Winter isn’t too far away, which means we’re going to get some cold, bleak weather. Ignore what the Christmas cards say, showing people smiling with rosy cheeks – there’s nothing romantic about trembling in your living room wearing eight jumpers and chattering your teeth down to nubs.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be like that if you have central heating. All hail the magic of controlled temperatures!
Research shows that around 60% of people haven’t the foggiest when it comes to their heating, even when most think they do.
However, a lot of people are using their thermostats incorrectly, so we’ve got some tips to help you use them more wisely and save some money while you’re at it.
Choose the best temperature
This might seem like teaching nana how to suck eggs, but by turning your heating down by 1°C can save you around £55 per year. One good tip is to set your room thermostat to 18°C and then turn it up by one degree every day until you find the optimum warmth. For your thermostat to work well, they need a free flow of air to sense the temperature accurately, so make sure they’re not covered by curtains or hidden away behind furniture.
Turn the thermostat up
According to the Energy Savings Trust, over half of us whack the thermostat up when it is cold outside. They shouldn’t, because a thermostat is designed to maintain the desired temperature, whatever the weather. Greg Shreeve, energy expert at the Energy Saving Trust, says that, if you do turn up your thermostat, you’ll “find it’s a bit too hot” and you’ll have wasted energy and cash in the process.
Leaving the heat on low
Some leave the heat on constantly on a low setting, when they should be using a programmer which means your house is warmer when you’re in, rather than making rooms cosy when you’re at work. It might seem obvious, but according to statistics, around a third of Britons do this.
If you’re serious about saving money, you could install more than one thermostat, which means each room is controllable. So if you have a room you never go in, what’s the point in heating it? Setting lower temps for bits of the house you hardly go in, or at certain times of the day, will save you cash in the long run.
Thermostat to max
Do you turn the thermostat to max when you get in from work, in a bid to heat the house up more quickly? Noticed how you can’t get it back to a comfortable temperature in good time? 35% of Brits do this. ”People think it’s like pressing your foot down on the accelerator in a car, and the further you press your foot down, the faster you get to the speed you want,” Shreeve explains. ”But actually, a thermostat doesn’t control the speed at which your house heats up – it just controls the final temperatures.”
Keeping the water on all day
Are you one of the third of Brits who keeps the water on all-day so you don’t run out of water? Well, you shouldn’t. It’ll be costing you loads of money and it is unnecessary. If you have a well insulated hot water tank, then if you’ve heated it in the morning, it should still be warm by lunchtime. Set a timer so that the water comes on half an hour before you get up or come home from work and that should do you.
Keeping the electric storage heaters on
62% of you don’t know how storage heaters work. If you own one, know this – electric storage heaters are designed to work by using cheaper, off-peak electricity to rev up through the night and then release heat during the day. Leaving them on all the time will cost you money. The Energy Savings Trust have a guide, which says: “A standard electric storage heater has two controls, an Output setting and an Input setting. The Output setting will control how much heat the heater gives out (as long as there is stored heat available). The Input control determines how much electricity the heater will take from the grid during the coming night, and hence how much stored heat will be available the following day.”
“So you need to set the Output dial according to how much heat you want now, and the Input dial according to how much heat you think you will need tomorrow. If a heater runs out of heat in the evening while you still need it, or if the weather gets colder, you may need to turn the Input dial up. If the weather gets warmer, or the heater never runs out of heat in the evening, you can probably save money without getting cold by turning the Input dial down. Turn the Output dial to zero before you go to bed or go out, so you’re not wasting energy overheating empty rooms. You can probably do this quite early, maybe an hour before you go to bed, as it will take a while for the heater and the room to cool down.
“And when summer comes and you don’t need the heaters any more, turn them off at the wall, not just by turning the dials to zero. Remember you will need to turn them on again the day before you need the heating to come back on.”
While you’ve been going nutso in your favourite games, there’s a chance that you may not have delved into the useful features inside your PS4 yet. If you have, well done you. If not, don’t worry, we’ve cherry picked some of the best things for you to muck around with.
The PS4 has a load of cool features and here are some of our favourites. If you have your own that we’ve missed, leave a comment and we’ll add them to the list!
Quick Switch Between Apps
If you need to switch between apps quickly – so, say you’re playing a game and you want to go look up some cheats for it – instead of messing around with your phone, you can swap between apps by double tapping the PS Home button. That means you can get from a game to the browser without any faff.
A lot of people find the Xbox One’s voice control thing a bit creepy, but if you’ve been wanting it for your PS4, you can! You’ll need a PlayStation 4 Camera and, with it installed, go to Settings, then Login Settings and select Enable Face Recognition. Then, you’ll go to Face Recognition Management and complete the set-up. You can also use the camera’s microphones to issue voice commands so you can speak your way through the menus and the like. For that, hit Settings, System and select the Operate PS4 With Voice option. For voice commands you can do that without the camera – you’d just need any microphone connected to your console.
Save Money And Power
Want to save how much power your PS4 is using? Go into the console’s settings menu and find ‘Power Save Settings’ where you can set your PS4 to shut down after periods of inactivity. Great if you’re the kind of person who would fall asleep while playing games, meaning that the thing isn’t left on all night.
Standby Mode Tips
This is well known, but worth mentioning for you console newbies. In standby mode, you can enable auto downloads and uploads which means you don’t have to put up with tedious timebars. Go to Settings, System, Automatic Downloads and Uploads and then access Settings, Power Save Settings and Set Functions Available in Standby Mode. Now, when you turn your PS4 on to play games, you won’t have to wait for a load of updates or whatever, as it will have already done them.
You can also charge your controller in standby mode, which is great seeing as the new Dualshock 4 has a pretty crappy battery life. To switch this on, go to Settings, Power Save Settings, Set Functions Available in Standby Mode and tick the box for Supply Power from USB Ports.
Are you the kind of person who likes to make walkthrough videos or what have you? Well, as well as the fact that the PS4 continually records your previous 15 minutes of gaming automatically (which is great), you can also enable microphone audio recording through the Share menu. Go into the options, hit ‘Share Settings’ and ‘Video Clip Settings’ and you’ll see the option for ‘Include Microphone Audio in Video Clip’.
Save Hard Drive Space
You can upload system data to online storage or a USB drive, which is nifty. Go to Settings then Application Saved Data Management and you’ll find a straightforward menu for uploading and downloading data.
Want to take a screenshot of your game? Well, you have to press and hold the share button for a few seconds normally, but there’s a tweak you can do to streamline the whole process. You can change your setting so that a brief tap of the share button creates a screengrab and holding it down loads up the share app. To do this, open the share menu, hit ‘Options’ and go to ‘Share Settings’. From here, choose the ‘SHARE Button Control Type’ and go through your options. If you like showing off your gameplay, this will save you loads of time.
If you plug a pair of regular headphones into your DualShock controller and adjust the settings on your PS4 after holding down the PS button, you can listen to the game without having to mess around plugging your ‘phones into the telly or having to much about with wireless audio.
Is it showing ‘no signal’ or barking at you, advising that you should get in touch with Sky or visit their website when you know damn well you have a signal?
Whatever you do, don’t call an engineer or buy a new Sky+ box until you have read our How To guide. It could save you a lot of time and crucially, it’ll save you money. Of course, if your Sky+ box has blown up or you’ve poured 3 litres of Apple Sourz into it, it may be beyond repair, but otherwise, let us try and help you out.
If your Sky+ box’s green light won’t turn on and stays red or amber, you’ll get an error message. Instead of spending 2 hours on the phone to Sky, just do a soft reset. Of course, Sky don’t tell you about this because they’d rather charge you for a fix or, indeed, tell you something that will lose all your data.
Always try this fix before you do anything else.
a) The first thing you should do, is to unplug your Skybox from the mains.
b) Wait one minute.
c) As you plug your Skybox back into the mains, press the BACKUP button at the same time (not the one on the remote) and hold it down.
d) When all the lights come on at the front of your Sky+ box, release the button.
e) Now, wait 10 minutes (don’t skimp on this) or wait until the lights go out, then turn your Skybox on from the remote. You might need to try the remote a couple of times at this point.
What should happen now, is that it’ll show the “SEARCHING FOR LISTINGS” message and then, restore itself back to full service. Unless of course, you got impatient and skipped the ‘waiting for 10 minutes’ piece of advice’, which means you will have lost all your saved programmes and the like.
This method will definitely get rid of your saved programmes and data and it also takes a little longer. However, this is the one that Sky will tell you to do, so instead of ringing them and getting stuck in a queue, just refer to this.
a) Unplug the box from the mains plug for 3 minutes.
b) Press and hold the buttons either side of the ‘select’ button on your Skybox while you plug the socket back into the mains.
After 30 seconds, the light will change colour and you’ll have to wait for roughly 20 minutes until it goes back to being red. When that happens, press the TV guide to see if it is working. Basically, this resets your hard drive settings and should solve the problem,
Why Does This Keep Happening?
There’s a number of reasons that this happens to your Sky+ box. It might be too full with your recordings. Another is that there’s been a power cut. Sometimes, it just happens for no good reason at all.
The important thing is that you might be under the impression that your Skybox is dead and you need a new one, when that isn’t necessarily the case. Sometimes, you only need a reset!
One of the two resets will work, unless your Skybox is kaput, in which case, there’s not going to be a light on the front is there? So try these out and save yourself a lot of hassle and money.
Apps have been having all manner of issues with the new update and users have been crying over a variety of snags that have made they iPhone and iPad experience the kind of thing that provokes frustrated tears, rather than zen-like calm.
It turns out that iOS 8 crashes more than iOS 7 too, which is no use and, of course, Apple fans have been running to Apple support forums and the App Store to vent their spleen.
One user said on the forums: “After I’ve upgraded to iOS 8, one of my favourite apps no longer works. It opens and then immediately closes. I’ve tried opening it at least 15 times and the same thing happens.” Others have been having issues with iTunes and the Facebook and Dropbox apps.
If you have an older iPhone, you are much more likely to run into trouble, which isn’t a surprise, but it is annoying if you own one.
So what to do next? Here’s some things to try if you want to fix some problems brought about by iOS 8.
Not Enough Space to Install
iOS 8 is a big old update and the download size can be as high as 2GB and needs a minimum of 5GB of free space on your device to update. One way around this is to move all your data on to a computer or to cloud storage (make sure your nudes are safe though, eh?) or, if you prefer, you can use iTunes on a computer to download the update, so the update is stored on the computer rather than your device.
Some users have said that they’ve been having bother with their WiFi connectivity after the update. Go to your settings, select Privacy, then Location Services, followed by System Services. There, disable WiFi Networking. This doesn’t switch your WiFi off, all it does is disables the setting that seems to be tripping up your connection speeds.
There’s a whole host of reasons why your battery might be dying on its arse after the iOS 8 update. We’d tell you how to fix it, but we can’t do better than the incredibly thorough iPhonehacks guide to save your battery’s power. Click here and see advice on what to switch off and more, to maximise your battery life.
A lot of users are finding that the predictive text add-ons in the default iOS keyboard are slowing you down. Of course, Android users have had predictive text for years now, but if you’re an Apple user who hates it, then you can switch it off. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard – turn off ‘Predictive’.
Access Pictures From The Camera Roll
The Photos app has been upgraded in iOS 8, however, you may have noticed that there’s no section called ‘Camera Roll’. The section has been removed, but don’t fret, your photos are still on your device. Now, they are all grouped together under the Photos section and to get at your old photos, go to ‘Photos’ and choose to view them as collections, years or moments. Scroll through and you’ll see all your old snaps.
Have you seen the reports saying that the new iPhone 6 is bending in people’s pockets because it is such a flimsy piece of crap? There’s nothing we can do about that. Maybe wrap the whole thing up in gaffer tape and hope for the best?
Many obtained it through their banks and credit card issuers. However, the Financial Conduct Authority ruled that a lot of these products were mis-sold and fined CPP £10.5m in 2012.
Well, it seems like CPP are finally getting the cheques out to customers who put a claim in, and some of them are getting paid around £1,000 for their trouble.
If you haven’t put a claim in, you’ve still got until 30th August to get some money back.
You should’ve received a letter from CPP, which you may have thrown away thinking that it was a circular, but no worries.
You can get information about their compensation scheme by visiting cppredressscheme.co.uk or call them on a freephone number at 08000 83 43 93. If you’re outside the UK, then dial +44 1144 520 800. If you have had a form, but think you’ve completed it incorrectly, then call the number and ask for a new one, then complete it in black ink, in block capitals and send it back in the pre-paid envelope.
Separate letters are being sent if you happen to have been mis-sold card and identity protection. Fill out both forms to claim for your compensation.
As ever, with things like this, be wary of scams. If you have any concerns it is always best to ring CPP to make sure. Good luck, and give us a yell if you get some money from them!
If you have one, you’ve been advised to stop using it immediately.
Sony say a non-removable battery pack built by Panasonic is to blame and, in a statement, they said: “The safety of our customers is of the utmost importance, so we are advising those with affected models to switch off the unit and discontinue use.”
“We have provided customers with a simple tool to check the serial number to identify whether it is an affected model.”
The Vaio Fit 11A has only been on sale since February, so it shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
Affected European products are:
You should visit the Sony page regarding this problem by clicking here. There, you can leave your contact details and Sony will get in touch with you to discuss what to do next. Or, if you prefer, call their hotline on 0844 8466 555.
As you will have heard by now, Ovivo has gone under. As the news was rather unexpected, you might well be wondering what you need to do next if you’re one of their customers.
Let us see if we can help you out.
If you paid for any of this service via PayPal, you should be able to raise a claim for this – but do it quickly. Sign in to your account here.
If you paid for anything with your Visa card, then payments for services under £100 should be covered under the Visa Chargeback Scheme. For this, contact your bank and not Visa and they should be able to sort you out.
Got any Direct Debits with them? Get them cancelled immediately. Phone your bank.
You can also complain about Ovivo to the Ombudsman. If you’d rather do it in writing or on the phone, the address is:
Ombudsman Services: Communications
PO Box 730
Phone: 0330 440 1614
Textphone: 0330 440 1600
If you have the Ovivo sim and want to transfer your number you will need a Pac code. Use this link.
[with thanks to magicjay1986]
There’s seems to be confusion amongst certain people about this whole Marks & Spencers/Muslim non-story. Some people have erroneously likened this to the time those Christians refused entry to a gay couple in their B&B, when of course, any fool knows that the B&B refused all service to a couple on religious grounds while M&S are not refusing service to anyone at all. One is discriminatory behaviour, the other isn’t (sadly, you can’t say you’ve been discriminated against for simply being served by ‘someone else’). There’s a world of difference between refusal of service and using a different checkout.
Some readers are also saying that people shouldn’t work in places where they might have to do things that go against their beliefs, when of course, they’re aware that this applies to all religions, not just Muslims. If you want to ban religion, that’s another discussion. We’re sure most complainants wouldn’t mind working Christmas day on a normal rate for a non-Christian boss if that was the case.
But this is Britain right? There’s some confusion about Marks & Spencer’s being a standard-bearer for all that’s British. That’d be M&S, founded by Michael Marks, a refugee Jewish man from Belarus. Takes all sorts of people doesn’t it to make things happen, doesn’t it?
Anyway, we felt the need to clear all this up because after the non-boycott and we got the impression some people felt hard done to by Muslims who work in supermarkets. With that, we’ve created a handy flow chart which you can print off and use when you feel like your rights are being impeded by Muslims in major supermarkets.
Recently, there’s been an increase in spam texts and cold calls, thanks to apparent PPI claims and imaginary friends telling you about payday loans.
So, what’s the best way to stop these nuisances? Of course, some of you will be already avoiding these things, but for those who aren’t, here’s a quick guide to having less mither in your life.
Insurance companies are notoriously awful when it comes to selling your details to other companies, so if you’re taking a new policy out, never opt-in to third party marketing. They will probably use double negatives and the like, so be careful.
Also, if you’re making a claim, be sure to tell your insurer you don’t want to be contacted by a CMC or legal firm.
You should also register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). This will reduce the number of cold calls, but also, once you’re registered with the TPS, any calls you do get can be complained out to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on 0300 123 3000. The ICO can then fine companies, which is perfect revenge for you. Ofcom can also take action on silent calls, spam calls and the like. Check here for more details.
Most mobiles have a ‘block number’ or ‘spam number’ options in the settings. With Vodafone, O2, Orange and T-Mobile, you can also forward spam texts to 7726. If you’re on Three, forward texts to 37726. Never respond to spam texts either. Even if you text ‘STOP’, all that does is tell the spammer that you’re phone is active and that they can send as many texts as they like to you.
If you’re a BT customer, you can go ex-directory or block any call that would appear as ‘number withheld’ or numbers from overseas (where many nuisance calls come from). More information on BT’s call features here.
Like apples? We’re talking about the fruit, not the gadget-makers. Well, you’ve been eating them all wrong.
Grub-botherers Foodbeast, who have previously told us that we’ve been doing Tic-Tacs all wrong and removing the green bit off a strawberry like idiots and more, are now showing us the error of our ways with apples. Seems trivial, but you’ve been wasting “15 to 30% of every apple”, and in American money, that’s a “waste of $42″ a year.
So what do you need to do? The answer is surprisingly easy and all you have to do is watch this video.
As you can see, you’ve been eating it around the awful, inedible core and binning it. If you just ate it top-to-bottom, the core ostensibly disappears, making more flesh to eat for everyone in these terrible economic times.
Foodbeast said: “Eating it from the sides is wasteful. But if you eat it from the top, the core doesn’t even exist.”
So there you have it. More apple for your buck. Get a bag on the way home and wow your friends and family with your revolutionary new way of eating slightly more fruit.
You can still order a PS4 from Amazon.co.uk as part of a bundle, but you’ll have to hurry yourself up as the postal service is about to start slowing up under the festive mentalness.
Loads of shops will have limited numbers of the console too, on a first come first served based.
Asda, Tesco, Argos and GAME have promised to have stock if you’re in a rush, but you can expect queues from gaming lunatics who like to stand in lines to prove how much they care about these matters. It’d be worth finding a store that is close enough to a pub, so you can at least get drunk before you queue or, indeed, have somewhere to sit if you decide against it at the last minute.
Tesco are being cagey, but they’ll be announcing their stores on this page so you can find the nearest one with PS4 stock. Argos, meanwhile, are allowing you to reserve one at this page, but they’re for collection only. Game haven’t gone into details yet, but check here throughout the day.
O2 are giving away PS4s with a new £52 a month contract on the day of release. The O2 deal requires an £89.99 up-front cost and you get some games with it too. You will be lumbered with a Sony Xperia Z1 phone too. Participating O2 stores can be found here.
Asda, meanwhile, have announced which stores will have PS4 stock. They’re open from midnight and limit purchases to 1 per customer. The list is rather long, so click over the jump to see which store near you will have a PS4 for you, should you want to pick one up in person on the day of release. For the rest of Europe, click here.
There’s a lot of concern regarding a company called Alpine Electronics. Not to be confused with the Alpine who make car accessories, but rather, a site people have spotted some bargains that appeared to be too good to be true. And, it appears they were indeed not to be believed.
The company, trading via alpineelectronicsltd.co.uk had offers on cheap consoles. After taking numerous orders, the site is now down and it appears that all orders have gone with it.
BW staff contacted the numbers that were on the site before it went down, and there’s no answer. After finding the address of the company, we called the company next door and found that Alpine Electronics had upped sticks and moved on. The person we spoke to admitted that they’d taken numerous calls regarding this matter.
Looking at scamvoid/alpineelectronicsltd, it seems this was a very new company, which makes it difficult to assume that this is anything but a scam.
Over on HUKD, there’s a lot of discussion about the company, with one user noting too many indescrepencies (see here), and lots of comments about emails going unanswered and phone calls which were vague about the company’s history. Many customers have said that they’ve received fake DHL emails about delivery.
Amazon customers have also been talking about Alpine Electronics, with many feeling they’ve been duped. Some customers have already contacted the police about the matter.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE AN ALPINE ELECTRONICS ORDER?
To be safe, it is worth getting in touch with your credit/debit card company or call Action Fraud on 0300 1232040. When contacting Action Fraud, be sure to let them know that the company has vacated their premises, which means they won’t instruct you to send a Breach Of Contract letter to Alpine. Your bank should stand the cost of the transaction, but you’ll need to contact them for more details.
Should your bank prove difficult, remind them that you are in fact protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act whenever you make a purchase for goods or services worth between £100 and £30,000 using your credit card. Section 75 states that you and your credit card provider are “jointly and severally liable” for your purchase. That means, if you’re scammed, your card provider must refund you if the retailer won’t.
Most debit card providers offer protection also. A scheme called Chargeback offers protection on purchases made using Visa, Visa Electron, Mastercard and Maestro debit cards. This makes it possible for you to claim a refund if your transaction is unsatisfactory (goods not being delivered, multiple billing, fraud). Claims must be made within 120 days of when your goods should have been delivered and ask your bank to initiate the Chargeback process and a dispute will be opened by your bank.
If Chargeback fails, take your claim to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
We reported that there had been problems with the PS4, with customers complaining that it was switching off for no reason.
Sony said that problems were only affecting less than 0.4% of units shipped to date and they said in a statement: ”This is within our expectations for a new product introduction, and the vast majority of PS4 feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.” They added that they are “closely monitoring for additional reports, but we think these are isolated incidents”.
So how do you fix the issues?
First off, check your TV compatibility or your HDMI connection. Some users have noted that, after initial problems, after updating the firmware on their televisions, issues concerning a lack of audio or video have been sorted. Also, it’d be worth checking the HDMI ports on both your television and PS4, as well as checking the cable you have.
If you think it might be the PS4 power supply, you need to switch off your PS4 completely, touch the power button on the front of the PS4 for at least 7 seconds until the system beeps twice, then disconnect the plug from the socket in the wall (you must only do this when the power indicator is turned off or you might corrupt data on your console). After that, try again. You can also try the power adapter from the PS3 if that doesn’t work.
If you think it might be the PS4 hard drive, turn off the PS4 and press the power button for 7 seconds (again, until the system beeps twice) and disconnect the PS4 AC power cord from the electrical outlet. Then, when the system is completely off, detach all the other cables from your console. Then, slide the HDD bay cover in the direction of the arrow to remove it and have a look at the hard drive to make sure it is properly seated in the HDD bay. It is a pretty easy job to fix, but you are advised to check Sony’s guide on that. If you’re brave enough, you can install a new hard drive yourself.
If you think software is the problem, then try booting your PS4 in Safe Mode. Again, you press the button on your console for 7 seconds as above. There’s more on that here. In Safe Mode, you can restart the system, update the system’s software, restore default settings, rebuild the database (which scans the drive and creates a new database of all content) or ‘Initialize PS4′. The latter loses all data and settings and returns your PS4 to the stage of being fresh out of the box. If you’re doing that, read this first.
Sony have written a full guide to fixing your PS4 problems, and you can view it here.
If you were lucky enough to lose your child benefit entitlement earlier this year, but continued to draw it, the deadline for informing HMRC is looming. By law, you need to tell HMRC that you owe them money (yes, really) no later than six months after the end of the tax year in which the tax liability arose. For the 2012/13 tax year (the child benefit rules changed in January 2013) which ended on 5 April, you need to register for a Self Assessment return by 5 October. That’s next Saturday.
Why do I need to complete a tax return?
The law changed in January and made those where one partner in a couple has income over £60,000 ineligible for child benefit, and those with an income of between £50,000 and £60,000 entitled to a reduced amount. HMRC wrote to those they thought might be affected to tell them they could either stop receiving the benefit, or they could claim the cash, and repay it through a Self Assessment tax return.
While declining the benefit is the simplest option for those earning over £60k, it may be that the non- or lower-earning partner receives the benefit and they continue to want this cash (rather than asking for ‘housekeeping’). Also, there is a cash-flow benefit of taking cash totalling £1700+ of the Government’s money and not giving it back for up to 22 months. Those earning between 50k and 60k would not be advised to decline the benefit, as they should get a proportion, and even for those whose salary is over £60k, allowable deductions like pension contributions might mean they officially earn less, for child benefit abatement purposes.
Of course, high earners will probably already need to complete a tax return as any non-PAYE income (including miniscule bank interest) will need to be declared and higher rate tax paid. But remember, Labour says people earning £50-£60k are not high earners (although someone earning £6k a year may disagree), so they may indeed be needing a tax return for the first time.
You may also need to declare your child benefit if your income rose above £50k for the first time in 2012/13.
What do I have to do?
You need to register for Self Assessment, but helpfully, you can now do it online here, quoting your National Insurance number. If the only reason for needing a tax return is down to child benefit, then the person earning over £50k should register. If both spouses earn over £50k , then the highest earner should register.
What happens if I don’t register for Self Assessment?
Well, immediately, nothing. However, if HMRC can show that you had a liability and you didn’t tell them in time, you can be penalised for not submitting tax returns and suffer surcharges for not paying back (in tax) the benefit received. The normal deadline for submitting online returns is 31 January following the end of the tax year (so 31 January 2014 for 2012/13), but paper returns normally have to be in by 31 October (2013). However, where a return is not issued by 31 July, you normally get up to three months to submit a paper return. The normal late tax return penalties will apply if you don’t get your tax return in on time.
However, more worrying is the new ‘failure to notify’ penalty regime, under which HMRC can penalise you up to 100% of the tax due just for failing to tell them you were going to owe tax.
Last week, we heard the worrying tale of a Kindle user who had her entire library deleted by Amazon for reasons that they weren’t prepared to share with her. There was a kind of happy ending as her account was later restored, although Amazon were still tight-lipped as to why it all happened.
If you’ve built up a large collection of ebooks from the Kindle Store and are worried that it could all be wiped away in the blink of an eye for any reason that Amazon see fit, you might be keen to learn how you can save those digital books.
Yes, you can strip away the DRM and save the books to a hard drive or somewhere where Amazon can’t remotely wipe them, BUT it’s almost certainly in contravention of Amazon’s Kindle terms and conditions and it might not work for every one of your books.
If you fancy having a fiddle with some DRM and protecting your ebooks, here’s how (this is the Mac version)…
1: Download Calibre (available for OS X, Windows, and Linux). It’s a “free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books.”
2: Download the DeDRM plugin and unzip it. It’s the piece of code that cracks Amazon’s DRM scheme. After you’ve installed Calibre, open its Preferences (under the File menu) and click on ‘Plugins’ and then, ‘Load plugin from file’ before choosing the K4MobileDRM plugin’s zip file—it’s a zipped file inside of the DeDRM zipped file you downloaded. Don’t decompress this second file.
(For Windows users: you might also need to install both Python and the PyCrypto precompiled binary in order to be able to decrypt some e-books. Get Python here, and get the matching version of PyCrypto from here (either 2.7 or 3.3, for 32-bit or 64-bit Windows, whichever is appropriate).
3: Download Kindle for Mac (or the Windows/Linux equivalent), and connect it to your Amazon account. Download all your e-books (they’re in ‘Archived Items’ in the top left of the app. Once done, your ‘Archived Items’ count will change to zero and ‘Downloaded Items’ should show a number greater than zero.
4: Open up ~/Library/Containers/com.amazon.Kindle/Data/Library/Application Support/Kindle/My Kindle Content/. (this requires you to find the Library file found under the “username” directory).
5: Drag the .azw files (each Kindle e-book) into Calibre.
6: Click ‘Convert books’ in the app’s toolbar. When the ‘Bulk Convert’ window pops up, make sure that EPUB is selected in the upper right corner of the screen. Then click the third item on the left-hand side, “Page Setup,” and configure the output profile to whatever device you want to export. Choose Kindle as the input profile.
7: Click ‘OK’ to start the conversion. Click on ‘Jobs’ to check the progress of your conversions. Once they’re done, you should have a bunch of sub-folders, organized by author’s name, complete with cover art and a converted file in EPUB format. You can keep them safely on your hard drive or read them in Apple’s ‘Books’. Or convert them back to MOBI format and put them on your Kindle – you know you’ve got the backups where Amazon can’t delete them for no explainable reason.