Feeds

BBC, Slashdot mashed by spud pranksters

P-p-p-p-potato power... NOT!

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Everyone is ultimately gullible - it's just the degree of detail that separates us. However, when a bunch of pranksters claimed to be running a Web server from a dozen potatoes, you'd think the alarm bells would start ringing.

It may be unsurprising that Slashdot bought the bait and ran its Potato-powered Web server story. It is inevitable that Ananova should follow suit with the grammatically faulty Potatoes powers Web site. But it comes as a great surprise here at Vulture Central to see the BBC fall under the spud spell as well.

Mind you, it did have all the hallmarks for a wacky, but true, story.

Factually written, detailed techie copy on how the system was set up to deal with the very small current produced by electrode-prodded potatoes. It is also twinged the schoolboy memory as journalists remembered the electricity-from-a-lemon basic physics lesson.

Slashdot is a fairly hands-off setup and it just ran with a link to the pranksters' site. Ananova, on the other hand, went to the trouble of contacting the people behind it and ended up looking even more foolish by including a quote from protagonist Steve Harris. "We considered using hamster wheels but we think that would probably be cruel to hamsters. They are probably unreliable too - you would need loads of hamsters to make sure you always had power." ("I was only joking about the hamsters, guys!" Steve has written on the spud server website.)

But the best was from the BBC which gave the story serious credence and went to the trouble of researching and explaining how it would work chemically.

Sadly you can no longer read it as Auntie took it down as soon as it realised - two days later. But if you want to see the "Removed" signs click here.

The thing is, while you can actually get a very small amount of electricity from a potato, the claim that twelve potatoes could run a Web server for several days is ludicrous. One reader's estimate was maybe a few seconds - and that's with a lot more than a dozen potatoes.

Update

Well, shortly after we posted this story, Ananova pulled its spud cock-up.

Readers gladly told us of others that had been duped - although we'll have to take their word for it on some of them.

USA Today ran it apparently though we can't find it now.

Blue's News linked to the Slashdot article as Link of the Day. But of course that's gone too.

ZDNet in Germany definitely went for it - although we can't understand a word of it. If you speak German, look here.Similarly, the German site www.linux.de linked to the ZDNet article.

What does this tell us about the wired world? That the more people crave for attention, the more disconnected their brains become. That the great thing about the Internet is you can rewrite history when you realise how stupid you've been (The Reg is kinda guilty of this too, as one reader reminded us by emailing the URLs for before and after screen grabs where we made an April Fool's blunder - for all of 15 minutes and on 31 March). That people with a sense of humour will always have the last laugh.

Regarding The Reg's own little... ahem... mistake, Tony Smith writes: "the change was made within 15 mins, as I went straight back and took a look at the page code, spotting the hints. And I even got an email from the guy doing the fool (which, you'll note, was posted on 31 March, and therefore not technically an April Fool's Gag) commending me on my insight! If only he knew...

Rewriting history - damn right - and doing so before it even became history." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Space exploration is just so lame. NEW APPS are mankind's future
We feel obliged to point out the headline statement is total, utter cobblers
Down-under record: Australian gets $140k for pussy
'Tiffany' closes deal - 'it's more common to offer your wife', says agent
Internet finally ready to replace answering machine cassette tape
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
FedEx helps deliver THOUSANDS of spam messages DIRECT to its Blighty customers
Don't worry Wilson, I'll do all the paddling. You just hang on
The iPAD launch BEFORE it happened: SPECULATIVE GUFF ahead of actual event
Nerve-shattering run-up to the pre-planned known event
Win a year’s supply of chocolate (no tech knowledge required)
Over £200 worth of the good stuff up for grabs
STONER SHEEP get the MUNCHIES after feasting on £4k worth of cannabis plants
Baaaaaa! Fanny's Farm's woolly flock is high, maaaaaan
Adorkable overshare of words like photobomb in this year's dictionaries
And hipsters are finally defined as self-loathing. Sort of
Not a loyal follower of @BritishMonarchy? You missed The QUEEN*'s first Tweet
Her Maj opens 'Information Age' at the Science Museum
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.