Monday, December 19, 2016

Major computer breach allows Americans into Canadian health system

(DISCLAIMER: In accordance with emerging information practices, and because this story will be shared on Facebook, I am obliged to point out that this is fake news FAKE FAKE FAKE. In case you didn't get it, this is FAKE.)

I am proud of my unsurpassed ability to provide Empoprises readers with stories that they will not get ANYWHERE ELSE. (Hint, hint.) So on to my exclusive story, which is extensively referenced (check the links).

The Canadian Health Authority (in English; the French site is Autorité canadienne de la santé) allows Canadian citizens to manage their health information, schedule appointments with doctors...and order prescriptions - including mental health-related prescriptions. Canadian taxpayers support this health system, which is obviously only intended for Canadians.

Fair use, Link

On December 12, the Office of the Prime Minister revealed the existence of a major systems breach that allowed non-Canadians to access the site and obtain prescriptions at Canadian prices. While refusing to disclose the details of the breach, the Prime Minister's office revealed that that the breach was operated from within the United States - a country with notoriously high prescription prices.

A few days later, Wikileaks provided the extraordinary details of the breach. It appears that a legion of hackers discovered that if a person entered a home address of "Ontario, CA," the system would automatically assume that the person was a Canadian from the province of Ontario, and grant all the rights of Canadian citizens. So Americans in the city of Ontario, California (some distance from Canada, and with much less snow) could snap up prescription drugs at Canadian prices, and no one was the wiser - until now.

Unfortunately for Canadians, the hack didn't work in the other direction.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Traveling between the Inland Empire and Orange County

One disadvantage of living in a major metropolitan area is that sometimes, rather than going from the city center to the suburbs, you have to go from one suburb to another suburb.

When the major metropolitan area covers multiple counties, each with its own transportation agencies, the situation can get pretty complex.

I have spent a good portion of the last thirty years traveling from the Inland Empire suburbs of Los Angeles to the Orange County suburbs of Los Angeles. I spent five years at Cal State Fullerton, and I have spent over two decades working in Brea, Anaheim, and Irvine. Plus, I have had to visit Concordia University Irvine on occasion, as well as South Coast Plaza (and the nearby Hilton), Portillo's in Buena Park, and some mouse place in Anaheim.

This is difficult enough when you have to deal with the southern California freeways to get from place to place.

But what if you don't have a car?

If you happen to be near certain Metrolink stations, you're in luck. You can take Metrolink from Orange County to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, and can then take another Metrolink to the Inland Empire. Or, if you're lucky and do it at the right time, you can take a Metrolink from Fullerton to Riverside County - and sometimes to San Bernardino County.

There is a more direct route, however. The Orange County Transportation Authority currently has two bus routes, the 757 and 758 - one of which goes from Orange County to Pomona, and the other of which goes from Orange County to Chino.

Did I say that the OCTA CURRENTLY has those two bus routes? That's right - the 757 and 758 are being discontinued next month. Happily, there is an alternative - Foothill Transit Route 286, which connects an Orange County transit station at Brea Mall with a Foothill Transit station in Pomona. And the 286 runs hourly - provided you can get to Brea Mall or Pomona.

So let's say that you live in Ontario, and want to get to a city in Orange County. Here's how you'd do it:

Take a bus, or walk, to Holt Boulevard.
Board Omnitrans Route 61 going westbound to Pomona.
Transfer to Foothill Transit Route 286, and take it to the Brea Mall.
Take an OCTA bus from the Brea Mall - for example, the 20 to Yorba Linda or La Habra, or the 57 to a number of cities, including Fullerton, Anaheim, Costa Mesa, and Newport Beach.

I'll grant that taking a trip on three different bus lines can be complex, and I'm not sure which of the lines honor transfers from the other lines, but at least a trip is possible.

And it's better than walking. Nobody walks. (Actually, they do.)

[EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: Earlier this year, I completed an Orange County Transportation Authority survey on vanpools. This was one of those surveys in which a survey participant could win something - and I won. Specifically, I received a $100 Chevron gas card from OCTA.

For those who recall the Jeannine Schafer/Louis Gray FTC blogger disclosure artwork, here's the one that applies.]

Monday, August 22, 2016

Anecdotal observations about Kmart (and VHS)

Back in late July, I wrote a post in my Empoprise-BI business blog that speculated about Kmart's future. Specifically, the post cited Kmart employee speculation that an in-house "path to profitability" effort to move inventory on to the sales floor was just the first step in closing Kmart stores.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit a Kmart to see whether things were as dire as the selected employees were claiming. I went in there realizing that anecdotal evidence is not necessarily reliable, and that things that I observed on my visit may not be reflected in all Kmart stores. With that in mind, I approached the Kmart on East Fourth Street in Ontario a little after noon. The employees were nice enough, and the problems that one employee was having with a store computer may not necessarily mean anything. But after a few minutes of walking around this particular store, something struck me.

If I were to walk into a Costco or a Walmart on Sunday at noon, I would usually be fighting mobs of people. And while there were people in some sections of the Kmart, other sections were oddly empty and quiet. I was told later that traffic usually picked up in the afternoon, but it still seemed strange to be in a major store on a weekend afternoon and to see empty aisles in some places.

Another thing struck me. It did not appear that the stock rooms had been emptied to move everything on to the sales floor, although it seemed that there were an awful lot of mattresses in one section. On the other hand, going through electronics and other places, I was occasionally greeted with scenes like this:

However, it is possible to find certain items at Kmart.

(If you didn't see my July post in tymshft about VHS recorders and tapes, I speculated that even though VHS recorder manufacture ended this year, you'll probably still be able to buy the tapes for years to come.)

But the most troubling thing from my visit to Kmart wasn't something I saw, but something I heard. While in the electronics section, I heard the following scrap of conversation from a man:

Should we go over to Radio Shack?

When your business has a lower reputation than Radio Shack, things aren't looking good.

Monday, July 18, 2016

When search failed me (or, those big buildings around us must be Pokemon gyms or something)

You're probably well aware that if you buy a product from someone, that product doesn't go from the manufacturer directly to you. There are a number of intermediate steps that are required to get that product to you. Even if you buy the product online, rather than in a brick and mortar store, those steps occur. Amazon, for example, has to secure warehouses all over the country - especially to fulfill orders for same day delivery.

According to PYMNTS, there's a problem with that:

The bad news for online brands that rely on same-day and express shipping came down this week from commercial real estate firm CBRE. In a report, Chief Economist for the Americas Jeffrey Havsy explained that, at the close of Q2 2016, available retail warehouse space had fallen to just 8.8 percent of overall capacity. Not only is that the 25th quarter in a row that retailers have been buying up floor space in fulfillment centers faster than contractors can build it, but out of the 57 major metropolitan markets Havsy and CBRE looked at, 37 posted net losses in retail warehouse availability.

Although PYMNTS didn't include a list of the 57 metropolitan areas, my guess is that the Inland Empire didn't post net losses in retail warehouse availability. Heck, we have warehouses all over the place, and there's the big fight in Moreno Valley over a proposed massive logistics center.

But to get the authoritative word on this, I went to the Inland Empire Economic Partnership website, and searched the site for warehouse information.

That was not the result I expected. Or perhaps those aren't really warehouses across our region; maybe they're something else.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

We are closer to ONTARIO International Airport

Source:, via

News Media Contact:
Amy Goethals
(909) 395-2496

Federal legislation facilitating transfer of ONT
to local control wins final approval

FAA bill now goes to President for signing

ONTARIO, Calif. - July 13, 2016 -- Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) officials hailed final passage today of federal legislation facilitating the transfer of Ontario International Airport (ONT) to local control.

The legislation for ONT was included in a bill to extend the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) programs and policies beyond Friday. Leading the effort to include the ONT provision in the bill were Rep. Ken Calvert (D-CA42) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The bill passed in the House on a voice vote Monday and was approved in the Senate today on a 89-4 vote. It now goes to President Obama to be signed into law.

"This is a landmark day in Southern California aviation," said Alan D. Wapner, OIAA President and Ontario City Council Member. "We are grateful for the tremendous bipartisan support this legislation received from throughout the Southland. It completes the funding plan for the transfer of ONT from Los Angeles World Airports to the OIAA, which we continue to expect will be completed in the second half of this calendar year."

The legislation allows future passenger facility charges (PFCs) collected at ONT to be used at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as repayment for PFCs previously collected at LAX and used at ONT.

As one of the last steps before the airport transfer, the OIAA has already begun arrangements for issuance of bonds backed by airport revenues to replace existing airport debt of approximately $56 million.

The FAA continues to work closely with the OIAA and LAWA to provide a seamless transition of airport sponsors from LAWA to the OIAA. The FAA will issue a Part 139 Airport Operating Certificate to the OIAA concurrent with the transfer.

About the Ontario International Airport Authority

The City of Ontario and San Bernardino County formed the OIAA in August 2012 by enacting a Joint Powers Agreement. The OIAA provides overall direction for the management, operations, development and marketing of ONT for the benefit of the Southern California economy and the residents of the airport's four-county catchment area. Commissioners are Ontario Council Member Alan D. Wapner (President), Ontario Council Member Jim W. Bowman, San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman, Retired Riverside Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge (Vice President) and Orange County Business Council President/CEO and California Transportation Commission Chair Lucy Dunn (Secretary).

About Ontario International Airport

ONT is located in the Inland Empire, approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the center of Southern California. It is a medium-hub, full-service airport with direct commercial jet service to 14 U.S. and Mexico cities. There are 61 daily departures offered by seven air carriers. ONT's service area includes a population of six million in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, and portions of Orange and Los Angeles counties. It currently is operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a City of Los Angeles agency also operating Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airports. Beginning in the second half of 2016, subject to FAA approval, ONT will be owned and operated by the Ontario International Airport Authority under a Joint Powers Agreement enacted by the City of Ontario and the County of San Bernardino.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dick's and Sports Authority - anecdotally, recipe for disaster

While I am not much of a sportsperson, our family has hosted several exchange students over the years, and between these exchange student daughters and our own American daughter, we've spent some time in sporting goods stores.

And years ago, I concluded that some stores were better than others.

I've always had good luck at Big 5, and Chick's Sporting Goods was...well, it was GOOD when it was around. But Chick's gave way to Dick's several years ago, and I still remember a not-so-fruitful visit to Dick's in the Colonies. At one point, the salesperson told us, "You're not going to get the same service at Dick's that you did at Chick's." On this point, the Dick's salesperson and I were in complete agreement.

But at least I found a salesperson at Dick's. One day about nine years ago, I took my Swiss daughter to the Sports Authority store east of Montclair Plaza. We started looking for some assistance...and couldn't find any. Eventually it became a game, in which I was roaming around the store trying to find SOMEBODY. Finally I gave up and walked out of the store; I think we went to Big 5 (this was before the Upland Mountain Avenue location closed).

Now I am the first to admit that this is anecdotal and not scientific, and I'm sure that there are people who have received wonderful service at both locations. But my experience was a little different.

Having not set foot in either location (or any of the locations of the two stores) for years, I certainly raised an eyebrow when I read this article:

Over the last several months, Sports Authority has experienced a long, painful and visible death — the likes of which the retail sector would rather not see so often. For the last few weeks, Sports Authority has been going through the process of auctioning off what storefronts and inventory it could to make a little scratch back, and though it was rumored that some buyers were sniffing around the brand itself for a possible resurrection down the line, Dick’s Sporting Goods put a stop to that Thursday (June 30).

While rosy-eyed people may talk of synergies and other wonderfulness, I have steadfastly been of the opinion that the merger of two weak companies does not result in a stronger company; more often than not, the resulting company is weaker than the first two. And no amount of fluffery will negate the inherent problems of the merged firm.

And in this case, Dick's isn't even getting stores; it's getting "intellectual property," a mailing list, and (maybe) a few stores. But when you consider the intellectual property of Sports Authority, it makes the intellectual property of "Late Night With David Letterman" seem like deep philosophy.

Sports Authority and Dick's could only dream of having this.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Who and where - why? (Biometrics, Geographic Information Systems, and the U.S. Army)

For many years, I have worked for MorphoTrak and its corporate predecessors. Starting with fingerprints, my responsibilities have grown to include palmprints, faces, irises, and other items. In essence, however, my professional life has centered on the question "Who?"

At various times during this professional career, I have interacted with ESRI out of Redlands. During the Printrak-Motorola days, ESRI provided software for our Computer Aided Dispatch product (which stayed with Motorola when MorphoTrak was formed). During my second stint in Proposals, I attended several monthly APMP webinars from a regional meeting point at ESRI's headquarters (before we started hosting our own regional meeting point at MorphoTrak, and obviously before APMP did away with the regional centers and just let everyone dial in to the webinar personally). ESRI, for those who don't know, concentrates on the question "Where?"

While "Who?" and "Where?" are different questions, there are overlaps at times. The U.S. Army has an intelligence system called the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (PM DCGS-A) which, according to Defense Systems, includes a lot of different types of intelligence:

DCGS-A is the Army’s common system for gathering, analyzing and sharing intelligence information from different echelons. It is capable of providing planning and direction, collection, processing/exploitation, analysis, prediction and production, battlespace awareness data dissemination, and relay capabilities. The system is able to integrate 600 sources of information.

For instance, DCGS-A is used to analyze imagery or map products, process collected cell phone data, report human intelligence, match biometrics and use NSA or aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data.

As you can see, DCGS-A includes information on "where" (map products, cell phone data) and "who" (biometrics, cell phone data). Think about that before you take your T-Mobile phone and run off to join ISIS.

The Army is currently preparing to procure Increment 2, and has noted:

There is an explosion of data that is occurring.

All of that who and where stuff can certainly put a strain on the tubes.

Monday, February 29, 2016

LAWA and OIAA on the web

If the acronyms in the title of this post confuse you, LAWA stands for Los Angeles World Airports, the organization that oversees several airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Ontario International Airport (ONT). OIAA stands for the Ontario International Airport Authority, the organization that will eventually oversee Ontario International Airport.

I thought of LAWA when I recently read a piece in Airport Technology. It turns out that TBIT (this acronym stands for Tom Bradley International Terminal) isn't the only terminal that has been "modernized":

The second busiest international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Terminal 2, is undergoing a major improvement to enhance the airport's level of service and its appearance.

It turns out that this is the same type of "modernization" that was carried out at TBIT - putting all sorts of dining and other services on the other side of the security checkpoint.

But this statement in the Airport Technology article puzzled me:

The terminal improvement programme is part of an $8.5bn modernisation project initiated by airport operator Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to upgrade all the five terminals at LAX.

Uh, Airport Technology, LAX has seven numbered terminals (1-7) plus TBIT, which adds up to 8 when I last checked. And I doubt that LAX is going to close three terminals any time soon.

Oh, and in case you missed the paragraph that I quoted above, a callout repeated the incorrect statistic later in the article.

It's easy to check such things, since LAWA has a website that presents the correct information.

But what if a future Airport Technology article has the wrong information about Ontario Airport? Where will people go to get authoritative OIAA information?

Sadly, we don't know yet. As of today, OIAA does not have an official website. To get OIAA information, you have to go to Set ONTario Free and to a page on the City of Ontario's website.

Presumably when Kelly J. Fredericks starts his new job as head hONTcho with the OIAA on March 7 (see PDF of 2/1 OIAA agenda), one of his action items will be to establish a true web presence for OIAA, in anticipation of the expected approval of the transfer of ONT from LAWA to OIAA.

But the new website had better be established quickly, before someone writes about a visit to ONT Terminal 3.

Friday, February 19, 2016

IE, we have our own Geddon! (Or is it a Gate?)

It used to be that "-gate" was the most popular suffix on record. Every scandal after Watergate ended up getting a name that also ended in "gate."

Well, there's a new suffix in town.

It started over on the West Side, when a multi-day closure of Interstate 405 was announced. Adapting the word "Armageddon," this closure was popularly referred to as "Carmageddon."

So now that we in the IE are getting our own weekend closure, the popular name that has emerged for the Corona closure is...Coronageddon.

And its effects will be felt well beyond Corona, because there will be no good way to get from Yorba Linda (and the eastern part of Orange County) to Corona (and the western part of Riverside County). For example, my home city of Ontario may feel the effects of people coming all the way north to State Route 60 to get from place to place.

But back to the name.

You know what this means. Now every Southern California freeway closure will be referred to as a Geddon. Maybe we'll have a Ramgeddon when the Inglewood stadium is built. In my case, a Diamondgeddon would be extremely disastrous.

And then the suffix, like our gangs, will spread out of southern California and infect the whole country. Arlington, Virginia - is a Shirleygeddon in your future?

But that's not the worst of it. One day, one of these freeway closures will result in some sort of scandal.

And you know what that means.


P.S. For the latest news on Coronageddon - whoops, the "91 Steer Clear" - visit