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Blue Ticks of Doom confirm your WhatsApp messages are being ignored

07 Nov 2014

Sneak loves WhatsApp. It's fun and easy to use and so what if it's owned by Facebook? The company only has his best interests at heart. In fact, he was pleased when Facebook bought it, as he hoped they would fix the problem that seemed to be plaguing him - undelivered messages.

To Sneak the uniform lack of response to messages he sent to friends, potential lovers and even family was clear: WhatsApp wasn't delivering the message. Sure the two little ticks appeared confirming delivery, but if that was the case - WHY DOES NO-ONE EVER REPLY? It was the fault of the technology, surely?

However, WhatsApp has now dealt a cruel blow with the inclusion of 'blue ticks' that inform you when your messages have been read - and invariably not replied to.

The note to Steve from accounts on Friday at 5:25pm asking if he fancied a pint? Read and ignored. The message to Louise, the nice coder he met at the SQL Singles night, that took literally days to compose? Dismissed. The message to mum looking for a crumb of comfort after his beloved cat Mr Tickles died? Utterly snubbed.

These little Blue Ticks of Doom, as Sneak has dubbed them, have no doubt already caused misery and heartbreak for millions around the world who can no longer delude themselves that their missives have still not been read, never arrived in the first place, or were intercepted by the National Security Agency.

No, the cold hard truth is that they were read, the eyes rolled, and they were ignored. Still at least you love me, right Mr Tickles 2? Hey, Mr Tickles, come back ...

Amazon, Google and Facebook flying machines set for collision course

05 Mar 2014

Much like the way the Oscar-winning film Gravity demonstrated the danger of space junk crashing into everything, Sneak has discovered a critical flaw in the plans of the tech industry's biggest players.

Amazon, Google and Facebook all have intentions for flying vehicles, intended to spread internet access and DVD box sets of Mrs Brown's Boys, but what if those worlds collide?

Sneak has drawn a diagram to demonstrate:

A terrifying look at the future of technology

Notice how Google's Project Loon balloon sails on air currents at varying levels high up in the atmosphere to deliver internet access. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg's model aeroplane – AKA the Titan Aerospace drone – is flying at a stable altitude doing the same job. Let's then envisage Amazon's ludicrous Prime Air drone delivery vehicle getting caught in a gust of wind. Disaster. No internet or mediocre comedy for anyone.

If space junk can collide with satellites in space, imagine what will happen in our world below the atmosphere: it's a lot smaller than space, as it turns out.

As much as these companies don't like to work with each other, they have to form some sort of united airspace agreement to ensure we aren't suddenly caught in a hailstorm of expensive flying tech.

You have been warned.

Facebook mulls 'sympathise' button as global social media trends are revealed

10 Dec 2013

Facebook has revealed that it has been working on a 'sympathise' button to replace the 'like' function we've all become so familiar with.

During a Q&A session at a Facebook Compassion Research Day, the firm attempted to find out how to better engage users emotionally and increase harmony on the social network between friends who may not be getting along.

For example, one presentation showed how reminding a user how long they've known a friend for and the interests they share reduces the likelihood of them following through with a complaint about a post.

Another, the BBC reports, involves taking into account the mood of a post and to then display a sympathise or like button accordingly. There are, however, no plans to launch this feature at the moment.

It is an interesting idea, although Sneak thinks it would be much better to give users the choice to 'sympathise' with any post. For example, the most common life events for Facebook users this year were new relationships, engagements and marriages. Want to subtly show your disapproval? 'Sympathise' with someone who's got married. Checked in at a bad venue? Sympathise.

Speaking of check-ins, the UK's most popular destination for users tagging themselves is The O2 in London, while the most discussed topic of the year globally was Pope Francis. The royal baby only ranked third, with Facebook users seemingly following the papal story more religiously. Bizarrely, in the UK the royal baby ranked even lower, fourth behind Andy Murray, Margaret Thatcher and the UEFA Champions League final.

Sneak offers his sympathy to Borussia Dortmund.

Facebook use makes you fat

15 Jan 2013

Health crisis

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.

Facebook lets users message Zuckerberg direct for mere $100

11 Jan 2013


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?

Idiotic Facebook advert compares site to chairs and doorbells

05 Oct 2012

Empty classroom with traditional tables and chairs and a blackboard

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.

To quote:

"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."

Winklevoss twins throw $1m at social network for investors

17 Sep 2012

Winklevoss Twins

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.

Tech industry next in the firing line from The Thick of It author

03 Sep 2012

Accountancy Age Awards 2010 (177)

Sneak has long been an admirer of the satirical cyanide that drips from the pen of Armando Iannucci, although thanks to office politics, Sneak has been forced to tone down the expletives when doing our best Malcolm Tucker impressions.

But while Sneak has been an avid view of series such as The Thick of It and Veep, it's hard not to have a few misgivings about Iannucci's next project after Iannucci told The Observer he has already penned a script for a show set in Silicon Valley.

Obviously, there's no shortage of juicy material for Iannucci to get his fangs into, with the likes of Apple and Facebook ripe for tearing into while the ridiculous marketing babble that splutters from some executives is almost beyond parody.

But Sneak can't help wondering if Iannuci's famed eye for detail might need a little fine tuning, when dealing with the denizens of the Valley.

“Microsoft, Google, Facebook: you have these twenty-somethings who have a way into billions of households,” Iannucci told the Observer.

Well, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg might still be a bit fresh faced. But Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page are pushing 40. As for Microsoft, Sneak doubts either Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates can remember the last time they were mistaken for twenty-somethings.

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