it-sneak

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Apple fan pays $300,000 for lunch with CEO Tim Cook

14 May 2014

Fancy lunch with Apple CEO Tim Cook to find out about the iPhone 6, the firm's plans for the long-rumoured iWatch or just what on earth he is doing considering paying $3bn for Beats? Well a spare £200,000 should be enough.

A recent auction for lunch with Cook held by charity site CharityBuzz has closed with the winning bidder stumping up $300,001 for the honour. Clearly small change to that Apple fan, who's not been named.

Cook is clearly a charity soul as he added the chance to be a guest of honour at the next major Apple event – perhaps the iPhone 6 unveiling - to help boost the bids, which is for his charity of choice, the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights.

Sneak is sure that such an amount is worth it. After all, Cook has been at Apple for years, learned from the master Steve Jobs, and has kept Apple ticking since taking over, so no doubt he can pass on a thing or two.

Really, though, for that much money Tim Cook should actually cook the meal as well, and provide transport costs for getting to the firm's headquarters, as this is not included in the lot, although the anonymous winning bidder can no doubt afford it.

While one Tim is basking in the clear demand that he enjoys from the public, Sneak couldn't help feeling a little sorry for another Tim - AOL chief Tim Armstrong.

So far the chance for lunch with him, and a tour of the HuffingtonPost Live studios and a taped interview, has had just one bid of $3,500, against an estimate of $25,000 from the organisers.

Don't worry, Tim, Sneak will stump up a bit to get the bids moving – you accept Bitcoin, right?

Alicia Keys to leave BlackBerry after leadership song and dance

03 Jan 2014

Alicia keys is the crative director for blackberry

Musician Alicia Keys will leave her role as BlackBerry's creative director after just a year. The 32-year old, who Sneak imagines was given her role mostly due to her surname matching up with BlackBerry's famous QWERTY devices, had plenty of reasons to leave the firm.

Following Thorsten Heins' dramatic exit from the firm after failing to find a buyer, Keys was first in line to become chief exec as she happened to be standing outside his office at the time. In the end, though, John Chen got the role and Keys was probably promised a live performance at BlackBerry's Live event.

Which was then cancelled. This meant Keys would no longer be able to perform her stirring rendition of Empire State of Mind, which was the final straw.

Sneak wonders where she'll go next as many companies need a celebrity backer. Floppy-haired word-sayer and action-doer Aston Kutcher took up a second job as a product engineer at Lenovo last year, while Iron Man himself Robert Downey Jr signed a two-year deal to be the face of smartphone maker HTC.

Considering Keys' love for New York - AKA The Big Apple - Sneak thinks it's fairly clear where she'll end up.

Lego computer programmer figure isn’t just another brick in the wall

29 Aug 2013

Lego's computer programmer mini figure is a modern day hero

Sneak fully expected a Lego model of a generic computer programmer, with his "strength" rating labeled at just one star, to be an insulting mess. But in fact, Sneak rather enjoys the childish yet clever biography given to our plastic friend.

First of all, the description acknowledges the fundamental flaws behind arguing about the superiority of desktop operating systems, which Sneak appreciates. "Other computer whizzes can argue all they like about what kind of computer or operating system is the best one – the computer programmer knows that the only way to be a real expert is to master all of them," the description of the computer programmer figure on the Lego website explains.

What's more, this forward-thinking product shows the need for graduates with a variety of skills in every area of technology. "He knows everything there is to know about computers and how to use them, from the biggest old-time mainframes to the tiniest next-generation nanotech prototypes, and he's always glad to share his expertise with anyone who needs his help – which is just about everyone eventually!"

Lego's computer programmer mini figure isn't the strongest but he does have speed

He may not be strong or particularly creative, but this figure is certainly a speedy worker

The Danish firm even understands the risks of bring your own device (BYOD) policies and a complete lack of computer knowledge among employees. "He can debug a server in ten seconds flat, track down and wipe out even the toughest viruses, recover data from completely melted hard drives, and yes, he will help you set up your email signature."

But Sneak takes issue with his choice of free-time activities: social stimulation in the form of a robotic pet does not seem sufficient. "In his spare time, he programs his own video games, catches up on the latest posts in his favorite web forums and hangs out with his pet robo-cat. When you're a skilled computer programmer, the future is always today!"

Nonetheless, Sneak would like to nominate this cheeky, bow tie wearing chappy as the representative of all IT professionals worldwide. Just don't ask why Sneak was examining different Lego toys.

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.

Developer outsources own job to China but VPN logs give the game away

16 Jan 2013

lazywork

Like many workers, Sneak struggles to manage his Facebook, eBay and Reddit commitments with the drudgery of his day-to-day job. But now Sneak has realised the secret to striking the perfect work-life balance. 

Verizon's latest security blog posting details a great story about a worker at an unnamed firm working in US critical infrastructure. It had installed a VPN service to allow some of its staff to work from home for a couple of days a week, and all was good. Or at least it was until they started checking the logs.

It appeared they had an open and active connection to Shenyang, China. Given the VPN needed two-factor authentication, this had all the hallmarks of a sophisticated malware attack on their infrastructure – and given the nature of their work, that set the alarms bell ringing.

Having drafted in Verizon Wireless to help out, the firm soon discovered that one of its developers had been compromised. Not by a group of nefarious Chinese hackers, but by an affliction Sneak knows only too well: lazyitis.

The developer in his mid-40s had been hiring a Chinese consulting firm to do his job for him. He'd simply FedEx his security token over, and sit back and enjoy his pay cheque – as we all know, offshore workers can be much cheaper. In fact, as the investigators discovered, it looked like he'd been running the same scam with a number of firms in the area.

Still, it's not all bad news. The developer in question had quarter after quarter been rated as the best in the firm, so at least the firm was getting good coding for its money.

Internet explodes as Rupert Murdoch joins Twitter

03 Jan 2012

rupert-murdoch

It is fair to say Rupert Murdoch had a pretty hectic 2011, with his firm involved in the huge phone hacking scandal that led to the closure of the News of the World and the ongoing Leveson enquiry.

This also saw Murdoch grilled relentlessly by MPs at a Commons Select Committee in which he proclaimed it was the "most humble day of my life", before being hit in the face by a foam pie - by "comedian" Jonnie Marbles, not the MPs.

Now, in a move even the most daring Hollywood scriptwriter wouldn't have tried to pull off, Murdoch has joined that most public of forums, Twitter, in order to share his thoughts and opinions with the world, which mainly involves him praising Fox.

One message reads:

while another proclaims:

Sneak isn't sure where to begin really: the utterly appalling grammar (perhaps he needs an editor, is Andy Coulson available?), the brazen bias, the willingness of Rups to open himself up to an almighty online backlash, or his chutzpah in joining Twitter when you'd have thought he'd be keen to stay out of the headlines for once.

Then, as if things weren't bizarre enough, his wife Wendi Deng - her of Commons-pie-attacker-hitting-fame - apparently joined up too, and not only started defending Rups (obviously) but also flirting with Ricky Gervais.

However, it sadly became clear this was a hoax account, despite Twitter giving it the blue tick of verification for a short while.

Sneak would like to think it is all some form of April Fool's stunt, but sadly it is most definitely still early January and Rupert Murdoch really has joined Twitter. Happy New Year - 2012 is off to a flier.

About IT Sneak

V3.co.uk's undercover reporter offers odds and ends from the odd end of technology.

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