bizarroINTERWEB: journalistic hijinx

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

* a couple of pieces I wrote recently on spec for a (censored) looking to start up a (censored) website. (I signed something that promised I wouldn’t spill the beans…I’ve said too much already)

Right now, am still not sure if they will pick up on these or if I got the job, but I had a lot of fun writing them and they were too good not to share here.

The brief was to be short (oops!), funky (whatever that means?), fun, tongue-in-cheek, borderline satirical, but with all the facts communicated to a notoriously ambivalent audience target market . Seems right to me. 

Particularly proud of my description of Samsung as ‘the Ryan Gosling of  the smartphone game’. Brief filled, mereckons. 

Hack Wars: US and China Square Off in Cyberspace


The online battlefield of international cyber-espionage just got a little more serious, with reports today of increased activity by hackers attempting infiltrate a so-called “(unnamed US organisation) involved in shaping economic policy”.

Super-sleuthy cyber security company FireEye (not to be confused with the new Hunger Games movie) revealed that the group of (possibly Chinese) coffee-addicted computer propellerheads holed up in a building somewhere in Beijing and previously believed to be behind a series of 2012 malware attacks on US media companies including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, are preparing for another eminent attack.

FireEye researchers wrote in a post on the company’s blog that “the new campaigns mark the first significant stirrings from the group since it went silent in January in the wake of a detailed expose of the group and its exploits.”

The company identified suspicious malware that used a unique and almost undetectable network traffic pattern during a systems analysis of an organisation involved in shaping economic policy.

We have no idea what that means either, but it’s safe to assume your outdated version of Norton would be pretty much powerless against it if the Chinese thought you had anything significant to steal on your laptop. FireEye have deduced, somewhat cryptically, that “(hackers) appear to be mounting fresh assaults that leverage new and improved versions of malware”.

The on-going hacking scandal has led to an extended period of diplomatic awkwardness between the US and China, with some not-so-subtle accusations fired from Washington against the Chinese not playing according to the official rules of Superpower Twister.

The Chinese, naturally, have responded: Who? Us? And have even dragged infamous Whistle-blower Monthly pinup boy Edward Snowden into the furore, saying Snowden’s recent revelations about the inner workings of the US government intelligence operations reveal that the US are not playing by the rules either, adding, mockingly, ‘you really dropped ball on that one, Barry’, before delivering a shipment of 30,000 plastic coat hangers to Wal-Mart.

All’s fair in love and war, as the saying goes.

Meanwhile, in an anonymous office block somewhere in Beijing, a group of increasingly bored geeks order pizza, play Call Of Duty and discuss the subtle sexual ambiguities of the Star Wars movies, while awaiting further instructions.

Blackberry’s Juices Souring


Blackberry, the granddaddy of smartphones – much beloved of fashionable parents, fidgety executives and other small-thumbed people – may soon find itself going the way of the dinosaur.

In an official statement released today, the company has announced that it will be seeking out “new alternatives” for its stagnating business models, product lines of diminishing degrees of success and overall survival. All of which is just fancy business-speak for “we’re just going to take a time-out over here in the corner and have a bit of cry.”

The statement comes at a time when Blackberry continues to find itself increasingly irrelevant in a market dominated by The Company Who Shall Not Be Named That Sell i-Phones and the Ryan Gosling of the smartphone game, Samsung. Blackberry share prices have fallen by almost 38% over the last six months and has seen the departure of several senior executives, which is lot like the rats on the Titanic strapping on golden parachutes and calling a taxi before the bill arrives.

Most of the blame for the current state of affairs at the company can be attributed to their product line, specifically: the very public failure of their Playbook tablet in 2011, the delay in releasing their latest Blackberry 10 handset (along with their flat-out refusal to revitalise and modernise the phone’s software) and, most inexplicably, doing away with the Blackberry’s most unique and successful selling point: the tangible keypad.

In a no-man’s-land strewn with the cadavers of also-rans like Panasonic, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, Blackberry will have to tread lightly, cap in hand, if they hope to see out the rest of the year. With statements like “there can be no assurance that this exploration process will result in any transaction,” it seems inevitable. Short of commissioning a voodoo doll of Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company could have new owners very soon.


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