rumors are correct, may have broken down4.

Then, to my great relief, two newspaper articles appeared – one in the National Post, the other in the Globe and Mail. The first was a three-page spread in the Post entitled: “Global Warming – Bring it On” and, the second, in the Globe, “Republicans Urge New Pipelines.”  Republicans?  Republicans?  It was no surprise to see the National Post calling ‘Global Warming’ a “good thing”, but US Senate Republicans calling for help from that great white, socialist enclave called Canada; that was when the loonie (our new penny) finally dropped.

Footnotes:

Between 2000 and 2006, the Liberals reduced the Corporate Tax Rate from 29% to 21%.  From 2006 to 2011 the Conservatives further reduced to 16.5%. The Cons indicate further reduction to 15% is needed to boost investment and reduce unemployment.  Now the question, if a reduction from 29% to 15% was needed to boost investment and decrease unemployment, would not a further reduction from 15% to 0% be even better? We might wish to ask: “For whom?”

3  Referencing “trickle down theory” humorist Will Rogers, said during the Great Depression (known as the “Dirty Thirties”): “the money was all appropriated for the top in hopes that it would trickle down to the needy.” (partially Wikipedia)

Unless the US Congress takes drastic steps they will be dead broke and shutting down parts of government by early spring 2011 when they reach their debt limit. Debt default by the USA will have worldwide implications.

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State of the Union

Written by Harold McNeill on January 26th, 2011. Posted in Editorials


As with America, I expect many Canadians watched the State of the Union Address last night.  While I disagree with many things America does (or does not do, as the case may be) I do admire the way the country can get passionate about an ideal.
 
Obama State of the UnionIn Canada about the only time we ever see anything that approaches nationalist passion is at a sporting event and that occurs perhaps once or twice in a century.  The 1972 Canada/Russia Summit Series was my first memory of the real passion about being a Canadian.  Was that nearly 40 years ago?  Following that I had to wait until the Olympics to again capture the feeling. It was wonderful. The Canada/US hockey Gold Medal Final was beyond my wildest dreams but, unfortuately, it will likely the the penultimate event of this century.

On the political stage, the State of the Union provides an opportunity for America, through their President, to talk about where the country has been and where they might go in the future. The speech last night demonstrated that even bitter political opponents can occasionally agree and can even stand together and applaud. 

In Canada we have no such opportunity. We sleep our way through the interminable time between elections, then a precious few wake long enough to cast a ballot. Many, I suppose, might not even bother to look at the names on the ballot. 

A rousing speech by either Prime Minister Stephen Harper or would be Prime Ministers Michael Ignatieff or Jack Layton, should be sufficient to put the staunchest insomniac out cold. Oh, to have at least one evening of the year where we could glue ourselves to the TV and hear words about the great history of our nation, a nation with hugh challenges to face but also a nation that is passionate about new ideas and the future.

The thrill that would tickle through my spine to watch the four sides of our house periodically stand in unison and give a rousing applause to a speech by a Prime Minister from whatever party he might represent. Alas, that is not likely to be.

Oh Canada, We Stand on Guard for Thee!   Yes, always, because I know you love our Country as dearly as do I, but please, we need to show it more often and with more passion than once every 40 years for a hockey game.  Afterall, whose left now that we have beat Russia and the USA?

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC   January 25, 2010

   

 

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O’Canada … In All Thy Son’s Command

Written by Harold McNeill on March 7th, 2010. Posted in Editorials


O’Canada … In All Thy Son’s Command

In All of Us Command

Controversial? Yes.  Necessary? Indeed.
O’Canada, In all of us command.
(Feb 2018 1408)

March 2010: An item in the Conservative throne speech about changing two words in ‘O’Canada’, created a significant negative response even though the suggested change is long overdue. It seems doubtful, at this time, that the government will follow through. It’s equally likely that within the next decade the change will be made.

While we in the ‘older’ generation are often accused of being out of touch with the times, it seems that getting stuck in a rut is not just the preserve of the older generation. If the current debate about changing the word ‘son’ to something gender neutral is used as the benchmark, the younger generation can be as equally stubborn.

Women's RightsCreating gender equality has been a long, slow process for many countries including Canada. Replacing the word ‘son’ in our Anthem is a small but symbolically important part of the process.

Think back to some of the earlier challenges in our evolving democracy:

• It was well into the 1920s1 before women began to gain enfranchisement across Canada. Enfranchisement is considered a basic right in a democratic society yet women had to wait 50 years following confederation before that right began to creep across Canada, with all Provinces entering by 1949.

• As recently as 50 years ago, women in a few Canadian provinces were prohibited from entering beer parlours. Even in the more ‘progressive’ provinces, women often had to enter via a designated entrance with an escort. They were then seated in a segregated section.2

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A Predictable Accident?

Written by Harold McNeill on March 22nd, 2010. Posted in Editorials


image

Above: Queen of the North en route through the Inside Passage on the West Coast of Canada. Having traveled on dozens of Cruise ships of various size, as well as hundreds of trips on BC Ferries including an occasional trip on the Queen of the North through the inside passage, I am amazed there are not more accidents given the oceans of the world can produce extremely challenging situations. The loss of that classic ship, the Queen of the North is just one more example of how things can go catastrophically within the blink of an eye.

Note: It appears that on occasion when making a simple one-word change, a whole paragraph can be replicated.  I have not yet determined why this takes place, so please bear with me when this happens.  Harold

Of the special items on the Queen of the North were several large murals that decorated the walls along the passageways.  Photos, depicting various historical sites along the route, were accompanied by a written history of each site and surrounding area.  The murals and stories were prepared under the direction of a long-time friend and former BC Provincial Archeologist, Bjorn Simonson.  My wife, Lynn McNeill assisted in the preparation.  As this work was completed perhaps a decade before the sinking, I don’t know if they were still being displayed when the Queen of the North sank on that fateful day in 2006.

(Activity: May 1, 2017 – 2712)

Follow-up News Reports, June 2013

Karl Lilgert, the navigating officer on the ill-fated Queen of the North, leaves the court after being found guilty of Criminal Negligence Causing Death. His being sentencedKarl Lilget and Son to four years in a Federal Penitentiary very much surprised me (see comments near the end of this post relating to the essential elements of a Criminal Negligence charge). I have no doubt the constant stream of inflammatory media reports as well as the vicious presentation by the Crown, had a strong influence on the jury.

During my thirty-year police career, experience taught me that convicting someone on a charge of Criminal Negligence Causing Death was a particularly onerous task. As discussed further on in this article, each element of that particular statute presents a very real challenge for the investigators and crown.

In particular, I have been involved in other cases where the “wanton and reckless” disregard for life was considerably more egregious than in the Lilgert case, yet his case ended with a conviction. In my opinion, it was a stretch to have found each of the elements of the charge were proven in his case. I would be very surprised if either the charge or the sentence, perhaps both, were not tossed out on appeal.

Harold

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Comments

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold