Wednesday, April 18, 2007

About that BlackBerry outage...

Bad day for Research In Motion = good day for Carmi.

When millions of BlackBerry subscribers in the Western hemisphere realized their addictive little devices weren't sending or receiving e-mail last night, ths stage was set for a somewhat eventful day.

Step 1: My phone rings as I'm dropping the kids off at school. Business News Network (formerly Report On Business Television) wants to change the focus of an interview that had already been scheduled for later that morning. BlackBerry is now the top topic. Can do. I was interviewed by Lisa Oake on the Market Morning show. The interview can be seen here.

And because one TV hit is never enough, CTV Toronto pulls a clip from the BNN interview and drops it into a report by John Musselman. They misspell my name as "Karmi" because, well, I'm not quite sure. I guess the lack of BlackBerry service affected the old fact-checking desk. Or something like that. But it gave my friends in Toronto a serious laugh, so it was worth it in the end.

Step 2: My phone rings again. It's our PR team at the office. We're sending out a press release. From the school's parking lot, we confirm talking points as I get ready to drive back to the house to set up a command post on my kitchen table. It's shaping up to be a fun day.

Step 3: Pat the dog in the back seat for being such a good boy. We brought him in the car with us this morning, part of our strategy to get him used to being out and about. Open the sunroof, plug the iPod into the stereo and crank some Delerium (yeah, I'm odd) and kick the wondervan into drive. I've got my priorities, after all.

Step 4: Arrive home. The press release is out (News Brief: Service outage for BlackBerry email a rude awakening for users today.) E-mail and voicemail are already waiting for me from reporters eager to get my take on what this means to the future of the world (short answer: it's still spinning at the same rotational velocity, and the sun seems to be setting in the same place it did last night, so it certainly wasn't catastrophic.) Our daughter woke up looking as green as the just-awakening lawn outside our front door. So she hung out with me while I fielded enough journo inquiries to fill my beloved old Truman Show popcorn bowl. It's yellow and I'm never giving it up. But I digress.

Step 5: Look at my watch. It's well after 5. The wreckage of an insane day of BlackBerry jam hunting is strewn throughout the kitchen. I'm strangely at peace, likely because my own BlackBerry is powered off and stuffed deep in the bottom of my camera bag. I fetch the dog and take him for a walk. Priorities, again.

When all was said and done, I ended up being quoted in another bunch of incredibly cool places. Here are some highlights:
  • The Globe and Mail included two pieces with my input:
1 - BlackBerry service restored, RIM says. Byline Tavia Grant
2 - What went wrong? I wrote this Q&A on what caused the outage and potential consequences.
Oh, and I think they're running a graphic that I helped create in tomorrow's paper. Fingers crossed.
  • Other electronic media hits included live radio interviews with Jeff Allan of 570News in Kitchener-Waterloo (this is notable because it's an hour up the road from my office, and this is the hometown of Research In Motion. RIM-related stories take on an added significance to local media, and it's always a special treat to be interviewed by K-W media. I also did a live hit with Mike Stafford from 640News in Toronto.
There's more. Much more. Including some really significant American media breakthroughs. I'll post separately tomorrow once more of the fallout has a chance to, well, fall.

Your turn: So, what do you think about the BlackBerry outage? Big deal or not? Should I work from my kitchen table more often?


Anonymous said...

I don't own a Blackberry but I think I see how the little contraption could become addictive.

I watched you interview. And read several of your interviews.

This may be one of the most interesting posts I've ever read of yours. This one has it all. Video, interesting content and humor. I actually laughed out loud at a few of your quips.

You're a neat guy Carmi.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a BlackBerry yet, but I know I do have withdrawal symptoms when our email servers go down here on campus.

This was hiliarious - thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a BlackBerry yet, but I do have withdrawal symptoms when email goes down here on campus, lol.

Great story - thanks for sharing!

Linda said...

I don't have a blackberry, like most of the readers above, but I am addicted to the internet and email, and when my servers aren't working, I get "funky"...skipping for a few days is really hard for me.

That's the biggest problem with technology...we become dependent on it and don't know how to do things without it (your comment about the fact-checking desk proves that point succinctly!)

Anna said...

If I had a Blackberry, I would have to quit everything else I do...I would be addicted to it. I love the humor in this post Carmi and as far as working from your kitchen table more often....DO IT! :) Sounds fun to me...

Carli N. Wendell said...

Not a big deal. Ten years ago, a blackberry was still a fruit. Twenty years ago, the Internet was a novelty explained to us by Matthew Broderick in WAR GAMES. This technology is still relatively new, and little blips are going to happen from time to time.

Congrats on all your good press.

Nestor Family said...

I love your "working from the kitchen table"... very interesting and entertaining! I love the everyday-ness mixed with the technical side of your life.

Don't own a Blackberry... won't such outages become as common as when computer servers go down? (I dunno... I'm no techno-genius. --- Great post, Carmi!)

awareness said...

Am not a blackberry owner either, but I can imagine how it most likely shut down government senior management and politicians yesterday.....all the communications spin people spinning in a twirl!!

like Anna, I think it's best that I stay clear of the Blackberry....I wouldn't get anything done!!

Great seem so comfortable in front of the camera.

Great post.

Bobkat said...

What a busy day you had though sooo productive!

I get cranky when IT messes up, mainly because I don't always understand why or know how to fix it!

Michael K. Althouse said...

Short answer: Big deal.
Personal answer: not a big deal, for two reasons.
1) I have redundancy set into my schedule - not to counter a BlackBerry disruption per se, but because I try to keep up on a variety of news sources as well as delivery methods. This includes online versions of news outlets, the print or other media version of the same outlets and my own contacts.

2) This outage must not have affected my own service as breaking news was being sent to my BlackBerry when it was, well... breaking.

While it's true that I get breaking news and important emails a little faster with my BlackBerry, there are so many hotspots around and I ALWAYS have ether my iBook or my MacBook Pro with me, it never takes too long for the news to reach me. There might come a time where reliance on my BlackyBerry (or my iPhone??) will be more important. If and when that time comes, I'll take appropriate measures to insure the best possible reliability. I'll cross that bridge in due course.

tommie said...

first of all, I watched the interview and you remind me of Tom Hanks! LOL I guess you look different in the pic with the hat on...

next, I don't own a Blackberry....because it would be a crackberry for me. But I do go thru withdrawls when I go to my mom's in the middle of the pawpaw patch. She does not have internet at all. My aunt has dial up, but that is just a remedial form of torture!

So work for the table if you want... mix it all up a bit....

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I think you should listen to more Delerium, myself. *wink*

No comment on the whole Blackberry thing 'cause I don't have an opinion one way or the other. Sucks for those who use it, doesn't affect us without, ya know?

sage said...

does sound like an interesting day, but without a blackberry, my day wasn't too bad

Ontario Emperor said...

It's April 26, and I'm sitting at my desk, reading my InformationWeek, when I saw your quote in Richard Martin's article. (In the print edition, the article is entitled "RIM Service Outage Leads to 'BlankBerrys' And Questions.")

I don't use a BlackBerry (Motorola Q for me), but one of my co-workers does; not sure if he went through withdrawal symptoms.

What are you going to do if the battery in a PDA catches fire? You'll be surrounded by media then... :)

The Mushroom said...

Will only say that I worked for Verizon Wireless' data tech support dept for a year, so I'm aware of what it's like from the provider end when Research In Motion's system goes belly-up... Sartre was right, hell is other people -- calling you in droves about something you have no control over and yipping about how important their email, their lives, their business, etcetera are.