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The evil genius of Mr Kipling and other misleading headlines

The thing about hi-tech criminals is that they are almost invariably as exceedingly poor at their jobs as Mr Kipling is at producing edible cakes.

'Almost' because there are probably one or two decent sorts in the hi-tech crime community: men and women who get away with large sums of money from the poorly protected systems of banks armed with nothing more dangerous than the impressive incompetence of their victims.

Douglas Boudreau, a senior computer science major from Warwick, Rhode Island, is no such class act, but a typical stock comedy villain of the information age.

Mr Boudreau has been charged with various crimes committed at Boston University where he is alleged to have appropriated information about his fellow students.

Sadly for Mr Boudreau, the sensitive data concerned was neither credit card numbers nor Swiss bank account details. It was copies of his peers' library cards and the equivalent of school meal vouchers.

The indictment was for the princely sum of $2,000, which is scarcely sufficient to pay for a month's worth of booze, fags and drugs for any self-respecting student.

The case raises serious questions about the quality of education offered by the university, and wider issues about declining criminal standards in the country generally credited with the invention of cyber-crime.


The Inland Revenue has lost more than 500 computers. To be precise, the department has admitted that numerous machines have been stolen and a few mislaid.

The Revenue can account quite accurately for the items that have gone missing - nine laptops lost, 166 stolen, and so on - but confesses that it doesn't know how many have been recovered.

In a report by the BBC, a spokesbeing said that, with 60,000 machines to look after, auditing posed problems.

As taxpayers, we can only sympathise. Outgoings are always easy to identify, but income is difficult to pin down with any precision.

So was it carelessness or poor book-keeping? Either way, it doesn't look good for the Revenue.

But it does spell an opportunity for Mole who has already written his covering letter to Her Majesty's Inspector of Taxes for the fiscal year ending April 2003. It reads as follows:

Dear sir, madam or outsourced mailroom operative, Enclosed please find my tax return for the financial year just ended. Sorry if some of the information is a bit vague or missing entirely, but when you earn as much as I do you'll appreciate that it's difficult to account for absolutely everything. I'm fairly sure that I incurred expenses of around 200,000 entertaining clients, travelling to exotic locations and failing to follow my doctor's advice to stay away from strong women and fast drink. On the credit side, quite a bit of cash rolled in. Exactly how much is unclear because the computer containing detailed records of Molesoft Inc financial affairs went missing the day your reminder letter arrived. The audit trail appears to have gone cold despite my best efforts to obtain a recent bank statement. I have asked my accountant to look into it. Can I get back to you within the next few months if he turns anything up? Thanks. Sincerely, Mole c/o Molesoft Holdings Cayman Islands P.S. Best of luck finding the missing computers.


Channel 4 was quick to recognise the potential of the internet and has poured resources into its highly successful website over the past five years.

As you might expect from a pioneer, Channel 4 has a better understanding than most of what it takes to stay ahead of the game, including an acute sense of the risks involved.

This is apparent from an advert for a web producer carried by After listing the usual requirements - proven technical and project management skills and editorial experience - Channel 4 goes on to warn candidates that only those with "knowledge of gaming and gambling" need apply.

All of which casts doubt on the neighbouring assertion that "this is a permanent role".


Variously characterised over the years as a geek, an evil genius, a business despot, the spawn of Satan and, most absurdly of all, as a clever man with a lot of money, the real persona of Bill Gates has remained an enigma.

Public appearances have done little to unravel the mystery. His strangely distracted interview technique, which mainly consists of rocking to and fro, staring absently out of the window and leaving the room without warning, led to unkind speculation about his mental health.

But, while it would be rash to describe Mr Gates as normal, it would be wrong to describe him as completely mad.

Mole's own observation is that Bill, the humanising component we would normally refer to as a personality, was missing at birth.

The result was the Gates: an undeniably powerful entity comprising enormous memory, prodigious reasoning and processing capabilities and a set of shrink-wrapped software components roughly equivalent to instincts, all assembled in humanoid form.

For a few worrying seconds this perception was challenged when Mole read the headline 'Bill Gates "filthy rich and a bloody good boss to boot"' over a story on What were the inverted commas about to reveal?

Had Redmond's spin doctors drafted in the research team that declared Saddam Hussein the most popular leader in the history of the planet after he won 100 per cent of the polls in Iraq's recent general elections?

Were we about to be subjected to video evidence from Microsoft employees under such headings as 'How Bill saved my marriage', 'Why my kids love Uncle Bill?' and 'This guy really cares'?

Was some horribly warm, sensitive and deeply vulnerable side to the Prince of Dorkness about to be put on show as he hand-reared a sickly puppy or broke down in tears at the memory of his long-dead mother?

Thankfully the answer to all these questions is no. The story turned out to be a routine account of the Gatester's predictable appearance at the top of Forbes magazine's annual rich personage's league table.

The inverted commas heralded no witness statements but were merely used to cover the embarrassment of the teenaged headline writer in his or her tumescent state of admiration.

The thinking behind the headline is that filthy richness and bloody good bossness are twin virtues joined at the hip.

A straw poll of Molesoft employees suggests that this charming notion doesn't stand up. A scientific survey of Microsoft staff would put such romantic twaddle beyond all reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, those who work for Mr Kipling have nothing but praise for their leader, who is said to be a kind, generous and compassionate man.

Which only confirms Mole's long-held opinion that, when it comes to employee satisfaction, the computer industry has much to learn from the confectionery trade.

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