UK chancellor George Osborne has chosen the morning of the 2013 budget to unleash himself on the Twittersphere, sending his first tweet on Wednesday morning. Under the @George_Osborne account, he tweeted:
Today I'll present a Budget that tackles the economy's problems head on helping those who want to work hard & get on twitter.com/George_Osborne…— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) March 20, 2013
The tweet is accompanied by a picture of the chancellor with his red box, indeed working hard and getting on, if you call sitting with a blank piece of paper and doing some scribbling as evidence of achievement.
Sneak hopes that one of the budget announcements will be providing the UK chancellor with a calculator or actual computer to add up his sums.
Osborne had managed to amass more than 20,000 followers by mid-morning Wednesday, including MPs and industry groups like David Cameron, Liam Fox and the British Chambers of Commerce - those that Sneak would define as dull as ditchwater, and keeps far from his Twitter feed - plus a few random ones like Bill Gates and The Beautiful World: the most beautiful, crazy, stunning pictures of this earth, the biography claims.
Obviously our chancellor needs a little light relief every now and again, though Sneak would have gone for @sockington.
However, no sooner had poor George published his one and only tweet this morning, but the floodgates opened on a torrent of abuse and mick-taking aimed at the chancellor.
It took Sneak a fair while of searching through the hundreds of welcome tweets to Osborne to find some clean enough to post on a professional site like V3, but this gives a taste of the messages.
It's good you've joined Twitter, @george_osborne, because if you're doing rubbish at your job, Twitter can really help you focus.— David Schneider (@davidschneider) March 20, 2013
I despair that @george_osborne is a) about to help plunge more people into poverty, and b) incapable of punctuation.— El (@ellesueur) March 20, 2013
Some might feel sorry for the chancellor being subject to this level of abuse and ridicule, on the most important day of his year. But Sneak suspects an ulterior motive.
Osborne, or his canny PR team, would have known full well the likely outcome of unveiling his Twitter account on Budget Day, and must be secretly hoping that the interest in all the tweeting will overshadow any controversial decisions the chancellor announces this afternoon, or at least encourage some level of sympathy for him.
Sneak is sorry to reveal to Osborne that Twitter is not exactly a hotbed of sympathetic and measured viewpoints. All of which puts us in mind of this delightful moment from last summer:
Sneak has always admired those lone fighters, the rebels, the individuals who stand against the odds to stick it to The Man. So it is with utter admiration that Sneak doffs his hat to rapid left-wing street fighter George Galloway, having learned of his one-man fight against the might of microblogging site Twitter.
Galloway, most famous for his sumptuous facial hair and cat impersonations, has manfully tried to get the lily-livered weaklings in the House of Parliament to wake up to the spectre of Twitter, proposing an early day motion to impose sanctions on on the site.
“This House notes that Twitter is now a very widely used mode of social networking,” his motion begins inauspiciously. Thanks George, Sneak – along with the rest of Western civilisation - was kinda aware of that.
But old firebrand Galloway soon gets going.
“Twitter is now used for a variety of criminal activities including sending malicious communications,” he rails, before accusing the site of failing to co-operate with police, calling its behaviour “reprehensible”.
Sneak had been rather impressed with the Transparency Report Twitter had published earlier this year, but now feels – in light of Galloway's clear-sighted rant – that he must have had the wool pulled over his eyes by this, “US-based enterprise whose primary motivation is to maximise its profits”, as @georgegalloway describes them.
Sadly, no other MP has dared rally to the cause, making Gorgeous George's the only signature of the motion to date. Odd that, it's almost as if this were just some crude publicity stunt rather than a serious political campaign.
The news the Queen is to visit the Yammer headquarters in East London later this week was something of a surprise, and no doubt staff at the company are getting ready for the big day with a mixture of excitement and nerves, practicing their pronunciation and curtseys so nothing goes wrong on the day.
However, one area the staff can probably rest easy on is their tech knowledge as, while Sneak has no doubt Her Majesty knows a thing or two about technology having been around the block a few times, she's probably not looking for the inside line on the state of the market.
Sneak's put together his list of the most unlikely things to hear the Queen say. Add your suggestions in the comments.
Sneak has long supported the European Commission's campaign to clamp down on mobile roaming charges. Given that more often than not, Sneak finds himself on using the same company's network abroad as he does back home, coughing up eye-watering prices for foreign calls seems a bit de trop, as the French might say.
But if the prices for downloading a few megs of data abroad were enough to make Sneak choke on his croissant, can you imagine the shock and red-faced rage that followed the arrival of yet another bank-busting bill - especially as Sneak had ventured no further afield than Kent.
As it turns out, Sneak was caught by the same ill-winds that have befallen the villagers of St Margaret's at Cliffe and St Margaret's Bay, near Dover.
A quirk of geography means that UK mobile signals can drop out in inclement weather, making it easier for users to connect to French signals. The problem being, of course, the villagers get stung on roaming costs.
A spokesman for mobile operator EE told the BBC the best solution was for residents to turn off their phone's roaming option. Which is indeed one option – although Sneak has another one: How about setting up a tower that can provide locals with a decent service? It's what they pay for after all.
07 Mar 2013
Sneak has always liked to think himself ahead of the curve and bang on trend. So it came as something of an awakening so rude it was like being goosed by Simon Cowell to realise that Sneak has absolutely nothing in common with 16 to 24-year-olds.
Of course, that's a sentiment that many middle-aged people come to. But usually, it's because they can't fathom why anyone in their right mind would consider that a pork pie hat, skinny jeans and espadrilles was suitable attire for anyone not in a mental institution. In this case, however, it simply appears that Sneak is just way too cool for the kids.
According to a feverish study in to why youngsters have better things to do with their life than waste it up to the armpit in pig muck, farming, Sneak was agog to realise that when asked what a blackberry was, more than eight out of 10 16 to 24-year-olds' first thought was of a mobile phone, rather than a fruit.
Where, oh where, Sneak bewails, have these kids been living? BlackBerrys might have been popular some time back in 2007, but not even Sneak's in-bred country cousin is still using that brand of smartphone now. Surely no self-respecting Samsung-touting school leaver would have any better idea of what a BlackBerry was than if you asked them what a Dragon 32 was?
The poll was conducted at the behest of the Future of Farming Group, which has been set up to examine the reason why so few youngsters see farming as a viable career.
However, if the best way this group can think of enthusing kids is to teach them the difference between a piece of fruit and a phone, Sneak can't but help think they've already lost the battle.
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.