Could How it’s handled be the biggest H1N1 Related Disaster?

As I probably don’t have to tell you the buzz and discussion around H1N1, and more so the vaccine for H1N1, has been at an all time high the past few weeks. I know we’ve had the “get it / don’t get it” debate many times in our house over the past week and we continue bouncing back and forth.

What concerns me right now, more than the vaccine themselves, is the system which many Ontario municipalities have chosen to distribute them through: Centralized, first come first served, clinics. But, when you have a population in fear, thanks to a frenzy whipping tag-team of the government and mass media, with a limited suppl of the vaccine this approach can only spell disaster.

Already the early signs are not good. Toronto opened their first clinics today:

Just fifteen minutes after opening to the public at noon Thursday, the North York Clinic was forced to close the line due to overwhelming demand, turning away scores of people who showed up to get their H1N1 vaccination.

Huge lineups were also reported at the East York Civic Centre, prompting officials there to open the doors at 9am instead of noon.

“Our priority and our intention was that we would do health care workers from 9am until 12, following that we are dealing with people who are in the high-priority groups … that includes pregnant women, children five years and under, and those with chronic illness,” Joanne Cameron of Toronto Public Health explained at the East York Civic Centre.

Source: CityTv News

And closer to home:

It was a turnout that no one expected, as more than 3,500 people came out for the region’s first H1N1 vaccination clinic on Wednesday at the Halton Regional Centre.

The site was closed to additional members of the public at 6:45 p.m. While the clinic was intended to remain open until 8 p.m., the last shot was administered at approximately 12:40 a.m.

Source: Burlington Post

Here’s the thing that makes me scratch my head. The government is worried because this is a highly contagious virus – I’ve seen quotes from the federal health minister suggesting the concern that upwards of 30% of the population could catch H1N1 during the course of this flu season (which would be economically devastating).

With that in mind, I can’t even begin to fathom why anyone at any level of government thought the best course of action was to create central bottlenecks to distribute the vaccine through.


Think about it, every person standing in line has not been vaccinated yet – they’re all vulnerable. Better yet, the early clinics have been intended for the “high risk” groups, so not only have they gathered large groups in one place for hours, it’s the people who can least afford the risk being made to stand around for hours, and often outside in the cold which probably isn’t helping their health either.

Highly Contagious Virus + People in high risk Category + Crowding together for hours on end = recipe for disaster.

Maybe they’ll get lucky and none of the people in line are already sick, and maybe no showing signs yet, but then again maybe not.

A Better Way?

At the end of the day, there’s really no excuse for this. It’s not the first time the government or municipalities have had to handle large crowds. I also get there are benefits to centrally distributing the vaccine – but massive line-ups and crowds are not the only option.

I can think of a few ways to keep clinics accessible – for example: Create a reception desk (just like they’ve done in the Service Ontario offices) and some # wristbands or one of those “Take a Number” machines. Give each person a tag, and then give them a time block that those wristbands will be seen, then tell them to come back then. Also, use this reception desk for front-line screening – watch for people who already appear ill, weed them out of the line early and deal with them.

I mean, this isn’t rocket science and it’s not like H1N1 is a sudden surprise – I’m honestly really dissapointed with what I’m seeing so far, unfortunately I’ve come to expect nothing less from our government(s).

Keep informed

Already the hashtag #TOfluline has emerged as a common tag where people are posting updates on their line experiences. I’m sure others will emerge in other municipalities too, also check in within Toronto Public Health or your local municipality site. Many municipalities also have the 311 service now that you can call to get information on any municipal service.

Lastly, don’t forget Telehealth – they really should be your first call if you get sick and have concerns or questions, it’s been widely reported that ER’s are overcrowded and don’t want everyone with the flu coming down unless it’s a true emergency – you’re just putting yourself and others at risk.

(Home Page Article Icon by Phil Romans)

WTF Dell? Shipping Empty Boxes?

Thanks to a broken laptop, I’ve just encountered the most astoundingly ridiculous process that Dell subjects its clients, and the world to.

My laptop has a hardware issue. It has to go to their service depot to have its guts replaced. I was irked about that but whatever, I’ve got another PC here that I can at least use here’s what sent me over the edge with them though:

Dell is shipping me an empty box to send my laptop back in. Yes. An empty box.

Dell, masters of mass production and process have decided the best way to get computers back to the depot is to first ship a box of air to their clients.

This is roughly the conversation I had with Neil* at Dell support:

Me: So you’re shipping me an empty box?

Well sir, it has a waybill on it.

But I have a box. The one you shipped (my laptop) to me in originally. That same one you told me to keep in case I ever needed to return my PC to Dell.

Yes, but you need the waybill.

I have a printer. Why can’t I just print it?

We need to send you the box so you can get the paper.

:: blank WTF face ::

Don’t Trust The Greenwashing
Seriously – as long as this policy stays in place Dell has no business or right to say they’re a Green company as long as a ridiculous policy like this is still on the books. Dell likes to trump up their “Green Earth” program. Ordinarily I’d link you to their site using their name but instead I’d like to help them with their SEO campaign and instead link it under the term green washing. I’d encourage you to do the same.

I get why they need to have a process to ship boxes in case people don’t have one. But I have a box, I have a printer – I shouldn’t have to wait for air to be shipped to me, especially when I did as I was told and saved the box you sent it to me in! Your wasting my time, your money and everyone’s limited resources. Ugh.

An Open Letter to Dell’s “Environmental” Team
I’ve included below the email I just sent off to Dell’s Environmental Policy Dept. – you can email them at too if you think this is a silly policy:

I’ll admit I’ve just had the most puzzling conversation with some of your tech support reps over the process to get my laptop back to your service depot. My M1330 has got a hardware issue and it needs some TLC at the shop – I’m okay with that.

What I’m not okay with is having an empty box shipped to me so it can start it’s journey home – you see I’ve already got an empty box. You sent it to me with my laptop inside it just under a year ago. As directed I’ve kept it in case of and unfortunate event where I needed to return my laptop to the depot.

Apparently though it’s not really the box that’s all that important, but rather the waybill that comes attached to it – which I get is important to ensure my laptop safely makes it to and from my house and your depot. But I’ve got a printer, and I’ll even provide the paper free of charge.

I asked if he could just email me the waybill info but apparently we can’t do that. I need to wait for my box of air to arrive. It must be really special Dell air as someone in your organization, who is breathing that air, feels this is the most efficient and cost effective way for this process to unfold… they must be high.

I hope you can see how when policies such as this still exist it’s hard not to view Dell portraying itself as “green” as anything but green washing.

Some suggestions:

  • See if the customer has their very own box already first and facilitate them using that box instead.
  • Have the default process be to email me a PDF of the waybill that I can print
  • If someone does need a box ship it to them flat – why ship air? You’re just taking up space on a truck – it’s not out of the realm of possibility that at some point you’ve shipped an entire truck of air from one of the depots.
  • If someone doesn’t have their box, have a surcharge for shipping them foam/padding with the box. (and put some of that $ into carbon credits to offset shipping air around)

Obviously there are huge cost savings to be had in not shipping air around the continent. You also save your customers time (my computer will be broken for an additional 48 hours while I wait for my empty box). And most importantly you stop wasting fuel and other resources creating more boxes and shipping air around.

I look forward to your reply.

Ryan Coleman

*pretty sure that’s not his real name. I think Dell should really liven things up and start giving the support reps stripper names. “Hello sir, this is Candy, how can I help you…”

The One Thing that Terrifies Me…

There’s a lot of things that should probably terrify me in the world today – but there’s one that stands out above all others. The apparent complete abandonment of “critical thinking”. This may not come as much of a surprise if you’ve read my posts on drivers blindly following their GPS system into life-threatening situations.

Today I read a story on Cnet that had me scratching my head. From what I can tell it was written by a guy who works in some kind of computer repair job. The post (found here) is basically about the hazards of screws when it comes to your laptop more specifically screws you “can’t get undone”.

The line that made my jaw drop was:

Thanks to a single screw the owner of this laptop computer now has to buy a new machine.

Huh? Come again???

Basically he was defeated by a single screw, which had gone form being a Philips head to a perfect little circle. Now, this happens all the time but what shocked me was how easily he shrugged and gave up. His solution was “Hard Drive is stuck, by a new computer”. He then goes onto to detail a bunch of other ways a tiny little screw has defeated him in the course of his job.


Come on people, in this day of persistent & pervasive information most of life’s basic problems can be answered by just stepping back for a second and considering the problem. If that doesn’t provide a solution, ask around – A simple Google search for “Removing a Stripped Screw” turned up 73,000+ results.

At the end of the day here’s one piece of critical thinking I’ll save you from having to do. If you go to a repair shop and the guy behind the counter is named Michael Horowitz just run, run, run away.

A Hotel Made for Porn, Hastening Global Warming.

So here in Berlin we’re staying at the Park Inn hotel. It’s an interesting little hotel – a travel book one of my lunch companion’s had referred to its outside as “Remarkably Ugly” .

The inside, however, is an interesting, funky space – well except for the fact that the fact that it appears a former set designer for the adult industry conned his way into the interior design contract for their rooms.

First there’s the giant mirrored headboard:


Then we have the glass encased shower, essentially in the middle of the room:


Complete with rain-like shower head:


Strange side note: There’s no drain in the shower.


Apparently there are rooms elsewhere in the hotel (another lunch companion got one) that has a giant sunken tub in the middle of the room.

The Hidden Toilet
I’ll have to admit that I had forgotten that Europeans often put the toilet off in its own little room. So when I walked in the room and at first glance saw all the amenities, minus a toilet, I had a mini-“oh shit, is this some shared toilet hotel or something?” moment. It turns out it’s behind the frosted glass shower wall and you get at it through the door that looks just like a closet door.

Action, Camera, Lights!
Since you can’t make movies without lights they’ve made sure there’s plenty. This room comes equipped with a “Master” light switch just inside the door. Being environmentally minded I’ve been diligently turning it off as I leave the room. But, I came back in today to discover that as I flipped it back on the housekeepers had kindly turned back on EVERY SINGLE FIXTURE in the room. Seriously, it was like that moment in any alien-oriented movie when the door of their ship first opens.

It takes no less than eight light switches (Yes, I count these things) to turn off all the fixtures in this room and I barely need one light at a time depending on what I’m doing.

Wonder if they’d pay attention to a note?

“Please don’t turn on all the lights as I’ll just have to spend two minutes going through the room and turning them all back off when I return. Thx.”

I’d happily trade one or two light fixtures and use their power savings towards a free wifi connection folks!

Google just doesn’t seem to want to play nice with itself….

I’d love it if someone from Google could provide a rational explanation for this.

The other day I needed to update my AdSense contact email address. I recently got my personal domain accepted into the Google Apps (Beta?) so I could now run all my family accounts on the GMail platform.

Head scratcher #1: You can’t use underscores “_” in email addresses on the Gmail platform. Unfortunately the public address I use has one so I had to change it.

Coincidentally this address was the one I used on AdSense. No problem, emailed Google explained the issue and asked them to forward to my un-underscored address.

Head Scratcher #2: The response I got…

Thanks for your email requesting a change to your AdSense login. When I researched our records, I noticed that your email address at is associated with a Google Account. Unfortunately, I’m not able to update your AdSense login to a Google Account or a Gmail address because our system doesn’t support this type of change at the moment. I sincerely apologize for the trouble this causes you, and I thank you for bearing with us as we work hard to extend this option to AdSense publishers in the future.

I can, however, update your AdSense login to a non-Gmail address or any other address not associated with another Google product. You can simply reply to this email, providing the desired email address in the body of your response, and I’ll take care of your request as soon as I’m able.

I was half temped to respond with a “You’re kidding me right?”.

Can anyone out there even begin to explain this to me?

What the heck are they smoking down in Mountain View?

EDITED TO ADD – Headscratcher #3:

Got a second response. I forgot that at some point I associated my work email with a Google Account too. So not only can AdSense not use any Gmail powered address but they also can’t use any email address that is connected to Google in any way whatsoever. I’ve got one last email that I *think* I haven’t created a Google Account for in the past – if not I guess I’ll have to go create a Yahoo account and go from there. Brilliant.