Weekly Wrap 245: Technology old and new, plus fatigue

The Future is Coal: click to embiggenMy week of Monday 9 to Sunday 15 February 2015 was hectic. I must learn that the long commute to Sydney, two hours each way, doesn’t mix with doing so to be there before 0900 and starting to return after 1700. Not two days in a row, anyway.

Still, I did get quite a bit done, even if all of the outputs haven’t appeared yet.

Podcasts

  • “The 9pm Sleepless Necessary Remedial Action”, being The 9pm Edict episode 36. This one was quicker to produce, at eight and a half hours. It’s also the longest episode of the Edict ever.

Articles

5at5

There were three editions of 5at5 this week, on Monday, Thursday and Friday. The two missing days where when I had very early starts and very late finishes and, probably more importantly, a conference to pay attention to during the day. Hmmm. You might want to subscribe so you receive them all as they’re released. Subscribe. Just subscribe.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

  • On Tuesday and Wednesday I went to the APIdays Sydney at Australian Technology Park, where I was amply fed and watered.

The Week Ahead

On Monday, I’ve been catching up on all manner of loose ends, including blog posts. Tuesday through Wednesday are writing and production days, though I’ll work out the exact sequence of events as I go along.

On Tuesday, I’ll be re-planning the rest of February, as well as doing shopping and other errands, as well as doing some research and organising some story pitches for those people we call “editors”.

On Wednesday I’m doing a day trip to Sydney to run some errands in Parramatta and the CBD, meet some people, and finally see the sleep physician to get this treatment program started. I may blog about that last point, because some people have expressed interest.

On Thursday I’ll be writing for ZDNet Australia, and perhaps someone else.

On Friday, I’m heading into Sydney on another day trip — for errands and a meeting and then, in the afternoon, NICTA’s Techfest at Australian Technology Park, and then an appointment to rearrange my back and neck.

Saturday is unplanned. Place your bids now.

Sunday is the start of the Tech Leaders Forum, formerly known as Kickstart. This year it isn’t being held on the Gold Coast, but in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, at the Fairmont Resort. The event continues on Monday.

Update 17 February 2015: Edited to include changes to the schedule.

[Photo: The Future is Coal, a standard 45-car coal train passing through Wentworth Falls, photographed on 15 February 2015.]

Talking tech on ABC Local Radio, again

ABC logoEvery Tuesday night after 8pm, Dom Knight talks tech on ABC Local Radio around NSW — and I joined him on 1 July 2014.

Also joining us was Belinda Smith, deputy science and technology editor at The Conversation. We spoke about the notorious Facebook experiment, amongst other things.

Play

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, archived here because it isn’t being archived anywhere else.

Links for 22 October 2009 through 27 October 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 22 October 2009 through 27 October 2009, published after far too long a break. I really, really do need to work out a better way of doing this…

McDonald’s pranked with second fake memo

Reddit listing of second fake McDonald's memo

The supposed leaked memo from McDonald’s that I wrote about on Saturday is itself a fake.

The memo, which like the original fake by serial prankster David Thorne was posted on Reddit, purported to be an email from McDonald’s Australia’s Corporate Communications Manager Bronwyn Stubbs outlining their response.

Someone also attempted to post the text of the memo as a comment to my original post.

However Stubbs emailed me yesterday to say it’s a forgery.

The Purported McDonald’s Memo that you include as part of the article is based on a piece of internal communication that I sent out to my colleagues, however, it has been doctored and changed in various places. Most particularly the final paragraph regarding David Thorne has been completely made up.

That made-up paragraph read:

According to recent news articles and other information we have been provided, the fabricated letter was created by an Adelaide man named David Thorne. At no time should any member of McDonald’s mention the name David Thorne to any media representative. We have spoken to police and are in the process of filing charges against Thorne. We are also speaking with legal regarding a possible law suit. At no time should any member of McDonald’s contact Mr Thorne or engage in any correspondence with him. Should Mr Thorne contact you in any way please let me know immediately or forward any emails.

This certainly kills our speculation as to why someone at McDonald’s would have leaked this memo — they didn’t.

The question now becomes who posted this fake memo, and why? If we’re talking opportunity and motive, well, anyone on the entire Internet has opportunity. Motive? How about a certain prankster seeking attention for his book?

Bugger. I just linked to it myself.

Another question is how businesses can respond to fakery like this, particularly when it’s a brand which people already love to hate.

Is McDonald’s doing comment spam now?

[Update 20 October 2009: It turns out this new purported McDonald’s memo is itself a fake. The comment spam attempt was not from McDonald’s.]

Fake McDonald's memo: click to embiggen

Well-known burger-tossers McDonald’s would be pissed off about that fake email tarnishing their reputation, and understandably so. But are they now responding with unethical tactics?

I don’t know. But here’s my little bit of evidence, and maybe The Power of Crowdsourcing [read: “expecting everyone else to do your work for you”] can fill in the gaps.

  1. A document purporting to be a leaked internal memo outlining McDonald’s response policy, and claiming they’re taking legal action against prankster David Thorne, was posted on Reddit — which happens to be where Thorne promoted the original fake memo. The account used to post this new memo, the oh-so-revealing 9911882882288, was created at that time and this is their only post. I’ve included the full text of the purported memo below.
  2. This morning someone tried to post a comment here which was merely a copy and paste of that same memo. They used a clearly false email address, which is presumably what caused their comment to be tagged as potential spam, and an Apple Mac running Safari sitting on an IP address on the Hutchison 3 mobile network.

This strikes me as rather curious.

Since McDonald’s is the big fast food chain that haters of big fast food chains love to hate, I don’t see that many anonymous bystanders rushing to its defence. Something in my waters says this is more likely to be someone acting on McDonald’s behalf — but that’s just a gut feeling.

And since McDonald’s is a big company, presumably they have a big respectable PR firm too.

So why, therefore, the anonymity?

The Public Relations Institute of Australia’s Code of Ethics talks about “dealing honestly”, which in my books means identifying yourself — although I’ll admit I’m hazy on how the PRIA itself would interpret that.

Has anyone else had someone attempt to post this memo as a comment? Is anyone seeing McDonald’s posting official comments in their own name?

And what do you make of the fact that prankster David Thorne works for a design agency which lists McDonald’s as a client?

Continue reading “Is McDonald’s doing comment spam now?”

Links for 11 June 2009 through 13 June 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 11 June 2009 through 13 June 2009, gathered with tenderness and love. Especially love.

  • The Poll Cruncher | Pollytics: How trustworthy is the result of an opinion poll? This handy little tool allows you to enter the sample size and the result, and it gives you the margin of error. Assuming, of course, that the poll was conducted randomly and ethically in the first place.
  • What’s Your Professional Reputation? | Pollytics: Possum interprets the latest results from the Roy Morgan poll of public perceptions of ethics and honesty for various professions. As usual, newspaper journalists and car salesmen are down the bottom. Possum creates a nice little interactive graph showing how the result have changed each year since 1979.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four turns sixty | Inside Story: Brian McFarlane’s take on the 60th anniversary of the publication of Orwell’s classic. Somehow, while talking about film adaptations and connections to Phillip K Dick, he completely fails to mention Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
  • Dear Global Service Direct, where is my Snuggie? | Crikey: Crikey‘s coverage of their interactions with the Snuggie has the potential to become quite obsessive. In a good way. However this silly exchange of emails with Snuggie’s sellers contain one of the best customer service responses ever: “I wish I could do more but I am just a pawn.” Also, a graph.
  • From little things… | RN Future Tense: This episode of ABC Radio National’s Future Tense included an interview with ActionAid Australia’s Archie Law about Project TOTO, as well as some great stuff about innovative uses of telecommunications technology in Kenya and India. Internet via bus, anyone?
  • William Langewiesche on Somali pirates | vanityfair.com: Feature article on the incident where French luxury cruise ship Le Ponant was targeted by Somali pirates.
  • louder than swahili: The blog of Pernille, a 37yo Scandinavian woman who’s been living in Tanzania since 2007, and most recently before that spent 26 months among Sudanese refugees along and across the Ugandan border to Southern Sudan.
  • A Never Ending Race | absolutelybangkok.com: Bangkok in 2015 is a paranoid short yarn from Yan Monchatre, a French cartoonist and illustrator who’s resident in Bangkok.
  • The First Few Milliseconds of an HTTPS Connection | Moserware: A deep, deep explanation of what happens when your web browser creates an encrypted connection to a website.
  • mHITs: An Australian company providing the technology to pay by mobile phone. Currently seems to be limited to food and drink, and to a handful of venues in Canberra and Sydney.
  • The United Republic Consulate of Tanzania Consulate: This is, I hope, the official website of the Consulate for Tanzania in Melbourne. It’s not particularly reassuring when the home page’s title bar reads: “::Welcom to Company Name::”.
  • Rise of online mercenaries | Australian IT: Steven Bellovin, professor of computing science at Columbia University, predicts the rise of online mercenaries using techniques going back 200 years to letters of marque and reprisal, where governments commission somebody to attack another government’s assets with perfect immunity under law. The story’s a couple weeks old but still relevant.