Harry Potter and the Badly-Researched Press Release

| More
(With apologies to JK Rowling)

The sound of a public relations owl tapping on the window of Harry Potter's office caused him to look up, suddenly.

This was odd. Since Harry had left the news desk at the Daily Prophet to take up a more hands off role as director of content on the Muggle Desk the hordes of wizarding PRs didn't bother him so much, preferring instead to harass underlings such as Rita Skeeter.

Harry opened the window and the owl fluttered in to alight on his desk. He unscrolled the little missive from its outstretched talons, and began to read the press release.

"Three crowned best network for commuters who like to talk, Vodafone for commuters on 3G, and EE for commuters on 4G," read Harry. He made a mental note to pass it on to the Muggle technology correspondent.

It turned out, Harry read, that a survey conducted by the agency's client had found that almost a third of mobile internet tasks and one in seven voice calls attempted on commuter train routes had failed during testing.

The testing found that Vodafone subscribers got the best 3G data service, with download speeds hitting 2Mbps. EE offered the best 4G service to commuters, with an average download speed of 5.6Mbps.

The survey also looked at voice quality and station connectivity, and found that St Pancras had by far and away the worst connectivity. Here engineers experienced an average of 99 voice and packet data failures during testing.

There was a quote from a spokesman, too.

Harry read the quote and considered what it said. Then, a puzzled look playing across his face, he picked up a small dish of powder from his desk, and walked over to the fireplace. He threw in a handful and spoke loud and clearly the address he wanted. Then, he stepped into the flames, emerging seconds later in a well-appointed, book-lined study at St Ermintrude's, the wizarding college at the University of Oxford.

"Hermione," said Harry, for it was her office. "How did I get here just now?"

"Are you feeling quite all right, Harry? By floo powder, obviously, which was introduced by JK Rowling in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and later, if you remember, Sirius Black used it to talk to you through a fireplace."

Harry showed her the letter. "Read that quote."

"Leaves on the track, the wrong kind of snow, having to stand up all the way to work and back - commuters have enough to contend with without the kind of mobile connectivity problems we're revealing today," read Hermione out loud. "It's hard to believe we're in 2014 and in a situation whereby a trained wizard would have a tough time getting a signal on the Hogwarts Express while it's sitting in St Pancras."

"I've never called you on the telephone, have I?" said Harry.

"Well of course not. We have owls. Why would we need a phone? So impersonal," said Hermione. "I'm not even sure I own one."

"Arthur Weasley gave me an iPhone once," said Harry, "but it's just sitting in a drawer. I don't know who he thinks I'd call on it."

"No, mobile signal is certainly one thing we wizards never have to worry about," said Hermione.

"But there's something else..." began Harry.

"Yes," said Hermione. "The Hogwarts Express leaves from King's Cross. It's never gone from St Pancras except that one year when there was Voldemort on the line at Stevenage."

"Typical Muggles," said Harry. "How could they make such a silly mistake?"

"Yes I'd suggest they check our books out of the library to catch up on a bit of light reading," said Hermione.

Nadella gets an instant taste of bad karma

| More

Men should be particularly careful when giving opinion on as sensitive a topic as gender disparity in the corporate world. Especially if the man in question is the chief executive of one of the largest IT companies of the world and is addressing an event celebrating women.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has learnt that the hard way.

Speaking at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix, Nadella said that women need not ask for a raise and instead should trust the system to give them their dues. He said this as a response to the question - what advice he would give to women who are not comfortable asking for pay rises.

He even went on to say that not asking for raise was "good karma" that would help a boss realise the employee could be trusted and should have more responsibility. (Microsoft employees take cue!).

"That might be one of the initial 'super powers,' that quite frankly, women who don't ask for a raise have

Good Karma? I don't even know what that means. Maybe he wants us to believe in divine intervention for workplace success.

Nadella got (and still getting) a taste of bad karma instantly as his comment drew negative responses on Twitter.  

In a forced u-turn, he wrote an email to Microsoft employees saying: I answered that question completely wrong. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask."

He also took to Twitter to say he was "inarticulate". Inarticulate? It was downright condescending.

Microsoft's own workplace diverisity data showed that only 29% of Microsoft's general workforce are women and only 17% of its tech employees are women.

Dear Satya Nadella,

Gender disparity at work is a touchy issue and women feel very, very, very strongly about it.

Computer Weekly's own survey shows that:

  • The average number of women in technology teams is 12%, down from 15% last year
  • 71% of men have asked for a pay rise compared to 61% of women

Always remember Satya, "Hell has no wrath like a woman scorned."

And oh, while on the same subject, David Cameron, please don't ever utter the words "calm down dear" to us.

-         a peeved woman in IT

Office old boy in court after sacking worker in a dream

| More
Being sacked is never good but being told you are no longer required or not wanted by text, email or via any other modern form of communication is impersonal. Not only does it make it easy for the sacker but also removes the possibility of retaliation.

But one senior/old staffer at Downtime has taken it too far. The coward appeared in the dream of another member the team and sacked him there.

The individual has been spoken to by more senior staff and told that appearing in a colleague's dream and sacking them is a sacking offence.

The case was taken to the European Court of Human Rights, with the individual claiming unfair dismissal on the grounds that he had no control over his actions in someone's dream.

But the judge hearing the case said evidence suggested that the individual in question has a history of ruining the dreams of many an aspiring young recruit.

Is it sh*t or just a sh*t idea

| More
A major communications firm has taken time and presumably paid money to carry out a survey of where SME workers get inspired.

The finding in the survey that has been sent out to the press is the fact 1% of business owners have their best ideas when they are using the toilet. Another 3% said they have their ideas when they take their dogs for walks, presumably to perform the canine equivalent.

An executive at the company said it doesn't matter where good ideas come from, but thankfully did not go into anymore detail

Well I think the idea to promote this part of the survey, rather than the fascinating fact that about half of business owners got their inspiration at their desk, was thought of by one of the 1% because it's shit.

London Zoo threatens office broadband

| More

During the World Cup this year, offices across the UK likely saw a spike in bandwidth usage as keen fans streamed live matches to their desks.

But the squeeze isn't over yet, as London Zoo is working with Google to provide Live YouTube feeds of the Otter, Meerkat and Tortoise enclosures, allowing you to view the cute little critters as they get on with their day.

In addition to ensuring no one gets any work done, this can also take its toll on bandwidth - so network administrators should keep a close eye on usage...if they can tear their eyes away from the fluffy vlogging fiends.

The cameras are acting as a trial for the future use of television whitespaces to monitor and protect endangered animals.

Downtime expects a huge spike on Tuesdays as depressed employees struggle to cope with the demands of the working week.







Canadians want to use fridges to make payments

| More
The Canadians are not really famous for that much apart from them being likened to Americans (The US variety) too often for their liking.

But they are about to put themselves on the map. Breaking news that 22% of Canadians want to be able to make payments using their fridges must be something that can inject a bit of identity into the Canadians. "You know the people that pay for stuff using their fridges."

Anyway a PayPal-commissioned survey of 1504 Canadians found that over 300 said they wanted to pay for stuff with their fridges. I know there are some big people up there and the potential to carry fridges to the shops on sledges, but in a world of mobile phones and contactless wristbands why would anyone want to carry a fridge around?

To be different that's why. While the Yanks in Silicon Valley make the financial transaction something that can be as discreet as scratching your ear the Canadians are going to carry fridges around.

Fast food not finance messaging service should be target of sanction hungry politicians

| More
Global financial messaging service the SWIFT is so tired of being asked by politicians to do their jobs it has had to come out with a statement to tell its stalkers to go away.

Following the likes of UK Prime Minister David Cameron pressuring  Swift to disconnect Russian organisations in protest against the countries activities in Russia as well as a calls for a similar expulsion for Israel, Swift has come out fighting.

It wants to be left alone and wants politicians to do their own jobs. Downtime is sick of all this bullying of IT companies by politicians.

Why can't they force companies like McDonalds to sanction certain countries. The fast food chain has  hundreds of outlets in Russia and  in Israel. It sold more than $1.5 billion worth of meals to Russian customers in 2013. Hit them where it hurts, their stomachs, well the colon eventually.

Scrap that idea. It won't work. A recent self-imposed sanction in Russia saw health officials close 12 McDonalds outlets. Perhaps the Russians have better taste.

Internet plumbing

| More

man-loo.jpgApparently, half of Brits don't know how the Internet works - at least according to some research from Tata Communications that was published last week. Presumably the other half probably don't know what happens after you flush the loo.

Some people would argue: "We're not teaching all our kids to plumb. We're teaching them to code..." Perhaps we should. Do you know how much a plumber charges these days?

We asked Malcolm (pictured) from IT to find a solution to the big problem facing our colleagues after one of the downtime team paid a visit to the toilet. Time to flush the cache mate.

Extreme environment calls for radical datacentre dress sense

| More

Hold the front page...Lenovo has a new range of servers....what's more they work hot and cold. Extreme hot and cold, at least that's what Tom Goodwin, head of server and storage at Lenovo UK, showed in his presentation about the new machines. So we have an operating range of 45°F (ie 7°C) to 113°C (235 °F). Datacentre manager Tom (pictured below), strips off in preparation for doing some routine maintenance in the hot aisle of his company's new Lenovo-powered datacentre.

cold.jpg

India's Mars expedition searches the red planet for cheap IT staff

| More

The search for non-linear business models amongst the India IT services community has proved too much and forced the nation's huge IT services industry to remain in its comfort zone and look for low cost staff.

Well I say comfort zone but that is probably unfair as it involves travelling over 225 million kilometers from earth.

Indian IT companies have been criticised for being just about low cost labour. Critics say the success of Indian IT giants is just down to cheap labour undercutting western competitors. But just as it seemed the Indian companies were doing much more with value add services providing new business models, thus disconnecting the link between more and more full time equivalents, they have reverted to type.

Downtime can reveal that rather than continue on the road to non-linear business models IT India has decided that the search for intelligent life in other parts of the universe could be the answer to revenue growth. The strategy was driven after planets, known as Exoplanets that could support life, were recently discovered beyond our solar system.

Like in the late 90s when the big Western IT services players overlooked the opportunities of the Millemium Bug, allowing the Indian firms to set up camp in the West, they face being beaten to the untapped labour pools of Mars and beyond. The years of space exploration by the US has made it so focused on science that it has not thought about the business opportunites the red planet, and other yet to be discovered planets, offer.

It is hoped that once intelligent life is found on another planet, an internet link can be set up with off-planet IT services available for next to nothing. The benefits don't end there. Labour laws are expected to be less progressive than on-planet equivalents and the 687 day Martian year also guarantees corporates more for their money.

Communication problems will be overcome by the Babel Fish and the inter-galactic transfer (IGT)  will replace the intra-company transfer (ICT) for staff to be transported to work onsite on earth.

NASscomm does have a familiar ring to it.







My phone has run out, any plans for the weekend?

| More
Talking to yourself out loud could soon become the chosen method of keeping laptops and smartphones running during long periods on the road.

With batteries often the weak link in computer hardware, businesses could turn to engineers in Canada.  Engineers at the École de Technologie Supérieure in Montreal have built a chin strap that harnesses energy from chewing and turns it into electricity.

Many offices are thinking of selling power back to the national grid.

So when your phone is running low on fuel the banal office question: "What have you got planned for the weekend" might actually have a purpose.

Jail term for palace guardsman for dancing? Where's your sense of humour MoD?

| More

A video of a Buckingham Palace guardsman who was marching comically and showing his dance moves has become a YouTube sensation. The video has gone viral with nearly two million views. But what's more bizarre than the guardsman's moves is the MoD's reaction to it.

The three and a half minute video shows the guardsman - in his full uniform and a rifle in hand - swaying, marching in slow motion, pirouetting, bending over, kneeling down, and even dusting his rifle numerous times. 

English: Buckingham Palace Guard

Buckingham Palace Guard 

The MoD is seeking to take appropriate action against the guardsman nicknamed 'Private Dancer' which may include a fine of £1,000 or up to three weeks in prison. He may also have to undergo hours of physical tests and practice at a military prison in Essex's Colchester.

Newspaper reports suggest that the Army has gone to the extent of seeking legal advice before taking action against the guardsman because currently there is no directive on how to deal with a guardsman who pirouettes.

The unidentified guardsman was perhaps just adding a little bit of fun to his otherwise boring job and playing up to the crowd. Little did he expect it to become an internet sensation and face fine. Discipline, maybe yes, but jail? Get some sense of humour MoD!

Here's the video for your amusement:

Blackpool donkeys saddle up for contactless payments

| More
blackpooldonkey.jpg

A few years back, donkeys in Israel were made to don Wi-Fi enabled collars to allow riders to check emails while enjoying the views. Well now the famous donkey rides of Blackpool are accepting contactless payments from tech-savvy tourists.

Mark Ineson, owner of Real Donkeys, claimed that a lot of beach-goers don't carry cash, and often had to disappoint their children as they were unable to pay.

So Ineson approached Barclaycard for a solution, and provided Dillon the donkey with a contactless-payment enabled saddle.

When asked what he thought about the innovation, the donkey claimed it was much more efficient as PINs and cash can be a pain in the ass.

Image: Barclaycard

Free childcare with programming lessons thrown in

| More
Tired parents, who spend their lives obeying the orders of small people, are being lambasted by researchers for not realising that kids at school will now learn to code.

In fact research of 1,000 five to 11-year-olds and their parents, carried out by Ocado Technology has revealed that 65% of parents are unaware that their primary school children will be learning to code at school.

Why is this surprising? By the time a child starts school parents can't look beyond free babysitting from a school. Clearly the 35% that do know of this are the lucky ones with kind grandparents providing free childcare.

In similar research when asked what they did at school today 98% of kids said "nuffin.'"

Fancy a car-crash picture for all your image queries on Google?

| More

Another day, another internet cock-up.

On Tuesday, users searching for any pictures on Google Images - kittens, puppies, flowers, food or even Google's own logo - were flooded with the same picture of a Russian car accident in the results page.

The worrying image was not an isolated incident, with users from Germany, Brazil, Canada all taking to Twitter and Google's own user forums to question whether its servers were hacked. While it did not affect all users, some users were repeatedly treated to the car crash image literally for all their queries on different browsers even when they had cleared their cache.

google test.jpg

"Looks like Google Images got hacked by someone in Russia(?) First few rows appears as normal after that it shows this [Image of the car crash]," said a user on Twitter.

The search giant has not yet commented on whether Google Images has been hacked or if it's a search bug or an error from one of its new interns.

Downtime senses nothing new here as Facebook clearly is hacked by the ALS Ice Bucket challenge and Twitter by #Emmys or even #GoogleImageshacked by now. Ho-hum.







K9 privacy campaigner fakes death on Google, or was it killed?

| More
Not to be outdone by its two legged friends one dog in Chile decided to fake its own death on Google.

Back in June just for a laugh, a garage owner in Edinburgh faked an assault while a Google StreetView camera was driving by. A bit of clever police work soon revealed that it was a prank and the victim was not dead or even injured.

But proving that dogs are not just smelly stupid creatures, one dog in Chile has got Google stumped. A Google StreetView car has an image of the dog running in the road followed by another picture of it lying in the road. Such is the uncertainty surrounding the episode, despite a smoking gun, officials at Google are currently investigating whether the dog is dead or alive.

There are suspicions it was all a set up to damage Google's name as the dog is thought to be linked to a dog privacy group against Google Streetview. The  group is attempting to get the same blurring rights that humans get on StreetView,

The dogs are said to send messages via the barking medium to alert each other when a StreetView car is approaching.

Greggs uses Twitter to turn bad press into brand engagement

| More

On Googling Greggs today (as many are being encouraged to do so on social media), you might notice that its logo is not quite right.

greggs_downtime.png

The logo which Google associates with the brand now reads: "Greggs - Providing sh*t to scum for over 70 years"

Quick to respond to the torrent of Twitter comments, Greggs' social media team have handled the whole situation pretty well, tempting Google with a tray of donuts if they fix the problem

Look who's talking

| More

Statues across London and Manchester are finding their voices, thanks to Sing London.

Sing London have commissioned writers and actors to animate 35 public statues across London and Manchester.

Russell Tovey brings Alan Turing to life in Manchester, while Ed Stoppard reads words written by Antony Horowitz to voice Sherlock Holmes in London.

Passersby just have to enter a short URL into their browsers, tap an NFC enabled handset, or scan a QR code to hear the statue's monologue.  

That's torn it. Where are Man U supporters meant to code now?

| More

A kick in the face for Wi-Fi suppliers who talk of little else but their latest stadium installation?

That's how Downtime first reacted to the news that Manchester United was banning people from taking tablets and laptops into Old Trafford.

But then we received an email from a fine practitioner of the arcane and mystifying art of public relations, who shall remain blessedly nameless to spare him the indignity.

"With Manchester United announcing that football fans can no longer bring laptops and tablets into their ground many techy football fans have been left wondering how they can write code whilst at Old Trafford," said the plucky PR, whose only crime was to be asked to email a load of daft nonsense to every technology journalist in the country.

Well where indeed? It's becoming a real problem for a lot of us.

Indeed, just a couple of weeks ago your intrepid reporter was at London's O2, watching the shameless old farts known as Monty Python try to wring a few more pounds out of their 40-year old material, when suddenly I was seized with the urge to bash out a bit of Python myself.

I reached for my trusty desktop and then remembered I was sitting in a 20,000 capacity arena paying over a hundred pounds to watch two elderly men falling about over a dead parrot. And worst of all, my computer was several miles away in the office! Foiled again!

"Curses! Damn and blast it all!" I cried.

"Now nobody will ever know of my programming genius. My app, which would have brought water to the deserts, reversed global warming, solved hunger, ended war in the Middle East, cured Ebola, and won me hearts around the world, shall remain forever uncoded!" I lamented, to the puzzlement of my fellow comedy enthusiasts.

"Shut up, you silly prat," one of them (my Dad) was heard to remark. "He's going to do the line about pining for the fjords."

Well it turns out I should have known better, for as my newfound friend went onto explain, what I should have done was download his client's smartphone app, which would have allowed me to control my computer remotely from my smartphone, and tinker away to my heart's content whilst missing all the fun and simultaneously irritating the pants off of everyone around me.

I suppose what we have learned from this is, in a very real and meaningful sense, nothing.

Brits prove they are obsessed with the weather

| More

Britons download the BBC's weather app 19,000 times a day, with eight million downloads since its June launch date. This makes it the fastest growing app for the broadcaster.

As temperatures have soared this summer, mixed with sudden onslaught of thunderstorms, the UK has been turning to the trusty BBC to consistently check if the weather would last until the evening retreat to the beer garden or the weekend BBQ.

13.8million people visited once a week in July has temperatures hit 30 degrees.

The most popular time for checking the weather during the week is at 7am - brolly or no brolly? - while Brits give themselves a lie-in on the weekends and check the weather at 8am on Saturdays and 9am on Sundays.

But clearly we're living for the weekend in the summer months, because the Beeb says that Friday sees the highest number of visits to the app. 

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Archives

Recent Comments

Vballdiva on Wife claims half hubby's ... : It makes me wonder why people today just think abo...
grammo oro on Persecuted sons club... : By insisting on the prosecution of Julian Assange,...
Stephen Fidl on Android users secretly lu... : It comes down to price and choice. Apple makes be...
DaveP on How to friend a felon... : Ian Flemming : From Russia With LIKE ...
32 inch plas on World Cup = good excuse f... : Rule of thumb is to get the biggest screen you can...
M. on Document merge delays Cas... : Has a full version of the verdict emerged online, ...
Mark Kobayas on Y-CIO, it's fun to play a... : It's looks like someone from Paddy Power has infil...
Babe Pig in on Cops seek tweeting PigSpo... : Oi, you forget to mention that while it sounds lik...
Kelly Davies on How to be Confused.com ab... : Hi, I look after the PR at Confused.com - thanks f...
Ken Symes on Blessed be the smartphone... : This is a great story! If I lived in Nova Scotia, ...

Recent Assets

  • man-loo.jpg
  • cold.jpg
  • 96829051.jpg
  • blackpooldonkey.jpg
  • google test.jpg
  • greggs_downtime.png
  • monkey.jpg
  • willy.jpg
  • Downtime_MH17_Associatedpress_tweet.png
  • Analysis-approach.jpg

 

-- Advertisement --