Downtime


March 20, 2019  5:59 PM

Vote Leave’s early bath

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Vote Leave’s band of zip-wiring cowboy builders has been handed another fine: this time for sending out nearly 200,000 unsolicited texts to the poor sods who entered their contest to win £50m if they could correctly guess every single result of Euro 2016.

At this point, the Vote Leave campaign has a long record of really quite wild treachery, but it’s still frowned upon – seen as patronising, even – to say some voters were duped by the proven electoral lawbreaking that took place ahead of the EU referendum.

Makes you think, though. What sort of absolute dafty gives their contact details to a contest where the odds of winning the top prize is one in five sextillions? That sounds less like a number than it does a Rees-Mogg family pet lizard.

Surely therein lies a demographic vulnerable to spam from Vote Leave’s data agency AggregateIQ, a Cambridge Analytica-linked firm it spent 40% of its budget on to distribute Facebook adverts targeting our own flesh and blood with these digital church-fête-sweet-jar games.

Nobody can call us patronising for telling them they’ve been had. Not when Mum orders phoney diet pills; not when Dad thinks Martin Lewis is reaching out to him personally about PPI; and not when Uncle Knobhead votes to sack off the world’s largest trading bloc because he trusts a BeLeave ghoul in bookie’s clothing.

March 14, 2019  11:35 AM

Predicting Senturion’s magnificent seven

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Luxury wrist-worn supercar key manufacturer Senturion has revealed it will release seven limited edition £211,550 pieces, fashioned from some asteroid, later this year. But who’ll get them?

They remind us a bit of a Power Rangers watch – not aesthetically dissimilar – we pestered our parents to buy us back in the ‘90s. The overbearing mechanical design was kind of cool and gadgety, but the novelty wore off after about a week of feeling tediously lopsided and it was discarded as impractical tat. These Senturion keys are for those of us who, in the face of all taste and logic, never stopped thinking their Power Rangers watch was fantastic.

The strange thing is these simple sorts often manage to assume a wealth to afford these gizmos, hosting, say, a high-paid TV show about cars before smacking a producer in the face and in turn being given a higher-paid TV show about cars, and so on.

They hang out in the White House together, sharing their Power Rangers watch-type ideas. They gormlessly berate agreeable things like vegan sausage rolls and progressive Gillette adverts for a fee. Some just crow about flame throwers on very long podcasts.

So that’s Jeremy Clarkson, Donald Trump, Kanye West, Piers Morgan, Joe Rogan and Elon Musk down for these. Daniel Sturridge probably has the last one pre-ordered. Case closed.


March 6, 2019  4:59 PM

Never mind the bullocks, here’s the 5G cows

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

Government-funded agricultural project 5G RuralFirst has made an app that allows you to track the daily activities of a cow of your choice, live from its home on a connected farm.

Opportunities to enjoy 24-hour access to the movements of a po-faced mammal tolerating a confined space have been sparse since David Blaine vacated his plexiglass box above the Thames in 2003, and this is just the kind of PR gimmick cows have craved – especially after Knickers the giant steer swept the internet and won international adulation for their male counterparts last year, like some massive, hay-eating Jeremy Meeks.

Most of us go all daft for a bit of cow anthropomorphism. Not enough to stop stunning, slaughtering and consuming millions of them at industrial scale each year, but maybe enough to buy the occasional disc of Laughing Cow forgetting the profits don’t go to them, and certainly enough to download this app.

We wish we could say we arbitrarily connected with Augusta because her name was near the top of the list, but in truth we took great care finding the one that looked most in need of some love. Her profile reads, “It’s just a generalisation that us cows spend all day mooing. If anything, I’m better known around the farm for my snoring,” which is funnier than most Tinder bios, to be fair.


February 27, 2019  2:45 PM

HyperTikTokisation

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Try as we might to steer clear of the nutty content made on short-form video app TikTok, it seems to be seeping further into public consciousness by the day, and it’s now becoming a valuable influencer in India’s upcoming general election.

Reports have emerged that two of the main Indian parties are keeping an eye on the flurry of local political videos being shared on the platform, ranging from the sincere to the unsettlingly absurd. We found a subdued, Hindi-dubbed clip of Angela Merkel declaring her intention to marry Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in just one dark corner of the app, and, to be honest, it’s spooked us.

How to best describe the TikTok community’s output? Maybe it’s just silly. But it’s less quantifiable than the Vine silliness of yore. It has a knack for merging impotent, Disney Channel anti-humour with this menacingly intense, Gen Z manifestation of Dadaism. We just don’t get it. And that makes us feel very uneasy.

Maybe the planet’s just so screwed that everyone’s given up on things making sense. Jacob Rees-Mogg recently endorsed a viral left-wing deepfake intended to deride him, and he was right to. It accurately described his sinister world view, but it also had him singing and dancing, so it didn’t matter. That’s all people want. A bit of fun. Group pics in Nando’s. Meerkat jokes. TikToks. Simples.


February 21, 2019  9:49 AM

Richard Madeley vs the internet

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

Nothing even vaguely amusing has happened in the world of technology this week, cutting off the lifeblood of this blog at its source.

We watched on as MPs announced their newfound independence and hoped in vain for Chuka Umunna to sling us a bone with at least some mad throwaway accusation that Jeremy Corbyn builds computers out of marrows and jam – something, anything – but that sort of charisma remained in predictably short supply.

Our saviour turned out to be a bewilderingly facile take on the country’s current Isis bride debate put forward by none other than Richard Madeley, who, in conversation with Danny Dyer on opinion circus Good Morning Britain, hypothesised: “One thing’s for sure, she wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t for the internet.”

What a contribution. It works for almost everything, too. For example: one thing’s for sure, we wouldn’t have all this mindless clickbait trash if it wasn’t for the internet.

These inventions cause more hassle than they’re worth, don’t you find? Why don’t we smash the lights in, cut off our broadband connection and chant up at the sky for lightening to strike that Wikipedia volunteer’s keyboard into smithereens. Maybe Richard can recommend us some rib-tickling murder mystery paperbacks to read while our armed forces locate Tim Berners-Lee, tie a label round his neck and sail him off to Bangladesh.


February 13, 2019  5:07 PM

The package no one ordered

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

Tech gossip doesn’t get steamier than the richest person in the world, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, being blackmailed with his own dick pics by The National Enquirer.

But why would he mind who has to look at his Prime member? It seems like a natural next step on this steaming rock of dystopian inequality for the billionaires to start windmilling in everyone else’s faces, laughing hysterically as we wince and turn away.

It’s hardly going to be plastered everywhere even if it did get out, is it? Far hotter celebrities have been exposed in this way before, and even those photos feel pretty niche and tucked away.

Save for some excitable pub chat between the sorts who are into googling that kind of thing for a laugh, even the most compromising images of Bezos will fail to pique the curiosity of most. And the jokers in the pub will only be looking once – it’s not as if they’ll be returning to it every Friday as some new weekly item.

Is Bezos, then, really that brave to be standing up to these extortionists? Maybe it’s different in the US, but the last time someone appeared stark naked on daytime telly in the UK was just yesterday, and it was met with a collective eye roll. So show us the lot, Jeff. We’ll only judge you if you hold back on those sweet Valentine’s Day deals – and that one’s not a threat, it’s a promise.


February 7, 2019  2:02 PM

Baddiel and Jones unedited

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

For years now, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been hounded to add a feature that allows users to amend their typo-laden tweets, but do we really need more ways to take the platform so seriously?

Take the latest instalment of liberal folk (the good guys) tearing each other apart online: David Baddiel versus Owen Jones. Never in our lifetime did we expect to be siding against a national treasure like Baddiel, a man who has embodied our pain throughout decades of footballing heartache. But here we saw a comedian being got at by a quite socially awkward and, when pushed, snarky political commentator because he couldn’t back up his argument.

He finished the useless exchange by saying he had a killer comeback for Jones, but refused to use it. We’ve all had moments like that before. You’re in over your head with someone who actually knows what they’re talking about, so you tell them you have the tools to absolutely destroy them but have chosen to take the zen route and walk away. Later on, you come up with a combination of words that would’ve allowed you to sleep easy, but it’s too late.

With the option to edit tweets, this could all be rewritten. Second and third editions of this pointless guff between public figures who usually seem lovely would be released like books, with semantic tweaks on both sides. No thanks. Just delete all of it.


January 31, 2019  2:37 PM

Top banter for top bottoms

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

Gay dating app Scruff has had to ban pictures of users in their underwear because Google Play kept suspending it.

This is welcome news for those of us who eat pizza every single day and can’t be bothered to do any exercise whatsoever. Finally, a level playing field has emerged – except it’s not a level playing field, is it? Because that would suggest these sexy guys with abs of steel could ever match our excellent banter. Without their muscles to show off, all they have left is a misapprehension that an interest in astrology and gin constitutes a personality, whereas Downtime is the funniest weekly technology blog in the world.

The January sales were extremely tough on us, as we trawled through pages upon pages of discounted Urban Outfitters tat modelled by all the men who at various points in 2018 saw us Super Like them and rightly laughed in our face. These sites are like Generation Game conveyor belts of what we could’ve won if we weren’t absolutely obsessed with Ristorantes.

Not with this new policy, though. These models might have more time for our sardonic take on James Dyson if the competition’s gym bodies were concealed. We’re not on the beach anymore. We’re in the all-inclusive hotel restaurant, and you’re not allowed in unless you pop a top on. We can literally have our cake and eat it.


January 23, 2019  4:39 PM

Of Dyson men

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

There’s no getting around the fact James Dyson has revolutionised pub bogs up and down the country with his hand dryers. Rumours they store up and shoot out poo particles everywhere aside, the Airblade is a modern signifier of an establishment that looks after those of its belching, farting, urinating and sometimes even defecating patrons who might wish to dry their hands fast.

And who can forget his vacuum cleaner? A noughties icon that once doubled as a broomstick on which you could transcend class barriers; its creator vouchsafing us incrementally improved versions over the years while the famously stoic Henry ate its dust.

But what will billionaire Brexiter Dyson be known for by the next generation? Could he, perhaps, engineer some new kind of amphibious craft, capable of safely transporting rats from sinking ships; complete with tiny, automatic, retracting ladders? No, that’s unfair.

His company is actually off to Singapore to make cars, but chief executive Jim Rowan worries some cynics are bound take that the wrong way: “Because [Dyson’s] roots are in Britain and its founder has been a vocal supporter of Brexit, the decision to move its headquarters to Singapore is likely to make political waves.”

Don’t be paranoid, Jim! All the best for Singapore, which – did you know – recently signed a free trade agreement with the EU?!


January 16, 2019  4:09 PM

Let’s take back control, unless we have to get up

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

Mobile phone recycling comparison site Recyclezone has put together the findings of a survey that asked which household tasks Brits were most keen to palm off on smart technology, and you don’t need to ask us twice to play Vernon Kay with the results.

The survey said a laundry folding robot (32%) is the fifth most popular wish, which is where we pirouette towards our imaginary All-Star Family Fortunes studio audience in disbelief that nobody can fold their own underwear, before alienating them by shouting, “Just hire a maid!”

In at number four are kitchen appliances that connect to a voice assistant (34%). We feel Vernon would breeze past this one due to his limited ability to come up with a funny joke about efficient toasters on the spot – or, in our case, just before lunch.

Third place is occupied by a fridge that suggests recipes based on [we pause to bury our head in our hands – the audience are back onside and can’t breathe for laughter at this point] what’s already in it (37%). “We keep insulin for the diabetic cat in ours,” we quip in our fake Bolton accent. “You wouldn’t want that in your omelette!”

The second-highest answer is a smart vacuum cleaner (40%), which should obviously have come first ahead of a smart thermostat (46%), something that’s just objectively very easy to keep on top of yourself. What a stupid country this is. [Audience boos.]


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