As a fan of Cossack dancing, Eastern Bloc architecture, vodka and pervasive government oppression, Sneak loves Russia.
And while he accepts that Siberia is a vast and mostly empty land mass, capable of killing the unwary in numerous ways, he would not liken it to Mordor, the dark, ash-covered, orc-infested land in the south-east of Tolkien's Middle Earth.
But, according to multiple reports, the all-seeing, all-knowing Sauron Google believes that Russia is in fact Mordor. Or more accurately a bug in the Google Translate tool translated the Ukrainian word for 'Russian Federation' into 'Mordor'.
Not content with effectively calling Russia a nation of twisted, down-trodden creatures ruled by a brutal dictator, Google Translate went one step further by translating 'Russians' into 'okkupanty' meaning ‘occupiers' in Sneak's second language, that being English. C++ is his mother tongue.
Then to pour a granary of salt into the virtual wound, Google translated the surname of Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov into the Russian for 'sad little horse', according to The Telegraph. Sneak thinks that's rather cute in a slightly Eeyore way. Yes he knows Eeyore is a fictional donkey. Please don't write in.
Now, that noise you're hearing is Sneak's irony alarm going off at full pelt, given that Ukraine is not exactly having the best time with Russia and pro-Russian rebels at the moment, particularly as in 2014 Russia annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine, simply because it could.
Google has apologised for the error and blamed the automated aspect of Translate, but Sneak is not convinced that it was a bug and, to indulge the conspiracy theorist in him, believes that a disgruntled pro-Ukraine programmer decided to tweak Google Translate to offer this slight at Russian users.
Back in his early years as an IT chap at Northern Rock, Sneak ended up dating a lovely Russian systems analyst called Natasha. She had a mononym.
Next thing he knew she disappeared one evening after a heady mix of vodka and Kerplunk! and disappeared with Sneak's server room key card. Then the banking crisis happened, Northern Rock went under and Sneak took indefinite sick leave.
The moral of the story is that annoying the Russians might not be wise, otherwise the road to Google's Mountain View HQ could end up being blocked by Soviet-era tanks with president Putin straddling a turret, topless and declaring "You shall not pass" to befuddled Google engineers.
Or perhaps they will take it in good humour. After all as the video below explains: Russians love to boogie.
Sneak understands that sometimes even the most worthy of intentions can backfire wildly. During a visit to Russia he once tried to help an elderly war veteran cross a road only to trip over and result in his momentum carrying the pensioner careering straight into the path of an oncoming tank parade.
Then there was the time he gave £20 to a homeless chap, who then rather than spend that on a hearty meal of chicken and chips at the shop round the corner, instead invested it in a few shares of a tiny company called Apple.
That man now spends his days in a lavish Los Angeles flat, while Sneak settles down for a bowl of super noodles for the ninth night in a row. He's probably laughing right now.
But even with a litany of misplaced goodwill, Sneak hasn't failed as spectacularly as IBM's latest marketing campaign gaff.
The #HackAHairDryer campaign (as seen in the tweet below), which aimed at getting more women into the male-heavy technology industry, has been roundly lambasted by women for being patronising and casually misogynistic.
Many female engineers and technologists took to Twitter to voice their disproval at the campaign that, rather than ask female techies to hack a server or get involved in coding, instead suggests hacking a rather clichéd beauty implement.
I think we've had a few instances now that show us that advertising campaigns featuring "girl stuff" as a STEM entry point do not work well— Upulie Divisekera (@upulie) December 7, 2015
While Sneak snorted in mirth at some of the responses that showed good humour can overcome dumb and patronising campaigns, he can't help but muse as to why so many campaigns to encourage women to get into STEM industries are so blatantly off target when there are solid examples of women working on very tech-heavy projects.
Take Margret Hamilton, for example, who was the lead software engineer of the Apollo Project; Sneak reckons she didn't worry about hacking beauty implements given she was tasked with helping humanity make it to the moon.
In a statement sent to Sneak, IBM did admit its campaign was a misfire and humbly said sorry: "The videos were part of a larger campaign to promote STEM careers. It missed the mark for some and we apologise. It is being discontinued."
Perhaps IBM would have been better to have taken Intel's approach and earmark a hefty $300m to promote diversity.
Sneak also wonders who came up with the campaign idea; was it a load of out-of-touch men in ill-fitting suits and corduroy trousers trying to meet a diversity quota while making inappropriate japes about their secretaries? Or was it a female-led team of bright-eyed marketers who want to mix their own experiences with IBM's worthy goal?
Perhaps this will remain one of life's mysteries, such as where did Sneak's Elon Musk SpaceX socks go, why do dogs chase cats, and why does ‘orange' sound like ‘gullible' when you say it out loud?
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around for a while, you could miss it," said Matthew Broderick's Ferris Bueller, in the titular 80s comedy movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Sneak occasionally subscribes to that view and will languidly click through cat gifs and wind-up YouTube commentators on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
So he can sympathise with the poor Google driverless car that got pulled over by Californian police for holding up traffic in Mountain View by moving at a speed of 24mph in 35mph zone.
According to the Mountain View Police blog, an officer stopped the Google car and needed to contact its operators to find out why the autonomous automobile had chosen to crawl rather than cruise down the highway.
Perhaps Google's car was just pootling around drinking in its surroundings and pondering on what it means to be a car with no driver, much like Sneak does when pondering his life choices during a casual post-lunch stroll after visiting his sister in Tunbridge Wells; she talks a lot.
Alternatively, perhaps it was a slow Thursday afternoon for some Google X engineers, who, after growing bored of launching internet balloons and messing around with drones, decided to use the Google car to wind up other motorists.
As a fan of well-played pranks, Sneak would applaud them if this was the case, as the thought of annoying techies desperately trying to make a networking meeting at the latest trendy Silicon Valley startup huddle, brings a wry smile to his lips; here's a hint chaps, use Skype.
Yet what really befuddles Sneak is how the police managed to pull over the driverless car in the first place, after all, US rozzers are not known for their patience, but then, what with no one to shoot, he imagines the Cali cops were confused at how to proceed.
He can imagine Google's car plodding along, possible humming a digital tune to itself, oblivious to the cops' sirens, much like those loathed people on the tube who listen to thumping house music through massive headphones while taking up far too much space on the tube.
Equally, Sneak can also picture the bewilderment of the police officer who finally managed to pull the car over only to find no driver in sight. He must have felt like C3PO trying to scold a recalcitrant RD2D who only wanted to go off and do his own thing for an hour or so before being prodded and probed by Google's boffins.
After all, put yourself in an autonomous car stuffed full of sensors sniffing out details of the road and crunching through Google Maps. Wouldn't you feel a compulsion to explore?
Sneak would, but last time that happened he was hurrying across the Mexican border after a night of drink and debauchery with an Apple engineer, resulting in him nabbing the prototype iPad Nano.
It is often said that there is no such thing as a bad idea. But this maxim fails to take into account the sheer stupidity of humans.
This is evidenced by the yet to be released Peeple, an app described as Yelp for people that allows Facebook users to submit reviews of fellow humans on the social network as if they were products to be reviewed in an online store. What could possibly go wrong with that?
Now, Sneak cares little for the feelings of others, preferring a smug detachment from the concerns of the average selfie-taking twerp he encounters along the highways of the internet.
But clearly his ambiguous stance on humanity is nothing compared with Peeple founders and, ironically, marketers Julia Cordray and Nicole McCullough, who may have forgotten how the internet works.
You know the internet, where misogynists, racists, misanthropes and just a lot of angry men lurk, waiting to pounce on anyone putting their head above the virtual parapet.
So from Sneak's point of view the Peeple app is a recipe for disaster akin to Edward Snowden enabling the location settings on his Twitter account.
Peeple's website claims that the app will allow you to "rate and comment about the people you interact with in your daily lives on the following three categories: personal, professional and dating".
"Peeple will enhance your online reputation for access to better quality networks, top job opportunities, and promote more informed decision making about people," the company said, presumably swallowing naivety-boosting pills and forgetting how judgmental the average human is.
Sneak doesn't need his crystal ball, which is currently out of batteries, to predict that the opposite of Peeple's ambitions will be realised.
Facebook trolls will no doubt delight in rating their so-called Facebook friends poorly for cheap laughs, while disgruntled former lovers or colleagues may use the service as a way of getting revenge against those who may have slighted them. And the sheer scope for online bulling and victimisation is almost unparalleled.
Peeple claims that the reviews are not anonymous and that negative ratings will be held for 48 hours allowing the reviewed to check their rating.
But the founders seem to have missed the fact that their app will still expose those being reviewed to potentially abusive comments, regardless of whether they are being made public or not.
Furthermore, negative reviews cannot be deleted, just not displayed. Then to rub a grain of salt into the virtual wound, it appears that users can't remove themselves from Peeple's database.
So congratulations Peeple for creating abuse-as-a-service.
Peeple also claims to be anti-abusive, but given that Facebook has an audience of nearly 1.5 billion users, Sneak highly doubts that Cordray and McCullough will be pulling all-nighters going through comments, such as "she needs to eat a burger", or "he's got no swag", and "I hate his glasses".
The BBC reported that the people are already in an uproar over Peeple, and that the app has been described as creepy and terrifying.
Sporting a god complex, Cordray told the BBC that the furore is just a reaction to change. "When people found out that the earth was round instead of flat and that we revolved around the sun instead of the sun revolving around us, naturally people were upset and confused and they pushed back with all that they had," she said.
Sneak just face-palmed his head so hard the smack generated a soundwave strong enough to crack the previously mentioned crystal ball.
Cordray also took to Facebook to try to dispel media opinions that Peeple is a metric tonne of stupid, fuelled with a tanker full of ignorance.
She accused the media of failing to do its research into how Peeple works and suggested that users visit the Peeple website. Like any good media figure, Sneak did just that only to find the website was not working.
Sneak hopes that Cordray and McCullough sort out the parameters of Peeple to rigorously prevent it from being a bullying tool du jour, or kill the app completely and stick to their day jobs.
Otherwise Sneak will rate them to be five stars worthy of being fired directly into the sea.
Sometimes during long, dark lonely evenings when Mrs Sneak is away on meetings with Elon Musk to discuss Tesla lithium-ion batteries over a glass of Chianti, Sneak will boot up his PC and trawl the web for glamorous celebrities.
Model, TV personality and ‘actress' Kelly Brook is one of Sneak's favourite figures to type into Google's search bar. It's because, like many a teenager going through puberty, he likes her big eyes. Yes, definitely the eyes.
But Intel Security has arrived to give Sneak's browsing a cold shower, as Brook has been named as the most dangerous cyber celebrity of 2015.
Brook gains this moniker, not because she is the cyber equivalent of folklore spirit Bloody Mary during an act of captromancy, but because hackers make use of her celebrity status and reputation for raunchy pictures to lead web users into malware and virus traps.
Cyber thieves can then swipe private data and sling malware onto a red-faced user's PC, laptop or mobile device.
Sneak himself was once caught out by such a devious trick, right at the moment Mrs Sneak returned home and started switching the lights back on.
As an enterprising problem-solving chap, Sneak immediately ejected his laptop through the nearest window. He then placed all blame for its destruction on the cat (pictured below), who was idly watching the situation unfold in that judgemental way natural to the feline species.
Nick Viney, vice president of consumer, mobile and small business at Intel Security, explained that a lot of people are not aware of the digital risks such celebrities pose to their PCs and could be similarly caught out.
"Most consumers are unaware of the potential risks they are exposing themselves to by clicking on sites that provide them with the latest news and entertainment," he said, probably in a tone that suggests he's more disappointed than angry.
"But cyber criminals are quick to exploit this desire for breaking celebrity news, leading consumers to sites that download harmful malware onto devices and steal their private data."
Brook tops Intel's danger list, but she is joined by other celebrities such as model Katie Price (aka Jordan) in second place and X Factor judge Nick Grimshaw in third.
It's a sad state of affairs when Sneak has to give up his little pleasure rituals, but perhaps it is best to heed Intel's warnings to avoid embarrassing situations erupting at the most inappropriate moments.
15 Sep 2015
Humanity has dreamed of only one thing since first gaining consciousness: creating robots to have sex with. Well, maybe.
Sneak was intrigued to see that, while some are worried that the development of robots may spell the end of work, or the world, others are concerned that the biggest peril is the development of AI technologies housed in human-looking forms that can be used for sex.
The straight-faced Campaign Against Sex Robots is worried that a world with robots for sex will further enforce stereotypes about men and women's roles in the world, and stop some people forming healthy attachments to other humans.
"As researchers we encourage a wider debate and discussion about the development of sex robots and the implications for society," the website states.
Sneak knows the fear well. He's seen enough episodes of Futurama to know the risk that sex-bots pose to the future of the Earth, as you can see in this Vimeo video.
Of course, not everyone agrees. Douglas Hines, chief executive of True Companion, which is developing a robot called Roxxxy (video below - incredibly safe for work), told the BBC that he doesn't think having sex with a robot will be a big part of the appeal.
"We are not supplanting the wife or trying to replace a girlfriend. This is a solution for people who are between relationships or someone who has lost a spouse," he said.
"People can find happiness and fulfilment other than via human interaction. The physical act of sex will only be a small part of the time you spend with a sex robot - the majority of time will be spent socialising and interacting."
Sneak isn't sure what to think about all this, to be honest. Undoubtedly there will be some out there who would benefit from having a sexy-time companion robot and, if so, this should be encouraged.
However, as the Futurama video so terrifyingly shows, a world in which sex robots become the norm could spell the end of the human race, or at least cause some to expect the same unthinking obedience in a partner as a robot, because we all know that's not how it works.
For now, though, let's at least enjoy the fact that we've reached a sufficiently advanced technological era that the moral dilemmas posed by sex robots is a real debate.
30 Jul 2015
Sneak loves self-service checkouts. They remove the need for human interaction and there’s something vaguely futuristic about the whole process.
However, one thing he can do without is the horrible AI voice of the robotic ‘woman’ who barks instructions, not least her most reviled phrase: ‘Unexpected item in bagging area.'
This refrain is the scourge of shoppers everywhere, and no doubt the workers in supermarkets who have to hear the phrase over and over and over again, which can't be conducive to a positive mental state.
Indeed Sneak once stood in a queue in Tesco when, quite by chance, five or six machines all said the phrase at the same time. The effect of surround-sound checkouts voicing their disapproval of shoppers' checkout styles was unnerving to say the least.
The phrase makes no sense either. The items the robotic checkout girl claims are 'unexpected' are often nothing more than a loaf of bread or a pint of milk, which are hardly unexpected for a supermarket.
Furthermore, why is the till commenting on the surprise of Sneak’s shopping choices anyway? 47 Pot Noodles is a perfectly acceptable shopping spree, is it not?
In light of all this, Sneak is delighted to read that Tesco is doing away with the hated phrase and even replacing the woman’s voice with the more plummy sounds of a, well, man.
The helpful folk at Tesco have even made a video showing the old, hated phrases, and the new, more soothing, phrases and how they will sound, which you can listen to below.
The change to more friendly and welcoming sounds and sayings raises an interesting point: as more electronic assistants enter our lives, the tone of voice, phrases and delivery styles must become more natural (and tolerable).
Otherwise shoppers will start to shun those supermarkets they don't enjoy for those they do, perhaps based on nothing more than the quality of the AI's personality.
Hmm, Sneak didn't mean to get so deep there. You could say it was a case of unexpected intellect in the blogging area.
Sneak is an old hand at deflecting blame, having convinced Tim Cook that the iCloud password leak was a ‘hack' and not down to his falling asleep on the ‘do not press' button for Apple's cloud while he was contracting at Cupertino.
But even Sneak has to doff his weather-beaten cap to Google, which has blamed its fourteenth driverless car prang on human error once again.
Sneak uncovered Google's unwavering faith in its autonomous automobile systems while he was idly refreshing the Google blog.
The ‘don't be evil' search firm's tech-equipped Lexus was rudely shunted in the boot by another car during rush hour at a Californian intersection.
Chris Urmson, leader of company's driverless car project, explained how the innocent self-driving Lexus was rear-ended by a car driven by one of those pesky humans. You know the type: hair, hands, feet and possibly a soul.
"The light was green, but traffic was backed up on the far side, so three cars, including ours, braked and came to a stop so as not to get stuck in the middle of the intersection," wrote Urmson, as if he was setting the scene for the dullest episode of Top Gear.
"After we'd stopped, a car slammed into the back of us at 17mph and it hadn't braked at all."
Possibly not someone who understands the concept of aloofness and condescension, Urmson added: "Our self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers who are distracted and not paying attention to the road."
In a seeming nonchalant manner, Urmson explained that the crash resulted in "a bit of minor whiplash" for three Google employees, who are probably now emailing their CVs to Apple's Tim Cook and Jonny Ive.
To quell Sneak's cynicism synapse, and more convincingly put the blame on humans, Google went so far as to create a video representation of the incident showing the Google Lexus as the victim.
Google claims this as evidence that its driverless cars compare favourably with human drivers.
It might be worth reminding Google that this is the fourteenth time it's blamed more fleshy constructs for incidents involving its robot cars. And Sneak would also like to point out that Google's driverless car tech also put the willies up an autonomous Audi when the search firm's car took a liking to sudden lane changing.
Popping on the HoloLens, which he ‘acquired' from Microsoft after drinking absinthe with Satya Nadella, and firing up the crystal ball app, Sneak can foresee a future where humanity lies in ashes after murderous robots wipe out all but an enclave of Google engineers hiding out at Mountain View and blaming humans for not installing the latest version of Android for Cyborgs in their robot butlers.