As Bill Gates might attest, nothing exhumes manliness like a good pair of spectacles. At least that what's Sneak has taken away from Google co-founder Sergey Brin's address to the TED conference going on in LA this week.
Despite his firm having developed the hugely popular Android operating system, Brin it seems has fallen out of love with smartphones. They are, it seems, not a rugged enough piece of technology for the butch brainbox.
Being a veritable Adonis, (well, at least in our own mind) Sneak can understand why Brin might distain the hunched posture people adopt when using smartphones.
“Is this the way you’re meant to interact with other people?” he railed. Before topping it off with the ultimate in macho posturing. “It’s kind of emasculating.”
Sneak had never considered the gender and sexual implications of using technology before. Has Sneak really been misunderstanding the purpose of electro-wetting displays all this time?
That said, given a list of potential reasons why users may prefer Google's Glass headsets to a smartphone, the question of which was more manly was probably the last on Sneak's list. But not now.
TED talks are meant to make the audience think in new ways, and Sneak will certainly be doing that. In future Sneak resolves to deeply consider which customer relationship management package will make him look the most ripped and which uninterruptable power supply is gonna wow the ladies.
Sneak is also eagerly awaiting Brin's next TED talk, which will no doubt seek to address the other half of the technology-using population. We're betting that “Does this laptop make my bum look big?” will go down a storm.
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.
15 Feb 2013
Sneak never liked Blue Peter when he was a child - all those fresh-faced eager-beaver up-and-at-em presenters gurning at the camera enthusing kids to "give it a try" just struck him as annoying.
His hardline stance has softened over the years - time does that to a man - but he can't say he ever finds himself watching the show now, obviously.
However, he may well take time out of his oh-so-busy schedule on Saturday morning to see Apple's head design honcho Sir Jony Ive on the show.
This is because Ive is to receive a very special golden Blue Peter badge, for his efforts in designing products like the iPhone and iPad, joining a very special list of people to have received this accolade, including David Beckham, JK Rowling, The Queen and Sneak himself. Ok, not Sneak, that's a lie.
"Sir Jonathan Ive is an inspiration to children around the world and we were ecstatic to hear his comments and design advice to our viewers who will remember such feedback for a lifetime," gushed Ewan Vinnicombe, acting editor of Blue Peter.
Ive, in return, gave the team an aluminium Blue Peter badge crafted by this team - perhaps it's a new iPeter product. Or should that be iBadge?
We think Vinnicombe and the rest of the staff must really have been hoping for iPads for all, and maybe a few iPhones thrown in as well.
It would normally take nothing short of the apocalypse to drag Sneak away from US syndicated talk show, The Steve Wilkos Show. After all, when the former head of security at The Jerry Springer Show gets his own programme, it's gotta be must-see TV.
So it's lucky that Sneak doesn't reside in Montana, where local station KRTV had its ground-breaking episode 'Teen cheaters take lie detectors' rudely interrupted by a honking siren and panic-inducing announcement that the dead were rising from their graves to attack local residents.
“Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous,” viewers were warned by a computer-like voice.
Luckily for Montana residents, the zombie apocalypse had not broken out – after all, Sneak's pretty confident that when it happens, Stoke-on-Trent is first in line. As it turns out, pranksters had hacked the station's emergency alert systems, and issued the fake zombie alert.
“Someone apparently hacked into the Emergency Alert System and announced on KRTV and the CW that there was an emergency in several Montana counties,” the station subsequently announced on its website, pointedly making no reference to zombies, in case fears were inflamed further.
“This message did not originate from KRTV, and there is no emergency,” it added.
Unfortunately for Sneak, there's no word yet on whether the teen cheater passed the polygraph test.
08 Feb 2013
Sneak has always been suspicious of the so-called big data trend – mainly because the term is so lame. But the latest scientist breakthrough has really put the tin lid on. Now, and indeed thanks, to so-called big data it has proven what some readers may long suspected: that Sneak is related to an ancient rat.
According to scientists at Stony Brook University, human beings' common ancestor with other mammals that raise infants in utero was a half-pound, rat like creature that scoffed insects and lived millions of years ago.
The Stony Brook team, along with colleagues dotted across the globe, were only able to make this discovery thanks to the data-crunching capabilities of an online genetic matching platform, known as Morphobank.
They used it to study 4,500 mammalian characteristics - from the skull, the skeleton, teeth to the internal organs, muscles and even fur patterns. That represented 10 times more characteristics than they'd previously been able to study at one time.
Attempting to identify a common ancestor using all those data points was a far bigger database problem than the palaeontologists involved had ever attempted before.
“At one point I didn't think we'd ever finish,” Micharl Novacek, provost for science at the American Museum of Natural History told the New York Times.
Frankly, given that Sneak's endured a lifetime of being branded a dirty rat, he almost wishes they never had.
05 Feb 2013
The folk in North Korea don't have it easy and that's putting it mildly.
In fact Sneak finds it outrageous that in a world of internet access and smartphones and tablets people in the nation are barely allowed online and mobile phones can only call internally, effectively shutting off the outside world.
Of course, the leaders of such despotic regimes rarely place the same burdens on themselves as they do to their poor populous, and a photo that's emerged from North Korea shows its leader Kim Jong-un seeming to enjoy the benefits of smartphone.
Speculation immediately suggested it could be a Samsung. This would of course be highly embarrassing for the North Korean leader as the south is the nation's sworn enemy. However, it appears more likely to be an HTC device.
HTC is a Taiwanese firm, struggling in the market, and having its brand associated with a tyrannically leader bent on smothering a downtrodden population with the simply swipe of a smartphone doesn't help.
The use of an HTC would suggest Kim is a fan of the Android operating system, despite its security issues. Only recently the executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, was in North Korea to talk up web access. Perhaps he gave it to him as a gift.
Of course, the real question is, what does he think of BB10?
28 Jan 2013
There haven't been many days in Sneak's life where he's wished he was called Gordon, but mobile operator O2 might just have changed that.
In a bid to make the gloriously unhip Windows Phone 8 handsets from HTC a smite more alluring, O2 has convinced national treasure and all round shouty bloke Brian Blessed to record personalised voicemail messages for it customers.
If you're one of the first 100 to buy the a Windows Phone 8S or 8X by HTC and notify O2 by incorporating the hashtag 'brianmail' into a tweet, you could have a Blessed record your very own voicemail message.
“I’m thrilled to be lending my vocal talents to the good folk at O2. I’m planning to have a lot of fun with the voicemail messages, and leave the caller amused, confused and generally bewildered,” said Blessed.
And what better way for callers to be greeted on those occasions you're too busy to answer than have him bellow: “Gordon's alive! Just not able to come to the phone right now. Please leave a message.”
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.