News round-up – the best of the week’s stories

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

bwbest 300x255 News round up – the best of the week’s storiesBest of Bitterwallet

Licence fee, RIP? bw/bbc
£2.66 per head for Christmas lunch? Here’s how bw/crimbo
Did a fat person delay two trains? bw/large
Now, vaginas can smell like peaches thanks to magic drink bw/pusspuss
Has the recession made you fat and ugly? bw/noscrubs
Man threatens to kill Tesco staff with a photo of a gun bw/papercutyoutodeath
Cheaper and more frequent football on TV? bw/unbelievablejeff
Couple give hotel bad review and get charged £100 for it bw/tripadvisor

Best of the Rest

Barbie. Turns out it is all a bit sexist theguardian/barbie computer engineer story
Jaguar want you to tweet while you drive autoexpress/justdrive tech
PlayStation hit by password leak http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/security/cyberwar/gamer-passwords-leak-derptrolling-playstation-156202
George Osbourne’s £16m blackhole of money independent/public finances
There’s going to be a LOT of Dyson things knocking about managementtoday/£1bn for 100 products
House growth! Nice eh? relocatemagazine/top 20 uk cities
Facebook ramp up the drone business 12newsnow/droning on and on

Have a lovely weekend

188979356 c540769ec6 News round up – the best of the week’s stories

child saving money 300x204 Solve the pocket money problem and stalk your children. Win/win.For those lucky enough to have children, the issue of pocket money rears its ugly head sooner than you might think, although it could be said that you are never too young to learn about how to make the most of a small amount of money.

However, with a myriad different ways to pay for stuff these days, none of which involving actual cash, the practicality of paying out pocket money can become a problem. Who has that many pound coins. So modern technology comes to the rescue again with some apps that take the hassle out of paying pocket money AND give you an innocent way to stalk your child.

There are two main apps, GoHenry and Osper. Both work on the basis of parents funding a bank account for the child, and the child has a debit card (partnered with either Visa or Mastercard respectively) that allows them to spend their money wherever a debit card is accepted, or to withdraw cash from a cash machine. They cannot spend what isn’t there, so there’s no risk of them getting into debt, but it does allow them to practice saving and spending before they are let loose on the world of credit cards at 18.

As an added bonus, the apps, through which you manage actually paying your children their weekly/monthly income, provide you with an instant notification of spending on the child’s card. This means that you can check-up on your little darling to make sure they are where they say they are, provided they are spending money doing it, of course.

But while this is less likely to be an issue for the eight year olds (the youngest age you can get one of these cards), they can run right up to age 18, although whether the pocket money will still be flowing at that point is perhaps another question. You will need access to at least one device (smart phone or tablet) so that the parent can manage the funding, and the child can check their balance and purchase history. Cards can be blocked immediately should the card get lost (likely) or stolen.

Of course, these people are not providing this service out of the goodness of their own hearts and there is a charge. GoHenry currently gives you three months free, and then charges £1.97 per child per month. Osper is free for a year, and then costs £10 per card per year.

So if you don’t want to pay out anything extra in pocket money, or you just don’t like the idea of an eight year old with plastic, you could try Roosterbank which is an app that does it all virtually- basically keeping a record of how much you owe your child in actual money. The child can save their pocket money for something (and earn ‘interest’) and you can deduct ‘money’ from their account when you buy them something. Basic membership is free, but has limits on the number of transactions. The app also includes games (with premium features) and a shop selling actual toys etc, although they can’t physically pay for things themselves as there’s no real money in their account. Again there is an iPhone app, but there is also a desktop version. Roosterbank also allows you to pay children extra for doing extra chores. Bit like bob-a-job. But a bit more expensive.

Firefox say cheerio Google and hello Yahoo

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

firefox 300x288 Firefox say cheerio Google and hello YahooYahoo is to replace Google for Firefox’s web browser.

The move ends a decade long partnership with Google and the Mozilla Foundation, and will take place in the US in December.

Although Firefox users in Europe shouldn’t notice much of a change, Yahoo has said the deal “provides a framework for exploring future product integrations and distribution opportunities to other markets”.

Yahoo’s partnership is for five years, wherein they hope to introduce and enhanced search experience with an immersive design, which will go out to Yahoo users early next year.

“Mozilla is an inspirational industry leader who puts users first and focuses on building forward-leaning, compelling experiences,” said Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO.

“This partnership helps to expand our reach in search and also gives us an opportunity to work closely with Mozilla to find ways to innovate more broadly in search, communications, and digital content.”

Google had paid £300 million a year to be Firefox’s chosen one – which accounts for 90% of the browser’s annual revenue, however things have been a bit shaded since Google launched Chrome.

snapchat 300x300 Amazon to send deals through Snapchat that last for secondsAmazon have decided to adopt a novel approach to getting people to spend money with them. They’ll be using Snapchat to send exclusive deals to customers which will last a matter of seconds.

This partnership will allow you to also send gift ideas and recommendations as well as receiving deals that’ll be gone in 10 seconds. It looks like they’ll be using this on Black Friday and really getting going with it in the build-up to Christmas.

Amazon’s director of social John Yurcisin said: “Instagram and Snapchat are the two of the fastest growing mobile social networks where people are engaging and interacting with each other in entirely new ways.”

The Amazon Instagram page is growing in popularity and if you click on an image posted by them, it’ll send you straight to the product page. There might be a few people who get the hump with that, if they initially intended to double-tap to like the image, and end up on Amazon’s website instead.

The retailer is really gunning for social shopping. Last summer, they created a Twitter hashtag which allows you to place an item in your Amazon shopping cart simply by replying to a tweet.

Driverless cars! They might get hacked!

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

car in flood Driverless cars! They might get hacked!With all technology, at some point, writers are legally obliged to worry about hackers getting dastardly with it.

And so, to driverless cars, who are now being thought of as an army of marauding, wheeled weapons under the spell of balaclava’d ne’er-do-wells on laptops. No longer are these robot cars the thing that will remove human error and make the roads safer.

Not only do we have to shriek hysterically about hackers taking the wheel, but research conducted via simulators has shown that human drivers may be a huge problem too, if they’re going to mix with our pilotless carriages. It turns out that human beings change the way they drive when using the same roads as autonomous cars by copying the driving styles and leaving less space between themselves and the vehicle in front. Stupid, susceptible human idiots with their slower-than-a-sensor reaction times.

These warnings come as the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) publishes a report on driverless vehicles and how they can be integrated onto our roads.

They think that autonomous vehicles will be commonplace on British roads, with public transport and delivery vehicles being the cheaper, safer option within 15 years. We don’t have to wait that long though, to get a look at them. The first driverless vehicles look like they’ll be on the road from January 2015 in a series of trials from the Department for Transport.

Hugh Boyes, cyber security lead at the IET, said there’s cause for panic: “If the hacker community could start to target vehicles we can imagine a fair amount of chaos. The motor industry is really strong on safety but if someone tries to interfere with the vehicle, tries to hack it and disrupt it, then these don’t fall under the typical safety issues.”

“Unfortunately living in the world today people do try to tamper with technology. The industry is only just starting to recognise this.”

“Recent reports analysing software show that 98% of applications have serious defects and in many cases there were 10-15 defects per application. If ultimately you want to use autonomous vehicles, we need to make sure they don’t have a defect.”

Just wait until we get the first fatality from someone getting run over by a driverless car. That’s when the real shrieking will begin.

 

Hornby back on the right track

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

zzzzF Hornby back on the right trackWe’ve featured Hornby a couple of times in our maudlin Deathwatch pieces, but there’s good news! The hobby company say that they’ve made “material progress” in their efforts to turn thing around, and their losses have halved.

Model progress. Back on the right track. A pun about glue.

Anyway, the model train company made a statutory loss of £0.52m in the first half of its financial year, which is down from more than £1m in the same period last year. The business returned to profit as sales rose by 8%, with trading profit reaching £0.25m from a £0.85m loss in 2013.

Hornby had a tough time after the 2012 Olympics after they stuck huge discounts of up to 85% after they failed to sell their Olympic merch. However, things are getting better and basically, while Hornby seem hopelessly outdated, it is nice that they’ll still be around for a while, because it is nice to have a Britain that has Hornby in it.

So what is the reason for this upturn? Well, sales of model rail products rose 18% and the company launched some successful products, including the Scalextric Quickbuild Cops n Robbers set.

Chief executive Richard Ames said: “We are encouraged with the advances that the group is making. During the first half of the year, the team has made material progress in organising the turnaround of the company.”

“The move to the new warehouse facility has been completed smoothly, which gives us the foundations on which we have the room to grow. Looking ahead, the results for the full year will depend on the success of the Christmas trading season.”

“Current indications are that it will meet our expectations.”

Beats on all iPhones by March

November 21st, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

beatsbydrdrelogo Beats on all iPhones by MarchApple are planning on forcing more stuff onto your iPhone. A new iOS update in March will automatically install the Beats Music app to all iPhones.

Apple bought Beats back in May for $3 billion, and it looked like they’d lost interest in it when little was mentioned of it back when they launched the iPhone 6.

This follows Apple’s foisting of U2′s latest album into everyone’s iTunes and shoving iBooks in with the iOS 8 update.

The Beats streaming service will have two different subscription plans $9.99 (£6) per month or $99.99 (£67) per year.

This will no doubt ruffle feathers going up against Spotify, who do a monthly subscription, but not an annual one as yet.

Apparently Beats Music currently has around 110,000 subscribers, which looks set to sky-rocket should Apple’s evil plan work. Can we just ban all bloatware now?

Sneak peak at Black Friday deals

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

BLACK FRIDAY1 300x300 Sneak peak at Black Friday dealsAmazon are giving everyone a sneak peak at some of their Black Friday deals, with tension inducing countdowns and the like.

There’s going to be an offer surrounding the Pebble Smartwatch, 64% off a Kenwood food processor and deals on movies and all manner of stuff.

You can have a look for yourself here, and join ‘waiting lists’ if you’ve really got designs on something in particular.

Meanwhile, Asda are promising big things and contacted Bitterwallet to say that they’ll be “leveraging the buying power of parent company Walmart – renowned for Black Friday deals in the US where the event is worth a whopping $60 billion – to bring earth-shattering deals to customers in the UK.”

Earth shattering eh? One thing they’re very excited about is an offer on quad bikes, where you can get one worth £6,500 for £3,500. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, we’re told the quad is the Coleman 400 ATV 4×4 which has “a fuel injected motorsports engine and independent front suspension and swing arm rear” and a “3.6-gallon fuel tank and 393cc engine has a towing capability of 1200lbs and comes with an electronic winch”.

Whether there’s a big demand for quad bikes remains to be seen.

Asda are keeping Black Friday product details a secret until they are revealed next Thursday on 27th November. There’ll be more information over at Asda’s website, but we’ll round up the best deals they have, so be sure to check out Bitterwallet on the day.

train Network Rail hammered for dreadful punctuality recordYou’ll never guess what – trains are quite often late. Once you’ve composed yourself over that shock news, Network Rail have been slammed over their woeful performance figures.

Richard Price, head of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), told Network Rail’s chief executive, Mark Carne, that the company (who happen to manage and maintain 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and 19 major stations) has to improve and that Network Rail are desperately failing passengers.

In a meeting, which occurred before the release of an ORR report on Network Rail’s performance during the first six months of a £38bn five-year investment plan, it was shown that they’d missed their punctuality target, to the tune of 50,000 more trains running significantly late than expected.

In addition to that, Network Rail are forecast to be £112m over budget this year and thanks to generally being lousy, the company are reacting to problems on the network instead of anticipating them and fixing them before they become a bigger problem.

So, in short, passengers are paying for 60% of the cost of running and maintaining the network through tickets sales and absolutely not getting their money’s worth.

With that, there’s a strong possibility for fines being thrown at Network Rail. Of course, they’ve already been heavily penalised in the past for missing a host of targets.

Richard Price said: “I do not think that Network Rail is performing close to its potential, but the new management does recognise this. We’re now watching Network Rail in much greater detail and getting much more data from them.” Price added that, with Network Rail now a public sector body, they’re no longer able to work with the freedom they had as an independent body, so now the “chickens have come home to roost” as a result of years of under-investment in Britain’s rail infrastructure.

Carne said: “The railway continues to see strong growth in passenger numbers. However, we know that there are too many passengers that do not get the level of reliability they have a right to expect.”

Deals of the Day: Friday 21st November 2014

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

xbox one square Deals of the Day: Friday 21st November 2014The problem with buying a new console is losing all those games you bought for your old one, made even worse when console-makers ensure that their new gadgets aren’t backward compatible. It is enough to make you want to go postal, like a real-life GTA lunatic.

Well, here’s a deal that should interest you. You can get a new Xbox One with FIVE whole games in the bundle! For £349, you get your console with copies of Titanfall, Wolfenstein, Forza 5, Battlefield 4 and Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes! Not bad eh? Have a look here.

MORE DEALS!

LG G3 Smartphone – Metallic Black £303.03 inc. vat
Kindle Fire HD 6″ 8GB WiFi Tablet (Black or White) £69 with code
Anker Astro Mini 3200mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger – £10 delivered with code
Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 73 i5 4430S Quad Core £264.99 after cashback
Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 16GB 7″ WiFi £69 with code
Graphics cards deals overview from £63.99
Wii U 8Gb + Wii Party U + NintendoLand + Super Mario Bros U for £159.99
Super Smash Bros Wii U pre-order £33
Motorola Moto X (16GB, White) for £229.99
Mass Effect £2.50, Mass Effect 2 £2.99, Mass Effect 3 £4.99 (PC) @ GamesPlanet
Xbox One Console £269.99 delivered

FOR MORE BRILLIANT BARGAINS, VISIT HOTUKDEALS!

Google to offer ad-free internet (it’ll cost you)

November 21st, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

google Google to offer ad free internet (itll cost you)Adverts on the internet can be a bit annoying and ad-blockers only work for certain things. So if you’ve been craving an advert-free internet, Google might have something.

But it will cost you.

Basically, Google have unveiled a new service called ‘Contributor by Google’ and the company say: “Today’s Internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?”

What this means is that you’ll be asked to ‘contribute’ between $1-$3 per month which will go to the website in question (and, you have to assume, Google will take a cut too). You can pay more than the minimum offered too, which basically means, if you really, really like a website, you can throw coins in their cup. Regardless of what you offer, you’ll get the same service.

The Onion, Mashable, Imgur, Urban Dictionary and WikiHow have already signed-up for this, and Google have also said that there’s more on board too, as these are just “a few” of the confirmed partners.

So what happens to the adverts? Well, they’ll be replaced by a thank-you message or a pixellated box, which doesn’t sound like a better option, but there you go.

Google say: “When you visit a participating website, part of your contribution goes to the creators of that site. As a reminder of your support, you’ll see a thank you message – often accompanied by a pixel pattern – where you might normally see an ad.”

If you’re interested, have a look at Google’s dedicated page here.

Aldi to launch pop-up restaurants

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

aldi logo 252x300 Aldi to launch pop up restaurantsAldi are entering the restaurant business… sort of. The discount supermarket have announced that they’re opening a few pop-up restaurants around the country ahead of Christmas.

The restaurants will be serving up a meal planned by chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.

The events will happen in selected hotels such as Blythswood Square Hotel and Home House between November 21st and December 10th.

You can try your luck to win a reservation by tweeting @AldiUK using #AldiFestiveFeast as your hastag.

Naturally all the food served will be sourced from Aldi’s Specially Selected range, including such fare as caviar, crab, turkey wellingtons and Christmas pudding.

(Actually their Christmas pudding is well nice).

Joint managing director of corporate buying, Tony Baines said: “Jean-Christophe Novelli has put together a luxury menu that shows off our festive range to the full and offers better value than other supermarkets. We hope that our consumers will enjoy it.”

Tesco launch Secret Scan-ta app

November 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Tesco Clubcard are hoping to help you find the perfect gift via Twitter! They’ve teamed up with We Are Social to create a campaign that endeavours the find the ideal gift for people via Twitter.

The Secret Scan-ta (OH GOD YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE) app will focus on the cheaper end of goods they offer, rather than stuff like tellies and fridges.

secret scanta 500x363 Tesco launch Secret Scan ta app

Both Clubcard customers and non-customers can input the Twitter handle of a person they are buying the gift for, and then Secret Scan-ta will sift through that particular Twitter account sourcing info on what sort of people and organisation the user follows.

Then using this data – which they’ll probably store away and cite you as a stalker or something in the future – the Scan-ta will offer up gift solutions which they have in stock.

Clubcard members who input their Clubcard vouchers at the start of the search will find their voucher value doubled and deducted from the gift’s price if they go ahead with the purchase.

And that’s not all, each week five winners will be selected at random from those who have used the app to receive 5,000 Clubcard points, and one ultimate winner will be in with a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy S5.

Katie Aust digital marketing manager from Tesco Clubcard, said: “Christmas, although a happy season, can often bring with it panic and stress of buying gifts. This campaign gives the buyer get a bit of genuine insight into what the recipient is really interested in, resulting in a personal, and thoughtful gift. It also promotes the huge offerings of the Tesco gifting range and the benefits of joining Clubcard and boosting vouchers.”

So, ‘gifting’ – we’re saying that now, are we?

Ladies nether regions to smell of peaches

November 20th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

peach Ladies nether regions to smell of peachesSome blokes have decided that they don’t like the smell of a lady’s parts, so at a tech conference, they unveiled their plans for a probiotic drink which will make vaginas smell like a ripe peaches.

Insert your own ‘life’s a peach’ pun here.

Austen Heinz and Gilad Gome have come up with ‘Sweet Peach’ and it also aims to stop the ladies getting yeast infections and the like, however, there’s no hiding the fact that you might be in bed with a woman and she’ll hum of fake peach scent. It’ll be like standing in an outlet of bath bombs.

Heinz says: “The idea is personal empowerment. All your smells are not human. They’re produced by the creatures that live on you.”

They’ve got other ideas too – they want to release a product that makes dog crap smell like bananas. Fake banana smell is probably the only thing worse than actual faeces.

Of course, they haven’t mentioned whether they’ll do anything to make a bloke’s ballbag smell like passion fruit, or whether they’ll develop something that’ll make jizz taste like Wham! bars, but there you go.

Apple no longer offering free games on the App Store

November 20th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

apple logo Apple no longer offering free games on the App StoreBefore you get mad, don’t worry – Apple aren’t stopping free apps. Rather, they’ve changed the labelling system where games that have in-app purchases will no longer be referred to as ‘free’.

Apple have been under a fair amount of pressure from the European Union about these games, and of course, you’re never too far away from a horror story about some frustrated parents who has been landed with a surprisingly large mobile bill.

So now, Apple have decided to make it very clear that, when you’re downloading a game, there may well be things in it that cost you money.

The EU suggested a name change in September so consumers aren’t fooled into thinking the apps they’ve downloaded are completely free. Interestingly, Apple has no legal obligation to change the wording in the App Store, but have gone for it anyway.

Amazon, meanwhile, aren’t bothering and keeping things as they are, while Android has created an optional password lock for things with in-app purchases.

Still, it won’t be long until another furrowed brow appears in a newspaper because little Chloe has created a £2,000 bill playing The Simpsons: Tapped Out.