Windows 10 is (nearly) here!

January 22nd, 2015 2 Comments By Ian Wade

windows 10 300x199 Windows 10 is (nearly) here!Microsoft have announced details of Windows 10! And it looks like they may have got their act back together.

First up: THE START MENU IS BACK. Finally!

They’ve made it a proper cross platform affair, so that whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, phone or tablet, the apps will run across all of them. Even holograms!

That’s right – with Microsoft Holographic, it’ll allow you to overlay digital images into the real world via a special headset, and should also be compatible with Google Glass (Good news, you 12 people!) and Occulus Rift

The key news with No.10 is that Windows Phone assistant Cortana will now be loaded into the desktop system. So now you can literally talk to your computer now as she’s built into your search. Nice to have a friend at last.

The other main attraction is Project Spartan, it’s a web browser that has a minimalist user interface but with various features, the key feature is killing off Explorer. You can now “freeze” web pages and annotate with either text or just doodling obscene images with your finger or a stylus and you’ll be able to save them to read offline and even set up a reading mode which help make various sites easier to read, a bit like Amazon’s Silk browser.

And finally, Xbox is going to be more integrated into Windows 10, with Xbox apps contained in each device. Appswise, they’ve made it where Office and Outlook and all that will work the same way on all your devices.

A new feature called Continuum will automatically switch an app into fullscreen tablet mode if it detects there’s no keyboard attached. Then, it’ll offer to return if you hook one up.

CEO Satya Nadella said of No.10 at the launch event: “Windows 10 is built for a world where everything is digitally mediated. It’s not just a checklist of features, it’s a design sensibility. We want people to love Windows on a daily basis.”

‘Love’.

But don’t start queuing up just yet, Windows 10 is still a few months off, but frankly when you have a holographic doodah, you’re gonna want to let people know about it.

amazoninstant Amazon Prime to show movies before everyone elseAmazon have announced their intention to release approximately a dozen original new independent movies in 2015 from their own stable, and their release will come just weeks after the theatrical release.

That’s independent as in ‘away from the big studios’ and not ‘biopics on the Palma Violets and Huggy Bear’ by the way. The online bits-and-bobs mall said it will aim to air Amazon Original Movies between four to eight weeks after they appear in theatres in the US for Amazon Instant Prime subscribers.

Why, they’re even eyeing up making a follow-up to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon!

Roy Price, vice president of Amazon Studios, said: “We look forward to expanding our production efforts into feature films. Our goal is to create close to 12 movies a year with production starting later this year. Not only will we bring Prime Instant Video customers exciting, unique, and exclusive films soon after a movie’s theatrical run, but we hope this program will also benefit filmmakers, who too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience.”

Ted Hope, new head of production for Amazon Original Movies, said: “Audiences already recognise that Amazon has raised the bar with productions in the episodic realm, tackling bold material in unique ways and collaborating with top talent, both established and emerging.”

“Amazon Original Movies will be synonymous with films that amaze, excite, and move our fans, wherever customers watch. I am incredibly thrilled to be part of this.”

Unlike arch rival Netflix, Amazon’s Prime video service comes bundled with the internet retailer’s two-day delivery for items purchased on the site, which costs £79 a year.

This comes after the firm last week not only won a Golden Globe for Transparent but also brought director Woody Allen on-board to create his first ever TV show, who joins the likes of Steven Soderbergh in creating exclusive content.

zzzw EE customers to share £1m refund after VAT kerfuffleSeveral EE customers are due a windfall refund of around £1 million. Not each, mind.

The EE customers were those who went outside of the EU and used internet data between October 2012 and October 2014 are affected – about 0.5% of EE’s total customers.

EE told the BBC that the cash was never EE’s and that the overcharges went straight to Revenue & Customs. Customers affected can expected refunds from about £2 to £80 per customer.

Spokesman David Nieberg said: “Due to a configuration error in our billing system, made following a system change, a small number of customers were wrongly charged VAT on the Data Roaming bundle outside of Europe.”

“This was a mistake, and we are now refunding these charges and contacting affected customers to apologise for the error.”

He added: “We’ve claimed that money back from HMRC, and then it goes back to the customers.”

Customers affected by the error are being contacted via text message and told the amount they are owed, and any former customers who believe they may be eligible have been told to contact customer services.

Ofcom looking into 5G becoming a thing by 2020

January 19th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

5G 300x251 Ofcom looking into 5G becoming a thing by 2020Ofcom are looking into the feasibility of 5G becoming very much a thing.

The regulator is seeing how the technology will work and how it will be delivered, just as people are starting to get themselves used to 4G.

It would mean such giddy developments as holographic projection, which would be a boon* (*fad) for gaming and trading and entertainment solutions. 5G would see such speeds up to 50 Gbit/s, according to Ofcom, which is more than 3,000 times quicker than the average 4G download speed in the UK.

Steve Unger, Ofcom acting chief executive said: “We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs.”

Ofcom wants to set up the UK’s infrastructure to be able to carry 5G by seeking which sections of the airwaves would be able to be used. They’ve identified the spectrum above 6 GHz as potentially useful as it is not popular with mainstream television and mobile services given difficulties in carrying conventional communications.

Ideally, Ofcom say they’d like to have it out by 2020, which is not worth holding your breath for really. Either way, just imagine how fast you’ll be able to download dirty pictures to your phone while you’re on the bog at work!

mobile apps Millions of customers over paying on their phoneMillions of people are over-paying approximately £159 a year due to being on the wrong phone plan, according to Which!!!

An average of seven out of ten mobile customers are paying for bits they never use, or over charged when they go over their monthly contract allowance.

They also believe that if users were to switch to a more suitable contract or mobile provider, three quarters of them would save around £50 a year.

This mobile overspend amounts to £5.42billion a year across the UK according to the report, which also claims that a right load of customers reckon they know they’re probably on the wrong deal, but carry on being ripped off due to not being arsed.

As many as 42% think there is a better value tariff out there for them, but Ofcom research shows only 52% have switched supplier. And apparently only 28% of mobile users actually trust their mobile phone provider.

Which!!! executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “It’s shocking that consumers are overpaying by billions of pounds for mobile phone contracts that just don’t suit their needs. Mobile phone companies must do more to help people get the best deal, making switching hassle free and ensuring that pricing is transparent.”

“If we don’t see mobile firms making voluntary improvements then we will ask the regulator Ofcom to step in.”

Understandably, Which!!! want mobile companies to take voluntary action by unlocking their phones for free, allowing customers to gain greater control over tariffs. Companies should also notify customers at least a month before the end of their contract and provide information on the best deals for them, showing the monthly cost of the handset separately from the service charge, the watchdog said.

Which!!! praised the moves by the likes of O2 and their Refresh scene, where bills are split into two so mobile fans can see exactly what is being spent.

Deathwatch: Google Glass

January 16th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

google glass Deathwatch: Google GlassGoogle Glass is no more. Or at least the first phase of it anyway.

Which will be great news for the beleagured supermarket chain that’s just released an app with them, eh?

Google have admitted that the whole Glass thing isn’t really happening, and has decided to halt sales of its specs. They’ve said that they are committed to unveiling some form of eyewear at some point, but the current model is to be no more.

The uptake has been slow to say to least, as people decided they didn’t want to look a bit Borg-y, but after an initial roll out in 2013 and in the UK in 2014, the mass rollout didn’t happen. So Google have stopped taking orders as of January 19th.

Google Glass was also one of the big wearable tech launches, and so it will be interesting to see how all the rest fare in the coming months.

Google said it would still offer support to companies that already use Glass, which is kind of them. Maybe for the next push, they might consider making them less expensive?

Tesco launch app for Google Glass

January 15th, 2015 3 Comments By Ian Wade

Google Glass 4 Tesco launch app for Google GlassYou’d think they’d have other issues more pressing to deal with, but Tesco have launched a shopping app for Google Glass.

It is hoped that it make it a faster method for shoppers to add items to their online baskets.

Tesco Groceries is a free download for the £1,000 smartglasses, which went on sale in the UK in June 2014. That’s either demented thinking from the mad, or some proper well-thought out futurism.

You can operate the app by speaking commands, like “Glass, find me a Snickers” or via the scanning of barcodes that are in the sight of the shopper. Or, you could stand in a shop and find it yourself, put it in a basket and be stood outside eating it before Google Glass does anything useful.

Shoppers will also be able to look at how much fat or salt something has. Dullards.

The chain had prototyped it back in June 2014, probably imagining that Google Glass would become quite the thing. “We thought about how our colleagues might be able to use Glass to check stock hands-free, or how our customers might be able to add a product to their grocery delivery basket while making a cup of tea,” blogged Tesco’s Pablo Coberly at the time.

“Getting to that stage has been a journey into entirely new areas of user interaction: new gestures, user interface elements, and input mechanisms.”

google glass tesco 500x222 Tesco launch app for Google Glass

Coberly has bugled about Google’s genius again in an updated post too: “The Glass Development Kit (GDK) documentation is good and getting better. The community is helpful and proactive about sharing knowledge, especially on stackoverflow. The Glass team at Google does all they can to try to make sure the glassware delivers the best experience possible.”

“This is a challenge given how Glass is still being developed, so it can be somewhat of a moving target. The Glass software platform went through 6 updates in the time we worked with it, which shows how much Google is still investing in the platform. Given the steady flow of software updates, and the various articles that have been published alluding to updated Glass hardware, I can’t help but feel this is still the beginning of the journey for Glass and for Tesco.”

Admittedly Coberly is not expecting it to happen overnight, allowing five to 10 years for our new eyewear overlords to enslave us all.

Spotify subscriptions are up!

January 14th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

spotify logo Spotify subscriptions are up!Spotify have revealed that they’ve recruited 15 million subscribers in 2014. The streaming effort also revealed that it had 60 million active users as the year ended.

Not bad eh?

The blog on their site failed to go into much more detail as to where and who was subscribing, but it suggests that the bulk of the gain happened in the second half of the year.

Paying subscribers make up around 25% of the Spotify user base, with most of the growth coming from mobile devices – 42% on phones and 10% on tablets – with old school desktops providing 45% and 3% on the web player.

Spotify’s mobile explosion validates its decision to offer users free access to its streaming catalogue on IOS and Android smartphones and tablets late 2013 for the first time.

And this was after Taylor Swift took her back catalogue off the service too.

It’s all set to get interesting in 2015 though, with Apple’s Beats Music, Pandora and Google Play muscling in more and more into Spotify’s manor and, of course, simultaneously, there’s a vinyl revival afoot too! The heat is on.

Crazy Chinese people news now, and a man has been arrested after trying to smuggle 94 iPhones into China. You might not think that this is mental at all…

…but this man tried to do it by strapping them on to his body, of course.

smuggler 500x310 Man tapes 94 iPhones on his body to smuggle into China

The man caught the attention of inspectors at the Futian crossing in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese metropolis bordering Hong Kong,  who noticed the gent was walking a little funny carrying a couple of carrier bags, and was waved through when there was nothing suspicious found in the bags.

However, when he went through the metal detector, the alarms went off and he was busted.

Photos released by customs show dozens of neatly shrink-wrapped shiny iPhones strapped around the man’s chest, abdomen, crotch and thighs with duct tape. Dude clearly went to some right effort.

iPhones are quite the thing in China, with consumers going nuts for the gadget ahead of the launch of iPhone 6 last year. Apple handsets are also more expensive in the mainland than Hong Kong, due to higher import taxes. Fr’instance, an iPhone 6 with 64 gigabytes of storage, sells for almost $1,000 in the mainland but only about $820 in Hong Kong, hence a bit of a black market has sprung up.

This isn’t the first case of iPhone smuggling the authorities have seen, Shenzhen customs officials disclosed that they have caught 18 mules strapping smuggled electronic products – including 282 iPhones – on, or in their bodies since December.

One can only applaud the audacity and madness of the man who thought “Yeah. 94 iPhones strapped on my body. That’ll work. NO ONE WILL SUSPECT A THING”.

But in Mandarin obviously.

Netflix now on TalkTalk

January 13th, 2015 1 Comment By Ian Wade

netflix transparent Netflix now on TalkTalkNetflix is now actually on TalkTalk TV with YouView. Talk Talk homes that pre-registered for the service are among the first lucky few to receive it on their set-top boxes.

It will continue to roll out over the next month, where it is hoped all 1.2 million TalkTalkers will have access to it.

Tristia Harrison, MD (Consumer), TalkTalk, said: “Netflix is a brilliant new addition to TalkTalk TV. As Britain’s fastest growing TV service, we are on a mission to provide the best movies and hit TV shows that our customers can dip in and out of, all at a great price. Netflix complements this perfectly.”

“The fact that TalkTalk homes can enjoy such a huge range of must-see content, on their TV as well as on other devices is an exciting step forward. We can’t wait for them to dive into the movies and series everyone’s talking about.”

Bill Holmes, global head of business development, Netflix, chipped in with: “By partnering with TalkTalk we’re making it even easier for many TV fans and movie lovers in Britain to watch Netflix on their television screens”.

Behold, a new tranche of social media updates banging on about House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black!

Jaguar Land Rover bring the jobs!

January 13th, 2015 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Jaguar Jaguar Land Rover bring the jobs!Jaguar Land Rover are claiming they will create 1,300 new jobs at their Solihull plant! The extra workforce will build Jaguar’s new F-PACE SUV at the branch in the West Midlands.

Jaguar Land Rover have already stumped up £1.5 billion in the plant, so it can increase production, also bugling that the workforce there has doubled in the last three years.

Overall, Jaguar Land Rover currently employs 30,500 people in the UK.

The car, called the Jaguar F-PACE, will be based on its C-X17 concept car, and was unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in 2013. The new model is due to go on sale in 2016.

Jaguar Land Rover’s UK executive director, Mike Wright, told the BBC the new vehicle would not be a “gas guzzler”.

“We spend about £3.5bn on our product investment each year and one thing that we really focus on is making sure that our future cars are both economic in terms of fuel economy, in terms of CO2. This car’s going to be built at one of the world’s biggest aluminium body shops at Solihull that we’ve invested a huge amount of money in over the last couple of years. So gas guzzling? No”.

Jaguar Land Rover have said they wanted the new model to be worked on in Britain to give its cars a “crafted with that special British flair”. So fag butts and clearing off for skinful at lunchtime will be demanded, no doubt.

Jaguar Land Rover said it had sold 462,678 vehicles globally last year – a rise of 9% year-on-year – and the fifth consecutive year that sales have grown. China saw the strongest growth, with sales up 28%, while in the UK sales rose 7%.

EE gain millions of new customers thanks to 4G

January 12th, 2015 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zzzw EE gain millions of new customers thanks to 4GEE have announced that they’ve gained 5.7 million 4G customers in 2014. Blimey.

Admittedly the Orange and T-Mobile merger added most of that figure before the launch of the EE TV service, and that helped EE pull in a further 1.7 million subscribers in the final two months of the year.

So now EE’s 4G user base is 7.7 million users, covering around 80% of the UK, after it expanded its super-fast mobile broadband to an additional 350 cities and towns during 2014, and is aiming to cover 98% of the population by the end of this year.

There will be no escape.

This follows last month’s news that BT were sniffing around trying to shove £12.5 billion into EE’s thong.

However, EE has smashed their target of 6 million handsomely, as well as gaining more new users than any other European network. Of course, that won’t stop people complaining about their service on social media, but EE’s bosses can’t hear as they’ve now stuffed £50 notes into their ears.

Free wireless charging at McDonalds!

January 9th, 2015 2 Comments By Ian Wade

mcdonalds logo Free wireless charging at McDonalds!McDonald’s are going to offer wireless charging in their grease-shacks.

The fast food chain are trying to get people to sit around their branches to make them look busier, and so that will work.

Teaming up with Aircharge, the Qi wireless charging devices will be mats that are wipe clean and water resistant and the service will be available in 50 McD’s London outlets, as well as other sites around the country.

Burger munchers will be able to use the service for free, presumably once they’ve bought something first. Then again, not everyone puts money in the till before having a McPiss do they?

The upcoming launch follows a successful trial in a limited number of restaurants.

Also, tellingly, the trial showed that customers were willing to wait up to 30 minutes just to use one of the charging mats. That’s a lifetime in a McDonald’s world, frankly.

The main problem here is that this technology only works with compatible phones, which are currently very few. If you have the Nexus 6 and Lumia 930, you’re in. If you’re not (ie The Majority Of You), then you’ll have to whistle. Or use a plug socket somewhere.

Now you can build Lego with your EYES

January 8th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

The Consumer Electronics Show is the gift that keeps on giving this week, as thousands of nerds descend on all the latest gadgets at a huge conference that inevitably smells like Lynx Africa and cider.

Now comes word of a new learning tool that will allow users to build LEGO with the eyes. THEIR EYES.

Eye-tracking software developer The Eye Tribe showed off an interface that allows users to build LEGO sets using just their eyes at the show.

And it’s not just fancy-dan futurism either, as the software has been used to control mobile devices, computers, gaming consoles and TVs. Now, they’re working with LEGO to provide a new way to build LEGO

“We’re extremely excited to be back at CES and to show how quickly we’ve advanced our products for mobile form factors,” said Sune Alstrup Johansen, CEO of The Eye Tribe. ”With our solution, OEMs can fast-track integration of real eye tracking. We want to bust the myth that it is an expensive and complicated affair.”

Martin Tall, chief technology officer of The Eye Tribe, added: “Our vision is to transition eye tracking from being an expensive lab equipment into every day products. Soon this technology will be integrated into a wide range of devices such as tablets and smartphones.

“It will enable you to interact with devices in ways that you only dreamed were possible. Devices will behave more intuitively, games will become more immersive.”

Yeah, impressive, but not as much fun as annoying other people as you rattle through a tub for particular pieces though, eh.

Introducing: The Belfie Stick

January 8th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

So anyway, signs of the impending apocalypse. Let’s have a look down the checklist – Famine, War, Plague, Judgement etc- and let us now update that with the Belfie.

belfie 500x368 Introducing: The Belfie Stick

Yep, you’ll know the selfie taking stick that allowed you to be a narcissist at long distance, now with the Belfie, you can now take pictures of your arse.

As the website bugles: “With our bendable stick, you can position your back side without the need of a mirror and shoot the exact angle you are looking for. Bend in ways you never thought possible with our patent-pending design!”

Yes, a thought has become an idea and is now a reality and yet nobody thought WTAF at any point during the process.

Anyway, if you know someone who likes to fill their social networks with badly positioned shots of their bottom, get your arse over here. They’ll be forever thankful to you for this essential solution.