Fail, Seinfeld and Tina Fey: A Zeitgeist

I use Google Insights quite a bit—I find it a very useful way to measure interest in topics. Here’s one I keyed in just for the hell of it. Red is the word success and blue is the word fail. The chart covers from 2004 to today: What seems to have happened is a surge …

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Offended By Spit

The truth about writing, especially comic writing, is that you’re always going to offend somebody. The trick is not to do it deliberately, but also, not to care when you do. Seinfeld’s The Boyfriend episode is a classic of the genre, mocking JFK assassination buffs (Stone’s JFK had just come out) with the spitting sequence. …

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Gaming Idol With Dialers

If you’re wondering why Sanjaya Malakar has done surprisingly well in American Idol, here’s one possible answer: dialers. Dialers are pieces of software usually stealthily installed on a victim’s computer to automatically dial expensive premium telephone numbers. The victim only finds out when they receive their phone bill. In this case, the dialer, openly available …

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Dancing Queen and the End of Popular Music

The other night, as I lay sweating in my mum’s flat in boiling England in the early hours, a crowd of 20 somethings spilled out of a nearby club. The usual hubbub of indistinct chatter ensued as they prepared to disperse. Then the females (I assume; I couldn’t actually see anything) started singing something together, …

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Citizen Pundits

Forget citizen journalism. How about citizen punditry? An unnamed taxi driver IT specialist appeared on the BBC’s news 24 after being mistaken for his fare, technology pundit Guy Kewney. Despite the BBC’s apparent efforts to suppress the moment, the Daily Mail has recovered it, according to Guy himself, who is rightly highly amused that his …

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The U.S.’ Next Big Thing: SMS-TV

No question that the U.S. is ahead on lots of cool stuff, but it has yet to be subjected to the world of SMS-TV. SMS-TV is when TV programmes let viewers vote, or submit competition entries, by text message, usually via a premium number. I have to admit I’ve never done this, but a lot …

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More On Fingerprint Readers

This week’s WSJ.com/AWSJ column (subscription only, I’m afraid) is about biometric fingerprint readers. Microsoft’s new offering seems to have reinjected some vigour into an otherwise obscure corner of the market. As I say in the column, I’m not convinced that fingerprint scanners are the way to go, not least because of tested methods of fooling …

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Smelly Emails

From the Really Silly Ideas That May Catch On So I Better Not Be Too Rude About It Dept, here’s word of a device that will deliver you scented emails. Sort of. The BBC (via the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review) reports that British Internet provider Telewest Broadband is testing an air freshener that is …

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News: Shredded Stasi Documents To Be Pieced Back Together

 The kind of story I love: technology used to bring the oppressor to book. The Register reports that documents of the East German State Security Service (Stasi), torn into shreds and stored in 16,000 brown sacks, may soon be pieced together by a software program developed by the Fraunhofer Institute.   On Monday, the Institute …

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