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Elon Musk's Hyperloop is more than a pipe dream

16 Jan 2015

Sneak is a big fan of Elon Musk. The PayPal founder is an excellent example of an entrepreneur exploring the bat-dung crazy side of technology, rather than offering yet another social collaboration tool.

Sneak is still puzzled by social collaboration tools. Some sort of device that makes it easy to work with any invading force?

Clearly deciding that electric cars and space flight are too middle-of-the-road, the Mad Musk touted his Hyperloop transport system as a "cross between Concord and a rail gun".

Not wanting to downplay Musk's creative description, but Sneak pictures the Hyperloop as a tube filled with passenger pods boosted along by linear electric motors in a partial vacuum at up to near supersonic speeds.

Now go back and read that line again. Yes, near supersonic speeds for the average Joe. In short the Hyperloop is like a tooled-up monorail on a really good day. Here's a video of the Hyperloop concept:

Now, those of us with backward minds - some would call sane - perhaps think that Musk has been out in the California sun for too long. Yet the SpaceX billionaire took to the Twitter-verse and declared that he will be building a Hyperloop test track in the US.

This is all fine and dandy. If Musk wants to stuff his billions into creating something from a Roger Moore-era Bond film more power to him.

But Sneak is not sure that trying to encourage narrow-minded, wide-wasted Texans to stuff themselves into a supersonic vacuum tube is going to go down well. He can already hear the 'Hell no' of 10-gallon-hatted hicks shouted in between mouthfuls of beef jerky.

If such plans go ahead, Sneak will be waiting for the first news story about a 30-stone Southerner stuck in the Hyperloop.

Sweeping cultural generalisations aside, Sneak would like to see Musk test the Hyperloop on the other side of the world.

Perhaps he could consider north west Wales, where transport gave up moving beyond the steam age long ago. And Sneak does so wish to be able to visit Aunty Miriam in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Richard Branson wades into Yahoo's home working kerfuffle

26 Feb 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.

Steve Jobs 'speaks' from beyond the grave

17 Oct 2012

In honour of Steve Jobs Day, news site Motherboard asked a psychic to get in touch with the ghost of the Apple luminary. So while most everyone else forgot that California had an annual day of remembrance for the technology iconoclast, deputy editor Sean Yeaton was headed to The Twilight Zone.

Yeaton got a hold of New York psychic Betsy Cohen to perform the ghostly séance. Unfortunately for the living, Cohen was unable to gleam any Steve Jobs-style wisdom about the current state of affairs in the technology world.

Cohen did, however, get a chance to chat with ghost Jobs about what he's doing in the afterlife. The psychic said that ghost Jobs told her he was learning to be less competitive and harsh in the afterlife.

To quote Cohen, "[Jobs] is learning survival of the fittest is a made-up thing." In other words, kind of like psychics or a successful Zune product.

While a happy Steve Jobs ghost sounds wonderful, we'd probably say the same thing if we were pretending to communicate with famous dead people.

While Sneak thinks psychics don't actually exist (just ask ghosts) Yeaton's video was one of the more original Steve Jobs tributes to pop up in the man's honour. Not only has Jobs received a day, a statue, and a movie within the last year, but he also received a pseudo-psychic reading.

Maybe next year someone can get Jony Ive to attempt a séance. After all, Jobs once called Ive his "spiritual" partner at Apple.

Apple facing million-dollar suit over store mishap

27 Mar 2012

Apple has long been renowned for the innovative architecture and layout of its retail locations. The minimalist design and glass storefronts have become as familiar with the public as the company's iconic logo.

According to at least one woman and her attorney, however, Apple's retail storefronts are less an archtectural marvel and more of a looming death trap.

The 83 year old resident of Queens, NY claims that Apple was negligent when they erected their Long Island store with a massive glass front. The woman suffered a broken nose when she failed to see the glass wall and walked into a door.

As a result, the woman now believes that Apple owes here roughly $1m in damages. Her lawyer claims that the company's store designs are insensitve to the needs and limitations of older customers.

Such lawsuits have become a favourite passtime here in the US, so it is not much of a surprise that the matter has gained traction and will likely be settled out of court for significantly less than the claim.

That a glass storefront would pose a problem for Apple should hardly be a surprise. After all, the company has long been haunted by its struggles with Windows...

Microsoft apologises for insensitive Amy Winehouse tweet

25 Jul 2011

Microsoft has apologised after suggesting that fans of Amy Winehouse should honour her recent death by downloading a music track to their Zune music players.

A day or so after the 27 year-old singer was found dead, Microsoft UK's official Xbox Twitter channel posted a message saying: "Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking Back to Black over at Zune." The post included a link to download the track.

Whether you liked her music or not, the death of almost anyone is a tragedy, particularly for one so young, and people are a bit sensitive about such an issue. The resultant storm of tweets started to trend on traffic graphs, and some hasty fire-fighting ensued.

"Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse ‘download' tweet seemed purely commercially motivated. Far from the case, we assure you," Microsoft tweeted within an hour of the original post.

However, the idea that Microsoft was motivated by something other than money didn't seem to fly with the Twittersphere, and the news started to spread even further.

"With Amy W's passing, the world has lost a huge talent. Our thoughts are with Amy's family and friends at this very sad time," was the final post from Microsoft on the subject, no doubt reassuring those who were concerned that the original message had been less than respectful.

Sneak reckons they should stop digging before they get to China.

Google's bizarre bidding tactics from failed Nortel auction are revealed

04 Jul 2011

Google may have lost the Nortel auction patent battle with Apple, Microsoft, RIM and a host of other tech firms, but Sneak can't help applauding the way the search firm went about the bidding process, demonstrating its corporate personality as smart, funny and creative.

According to sources who talked to Reuters, all of Google's bids during the auction for some 9,000 odd patents referred to famous mathematical numbers.

The company bid $1,902,160,540 and $2,614,972,128 during the early round, which maths wizzes may recognise as Brun's constant and the Meissel-Mertens constant. Once bidding passed $3bn, Google offered $3,141,592.65, representing the first nine digits of Pi.

The eventual winning bid was $4.5bn at which point Google dropped out, which is strange as it could have bid $6.66bn to really confuse those who argue that the company has lost its way from the 'Don't Be Evil' mantra.

Other companies involved in the bidding were apparently utterly confused by the bids coming from Google, and the source told Reuters that the company was "either supremely confident or bored".

However, Google has a track record of these kinds of shenanigans. When the firm went public in 2004 it looked to raise $2,718,281,828, the value of e multiplied by a billion. Sneak doesn't know what this means, but it sounds jolly smart.

Other details emerged from the source, including the fact that Apple named its consortium Rockstar and went by the name Ranger, which sound like team names made up by the wallies that appear on The Apprentice.

Girl invites most of Hamburg to her birthday via Facebook

06 Jun 2011

Sneak's never been invited to a party on Facebook, partly because he's only got four friends on the site, one being his mother and the other three being fellow bloggers he met at a investors meeting in 2000 when no-one else turned up.

However, he certainly wished he lived in Hamburg on Friday after a girl accidentally invited everybody in the region to her birthday party. This meant that 15,000 invitations were sent, and 1,500 gleefully turned up to rock their socks off.

The police were there too - invited by the girl's parents when they discovered the mob heading for their door - and they had to make 11 arrests for a variety of reasons, including, most worryingly, violating explosives laws, Reuters reported.

A police spokesman, Mirko Steiber, also displayed a worrying interpretation of the word 'peaceful' in his post-party assesment.

"It was by and large a peaceful party. There were some fires set alight, some acts of violence and with considerable alcohol consumption there was some property damage," he said.

Fire, violence, property damage, violated explosive laws ... and for the Hamburg boys in blue this was a peaceful party?!

Perhaps Sneak's glad he wasn't invited, and instead sat around bemoaning that stupid £25,000 investment in an online pet boutique he made all those years ago. Still, Groupon, that looks a sure thing, right?

Apple iPads and orchids go missing in parliament

20 May 2011

Fanboys beware, parliament is not as safe as it appears. Apple iPads, iPods and even candlesticks regularly go missing in the hallowed halls, according to new reports.

The shady goings on have been brought to light by official Palace of Westminster crime reports. The documents reveal that the crimes logged since 2008 range from assaults to the theft of a £1,500 microphone and even a £25 orchid.

However, in the latest case, upstanding MP Keith Vaz has reported that his iPad and laptop have been stolen.

Considering that Vaz claimed £75,000 in expenses for a flat that was 12 miles from his home, Sneak is a little bit sceptical about any of the crime reports logged in the Commons. Sure there's nothing else on the list? A new Motorola Xoom or an Xbox 360 perhaps?

With former Labour minister Elliot Morley having been jailed today for 16 months, it's fair to assume that most of the incidents are an inside job, and Sneak's not pointing the finger at the cleaners here.

The high level of crime also doesn't say much about security at the Palace of Westminster. Although, it's not fair to blame the guards entirely. Sneak wouldn't want to give Ken Clarke or his boozed up colleagues a full body search on their way out, either.



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