Recently I received a voice message on my home phone from a doctor’s office and after I had listened to the message and hung up, my phone immediately rang again from that same office.

I answered but there was no response. This had happened before from that same office so I thought nothing of it. Except this time there was a really loud buzzing sound. I hung up and picked up the phone again to check.

The buzzing continued and all the phones in the house now had that buzzing sound.

I called our carrier with whom we have a bundled service of home phone, internet and cable.

And this started the drama! The frontline tech support tried to fix the problem remotely on the phone with no success. So she disconnected our modem remotely and tried to restart it. No success.

She tried restarting the whole system twice without success and then told us to go to their nearest store and exchange our modem for a new one. All we would need to do is plug everything back in and all would be well, she assured me.

I had a foreboding feeling but stayed positive. We trudged off to the store and got a new modem, but since we had an appointment we could not return to our problem until evening. Eagerly we plugged everything back exactly as per the instruction sheet. Nothing!

Staring at the modem did not help.

Waiting and willing it to work did not help.

So, I phoned tech support again. Another technician tried starting it remotely, no luck. She said that a technician would have to come to the house – in two days! Two days! No home phone, no internet, no cable, no TV! No PBS! No Masterpiece Theatre! No cricket for my husband! Talk about withdrawal symptoms!

When did we become so dependent on communication technology? We did not grow up in the ice age but seriously, growing up in the 50s and 60s we spent our entire childhood and youth with no internet, no cell phone and no television.

We had a home phone and we had radios. We had record players on which we listened to the most beautiful music from Indian movies the likes of which I do not hear today.

With no other technological distractions, we spent a lot of time outdoors playing with siblings, cousins and friends. Mind you, some teenagers like my husband never went anywhere without carrying their portable radios to listen to The Beatles, Elvis, Sinatra and other western icons. 

Today’s technology is not a bad thing. There is a lot of legitimate criticism about over dependence on iPhone, iPad, television and internet at the expense of good old-fashioned conversation for adults and energetic play for children.

But we know that today’s technology has transformed life mostly for the better.

Hospitals and healthcare organizations around the world share integral information that saves lives.

Police departments within countries and internationally are able to share resources to arrest criminals.

Commerce has benefited hundredfold from communication technology, indeed all forms of engineering technology.

Even we as private citizens were able to drive down insurance costs by our ability to compare premiums on-line though mammoth insurance companies still continue to gouge customers by their financial tsunami-like power. People with disabilities have greatly benefited from communication and information technology. The full spectrum of human potential is enhanced by the sharing of skills and expertise rapidly through technology. Governments that have made technology accessible to the poor have seen these tools used by the previously disenfranchised communities for income generation and empowerment (see doi/abs/10.1111/1467-7679.00162).

However, as in all other aspects of life, digital crime and digital terrorism is rampant across the globe.

In our daily lives we are harassed by fraudulent phone callers claiming to be the Canada Revenue Agency or credit card security agents who have defrauded unsuspecting people of millions of dollars.

People looking for romance on-line have been scammed into becoming drug mules.

And by far the most heinous cyber criminals are the pedophiles who lure children on-line.

So, even if we as adults are inevitably attached to our communications technologies, the most important thing we can do is guard our families and ourselves against criminals who are operating on-line every day, every hour, every minute.

• Dr Vicki Bismilla is a retired Superintendent of Schools and retired college Vice-President, Academic, and Chief Learning Officer. She has authored two books.

DEAR DIDI, My sister thinks I don’t
want her to come to Canada



Dear Didi,

Could you please help me explain to my sister that I can’t help her family immigrate to Canada much as I would love to have them here? Her husband is a doctor and when I said he’d have to pass exams to be licensed to practise in Canada, she reacted as though I was being mean and unhelpful. The information is available for anyone to see, I am not making that up, but she’s taken it very personally and cut off contact. HELPLESS

Sibling relationships can be complicated, especially when the siblings are married with families of their own. Each member of the family plays a particular role and everyone interacts with one another in relation to that role. Add the complexity of living in different countries and having access to different opportunities, there are bound to be disagreements. When requests are made and the response is not what the sibling wants to hear, they will take it personally and you will be the target of their anger, disappointment and frustration. It’s the old adage of “shoot the messenger” with no regard to the fact that there are rules in place for everyone to adhere to and it’s just not possible to bend them for your sister’s family, even if you wanted to. There are different laws and policies in place in India and Canada. It’s important to adhere to them and understand why they are in place. You are doing your part as a sister by passing along the information and outlining the steps that need to be taken for him to practise medicine in Canada. This isn’t a quick and easy issue to figure out, and it’s probably easier for them to get mad at you rather than understand that you are just sharing information, not making the rules. If she doesn’t believe you, I would suggest you send her links to the websites where they can read it for themselves. Or refer them to an immigration lawyer who is well-versed in all the regulatory requirements and who can answer their questions.

I, too, come from a large family – all of us have a role to play and our interactions are played out amongst these roles. My older sisters are more like mothers to me than sisters. They look out for me and always want the best for me. But sometimes we butt heads and don’t always have the same perspective. We talk, disagree and talk some more. We may even fight amongst ourselves; however, we always make our way back to each other. I know it will be the same for you once things calm down a bit. Keep doing the research and keeping in touch. After all, you may have to keep the faith and hope alive for both of you until she understands that you are there for her and will help her, while staying within the rules. And though it may seem like a setback; with some hard work, studying and a little bit of luck, he will be back to his old profession in no time. Good luck with it all.  

I may be able to help! Is there something that you wish you could talk to someone about? Email me at or follow me on Twitter and Facebook at @DearDidi_KSC. Check out my blog on, subscribe to become part of the community and keep up to date with all the events. Hope to hear from you soon!

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