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BBC broadcasts bizarre breaking news alerts

25 Jun 2014

Strange BBC Breaking News push test notificationsIt's always tempting, when you're testing out a service or  setting something up, to write funny messages in the place where more serious communiques should appear.

Sneak has seen many a journalist write 'blah blah blah' in the place where a more witty, informative headline will go later, while developers the world over probably have fun writing "Bob Smith declared King of the Universe" or other such light-hearted nonsense when testing out an app.

However, the risk is that if something goes wrong, it makes you look rather foolish.

So it was that the BBC ended up with a lot of yolk and albumen on its face on Wednesday when its BBC Breaking News service sent out some rather odd messages.

Pictured left is the notification Sneak received. Sneak will now guide you through his thought process as he looked at the message in bewilderment.

The NYPD Twitter hashtag story sort of makes sense, although Sneak was a mite confused. It is hardly breaking news, as he covered it months ago.

Reading on and the "Push sucks! Pull blows!" comment, while possibly accurate, doesn't seem to warrant a notification to millions of BBC app users.

Then, the claims that the latest episode of Game of Thrones has no nudity is definitely not right. Not only did the latest season finish only a week ago, but there never has been, and never will be, an episode without some nudity.

Then all becomes clear. "IIIIII like testing." Ah, it's all a big mistake by a silly developer who probably forgot to tick the test box before sending out the alert. Oh you fool.

The BBC apologised and we can all go about our lives again. Except that dozy developer, who's probably been banished to work on the My Family Quote Generator app. Shudder.

BBC apology for weird breaking news messages

 

BBC tick-tocked off over alarming clock complaint

05 Jun 2013

clock878

Ah time, such a tricky concept. What time is it? Well, it depends where in the world you are, or as the BBC found out, what time your computer tells you it is.

A complaint from a BBC website user with, ironically, perhaps too much time on their hands, raised the alarming fact that the clock on the frontpage of the BBC website does not display the ‘correct’ time, but it merely draws data from the clock on a user's device.

This meant, to anyone who relies solely on the BBC clock to the tell the time, there was a risk of ending up late for an important event by relying on the data supplied by the BBC as it could be wrong – even though it would be the user’s fault for having their computer running on the wrong time. Or would it really be the device manufacturers fault for creating a faulty clock? The legal repercussions could be endless. No doubt someone would end up with a ticking off.

All in all, the BBC Trust agreed it was a serious matter and one the BBC should strive to get right.

"Having a homepage clock which does not necessarily reflect the right time in the UK, and which is not labelled on the homepage as deriving its time from a user's own computer clock, is not consistent with the guideline requirement for the BBC to do all it can to ensure due accuracy in all its output,” it said.

In response the BBC has taken a course of action that Sneak himself wholeheartedly approves of – giving up.

"Given the technical complexities of implementing an alternative central clock, and the fact that most users already have a clock on their computer screen, the BBC has taken the decision to remove the clock from the homepage in an upcoming update."

Well creating an accurate, working clock application would take too much time wouldn’t it?

Google has to take down take-down requests

05 Apr 2013

share-files-legally-illustrationIt doesn't seem that long ago that the Twittersphere worked itself into a furious lather on the issue of super injunctions. Sneak can understand that: there's nothing more infuriating than not knowing that someone is not supposed to tell you something. Or something like that, it's all far too meta for Sneak's simple brain.

Because Sneak gets easily confused, it was utterly perplexing to see that that movie makers are now sending out take-down requests to get their own take-down requests removed from the web.

The problem has arisen because Google reports any Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement notices it gets – these are typically sent from movie studios asking for pirated material to be removed from Google's results.

The trouble is, as P2P news site TorrentFreak reports, these take-down notices list the sites that hold allegedly infringing material. In effect, the take-down notices are proving to be one of the riches sources of pirated materials on the web. Fox Legal Group alone has been responsible for seeking to get more than 50,000 urls removed from Google's results in a mere two-month period.

Clearly, Sneak can see that the only way to put a definitive end to this is for the movie makers to now issue more take-down notices for the take-down notices for the take-down notices. The lawyers must be laughing all the way to the bank.

Richard Branson wades into Yahoo's home working kerfuffle

26 Feb 2013

marissa-mayer-2013

Sneak was alarmed to learn this week that Yahoo chief executive Marissa Meyer has issued a ban on staff working from home, presumably over fears that workers are slacking off when away from the office.

According to the widely reported memo, staff were told “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home”.

Given the number of trendy working practices that make their way across the pond, Sneak only hopes Meyer's latest initiative doesn't follow suit.

After all, Sneak regularly takes advantage of flexible working, and would never consider spending long sunny afternoons in the pub garden under the auspices of having a broadband engineer round to fix a troubling fault. Sneak's router really does play up more when the weather's good. 

So thank goodness for cable company boss and unabashed publicity seeker Sir Richard Branson.

Branson chided Meyer for her “perplexing” decision: “We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they're at their desk or in their kitchen,” he wrote on his Virgin blog.

“Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will,” he opined. 

Sneak's hoping that with Yahoo having promised “communication and collaboration will be important”, that Mayer takes on board Branson supportive message. Let's be honest, why wouldn't one of the most dynamic chief executives in Silicon Valley want business advice from an ageing hippy with a ridiculous beard? 

And perhaps in the spirit of collaboration and in return, Mayer could offer Branson some tips on how to carry off the blonde look.

Pope Benedict passes on God's message via Twitter

12 Dec 2012

pope-tweet-ipad

And lo it came to pass that on the 12/12/12 Pope Benedict XVI would tweet and the people would rejoice for they looked and saw that his tweets were good. Well, grammatically accurate at least.

What words of great wisdom and insight did God's representative on earth have for the mortal masses who hold the scriptures dear? Like most people on Twitter it's all very self-involved stuff.

"Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart," he wrote first, before asking: "How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?"

The punch line to this zinger, is wait for it... "By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need."

Ha, that old chestnut! Oh, Pope Ben, you're so witty.

So far the Pope has only followed seven people, though, all called Ben too, bizarrely, but Sneak is hoping he may get a follow soon after he retweeted what the Pope wrote to his 74 followers.

Horse riding mime helps Gangnam Style take YouTube crown with 826 million hits

26 Nov 2012

For years now, Sneak has spent his spare time coming up with the perfect viral video, and remains pretty confident that once the RSPA banning order is rescinded, the world will watch in awe at the jaw-dropping site of chinchilla juggling.

It's with some trepidation then, that Sneak discovered just how many YouTube hits he's gonna need to claim the viral video crown.

It seems that while Sneak has be struggling with the animal rights laws, some cheeky Korean chappy has managed to get 825 million viewers to watch his odd horse-riding-dance on the ubiquitous pop song Gangnam Style.

Apparently, pop sensation Psy has now surpassed the record for most views of a YouTube upload previously set by Justin Bieber. If that wasn't enough to annoy the pint-sized pop star, the first person to alert Twitter users in the US to Psy's crazy dance moves was none other than Bieber's own manager.

Sneak has to confess to a certain degree of ignorance when it comes to Master Bieber's oeuvre, but reckons to be on pretty safe ground in suggesting that the young man let himself down by not having more animal references in his video.

Animals, as we all know, are what the viral video craze is built on.

Google Earth fail sends explorers to island that doesn't exist

22 Nov 2012

Google Earth logo

While Apple has been pilloried over the laughable state of its Maps application for the iPhone and iPad, Sneak has learned its not the only tech giant with map making headaches.

When a team of intrepid explorers from the University of Sydney set off into the South Pacific, heading towards French-governed New Caledonia, they had been expecting to come across Sandy Island, a strip of land depicted clearly on Google Earth. Imagine the teams surprise when they reached the right locations only to find the island not there, and instead there was just 1.4km of deep, blue ocean.

As it transpires, Sandy Island isn't some real life example of the mysterious moving island in the long-running incomprehensible TV drama Lost. Sandy Island never existed in the first place.

Google told the BBC that it consults a variety of authoritative sources when compiling its maps, so it's not like the search giant just made it up. Instead, like some inept schoolboy cartographer, Google made the mistake of copying its answers from the class dolt.

While Sneak has been among those complaining loudly at the mistakes in Apple's Maps, it only sent Sneak the wrong way to Luton – and not hundreds of miles into the deep blue yonder.

Winklevoss twins throw $1m at social network for investors

17 Sep 2012

Winklevoss Twins

If your one big investment to date had been at the outset of social media trailblazer Facebook then Sneak reckons, chances are, you'd back your business acumen.

So it's of little surprise that the infamous Winklevoss twins are once again in the business-backing game.

They've been briefing the Wall Street Journal on plans to sink $1m into a online investors community SumZero – mere pocket change for the minted duo, enriched by Facebook's success.

Of course, when that one big investment has also led to headline-grabbing court cases and less-than-flattering films, some investors might want to keep a lower profile. Not so the twins.

Sneak has long since concluded that it takes a special sort of person to get in to a battle with Mark Zuckerberg and come out looking the less likeable. But if any professionals know what it's like to be unpopular, it's the bankers and brokers.

So it may just be that the Winklevoss twins may have found kindred spirits in an online community for hedge fund managers and private equity investors.

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