The course of true love never does run smooth, but the news that OkCupid purposefully tried to set users up on bad dates certainly gives off some mixed messages.
Sneak was surprised to see that the founder of OkCupid Christian Rudder so enthusiastically admitted to this behaviour, given the recent furore that surrounded Facebook when it was found to have done the same thing.
However, entitling his post ‘We Experiment On Human Beings!’, Rudder is clearly not shy in coming forward. The exclamation mark also suggests a fun, outgoing, GSOH-kinda guy.
"We noticed recently that people didn’t like it when Facebook 'experimented' with their News Feed. Even the FTC is getting involved. But guess what, everybody: if you use the internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work."
What Rudder went on to say was that his site, like millions of others online, constantly changes its algorithms and sometimes likes to experiment with this to see just how accurate its love matches are.
So, it deliberately gave users who were bad matches information that suggested they were actually made for one another, and others who should probably have scored ‘Soulmates’ were told they were chalk and cheese.
“We took pairs of bad matches (actual 30% match) and told them they were exceptionally good for each other (displaying a 90% match.) Not surprisingly, the users sent more first messages when we said they were compatible. After all, that’s what the site teaches you to do,” he wrote.
“When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are. Even when they should be wrong for each other.”
However, this worried Rudder as it meant that, really, OkCupid had no ‘scientific’ merit to its matching claims, and was just helping people hook up through the power of suggestion. So it roped good matches into its experiments
“We told people who were actually good for each other, that they were bad, and watched what happened.”
What happened was that those who were told they were not good matches, but were in fact potentially a good couple, did still exchange messages, although perhaps not as many as they would have had the true score been presented.
Pleasingly, though, those with a 90 percent match, who were told of this, were most likely to share the most messages. This suggests, to Rudder at least, the site’s profile scoring system does have some merit after all as strong matches turn into potential connections. Phew.
Some users were heartbroken over the news, though, with many ending things with OkCupid by proclaiming the experiments creepy. "This is not OK. I just cancelled my account," wrote one, while others said the company should be ashamed for messing around with people's love lives.
Others, though, were fine with it, and said anything that could, ultimately lead to more matches, dates, walks in the park and marriages, was welcome.
To Sneak, this all sounds like a lot of hard work just to arrange a drink at a branch of Slug and Lettuce.
Sneak loves to see hard justice acted out upon big IT companies but sometimes a peaceful settlement is more of a happy ending. That's what happened this time around, after HP settled one of the stranger legal spats on the case books of a court, after an action brought by music legend Chubber Checker.
The strange-but-true story behind the lawsuit comes from Mr Checker - real name Ernst Evans - getting wind of an app from the short-lived HP Palm operating system, that mangled cutting-edge science, technology and witchcraft to correlate the long-rumoured shoe size = penis size metric.
With the subtle-as-a-shovel-to-the-head moniker ‘The Chubby Checker', the app incurred Chubby Checker's wrath in 2013 as the rock god insisted that it infringed upon his trademarked name, as well as being somewhat lewd.
In what must have been a surreal moment, HP removed the offending app from the Palm app store that has long since followed the dodo into extinction. But for the legal teams of HP, this was just the tip of the problem.
Evans declared that his "internationally known" stage-name should have meant that HP's app approval process prevented The Chubby Checker from ever making it onto the store.
He was seeking millions but now an out-of-court agreement between HP and Mr Checker has prevented HP from ever using his name in vain again.
Sneak is left in no doubt that Mr Checker is not a man to be trifled with and will now cease work on his gentleman's companion app under development as Project Rod Stewart.
22 Jul 2014
Sneak is working on a novel. It's a labour of love that is so complex, clever and cunning that it makes Game of Thrones look like Spot the Dog. When it's ready, and yes Mum it will be, the world will proclaim the greatness that is Sneak.
So good is this work that Sneak has always been concerned that writing it in the traditional method – on Microsoft Word on a laptop – posed the risk that if someone got wind of it and hacked into his machine, they could steal the idea and make gazillions.
To avoid this fate, Sneak has for many years used an ancient, bashed-around typewriter left to him by his great grandfather (the dapper chap pictured above).
Yes his friends mock him when they come round (OK, see it over his shoulder on the webcam) but it’s a trusty machine and no-one’s going to hack into it, that’s for sure. In fact, he often wondered why other security-conscious organisations don't have the odd typewriter kicking around for important intel.
Well it appears the Germans are catching on after Sneak read that the German government is considering using the old-fashioned machines to help stop spies, such as those from the US, from accessing, intercepting and reading the country's most secret data.
The Guardian reported that Christian Democrat politician Patrick Sensburg, after being asked, as a litte joke, if the country was considering typewriters to avoid spying that, "As a matter of fact, we have – and not electronic models either."
"Really?" came the response (in German though, no doubt). "Yes, no joke," Sensburg said back. He never jokes.
Good for you Germany! Let’s see you crack a unnetworked, decades-old, ink and ribbon typewriter, NSA. As for Sneak, he's off to write chapter 247 of his novel. It's an exciting bit, as the Orc King Gringarlos battles the Dragon Wizard Zilarbeth in the Moon Palace of Zingador. Excited? You should be.
25 Jun 2014
It'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.
A new word is being added to the Collins English Dictionary and it is adorkable.
Sneak does not approve of the word adorkable because despite wearing bottle thick spectacles and more tank tops than a munitions outfit, no one ever associated the word with him and his sartorial work.
Adorkable, you see, is a spin on adorable that nods in the direction of dorkish geekery. But don't take Sneak's word for it, let's hear it from dictionary corner.
There, specifically the Collins' Dictionary pages, we read how to spell it, how to say it, and what it means. We also learn that it has been around for seven years but really sparked its way into the collective consciousness in 2012.
adorkable (əˈdɔːkəbəl) adj slang
socially inept or unfashionable in a charming or endearing way
ETYMOLOGY C21: blend of ADORABLE and DORK
"With 30 percent of the vote, and despite a strong rally by ‘felfie' fans, adorkable will be entering the 12th print edition of the Collins English Dictionary! We loved reading the #Twictionary votes, debates and tweets from around the world, as ‘nomakeupselfie' devotees tackled ‘fatberg' fans," says the word firm.
"However, adorkable - a strong contender from the start - came through to win the coveted dictionary spot. The winning word is a more than worthy addition to any dictionary."
Felfie, which was second, is what happens when farmers take selfies, and a fatberg is what builds up in drains and sewers when grease and oil goes down the plughole.
Duckface, which Sneak can get behind - mostly to avoid seeing it - came in rather low with just a six percent share of the votes.
Adorkable will make its way into the 12th edition of the dictionary.
We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet.— CIA (@CIA) June 6, 2014
Sneak finally has some decent people to talk to on his social networking accounts, the venerable chaps, and ladies, at the US Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA to close friends.
Sneak is often found to be on the receiving end of a mute or blocking order, he hopes that the new social CIA will embrace him and his own brand of unclassified disclosure.
Certainly it looks like the CIA is open to the social experience and it has promised to share outwards. Sneak hopes that it will be equally open to responses.
While looking at the CIA account Sneak realised that other people have the same hope, and he noticed that a chap called @Wikileaks has promised to respond to official disclosures with some of its own. Sneak is looking forward to that.
However, while he is hoping for messages that are juicy like so many peaches, the truth is probably - and this is often the case - that things will be very boring indeed.
Take the CIA on Facebook. Sneak was expecting to see a video of a monkey sniffing something, a picture of some lunch, or hell, even a selfie, but none of that is in place. Instead there is a message that promises no fun at all.
"CIA welcomes your comments, however we wish to maintain the decorum appropriate to a taxpayer-funded organisation, we will moderate, and delete as necessary, comments deemed inappropriate. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in the author(s) being blocked from this page without notice," it says in a cat-free early post.
"Do not post graphic, obscene, sexually explicit or racially offensive comments or content. We also will not tolerate comments that are abusive, hateful, slanderous or that are intended to defame anyone or any organisation. All content must be unclassified. Do not post any content that may be considered classified, sensitive, or that would cause immediate and undue harm to a person or organisation."
Sneak expects to be disappointed. He was disappointed when he read that Samsung wanted to brand part of Heathrow airport, and is disappointed by the obvious reaction that this has elicited from Microsoft marketing trolls.
Sneak has seen Microsoft cough up marketing efforts that are designed to make its rivals look bad, and Sneak has often come away from them with a view that it is the source, and not the target that is tainted.
This latest wheeze, ushered into Sneak's sphere of attention via the Nokia blog page, has him wondering whether he actually ever wants to go back on the internet at all.
"Imagine how excited we were then to learn that you can now reach "the Galaxy" via Heathrow's Terminal 5. This weekend, to make the most of this stellar opportunity, we sent four intrepid Lumianauts to Europe's busiest airport," writes Nokia's finest on the Conversations blog.
"Microsoft Devices gathered the excited Luminauts early in the morning to head to the airport in their brand new space-buggy. With one small step out of the moon-lander and a leap through the doors of Terminal 5, the Lumianauts set out to find the gate that would shoot them out of the world's gravitational atmosphere and into the Milky Way."
So far so this serves to highlight Samsung's investment at Heathrow and the increased presence that this gives it and the Galaxy. Microsoft has other objectives though, which include a desire to make its rival look silly.
It claims to have invested in bespoke Luminauts spacesuits and other ephemera because it believed that Heathrow airport is offering flights to the galaxy. Sneak knows that sometimes the Redmond firm is behind the times, but is shocked by this.
"Once the brave Lumianauts stepped foot in to the brand new terminal, though, they quickly learned that there was no such thing as a flights to ‘the Galaxy'. Rather, the terminal had taken over by advertising for another mobile phone company," it said.
"With constellation map in-hand they bowed their heads in disappointment and rang HQ, ‘Microsoft...we have a problem.'"
Sneak suspects that heads were bowed for reasons other than disappointment, unless it was a reflection on career choice of course.
The blog ends with the suggestion that Nokia phones are ‘out of this world', and the great god of marketing claims another soul.
22 May 2014
Sneak was reasonably excited this week. He heard that the FBI would possibly be interested in hiring ‘stoner' hackers and immediately recognised an opportunity to clear out some rooms in his bedsit.
Yesterday, having walked through a fug of smoke to his ‘home office' Sneak read on the BBC that the FBI was facing up to a skills shortage that could possibly only be filled by the tie-dye munchie brigade. Reasonably confused, thanks to the local atmosphere, we was consoled to see that it was the FBI's director, James Comey who proposed the far-out motion.
"I have to hire a great workforce to compete with those cybercriminals, and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview," he was reported as saying at an event attended by the Wall Street Journal.
The Beeb reports that Comey was pushed on this by an attendee who asked whether a bud head 'friend' should apply for a position at the FBI. "He should go ahead and apply," he said.
The comments were surprising as the FBI usually has a no-drugs-in-the-system-for-at-least-three-years hiring policy, something of a hindrance to those who enjoy the odd doobie.
However, the headlines the comments elicited has prompted something of a turnaround from the Feds as Corney later said he was joking, a classic symptom of pot smoking. We do not know if he added, ‘Maaaaan...'.
It reported that during a Senate hearing Corney went further, adding, "I don't want young people to use marijuana. It's against the law. I did not say that I'm going to change that ban. I said I have to grapple with the change in my workforce."
It ain't easy being green.