Mobile phone outfit T-Mobile has not done much to endear itself to the British public, having reportedly insisted that a widow provide physical proof that her husband was dead and no longer in need of his mobile phone contract, reads Sneak.
The lady, Maria Raybould, according to The Daily Mail, lost her husband in the summer and provided T-Mobile with a death certificate. However, this was apparently not enough and T-Mobile insisted that the contract must still be honoured.
The paper reports that Raybould received a number of demands for money from the company and made a number of attempts to settle the issue by taking the ashes of the departed to a T-Mobile shop and showing them to people who worked there.
This failed to stop the demands for the £129 cancellation charges, according to The Daily Mail.
"I've been up to the shop with the death certificate, with a letter from the crematorium, the funeral bills - even his ashes. I took in everything I could. I lost it in the shop. I gave them 20 minutes to sort it out. I went outside and had a panic attack," Raybould said.
"When I went back in the girl told me she had spoken to the manager and they were going to stop the contract. Then I had another letter about the bailiffs."
This led to more contact with T-Mobile, and intervention from Raybould's son who was told that the situation was now fixed.
Sneak could predict what happened next: the sending of another collection letter with the addition of a warning about the imminent involvement of collection agencies.
Raybould suggested that cancelling the contract was a more difficult process than burying her husband.
Sneak has asked T-Mobile if it wants to deliver its side of the tale. According to The Daily Mail, an automated system was blamed and an apology issued.
A T-Mobile spokesperson said: "We apologise to Mrs Raybould for any distress caused at this difficult time. We can confirm that the account has been closed and the balance cleared."
Sneak loves WhatsApp. It's fun and easy to use and so what if it's owned by Facebook? The company only has his best interests at heart. In fact, he was pleased when Facebook bought it, as he hoped they would fix the problem that seemed to be plaguing him - undelivered messages.
To Sneak the uniform lack of response to messages he sent to friends, potential lovers and even family was clear: WhatsApp wasn't delivering the message. Sure the two little ticks appeared confirming delivery, but if that was the case - WHY DOES NO-ONE EVER REPLY? It was the fault of the technology, surely?
However, WhatsApp has now dealt a cruel blow with the inclusion of 'blue ticks' that inform you when your messages have been read - and invariably not replied to.
The note to Steve from accounts on Friday at 5:25pm asking if he fancied a pint? Read and ignored. The message to Louise, the nice coder he met at the SQL Singles night, that took literally days to compose? Dismissed. The message to mum looking for a crumb of comfort after his beloved cat Mr Tickles died? Utterly snubbed.
These little Blue Ticks of Doom, as Sneak has dubbed them, have no doubt already caused misery and heartbreak for millions around the world who can no longer delude themselves that their missives have still not been read, never arrived in the first place, or were intercepted by the National Security Agency.
No, the cold hard truth is that they were read, the eyes rolled, and they were ignored. Still at least you love me, right Mr Tickles 2? Hey, Mr Tickles, come back ...
Times are tough at BlackBerry. Billions of dollars in losses may have addled the minds of executives who were once at the forefront of the mobile phone market - case in point the crime against ergonomics that is the Passport phone.
Sneak can imagine the company's top execs sat at their breakfast tables, tears and maple syrup pouring onto their pancakes, wondering who they could call on to save their company.
"If only we hand a famous, well-loved star to advocate our brand!" Sneak can almost hear BlackBerry's head of marketing wail.
Enter reality and sex tape star, Kim Kardashian who according to Recode is keen to throw her weight behind BlackBerry.
"I love my BlackBerry. I don't understand the reaction I get when I say that," said amply-reared half of Kimye - the horrific amalgamation of Kardashian and her husband, professional egomaniac Kanye West.
Kardashian revealed that her BlackBerry is her "heart and soul" further solidifying Sneak's prejudices that all reality TV are simply robots controlled via a massive scandal-generating supercomputer run by a secretive cabal of gossip magazines and powered by the blood of celebrity bloggers.
When Recode suggested that Kardashian could become a spokesmodel for BlackBerry, she jumped on the suggestion, saying she would make a call, presumably hammering out the number on the keyboard of her many BlackBerrys.
Sneak is sceptical that a reality TV star, better known for her hefty rear than punchy personality, is really the ambassador that the enterprise-focussed BlackBerry might be looking for. Still, such a partnership would be a bold move and inject an new form of curve into the deflated Blackberry brand.
Perhaps, the Kardashian machine can help corporate directors capture the perfect bikini-clad selfie for Instagram, and help them interpret comments like "dat ass" and "OMG totes amaze".
However, Sneak wants to point out that if such a partnership were to happen, the irony police would need alerting to the conundrum of having a celebrity whose fame came from a leaked sex tape as a spokeswoman for a company that prides itself on security.
Yet, the reality TV starlet is nothing if not dedicated to the BlackBerry cause, admitting to delving through eBay to get her manicured hands on the keyboard-toting Bold handsets, adding to the three she keeps in her room as the technological equivalent of Dorian Grey's portrait.
In Sneak's mind she conjured up scenes of a tense bidding battle between the star and fellow fanatic BB4theWinAppleSuxxFanBoy101 to grab the vintage handset.
Regardless of the tenuous links between Kim and BlackBerry, Sneak doubts any partnership would ever take off, as no doubt husband Kanye will interrupt every meeting by declaring how the Nokia 3310 was the best mobile of all time.
Although he applies every year, Sneak does not get close to a seat at Alan Sugar's firing table on the BBC show The Apprentice, and as each series rolls by he falls to the floor at the idiocy of the contestants. This week he was excited to see them enter the wearables industry, but quickly assumed his horizontal position.
While wearables were on the agenda, somewhere along the line the apprentices invented something that Sneak is calling the Unbearables industry.
Despite some of the people there having web, sales, technology and fashion experience, it was a man who sells medicines, or something close to that, who took up the wearable banner and it was he who effectively put the greenlight to a grey jumper with an inbuilt, tilted to the side, boob level camera that no one really knew how to operate.
Sneak, who by 9pm is usually looking for ways to wake up his neighbours, was rather pulled in by the idea. He does like jumpers, after all. However, the desire and excitement soon wore off.
The jumper itself was quite dandy, but the wearable elements were not. A camera nodule looked like a third nipple, while above that was a red LED to show when the jumper is recording, presumably so you could rethink hurling water at the wearer, and lurking around that was a light up sign that said 'on air'.
The thinking was that people would wear it to capture their fun and stuff like that. However, during one pitch to potential buyers, a member of the team admitted that he wouldn't wear it in public. Here Sneak, if he were an apprentice, might have suggested that he would wear it in public, though only to immolate himself.
At the next pitch at a high street store, a different apprentice stuck his head up with some idiocy and suggested that people and technology users are bored with privacy. Sneak keeps not much more than a casual eye on the technology industry, but is confident enough to call that suggestion totally wide of the mark.
The grey jumper with lights and camera did not make any sales, except perhaps under the counter to dreadful private eyes, but the light-up, heat-up and charge-up 80s power jacket that the female team came up with did make some sales. Around 250 of them.
That item, which is wearable because it is a jacket, was a perfect example of what happens when too many cooks try to make soup. It was a Heath Robinson piece of tailoring that no one would find easy to love, never mind take seriously.
Meanwhile, and not on the UK telly, Will.I.am, who Sneak understands was once a Black Eyed Pea, launched Puls, which is his take on the smartwatch.
Mr I.am reckons that the Puls is the future. Sneak, or Mr No.thank.u, thinks that Dick Tracy did this whole thing much better many, many years ago and with much less punctuation.
Despite his often misinterpreted demeanour, Sneak enjoys a good comedy show. But if you were to tell him he'd have to pay for it by the laugh, that might stifle his enthusiasm for the ramblings of Dylan Moran or Stuart Lee.
But that's exactly what a comedy club in Barcelona is doing. The BBC reported that face-recognition software is being used at the Teatreneu club to track the enjoyment of a show and charge fans the equivalent of 23p per laugh. It would seem the club is literally looking to get the last laugh.
The club imposes a cap of £18, which prevents the easily amused from guffawing themselves into financial ruin, but Sneak still finds the entire approach a bit daft. Sneak wonders why there is a need for such mirth-monitoring, as he would assume that those with no sense of humour would evade comedy gigs like cats avoid water.
Still, such technology is moot for Sneak, as an accident with a stray blade server when he was a young IT technician means his face can't display human emotions, let alone laughter.
While the monitoring of laughter is a relatively innocent use of face-recognition software, it has led Sneak to ponder where the technology will go next.
Perhaps the NSA will use it to spot unhappy US citizens, snapping them up before they spread dissension about this new thing the Europeans call "responsible gun control". Or maybe advertisers will tap into CCTV networks and spot ecstatic or melancholic citizens to sell them Temazepam or Prozac respectively, and effectively commoditise human emotions.
But Sneak is being a little harsh on the technology; after all, perhaps it could be used to find his long-lost brother Snitch, who disappeared after carrying out Booz Allen contract work for the CIA.
Sneak owes his livelihood to the internet, so much so that every day he walks through the sliding doors of FaceLess Corp, he tips his hat to a picture of Sir Tim Berners-Lee that sits on the reception desk.
But would he give away his first-born child for access to WiFi? Well the question is moot, as Sneak doesn't have children due to their propensity to pull out Ethernet cables and crash carefully constructed chipsets.
However, a highly scientific study found six wireless-hungry families were happy to do exactly that to get access to free WiFi in London. By signing up to the terms and conditions of a WiFi hotspot, the families had agreed to sacrifice their eldest child.
The report explained that the families were so keen to sign up to free WiFi that they simply agreed to "render up their eldest child for the duration of eternity" in a section of the T&Cs, which had been put there by researchers carrying out the snappily titled Tainted Love: How Wi-Fi Betrays Us report by security company F-Secure.
Most reports on this story assume the families failed to read the clandestine clause, but Sneak wonders if they simply decided that giving up their first-born was an acceptable cost. Maybe three of the families simply had a problem child they wanted to get rid of.
While Sneak comes out in a rash when his smartphone loses wireless connectivity, he has yet to resort to desperate measure in order to post snaps of his lunch on Instagram.
Luckily, or unluckily, for the families, the researchers declared they would not be enforcing the clause in the T&Cs.
Sneak idly wonders what F-Secure would actually do with six children, as he hears that eBay is quite strict on what can be sold through its marketplace.
19 Sep 2014
Sneak wants you to imagine the situation: you've waited 12 long months, poured over the rumours, sweated through Tim Cook's glitchy keynote, and queued for hours before you finally get your hands on the new iPhone 6.
You leave the Apple shop in a daze, blue T-shirted ‘geniuses' applaud as you walk among them – the first person in the nation to get your hands on the latest iPhone.
Then comes the moment you waited so long for.
You steady your quivering hands, and grasp the top of the Apple branded box. Your fingers clasp and lift its top.
Maybe you blinked for a second, but when you look down there is no shiny new smartphone. Perhaps it's a clever engineering ploy by the Cupertino brand to create a phone that is almost invisible, you think.
Then you hear the cries of shock and anguish, mixed with barks of amusement. You look down at your boutique custom trainers, and there lies your iPhone 6 – nearly £600 worth of fresh technology – face down on tarmac.
Now Sneak wants you to imagine that situation was caught on live TV.
That's exactly what happened to Jack Cooksey as he was presenting his new smartphone to Australia's Channel 9 news.
Sneak thinks you might enjoy the video below, which is currently percolating through the internet.
Sneak wishes to point out that, traditionally, it is meant to be Jack who hits the road and not anything else.
While the crowds may have found the Aussie's accident amusing, Sneak doubts other Apple fanatics at the end of the queue would share their sentiments. After all to Apple cultists dropping a new iPhone is akin to chipping the Holy Grail, blunting Excalibur, and handing the One Ring back to Sauron.
Luckily for Cooksey the iPhone 6 weathered its tarmac baptism, and emerged unscathed.
Sneak was startled to hear that elsewhere in Perth, Australia, eccentric Antipodeans are deliberately dropping their iPhones to test the toughness of Apple tech.
Unsurprisingly, such scientific testing revealed that the new iPhones will crack if dropped onto pavements. Sneak wonders what the University of Stating the Bleeding Obvious will reveal next.
As a charitable chap, Sneak would offer his iPhone 6 to any Apple enthusiasts who might have dropped their precious phones; however the Plus model simply works too well as a cheese board for Sneak to part with it.
Sneak enjoys the musical stylings of most popular beat combos made up of earnest men gurning at microphones over the sounds of meaningful music, but only on his own terms.
So if he feels like a bit of Journey to get him in the mood for some coding, he’ll happily load it up on his phone and listen away. Or if he’s in the car and the soothing, soulful lyrics of Mike and the Mechanics are called for, he’ll Bluetooth those beats through his stereo and rock away.
However, one thing Sneak has never enjoyed is when other people force their music upon you, whether that’s a sodcaster on the train blaring out their music, or when Graham – the health and safety man – insists on putting Dexys Midnight Runners' Greatest Hits on the office stereo.
So, when Tim Cook forced Sneak to have the warblings of an Irish band by the name of U2 on his iPhone, Sneak was outraged. Who was this Cook fellow to tell Sneak what to listen to, and who – or what – were U2 when they were at home anyway?
Sneak assumed it was some favour by Apple’s chief to help promote a mate’s band or some such nepotisim but it turns out they're multi-million selling megastars. Sneak has never heard of them. He gave it a listen, but it wasn’t his cup of tea.
It turns out many more Apple users have been a bit perturbed to find their iPhones infiltrated by this motley crew (ah, now there’s a great band) of Irish crooners, so the company has provided instructions on how to remove the offending album from their collections.
It’s a four stage process, detailed below:
If you have already downloaded the album you'll have to manually delete the tracks from your iTunes account.
Rock on dudes!