14 Apr 2015
Big news from the Sneak camp this week. He has decided not to apply for a $1,600 ticket to the Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco this year. In fact, he said from behind a filing cabinet, you would have to "bloody drag him there".
No-one wants to drag him anywhere, except perhaps to that place at the zoo where they scrub and hose down elephants, and no one even suggested that Sneak should go to the WWDC in the first place. The news that he was not going would barely have raised an eyebrow had he not made his statement while riding around the office on a scooter listening to greengrass versions of TV theme tunes.
Not invited, probably not wanted, and definitely not in a position to afford it, Sneak is not going because of the impact that the event will have on his civil liberties.
Sneak, you see, has recently adopted some rather trendy characteristics. We suspect that a pamphlet produced by some east London establishment found its way to his office and into his mind, and has, we assume, seized onto the role of office hipster when really what he needs is a hip replacement.
He is wearing a beard that can only be described as roomy, trousers that are too short and could affect his chances of reproducing (a silver lining), a hat at an angle that some spectators have called "provocatively preposterous" and a pair of Google Glass specs. The latter, he says, because they are now retro "like my Zune".
Once this new and unusual Sneak has switched his fixie bike for a desk and a trough of kale soup he lurks online updating a range of social media accounts that he is populating with images of his lunch - before and, sadly, after - and what he is led to believe is a 'selfie'.
Unfortunately for Sneak the informational ‘hip' pamphlet that he picked up includes a repeated misspelling and, rather than take a photo of his face and share it with the world (see selfies), he is taking photos of the office shelves and posting them as shelfies.
No-one follows him online, or indeed in the street - the stench is quite overpowering - so no-one has actually noticed his mistake. He is livid, though, and not just with himself.
To calm him down - it saves on the printers and office plants - we have given Sneak a proper explanation of a selfie, in pictorial form, and provided him with a selfie stick for use at his leisure.
Sneak spent some time getting used to the stick. For a while he hopped up and down on his haunches before using it to attack a black monolith, but within three weeks he had acclimatised to its actual purpose and set about taking selfies like a lost Kardashian.
This, somehow, brings us back to WWDC and one step closer to forgetting about Sneak and his place in the office for another day.
The reason he is staying at home, other than the obvious flight restrictions, is that if he was to attend the event he would be parted from his Google goggles - wearable recording devices are banned - and disconnected from his selfie stick because they are banned too.
"You may not use selfie sticks or similar monopods," Apple said.
"What's next?" he boomed from his office. "Socks and sandals? Man hair buns?"
Sneak is a big fan of diversity, which is why he has 50 pairs of sock each a different shade of grey.
A report in The Guardian suggests that Apple also believes variety to be the spice of life, and has added a range of skin tones to emojis.
For those who don't know, an emoji is commonly a cartoon face evoking a basic emotion, designed for people who forget that words actually still exist in the digital age.
Emojis were previously limited to a white or a putrid yellow round face, the kind that used to be found on ecstasy wrappers in the 90s. That's what Sneak's friend told him, anyway.
Those who wanted a little more diversity could choose an Indian or Chinese emoji, which sported a turban and skullcap respectively. Well, they do say stereotypes exist for a reason.
People who wanted a black face had no choice but to use an emoji of a dark moon as an alternative.
This lack of diversity, and the grumbling that accompanied it, caused Apple to spring into action like an 80s action hero.
The company now allows word-blind users to choose an emoji from a range of five skin colours, running from Simpsons-like pus yellow to dark brown.
Other more diverse emoji options include families with same-sex parents and even a smiling lump of faeces for people from a very unique lineage or with limited boundaries in taste.
That, ladies and gentleman, is Apple's affirmative action, in action. While Sneak welcomes diversity in the world of text communications, he can't help but think that there are more pressing equality needs in the technology market.
Perhaps Apple could follow Intel's example and invest some of its Scrooge McDuck-like mounds of cash (video below) into encouraging diversity in the physical as well as virtual world.
Despite Apple's efforts, Sneak notes that there is no option for those with ginger hair. Have they not suffered enough, Apple?
Sneak finds this shocking and disturbing and will be writing a very strong letter to Tim Cook, demanding an iPhone 6 and 5K iMac as compensation for this grave omission.
In the meantime, Sneak is off to find an emoji that best communicates crushing despair at the state of the world and his utter insignificance in the grand scale of the universe. Perhaps there's an app for that.
There are many embarrassing things on the internet; YouTube is a veritable shrine of schadenfreude and awkwardness, all captured for viewers' fleeting amusement and compulsive desire to like/share/tweet.
But Sneak believes that HTC has created something so cringe worthy it's likely to have people tuning inside out, and receive a ban under the Geneva Convention.
In what must have been a severe case of ‘throw all our ideas at the wall and see what sticks', HTC has created - and Sneak uses that term loosely - a rap video boasting the firm's handset prowess and smack-talking rivals Samsung and Apple.
Having probably spent its entire adverting budget on hiring actor and Iron Man Robert Downey Jr, HTC has now roped in rapper Doc G from early 1990s group PM Dawn. Sneak spent the 90s tussling with a Spectrum ZX, so he'll just have to take HTC's word on that.
Dubbed Hold the Crown (see what HTC did there?), the 2 minute 33 second video also features HTC employee David Bruce, who joins Doc G to release a torrent of horrific phone-based rhymes and put downs on unsuspecting viewers.
Disclaimer: Sneak takes no responsibility for the video below and the consequences it may have on your mental, social or physical wellbeing.
Still alive and sane? Sneak congratulates you, but the ordeal is not over yet. Clearly proud of Hold the Crown, HTC follows it with an interview featuring Doc G - real name Greg Carr - and Bruce.
Sneak doesn't want to spoil the video for you, but suffice to say there is a blossoming pseudo man-crush between Bruce and Carr; the kind of relationship that many could describe as Stockholm syndrome.
Now, there have been other PR and advertising failures by phone brands, including BlackBerry's bizarre mock-protest against Apple.
But HTC's attempt is either ironic genius or the tragic failure of a misguided marketing exec who's had too much sugar. Sneak would like to believe the former, but the latter is more compelling.
19 Sep 2014
Sneak wants you to imagine the situation: you've waited 12 long months, poured over the rumours, sweated through Tim Cook's glitchy keynote, and queued for hours before you finally get your hands on the new iPhone 6.
You leave the Apple shop in a daze, blue T-shirted ‘geniuses' applaud as you walk among them – the first person in the nation to get your hands on the latest iPhone.
Then comes the moment you waited so long for.
You steady your quivering hands, and grasp the top of the Apple branded box. Your fingers clasp and lift its top.
Maybe you blinked for a second, but when you look down there is no shiny new smartphone. Perhaps it's a clever engineering ploy by the Cupertino brand to create a phone that is almost invisible, you think.
Then you hear the cries of shock and anguish, mixed with barks of amusement. You look down at your boutique custom trainers, and there lies your iPhone 6 – nearly £600 worth of fresh technology – face down on tarmac.
Now Sneak wants you to imagine that situation was caught on live TV.
That's exactly what happened to Jack Cooksey as he was presenting his new smartphone to Australia's Channel 9 news.
Sneak thinks you might enjoy the video below, which is currently percolating through the internet.
Sneak wishes to point out that, traditionally, it is meant to be Jack who hits the road and not anything else.
While the crowds may have found the Aussie's accident amusing, Sneak doubts other Apple fanatics at the end of the queue would share their sentiments. After all to Apple cultists dropping a new iPhone is akin to chipping the Holy Grail, blunting Excalibur, and handing the One Ring back to Sauron.
Luckily for Cooksey the iPhone 6 weathered its tarmac baptism, and emerged unscathed.
Sneak was startled to hear that elsewhere in Perth, Australia, eccentric Antipodeans are deliberately dropping their iPhones to test the toughness of Apple tech.
Unsurprisingly, such scientific testing revealed that the new iPhones will crack if dropped onto pavements. Sneak wonders what the University of Stating the Bleeding Obvious will reveal next.
As a charitable chap, Sneak would offer his iPhone 6 to any Apple enthusiasts who might have dropped their precious phones; however the Plus model simply works too well as a cheese board for Sneak to part with it.
Sneak enjoys the musical stylings of most popular beat combos made up of earnest men gurning at microphones over the sounds of meaningful music, but only on his own terms.
So if he feels like a bit of Journey to get him in the mood for some coding, he’ll happily load it up on his phone and listen away. Or if he’s in the car and the soothing, soulful lyrics of Mike and the Mechanics are called for, he’ll Bluetooth those beats through his stereo and rock away.
However, one thing Sneak has never enjoyed is when other people force their music upon you, whether that’s a sodcaster on the train blaring out their music, or when Graham – the health and safety man – insists on putting Dexys Midnight Runners' Greatest Hits on the office stereo.
So, when Tim Cook forced Sneak to have the warblings of an Irish band by the name of U2 on his iPhone, Sneak was outraged. Who was this Cook fellow to tell Sneak what to listen to, and who – or what – were U2 when they were at home anyway?
Sneak assumed it was some favour by Apple’s chief to help promote a mate’s band or some such nepotisim but it turns out they're multi-million selling megastars. Sneak has never heard of them. He gave it a listen, but it wasn’t his cup of tea.
It turns out many more Apple users have been a bit perturbed to find their iPhones infiltrated by this motley crew (ah, now there’s a great band) of Irish crooners, so the company has provided instructions on how to remove the offending album from their collections.
It’s a four stage process, detailed below:
If you have already downloaded the album you'll have to manually delete the tracks from your iTunes account.
Rock on dudes!
Sneak loves a good old-fashioned smartphone launch but he'll never understand the crowds of fevered fans who camp outside Apple stores days in advance of the next iPhone. Do these people not have families, jobs, lives to lead?
The Telegraph reported that as of 6pm on Monday, two tents were erected outside Apple's Regent Street store. The iPhone Air/6/min/XL/selfie+, or whatever Apple will call it, is not expected to launch until 19 September.
Sneak can't help but wonder what these people do for food or hygiene, or what Apple thinks about having grotty-looking tents pitched outside its trendy flagship store. Perhaps Apple soaked the storefront with a scent that its fans/cultists find irresistible.
Personally Sneak avoids camping like he avoids Windows Vista. Ever since "the incident" with Mrs Sneak in the Lake District, he feels a little uneasy around fibreglass poles and polyester.
So it baffles Sneak how people could endure the crowds, pollution, noise and social stigma of camping outside a shop, no matter how shiny the devices are.
However, The Telegraph went on to describe how some people will sell their coveted spot in the queue to the highest bidder – also known as the people who've been out in the sun too long. Though Sneak can appreciate the bare-faced tenacity of such guerrilla entrepreneurialism.
Some spots net up to £1,500 for the cheeky campers. Sneak thinks that if you pay that much for a phone that costs around £500, then you have been staring at a picture of Steve Jobs for too long, and need shock therapy.
Other money-spinning moves that exploit Apple's cult-like following are the people who get paid to queue on the behalf of yet more people who lack the sense to accompany their money.
Sneak has to admit, though, he finds the idea of subcontracting the boring aspects of life very appealing – especially since his server-room assistant disappeared a few weeks ago. Sneak rarely thinks about Quentin these days, but he can't help notice an odd smell coming from that mass of Cat5 cables behind Server101.
Fancy lunch with Apple CEO Tim Cook to find out about the iPhone 6, the firm's plans for the long-rumoured iWatch or just what on earth he is doing considering paying $3bn for Beats? Well a spare £200,000 should be enough.
A recent auction for lunch with Cook held by charity site CharityBuzz has closed with the winning bidder stumping up $300,001 for the honour. Clearly small change to that Apple fan, who's not been named.
Cook is clearly a charity soul as he added the chance to be a guest of honour at the next major Apple event – perhaps the iPhone 6 unveiling - to help boost the bids, which is for his charity of choice, the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights.
Sneak is sure that such an amount is worth it. After all, Cook has been at Apple for years, learned from the master Steve Jobs, and has kept Apple ticking since taking over, so no doubt he can pass on a thing or two.
Really, though, for that much money Tim Cook should actually cook the meal as well, and provide transport costs for getting to the firm's headquarters, as this is not included in the lot, although the anonymous winning bidder can no doubt afford it.
While one Tim is basking in the clear demand that he enjoys from the public, Sneak couldn't help feeling a little sorry for another Tim - AOL chief Tim Armstrong.
So far the chance for lunch with him, and a tour of the HuffingtonPost Live studios and a taped interview, has had just one bid of $3,500, against an estimate of $25,000 from the organisers.
Don't worry, Tim, Sneak will stump up a bit to get the bids moving – you accept Bitcoin, right?
The Galaxy S5 was finally unveiled to the world this week at Mobile World Congress. Being a lover of all things mobile, Sneak was very excited about the new features, such as the fingerprint scanner and a fast downloads tool, but was less enthralled with its premium price tag.
So for those of you who, like Sneak, don't fancy paying the price of £600 for a Galaxy S5, luckily there's now another option: the Goophone S5.
Less than two days after Samsung had its big unveiling for the Galaxy S5, copycat smartphone maker Goophone introduced its own strikingly similar model.
The Goophone S5 has the same perforated casing and design as Samsung's latest model, and features a 5in full HD 1920x1080 resolution screen, an octa-core 2GHz processor and 32GB of internal storage that's expandable.
Yes, you'll be making some compromises with the Goophone S5. It offers only 3G network support compared with the Galaxy S5's 4G capability; it has only a 13MP rear camera, rather than a 16MP camera with a fast autofocus speed of 0.3 seconds; and it's a bit behind with its Android 4.2 Jelly Bean mobile operating system rather than the latest Android 4.4 KitKat release.
But then again, you will be saving 50 percent off the price of the Samsung Galaxy S5, with the Goophone S5 available for only $299.99. A bargain, even by Sneak's cheapskate standards.
Sadly the Goophone S5 is out of stock at present, but we'll be sure to check regularly and update you on availability. And in the meantime, why not treat yourself to the Goophone i5S for a mere $160, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone 5S and also comes in grey, black or gold.
Sneak has to admit to not being fully immersed in the Goophone ethos and wonders how it's flown under the radar of Apple, Samsung and others for so long. But we certainly like its marketing style, which has a distinct difference to the normal cloying language employed by rival smartphone vendors.
"The Next Big Thing Is Almost Here," the firm states on its Goophone S5 page. "Goophone has always been forward best smartphone. With new design, this new generation Goophone S5 you have never seen it. Goophone S5 is world's first smartphone powered 2GHz Mediatek MT6592 true octa-core processor, along with 2GB DDR3 RAM, bring better operating experience to us."
Take that, Apple marketing department.