08 Oct 2012
With the UK heading into the last week of its conference season, Sneak was heartened to see the prime minister David Cameron doing his 'man of the people' bit and belatedly joining Twitter. What better way for the country's leader to keep in touch with voters (and the latest foul-mouthed tirades from professional footballers) than to join the microblogging site.
While Cameron may have been hoping to learn a thing or two from this social engagement, Sneak has to confess that a quick peek at the tweets sent to the PM provided a different sort of education. In fact, Sneak had no idea that it was physiologically possible to do such things with watermelons.
The prime minister kicked off his Twitter stream with a little joke about the frequency with which he'd be tweeting.
I'm starting Conference with this new Twitter feed about my role as Conservative Leader. I promise there won't be "too many tweets..."
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) October 6, 2012 ;
His comments recall his previous proclamation that “Too many tweets might make a...” with the blank standing in for a word Sneak couldn't remember until reading through the messages sent to the prime minister.
At least now Cameron can save himself from having to listen to the endless conference speeches by checking out the latest Twitter updates.
Sneak was overjoyed to see Facebook pass the one billion user milestone this week - what a happy community of people all updating and clicking and posting and liking and poking we are.
To celebrate this event Facebook commissioned its first ever advert and the results are, well, interesting to say the least.
In a bizarre piece of pseudo-intellectualism the advertising agency charged with the task of making Facebook seem cool again, Wieden and Kennedy, hit upon the intriguing notion that Facebook is like a chair, or a doorbell, or a dancefloor.
This is, you see, because these things help us connect, as Facebook does - give 'em a kipper! How many latte-drinking, designer-beard-wearing, suits-and-Converse wearing muppets did it take to make that connection?
The advert then goes on to say that because the universe is so big we often wonder if we're alone - which is true, with regards the universe itself, but not life, where we're surrounded by other people - but Facebook, like doorbells, reminds us "we are not" alone. Brilliant logic.
Sneak's favourite bit comes about half way through, though, when the advertising copy writer clearly forgot to think of a third thing that people share, but never got around to updating it and the agency probably though it was genius by its idiocy.
"Doorbells, airplanes, bridges...these are thing that people use to get together, so they can open up and connect about ideas and music and other things that people share."
‘Other things that people share?' Couldn't they thing of one more thing beyond "music" and "ideas". And "ideas" is a fairly nebulous concept anyway.
Sneak could have done a lot better. Here, have a read of this:
"Facebook - bringing people together to share drunken photos, write grammatically incorrect statuses and portray a life far more interesting than it really is to people they don't really like."
This is no doubt why five million punters handed over shed loads of cash to get their greasy paws on the new iPhone 5 when it came out on Friday, so all five million of them are now as cool as each other.
Apple has the coolest reputation in spite of some recent issues - such as its new mapping software which is actually the latest hilarious problem to get the Tumblr treatment, while riots at its manufacturing partner Foxconn are definitely not cool.
But then maps and riots are never cool at the best of times, so this probably won't have much impact on Apple's attitude to how it conducts its business - which is most decidedly cool - not answering phones, referring to themselves as geniuses and the like.
Sneak always thought he was cool. His mum told him he was. That was until he once met some bigger boys who laughed at him and called him a "dork". Kids can be so cruel.
Still, Sneak had the last laugh - he's now a prominent member of the technology world, while the mean boys are nothing but city brokers, lawyers and rock musicians. The jokes on them.
Surely it's only a matter of time before Sneak is on the CoolBrands list, right guys?
Sneak knows all too well how seriously Apple takes design patents – and woe betide anyone (mostly Samsung) that dares to round a rectangular corner without the Cupertino-based giant's prior approval.
So it was with huge admiration that Sneak opened the Clock app newly adorning a colleague's iOS 6-updated iPad. Who could not admire the simple, bold designs?
Classic Apple, Sneak thought, always leading the way, never one to use the designs of others.
However, those at Swiss Federal Railways have taken issues with the design as they believe it too closely mirrors those classic railway station clocks you see around the country.
“We're trying to contact Apple to control the unauthorised use of [our design]", SBB spokesman Reto Kormann told Blick.
Brave bunch - everyone knows how much Apple likes a legal scrap and has plenty of cash to throw at the problem. Then again, if any nation can take Apple on when it comes to finances, it's the Swiss.
Who will win? Time will tell.
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.
14 Sep 2012
Want to make sure someone knows what you're saying is a joke on an email? Put a little ;-). Want to convey sadness, add a little :-( or if you're ecstatically happy, you just need a big old :-D.
Yes, these funny little symbols have become the de facto way millions of us communicate our thoughts to people around the world, as we increasingly lose the will to try and articulate complex emotions with the limited vocabulary we possess. Well, that's Sneak take on it anyway.
Regardless, these faces have risen in popularity, and today they celebrate thirty years of use, all thanks to one man who invented their use, Professor Scott Fahlman, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, as The Independent notes.
"Their birth can be traced to the precise minute: 11:44am on 19 September 1982," it reports.
"At that moment Fahlman sent an email on an online electronic bulletin board that included the first use of the sideways smiley face: "I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways."
However, despite having the chance to take credit for this amazing invention, Falhma now hates the now ubiquitous cartoon versions.
"I think they are ugly, and they ruin the challenge of trying to come up with a clever way to express emotions using standard keyboard characters. But perhaps that's just because I invented the other kind."
07 Sep 2012
For the majority of web users this will have been met with confusion and irritation as usually these sorts of attention-grabbing methods are nothing more than adverts or, worse, spam-filled linkbait.
However, the cookie law is meant to be noble, to protect web users from evil privacy-related concerns. Oh, the horror, the horror.
Despite this, though, it's proved such an annoyance to one web firm that it's issued a challenge to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) over its lack of compliance.
On a specially designed nocookielaw.com site, Oliver Emberton, the founder of the firm, Silktide, laid down the challenge after revealing he'd removed all relevant cookie-related warnings from the site.
"We've taken all our cookies solutions off all our websites. The evil cookies are back, and the pointless slidey warning messages are no more," he wrote.
"Presumably we now fly in the face of the law you are sworn to uphold. Please, please do your worst. Send in a team of balaclava-clad ninjas in black hawk helicopters to tickle us to death with feather dusters. Just do something."
Sneak loves the idea of Christopher Graham and David Smith donning ninja suits and breaking into Emberton's house in the dead of night, slowly reconfiguring his software so the cookie warnings do display, but somehow Sneak doesn't think it's going to happen.
Sneak has always liked it when his heroes show they have a something of a wicked streak – after all, we're in no position to really empathise with angels. So, hats off to Sir Tim Berners-Lee – someone Sneak didn't think it would be possible to revere more.
Speaking at the launch of the Web Index, Berners-Lee joked he had installed filters in to the core of the worldwide web, allowing him to control everything that is said online.
"I have put on filters which allow me just to investigate just every single word that any of you have said to each other. You won't know what is happening but as you talk to each other it will be quietly modified to appear to be whatever I want you to be saying,” he said.
“I will take a deep control of the world. Apart from that, everything will remain as usual."
He also claimed to be one of the handful of people that could turn off the net. "I am afraid that now that you know I will have to shoot you,” he was quoted by the Press Association as saying.
Sneak can't help but think that we Berners-Lee to actually have taken deep control of the world, it would be in a better state than we currently find it.