Skip to main content
business briefing

These are stories Report on Business is following Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014.

Follow Michael Babad and The Globe's Business Briefing on Twitter.

Mobile blues
Along with everything else that's probably wrong with me, I've suffered of late from something dubbed Smartphone-Loss Anxiety Disorder.

I'm just back today after a couple of weeks of staycation, a two-week period of rest, relaxation and … angst. The latter is because my smartphone died in the middle of my holiday, leaving me in a state of panic.

This occurred at just about the same time as I was reading an academic paper by Canadian researchers about the threat of losing a smartphone, and how to protect yourself in advance.

In my case, having suffered a few days without mine, it was a full-on disease.

I love my BlackBerry Q10, and I couldn't live without it. Or so I thought.

The Saturday night before last, my BlackBerry stopped working.

And because it's not actually mine – it's The Globe's – I had to decide whether to drive downtown through Toronto's ugly construction-stalled traffic or live a week without it. Surely I could go one week, I told myself, a decision that lasted exactly one day.

By Sunday night I decided I'd take it in to Eunice, our BlackBerry wizard.

So I e-mailed her Monday morning, then phoned her for good measure, to make sure she was in. Eunice told me she'd e-mail me when it was fixed, and that it would probably take a couple of days.

That period was hell.

From The Globe's remote e-mail system, I sent messages to everyone I thought would actually care that I was out of touch.

I checked my e-mail remotely often, and my voicemail from a landline. You know, in case the doctor or the bank had left a message.

I had a phantom buzz near my heart, and I envied all the people I saw walking with their eyes glued to their smartphones.

I had to set the alarm clock on my dresser, rather than using the alarm on my BlackBerry. I had to ask people the time of day. I had to look up phone numbers. I even had to write myself notes on paper. With a pen.

All of which is like making coffee in a percolator. Or actually having to insert your key in the car door.

While driving, I kept my eye out for payphones just in case I needed one. Which is sort of like when you're stuck in traffic, terrified and wondering where you can find a bathroom should you need to pee.

According to others who have written on the subject, I'm not alone.

And in a study published in the International Journal of Mobile Communications, Professor Yufei Yuan of McMaster Unversity's DeGroote School of Business, Professor Emeritus Norm Archer and PhD candidate Zhiling Tu built a "user behaviour model" on dealing with the threat of loss. Basically, what you can and should do about it in advance.

"Due to the convenience of mobility, wireless communication and information processing power, individuals frequently carry mobile devices with valuable data assets wherever they go," the researchers write.

"Cellphone users may store personal contacts and private pictures in their mobile phones. Professors may store their academic works such as lecture notes, papers, and manuscript in their laptops," they add.

"Moreover, more and more companies have adopted BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policies which allow employees to bring their own devices to work and connect them to the corporate network … Employees may load confidential customer information or working materials onto their mobile devices. While these compact mobile devices bring many benefits to users, they can easily get lost or stolen."

The McMaster researchers, by the way, didn't use the term Smartphone-Loss Anxiety Disorder. That was coined by others who have cited the study, but its name fit me perfectly.

Finally, I e-mailed Eunice again on Thursday morning, and phoned again, too, and a few hours later she told me she got me a new BlackBerry, the old one having been sent for repairs.

So downtown I went, again, and I can't tell you the relief that swept over me when I got the device back in my hands.

No biggie that I had to set it up the way I like it, all over again. The only problem I had was using Bluetooth to again pair it with the device in my car.

It didn't seem as simple as the first time, and, for the life of me, I couldn't get it working.

I didn't want to call Eunice again – she'd had enough of me. And if Canada Post could turn a profit in an era of e-mail, surely I could figure out Bluetooth.

So … I read the manual.

Discovering my mistake, I went out to the car and, sitting in my driveway, got it working.

And phoned my wife in the family room.

(This item has been changed to clarify what the McMaster study says.)

Cloud under scrutiny
And, while we're on the topic, Apple Inc. said today it found no breach in its systems after investigating the highly publicized online leak of celebrity photos.

I don't store nude pictures of me in my phone or in the cloud, and no one would want to see them anyway, but several celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence, had their photos leaked, as The Globe and Mail's Oliver Moore reports.

"After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet," Apple said in a statement today.

"None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple's systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved."

Apple added it was "outraged" by the leak, and observers said the news raised questions about security of online storage.

"This episode may shake user's trust in cloud-based storage systems," said chief analyst Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

Pro forces gain
The Scottish pro-independence movement is gaining so much momentum that the break-up of the United Kingdom is rapidly shifting from the inconceivable to the possible, underscoring the huge economic and business issues at play.

A YouGov poll conducted for The Sun and The Times found that support for Scottish independence had climbed by eight percentage points since mid-August, excluding undecided voters, and a compelling 22 points over a month, our European correspondent Eric Reguly writes today.

The "No" camp is now squeaking by with a six-point lead, with 53 per cent compared to 47 per cent for the "Yes" side. The polls mean that a swing of only three points could launch Scotland towards independence in the Sept. 18 referendum.

Fundamental questions about the cost of Scotland going it alone remain answered. They include what currency an independent Scotland would use (the British government has said repeatedly that a currency union is off the table); the enduring health, or lack thereof, of North Sea oil and gas reserves; an independent country's tax regime and whether big Scottish employers, such as the banks and fund mangers that turned Glasgow and Edinburgh into international financial centres, would consider Scottish independence overly risky and flee to England.

Pembina in deals
Pembina Pipeline Corp. has struck a deal to build a West Coast propane export terminal in Portland, Oregon and is also tapping into the prolific North Dakota Bakken play with the acquisition of an ethane pipeline, The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports.

Calgary-based Pembina said today it plans to develop a 37,000-barrel-per-day export facility in Portland's port at a cost of about $500-million (U.S.).

The company also said it is positioning itself for future natural-gas liquids opportunities by acquiring the 700-kilometre, 40,000-barrel-a-day Vantage ethane pipeline and a stake in a Saskatchewan extraction plant for a total of about $650-million.

CEO resigns
Centerplate Inc. chief executive Desmond Hague is stepping down after a much-publicized incident in which he was caught on video abusing a dog in a downtown Vancouver condo elevator.

The board of directors of the South Carolina-based food-services company said today that the president and CEO is resigning "as a result of Hague's personal misconduct involving the mistreatment of an animal in his care."

Centerplate chief operating officer Chris Verros has been appointed acting president and CEO, The Globe and Mail's Mr. Marotte reports.

Streetwise (for subscribers)

ROB Insight (for subscribers)

Business ticker

Report an editorial error

Report a technical issue

Editorial code of conduct

Tickers mentioned in this story

Study and track financial data on any traded entity: click to open the full quote page. Data updated as of 15/04/24 4:00pm EDT.

SymbolName% changeLast
Apple Inc
Dollar General Corp
Pembina Pipeline Cor
PPL Corp
Pembina Pipeline Corp

Interact with The Globe