February 13, 2020  10:00 AM


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In what must be one of the most inappropriate gestures in the history of human life, adult website CamSoda has offered free webcam sessions to the 3,600-plus passengers currently quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

“Covid-19” isn’t taking off, is it. Sars was a coronavirus, and everyone just called it Sars. It’s obviously the least of the World Health Organisation’s worries right now, but it really slept on coming up with a name for this one. You wouldn’t call WannaCry “the cryptovirus”, would you, or Storm Ciara “the weather”.

As for CamSoda’s lewd offer, we expect passengers’ initial exasperation soon subsided into the frantic entry of registration details up and down the ship. As the website’s vice-president Daryn Parker put it: “They’re not only dealing with the fear of infection, which is terrifying, but boredom.” Maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all.

We hope that by the time you’re reading this, everyone has made it off the Diamond Princess with a clean bill of health. And as a hazmat-suited worker knocks on the final cabin door, we hope they find Brenda from Bakewell nattering away on CamSoda, having made a new friend for life in Fantasia from Palm Beach.

February 5, 2020  4:10 PM

Don’t doubt ur vibe

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You can’t take your eyes off Elon Musk for a moment. Such is the rate of Downtime content generated by tech’s OG attention seeker, we once attempted to retire from indulging his antics altogether. But now he’s released an EDM track, hasn’t he, and in a dance as old as time, we’ve bitten.

Don’t doubt ur vibe is a wholesale departure from Musk’s debut single, which you might remember was an autotune rap tribute to murdered gorilla and even-then dated internet meme Harambe.

Unfortunately for the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, the legitimacy of Don’t doubt ur vibe’s key lyric, “Don’t doubt your vibe”, has landed in the Petri dish of none other than The Guardian’s head rock and pop critic, who literally casts doubt on the song’s professed absence of doubt. That’s nothing short of a disastrous appraisal for a track that, in its defence, relentlessly stresses the importance of being confident.

Of all the things you could level at a man who’s planning to fly to the moon for a laugh, we can’t imagine he’s haunted by many thoughts of self-doubt. Indeed, the question shouldn’t be so much whether Musk doubts his vibe, but rather what the hell that vibe is. There’s no way of even beginning to work that one out, but as he probably jests to an underling at least once a day while pointing at one of his poor tunnel-digging machines: “At least I’m not boring!”

January 29, 2020  5:20 PM

Techxit Britain

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BT’s press office has reported some “worrying” findings as part of its Skills for Tomorrow programme, designed to “close the digital skills knowledge gap that exists between parents and children”. It found that a quarter of parents don’t know what TikTok is and over half of them need to ask their kids for tech-related help.

We’d like to ask BT why it thinks any self-respecting adult needs to know about TikTok. There’s nothing more unpleasant than watching grown-ups joining in with that.

But what’s so bad about parents seeking occasional advice from the first generation of humans to be brought up on smart technology? If you had a Spanish partner and you raised a bilingual child together, would Rosetta Stone come out to condemn you for sometimes consulting the kid on how to use upside-down question marks?

Not enough parents refer to Gen Z wisdom. It would be a blessing if we all lived in a Disney show where the youth ran everything and dismissed the guttural dying cries of sad old relics who need to be told what to do. Alas, we live on a P&O Britannia sail-away party, and the kids who use their apps to spot upcoming icebergs are cast out as traitors and made to walk the plank.

Let’s face it: if we ever have a referendum on the UK’s continued use of technology, Remain’s only hope would be the nation’s will to protect those Facebook pages full of memes about the past.

January 23, 2020  9:33 AM

Mr Shithole

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Facebook has extended its apologies to China’s president Xi Jinping for erroneously translating his name to “Mr Shithole”.

With Slick Nick busy defending his employer’s decision to keep letting politicians post false adverts, the task of dishing out this new and unforeseen genre of corporate atonement fell to Facebook’s policy communications manager, Andy Stone.

“We fixed a technical issue that caused incorrect translations from Burmese to English on Facebook,” said Stone. “This should not have happened and we are taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Fine, fair enough. It turns out the translation software had somehow developed the habit of changing any word in the Burmese language that begins with “xi” or “shi” to “shithole”, which sounds absolutely nuts, but stranger things have happened. It wasn’t long ago that the US president – who doesn’t even have the excuse of being an algorithm – made the same mistake with El Salvador, Haiti and every country in Africa.

It’s thought that the chances of China responding in kind to an American company comparing its leader to an anal passage are slim, though, due in most part to Xi Jinping’s counterpart already being called “Mr Trump”.

January 16, 2020  10:23 AM

Get Huawei done

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The BBC’s Dan Walker has sat down with Boris Johnson to probe him over all manner of hot topics, including the government’s decision to let Huawei build its 5G telecoms infrastructure.

Having dismissed a doting US dossier, this was Johnson’s chance to put our minds at ease. How would he allay his nation’s fears of potential espionage? Why, by saying: “If people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us what’s the alternative.”

And far be it from a Football Focus presenter to kick the tyres of a statement like that. That would require listing some names: we could arguably get Samsung in, for instance – or Fujitsu, Nokia, Ericsson or Cisco. But Walker left it, seemingly satisfied that Johnson’s only given reason for the UK’s controversial association with Huawei is that we don’t have anyone else’s number.

Maybe Walker thinks that’s all we cereal-grazing proles deserve. When a politician gets an overwhelming mandate to lead a country by comparing the General Election to Dyno-Rod, they know they’ll never have to bore us with many details. Johnson should have just broken the fourth wall and said: Oh, come on. Why would China spy on you? You’ll willingly bung us a bob to have Big Ben bong for Brexit and you love Ant and Dec. Does that about cover it? You’re not exactly opaque, are you. Now eat your 5G.

January 8, 2020  3:22 PM

Reinventing the ball

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Samsung may have rattled through a number of new technologies in its CES 2020 keynote, but Ballie quite simply stole the show.

The very next day, Downtime interviewed several etymologists to try to get to the bottom of the rolling robot’s unusual name, and many speculated it could have derived from the fact that it’s a ball.

Our fascination with balls can be traced as far back as Costa Rica’s Diquís times (700-1530 AD), when over 300 stone balls were sculpted and dotted around the houses of chiefs. Brain-damaging History channel alien conspiracy show Ancient aliens has deemed these spheres too perfect to have been created by human beings, but when you look at them now, you just wonder why these supposedly super-intelligent aliens weren’t able to make them follow people around and tell them when to go for a run. Ballie can.

Say aliens really did make those stone balls. We’ll let them have it. But haven’t they been resting on their laurels ever since? Maybe they were smarter than us once, but we’ve come a long way in the past few years. Any alien at CES would have seen that.

At this point, what is it that extraterrestrials are meant to be able to do that we can’t? It’s always said that they’re watching us, but we can only see one species sticking cameras on its balls.

January 3, 2020  12:11 PM


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So here we are in 2020, and almost everything is still working as normal. The apocalyptic Y2K bug that caused such a thrill 20 years ago found its sequel in Y2.02K, but rather than nuclear reactor shutdowns, oil pumping station failures and Hawaiian power cuts, all we got this time was a couple of poxy video games not running.

Indeed, it was a mundane dawn of a fresh decade for everyone but the gamers looking to play either Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order or WWE 2K20 in the early hours of New Year’s Day. While Downtime was scouring every takeaway app in existence to find somewhere that was open at 3am, they were busy tweaking their systems back to 31 December 2019 to trick their games into launching.

Time being a famously abstract human construct that no other creature on the planet observes, we saw the news of these systems being sent to 31 December 2019 as the perfect excuse to return ourselves to 26 December 2001, where we could be found tentatively altering our PlayStation 2’s internal clock back to 25 December 2001, just so we could carry on playing The Simpsons: Road Rage as Christmas Apu.

It felt like a taboo to toy with time then, but now we know it ultimately changes nothing. Happy New Year.

December 11, 2019  4:33 PM

Not 4 sale

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The man behind State Snaps, a set of social media pages with over a million followers, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for getting his cousin to try to steal a domain name at gunpoint.

In what could easily pass as the trendiest Fargo storyline yet if only it had happened a bit further north, Iowan twentysomething Rossi Lorathio Adams II was so intent on acquiring the domain “” from its stubborn owner that he tracked him down to his home.

This obviously all sounds a bit over the top. But we didn’t realise at first that Adams had been operating under the domain “”. We can imagine how, as his empire grew, so did his obsession with replacing that corny number four. How are you seriously meant to build a credible brand known for sharing clips of Iowa State University students rubbing their boobs and jiggling their butts with a domain that isn’t totally earnest?

And so Adams’s cousin was sent into the domain owner’s abode, gun in one hand and easy, step-by-step guide to moving a domain to another GoDaddy account in the other, to correct that undeniably gauche number four once and for all. Shots were fired, but unlike in Fargo, no one dies in this story. Unless you’re reading this in like 2030, when we refuse to delete this post at gunpoint.

December 4, 2019  4:05 PM

Walking on the water

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There wasn’t much fanfare around Amazon Prime’s midweek maiden voyage into Premier League football coverage. We’d have missed the delectable choice of fixtures altogether had we not opened the app to check on the order status of a used £1.81 hardback of Hugh Cudlipp’s 1976 memoir Walking on the water.

That’s what we love about Amazon: the fast and cheap procurement of out-of-print books with titles that prophesy a Gabriel Jesus brace. It’s hard to care that it only paid 2% tax on £10.9bn UK revenues when you just want to find out how a former Mirror editor felt sacking their old mentor Cecil King for breach of conduct.

As you may have guessed, our evenings are relatively free, so we tuned in. Amazon’s arrow logo, curving into a coy, Anne of Cleves smile that says “I’m extracting all of Earth’s resources, ha” gently nestled inside the scoreboard; and former Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong – best remembered for kung fu kicking Xabi Alonso in a World Cup final – was one of many familiar faces in the punditry team. All in all, it felt about as guilt-free as asking Alexa to tell you a joke before saying “Alexa? I love you” in an empty room.

And so, just as Anne of Cleves escaped the guillotine, and Nigel de Jong escaped a red card, Jeff Bezos escaped reproach for seamlessly exploiting one more part of our lives. Cecil King could never.

November 28, 2019  10:49 AM

Keep on truckin’

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

Elon Musk has explained why the windows of Tesla’s tank-like Cybertruck smashed during a humiliating launch.

Chief designer Franz von Holzhausen cut a gleeful figure as he prepared to throw a steel ball at the armoured glass – but it shattered on impact. “Let’s try another one,” he beseeched his boss in a hellscape fast resembling a space-age boules tournament gone wrong. The second window met the same fate.

The problem was, according to Musk, the order of the demonstration. In retrospect, he said, they shouldn’t have hit the vehicle with a sledgehammer before reaching for their balls.

To Musk – and Von Holzhausen, who’s probably already been sent to Mars without supper for this debacle – we say accidents happen. But see it as a wake-up call; a lesson that cockiness gets you nowhere.

Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. If Musk had his way, the steel ball would’ve bounced straight off the window and into one of Von Holzhausen’s eye sockets; the billionaire’s version of a Love Island hunk being taken out by a cork at an Ibiza champagne party.

It’s time for Musk to get serious, lest a ball through a window is but an apéritif for one of his tunnels crushing a city of commuters – or worse, one of his brain-computer interfaces mistakenly playing footage of James Corden and Kanye West’s Airpool Karaoke.

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