15 Mar 2013
Quick question for Marrissa Mayer, the no-nonsense boss of Yahoo.
Why is it that when someone asks, “How long will the CIA continue to monitor individuals who are no longer deemed to be an asset to the US government?” on Yahoo Answers, UK & Ireland, the question is quickly deleted “according to our Community Guidelines”.
Yet when that same question is asked on Yahoo Malaysia, it's just a-okay. Have all the moderators been fired in Malaysia or does the CIA's writ not run quite so freely in that part of the world? That's a Yahoo Answer we'd like.
The best answer, incidentally, was “For as long as that individual lives, and then whoever comes to his funeral will be checked out”.
15 Mar 2013
The ingenuity of the Chinese consumer electronics industry really does know no bounds. Its latest triumph is “Bluetooth gloves”.
Entrepreneurially hawked while the snow was falling across Europe in March, the company that makes them, Sefe Engineering, claims that they enable people to make and receive mobile phone calls without having to take them off or even pick up the phone.
While the tip of the little finger of the glove has a microphone, the tip of the thumb contains a mini-earphone, enabling people to literally talk through their fingers.
Not only that, they come in a variety of natty colours. It's just a shame that the weather cleared up so quickly, though, no doubt leaving “Michael” at Sefe Engineering with a warehouse full of the gloves to bang out.
They will, however, set you back the best part of forty quid to purchase.
31 Jan 2013
“Never fire the social media people until you've disarmed them of their passwords.”
That's what the lesson learnt by the administrators currently running the HMV record chain, which went into administration in mid-January.
Live-Tweeting from the mass-firing, the social media manager let rip at the bean-counters who have been running the company since its collapse.
“There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand. #hmvXFactorFiring”
“Sorry we've been quiet for so long. Under contract, we've been unable to say a word, or – more importantly – tell the truth #hmvXFactorFiring”
The Tweets concluded with a classic:
"Just heard our Marketing Director ask how do you shut down twitter?" #hmvXFactorFiring
A “keyboard tussle” subsequently ensued while the marketing manager worked out how to change the password, before HMV re-asserted control of its own Twitter feed and the offending messages were deleted.
Maybe, though, it ought to embrace such subversiveness? After all, on the afternoon of Thursday 31 January, HMV was unexpectedly trending and people were, for the first time in a generation, actually talking about it.
31 Jan 2013
So, who’s for Microsoft Office 365? Or Google Apps? Amazon Web Services? It’s the cloud and it’s the future. Unfortunately, the US government thinks it owns the cloud – at least that’s what the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012 seems to suggest.
The Act represents a ratcheting up of Bush-era “anti-terror” legislation that authorises America’s security services to tap into any foreign individual’s or company’s files and data held either on computing infrastructure owned by an American company. They don’t need to ask anyone first and, not only that, the authorities can demand a real-time feed so that they can see exactly what you are doing, and when.
And it isn’t a concern strictly for the tin-foil hatters. In 2006, the British boss of a Costa Rica-based gambling website Betonsports.com, David Carruthers, was arrested by US authorities as he changed planes at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport en route to the office.
His offence? Breaking US gambling laws, despite not being American or operating on US soil. Carruthers was charged with violations of the Wire Wager Act, the Travel Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, not to mention tax evasion and money laundering. Given all that he was lucky to “only” get 33 months in a US jail.
One can only speculate what the US reaction would have been if the roles had been reversed...
Any company that has so much as sent a CD to a buyer in Cuba, Iran or whoever else is subject to the US “sanctions de jour” could have their company’s cloud security lawfully hacked by US authorities.
Maybe the next time FISA is renewed it will add the right of “extraordinary rendition”?
So, who’s for Office 365 now?
16 Oct 2012
Older readers might be forgiven for thinking that Nintendo’s Pokémon game, surely, does not exist anymore. But they would be wrong.
However, the game has drawn the fire of campaigning animal charity PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – who claim that the whole premise of the game is “horrible”.
“The difference between real life and this fictional world full of organised animal fighting is that Pokémon games paint rosy pictures of things that are actually horrible,” claimed PETA as it unveiled a new game.
In PETA’s new game, instead of catching mythical creatures, players have to free them. Sounds fantastic.
In 2010, PETA also complained about a platform game called Super Meat Boy. It produced a parody called Super Tofu Boy in response.
In turn, the producers of the game – Team Meat – taunted PETA on Twitter: “How many PETA members does it take to change a light bulb? None, PETA can’t change anything...”
Meanwhile, before you next tuck into a cheeky haddock and chips, be sure to read PETA’s “Nine Ways Fish Are Just Like You”.
An irreverent and offbeat look at the lighter side of technology
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paul markham on And a special mention...
Philip G on Seeing through Windows 'user comments'
Jonathan on Mac users: there's one born every minute
Nintendisco on Disco divas on the game
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