Nuisance calls: still a nuisance

July 25th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apple start showing off Yosemite, Sam

July 24th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

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

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

yosemite OS 500x290 Apple start showing off Yosemite, Sam

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

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

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

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

Atari: Doing it for the gays

July 22nd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Atari are launching a new game aimed at the gays.

After a variety of complaints that some computer games are a bit too heterosexual, Atari have come up with a LGBT-friendly title for iOS and Android called Pridefest.

pridefest 500x291 Atari: Doing it for the gays

The game is a social sim that invites players to create their own pride parade in a city of their choosing.

Currently in development for tablets and smartphones, the mobile game involves designing parades with “attractions and entertainment” in order to increase the happiness of a town. How jolly!

No doubt you could fill it with leathermen singing Male Stripper and your community will benefit greatly from it. Although one imagine it could bring the overall vibe down if you choose Sinitta to headline your Pride, like London did. That sort of madness leads to self-harm.

Players will be faced with a series of puzzles and challenges as they aim to unlock new decorations and festival supplies in order to increase the vibrancy of their respective parade.

Atari CEO, the humourously named Todd Shallbetter said: “We are excited to be developing Atari’s first LGBT-themed game that will give players of all backgrounds the chance to play a fun and unique game that represents a passionate cause.”

This move marks an interesting new direction for the beleageured Atari.

The company responsible for classic titles such as Pong and Centipede filed for bankruptcy protection in 2013, and then took to specialising in social casino sims and various mobile games thereafter.

Now, like everything else, it’s relying on the gays to help ‘em out.

EE apologise for being annoying

July 22nd, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

zzzw EE apologise for being annoyingEE has apologised after it hassled customers with texts over the weekend.

How much hassle? One user complained of receiving more than 90 marketing messages from Orange, one of EE’s brands, in a four-day period.

Well EE have certainly done themselves no favours in the past, and this latest wheeze looks like seeing off what customers they had left.

These text messages were reminders that the customers were eligible to add to their plans numbers that they can call for free, and the usual old toss that corporate text messaging throws out.

Naturally, customers took to social media and had a good moan about it.

The messages read: “Hi from Orange. Congratulations: you can now add another Magic Number.” It included a link customers could follow to do so.

Trying gamely to underestimate the levity of this shitstorm, a member of EE’s community team named as Miles wrote on Sunday that the firm was “having an issue” with the text message service.

“This reminder should only be sent once, but some customers are getting multiple reminders. If you’ve received any of these duplicate messages, please accept our apologies for any inconvenience. Remember: you’re not charged to receive magic number reminders.”

Is this the final straw for you, remaining EE customers? You better answer quickly or you’ll get asked the same question 90 times.

Carphone and Three: Together at last?

July 18th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

three1 300x292 Carphone and Three: Together at last?Carphone Warehouse – or should we say Dixons Carphone Whorehouse or whatever they’re called now – are in talks with mobile operator Three to launch its own mobile network.

Carphone had been in discussions with several UK networks, but apparently Three are the ones who been the most interested, as the company looks past its usual fare of simply flogging phones.

It also looks more likely since Carphone Warehouse announced it was planning on setting up an MVNO in Ireland using Three’s network. The new network, set to go live in mid-2015, will utilise the newly-combined Three and O2 Ireland networks, which merged last month in a €780m deal.

Carphone Warehouse already has an existing partnership with Vodafone to resell low-cost contracts under the Talkmobile brand, a partnership which currently boasts around 700,000 customers and is set to continue.

It will certainly stir up shit with other UK mobile operators, who’ll be less likely to want to be involved with Carphone, such as EE, who want to focus on direct selling to its customers.

Yeah. Good luck with that EE!

bike cycling Google Maps: now helping cyclists avoid big hillsHipster cyclists like nothing more than tackling a huge hill in full lycra kit, rewarding themselves with some craft ale at the top, then taking a photo of it on Instagram. This is to say: “Look at me! I’m doing exercise, but I’m drinking beer, so I’m not like those other arses with their kale.”

Of course, they’re exactly the same as those other arses.

Most people who have bikes just want to stretch their legs for a mooch or commute to work, so hills aren’t exactly a thrilling prospect. No-one wants to turn up at the office with sweat dripping off them.

Google Maps already has a function where you can see cycle routes, but the latest update include journeys based on elevation, which means you can avoid hard climbs if you want to. Or indeed, you can look for more strenuous journeys, if that’s your thing.

Android Police have reported that there’s tools to compare different elements of your journey and a whole bunch of voice controls to help you out too.

You can ask Google Maps what the traffic is like and get estimates on arrival times and such.

Android Police have made a video of the new features and, as you’ll see, they’re not 100% great but a decent idea if you get around on your bike a lot.

Just don’t use it while pedalling through traffic or you’ll end up nothing more than a stain on the road.

BT can put all your phones in one phone

July 18th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

bt one phone BT can put all your phones in one phoneBT has launched BT One Phone for the business people

The service will allow business people to receive office and mobile calls to a single device and reduce the risk of them missing important calls. Great for people having affairs with their underlings as well.

The BT One Phone helps streamline calls to any device all into one place. A bit like an email server which aggregates all your accounts. But on a phone.

All phone numbers for the individual are linked to one mobile device, meaning they can manage their calls from anywhere.

Graham Sutherland, CEO of BT Business, said:

“With an increasingly mobile and demanding workforce, businesses need communications technology that is as flexible as they are. Missed calls mean missed business. Today’s announcement, combined with the upcoming launch of our 4G services, demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the increasingly mobile UK workforce.”

Users would need a BT One Phone SIM to gain access to the cloud-based call management service, with which they can receive calls from all of their various phone lines. This gives professionals more control, increasing productivity even when away from the office.

Or to translate that for you – YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ESCAPE.

Snoopsome administrators will also be able to manage employee access by activating or deactivating employee SIM cards, managing call groups etc. Probably at will, when the fancy takes them and you’ll get all paranoid and neck a box of painkillers.

The future, ladies and gentlemen.

payfriendz 300x300 Payfriendz allows you to, yes! Rob your enemies!Payfriendz allows you to do just that – pay your friends.

The new app allows you to transfer money via instant messaging, and goes beyond the current methods of other payment apps (Paym, PayPal, Barclays Pingit, etc) that don’t go beyond offering transactions.

It’s all very genius-sounding, and you wonder why it hasn’t been thought of before.

With an instant messaging network users can chat with their friends and talk about money matters without awkwardness or having to resort to threats.

Users can send and request money as quick as a chat message.

Money can also be spent comfortably via an integrated virtual MasterCard on online stores such as Amazon .

And as it works like a digital wallet Payfriendz makes it easy to split restaurant bills, collect money for a gift or share flat share expenses. Jolly!

That is if you actually have money to transfer, it doesn’t yet offer any tips on how to respond to “Pay your rent or all your shit is going into the skip out front sunshine”.

Let’s enjoy one of their promotional ads with the extremely irritating ‘Kimmy’!

“Ice cream” indeed. She’s clearly off to her dealer.

eating in the car Six penalty points for using mobile phone while drivingDrivers who use their mobiles while driving could be getting slapped around the face with six penalty points as part of a Government bid to crackdown to stop people getting killed on the roads, even though statistically, people are always going to die on the roads.

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said he’s going to weigh-up doubling the penalty points for those caught pissing about with their phones while at the wheel.

This is because the latest figures suggest that there’s one road death per fortnight that is directly related to mobile phone use, which McLoughlin described as “absolutely appalling”.

If the six point penalty comes in, that means you’d be banned from driving after two mobile-related offences. If you’re a new driver, you will probably be banned after a single offence.

There’s more too. The fines imposed for tweeting while driving could be increased too. The government are looking at getting the current £100 penalty and hiking it up to £150.

In fairness, no tweet or text is important enough to do while you’re driving. It also stands to reason that the kind of people who think they’re amazing drivers won’t stop doing what they want anyway, because that’s the way the world works.

National parks get phone signals

July 14th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Green Park London   April 2007 300x200 National parks get phone signalsA deal between mobile operators to boost mobile coverage in England’s National Parks has been agreed.

The Mobile Operators Association (MOA, obvs) represents O2, EE, Vodafone and 3, and have said that themselves and the parks have settled on an agreement, without ruining the natural beauty and loveliness of the parks.

Now you can do a selfie with a deer and share it instantly rather than go through the agonising wait until you reach civilisation [This could make for some really fancy hook-ups with Tinder and Grindr and the like - Ed.]

It will also help boost the lives of those who work and maintain the parks, and they can alert people quicker to them with a simple “leg in mantrap lol” and not be left to rot there for a fortnight.

A chair named Jim Bailey, from the National Parks England and the North York Moors National Park Authority said: “Today’s agreement will be good for the thousands of businesses and people living in our National Parks, for the millions who visit them, and for the stunning landscapes and towns that are the lifeblood of our rural economies,” he said.

The work will cover the 10 National Parks of England: The Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, South Downs and the Yorkshire Dales.

Splendid.

China: Child labour and iPhone paranoia

July 14th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

china China: Child labour and iPhone paranoiaUnsurprisingly, there’s some strange news coming out of China.

The first bit of news is that Chinese state media have warned their people that Apple’s iPhone is a threat to national security. Why? Well, iPhones can track you and transmit data back to the firm, which of course is paranoid and wei… hang on.

China might have a point there.

A report on China Central Television (yes, the acronym for that is ‘CCTV’, which is just hilarious really) said that the iPhone’s “Frequent Locations” function was dangerous and intrusive to Chinese citizens. ”This is extremely sensitive data,” a researcher told CCTV, before adding that iPhones could well tell everyone about the Chinese economy and “even state secrets”.

Cast your mind back to Edward Snowden’s claims that he once taught a course in “cyber-counterintelligence” against China, and things that may have been dismissed as the hootings of crackpots look far more probable.

Apple’s notes on the Frequent Locations service says: ”Your iPhone will keep track of places you have recently been, as well as how often and when you visited them, in order to learn places that are significant to you. This data is kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to Apple without your consent. It will be used to provide you with personalized services, such as predictive traffic routing.”

CCTV have previously referred to Apple as “incomparably arrogant”, which is also funny.

However, Samsung have been pointing at China, saying that they’ve found evidence of “suspected child labour” at a factory of one of their suppliers. Say hello to our old pals at Dongguan Shinyang Electronics again!

Samsung undertook an investigation after the group China Labor Watch accused them of hiring children, with the tech-makers suspending business with the factory while they look into everything.

“If the investigations conclude that the supplier indeed hired children illegally, Samsung will permanently halt business with the supplier in accordance with its zero tolerance policy on child labour,” Samsung said in a statement. “Furthermore, Samsung will strengthen its hiring process not only at its production facilities but also at its suppliers to prevent such case from reoccurring.”

Dongguan Shinyang Electronics have decided to stay quiet for the time being.

So there you have it. In China, it seems it is okay to work children like dogs, but if you tell Americans about their whereabouts, then you’re ‘incomparably arrogant’.

BT set for windfall with 0800 charges

July 11th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Picture 2 BT set for windfall with 0800 chargesWe’ve all been thinking it. We’ve all been worried about British Telecom not being wealthy enough. Well worry no more, because BT are going to get a “multimillion pound windfall” from mobile operators following a UK Supreme Court victory over phone call charges.

We can finally throw that nationwide street party in celebration of BT’s coffers! The orphans will be delighted.

So what happened? Well, the UK Supreme Court ruled in favour of BT following a dispute between the phone co. and mobile operators regarding extra payments for calls to 0800 and 0845 numbers.

EE, Telefonica, Three and Vodafone made an appeal, where they were trying to block charges for these non-geographic numbers, saying that BT’s wholesale costs (or ”ladder costs” if you like) were  ”unreasonable.”

The court dismissed them outright and furthermore, the companies would have to make back payments to BT dating back to 2009. In plain English, that’s tens of millions of pounds straight into BT’s pocket.

“Clause 12 of BT’s Standard Interconnect Agreement confers a discretion on BT to unilaterally fix or vary its charges,” the UK Supreme court said in its ruling.

BT said in a statement, “We will now start proceedings to recover the money that has been refunded to the mobile operators since the Court of Appeal ruling. We will also be pursuing claims for further termination charges subsequent to that ruling. Such pricing was designed to benefit UK consumers by incentivising the mobile operators to lower their retail prices.”

Maybe they should invent some firms and send threatening letters to all the companies that owe them money?

Post Office gets mobile

July 9th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

postoffice10a 300x180 Post Office gets mobileThe Post Office is to start offering mobile services in the UK from this Autumn.

Teaming up with EE, the Post Office will use their network’s infrastructure to offer mobile services, to add to the already half-million it provides a landline phone or broadband to.

By using EE’s masts and equipment to offer a mobile service, the Post Office becomes an MVNO. Other MVNOs using EE infrastructure include Asda Mobile and Virgin Media’s mobile service.

Post Office Ltd is actually a separate company from Royal Mail, running post offices where customers can send parcels, exchange foreign currency, pay bills and much more. There are approximately 11,500 branches across the UK.

No price announcements have been made yet, but the Post Office “pledges to offer customers great value for money and transparency in a market dominated by complex offers.”

Mobile services will be available online, over the phone or, at first, from 50 Post Office branches. You’ll be able to sign up in other branches around the country further down the line.

New iPhone has bigger, stab-proof screen

July 9th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

iPhone 6 concept NowhereElse and Martin Hajek 004 220x300 New iPhone has bigger, stab proof screenAccording to a video, the new iPhone is going to have a bigger screen, which will be made out of something so unbreakable that, if you try and smash it up, you’ll probably bleed to death before you make a dent in it.

Here’s hoping.

This iPhone 6 screen measures 4.7 inches diagonally and is made from sapphire crystal glass. The thing with this new glass thingummy is that it is hard to break and very tough to scratch. That means you won’t be wrecking your phone with whatever is in your pocket (keys, coin, Steely Dan dildo, whatever).

Marques Brownlee, who leaked the new screen, said: “When I get it in the mail and open up the package, it’s pretty easy to tell if it’s a fake or something someone made.”

“It’s pretty clear to me that this is an Apple part.”

So there you have it. A bit of a new phone which looks relatively impressive if you like looking at bits of phones.

If you’d like to see a bit of a phone in action, then the glaringly obvious video below this sentence is where you want to be. Click play and then mutter to yourself; “I bet I could break it.”

Amazon opens wearable tech store

July 9th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

amazon wearable technology 300x150 Amazon opens wearable tech storeTax-dodging internet shopping vessel Amazon has launched a dedicated store for ‘wearable’ technology in the UK.

The store will be offering more than 100 different wearable devices including activity trackers, smart watches, smart glasses and wearable cameras.

As well as items from top brands including Sony, Samsung, Garmin, Jawbone and GoPro, emerging brands like Basis and Misfit, as well as more unusual items like British fashion designer Adrien Sauvage’s wireless charging trousers.

WIRELESS CHARGING TROUSERS.

Customers will also be able to keep an eye on future developments in wearable tech, and can eventually submit themselves fully to the hive for final processing when they’ve scooped up all the necessary gadgets.

The new store also features a ‘Learning Centre’ featuring product details, compatibility information, images and videos, reviews and in-depth buying guides, as well as expert recommendations.

Let’s hear what suitably futuristically named Xavier Garambois, who is the vice president of EU retail at Amazon, has to say:

“The advances in wearable technology mean that customers can now charge their phone through their clothing, monitor their sleep patterns and even track their pets,”

“This new store allows customers to find whatever they are looking for in one place – whether that is tracking fitness, staying connected through smart watches or capturing every adventure with wearable cameras.”

Wearable technology has already caused a fair bit of fuss as one of the things of the year, and looks likely to become some of the must-have gadgets for the Christmas market.

The global market for wearable technology was reportedly worth $2.7 billion (£1.6bn) in revenue in 2012 and is expected to reach $8.3 billion (£4.9bn) in 2018.

And you thought that your mate with Google Glass was already insufferable, it is going to get worse.