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Mark Ward | 13:01 UK time, Friday, 1 October 2010


On Tech Brief today: Hot chicks fool the spooks, a gaming cataclysm and Ballmer's bonus.

• The steely-eyed cyber soldiers who keep the internet safe are free of the vices that plague mere mortals. Set up a fake Facebook identity using a snap of a pretty girl and sassy entries on hacking and they will see through it in an instant. Or not.

Tech Radar reveals that Thomas Ryan created just such a fake identity, called Robin Sage, to see how gullible those cyber defenders are:

"Sage was able to connect with staff at the offices of the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US Marine corps, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and British military personnel serving alongside Americans."

Ms Sage even got job offers from a bank, a games firm and Google. Anyone curious as to why the scam worked, need only know this:

"When it's a hot girl, people have blinders on."

• The problem with JPEGs is that they are just too big. Taking up all that space on your hard drive like some digital whale. Help is at hand thanks to Google which is pushing its own-brand skinny image format called WebP or Weppy. Stephen Shankland at CNet broke the news:

"Google plans to announce the new WebP graphics format today along with its research that indicates its use could cut image file sizes by 40 percent compared to today's dominant JPEG file format. That translates to faster file transfers and lower network burden if Google can convince people to adopt WebP."

• Paladins, are you ready? Warlocks, are you ready? Warriors, are you ready? You get the idea. The next expansion for World of Warcraft looks set to drop in early December according to the obsessives at Wowhead and MMO Champion. Oli Welsh at Eurogamer reads the runes:

"[T]he fan sites have concluded that the third expansion for the mighty MMO will release on December 7th - a Tuesday. This tallies with recent rumours that Cataclysm had slipped slightly from a November to a December launch date."

• Pity Steve Ballmer. The impoverished mite has had his bonus cut this year even though Microsoft racked up its highest-ever sales. Reuters says it was slashed because of the failure of the Kin phone, Windows mobile troubles and its failure, so far, to produce a rival to the iPad:

"Ballmer, 54, received a cash bonus of $670,000 for the fiscal year ended June 30, equal to his salary, but only half of the maximum bonus payout, according to a filing with securities regulators on Thursday."

• He's not hurting for cash though:

"With his bonus, Ballmer got a total direct pay package of $1.34 million for fiscal 2010, about 6 percent higher than $1.26 million the year before."

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