It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
On 23 September 2013 at 14:45, YouTube user Webdriver Torso quietly uploaded a video.
The mysterious 11-second sequence of red and blue rectangles could easily have been lost, unexplained and unappreciated among YouTube's plethora of kittens and music videos.
But 28 minutes later Webdriver uploaded an almost identical video, and another an hour after that, and another, until eight months later - apparently happy with nearly 80,000 clips - they fell silent, with 236 hours of video to their name.
Almost all of the uploads follow the same pattern - 10 slides, each with a red rectangle, a blue rectangle and a computer-generated tone.
The shapes change size and the notes change pitch. Each video appears to be unique, but the format stays the same.
... In about an hour I had the data on every video posted by Webdriver since the account was created.
Having all this information in one place meant that I could do some analysis to see if there were any patterns.
A few graphs later and I had confirmed that Webdriver was a prolific worker.
At the peak, over Christmas, Webdriver was uploading a video on average every two minutes, presumably in between opening presents.
Webdriver also never sleeps, uploading about 400 videos on most days, every day Monday to Sunday.
I then turned my gaze to looking for anomalies in the data, discovering that of the tens of thousands of videos on the channel, they are all exactly the same length, except for two.
originally posted by: lemmin
Of course, it could just be some random guy having fun with the API, but either way, it seems pretty obvious that the videos, as well as the uploads, are handled programmatically.
Isaul Vargas, a New York-based software tester, spotted the videos in a post on BoingBoing and recognised them from an automation conference he had been at a year ago. They were being shown by a European firm that made streaming software for set-top boxes, the kit that sits under a TV and connects to services such as Sky or Netflix.
The company needed to be able to quickly and reliably upload digital video, a capability which it tested by uploading short, randomly generated snippets to its YouTube channel and running image-recognition software on it. "Considering the volume of videos and the fact they use YouTube, it tells me that this is a large company testing their video encoding software and measuring how Youtube compresses the videos," says Vargas.
So there's the answer. What looked like an insight into the murky world of espionage, or maybe even something otherworldly, turns out to be a little bit of a quality-control system leaking into the outside world