Google nix homophobic games and trolls

November 25th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

asshunter 300x199 Google nix homophobic games and trollsGoogle have got rid of a game that required the gamer to kill gay people. Which is nice.

Ass Hunter had already been downloaded over 10,000 times and had 200 five star reviews, but was eventually pulled by Google after some people online went “Yeah, that’s a bit iffy”.

Basically you play a hunter with a shotgun – such a good look – and you must kill naked men before they approach you. Nice! If you fail to kill the naked men, they pounce upon the hunter and bum him. Enlightening.

In the description of the app, its uploaders AppDay – who sound like charmers – described Ass Hunter as a “Legendary game, where you are hunter and your mission is to kill gays as much as you can”.

When the game went up on November 5th, the description read “Popular game hunting on gays is now on Android! Play and do not be gay!” (Seriously. Someone has received money for coming up with that tagline). Making homophobia justifiable with such taglines as “Remember! When they catch you they will do with you whatever they want.” the game was also exempt from classification so anyone could download it.

Well done everyone. Genuinely, give yourselves a round of applause. Anyway, it’s gone now, but if you’re desperate there are versions of it lying around the internet.

In addition to that, Google have gone after trolls. Not particularly willingly, mind you. The internet giant lost a legal battle with a man who took them to court for extreme trolling.

Daniel Hegglin, a former Morgan Stanley banker, had took action in an attempt to block links to the “vile and abusive” posts about him from appearing in its search results. He’d been accused of being a murderer, paedophile and Ku Klux Klan sympathiser by one particular troll who we could surmise ‘had some form of grudge’, with posts saying as such on over 3,600 websites. That’s literally ‘a bit too many’.

Hegglin settled the case with Google yesterday, despite Google’s lawyers suggesting that the case could have enormous implications., with the search engine basically being held up as the internet police.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, acting for Mr Hegglin, told the court that Google had taken steps to remove the material: ”Whilst I am not in a position to disclose the details, I am pleased to report that the parties have now settled the matter,” he said. “The settlement includes significant efforts on Google’s part to remove the abusive material from Google hosted websites and from its search results.”

Now Hegglin plans to bring the troll to justice, however he doesn’t know who they are. Oooh – this is slightly worrying now: ”Google provides search services to millions of people and cannot be responsible for policing internet content. It will, however, continue to apply its procedures that have been developed to assist with the removal of content which breaches applicable local laws.”

A Google spokesperson said the company had “reached a mutually acceptable agreement”. Now: why can’t everyone just play nicely?

Beats on all iPhones by March

November 21st, 2014 2 Comments 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?

Uber cabs get Spotified up

November 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

spotify logo Uber cabs get Spotified upUber have been a pain in a load of taxi driver’s necks, but the taxi firm don’t look like they’re going anywhere so everyone is just going to have to get used to it.

As well as letting you book and pay for a cab all through a mobile app, it looks like you’ll be able to act as in-car DJ as, according to a new report, the Uber app will soon let you play Spotify tunes through one of their car’s speakers.

That means you can put on your playlist that features both Barry Manilow and Ty Dolla Sign while someone drives you to the pub.

You’ll have to wait for Uber to update the Android and iOS apps to let you be the tune selecta in your cab, but it will be happening and TechCrunch have some screenshots of the new service. Drivers will need the relevant tech to make this work, so if you jump in an Uber cab and the driver is listening to 20 Greatest Roy Orbison Hits on an 8-track, you’ll have to plug your headphones in your phone if you want your own tunes.

That means drivers will have to update their Uber information to let customers know whether they’ve got an AUX input, just in case you’re the kind of person who demands control of the stereo and can’t be doing with Magic FM being played at full tilt.

Now, the screenshots shown don’t say which music company is behind the Uber music crossover, but all fingers are pointing and voices are muttering in the direction of Spotify. There’ll be a press conference later, which will confirm that it is Spotify.

Anyway, tops off. Taxi rides are about to go H.A.M.

Free stuff with the Morrisons PudPod!

November 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

pudpod hero 258x300 Free stuff with the Morrisons PudPod!There’s nothing jollier than a van done up as a massive Christmas pudding handing out treats is there? Well, there’s about 5,000,000 things more jolly.

Either way, Morrisons are sending a massive pudding on the road!

The supermarket is taking the Pud Pod – or, inevitably #pudpod – on to the road to call at 32 locations around the UK ahead of Christmas. ['The Pudmobile' would've been better - Ed.]

The mobile pudding will also be handing out vouchers and free food as part of its ‘Make Christmas Special’ campaign this season.

Shoppers that visit the #pudpod will get £5 off a Christmas shop at Morrisons and will also get free samples from the Christmas range, including mince pies, panettone, roast turkey and pigs in blankets (bacon wrapped sausages, not actual porcines in a picnic rug).

If you want to follow the #pudpod, and if you have a largish Morrisons in your manor, then it’s likely you get a visit. Gander over here for further details.

We hope that we see it hijacked and entering into a high speed chase a la OJ Simpson, for a truly wonderful festive shoot-out that sees Morrisons being the unwitting star of 24 rolling death news.

BBC licence fee RIP?

November 17th, 2014 16 Comments By Ian Wade

BBC iPlayer Radio logo BBC licence fee RIP?The Conservative MPs are supporting an appeal to get rid of the BBC TV Licence. No surprise there as this is the latest in a long history of the Tories versus the BBC, wherein the political party finds it slightly unfair that they’re unable to sell it off and make money out of it.

The appeal, which has been led by – always the way – backbencher Andrew Bridgen, urges Culture Secretary Sajid Javid to spearhead a government review of BBC funding.

According to a letter that Mr Bridgen has sent to Mr Javid, he accuses the current funding of the BBC as “becoming unsustainable and out of keeping with the modern media environment”.

“The corporation should be planning for a future without the licence fee and investigating subscription-based payment options, as well as the wealth of further opportunities that exist for its worldwide operation”.

Seemingly unaware that for £145 a year you get a total bargain and somewhere relatively free of Simon Cowell, advertising and Keith Lemon, the licence fee is what separates one from the animals.

But Mr Bridgen is a backbencher Tory and so claims that the fee is “the most regressive taxes in the UK today”.

Bridgen has been previously involved with the Government to review whether non-payment of the licence fee should be classed as a civil offence, after people had been given jail terms.

Bridgen reckons:  “The BBC should move to a subscription model as soon as it is practicable. The sheer pace of technological change will render the licence fee redundant. It is a matter of when the fee goes, not if.”

So. Turning the BBC into Netflix essentially. A BBC spokesman said that the subscription, which costs £2.80 a week, had risen in support by 22% since 2004, and said that “It’s vital that programmes like EastEnders, Strictly, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Match Of The Day can been watched by everyone, not a select few.”

BBC haters – you know where the comments are.

BSkyB RIP

November 14th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

sky 300x168 BSkyB RIPBSkyB is no more. Oh stop your rioting, it’s just Sky now.

Yes, after 24 years, the unweildly BSkyB moniker is being ditched and all is being brought under the behemoth that is Sky.

This follows the news that the broadcaster has acquired Sky Italia and a controlling stake in Sky Deutchland, and is basically now ‘Europe’s largest entertainment company’.

The merging was first proposed back in July, but now all the parties involved have stopped being coy and finally decided to announce they are a thing now after months of red tape hassles.

Both Sky Italia and Sky Deutchland were under the ownership of 21st Century Fox, which holds a 39.1% stake in the company formerly known as BSkyB.

James Murdoch, co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox said: “We have always believed that a combination of the European Skys would create enormous benefits for the combined business and for our shareholders,”

“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.”

Sky now holds a customer base of more than 20 million across UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria.

Christmas AdWatch: Cadbury and Vodafone

November 14th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

The Christmas advert season is in full swing now, with few left to showcase their festive wares. While it seems that we may have reached the peaks with Monty The Penguin and Sainsbury’s tribute to Paul McCartney’s ‘Pipes of Peace’ video, there are still some companies hoping to woo you in with imagery of stressed ordinary folk in woolly hats enjoying a reasonable Christmas.

Vodafone’s seasonal effort features a variety of scenarios wherein actors perform ‘Let It Go’ from that Frozen. It’s basically saying “hang out with Vodafone as we can offer Sky Movies and TV shows with NOWTV, included on Vodafone Red 4G”

They’ve also done the admin ahead for you hashtag-wise, with the unsightly #powertothefestive, which plumbs new lows in meaninglessness.

Meanwhile Cadburys have gone into the Christmas ad market with a tie-up with ITV. A series of adverts feature star “talent” from the station such as Fearne Cotton, Keith Lemon, Paddy McGuinness, Christine Bleakley, Phillip Schofield and Stephen Mulhern. Because Daniel Day Lewis was busy probably.

The tie-in with ITV will also see Cadbury’s sponsor Christmas programming on the channel, including Catchphrase Christmas Special and the All Star Family Fortunes Christmas Special.

According to Simon Daglish, group commercial sales director at ITV: “Cadbury are the perfect fit for this exciting and unique partnership with ITV to unwrap joy across the festive period. The innovative activity is a great example of how ITV can work closely with advertisers and talent across a number of platforms to deliver a highly dynamic and unique campaign.”

If the idea of Cadburys condoning Keith Lemon is enough to drive you off chocolate for life, then these adverts will have done their job.

Sony launch PlayStation TV service

November 13th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

watching television Sony launch PlayStation TV serviceSony are showing off their new PlayStation Vue service, which is basically a bit like Netflix. Basically, it is a new cloud-based TV service which will show live TV as well as on-demand shows without the need for a satellite service.

At the moment, it is only launching in the USA at the start of 2015, but if they get their licensing deals right and start offering, say, HBO and Comedy Central to the rest of the world, they could make some serious money.

The Vue service will be available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 initially, before being shunted to iPads and other non-Sony devices shortly afterwards.

There’s no clue on how much PlayStation Vue is going to cost, but it is fair to assume you’ll pay a monthly subscription in the same way you pay for Spotify or Netflix.

As for the American launch, Sony have struck some deals with a good number of big US TV networks including Fox, CBS, Discovery, Viacom (who own BET) and NBC Universal. It’ll have somewhere in the region of 75 channels. There’ll be catch-up and the ability to save your favourite shows to the cloud and watch them later, provided you watch them within the 28 day limit.

Rumour has it that it won’t be long before there’s a UK roll-out and then a Europe-wide version of the service. If they manage to get a load of decent American shows, it could well be a challenger to Netflix.

Meanwhile, people who can work a torrent remain utterly uninterested in all of this.

YouTube take on Spotify

November 13th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spotify logo YouTube take on SpotifyBack in August, we told you about YouTube launching a music service, and now, it is here to take on Spotify who have been getting it in the neck from Taylor Swift this week.

The paid music subscription service is called YouTube Music Key, and it’ll be available for free if you can put up with some adverts. If you can’t, it’ll cost you. So far, so Spotify.

Google, who own YouTube, have renegotiated licensing deals with record labels, but no-one is saying how much everyone is getting. The bottom-line is that this service is going to cost you £7.99 a month (for a limited number of users) and then it’ll be made available to everyone for £9.99 per month.

Music Key – a rubbish name – is leaning heavily on the Spotify model, by allowing users to create playlists and save music to your device, as well as the obvious, like listening to albums and that.

However, this being YouTube, the added bonus here is that it’ll feature a whole load of music videos rather than just audio. Google/YouTube are hoping that artists will really go for this, as they can push harder with their product placement in promo vids. You’ll probably end up dreaming of Beats headphones if you sign-up.

So basically, if there’s a video for a song, you have to stream that as well as the song, but if there is no video, then you can download it as audio-only. Sounds like a bit of a faff eh?

Of course, Google already have their own music service in the Google Music app through Google Play, so with two on the go at once, you have to wonder if one of them (or both) will wither on the vine. Either way, last month we asked if you’d pay for an ad-free YouTube… looks like we’re about to find out.

Touch the Coca Cola truck!

November 10th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING EVERYONE!

Yes, you might have noticed a recent upsurge of signifiers in recent days of Christmas actually coming. Seriously. It’s not pissing about – it’s on its way. And so naturally one’s thoughts immediately turn to the Coca-Cola truck.

The red and white truck festooned with festivery, will be calling at 45 main shopping areas from November 28 at The Plainstones in Elgin, and wandering the highways of the country, before ending up – as most UK tours do – in London, at Wembley Park Boulevard on December 23rd.

There’s a full interactive map affair of the dates here so you can check when you can go and touch the truck. Or just check out a hot bearded trucker who is into gift-giving.

You can, obviously, follow the truck via social media on @cokezone (which sounds like a Complete Ledge night out).

Not much else is specified as to what will go on while the trucks are parked. No doubt some activities and free carbonated syrupy gloop. Perhaps it’s a trap like The Childcatcher sprung in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to abduct the town’s children.

Christmas AdWatch: Tesco

November 10th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Tesco have unveiled their Christmas advert, on an ad break last night during period comedy Downton Abbey.

It’s a cheery enough ad for the troubled supermarket, understandably short on star names (you decide whether Tesco can’t afford them now or whether celebrities don’t want to be associated with them at the moment). The main action features various homely set-ups switching on their Christmas lights before going all a bit glitzy with some jolly lights in Wigan raved up by the team behind the Olympic opening ceremony at the end.

The music is the decidedly unfestive Flashdance theme played by a brass band and the ad will mark the start of Tesco’s ‘Every Little Helps Make Christmas’ campaign.

Jill Easterbrook, chief customer officer at Tesco, said: “Christmas is a wonderfully special time of year and we want to help customers in whatever way we can. This is just one example of how we’re doing every little thing we can to help make Christmas in fun and helpful ways.”

“We’re with our customers every step of the way through the festive season.”

It’s good. A reasonably cosy attempt to show that Tesco is still there and fighting gamely, rather than some flash affair attracting criticism while it bleeds customers.

Either way, “helping customers” and “we’re doing every little thing we can” is someone screaming “OH GOD! PLEASE SHOP WITH US! WE’RE ALL GOING TO GET THE SACK IF YOU DON’T!” internally, isn’t it?

EE TV: You won’t own it and you might not want to

November 7th, 2014 6 Comments By Mof Gimmers

zzzw EE TV: You wont own it and you might not want toWe told you about EE’s new fancy TV box gizmo, which they think is the bee’s knees. They love it so much that you’re not actually allowed to have one for keeps.

See, if you’re thinking of getting EE’s TV service, you won’t be owning their set-top boxes, rather, you’ll have one on loan and you’ll have to return it to the company at the end of your contract. Seems a bit of a faff and something that might put some people off applying for one.

A press statement said: “Worth £300, the EE TV smart box is free for new and existing EE mobile customers who also subscribe to EE Broadband plans of £9.95 a month or above, delivering even greater value to EE’s 25 million customers.”

That £300 valuing seems to have made EE think; ‘We’re not bloody giving you 300 sheets! We want our stuff back if you’re done with it, thanks.’

In EE’s terms and conditions, they say that the box “will remain our property at all times. We provide you with free hire of the set-top box so you can receive content.”

The contract conditions add further: “If you cancel your television Service (whether that’s during or after the expiration of the minimum term), you will need to return the set-top box to us.”

“If you fail to return it to us within fourteen (14) days, then in addition to any fee payable for early termination of your plan, we may also charge you the cost of the set-top box as set out in our Price Guide and lock the services provided on the box, including pause, record, rewind, replay, restart, multi screen and catch up services.”

“If we lock your box, you will only be able to watch the free to view channels.”

That all said, Virgin Media do something similar to this, but Sky, BT and TalkTalk let their customers keep theirs, presumably under the impression that by keeping the boxes, it might allow them to woo you back into their service again if you walk away.

EE’s t&cs show that their box isn’t too great with regards to their Replay feature. Having a nosey around, they say: “Set your box to record your six favourite channels. Replay means you’ll have an extra day to watch whatever has been on your favourite channels.” An extra day? Pah. The terms also say: “Replay is currently only available to record standard definition (“SD”) channels and high definition (“HD”) channels are excluded. The box will not record between the hours of 3am and 5am so anything airing partially or fully between these times will not be recorded.”

No recording Babestation for you.

They continue: “You will only be able to select six channels from two pre-defined groups. This may result in not all of your favourite six channels being available for this feature. The allocation of channels into groups is outside our control, and is dictated by Freeview channel allocation.”

So there you have it. Things to consider if you’re looking at getting on-board with EE’s television service.

Christmas AdWatch: Asda and Aldi

November 7th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

With John Lewis unveiling their Christmas advert – the jolly penguin soundtracked by a limped through cover of a Beatles outtake – it’s truly the season for bumper festive adverts! HURRAH!

Shall we have a look at how they’re shaping up? No? Well we are, so tough.

First up: Asda

‘Smile, it’s an Asda Christmas’ is the tag, and basically while Asda isn’t the worst out there, it would nice to have something slightly more to smile about than Asda running your things.

There’s trees, stockings and food ahoy – basically the key touchstones which Asda will no doubt be hoping to reach out and engage with you with.

It also sees X Factor’s Jahmene Douglas covering Louis Armstrong’s ‘When You’re Smiling’. Remember him? Sure you do – he’s the one with a perfectly square head.

Here’s what Steve Smith, chief customer officer of Asda, said: “We’re really proud of our Christmas brand campaign this year as it captures those personal touches and thoughtful gestures that put a smile on people’s faces at Christmas. We know our customers want to make their festivities special, and we want to remind them that we have put the thought and imagination into a range of fantastic food, wine, gifts and decorations so all they need to focus on is having fun together.”

Smith added: “This year has been challenging for all supermarkets but Christmas is a time to concentrate on celebrating and having fun with friends and family and laughing.”

There speaks a man who sounds like he’ll be found hiding in the shed come Christmas afternoon, running his fingers over his new power saw after an arduous lunch with the family.

Next: Aldi

This is a big deal for the supermarket that has been biting at the heels of the big four this last year. Quietly grooving their own scene and building upon that with a minute-long ad featuring various families and gathering enjoying a variety of festive feasts before Jools Holland turns up.

That’s right: Jools Holland is not just for New Year’s Eve this year.

Joint managing director of corporate buying at Aldi, Giles Hurley, said: “We know Christmas is an important time for our customers and we believe everyone should enjoy the best without having to pay a hefty price tag, which is why we’ve launched a Christmas range with widespread appeal.”

“Aldi is becoming a cornerstone of the grocery shop. We’re looking to reflect this in the Christmas campaign, while highlighting the superb quality of the products Aldi offer as well as the unbeatable value. The commercial also demonstrates to consumers it is possible to do your entire food shop for Christmas at Aldi.”

To be honest, we’re quite relieved there’s been no mention of solutions or platforms.

Grand Theft Auto: the vinyl edition

November 4th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

GTA is a franchise bigger than most films, so it is surprising that they haven’t merched the crap out of it. Well hipsters, you’re in for a treat because there’s going to be a vinyl set of the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack.

Outstanding work.

gta vinyl 500x327 Grand Theft Auto: the vinyl editionRockstar have announced that there’s going to be a limited edition 59-track release of original music from GTA V.

It’ll be released on CD as well as vinyl, but to make them more sought after, they’ll be in limited runs. Buy one now, flog it for loads of money on eBay in a couple of months.

The 59 tracks are all original music, and sadly not the licensed songs from the radio. However, GTA had some original music from stars on the game, so expect to get A$AP Rocky, Tyler The Creator, Wavves, Flying Lotus, and Yeasayer on your record. There’s also some of the incidental score from Tangerine Dream and DJ Shadow.

There’ll be six records, a full colour booklet and an exclusive lithograph poster. The CD collection meanwhile, comes on three discs and will have a Grand Theft Auto V gold brick-shaped USB drive, as well as artwork and a poster.

They’ll be on sale on December 9th. No price has been announced as yet. They won’t be cheap though.

Toyota ad banned

October 30th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

An advert for that Toyota Yaris Hybrid has been banned.

A whopping 74 viewers were so enraged by the advert, seemingly encouraging dangerous driving, that they felt moved to register a moan about it.

Created by Saatchi & Saatchi, the ad featured various drivers and passengers enjoying various tunes that were transmitted to their GPS, the edited version of the UK advert focussed on Bruno Mars’ song ‘Locked Out of Heaven’. If the were really driving dangerously, they’d surely be thrown into heaven?

Perhaps we could address some priorities here and suggest the complainants are whinging about the wrong element of the ad, and should focus their ire on Mr Mars.

Toyota defended the ad and told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the car adhered to the speed limit and there were no shots of it travelling fast, competitively or in a daring manner.

They said they tried to portray that both the driver and passengers in the car were having a good time whilst driving, as it wanted to “dispel the myth that drivers cannot have fun whilst driving safely”.

They also denied that the female driver had her eyes closed at any point, which was another point singled out as a complaint. Again, priorities people.

ITV, which broadcast the TV version of the advert, said no viewers had complained to its Viewer Services, and YouTube, which ran the ad online, agreed.

The ASA said that singing along with Bruno Mars is fine (sheesh) but it was concerned that viewers would believe that the closed eyed lady wasn’t paying attention to the onslaught of the road.

The ads must not appear again in their current form and Toyota was told to ensure its ads do not depict dangerous driving in future.

That’s them told.