26 Jan 2015
I was intrigued and a little giggly to learn this week of the first investment house to plough a fair bit of cash into the marijuana industry.
Founders Fund, a San Franciscan venture capital outfit co-led by PayPal founder Peter Thiel, has invested an unspecified amount in Privateer Holdings. A Seattle-based firm, it owns Leafly.com, which provides reviews and price comparison info for medicinal cannabis users in the US.
It also runs Tilray, which grows medical pot in Canada, and various other ganj-related interests. Privateer CEO Brendan Kennedy claimed his firm is all about "creating a smart, professional brand" in a market where the majority of its rivals "are so amateurish".
Maybe so, but most of them are pretty cool about you turning up at their "office" at one in the morning and don't mind if you just chill out and watch Trans World Sport for an hour or two while you're there.
Talking of the extracurricular activities of tech chiefs, I discovered recently that Mark Zuckerberg has joined popular culture giants such as Oprah Winfrey and Richard and Judy in setting up his own book club.
The Facebook leader has reportedly vowed to read a book every fortnight this year and has created an online community for everyone who wishes to join him. His first choice was a tome called The End of Power by Moses Naim, a book about whether society's most powerful folk will continue to wield quite so much influence in future (spoiler alert: yeah, probably). More titles will follow, as Zuck racks up the literary miles.
"I've found reading books very intellectually fulfilling," said the social media CEO, as if he is one of only 10 people in the world to ever finish a whole one.
In a development sure to secure more votes for the Goodness Gracious - This Country, It's Political Correctness Gone Mad Party, I learned this week that applicants for a senior post in the police have been asked to prove their credentials by sending in a "New Year Selfie".
Humberside Police has asked anyone interested in becoming its new deputy chief constable to request an application pack by sending in a self-taken photograph. It might not appear entirely clear to a Non-Johnny Lawman like me what the link is between blurry headshots and apprehending criminals, but the force has explained that it wants senior officers to lead from the front when it comes to the effective use of social media.
"It is vital that potential candidates understand the importance of embracing new technology," said chief constable Justine Curran, before adding "LOL #YOLO #jussayin."
Eating your profits
Part of running a deeply successful business is knowing when to play hardball, and when to offer a tasty deal.
Giving your clients mates' rates is usually a combination of factors, and comes as a reward for loyalty, honesty, scrupulousness - or just liking the cut of someone's jib. But I read this week that some restaurants in China are taking a decidedly shallower approach to discounts.
The Zhengzhou Korean restaurant in Henan province reportedly offers free meals to those deemed to be its most attractive diners. Patrons of the eatery are photographed as they enter, before a crack team of cosmetic surgery professionals examine all the snaps and single out the five fittest faces, each of whom gets a free meal.
All of which might seem a little bit grubby, but is relatively harmless compared with the Na Huo joint in Chongqing, which last month offered gratis grub to customers who were dangerously over- or underweight. Money off their meal was awarded to the husky gentleman, with discounts increasing on a sliding scale (presumably made of reinforced steel) based on their bulk. Fellas clocking in at more than 22 stone ate for free.
Meanwhile, ladies were rewarded the thinner they were, with no charge for those weighing less than a scarcely believable 5st 6lb (if you want some context, that's roughly the same size as half a woman).
Of course, you'd never catch a corporately socially responsible CEO like me doing this sort of thing. Although if I spy a West Ham sticker on your rear windscreen, you might find my routers are surprisingly expensive.
16 Sep 2014
I was lunching with one of my manufacturer partners in a swanky eatery recently and, when the waiter came to take our order, I found myself surprised and impressed when the vendor’s UK chief jumped straight in and ordered a salad.
While the rest of the party made their choices, I remarked that I admired the chap’s commitment to healthy eating – especially as last time I had dined with the vendor another of the senior exec team had gone for a big juicy lobster, complete with cracking claws (the lobster’s), buttery paws (the exec’s), and a bib whose every stain told the story of a hearty meal.
My companion on this occasion went quiet for a few moments, before piping up loudly just as the waiter finished taking the other orders. “I’ve changed my mind,” he wailed. “I’ll have the sea bass, please.” Ten minutes later he was duly presented with a big plate that played host to a meaty, glistening ocean beast, complete with head and tail intact. Had he simply been reminded of a latent love of seafood, or was it that he didn’t want to look like some kind of save-the-whales, Guardian-reading salad muncher?
Shooting the Messenger
There was bad news for late-90s teenagers this week as Microsoft called time on its once-mighty MSN Messenger service. The chat tool – which is now known as Windows Live Messenger – was retired in most regions of the world last year, but remains in use in China.
However, the software giant is to finally pull the plug on what was once the world’s premier tool for exchanging emojis and explicit descriptions of bodily parts with people in other countries.
The writing was on the wall for the messaging monolith once Microsoft bought Skype in a 2012 blockbuster acquisition, and those users still clinging to the service will be given free Skype credits when they migrate, Microsoft has promised. As someone who was at an impressionable age (34) during the first great wave of the internet, this news makes me :o(
Patrons of Manchester United were this week dealt a cruel blow by the powers that be. Now, I may not be much of a ‘Red Devil’ – in fact I feel like this club is well overdue a little misfortune – but the news that all fans were barred from taking laptops and tablets into Old Trafford seems a tad harsh.
The poor devils who go to watch United play will not be able to find comforting distraction playing Angry Birds on their iPads, or watching an episode or two of Orange is the New Black. Instead, they will be forced to watch their team actually play football, which will inevitably be as bad as that time me and the boys found a ball and decided to have an impromptu kick-about at the conclusion of a particularly heavy bender around Hornchurch and Upminster.
Needless to say, I would advise any ManYoo fans reading to stay home and bask in the warm glow of your tablet. Or, better yet, come to the Orient. The football’s not up to much, but we’ll let you check your email in peace.
As a street-smart graduate of the School of Hard Knocks and the University of Life (with a Masters from the Royal Institute of Yeah, What Of It? Do One, Pal), I’ve always eyed private education with a high level of suspicion and antipathy.
So I reacted with something of a sneer upon hearing news this week that a top independent school is making many of its lessons available online to us plebs. Cambridge-based Stephen Frears Foundation School has made 87 of its courses – for pupils aged 11 to 14 – available online via the iTunes U service, the free version of Apple’s online store available to education establishments.
The ￡15,405-a-year school is offering free downloads of digital textbooks and exam course material across subjects such as algebra, geography and religious studies. Presumably they’ll be round later to hand out free Macbooks to the children of Barking and Dagenham so they can enjoy the school’s educational largesse.
11 Aug 2014
It's been noted before that the Devil has all the best tunes. But recent evidence suggests that Lucifer may also be more tech-savvy than his heavenly counterpart.
Following an attempted exorcism of a teenage girl, Polish priest Marian Rajchel claims Satan himself has been sending him goading text messages. After conducting the procedure(?), the man of the cloth received an SMS telling him: "She will not come out of this hell. She's mine. Anyone who prays for her will die."
After replying to the Prince of Darkness (as you do), the taunts turned more personal. "Shut up, preacher," warned Beelzebub. "You cannot save yourself. Idiot. You pathetic old preacher."
Oo-er. Father Rajchel warned cellphone users to be on their guard for Satanic possession.
"Often the owners of mobile phones are not even aware that they are being used like this," he told The Austrian Times.
Phew! It must be the Devil that's been using my wife's phone to send reminders of how many of her old boyfriends are thinner, more successful and nicer than I am.
What, me, worry?
"Are you worried about the security of your home while away on holiday?," began a marketing communiqué which landed in my inbox this week.
Before I'd had a chance to reply "not massively and, by the way, who are you?", the email thundered on, claiming that "85 per cent of [UK] adults" are indeed concerned, citing a recent YouGov survey. Though I dare say the reputable pollsters of YouGov might wish to know that the figure quoted here includes the 46 per cent of their respondents who said they were not very worried, and the 32 per cent who were fairly worried, in addition to the whopping seven per cent who are very worried.
But you can prove anything with made-up statistics. The fact remains that Piper (who sent the missive) claims to have launched "the first home security device with Z-Wave automation, panoramic video and environmental sensors integration for the home".
Wowsers trousers! Z-Wave automation and environmental sensors integration?! They said it couldn't be done!
The device uses an app to alert users of any movements of note at their home, which Piper claims will "give them peace of mind while they are away".
And definitely won't serve only to ruin their holiday every time next door's cat falls asleep on their windowsill.
Cupid is as Cupid does
With every tech firm and his dog seeking to distance themselves from any suggestion of spying on users and their data, it was almost refreshing to see the leader of one web outfit proclaim "We experiment on human beings!".
This was the title a recent blog post from Christian Rudder, co-founder of OkCupid, which explained that the company has fed users not-entirely-accurate information in the name of furthering its learnings in the complex world of internet romance.
"Guess what, everybody: if you use the internet, you're the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That's how websites work," he boomed.
Rudder went on to detail a few ways in which his site has conducted experiments on its lovelorn patrons - including inverting people's compatibility rankings so those who were a 30 per cent match were told the figure was 90 per cent and vice versa. Lo and behold, when users were informed they were well or poorly matched with someone, they more often acted as if that were the case.
Almost as if they trusted a provider of a service to do so honestly and to the best of its ability.
Speaking of people who definitely aren't spying on your every Lolcat and ‘which character from Mrs Brown's Boys are you?' quiz, I read that GCHQ is launching new academic certifications for the next generation of cyber spies.
The intelligence agency has unveiled Master's degrees in cyber security at six UK universities. The accompanying press bumf seems to offer little in the way of detail as to what pupils will actually study. Possibly because they'll be asked to discover their coursework assignments (should they choose to accept them) by hacking into their lecturers' email.
29 Jul 2014
As one of Microsoft's top 50 resellers in the outer east London area (take that, Chingford Charlie's Network Solutions!), I was, of course, in attendance at the software titan's recent partner shindig in Washington DC.
Thankfully, for a tittle-tattle merchant such as I, amid all the on-message corporate back-scratching there were several pleasing outbreaks of foot-in-mouth disease. Not least the poor bigwig whose main-stage keynote speech featured repeated references to "Microsocks".
Then there was the Microsoft staffer who ran into an old reseller contact. The duo were ahead of me in the queue for the tea and coffee facilities, and after the usual ‘Hi-how-are-yas?', the Microsoftie ventured into the conversation proper with the following gambit.
"So, how's the wedding planning going...?"
"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeah, about that...," came the reply. "The wedding's off."
If it ever gets back on, something tells me the vendor friend might not be on the invite list.
Spread the love
As a business manager of many years' experience, I'm a big fan of the spreadsheet. In fact, so handy have I frequently found them in my working life, that over time I've deployed them in numerous areas of my personal life.
I've got a spreadsheet to organise my monthly outgoings, to count my calorie intake - even one to manage the Orient awayday schedule. But even an Excelophile like me has never seen fit to keep track of my marital relations.
Which is more than can be said of the latest internet buffoon to achieve several seconds of notoriety, after he used a spreadsheet to record the excuses his better half trotted out for declining a bit of the other. The data reveals that the wannabe lothario suggested his partner join him in the boudoir 27 times in two months, with only three of the invitations being accepted.
Rather than discuss it with her as if she were a fellow human and his intellectual equal, the chap chose to email the spreadsheet to her, to illustrate the stagnation of the relationship. Now the document has been shared online, the frustrated fella has become the butt of the internet's collective joke. Well, they do say you can laugh a woman into bed...
Motivate to accumulate
I've never been a huge fan of motivational speakers. However, I understand from one of my vendor mates that his boss was put in the awkward position recently of having to cater for a particularly enthusiastic motivational speaker who insisted on rearranging the room to suit his presentational needs. Instead of a relaxed tables and chairs look, he wanted a more formal ‘horseshoe' shape.
"This room is quite large for the amount of people. Who decided it would look like this?" said the speaker.
"Er, I did," stammered the poor vendor boss. "I thought it'd be nice to have a relaxed feel where people can lean on tables and take notes."
Wrong, fella. Apparently the way to motivate staff is to sit them in a tight horseshoe shape, close together and with nothing to lean on, and stay that way for the next three hours. I wonder whether he accidentally hired an ‘interrogational speaker' by accident.
Regular reader(s) will be all too aware of how long I have waited for the imminent enslavement of humanity by shiny metal overlords.
Thankfully, that blessed day seemed to inch closer this week with news that G4S claims to have hired the first "autonomous robot... deployed in a working office environment, to do a real job". (Although if it were that autonomous, I dare say the bot might have thought its awesome combination of artificial intelligence and reinforced steel qualified it for a higher-powered position than office admin.)
The security services company claimed that while the robot - named Bob - "carries out his duties, he will also be gathering information about his surroundings and learning about how the environment changes over time". Somewhat eerily.
Bob, from the University of Birmingham, "will learn how to act intelligently and independently in real-world environments", claimed G4S.
Sounds impressive. Maybe these robots could eventually take charge of overseeing a major project. Like the Olympics, perhaps?
14 Jul 2014
I met a fellow channel big hitter recently; he looked familiar so I asked where I might have seen his face before. The answer, much to my incredulity, was "nowhere".
The chap has been a fairly active figure on the M&A scene over the years, and has long been concerned that, if employees at a company saw his visage at their offices, they might jump to the conclusion that their employer was about to sell up. As a preventative measure, the secretive supremo has never supplied the media with a photo, and has warned prying journos not to seek a snap. The acquisitive exec has even gone so far as to move his company's HQ out of the City so as to minimise the risk of starting Chinese whispers merely by being seen in conversation with another member of the business community.
Naturally, I cannot say too much about what this chap looks like. And, in unrelated news, nor can I offer any comment on the growing rumour that Tupac is, in fact, alive and well and living undercover as a mid-market IT services specialist.
If you're an innovative and ambitious young tech firm, rich in ideas and potential but poor in funds, Kickstarter can be an invaluable tool in helping connect you with backers. It can also help wackily named chancers generate an obscene amount of money in the name of making potato salad. Right you are.
Some character calling himself Zack Danger Brown recently posted on the site looking for a grand total of $10, with the explanation ‘I'm making potato salad'. His so-called stretch goal was to raise $35, for which he promised to make four times as much of the snack. If the money raised reached three figures, the budding entrepreneur (of sorts) promised to try his hand at more than one recipe.
As we go to press, Brown has raised almost $50,000 and counting. For some reason. The tuberphile is all set to hire an industrial-sized kitchen to hold a party, where all but the smallest investors will be offered a bite of the finished dish. Other rewards include a photo of the Danger man making the food, and a signed jar of mayonnaise.
Following the success of his initial foray into the business world (of sorts), rumour has it the budding chef is planning a bold Waldorf salad and coleslaw combo. Bidding rights start at $5m.
As someone who has long accepted the inevitability of our enslavement by shiny metal overlords, imagine my delight to discover this week that car workers in Germany are one step closer to forming a robot-human master race, having gained so-called "super-thumbs".
Employees at the BMW plant in Munich have been equipped with 3D-printed thermoplastic polyurethane protectors to help alleviate the stress placed on their joints during the car assembly process.
The devices are designed to allow the thumb to move freely, until the digit straightens up, at which point the protectors go all stiff, allowing the connected human to press down hard without putting undue strain on their thumb joint. The über-thumbs are reportedly most useful in making it easier for people to fit rubber plugs to engines.
"These have to be pressed in with the thumb. Even for people with strong hand muscles, the movement requires a certain effort," said a BMW spokesperson, helpfully.
I think this sort of technology could really benefit my sales goons, given how much of my money they waste sitting around with their collective thumb lodged in their posterior.
I was intrigued to learn this week that Bill Gates has given his backing to a new contraceptive implant that can be managed by a remote control.
The small computer chip can be placed under a woman's skin to release a baby-preventing daily dose of levonorgestrel for up to 16 years. The device can be turned on and off by remote control, and it is set to undergo clinical testing in the US next year, ahead of potentially going on sale as early as 2018.
Yesterday I excitedly told Her Indoors about this incredible development.
"Does it come with a mute button?," she said.
30 Jun 2014
I was mildly appalled to see a selection of familiar channel names in rundowns - compiled by "career community" Glassdoor - of the 25 toughest and most odd questions asked at job interviews.
Apparently Gartner has asked applicants "how would you describe an atom to a child?" (I wouldn't - I'd give them a fiver and tell them to run off and buy some sweets), while Rackspace wanted to know "how would you react if shot in the head with a Nerf gun?" (angrily, thanks for asking).
Trend Micro was interested in which Disney character potential staff would compare themselves to (dunno - is Scarface a Disney film?), while social media data-filtering firm DataSift enquired "everyone at DataSift is brilliant; why are you brilliant?" (perhaps because I've managed to accomplish my many successes without ever having heard of DataSift).
Apple asked job seekers "if you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?" (I suppose I could trim bits off a meat feast that were small enough not to arouse suspicion), and Dell wondered "are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?" (I see myself as more of a Saracen, with a bit of Rhino thrown in).
We don't mess about with any of this ridiculousness here. I have only two questions for wannabe Dodgiers: 1) you don't read the local press, do you?; and 2) will you waive your right to an employment tribunal?
Slice of the action
I was horrified to learn this week that hackers had finagled their way into the databases of Domino's Pizza and made off with some of its customer records.
The Belgian and French operations of the popular dough-manipulators were recently compromised by a group calling itself Rex Mundi, although it is not yet clear whether this refers to the Latin for "king of the world", or the progressive Dutch trance musician of the same name (thanks, Wikipedia!). The naughty computer wonks claimed to have laid their hands on the customer data of 592,000 Frenchian pizza-munchers, as well as 58,000 Belgists.
"That's over six hundred thousand records," pointed out Rex Mundi, helpfully, "which include the customers' full names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and delivery instructions. (Oh, and their favorite pizza topping too, because why not)."
The hackers claimed that if they were not furnished with €30,000, they would publish the details and told anyone affected they would "have the right to sue" Domino's. As CRN went to press, the pizza hawker had not caved to the demands, and the stipulated deadline for releasing the records had come and gone.
This came as a huge relief to me; I'd never live it down with the boys at The Dog and Duck if they found out my regular order is a small, low-fat Veggie Surprise and a side salad (no dressing, please).
A model consumer
I was boggle-minded to learn this week that you will soon be able to purchase an unsettlingly accurate and detailed statuette of yourself when you do your weekly supermarket run.
Asda recently trialled its first 3D-printing scanner at the retail behemoth's store in the Trafford area of Manchester. The contraption takes a full-body scan in a reported 12 seconds, and the info gathered can be sent away to the supermarket's facility in Sheffield. Shoppers can then pick up a full-colour eight-inch model of themselves back in-store a week later.
The installation of the booths follows the rollout of less-sophisticated 3D printing services that work from photos of the desired print target. But before you get all excited, dear reader, the scanner was only in situ for the week commencing Monday 16 June as a trial run.
But don't be surprised to see the technology deployed on a much wider basis in the not-too-distant future, as Asda reckons Joe and Josephine Public have been crying out for miniature replicas of themselves. In an irritatingly matey and grammatically lax promotional release, the retailer claimed "there are loads of different reasons people have been getting lifelike 3D replica model made".
Narcissism being chief among them, I would imagine, followed by spite, hubris, boredom, excessive intoxicant consumption, stag/hen-do japery, and misguided and really rather creepy notions of romance.
16 Jun 2014
Unless you're not a human being at all, but in fact a not-particularly-convincing automaton, you can't have failed to notice that a computer has supposedly become the first device to pass the Turing test.
The chatbot, named Eugene Goostman, recently reportedly conned about a third of assessors into thinking it was the 13-year-old Ukrainian boy its creators had designed it to mimic. Some have poured a fairly high level of scorn on suggestions that the programme could actually have passed a test with any real rigour. And, having read some of the conversations Master Goostman has mustered up, it's easy to see their point.
I've had more convincing offers instructing me to send a cheque for $5,000, so as to liberate my $11m winnings from a Panamanian lottery I didn't know I'd entered. Even allowing for the fact that the bot is deliberately designed to have the spelling, vocabulary, syntax, and grammar of a 13-year-old non-English-speaker, his speech is peppered with non sequiturs that are, at best, a tad obtuse and, at worst, really ruddy weird. (Though, admittedly, none of this much distinguishes him from most of my sales team).
Though there is the odd pearl in among his automated witterings. "Be optimistic," he urged MIT computer science professor Scott Aaronson. "Artificial intelligence and natural stupidity, being combined, will lead this world to fantastic future!"
Speaking of sophisticated computer-type stuff, you can't go five minutes these days without hearing news of some development in the field of smart technology. But I must confess, dear reader, that I'm largely indifferent to all the many much-vaunted examples to date; smartwatches, smart fridges, smart cars - they all leave me cold.
But this week brought word of a breakthrough that has really captured my imagination: smart khazis.
Heathrow Terminal 2 has recently put in sensors at loos across the building. The natty devices help cleaners keep track of when the facilities need a spruce-up by letting them know when a certain number of people have used them. Although, in my experience, the key factor here is not how many people have used a toilet before you, but rather which people have done so. (Shirl - I'm looking at you. Especially since you went on that Atkins diet...)
The technology can reportedly track which units are used more than others, and direct users to those that are empty. Over time, they can also track which bogs are typically over-subscribed, and which are being overlooked.
I'm loving this development, and am thinking of installing this gear at Dodgi Towers. I've always suspected that Gord uses my executive washroom whenever I'm away on business, and I've long wanted to bring him to justice. But I haven't been able to keep a log.
Template of doom
I discovered this week that Cisco has a set of dos and don'ts for ISVs wishing to issue a press release related to a progression in their partnership with the networking goliath.
The vendor asks that new members of its Solution Partner Programme fill in the blanks on a template provided and submit a draft to Cisco's PR team about 10 days before they wish to issue it to the fourth estate. So far, so stringent.
And it gets worse: it turns out new partners have a list of words it is verboten to use in their ‘About Company X' shtick at the bottom of the release. These include: alliance; strategic alliance; leverage; dominate and dominance; certified; and first, best, first to market, best in class, only, approved, and authorised.
Phew. That's an awful lot of the IT channel's favourite words ruled out in one fell swoop. And partners are also warned that "forward-looking statements about what [their] solution will do in the future should be avoided".
Thankfully I'm not a Cisco partner, so can press on with my media release about my strategic alliance with the vendor which will see me leverage my dominance of the Barking and Dagenham area IT market to become certified as the first to market with the first, best, and only approved and authorised solution of its kind. A solution that, in the future, will be able to reverse man-made climate change, eliminate all corruption from world football, and clone Graham Gooch.
02 Jun 2014
Like any right-thinking person, my general view is that the only thing worse than the use of the word "banter" is the use of the recently made-up word "branter" (a portmanteau describing the act of banter between two brands).
But surely the only thing worse than either of these is actual examples of (shudder) "branter", as recently exemplified by Microsoft and Samsung.
The Korean vendor caused quite the stir last month when it took over every available inch of Heathrow's terminal 5 to advertise its latest wowbox, even going so far as to rebrand it ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5' for two weeks.
Spying the chance of a cheap and cheeky PR win, Microsoft sent four so-called "Lumianauts" clad in astronaut gear who (ready your sides for splitting!) pretended to try to book a flight to "the galaxy" (geddit?), only to realise they'd just have to glumly drive off in their spacerover instead. What japes!
Thankfully the temporary rebrand ends today, but it does make you wonder who else might be tempted to cash in on the marketing synergies. Terminal Five Alive, perhaps?
I was nonplussed to discover this week that a reported seven per cent of UK job seekers have conducted a telephone job interview on a beach.
This is according to an extremely unimpeachable "survey" from (VESTED INTEREST ALERT!) "online interview software firm Shortlister.com". The company quizzed 2,000 respondents, 29 per cent of whom claimed to have done a job interview in their living room (or "lounge", to give it its proper name), shortly ahead of the boudoir on 25 per cent.
A bewildering nine per cent said they have tried out for a job while in the bath, while both the beach and a car park scored seven per cent. Apparently. Among the more bizarre places candidates mentioned were behind a show court at Wimbledon, while on a tour of the Tower of London, and while riding a horse.
At time of going to press, it is not clear whether the interviewer was also on horseback.
From here to paternity
It gives me great pleasure to award the inaugural Diamond-Geezer Award for Creepy Marketing Stunt of the Century to Daddy Analytics.
The company, whose technology reportedly allows firms to "increase lead generation by tracking marketing ROI in Salesforce" (no, I don't know either), put together a novel
"visual stunt" by getting six pregnant women to pose in T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘Who's the daddy?'.
I don't know what unsettles me more: the implication that these poor women can't say
for sure who impregnated them, or the implication that the father might be an enterprise software solution.
Impressively named CEO Stony Grunow hardly helped the general sense of weirdness when he said: "When else can you ask pregnant women to wear T-shirts suggesting they don't know who the father is and write this off as a legitimate business expense?"
I don't know Stony, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to find out.
Anyone who's spent more than a few seconds immersed in the murky world of Twitter will be painfully aware of the havoc that can be wrought when a self-launched hashtag doesn't quite go the way a company or individual had envisaged.
In the run-up to the recent elections, UKIP became the latest organisation to fall foul of an attempt to engage with fans on social media, when it encouraged users to tweet feedback on the hashtag #WhyImVotingUKIP. Among the pithier and more printable of the multitude of replies it received were: "Because I'm fed up of foreigners coming over and denying hard-working British people the right to be Nigel Farage's wife", and "Because I'm worried black people will start breeding with gay people and we'll create a master race of amazing dancers".
It's tempting to say the stunt backfired but, this being UKIP, it effectively turned into a canny marketing exercise. I'm pretty sure they could have tweeted a picture of nawtee Nige farting on the Queen's head while burning a Union Jack and simultaneously defaming Bobby Moore, Winston Churchill and Clare Balding and they still would've got a boost in the polls.
The head honcho of Dagenham's top reseller (give or take a few) gives his insights on the quirkier and murkier side of the industry. Dave also keeps a keen eye on the world of robots, pointless research and social networking.
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