21 Jan 2013
With 16 million social media followers and a fortune of about $14bn, it's safe to say Mark Zuckerberg is probably pretty popular.
But I'm still not sure whether the Facebook founder is $100-an-email popular. And that, dear reader, is the price the social network is putting on the privilege of being able to send a message direct to the big man's inbox.
The cost of sending a message to someone outside your network was set at $1 last year, and a sliding scale has now been introduced allowing you to contact senior management figures for an ever-higher charge. If you don't wish to pay, the message will languish in the recipient's ‘Other' folder, rather than whizzing straight to the top of the inbox.
It may sound steep, but I recently found myself handing over a hundred notes during an email exchange with a stranger. But in four to six weeks I'm expecting a payment of $25,000 direct from the First Conglomerated Bank of the Nigerian Republic. Kerching!
As the makers of the IKEA Fartfull work bench, Jif/Cif cleaning products and the Japanese soft drink Coolpis will tell you, some brands don't cross borders too well. May I be the first to suggest that the Nordic music service WiMP might want to have a brand rethink before it makes any moves on the English-speaking world?
Defying its name, the streaming outfit has a muscular presence in its Scandinavian homeland, with 350,000 paying customers listening to upwards of 18 million tracks. WiMP also now acts as chief sponsor of the Nordic Music Prize, an event it believes "could quickly become one of the most important music prizes in the Nordic countries". (Steady on! Lesser men than you have perished trying to crack that Scandi-pop album-award market too quickly.)
The nominees for the 2013 gong have just been announced, including eight nominations for The Cardigans, alongside Abba Gold and The Best of a-ha. Probably.
And in more hot WiMP news, the firm is sponsoring a stage at the by:Larm festival in Oslo. Artists rumoured to be playing the WiMP-tent (no, really) include Paolo Nutini and Ed Sheeran (possibly not really).
Driving me crazy
There was me thinking I'd seen every possible interesting variation on the ‘amusing satnav crazyness' theme.
Step forward Belgian motorist Sabine Moreau, who recently "suddenly arrived in Zagreb and realised that I was no longer in Belgium". (Oh, come on - we've all been there.) After entering co-ordinates for a 38-mile trip to a friend's house in Brussels, there followed a couple of days driving during which she reportedly filled up twice, slept a few hours and caused a minor accident, finally accepting something was amiss as she arrived in the Croatian capital.
"Weird? Maybe, but I was just distracted and preoccupied," she explained.
Perhaps she spent the journey playing that ‘name five famous Belgians' game?
A Star isn't born
In another entry for the file marked ‘Proof Democracy Doesn't Work', White House budget chiefs recently had to explain at length why they aren't building a Star Wars-style Death Star.
Those crayzee Yanks have a system whereby any online petition garnering 25,000 responses within a month must be addressed by White House bods. A recent call for the US government to "secure resources and funding and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016" was signed by 34,435 true patriots.
Paul Shawcross, chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, explained that "the administration does not support blowing up planets".
"Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?" he added.
Well said, sir. Following a petition signed by 100,000-plus citizens, the prez also recently declined to deport Piers Morgan back to us. Keep up the good work, Barack!