June 2010 - Posts
Big Four firms are very hierarchical, to the point where a colleague jokes with me that you gain certain magic powers when you get promoted to higher ranks. Mind-reading, the ability to move through walls, halt traffic with your mind. And other sorts of Jedi tricks.
I experienced a surreal moment Monday after work, as I discovered what may be as simple as a perk that comes from wearing a dress shirt and nice pants: you have the keys ot the city, so to speak.
Perhaps I should talk this up at future recruiting events.
The adventure started when my phone buzzed with news that the
506 streetcar had to detour around the stretch of track in front of the Police HQ.
Thank you TTC: coupled with the weekend's protests and violence, you could infer this meant protesters had gathered in front of Toronto Police Headquarters to lambast police tactics and chant for the release of those detained during the weekend's G20 shenanigans.
And so I walked up from my office, big fancy camera in hand. I passed by the smashed up Adidas store at Yonge and Dundas.
CTV news showed video of security shooing away the vandals who broke the window. They didn't succeed in defending the entire perimeter, but to be fair it was two guys versus a very large expanse of real estate!
As I passed the store, I also noticed another rowdy group: Brazil fans celebrating the victory over Chile.
They were passing by another victim of the violence: the men's club.... featuring dancing men.
I first noticed a significant police presence at Gerrard and Yonge. One cop sounded like he was whinging about the extended patrol in the rain last night. Or perhaps he was mocking people who were trapped at Queen and Spadina. You could almost feel a slight buzz in the air.
I checked out the line of vehicles parked at the northern edge of Ryerson University campus - including a full size bus and several vans.
Here's a lesson to aspiring photographers: if you want to photograph
an individual cop, try asking for his permission first. If he shrugs
his shoulders with a delightful, "sure, why not?" response, snap away.
Otherwise, look for more cooperative subjects or at the very least move
away to a respectful distance where it doesn't feel like you're being a
nasty and annoying member of the paparazzi.
I joked with the above officer visiting Toronto from Durham Region about all the cannisters on his vest. Were they CS? No, not all tear gas, he explained, but a variety of types.
"Oh, like a party pack," I mused?
Sort of like that, yes.
Right across the street you could see the unfortunate jewellery store hit by the Black Bloc thugs - pictured is either someone connected to the shop or the glass repair crew that was fixing up that side of the building. He didn't seem too bemused by my antics, so I quickly scuttled off.
But first I had to get a shot of the debris. I then finally scurried forward.
Ahead of me: the protest zone just west of Yonge on College.
A scruffy young guy got his bag searched - he's the one on the right. And I?
No questions asked - no challenges made. I might as well be the mayor or something, ignoring the fact that I'm lugging about an incredibly heavy and perhaps suspicious-looking backup, loaded with my audit kit.
And yet friendly or at least pleasant nods come up all around from the cops.
This is peculiar, but awesome. I'm floating through the lines.
Even the undercover police are rather chill - even though their cover is suddenly blown by their squaking radios. Oops, might want to turn those down. Another officer I later chat with says that the team was probably no doubt "made" a while ago. Might as well put on formal uniforms at that point I suppose. Also, note to the agent provocateur conspiracy theorists: these cops had a variety of footwear on, so give up on your "OMG black boots on thugs mean they're cops." The logic is as faulty as the quality of your photos, so please move on.
Moving back to that last photo though, I must highlight that in Canada the police do not have the right to force you to let them examine your bag in a normal public place. You can be super-obedient like the scruffy young man, but you only expose yourself to legal risk.
It's safer, legally speaking, to politely decline the request. But once you grant consent, you're essentially giving up your right to privacy.
Far too many people don't understand this point.
There's a particular reason I would refuse to open the bag, in addition to wanting to exercise my civil rights: I carry audit files with me. I will not consent to a search as this may expose the files to risk. They can call my firm's legal department if they want, but I'm not going to dare open my bag to the police.
You need to know your rights, whether or not you're a CA.
As for how I managed to float through those police lines without a challenge to show off my gear, did my camera on my neck help? Doubtful - many journalists got arrested on the weekend!
I don't know if "looking the part" keeps you safe, even with a suspiciously over-packed bag, or if you can actually project an aura of "I don't care if you have a gun, you're not allowed to use it to threaten me so leave me alone" by knowing your rights.
I'll write another post about my time "behind the lines" to reiterate peoples' rights shortly, because this can't be stressed enough.
This post is an example of where the mindset of the Hardcore CA will take you.
In AuditLand and other corporate environments, when something goes Horribly Wrong, rather than point blame and string people up, you have a "Lessons Learned" moment, which can either be a casual debrief, or an exhaustive exercise in identifying what mistakes were made, and how they can be avoided in the future.
There will no doubt be some very professional investigations conducted into what happened this weekend at the Toronto G20 riots.
One of the most shocking images online and on TV came from the fires that consumed Toronto police cars, which initially engendered some extremely sceptical treatment. After all, they just bought a water cannon - couldn't they handle a fire quickly and safely?
This presumed that the security teams knew they may need to use it as a firefighting vehicle; given the delays it's probably safe to assume wasn't planned for. This makes sense, considering its stated purpose is for crowd control, and when any large lumbering organization doesn't plan for something to be used for a novel purpose, expect a delay at least long enough for something to burn for 10 or 20 minutes!
Of course, Naomi Klein assumed the opposite - so she will not agree with the analysis which follows - but do check her out at the rally in front of Toronto Police HQ on Monday June 28 to get her succinct point of view. After writing about the madness around the world, I'm sure she felt like this was a perverse "moment to shine" on home turf.
I'm challenging her point of view after watching the video you see embedded below, or available through this link, lasts about nine minutes shows how the fire that consumed a Toronto Police cruiser at Bay and King unfolded
Considering the fact that you have a full-on riot taking place, don't be surprise to hear a fair bit of profanity and anti-capitalist rhetoric - that's of course par for the course.
What's fascinating about the video is that you can see that a "light mobile" police force was in fact present towards the East, on King Street, along with some heavier riot cops in front of the TD bank on the southwest corner.
Pause the video at the 16 through 19 second marks. You'll see that
members of the Toronto Anti-Violence squad (TAV) are getting out of
their cars. I don't know if they had just arrived moments earlier, or
had been idling in the vehicles, but this makes a great deal of sense:
several hundred protesters racing down the street unopposed
would no doubt cause any person with half a brain to retreat!
Interestingly shortly afterwards, around 1:07, you can also hear what I presume are cops
calling for backup, "let's get some help here," before backing up and waiting for the phalanx to
Now a hot-head say, "well then, the cops are heavily armed, who cares if they're outnumbered? They can take those punks!"
Sure, they could.
And yes - the car could have been saved. But then people would have died.
After all, they could run up to their car in the face of a march easily 20 to 40 times larger than their initial numbers. But how do you even odds like that?
Allow me a moment of hyperbole: by turning it into a slaughter.
The police, from what I've learned reading accounts of shooting incidents, are trained to shoot to kill. Sure, the special forces snipers may disable you or shoot the weapon out of your hand. But there's no time for that with line officers: they are trained to take people down.
Even if they shot warning shots over people's heads as if this was some crazy Western, there would nevertheless be a risk of grievous injury, and no promise that it wold work!
If the police started shooting, things would not end well. Or, to be more specific, would end much more poorly.
Enraged, the peaceful protesters could have joined the violent minority and charged police lines. Word would spread like wildfire, the city would then truly see what a massive riot looks like, instead of a few isolated instances of vandalism and mayhem we instead faced.
Is my hypothetical scenario too extreme? Very much so perhaps - our police are brave, and many were itching to take the fight to the crowds. Would it have ended well?
This is where I admit the limits of my own knowledge of counter-insurrection tactics. Perhaps a group of two or three dozen cops wielding billy clubs, not a full riot phalanx, could have turned back that tide. I didn't see these cops armed with tear gas or other crowd control tools, but those aren't a panacea either - rubber bullets can kill too.
So, admitting that a stand at King Street could have worked, it would have been awfully risky. Large institutions discourage legendary charges of their light brigade, in favour of calm responses where control can triumph over raw melee.
We'll revisit the instiutional response below, but first, consider how one woman uses her megaphone/speaker late in the video to challenge the police for setting bait by leaving those police cars there for the protesters.
Well you know what? They sacrificed a $75,000 cruiser - so I'm told is the price - to save the TD Centre seen on the "far lower left"/south western side of of the intersection from being overrun, which incidentally serves to hold back the marchers.
If you agree with my extreme scenario, they in fact sacrificed that one vehicle to save not only the lives of the officers, but also those of the protesters.
Consider the scenario where the police jumped back in their cars and drove south. Either the security fence would have been attacked, or the surrounding buildings - including the TD bank branch near the corner. It's that black pavillion, with floor-to-second-floor glass. If someone was stupid enough to try and break that glass they'd risk killing themselves in the process. Perhaps the giant nature of the glass saved anyone foolish enough to attack it, but I digress.
Tactically, the violent protesters "screwed up royal" by halting at the alluring cars. They took their eyes "off the true prize", which was forcing a battle at the security fence itself, something a mob of that size could have easily managed, had they reached it in advance of the police phalanx. You know it was the true goal: the G20 "People's Summit" posters in fact
This video then, I believe, is one piece of footage showing the closest that protesters got to the fence - they were a half-block away from its northeastern edge.
No doubt many citizens suffered repercussions the following day, as the police overreacted after their initial embarrassments on Saturday.
Or did they?
Let's talk about the "institutional" factor - these cops aren't autonomous. They respond to orders: to learn more, consider this very interesting CBC news video interview with the RCMP Chief Superintendent who coordinated the G20 security operations from an operations base in a warehouse 100km north of Toronto - roughly halfway between the G8 and G20 sites.
Aside from presenting the security forces' side of the story - declaring a few broken windows and destroyed cars a success - he also mentions - wait for it - that it's too soon for "lessons learned" to take place.
Although I cheerfully rushed into my little analysis - the major media are still arguing over what took place - I will grant that the police didn't fail in their "defence of the fence." Determining whether their success in defending the perimeter and much of the other property in the vicinity of the fence was a matter of good planning, a smart response by the forces on the ground, or simply a serendipitously big stroke of luck is probably what will take more time and analysis to uncover. You would, of course, need to know what was being said in that command centre. They were no doubt keeping an eye on that situation. If they were using one of their 70+ security cameras to note the local team's precarious situation and ordered a retreat, then that was a clever move.
They'll know the answers - perhaps a full inquiry will allow some of the truth to be shared with the public as well.
In the run-up to the G20, some police stood guard on Spadina, under the Gardiner Expressway.
A sad day for Toronto, and a sad day for Canada.
The crowd sings O Canada, and as best as you can casually tell, gets viciously attacked for possibly ignoring a challenge to move back, instead sitting down in the face of what soon turned into a full-on assault charge by the riot line.
Video of the peaceful G20 protest at Queen & Spadina is by Meghann Millard on Vimeo.
Seriously, what is up with this?
Very good eye-witness commentary here - just go read it here.
One of my favourite quotes, which drags the blog barely back "on topic":
Nobody near the police line was chanting. There was only one sign I
saw, and I couldn't make sense of it. I honestly think it might have
been offering accounting services. Periodically someone would yell,
"This is a peaceful protest." Often someone would answer back, "Who's
protesting?" Everybody was just staring, as though wondering if there
was anything more to the G20.
Absolutely nothing was
happening. What we were seeing was riot tourists. People had just come
by to gawk, an excercise in people-watching typical of a Sunday
afternoon on Queen Street West. A strange Kevlar twist on the typical
weekend fashion parade.
I would like to know more about those accounting services.
There's a rather hefty list of violations of Canadian human rights which got trampled on this weekend.
Go and read this entire article by the staff of the Torontoist. It's an excellent summary of The Friday June 25 G20 protest shenanigans, along with a well thought-out commentary on the nature of protesting global summits. Well worth a read.
Photo below is from their site - check out the entire article, including this moving paragraph about friends of a deaf man detained earlier in the day, as depicted below:
"When we left at about 11:30 Friday night the protesters were still
there, still chanting (although they'd switched to ASL to save their
voices) and occasionally chatting good-naturedly with the cops, who
couldn't help but be impressed. It spoke well of them all. If you were
imprisoned, wouldn't you want your friends to fight to the utmost limit
on your behalf? That's what these protesters did. As of right now,
that's what they're still doing. They're not going to give up any time
The most hardcore protesters of the day, June 22: courtesy Toronto Police Service's "LGBT protest on Queen St. W. without incident" album. Photo credit: Kevin Masterman Writer/Photographer for Toronto Police
Security guards have a cushy job guarding the lobbies of the big fancy downtown office towers during G20 week.
They of course have a solemn duty to make sure anyone getting in the building has a proper security card. I do believe the two gentleman guarding our lobby almost glanced at the card clipped to my belt as I wandered in out of the rain yesterday.
If they asked, I would have of course good-naturedly held up my pass for closer inspection.
"Yes, it is in fact I, Super Auditor."
This is of course unnecessary: since I am able to dress the part of Super Auditor, Defender of Capitalism, or whatever you want to call the productive inhabitants of the downtown core, the hard plastic card I carry with me is almost entirely superfluous - except for the fact I need it to open locked doors, but that's another story.
The "dirty hippie" protestors and their anarcho-syndicalist revolutionaries are nary a threat. Yes, they lack my snazzy plastic access cards. Forget about stealing police uniforms - they lack the buttoned up shirts and dress shoes needed to truly pose a threat. That, and they whine like petulant children when they neglect to safeguard their flagpoles, which are then promptly "yoinked" by Toronto Police (see the fantastic video below).
I suppose it doesn't help that it's raining outside - quite the disincentive to join a large march. Unless you are smart and prepared, like the group above, that equipped itself with some dazzling pink ponchos.
On a more practical level, these groups don't show any interest in overrunning AuditLand - step one would be to dress the part. I won't reveal anything beyond "step one", of course - that's what consultants charge the big bucks for, isn't it?
They don't even make it as far as step one, which is why anyone in business casual attire is immediately not held up as a suspect. The security team, as a result, is significantly less edgy than they otherwise would be. Which I suppose makes for a much more pleasant work environment. Thanks for that.
I have to salute those who did make the grey, rainy & otherwise dreary Tuesday a bit more colourful, though: good show on Queen Street!
No negative incidents at all as Toronto Police indicate - at least on the part of the protesters. There was, that aforementioned "yoink" to the flagpoles, as well as the story of the crazy lady who apparently tried to ram her way through a protest with her car. The second picture is courtesy of Now Magazine. The driver then apparently complained to the police about, whatever zany complaint you can come up with after trying to do something absolutely mad
I'll assume she blamed society - seems like the thing to do.
Bonus: video from the most hardcore protest of Monday, courtesy of Now Magazine's Paul Terefenko:
Edit: the Toronto Star has a tongue-in-cheek/serious article on the same topic that just came out.
"G20 fashions for the militant and fabulous
Wear the wrong thing, get tear gassed
Dressing for G20 protests is tricky. Look too corporate and you
might be paintbombed. Dress like a militant protester, you run the risk
of being tear gassed.
But have a stylist help you, you look fabulous.
you’re leading (these protests) and you know pictures are being taken
of you, why not look good?” said Kathryn McEwen, the general manager of
Queen St. W. boutique Fashion Crimes"
It's scary when a serious newspaper's article can easily be mixed up with something from the Onion.
I could probably come up with an extensive series of articles on how, although multi-tasking is awesome, there are so many glorious ways to fail at it.
Or one long article with many examples. I'll settle for shooting off one quick example instead.
Consider a busy day, where your computer is chugging because of some new security patch getting automatically downloaded. You go to open one window in your database program. It takes some time. So you're sitting there, waiting for it to finish loading. Getting impatient and thinking, "I'll just work on this other file in the meantime."
Half an hour later that other file might be done. And maybe you've taken some phone calls. Perhaps gotten a fresh coffee. Checked out the silly headlines.
Oh look, not enough Obama in town. What will Chicago ever do? And the Flavia sourced coffee is rancid as ever.
You're back at your computer, the window has loaded in the database program.
You have no idea why it's open, so you close it.
Then it hits you, there was a query you had to run.
It took 5 minutes for the window to open, but half an hour has passed.
And it's closed now.
So you re-open it. Again, a delay. The cycle begins anew.
Failure of multitasking.
Remember last year's garbage strike? It's a distant, smelly memory. Here's a great little round-up discussing the stink, or lack thereof, at the collective public dumping grounds.
There's always an alternative to the city union's approach, though it's not always necessarily better for the environment.
I think the city union is kicking itself.
They could've gone to work for a year without a contract, and then dropped the hammer right before the G20.
Instead, they went on strike during one of the mildest summers in recent memory, and had to make a few minor concessions.
Actually they made out rather well - one can only imagine how much more of a killing they could've made if they threatened to strike before a global summit though.
Perhaps they were smart though - and realized that the RCMP would come and tazer them all back to work, so it's for the best.
Besides, with a billion dollars sloshing about, I'm sure that anyone remotely involved with the event is getting handsomely remunerated.
BBM station domination campaign at the TTC's Yonge-Bloor subway station
Having alluded to Eurocents, I managed to trip over an interesting little article that came out two years ago and yet is still oddly relevant: a scientists decided to poke the cell phone industry with a sharp pointy stick and calculate the price per megabyte for transmitting a text message.
He then compared that to the cost of transmitting data from the Hubble Space Telescope.
“The maximum size for a text message is 160 characters, which takes 140
bytes because there are only 7 bits per character in the text messaging
system, and we assume the average price for a text message is 5p. There
are 1,048,576 bytes in a megabyte, so that's 1 million/140 = 7490 text
messages to transmit one megabyte. At 5p each, that's £374.49 per MB -
or about 4.4 times more expensive than the ‘most pessimistic’ estimate
for Hubble Space Telescope transmission costs.”
Transmission from space only costs about £8.85 - the scientist used a worst-case scenario to estimate that perhaps it costs 10 times as much to move the data from the space-to-ground station to a research lab. In reality those costs are probably lower. So we have math showing that the cell phone industry in Canada prices messages outside "unlimited" plans at frankly ridiculous rates.
No only is it good to see new entrants trumpeting their "all inclusive" plans, but it makes perfect sense for RIM to be embarking on a rather clever campaign to promote their BBM service as a selling feature for the Blackberry.
If you don't have unlimited text messaging, BBM is a fantastic substitute - plus you can send files through BBM as well, something a regular text message can't exactly handle.
Not to mention that all the cool Audit Kids are using it: that was no doubt the runner-up idea as a killer marketing campaign.
I understand people travel, endure busy season, perhaps get kidnapped, and sometimes forget they spent 13 hours in an exam room, but I took a quick look at this site's visitor statistics for kicks - and people are still showing up, asking "When will the ufe marks be posted 2009".
You have to share some of my awe, considering that the results are out, and they have been out for half a year.
As I already stated, results came out on December 4, 2009.
If you're still checking, I'll simply presume you must be stalking a CA student.
Good luck with that.
"You told me this ride would take us to the CA students. We've been circling the town square for five hours now. When will we arrive? You owe me an explanation before I pay you another Eurocent."
There's a curious disconnect at the School of Accountancy which many CAs no doubt forget about a few years after their attendance: what you need to know to pass the exams diverges to an interesting degree away from what you're supposed to learn in class.
As for attending those classes, there were always some sort of rules
about which classes you must attend. Apparently the ICAO is cracking
down on students who think classes are optional - and unless you have a
very good reason, you had better attend those classes, and show up on
time. The challenge of making it up to York University first thing in
the morning was of course another one of those sick little games you
had to endure if you weren't living on campus, as the stricter
instructors will count a late arrival as an absence. This, of course,
is one of the key reasons why many consider attending the SOA like a
revisiting of the madness known as high school.
The conversation I just alluded to when discussing the lack of paper handbooks jogged my memory about the attendance phenomenon, as well as the mountains of work tossed your way: the workload assigned to you for preparation before class is substantial enough to make many people take a few weeks off in May simply to prepare.
The open secret, however, is that no one will ever directly evaluate you on whether or not you did the homework. It'll definitely improve your technical skills if you do - that's the whole point - but it's entirely possible to squeak by or even do quite well by focusing on writing strong case responses instead of killing yourself tackling all the assignments that SOA instructors through at you. If you're serious a run at the gold medal, you had better do both, but if circumstances conspire to prevent you from doing so, there are certain triage methods. One of the most important is based on the fact that you have both problems to solve and articles to read. And teachers, being teachers, like to spread the load of questions around the class.
If you were, say, to read the articles and then promptly volunteer your opinions on the contents of those articles, your quota for being "picked on" could in theory be "covered," so you wouldn't be called upon to present your solution to the problems - which may be a bit of a challenging scenario if your answers weren't, say, all fully completed the night before.
Remember: just because they're forcing you to sit in class and learn it, doesn't mean it'll be on the exam.
And even if it is on the exam, you won't necessarily be expected to perform an entire Section 85 rollover or some lovely tax operation.
You'll need to know what they are and when they apply - oddly enough that previous link to a legal firm's article on the topic will probably get you somewhat close to a decent understanding for the exam. As a CA student your knowledge will be more detailed than that presented in an article for the general public - but the 8 page PDF prepared by the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia.
At this point, you might be wondering, wait - why are you sharing resources on how to pass accounting exams that are provided by lawyers?
It may come as a surprise to you, but accountants aren't the only people who have to know taxes - the legal geniuses of the country need to know these rules to pass their exams as well. Taxes are ultimately the product of laws passed by the government, and if there's a dispute, lawyers will invariably get involved going to court with Revenue Canada or some other agency.
The fact that I was quickly able to find results to a google search on "Section 85 rollover" courtesy of those legal minds, though, is a dart at the accounting profession - yes, you're guarding your intellectual property to increase its value, but sometimes sharing the basics can be a good marketing tool. This may be a good time to point out a crucial fact: people avoid scary things.
If you have a choice between two google hits, which one are you more likely to go to?
- TAX & ESTATE PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE NEW ENTREPRENEUR
- What is a s. 85 Rollover and Why do I Need One?
I don't know about you, but the ALL CAPS post is an immediate turnoff simply due to choice of capitalization method, and the fact that it doesn't obviously seem to address any relevant "s. 85" related question, despite being ranked higher in the results listing!
Anyone deciding to build a serious repository of articles on taxation articles should remember that half the effort is spent on writing something that's intelligent and correct. Making it accessible and appealing, though, will use up the remainder of your effort you put to building your site.
And if you're studying the SOA, learn what these things mean if you forgot since initially learning about them in school - or never got it right in the first place. But remember that passing the exam will not hinge on a section 85 rollover exercise. There's no sensible reason for the exam writers to ask you to document the entire operation since they are inherently time-consuming and massive.
You will, however, need to demonstrate that you can figure out how to do one if you were presented with it as your special Challenge of the Day, with the ability to consider and define certain assumptions to make the intellectual exercise known as case-writing achievable. The realization that you aren't going to rehash the work you did in your fourth year corporate tax class in minute detail is certainly a huge relief for most people when it finally hits them. Until you see the practice exams, it really is hard to believe.
I found it hard to believe a bunch of accountants in training could
blow out power to a building with the combined strain from the laptops,
but it happened.
You may be one of those people who really enjoys tax and relishes the ability to show off your knowledge. That's great, but it'll probably be overkill for the exam: at least you can then focus on studying audit and assurance, where the big marks lay in wait.
2006 SOA students relaxing during the lunch break. Note that the tax act serves a wonderful dual purpose, and is apparently still allowed in the exam hall too.
One of the charming things about the Chartered Accountant exam process was that, until 2009, you were allowed to bring in a physical printed book containing the audit and accounting rules issued by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants - the CICA Handbook, for short.
I just learned from our friends at MyCAsite that this is no longer the case: you can only use the electronic copy of the CICA Handbook going forward.
One of the major advantages of having a printed copy was that you could insert coloured tabs into your book to flag the important sections you may want to make reference to during the exam.
Students always had the option of using the electronic copy of the Handbook, but you couldn't stick tabs in it as the software simply wasn't designed for that sort of manipulation. While that's a sound choice from a security point of view, eliminating the hardcopy Handbook means that students will experience a slight disadvantage.
You may be thinking to yourself, "wait, students got to bring in books with thousands of pages into an exam hall? You CA kids get open book exams? What?"
Keep in mind, the exams are case-based. You do not score marks for parroting the rules from this or that section - although as Seldy points out, you'd be smart to nevertheless remember the hint that "most key accounting issues are in the 3000's". You score marks by identifying the issues that are effectively "buried" within the case that's presented to you, explaining what the various concepts are, what the acceptable treatments are under Canadian or IFRS rules - depending on the scenario! - and coming up with an intelligent recommendation.
I'm intrigued by the explanation that the introduction of IFRS and private company reporting rules may have contributed to the decision to close the doors on printed copies. Considering how much paper gets used up in teh UFE study process, I suppose it doesn't hurt to use the imperfect but somewhat more eco-friendly electronic solution.
One of the fun assignments in my job is testing a company's security.
It sort of looks like this.
We specifically look at the security of computer systems, although it'll sometimes include physical security as well - can ninjas break in to your data centre by climbing your barbed-wire fences and feeding strings of sausage to your guard dogs?
It also often involves asking question like, "how do you avoid the scenario of people getting access to all the confidential information you have stored on your systems, or shared with a service provider?"
This problem has recently bedevilled AT&T and Apple, and the scariest thing is that they're not the only companies to have ever suffered a security breach, just the most convenient example in the headlines right now.
Their situation is especially painful because two companies get dragged through the muck: the vendor of a device, and the service provider offering network access.
Ideally the contracts between the companies will specify who is responsible - and they'll have an efficient way to figure out how to fix the current problem, and a smart way of managing the PR fallout.
Of course, they haven't spilled a ridiculous amount of oil into the ocean, so they may just manage to emerge unscathed by virtue of being under the radar of a much bigger ongoing disaster.
It would be unwise, however, to plan your disaster response strategy around the vain hope that someone else will do something worse so no one will notice what you did.
Although aside from some angry geekrants, this will probably nevertheless stay nice and low under the radar for Apple. It'll no doubt help that there are so many people rabidly anticipating purchase of their newest devices that the latest security breach will do nothing to staunch their desire to get one.
Ironically, it might even have a positive effect: the leaked list of top US officials and CEOs owning the device will probably only add to its lustre, no matter how grave the security breaches.
You'll notice a conspicuous absence of actual discussions of security tests here. That's partly because the work is very hush-hush, and mostly because it's also mind-numbling boring to the average reader. We'll have to come up with a "put everyone to sleep" themed day when more information will be shared.
Until then, here's a quick summary: ask yourself if the information is secured. Get proof. Figure out if the proof makes sense. If you don't know, find someone who's more competent then you to help. Get more proof if needed. Issue report with your findings.
The scariest part of this video - and there's several candidates - may be the moment at 3:50 where the cops show what big men they are by clubbing some young women.
I do hope Toronto puts on a more humane and decent show than the USA's Police Brutality Expo.
I read accounts which explain that curious students wandered over to see a nearby protest and got caught up in the violent reprisal.
Someone clearly let the power go to their head.
Next page »
G20 garbage receptacles. Classy. Way to great the world, Toronto.
I recently noticed, and wrote about, how the "street furniture", specifically the garbage cans, are disappearing from downtown Toronto.
Transit Toronto reports that in addition to those shenanigans, transit shelters and newspaper boxes are also being removed for most of June, until the conference is over.
How completely ridiculous.
A very rational risk management move in the face of "suspicious packages" and shards of glass getting tossed about in case protests get Pittsburghy.
But still ridiculous, as others write.
It's almost as zany as shutting down national rail traffic to downtown Toronto.
Note to whoever paid contractors a whole bunch of money to clean up the poles: they got lazy and never got around to cleaning the top part. Fail.