September 2011 Archives

Could Dublin be outdoing London's Tech City as the technology capital of Europe?

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Twitter has become the latest tech giant to set up shop in the Emerald Isle, joining the likes of Google and Facebook to make Dublin its new international home.

No doubt Cameron has been overturning  Number 10's  furniture in a Bullingdon Club-style fit of rage at the thought of his beloved Tech City being overlooked - again.

So, apart from the Guinness, lucky shamrocks and The Riverdance , what's the big appeal? Could it possibly be that Ireland has the lowest corporation tax in Europe at 12.5%, more than half the present 26% UK rate?

Looks like the government's attempts to attract big technology players to nurture a Silicon Valley-style technology hub have once again been thwarted.

Having said that, isn't the argument for low corporation tax supposed to be something about wealth creation? Hmm. Judging by the state of the Irish economy, I'm not sure that scheme's working out so well for them, either.

Best laid plans, and all that...

Watch out Twitter there is a greener version of you ready for global roll out

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With social media companies failing environmentalists, messages in bottles might take over.

With green activists unhappy with the lack of carbon footprint monitoring at social media giants there could be a re-emergence of the use of messages in a bottle.

Well if the success of one resident of Canada is anything to go by. In the last 20 years a guy called Harold Hackett has sent out over 4,800 messages in a bottle from Prince Edward Island, along Canada's Atlantic coastline.

Since 1996 he has received over 3,100 responses from all over the world. He is now in contact with all these people.

See the story on the BBC here.

The great benefit for the user is they have to drink a whole bottle before they message someone.

Virtual monkeys, typewriters and Shakespeare

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Virtual monkeys have randomly re-created Shakespeare's poem, A Lover's Complaint along with 99.99% of Shakespeare's other works.

US programmer Jesse Anderson set up the project in August 2011 to test the theory that monkeys randomly smashing at typewriters would eventually re-create works by Shakespeare.

However, instead of real monkeys, Anderson used Hadoop, Amazon EC2, and Ubuntu Linux to create "virtual" monkeys.

Downtime thinks it's only a matter of time before the monkeys re-write Computer Weekly articles.

Satirical blog causes a stir in the Maldives

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After a satirical blog stating the Maldives was set to be omitted from the Times Atlas of the World was published the country's acting high commissioner, who is based in London, wrote to the Daily Telegraph's editor demanding clarification and an apology.

The blog in question claimed the island nation was to be left out of the Times Atlas of the World. The author, James Delingpole who himself is a climate change sceptic, said the next edition would omit some low-lying areas at risk of rising sea levels. 

The tounge-in-cheek post was put together following comments from scientists who said the  Atlas had exaggerated the scale of ice-cover reduction in Greenland.

According to the blog it wasn't just the Maldives that is set to be turned into a modern day Atlantis, "Tuvalu" and "major parts of Bangladesh" are also at risk. 

The post even contained fictitious quotes, saying that in map-making, "emotional truth" was more important than actual truth.

The Maldives acting high commissioner said the entry had implied that his country's climate change plight was a con-trick, and it was despicable and hurtful.

However, he added that Maldivians had as strong a sense of humour as anyone. 

Facebook users rushing to freshen up music collection

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Facebook's new music sharing tool has made me think I should freshen up my music collection. Hang the DJ and The Boy With a Thorn in his side might embarrass my kids, while my compilation including Neil Diamond's Love on the Rocks might embarrass me.

Apparently it will be possible for friends to actually listen into what you are listening to. Where does this stand with copyright law. You don't want to be getting yourself arrested for enjoying a bit of ABBA.

PETA to go .XXX

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who are no strangers to having nude women, celebrities and even former adult film stars, pose for their cause, has filed the necessary paperwork in order to launch a site in the new .xxx domain. 

Whilst many other non-profit organisations are moving to try and protect their web addresses from being replicated in the .xxxdomain, PETA has decided to embrace it. 

The site, if and when it goes live in December, will initially present visitors with adult content alongside images of PETA's more raunchy campaigns. However, that will then be followed by shocking images and videos showing mistreatment of animals. 

Lindsay Rajt, PETA's associate director of campaigns, said, "We're hoping to reach a whole new audience of people, some of whom will be shocked by graphic images that maybe they didn't anticipate seeing when they went to the PETA triple-X site." 

"When they are confronted with images we hope it will make them stop and think and get them talking " 

Somehow I can't see people mentioning this to their friends at the pub if it happened to them.

Do you hate your colleagues?

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Don't you just hate the people you work with? Samsung thinks so. It asked 1500 workers what they most hate about their work colleagues.And apparently, given Samsung's a printer maker, that printer jams get people really peeved ie someone has inconsiderately printed out something, the printer jammed, and they didn't bother fixing it..

Annoying mobile phone ring tones also featured in the list at number six (23%). And anyone who thinks having a Vindaloo at their desk for lunch better watch out: apparently, eating smelly food in the office annoyed almost one in five workers(19%).

Over one in 10 (12%) get annoyed by colleagues that never offer to make tea or coffee. In contrast, only 4% said that nothing in their office annoyed them.

In our own extensive study, Dowtime, thinks that people who booze at their desk should be banned, unless they offer it around. And it's really annoying when people talk non-stop about Man U, when you're a Leeds fan.

Sony to ban gamers unless they promise not to sue

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Sony, fearing it is between a rock and a hard place after more than 100 million online user accounts were exposed in a hacking attack, is taking desperate and somewhat sneaky measure to limit liabilities.

The beleaguered company is preparing to ban gamers from the PlayStation Network (PSN) if they do not give up the right to collectively sue Sony over the security breaches, according to the BBC.

In addition to bolstering network security, it seems Sony has also been busy crafting new PSN terms and conditions, which users will have to agree to the next time they log in.

But once agreed, gamers will be not be able to take part in any legal class action and will be forced to resolve any legal issues with an arbitrator picked by Sony, before being able to file a lawsuit.

All this waiving of rights is in the small print, however, and Sony is doubtless counting on most gamers just scrolling down to click on the "agree" button.

Savvy PSN users who want to keep their right to file a class action lawsuit without any need for arbitration will have to send a letter to Sony's US headquarters.

But, in what appears to be a catch 22 situation, before subscribers have a chance to opt out, they will still be required to agree to the new terms the next time they log into their accounts, otherwise they will not able to use the online services.

This whole Apple V Samsung battle is getting a little petty

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Apple has proudly reclaimed the title of producer of the 'world's thinnest smartphone' at the expense of Samsung. 


Samsung weren't keen on Apple's claim that the iPhone is the 'worlds thinnest smartphone' as the Galaxy S II measures 8.7mm at its slimmest point. However the 9.91mm bulge at the base of the handset makes it thicker than the iPhone 4, which is 9.3mm deep. 

The Advertising Standards Authority has therefore stated that the iPhone 4 is actually the slimmest. The ruling said, "Apple believe consumers would not be interested in the thinnest part of the device, but in its overall measurements, as these would, for example, affect whether the device could fit into a pocket or purse" 

Apparently the thinness of a device is determined by the depth of the thickest point, which does make sense, otherwise manufacturers could just make a certain section of a smartphone insanely thin. 

Not sure it would be worth all the effort it just to be able to stick, 'worlds thinnest smartphone' on an advert though. 


This is just the latest Apple victory over Samsung, after a previous court ruling forced the Korean electronics giant to withdraw the Galaxy Tab 7.7 from the IFA trade show in Berlin

Management consultants obviously get paid too much

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It has been rumoured for years but now it is official. Management consultants are paid too much.

Management consultancy professionals are now paid so much that they are unable to carry their wallets around with them.

I made this discovery when I received a press release from a consultancy about how mobile phones will replace wallets for all kinds of activities. Hence the name mobile wallets.

So wallets are no longer mobile.

Anyway where you going to keep your ferret if you don't have a wallet?

A London artist is to publish 12 years worth of saved text messages

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Tracey Moberly has kept every text she has received since 1999 and is about to publishing her collection of almost 100,000 messages in a book entitled, "Text me up!". 

It all started after Ms Moberly accidentally deleted an important SMS 12 years ago and from that moment on she vowed never to lose another. Better safe than sorry I suppose. 

After the six different handsets she owned over the 12 year period ran out of storage space Ms Moberly resorted to writing texts down, filling more than 30 journals in the process. 

The artist, from Shoreditch, said: "Some people think I'm obsessive, but I love looking back at old messages.

"It's like keeping a diary. All my friends say they wish they had kept important texts or ones which meant a lot to them.

"I'm lucky, I can go back to reading those messages any time I want."

The messages, some of which are from celebrity pals such as Banksy and Pete Doherty, record a great deal of things, from the breakdown of her marriage to her friends' reactions to world events, including 9/11. 

Winklevoss twins find nutty way to jab Zuckerberg

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The Winklevoss twins, who have found Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a tough nut to crack, have switched tactics against their arch rival.

In June, twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who claim Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook, appeared to have abandoned legal attempts to renegotiate the original $65m settlement.

But they have not given up taking cheap shots at Zuckerberg, it seems, if their appearance in a television ad is anything to go by.

And what product did the illustrious twins choose to endorse? Is it an online service that is likely to hit Zuckerberg where it hurts most or some high-tech innovation?

No, but in an ad touting Pistachio nuts (off all things), the twins joke about how someone might steal an idea about the best way to crack a nut, in a not too subtle reference to Zuckerberg.

The settlement reached in 2008 was made up of $20m in cash with the balance in shares and is now thought to be worth more than $100m, but the twins claim Zuckerberg defrauded them by overstating the value of the shares when negotiating the settlement.

Question: Still desperate for a HP TouchPad? Answer: Get a job at HP

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HP has announced that 6000 more TouchPads are coming to the UK, however, they are only going to be offered to HP employees and partners. Talk about teasing. 

The TouchPad has been in high demand ever since HP announced it was killing off webOS and slashed over 60 percent off the RRP for both the the 16GB and 32GB tablets, as well as the Pre3 smartphone. 

Just yesterday the American corporation revealed that, as a way of saying "thank you for choosing HP" it is offering refunds in line with the reduced prices to TouchPad owners who bought the 9.7 inch screened slate prior to the price drop.

So if you are still frantically trying to get your hands on a webOS powered tablet it seems your only option now is to practice your interview technique, apply for a job at HP, and hope for the best. Good luck. 

Dramatic Dr Who revelation: the TARDIS runs on Windows XP

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Dr Who conspiracy theorists who have long believed the mysterious time traveller to be a front for British military intelligence have firm proof of their suspicions today.

The UK Ministry of Defence has quietly published a tender for "TARDIS support" on the Official Journal of the European Union.

The tender dramatically reveals that "TARDIS hardware operates Windows XP/Server 2003 and VMS operating systems" with onboard software applications that include the Weapon Assessment Software Package (WASP).

WASP was apparently first developed when the TARDIS was under the aegis of a later, less popular Doctor, possibly those played by Colin Baker or Sylvester McCoy during the Doctor's fallow years of television decline before the show's regeneration in the early 21st century - suggesting perhaps that an ill-advised militaristic design modication to the TARDIS was responsible for the doctor being taken off air.

The evidence is clear in the tender, issued by Naval Base headquarters in Portsmouth: "WASP itself dates from the mid 1980s and has been under almost continual development ever since. It is based on the OpenVMS architecture with component packages in a variety of languages including Pascal, Fortran and BASIC," it says.

Time/space travellers will no doubt be astonished to learn that the vortex that powers the TARDIS' journeys through the universe still runs on ancient programming languages such as Pascal and Fortran. The use of BASIC suggests inevitable BBC involvement due to the popularity in the 1980s of the BBC BASIC language.

The tender also requires the selected supplier of the TARDIS systems to offer "support to TARDIS users" suggesting a new IT professional companion may be joining the Doctor, Amy and Rory to provide helpdesk services during time/space continuum technical problems.

Ominously, the tender states that suppliers will also help with "administration of the TARDIS network and system (UK SECRET)." It is not clear if the secrecy classification refers to UK government monitoring of fellow time travellers through some form of inter-galactic GCHQ, or simply a plot twist as yet unforeseen as the Doctor battles his latest nemesis, The Silence.

The Doctor's famous technical precision is evident also in the calculations for the likely value of the contract on offer, stated as a "range between £101,323 and £810,580" - remarkably precise figures, we're sure you will agree.

Nonetheless, the tender will undoubtedly bring disappointment for some - The Brigadier, the Doctor's key contact in the top-secret alien fighting team at UNIT, will be distraught to see control of the TARDIS being managed by the Royal Navy and not the British Army.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory discuss ITIL procedures while waiting for second-line support to find the latest bug in the TARDIS Fortran routines.


It is time for the government to find another adjective for its "Big ideas"

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This is a bit off the beaten track for me but as I have just written an article about the government's Big Innovation Center.

I hate the way the government refers to everything as "big". Even my four and a half year old has more imagination when it comes to adjectives to describe something large.

And what goes on at the small innovation center? Perhaps a Big Nothing like most initiatives that begin in the mind of people whoes main job is to win votes.

It's true, on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog

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Another sad case proves that it is true that on the internet, nobody knows you are a dog. In this latest case, an Australian woman did not know that a charming UK-based engineer was actually a scammer in Nigeria before it was too late.

Eight months after a divorce, Katie Stuart signed up to an online dating agency, and in time "met" and fell in love with a man, ignoring the tell-tale signs that all was not as it seemed, such as a persistent problem with his web cam, meaning she was never able to see her correspondent.

Another warning bell should have sounded when the man invited Stuart to be part of a joint venture to renovate a house in Florida requiring an investment of thousands of dollars, which she raised by drawing money from her mortgage and selling her car and jewellery, according to reports.

Based on email evidence of paperwork that appeared to be genuine, Stuart was systematically fleeced of $100,000 before she was confronted with evidence that all was not well when she started receiving goods that had been purchased using fraudulent credit cards issued in her name.

Stuart is publicising her experience to warn others about how easy it is to be drawn into scams. She is certainly not alone, with Australian consumer protection authorities recording about 900 calls a month about online scams and reporting losses by victims of more than $5m in the past year.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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