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Our hero twitches, a Lurv Tiger strikes, the All Stars riot and Cathy shows her true colours, all in the online Diary of a Workgroup Manager. This instalment also includes the story so far, well some of it...

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The great potato hoax

BBC, ZDNet and Slashdot Web sites hoaxed by Spud Server

A news story about a potato-powered server sounded so credible it fooled the experts. A remarkable story featured by many prominent news sources including the German arm of ZDNet, Ananova and our very own BBC, was found to be a hoax yesterday.

The clever tricksters who called themselves 'The Temple ov thee Lemur' now reckon that they built the system as a bet. Pages written about the potato-powered server were located here. The technical specs of the system consisted of around 12 potatoes (changed every couple of days), a cannibalised 386 processor with very low power consumption, 2MB of memory, 2MB of ROM with the Web pages and server software (customised by the group) burned in, and ROM on a network card for booting. This system was claimed to be running the pages that you can view here. As there are no moving parts in the machine power consumption was thought to be very low.

It seems that because everyone knows that you can create a bit of current from organic sources, many writers thought that the story was credible. It just goes to show how powerful the Web is as a marketing tool. One of the members of The Temple ov thee Lemur, Steve Harris, was quoted as saying "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." Someone should have seen that this was a hoax, with a comment like this.

26th May 2000

Tony Browne
Features Writer, PC Plus


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