despicable me 2 300x240 Cartoons more popular than ever at UK box officeCinema news now, and animation has replaced action as the UK’s favourite film genre for the first time.

According to figures from the British Film Institute, the UK were hot for cartoons, with Despicable Me 2 (pictured), Disney’s Frozen, Monsters University and The Croods, all in the UK Top Ten last year.

The popularity of animated films was attributed to the fact that young people between the ages of seven and 24 were the UK’s biggest filmgoers in 2013, making up 47% of total cinema admissions.

Only 33 animated films were released in 2013, as opposed to 153 comedies, and yet they represented more than 20% of the total UK box office and generated £247m in 2013 – a £100m increase on the previous year.

The chairman of Animation UK, Oliver Hyatt, reckons: “Part of the recent success of animated films is that they are becoming more sophisticated and appealing to a broader audience. There is no longer the feeling that they are just for a young audience and adults don’t feel strange going to see them anymore. I would say that within the film industry, animation has been playing catch-up for years but the medium is maturing quite fast and there’s more of these films, creating more competition, which has been good for driving up the quality of the genre.”

“The really pleasing thing is that there is now a focus on making these family-oriented animated films in this country as well, and in the next couple of years there is some high-profile talent voicing UK animations. Hopefully, we won’t just be watching animation, we’ll be making these high-quality animated films ourselves.”

Action films still did okay mind, with Iron Man 3 leading that field and the top performing comedy was The Hangover 3, which was a bit terrible. Sci-fi did well too, due to the £31m grossing Gravity.

Total UK box office revenues exceeded £1bn for the third year in succession. Although the success of British films such as Fast and Furious 6, Les Misérables and Philomena meant UK films generated $4.1bn (£2.4bn) worldwide – 11% of the global box office – this was a decrease from 2012, when Bond film Skyfall generated $5.3bn.

Oh and people have seemingly had it with 3D too, as Gravity was the only film that seemed to woo cinema goers to wear uncomfy glasses for three hours.

Well done the UK box office!

Is Amazon going down the pan?

July 25th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

amazoninstant Is Amazon going down the pan? More than $16bn just fell off the value of Amazon last night, as investors ditched it for failing to post consistent profits.

Amazon has been spreading itself around like a guy covered in Lynx in a Brentford nightclub, flirting with smartphones, investing in warehouses and ridiculous drones and spending money hand over fist – and it’s making a negative impact on their figures. As a result, the company has posted its biggest net loss for almost two years: £126m.

Shareholders have forgiven Amazon’s woolly headed approach to making a profit in the past few years, putting it down to the perils of running a mega international multi channel super corps. But with some now deserting the company, could cracks be starting to show?

It’s likely that this spendy trend will continue into the third quarter as Amazon announced it expected to post further operating losses of up to $810m.

But with the arrival of the Fire smartphone, Amazon is confident it can make it up.

‘We have a tremendous amount of opportunity,’ chief financial officer Tom Szkutak said: ‘While it’s impacting short-term results, we’ll obviously be looking to get great returns on invested capital.’

Unless their new smartphone and pay TV service is crap, in which case, maybe not…

Pubgoers unbothered by World Cup

July 25th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

pint of beer 300x180 Pubgoers unbothered by World Cup The World Cup left Britain’s pubs a little flat, as it emerged that the tournament had no knock-on effect in driving booze sales.

Mitchells & Butlers, Britain’s largest managed pubs group, had a disappointing World Cup as football fans spent less per head on food and no more on drink during the tournament.

The company, behind the Harvester, Toby Carvery, All Bar One and Country Pubs chains, had flat sales in the 14 weeks to July 19 with food marginally up (0.6%) and drink slightly down (0.5%). That is against overall growth of 1.1% in the first half.

M&B, which added 173 pubs to its roster last month when it paid £266m for the Orchid estate, said overall sales grew 3.8 per cent in the third quarter.

Chief executive Alistair Darby said: “Despite the slowdown in eating and drinking during May and June we remain confident in our well-established strategy.”

Their rivals Marston’s had a similar tale of woe when it came to their 1800 pubs, with sales stabilising, but had strong growth in supermarket and offy sales of its own brews – including Marston’s Pedigree, Hobgoblin and Banks’s, which grew 10% during the World Cup, as customers stocked up in supermarkets to watch the tournament at home.

Barclays analysts have said the slowdown at both pub groups was linked to a slight softening in consumer spending, but they were also faced with tough comparatives from last year.

It’s also clear that people would rather shout at Adrian Chiles from their own sofa, than join a chorus of abuse down at the local.

sky BSkyB do 7bn deal with Murdoch to create SKY EUROPE The media powers that be have been cooking up schemes to take over the world again, and it’s now been announced that BSkyB have agreed with Rupert Murdoch to buy Sky Deutchland (owned by 20th Century Fox) and Sky Italia for £7bn.

This pan-European media conglomerate will henceforth be known as Sky Europe.

The plan is to create a pay TV and broadband behemoth in countries that are currently less developed (ie: people don’t stream Game of Thrones episodes directly into the brains every night).

In the UK, their satellite subscription service has reached saturation point, so they need new markets to take over with evil Murdoch-tastic Skyness.

Jeremy Darroch, CEO of BSkyB said:

‘The three Sky businesses are leaders in their home markets and will be even stronger together. By creating the new Sky, we will be able to use our collective strengths and expertise to serve customers better, grow faster and enhance returns.’

Meanwhile, James Murdoch, Fox’s co-chief operating officer and celebrity bender of the truth, said:

‘Ultimately, a pan-European Sky is good for customers, who will benefit from the accelerated technological innovation and enhanced customer experience made possible by a fully integrated business.’

Slovenia, prepare yourselves for loads of brand new episodes of Dance Moms.

sse Its payback time for SSE after winter storm cock ups Ofgem has slapped SSE and UK Power Networks on the wrist for their inept handling of last year’s winter storm damage, and ordered them to pay out an extra £3.3million to the people affected – that’s on top of the £4.7m they’ve already paid.

Ofgem added that they would be doubling the minimum amount energy companies should pay out for storm-a-geddon power fails and warned that energy companies need to pull their fingers out and get their customers re-connected more efficiently.

They said that SSE and UKPN ‘could have done more to get customers reconnected faster and to keep them better updated on what was happening.’

Last year, thousands of SSE customers were reduced to shivering in the dark and huddling around a candle on Christmas Eve, but Ofgem said although SSE and UKPN were specifically and adversely affected by the weather, they were a bit crap at fixing things.

Meanwhile, SSE has reported a loss of 110,000 customers over the last three months. But they’re still not exactly cash strapped. It’s reporting a slight rise in earnings per share.

Will the Big Six profit bandwagon ever be derailed? Only the Competition and Markets Authority knows the answer…

Deals of the Day: Friday 25th July 2014

July 25th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

moto g 300x168 Deals of the Day: Friday 25th July 2014Are you after a new phone? Your old one keeps freezing and going to sleep like goldfish that refuses to die in the ornate tank in a Chinese restaurant?  Or do you need a second one so you can keep your personal life and drug deals separate?

Well, we’ve spied a decent offer for the Motorola Moto G (4G, in black, sim free) where you can pick one up for £129.99. Now, you’ll need a code for it like you’re some kind of spy, but that makes it all the more exciting (provided you don’t get killed and stuffed in a hold-all). Have a look here.

MORE DEALS OF THE DAY!

Watch Dogs DedSec Edition (PS4) inc 23cm Figure, Steelbook, Artbook & DLC @ Base £44.99
NUS Extra Card for Graduates £9.99 @ Endsleigh
24 – Complete Season 1-8 + Redemption (New Packaging) £32 on DVD
Surface Pro Windows 8 128GB Intel i5 tablet for £389.99
Call of Duty: Ghosts – Season Pass (PSN) PS3/PS4 with 5% discount code for £11.99
Microsoft Surface Pro 128GB SSD, 10.6″ HD 1080p, 4GB DDR3 RAM, Windows 8, i5 processor £379.95 @ MobyMemory
Wii party U console basic pack for £169.99
HTC One max sim free for £284.99
Quad Core 8GB 1TB Desktop PC Computer 4.2GHz AMD A8 APU for £229.95
Blaupunkt 42″ Slim Full HD TV yours for £199.98
Citroen C1 1.0 VTi Touch 3dr 24 month lease – £554 initial payment, £92.40 per month VAT Included @ Central UK Vehicle Leasing

FOR MORE BARGAINS, VISIT HOTUKDEALS

Nuisance calls: still a nuisance

July 25th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

rotary cell phone 300x197 Nuisance calls: still a nuisanceThe Telephone Preference Service is bloody useless, say Ofcom.

The TPS runs a register designed to reduce any unsolicited sales calls. Firms can be fined for ignoring the list.

According to the findings of the research, while the TPS is “highly effective” at stopping calls to consumers registered on TPS by legitimate telemarketing companies,  TPS-registered consumers still receive on average 2.5 nuisance calls per month.

It transpires that only a third of “nuisance” calls are blocked by the service, which allows individuals to opt-out of marketing calls, research has found.

However some rogue companies are flouting the rules, according to regulators. And us lot unwittingly give consent for calls by ticking a box on devious online sales forms.

The research, commissioned by Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office, found that registering with the TPS blocked 35% of all nuisance calls.

If you’re an individual, registration on the TPS is free and takes 28 days to become effective.

It is a legal requirement that all organisations – including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties – do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have the individual’s consent to do so.

There are plans to increase the level of fines levied on firms that make nuisance calls, and these are due in October.

Fines of up to 20% of annual turnover could be handed down to firms using information gathered by unlawful unsolicited calls and texts. That’ll learn ‘em.

Let’s see what the swarthly named Claudio Pollack from Ofcom has to say: “We understand how frustrating it is to still receive some unsolicited sales calls despite being TPS-registered,”

“That is why we welcome tough enforcement action from the ICO against rogue companies who breach the rules.”

Currently, the ICO must demonstrate “significant damage or distress” caused to individuals by nuisance calls or spam texts in order to issue monetary penalties of up to £500,000.

Christ, let’s hope no mobile company has pissed off its users by spamming them willy nilly then. Oh.

Mobile phone holiday beach GUIDE 01 Tour operators ripping you off for your family holiday?Companies ripping you off is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grass on them. As it is the summer holidays, you should be aware of some of the sneaky tricks tour operators are doing to screw you out of money.

Of course, in the peak season, prices go up for no reason, but operators are taking advantage of families in other ways.

HolidayPirates have got some operators rumbled and have shown that some parents are being hoodwinked into paying premium by charging them MORE for children than they do for adults.

In one case, they found that a holiday was being sold as £245 per person (including all extras for the school holidays), but the holiday is based on four adults sharing. However, if you swap two adults for two kids – for the same flights, same hotel, same everything – the price goes up to £344 each.

In some instances, you can’t just book for adults and take the children instead, so if you’re thinking of pulling a fast one, better buy some fake moustaches for the nippers.

Some tour operators will tinker with prices dependant on the child’s age.

If you book one holiday for a family of four (two adults, one infant and one child aged 12) and one for exactly the same sized family but with the child being 13 (two adults, one infant, one child aged 13), you’ll see a big hike in the price of £133 each.

Have a look at HolidayPirates’ findings and, when you’re booking your family holiday, be sure to play around with the options before processing any payment to make sure you’re not being ripped off.

ANT-AGEDDON

July 24th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

ants ANT AGEDDONBEWARE OF THE ANTS! THE ANTS ARE COMING! Not just regular ants, either, but ASIAN SUPER ANTS!

*calls Daily Mail, faints*

What’s more, these super ants, also known as Fire ants, will eat through your home’s electricity cables and live in your plug sockets, causing potential fires.

They love a bit of electricity, because they’re EVIL, and they don’t even care if they get killed – it just makes their army stronger.

Fire ants aren’t usually found on these shores, but the species first made an appearance back in 2009, when 35,000 were found crawling all over a National Trust property in Gloucestershire. (Who counted them all?).

Now, a colony have taken over a house in Hendon, North West London, and they’ve been spotted in Buckinghamshire, too.

Jo Hodgkins from the National Trust said: “The problems with them are they seem to get attracted to electricity and they can take up residence in plug sockets and power sources, creating a fire hazard. They can easily establish themselves in somewhere like Britain and I would not be surprised if they colonised other areas. They are pretty tough little creatures.”

RUN! RUN from your new ant overlords!

complaint 300x300 It could be worth your while complaining  but check your sector firstWe seem to be experiencing an actual summer this year, which is novel. However, our friends over at Which! are investigating whether this is a summer of discontent by surveying over 3,600 people to ask them about their favourite complaints.

As a result we have the updated top five sectors that give people the most cause for complaints. Few would be surprised to see telecoms, energy, and money, topping the list, but also beating off shoddy competition are public services and parking, according to the Which! research.

Unsurprisingly, most people gave up at the first stage of complaining, and if the supplier told them to naff off, many people did just that. However, where people were tenacious enough to escalate issues to an independent reviewer such as an ombudsman, 68% of cases were upheld in the consumer’s favour. Reasons given for giving up at the first hurdle included not knowing that there were complaint schemes, fearing that the process would be too complicated and not believing that they’d be successful. Which isn’t really the right attitude now is it?

The Which! research also found that the chances of winning an escalated complaint – a ‘win’ being classified as a company being told to apologise, to give compensation or to take remedial action – varied greatly by sector.

Escalated complaints to do with energy and telecoms – including broadband, mobile and landline services – proved very successful in 2013/2014, with between 86% and 95% of people being successful.

However, during the same period, only 58% of consumers who had complained to the financial ombudsman won their case, while for public service complaints to the parliamentary and health ombudsman, just 42% of cases were upheld.

But the most valuable statistic has to be that, according to the figures, just over half of motorists who’d appealed their parking tickets to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal were successful in 2012/13. Save a quick £60 anyone?

fiesta 300x225 Ford Fiesta is biggest selling UK car everThe Ford Fiesta has become the best-selling car of ALL TIME.

The cheery little runabout that has been knocking around for nearly 40 years, has sold 4.1 million, to become the best selling car in the UK.

It has overtaken (OVERTAKEN HAHAHA) the Ford Escort, the previous record holder, to become the most popular model among British drivers.

The Fiesta was a mere £1,865 when it came out in 1976, and soon become a hit with the young set and lead the small car end of the car market ever since.

Mark Ovenden, head of Ford Britain, said: ”The Ford Fiesta has gone from strength to strength and today’s car combines style, value, driving dynamics and remarkable technologies such as the multi-award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine.”

“It continues to outsell its nearest retail competitor by more than two to one – and that really tells the story of this extraordinary car.”

Also, the advancements in technology differ somewhat from the car’s launch. For example, it would now take more than 80 modern-day Fiestas to generate the same nitrous oxide emissions of a single 1976 Mk1 model.

This first-generation Fiesta, with the 46bhp four-cylinder 950cc petrol engine, weighed around 800kg and achieved 37.7mpg. Today a 1.0 litre Fiesta is more than a third heavier, but achieves nearly 66mpg.

Fiesta models are developed in Dunton, Essex, while engines are assembled in Dagenham, Essex, and Bridgend, south Wales. Cars destined for the UK market are built in Germany and Spain.

Well done Fiesta!

Italy gives Google 18 month privacy deadline

July 24th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

google Italy gives Google 18 month privacy deadline The way Google handles data is under fire from Italy, who have given them 18 months to change their ways and improve user privacy.

France have already fined Google £150,000 because they failed to co-operate with its laws on tracking and storing information, and it looks like Italy might be next to hit the company with a piffling fine that wouldn’t even make a dent in the average Google CEO’s lunch bill.

The Italian data protection Authority have told Google that they must ask its users for permission to use their personal information before they go spreading it around Facebook in the form of targeted ads about Fitflops and belly fat.

They also said they must honour customer requests to delete data within two months. Or else.
Google are co-operating so far, perhaps fearing reprisals from burly, well-connected Sardinian men called Beppe.

They said: “We’ve engaged fully with the Italian DPA throughout this process to explain our privacy policy and how it allows us to create simpler, more effective services, and we’ll continue to do so. We’ll be reading their report closely to determine next steps.”

How about you stop selling our data to advertisers without our permission, Google? That would be logical ‘next step.’

As they say in Italy – VAFFANCULO.

Apple start showing off Yosemite, Sam

July 24th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Apple will dripfeed everyone with their new operating system, Yosemite, as of tomorrow.

OS X Yosemite was announced in May, and now it will be available as a public beta test, which will kick off around 1pm EST (which is around 6pm in the UK). If you want to test it out, then hit this link and sign up.

yosemite OS 500x290 Apple start showing off Yosemite, Sam

So what’s new? Well, Yosemite will use translucency throughout the system, so if you didn’t like the ‘flat’ colourful UI design of iOS 7, you’ll probably hate this.

There’s also a thing called ‘Handoff’, where Yosemite and iOS 8 will work easier with each other. If you start work on your iPad, it’ll be simpler to pick up where you left off on your Mac (and vice versa). You’ll be able to answer phonecalls from your iPhone with Yosemite too.

There’s improvements to iCloud and the Mail app too, and AirDrop will now work between iOS and Mac devices.

There’s a load of other new things going on as well, but we advise that, if you’re really interested in all that, you let Apple tell you all about it, here. The short version is that Apple want to hook your iPhone up with your other devices in a way that is much easier for the user.

Europe’s banks been robbed

July 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bank 300x193 Europes banks been robbedThe security of the European Central Bank has been compromised!

A security breach has lead to a host of email addresses and other contact info being stolen from a European Central Bank database.

The ECB have told everyone to calm it, as the information leaked is related to those who had registered to attend its events, such as conferences or visits, and was not encrypted.

Although, you know, you wouldn’t necessarily be on their database for the lols, but the ECB reaffirm their fans that no sensitive stuff was compromised.

The ECB said the matter first came to its attention after it received an anonymous email seeking money in return for the stolen data.

They also said it was in the process of contacting those who may have had their contact information stolen, while all passwords on its website have been changed as a precautionary measure.

Now, let’s try and do this whole anonymous threat thing again. Demanding money in exchange for a thing you’ve done, but failing to say who you are seems a bit daft.

Modern times, ladies and gentlemen.

People are angry at sneaky insurance charges

July 24th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

insurance 289x300 People are angry at sneaky insurance charges Two out of three people are incensed about paying the sneaky charges hidden in the small print of insurance policies. It’s becoming a thing now to insert charges for cancellations or amendments to your policy and consumers are NOT happy.

A Which!!! survey revealed that nearly half of insurance firms have increased admin fees in the last few years – fees that have no real basis in reality, like a £20 charge to set up a policy or get copies of documents.

So why all the secret fees and subterfuge? Well, it’s those goddamn comparison websites, innit?

Insurance companies want to keep those all important headline fees down, so they have to spread the actual cost somewhere else. It’s also happening with mortgages, credit cards and bank accounts. In fact, it’s like the whole world is turning into Ryanair.

And we’re getting wise to it, too. 68% of those surveyed said they were aware of the manipulative trickery that companies employ to keep headline costs down.

Hit it, Ricardo Lloyd-o! “Consumers are fed up with being hit with unexpected, additional costs for financial products that lead to them paying more than they bargained for. These fees can be hard to avoid, and people often don’t know what they’re really paying for.”

“We want the financial services industry to stop sneaky fees and charges, and put an end to excessive, unclear and hard to compare fees that do nothing to improve the low level of trust in these markets.”

You betcha.