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All your berries in one basket?
February 11, 2008 3:55 PM   Subscribe

"It's amazing how we rely on them." BlackBerry email service went down this afternoon in "The Americas Network." That's bad. But is over-reliance on a network the worst of it? Or is it the thumb-ache? or the back-ache? or the work-life imbalance? or the shakes?
posted by jbickers (60 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Does this affect companies with their own BES? I mean do all of corporate america's emails go back and forth to canada? Or does this stuff only affect users who use their BB to do pop mail?
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:01 PM on February 11, 2008


" the outage began at 3:20 ET and affected all carriers, but not necessarily all BlackBerry users"

That sounds like a classic RIM gateway outage. Customers with their own gateways were probably the ones unaffected.

RIM's gateways had multi-hour outages regularly when I was a customer -- which was somewhat before the devices were widely available to consumers, when the underlying network was the old Mobitex infrastructure and not the telco networks being used today. I guess the thing that's news here is that they have a lot more end users than they used to?
posted by majick at 4:05 PM on February 11, 2008


(Note that a gateway isn't the same thing as a BES.)
posted by majick at 4:05 PM on February 11, 2008


I didn't know you could buy your own gateway now. But I do recall that a Blackberry without a BES was much less useful.

I wonder how many iPhones get sold tonight? Yeah, I know, Blackberries skew hard toward the corp users without a choice.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:13 PM on February 11, 2008


BES was knocked out too (we've got a copy of BES and we're as screwed as the rest of them).
posted by lowlife at 4:16 PM on February 11, 2008


E-mail at my company stopped working around 2:30 ET (at least, no one got e-mail from then on). I felt very relieved when I found out it wasn't just us.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:24 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I can now use down-time--waiting to collect daughters, train journeys--to continue to read and action emails, which means I don't have a huge queue waiting for me when I'm next in the office. It has, however, extended my working day."

Yea, and if I never slept, I could be a productivity machine! But for now, I'm going to resist that temptation.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:26 PM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Very, very interesting. I just started getting a bunch of email on my Blackberry from around the first of the year - email that I had already seen and deleted in my regular client. Don't know if it's a coincidence or not, though.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:27 PM on February 11, 2008


"I can now use down-time ... to read and action emails..."

Dammit! I so badly want to action something!
posted by The Deej at 4:35 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


They play too big a role in our lives - LET'S DISCUSS THEM MORE!
posted by freebird at 4:41 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Does this affect companies with their own BES?

Yes. We spent an hour troubleshooting until we saw that it was a network outage.
posted by eriko at 4:45 PM on February 11, 2008


LOLPROPRIETARYSOFTWAREANDHARDWARE
posted by DU at 4:51 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Speaking of Crack....ahem....BlackBerries... do any fellow mefites know of a better way to manage the digital detritus that occurs when these little preciouses become obsolete? Does RIM have a recycling service for them? I hate the fact that my support desk lead just tells our end users to just smash them to bits after blasting the binary bits.

I'm not cool with such flagrant waste.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 4:53 PM on February 11, 2008


Fuck having one of those things. Fuck it to hell. I've been to too many social gatherings where people were constantly using their Crackberries to check their email, text other people, do fuck knows what online, make phone calls and/or work. Most of them seemed stressed out and unhappy. Hell, I've watched people sit on their decks at cottages, while surrounded by the grandeur of nature and ostensibly on vacation - and peck away at those fucking things, and it makes me want to weep.

Blackberries are a symbol that you're willing - even proud - to sign your life over to your employer, even during times when you're not getting paid. If you're not using it for work purposes, you're still signalling that you feel like you're too busy to ever be able to relax. If that sounds like something you can't do without, well...better you than me, bub.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:04 PM on February 11, 2008 [12 favorites]


Kevin Fitzpatrick, CIO at Sodexho UK, said: "Improvement in productivity has been huge--the ability to respond immediately has been a real bonus for the company. Work/life balance swings dramatically to the company side of the scales."

Yep, it's a real bonus...for the company. For the workers, not so much. Enjoy that gilded cage, losers.

Alan Shrimpton, IT director at Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said: "I can now use down-time--waiting to collect daughters, train journeys--to continue to read and action emails, which means I don't have a huge queue waiting for me when I'm next in the office. It has, however, extended my working day."

"Down time" should, by definition be relaxing. But it used to be unproductive, and we can't have that. Enjoy that unpaid overtime, losers!

But most agreed the productivity gains are worth any disapproving looks from partners at dinner parties when still responding to work emails at midnight.

Would that be disapproving looks from your second wife, or your third? Enjoy your productivity gains, losers.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:12 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


"little preciouses become obsolete?"

A real BlackBerry is never obsolete.. it merely becomes 'vintage' and 'retro.' :)

I have a BlackBerry Curve through T-Mobile and didn't notice any outage at all. Was this just for blackberry email? Or IMAP?

Perhaps I didn't notice it because I managed to keep my normal life despite the fact that I own a BlackBerry.
posted by drstein at 5:19 PM on February 11, 2008


Card Cheat, you need to be a little clearer about how you feel on this issue. Don't hedge.

That said, your blog has an outstanding title. I'll give you four-to-one on the Snow Dog.
posted by jbickers at 5:26 PM on February 11, 2008


heh, for a second there I thought The Card Cheat was my sockpuppet. My partner has a smartphone (not a blackberry though) and has suffered many a disapproving look from me over dinner. Those things are the bane of existence.
posted by desjardins at 5:29 PM on February 11, 2008


"Down time" should, by definition be relaxing. But it used to be unproductive, and we can't have that. Enjoy that unpaid overtime, losers!

That's not really how it works. People who are pecking at the BlackBerries at odd hours have that factored into their salary to begin with. Personally, I'd have to take a big pay cut if I insisted on a strict 9-5, and I'd probably be excluded from doing what I want to do altogether.

Sure, some people overdo it and make themselves miserable, but there have been miserable people at every job I've ever worked at, regardless of how demanding the place was.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:49 PM on February 11, 2008


Is this something you'd need a crippling Blackberry addiction to understand?



Oh, right, it is. Sorry.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:52 PM on February 11, 2008


Blackberries are a symbol that you're willing - even proud - to sign your life over to your employer, even during times when you're not getting paid.

Pffttt! I have one. Last thing I do when I leave the house is turn in on and it's turned off before I've made it to my car in the parking lot on the way home.

It's a symbol that I don't like walking a half mile back to my office only to find out my next service call is on the same floor that I just walked back from, and that's about it.

Stop screeching.
posted by Cyrano at 5:54 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


REMEMBER 2/11
posted by phaedon at 6:19 PM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's incredibly useful during baseball season when there's a game on but we're not near TV/radio.
posted by rtha at 6:30 PM on February 11, 2008


People who are pecking at the BlackBerries at odd hours have that factored into their salary to begin with.

So, have you ever actually divided the hours you spend working (yes, reading work emails is working) every week and figured out what your actual hourly rate is? You might be surprised to find that you're not making such a fat salary after all.

I challenged my old boss to do this, and it turned out she was working for about 10 bucks an hour. Exempt positions can rapidly become a giant rip-off unless you keep an eye on your time. Hell, your employer doesn't even need to make sure that you are making minimum wage!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:51 PM on February 11, 2008


Hey Blackberries, get off my lawn!

(This sounds like a pro-Blackberry bit of irony, but, seriously, I wouldn't buy one if you paid me. I like to have fun the old-fashioned way: talking with the family, reading, playing music...quasi-Luddites may stand in the way of progress, but we have our fun). Including web-surfing; that's why I stuck in the "quasi-."
posted by kozad at 7:01 PM on February 11, 2008


So, have you ever actually divided the hours you spend working (yes, reading work emails is working) every week and figured out what your actual hourly rate is? You might be surprised to find that you're not making such a fat salary after all.

This is a good point. I actually have personally calculated my hourly rate, and I'm content with it, but you're absolutely right that when you're exempt you need to be a lot more defensive about your time.

I find that judicious use of the BlackBerry can actually help keep me out of the office. If I think it's likely that something could require my attention later in the evening, I can leave the office but keep the BlackBerry nearby to deal with it. If I know that nothing should be happening on a particular morning, I can email my secretary in the morning saying I'm going to be in a bit late, and run some errands or have a leisurely breakfast, and if anything comes up, I can just deal with it right away.

Hell, I've even cut out on a lazy Friday afternoon to go see a movie, because if anything came up, I could be back in the office in minutes.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:26 PM on February 11, 2008


THANK GOD BRICKBREAKER DIDN'T GO DOWN.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:39 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, and The Card Cheat, I'm glued to mine, and it doesn't bother me one wink, because I love my fucking job. So while you feel blessed that you can relax and enjoy the scenery, I'll feel blessed that I spend 10-12 hours a day getting paid for doing something that I'd gladly do for free.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:45 PM on February 11, 2008


HA HA BLACKBERRY USERS LOSERS
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:48 PM on February 11, 2008


Just rebooted my BB and it's fully functional now. So all is right with the world again.
posted by bowline at 7:53 PM on February 11, 2008


> Card Cheat, you need to be a little clearer about how you feel on this issue. Don't hedge.

Okay, I've calmed down a bit. Obviously, this sort of thing hits a nerve with me, "this thing" being the fact that technology that was "supposed" to save people time and reduce their workload has, instead, merely increased the demands employers place upon their workers. If these things actually do save time for any of you, I'm genuinely pleased to hear that, but it seems as though this is most emphatically not the case for the vast majority of people who are compelled to own one of these things. I have a number of friends and relatives who spend too much time at the office, away from their families, friends and hobbies, and then are expected to be at the beck and call of their employers outside of working hours. And to what end? Terms like "productivity gains" are usually code for "money you're making the company but won't see any of."

That said, your blog has an outstanding title. I'll give you four-to-one on the Snow Dog.

"Snow Dog...IS VIC-TOR-I-OUS!!!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:00 PM on February 11, 2008


> I love my fucking job.

I'm glad to hear that. I envy people who have a real passion for their work. But not many people do, and I just think that once the whistle blows at the end of the day, your time should be yours until the beginning of the next shift.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:10 PM on February 11, 2008


The Light Fantastic: "So, have you ever actually divided the hours you spend working (yes, reading work emails is working) every week and figured out what your actual hourly rate is? You might be surprised to find that you're not making such a fat salary after all.

I challenged my old boss to do this, and it turned out she was working for about 10 bucks an hour. Exempt positions can rapidly become a giant rip-off unless you keep an eye on your time. Hell, your employer doesn't even need to make sure that you are making minimum wage!
"

This is a good point and anyone who's salaried should do it once in a while just to get an idea of what they're really being paid.

I doubt too many people would fault someone for taking a lower-paying job that they enjoy, over a better-paying one that they hate. Yet that's the same calculation that a lot of people with very high-commitment salaried jobs make. Someone pulling ridiculous hours, like a lot of the Blackberry crowd are, practically by definition isn't afraid of hard work -- they'd probably do OK in a variety of jobs, including hourly ones where they could make more. That they don't all flock to those positions suggests that they see something in their current jobs beyond the salary.

Of course, anyone who's slaving away or on call 80 hours a week, not realizing that they may be making less per hour than the guy who makes their lunch in the cafeteria and goes home promptly at 5PM, is a fool. But as their pain and ignorance are both self-inflicted, my sympathy is pretty limited.

As for Blackberries: I've been offered one; I turned it down.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:16 PM on February 11, 2008


Yo, I don't know about you guys but I love playing BrickBreaker on my Blackberry while taking a deuce in the men's room!
posted by sewshi at 8:18 PM on February 11, 2008


Remind me not to borrow your phone...
posted by Burhanistan at 8:19 PM on February 11, 2008


holy shit. I wrote a post that took half an hour to compose. Went to google the spelling of Kasczynski (I had abrilliant comparison between Wordsworth and Kasczynski) and when I returned to this page it was all gone.

Dear Steve Jobs: WHEN THE &@&$ IS THE IPHONE GOING TO GET COPY AND PASTE?
posted by mistersquid at 8:24 PM on February 11, 2008


Didn't I used to have a wordprocessing program for my Apple II called Copy & Paste? Hm.
posted by maxwelton at 8:38 PM on February 11, 2008


Of course, anyone who's slaving away or on call 80 hours a week, not realizing that they may be making less per hour than the guy who makes their lunch in the cafeteria and goes home promptly at 5PM, is a fool. But as their pain and ignorance are both self-inflicted, my sympathy is pretty limited.

Does anyone actually do this, though? The crazy workaholics I know are making upward (some way upward) of $300k/year, which is more than $70/hour for about an 80 hour work week (which is about what they do, I would guess).

That's still a good bit more than a cafeteria worker, I'm guessing.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:44 PM on February 11, 2008


God, some of you need to seriously calm the fuck down. It is a tool (just like the goddamned computer in front of you) and different people rely on them for a myriad of reasons. They are incredibly reliable devices (despite this story) and for a lot of very prominent businesses and positions within them, they're an absolute essential for on-job work that really does make an enormous difference.

Some people are definitely annoying, but I don't see any difference between them and the assholes that want to share their entire conversations with the bus for 30+ minutes every single morning on their cellphones. The benefit of the BlackBerry is that at least it doesn't annoy the living shit out of me while they sit there and type.
posted by purephase at 8:50 PM on February 11, 2008


Cafeteria workers save up all year to take that bus ride to see their cousin two states over. A little blackberry pain makes regular awesome overseas trips possible.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:51 PM on February 11, 2008


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

My cellphone languishes uncharged most of the time

I looked at the iPhone and thought 'my God, that's neat. Pity I don't need one'

at the ski club I belong to I see people prodding away at dingleberries on the chairlift, in the men's room, or just standing around in their ski boots.

I wish there was one of these for dingleberries.

I can remember being a TV producer just before cell phones became ubiquitous. I knew things had gone drastically wrong when I was handed a cell phone and then was expected to keep it on while I interviewed some poor fuck so that my Exec. Producer could listen to my questions from the edit suite, and suggest others.

Basically, I no longer answer my cell phone unless it's my wife and then not very reliably.
posted by unSane at 10:18 PM on February 11, 2008


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America: "Does anyone actually do this, though? The crazy workaholics I know are making upward (some way upward) of $300k/year, which is more than $70/hour for about an 80 hour work week (which is about what they do, I would guess)."

Well, it all depends where you look, but yeah, there are places where you can find younger people doing 60-80 hours a week, 50+ weeks a year, for $50-60k. Junior consultants, some Congressional staffer-types ... almost any job at the bottom rung of a long corporate ladder.

Granted most people aren't really doing those jobs for fun or because they enjoy them; it's a sort of bet that the effort will put them in a position to make a lot more money later. Your comment, which matches my experience as well, seems to suggest that people who maintain that crazy level of effort are eventually rewarded financially for it with big salaries (or, I suppose, perhaps it's just that the people who aren't rewarded with big salaries eventually stop working such long hours).
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:46 PM on February 11, 2008


Yeah, lotsa folks at the big-time consulting firm I used to work at have these, and the majority of them don't really need them, they're just a status symbol, and a status symbol that allows them to indulge their OCD control-freakism and answer every fricking email instantly. Since most of them do about 80% of their work by email, I guess it make sense. They don't seem very happy though, as a group of people.

They're creeping into most businesses, and for the first time in my career I'm ostensibly in the group that might be given one, but it really is as easy as saying, 'uh, no thanks, I answer enough emails at work'. At least where I am. Guess I'm lucky.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:37 AM on February 12, 2008


My partner is getting a Blackberry, with his new position. Since work email is work done, I wonder if he can afford more time commuting, since he can do emails on the bus/tram/train? At home, I'll just put the thing in a nice tin box.
posted by Goofyy at 3:34 AM on February 12, 2008


People who are pecking at the BlackBerries at odd hours have that factored into their salary to begin with.

The fuck they do. The only math employers do is "How many more hours can we squeeze out of them for the same pay?"
posted by Thorzdad at 4:06 AM on February 12, 2008


I evolved over the years from a position which entailed "24/7 responsibility" and thus the 'berry was a godsend, to a "9-5 and occasional cruddups" position that no longer required it. Thing is, since I came in at the 24/7 level, in the mystery machine I'm coded as a blackberry user, so every X amount of years a new one arrives on my desk.

Years back I made a mention -- hey, I don't need this anymore! -- and they said oh? well, I'm sure it will get sorted out by the great machine.

So sometimes I respond to emails if I'm bored and out, sometimes I don't. About 8 months back I realized I actually had a, ahem, OCDish type problem when I read some puff AP piece saying people were feeing like their 'berries were tingling on their hip when they weren't even there. I was like wow.. ha ha.. those people are messed up.

Then I left my phone in the office and went to lunch. I grasped at my hip twice. Zoinks! Foiled again, those meddling kids.

So after a brief mutual seperation, we're together again, but on different terms. It only notifies when I have a phone call, and I promise the wife I'll get a watch at some point so I stop checking it on the berry.

PS: Guilty, I definitely started checking email at dinner/out with the Mrs. She utilized positive reinforcement, which was awesome, where she communicated I could earn extra points just by not bringing the berry with me. Hoo boy! Shucked that thing in the truck faster then you could say omgwheeee?
posted by cavalier at 5:09 AM on February 12, 2008


P.P.S: I was actually out of the office AND expecting an important notification yesterday afternoon, so this actually interrupted my day! Emails from about 3pm showed up about 7pm. Huh! Interesting to know that even though there are 3-5 different phone carriers, the RIM network still belongs to RIM.
posted by cavalier at 5:10 AM on February 12, 2008


At home, I'll just put the thing in a nice tin box.

Not if it vibrates with every new message! BUZZRATTLEBUZZ.

And when I used to have one, that was the key. Turn off the vibrate on new messages. It works for you, not the other way around. And for god's sake keep it away from the dinner table!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:26 AM on February 12, 2008


They still hand out beepers where I work.
posted by JanetLand at 5:48 AM on February 12, 2008



This Blackberry...it vibrates?

I use it to manage multiple women and dates...Work? Not so much.
posted by sfts2 at 6:37 AM on February 12, 2008


People who are pecking at the BlackBerries at odd hours have that factored into their salary to begin with.
The fuck they do. The only math employers do is "How many more hours can we squeeze out of them for the same pay?"


You're forgetting the math employees do. You do consider the responsibilities imposed by a position when evaluating a job offer, don't you? You do realize that you don't have to accept every job offer extended to you, right? You understand that you can seek employment elsewhere if working your current job is no longer worth what they're paying you?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:06 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm in a competitive freelancing situation where timeliness is a factor, and before I got my Blackberry, I rarely left the house during business hours, just to ensure I could respond quickly. Now, I can run errands, visit brothels, or get my teeth cleaned with total confidence.

I understand the visceral luddite bohemian vitriolic hipster-scorn toward people who diddle theirs in public, but not everyone who owns one is a corporate drone working free overtime. For some of us, instead of being an extra burden, it reduces the time we have to spend in the office (by a hell of a lot, in my case!)

Well, uh, except when the goddamn service goes out. I didn't know what had happened until I got back -- thought it was just because I was in the boonies.

posted by jake at 8:07 AM on February 12, 2008


Oh christ, Steve. Please stop with the naive libertarian theory and come back when you've actually worked in the real world.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:07 AM on February 12, 2008


Blackberries are a symbol that you're willing - even proud - to sign your life over to your employer.

To side with Dr Steve Elvis for a moment (hey everything happens sometimes!), I feel the need to point out that a decent number of the Crackberry addicts I know are self-employed.

It's not necessarily the Big Bad Corporation that's crushing the common man. Sometimes it's the big bad customers, the big bad clients, or even the big bad planet full of expectations.
posted by rokusan at 8:29 AM on February 12, 2008


Although I don't have (or need) a Blackberry, I'm expected to do some amount of work in non-office hours when needed. Believe me, everyone with the same arrangement has it factored in to their salary and both sides (employer and employee) are usually OK with the deal. I'm not sure what "real world" you're talking about Thorzdad, unless it comes from a Worker's Party recruiting pamphlet.
posted by rocket88 at 8:30 AM on February 12, 2008


You understand that you can seek employment elsewhere if working your current job is no longer worth what they're paying you?

Naive bullshit. Once you get to a certain point in your career, you cannot simply leave your job and go to a new one without there being serious career repercussions. Sometimes you get hoodwinked into doing something that you had no intention of agreeing to.

Few people I know start a job saying that they'll be available 24/7 via BlackBerry with a 2 hour response time service level agreement and factor that into compensation. It's something that that happens gradually, over time. Your willpower is eroded by the incessant red, blinking light. You start with the "privilege" of getting the BlackBerry, then you start getting urgent emails late at night, at 5am, 5pm on a Sunday, etc.
posted by psmealey at 9:03 AM on February 12, 2008


Metafilter: Enjoy that gilded cage, losers.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:10 AM on February 12, 2008


Blackberry's, smartphones, WiFi all allow me to get work done - wherever. My office is at home, or the coffee shop, or a customer site, or the airport, or the car, or the mall, or in line at the movie theater.

I don't punch a clock, I am a "mobile worker" - quite literally, that is my job classification. Sure - I have a home office, but frankly spend more time in the comfy chair at a nice coffee shop.

Work-life-balance? I get to take my kids to/from school, to/from art, piano, karate and never have to worry about getting behind - oh, and that is at 8:30am, 2:30pm. So - my work-day is chopped into little chunks - but, I am always available and always productive - even though I am not captive in an office for 40-50 hours/week.

I can sneak off to a movie in the afternoon (last friday - Cloverfield, not bad) and still reply to the odd urgent message, if necessary.

Oh, and the pay, bonuses, training, stock/options make it all worthwhile. See - it's not a job, it's a career - the things I do make a direct difference in peoples lives and I am happy/proud to be a part of that.

Naw - I wouldn't trade this "tether" for the old 9-5, "must-see-you-in-the-cubicle", downtown commute/parking EVER AGAIN.
posted by jkaczor at 9:30 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is a pointless and polarized argument. Some people like their jobs, so having a blackberry is an augmentation. Some people feel oppressed by their jobs so a blackberry is a burden. Some people don't hold jobs that someone felt a blackberry was merited. There's no reason to make all these dumb and emotional generalizations.

Also, I'm typing this on my blackberry while in my "second" office down the hall. You know what I'm talking about.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:40 AM on February 12, 2008


Oh christ, Steve. Please stop with the naive libertarian theory and come back when you've actually worked in the real world.

I do work in the real world. I have an office in a high rise, medical benefits, a 401(k) plan, and everything.

When I took the job I have now, I carefully considered whether I thought the salary and opportunities would be worth the stress and demands on my time. I had other job options that would've been less demanding, paid less, and provided different opportunities, and I had to decide what I valued more for the time being.

Naive bullshit. Once you get to a certain point in your career, you cannot simply leave your job and go to a new one without there being serious career repercussions.

If you're far along in your career and still feel like you're being taken advantage of and underpaid, what are you clinging to, exactly? What are you worried about, if you change jobs? That you'll get shut out of a career that you didn't feel was worth the time and money to begin with?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:04 PM on February 12, 2008


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