July 2010 Archives

Apple tries to restore cherry

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When Apple CEO Steve Jobs chose the company's original rainbow-hued logo, Downtime is not sure whether he was aware that, in some circles, the bite from the apple represented the loss of virginity. Not only has Jobs whitened the logo, but Apple is also trying avoid any association with mankind's basic instincts.

Apparently, Blonde and Wet, the Complete Story and three other erotic stories were the top four on the iPad top 10 booklist earlier this week. By the afternoon all four were replaced by others, including the even racier but less erotic The Third Man, Peter Mandelson's autobiography about his time with the previous two prime ministers.

In otherwise unrelated news, the press has been full of reports about the increasing popularity of operations to "restore virginity". Downtime fears that Apple's e-book list censorship has a lot in common with the operation - as old hacks know, credibility is like virginity, it just takes one prick...

Free apps cost £1,200

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Have iPhone will download free apps. What could be simpler or more alluring? But it could also be extremely costly, as teenager Ben Kitching found out.

He popped his SIM into a second-hand iPhone and began downloading free apps, but the SIM was attached to an account that did not allow unlimited downloads.

Each time he downloaded an app free from Apple, it was costing a fortune in wireless data charges.

Behind every carefree, technology enabled teenager there is usually a parent picking up the bill. In this case, it was young Kitching's father.

The network operator eventually waived the data costs as a gesture of goodwill, but Downtime suspects the move had something to do with the fact that the lad's father is a lawyer.

Facebook joke's on the joker

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Branding his now former friend Raymond Bryce as a paedophile on Facebook seemed like a good joke to Jeremiah Barber, but the joke was finally on him.

Bryce took legal action and the court also failed to see the joke, forcing Barber to pay up £10,000 in libel damages.

A warning to everyone to think before they post potentially libellous statements, because their intended targets may have the last laugh, all the way to the bank.

iPad is not like reading a book

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Apple is being sued by a group of users who argue that its marketing claims that the iPad is just like reading a book, are false due to the fact that the must-have device seems to get hot and bothered when it gets hot.

According to the complaint, the iPad overheats outdoors and shuts down,- unlike a legacy, paper book, which appears not to be affected by warm conditions, although users may get a bit hot under the collar.


Downime can report that neither the book nor the iPad passed the bath test. Anyone fancy a wet iPad?


Get your motormouse running

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Downtime has often wondered what is the best seller out of all the apparently pointless items in the executive toys section of in-flight duty-free shopping brochures.

(Yes, we know, this makes us rather sad. But we can't afford an iPad to keep us otherwise occupied on long and boring flights).

Well, now we know. It's the motormouse - a car-shaped wireless mouse that has become the fastest selling item on British Airways and Emirates long-haul flights.



What does this tell us about long-haul passengers - or at least those that see 12 hours on a plane as a retail opportunity? Clearly they must be the types who wield enough corporate power to have their subordinates fawn in mock amusement at the wry humour of their self-deprecatingly self-conscious supercar-based mouse.

"Look at me," they try to say. "I may drive a massive and expensive supercar, but I'm humble enough to take the mickey out of myself by having one as a wireless mouse too."

Readers should make no assumptions from the fact that Motormouse is 40% owned by James Caan - the entrepreneur, not the actor - who invested after inventor David Bailey (not the photographer) pitched the product on the BBC's Dragons' Den TV show.

Of course, it could be that most people do simply think the Motormouse is a bit of harmless gadget fun, and Downtime is just a bit jealous of people who fly business class and drive massive expensive supercars, but we'll leave that to readers' good judgement to decide.

Echelon's big ears pick up email whispers

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Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange is sceptical of email as a safe conduit, even Hushmail, the Canadian private email service. "It's a honeypot," he said, meaning that the security agencies watch it because it is private, and they look to see who is sending, to identify "persons of interest".
As for regular electronic comms, "they read it all," Assange says. That would give the lie to official assertions that the governments of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had given up Echelon, the global electronic eavesdropping system. More likely they got a better one.
Downtime trusts that the web-like Echelon listening station on Ascension Island,  pictured last year in London's Photographers' Gallery, is still in operation, if only to pick up and relay calls from unlucky sailors in the Southern Ocean.

Why snail-mail is best for whistleblowers

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gave some useful advice to journalists about protecting whistleblowers. Basically don't use Google for anything, especially not e-mail, nor to store compromising documents in the cloud.
Google is very unlikely to go to court to protect your privacy, he said. Better to use snail-mail, and to encrypt the CD or memory stick that contains the good stuff. Of course, you still need to get the decrypt key to your recipient. But that should be less of a problem, unless you include it in the mailed package.
Downtime reckons you could also try that cute steganography stuff that the newly-swopped Russian spies were using. Yes, they got caught, but the spooks are probably watching you less closely than flame-haired lookers with come-hither eyes.

US Army looks to Wikileaks for help

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Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has an nice anecdote about the story that made the whistleblower website world-famous. The site published a list of the kit that the US Army took to Iraq, complete with the parts serial numbers, totals and cost. It also ran through the logistics of how to acquire more.
According to Assange, it wasn't long before GI joes, stuck in the Iraqi desert with punctures and broken half-shafts, were hooking into the Wikileaks website to check serial numbers and how to order replacements. "It seems our take on how to order more was easier to understand than the official manual," he says.
Given that Wikileaks needs funding, Downtime suggests it should offer to translate army-speak into something the rest of us can understand. The US Department of Defense can afford it.

News flash - geeky girls eat dinner

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Mature readers may remember Robert X Cringely, who wrote Accidental Empires, one of the first good looks at the Silicon Valley heroes of the 70s and 80s. The subtitle of the tome, which is still a Good Read, was "How the boys of Silicon Valley make their millions, battle foreign competition, and still can't get a date".
Downtime suspects suitable date material may be easier to find these days. Founded in frustration in 2005 by Sarah Blow, the sisterhood of girl geeks known as Geek Girl Dinners, has gone global, well, at least as far as Skopje, Macedonia. It is even attracting sponsorship from Google.
Judging from some of the venues, girl geeks would be unhappy with the traditional diet of two day old pizza crusts, stale crisps and flat cola. You have been warned.

Whitehall websites not alone in getting axed, iPhone apps get hit too

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The BBC has discovered that various government departments have been developing iPhone apps, including an NHS drinks tracker which cost £10,000 to develop, a DVLA how to change your wheel masterclass costing £40,000 to produce and a job finder app for those recently unemployed senior executives who managed to retain their company iPhones.

The JobCentre Plus app has already been downloaded 53,000 times so there must be a lot of wealthy jobseekers out there.

No doubt once cabinet minister Francis Maude and his cronies at the Efficiency and Reform Office have got through their review of the government's 820 websites, they'll start checking out the apps - if they've got iPhones that is.

Not even the Queen is immune from IT budget cuts

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According to the latest report on Royal spending from the Keeper of the Privy Purse, the Queen's IT budget was slashed by 50% last year, down from £400,000 in 2008 to £200,000 last year.

Apparently one of last year's IT priorities was the implementation of "a system to enable the real time back-up of all data to the Household's Business Continuity site".

Where does one keep one's backup site, Downtime wonders? In the east wing of the Palace? Perhaps the servant's quarters in remote Balmoral?

Other IT details contained in the Royal household's latest annual report reveal the connected nature of today's Royal family.

"Buckingham Palace is linked to other Royal palaces via private wires and fibre optic links and during the year additional links and software upgrades were implemented for resilience and a full disaster recovery test was carried out," says the report.

And not to be left out of the latest trends, QE2 has gone QE2.0:

"The Monarchy website and web presence has been continually developed since the relaunch of www.royal.gov.uk in February 2009 to keep up with new media trends and technological advances," says the report.

"The website attracts up to 300,000 visitors a week at peak times. Social Media is becoming an increasingly important medium for disseminating assets and information about the work of the Royal Family. In June 2009 a British Monarchy Twitter account was launched which now has over 40,000 followers."

And it looks like a busy year ahead for the Queen's IT team, whose priorities in 2010 will include "looking at various business processes within the Household with the aim of automating as much as possible and ensuring that these processes can cope with the increased workloads expected in association with the Diamond Jubilee in 2012."

Downtime is sure that one's IT manager is in for a busy, if budget-restricted, year ahead.

Solace for the gutted

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If, like about a billion others, you feel that England was robbed of Frank Lampard's goal, peacen your hearts: elecrrical retailer Curry's is going to give you the benefit of the doubt that the ball crossed the line, even though the record books say it didn't.

Before the tournamanet Curry's promised to take £10 off the price of a new TV set for every goal England scored. That was not exactly a delirious derieiction of risk management to start with, but it does mean that punters who signed up before the show will now get £40 off a new TV rather than £30. 

Unfortunately, replays on the new box will not change the scorline.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2010 is the previous archive.

August 2010 is the next archive.

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