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.
15 Jan 2013
As the pizza boxes pile mounting by the bin can attest, Sneak's New Year diet is not going to plan. Of course, Sneak knows only too well that his lack of self control hasn't helped matters, but this inability to ignore the alluring call of a 15in stuffed crust deep pan with extra mozzarella and sausage is not proof of a personality defect. As it turns out, Sneaks complete lack of willpower is entirely Facebook's fault.
At least that's the interpretation Sneak had from reading a newly released piece of research from the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia Business School.
Researchers Andrew Stephen and Keith Wilcox studied 1,000 Facebook users to see how their experience of using the social networking site impacted their lives. They found users that had strong ties with friends via Facebook were more likely to experience an increase in self-esteem, which is nice for them.
“We find that people experience greater self-esteem when they focus on the image they are presenting to strong ties in their social networks," said Wilcox. "This suggests that even though people are sharing the same positive information with strong ties and weak ties on social networks, they feel better about themselves when the information is received by strong ties than by weak ties."
But the researchers discovered this was a double-edged sword. So while users felt better about themselves after using Facebook, they also showed far less self control after doing so.
“The results suggest that greater social network use is associated with a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit-card debt for individuals with strong ties to their social network," they wrote.
The research has been published by the Journal of Consumer Research.
Given Sneak's Facebook habit and the advent of online pizza ordering, little wonder the diet has gone for a burton.
It may only be a few days in to 2013, but it looks like being another year where Sneak will spend it desperately trying to pay off embarrassingly large bills. For once though, this isn't the result of festive largess, but purely because Sneak was trying to be helpful.
For the past few years, Sneak has been sending sage advice to social networking wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg via his Facebook site. After all, being a young billionaire, and lacking experience of the world outside Silicon Valley, can be hard.
So Sneak is pretty sure his advice – on sartorial matters (gentlemen are allowed to wear garments other than hoodies), interior design (spray painting may look edgy, but a nice frame with a poster featuring a motivational buzz phrase does more for office morale, and is easier to change when you tire of it), and relaxation techniques (bikram yoga can soothe away stress and is likely to get you in to less trouble with Peta than butchering animals) – has been well received.
Indeed, after polishing off the left over brandy sauce from Christmas recently, Sneak was inspired to send Zuck scores of messages, advising the young pup how to make social networking less creepy and intrusive.
Trouble is, Sneak has only recently been alerted to the fact that it now costs $100 for Facebook users that don't follow Zuck to send him a message – and Sneak has to be careful about who he lets see his timeline.
Apparently the charges have been introduced as Facebook explores ways to cut back spam. It's a worthy effort, but one that means Sneak will spend another January glued to eBay, watching to see how much the unwanted Christmas pressies might raise. Pair of tiger-print lycra yoga shorts anyone? How about a onesie?
02 Jan 2013
Zut alors! Le Sneak was shocked to zee zat thieves in ze French capital of Paris (That's enough faux French accents now - Parisian Ed) have stolen around £1m of Apple goods in a New Year's Eve heist.
The Gallic assassins used the cover of fireworks and drunken revellers to mask their thieving ways and cries of, "Quick, grab the Pomme iPads and iPhones!" (see those French lessons stuck!), to make off with some serious loot.
"They were well prepared," said the brilliantly-named Christophe Crepin from the police union UNSA, according to numerous reports.
"As the majority of police were busy watching the Champs Elysees the robbers took advantage of this opportunity."
The heist is estimated to be worth around £813,000 which given the pricing of Apple goods means they probably got three iPads, four iPhones and five new iMacs in total.
According to the French newspaper Le Parisien (no idea what that means) the thieves were able to first gain access by threatening a security guard at a back entrance.
Typical, a back-door exploit; see those closed ecosystems aren't as secure as you think.
And lo it came to pass that on the 12/12/12 Pope Benedict XVI would tweet and the people would rejoice for they looked and saw that his tweets were good. Well, grammatically accurate at least.
What words of great wisdom and insight did God's representative on earth have for the mortal masses who hold the scriptures dear? Like most people on Twitter it's all very self-involved stuff.
"Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart," he wrote first, before asking: "How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?"
The punch line to this zinger, is wait for it... "By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need."
Ha, that old chestnut! Oh, Pope Ben, you're so witty.
So far the Pope has only followed seven people, though, all called Ben too, bizarrely, but Sneak is hoping he may get a follow soon after he retweeted what the Pope wrote to his 74 followers.
Apple has made an unlikely ally in its push for next-generation interconnects.
According to filings uncovered by Patently Apple, the company recently inked a deal with the Harley Davidson motorcycle company gain control of the trademark for the term "lightning."
The news site reported that Apple on 24 November finalised an EU deal which gave the company control over the "Lightning" name as a trademark.
The deal is an important legal manoeuvre for Apple, as the company uses "Lightning" as the name for the new interconnect on the iPhone 5. The system is paired up with the "Thunderbolt" interconnect platform on desktops to give Apple its "Thunder" and "Lightning" connection platform for next-generation desktop and notebook systems.
While Harley fans may have lost a trademark, the biker crowd will be pleased to learn that Apple has brought the complete catalog of heavy metal icons AC/DC to the iTunes store.
This is not the first time Apple has had to cut a trademark deal with an unlikely partner. In the 1980s when the company was developing its Macintosh operating system, The Beatles and their Apple Corps recording label took notice. Eventually the two firms settled on a 1991 deal.
The two firms engaged in a back and forth, and it was not until 2010 that Apple was finally able to bring the Beatles to iTunes.
For years now, Sneak has spent his spare time coming up with the perfect viral video, and remains pretty confident that once the RSPA banning order is rescinded, the world will watch in awe at the jaw-dropping site of chinchilla juggling.
It's with some trepidation then, that Sneak discovered just how many YouTube hits he's gonna need to claim the viral video crown.
It seems that while Sneak has be struggling with the animal rights laws, some cheeky Korean chappy has managed to get 825 million viewers to watch his odd horse-riding-dance on the ubiquitous pop song Gangnam Style.
Apparently, pop sensation Psy has now surpassed the record for most views of a YouTube upload previously set by Justin Bieber. If that wasn't enough to annoy the pint-sized pop star, the first person to alert Twitter users in the US to Psy's crazy dance moves was none other than Bieber's own manager.
Sneak has to confess to a certain degree of ignorance when it comes to Master Bieber's oeuvre, but reckons to be on pretty safe ground in suggesting that the young man let himself down by not having more animal references in his video.
Animals, as we all know, are what the viral video craze is built on.
While Apple has been pilloried over the laughable state of its Maps application for the iPhone and iPad, Sneak has learned its not the only tech giant with map making headaches.
When a team of intrepid explorers from the University of Sydney set off into the South Pacific, heading towards French-governed New Caledonia, they had been expecting to come across Sandy Island, a strip of land depicted clearly on Google Earth. Imagine the teams surprise when they reached the right locations only to find the island not there, and instead there was just 1.4km of deep, blue ocean.
As it transpires, Sandy Island isn't some real life example of the mysterious moving island in the long-running incomprehensible TV drama Lost. Sandy Island never existed in the first place.
Google told the BBC that it consults a variety of authoritative sources when compiling its maps, so it's not like the search giant just made it up. Instead, like some inept schoolboy cartographer, Google made the mistake of copying its answers from the class dolt.
While Sneak has been among those complaining loudly at the mistakes in Apple's Maps, it only sent Sneak the wrong way to Luton – and not hundreds of miles into the deep blue yonder.