Hurray! A crackdown on card fraud!

December 19th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

creditcards Hurray! A crackdown on card fraud!Good news everyone – new rules have been revealed which aim to beat down on card payment fraud! Aren’t you thrilled about that?

The European Banking Authority (EBA) has shared their new, tougher guidelines, making payment service providers get serious about customer identification before payments are processed.

There’s good reason for this too – in the last four years, the yearly cost of card fraud in the UK has jumped up from £365 million to somewhere in advance of £450 million! Two thirds of that came from the dastardly practice of ‘skimming’, where small amounts of money are continually removed from an account in the hope that the victim won’t even notice.

Of course, there’s been an increase in digital snidery too, with ne’er-do-wells using malware and the like. There’s also the tried-and-tested tactic of just nicking your card too.

Anyway, all this means is that you’ll carry on as normal while fraudsters will have to learn a new set of tricks to try and get at all your precious money.

scissr 300x180 Its a new app for lesbians called Scissr, sisters!An app that claims it’s the lesbian version of Grindr is on its way.

Claiming it’s somewhat ‘classier’ than the gay man networking app, Scissr is created “by lesbians for lesbians”. Crikey. It’ll be full of sock-puppet accounts, set up by men, seeing if they can tediously ‘turn’ some women before being frightened off by everyone’s love of P!nk albums.

The free app, which will be available on iOS and Android, will fill a gap in the women-seeking-women app sector.

The inventor Allison Ullrich reckons it will offer a ‘mind blowing’ experience for the ladies: “I think what spawned the idea was life – reality – and conversations I’ve had with my friends regarding relationships and women.”

Well, duh.

Users must be over 18, and are allowed to upload three photographs and write a bio of 300 words. Christ, that’s a bit admin-y. You don’t get that sort of faff with Grindr.

The app will feature private messages, and the option to “crush” on a user or add them to a “wish list”.

Lesbian dating sites and apps are not new, but Ullrich reckons Scissr will offer more. “We want to connect and promote those in the LGBT community through our independent or shared cultural interests.”

This follows a report that lesbians in the UK earn 5% more than their heterosexual sisters, yet, gay men earn less than straights.

Should we have a lower drink-driving limit?

December 19th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

car crash 239x300 Should we have a lower drink driving limit?No-one gets as agitated as a driver being told what to do, so with that, what about the idea of a lower drink-driving limit?

Well, according to a new survey, three quarters of those drivers who were asked (74% to be precise) were in favour of lowering the amount of booze you can have if you’re getting behind the wheel. Of course, this comes after Scotland announcing that they are lowering their limits.

31% reckon that the UK should follow Scotland’s (and a lot of the EU) lead by dropping the limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (50mg/100ml). 43% said the UK should go even further by introducing a limit of 20mg/100ml, which is in place in Sweden among other countries.

One 26% think that we’re fine with the current 80mg/100ml level.

 

The survey was pretty unanimous that, in the cases of repeat drink-drivers, the penalties for them must be considerably more stern. 95% think that repeat offenders such face higher penalties.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “The current drink drive limit in England and Wales sends a confusing message and asks drivers to do the impossible – guess when they are under the limit, and guess when they are safe to drive. Even very small amounts of alcohol impair driving, so the only safe choice is not to drink at all before driving. The law needs to make that crystal clear.”

Now, here’s the kicker.

The survey was carried out by road safety charity Brake in tandem with Direct Line. A road safety charity and an insurer will be more likely to yield results with a certain skew on it. You’d inevitably find very different results if you asked the readers of Top Gear magazine, the Daily Mail or whatever.

With that, we open it up to you lot – should we have a lower drink-drive limit? Should we hammer people who are repeat offenders? Should we be allowed to drink at all before driving?

Top ten outlandish TV licence excuses

December 19th, 2014 No Comments By Thewlis

At this time of year, saving a few pennies can be hard to do, so what some folks do is save themselves £145.50 a year by not paying for a TV licence.

Of course, there are legitimate ways to escape having to pay for a TV licence, like not watching live TV, but if you don’t pay and get caught, you could face a fine of up to £1000, which is far less pleasing on the pocket. So if you do get caught, delivering your very best line in excuses to the enforcement officer could be crucial.

Today, TV licensing has revealed the top ten excuses for not having a TV licence, which include dabbling with spirits on the other side, the tooth fairy, and actually being Jesus.

Pick your favourite from the list below:

tvlicence 450x500 Top ten outlandish TV licence excuses

Consultant Psychologist Kerry Daynes explains that people tell lies “usually to lubricate passage through our daily lives and often to make other people feel better.” She also muses that it is “interesting that the more outlandish excuses have been judged by the evader as more socially acceptable, and therefore less embarrassing than the truth,” conceding that some people may have come up with the most ridiculous thing they could think of to show contempt.

A BBC spokesman said “At just £2.80 a week per household the BBC provides excellent value for money. Low evasion rates are effectively saving each licence fee payer £15. It means that programmes like EastEnders, Strictly, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Match of the Day can be watched by everyone – not a select few. Public support for the licence fee has risen by 22% since 2004.”

Bebo is back and bonkers

December 19th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

bebo Bebo is back and bonkersBebo is back!

Yes, the social network that was a social network before the others, has returned. However it’s now all hashtag and avatar messaging.

It first launched in 2005, but went on to spend a few years in the internet wilderness.

In 2013, the original founders Michael and Xochi Birch bought Bebo back from investors for $1 million and have now brought it back in a completely different format: a smartphone messaging app, which launched this week.

The Bebo app is a messaging service along the lines of WhatsApp and Snapchat, but with a load of unique features.

Users now create their own avatar, which you can accessorise with various new hair and skintones, and it’s now all over the site like a rash. Bebo users can chat with connections riddled with hashtags, which then act as links firing off in all manner of games and tools.

The new Bebo is now available to download for free from all regular app vendors.

You can make your little avatar fart and do erotic dances as well as play a Flappy Bird clone, all through the use of hashtags. It looks absolutely mental.

We should’ve known it’d be a daft affair though – when Bebo announced it was relaunching, Michael Birch made a video with the usual tech-promo aspirational music, however, his had a load of drawings of penises in it.

ebay Middle aged men quite selfish on eBay after ChristmasMiddle-aged men don’t give a shit about anyone. That’s essentially the dimensions of a report released by eBay.

In January 2013, men between the ages of 45-54 Last January were behind 3.8 million searches for luxury items, the highest volume of consumer inquiries across the gender and age ranges.

Possibly rewarding themselves for managing to survive Christmas.

It also found that January and March both registered highs of self-gifting. Which is, frankly, a phrase that can be shot into space.

Phuong Nguyen, director of eBay Advertising UK, said: “Our latest Indulgence Barometer shows that high-end purchases aren’t restricted to Christmas; there are year-round opportunities for luxury brands to engage, and January presents a huge opportunity to grow share of wallet as shoppers stop buying for other people, and get ready to treat themselves.”

“Marketers need to make sure that they don’t blow the budget in December; ring-fencing spend for January, and adapting campaign messages to reflect the shift in shopper mind-set is key to cashing in on the January opportunity.”

An Indulgence Barometer! Have you heard such twaddle?!

£180m lost by Royal Mail sale

December 18th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Royal Mail £180m lost by Royal Mail saleThe sale of the Royal Mail is already a controversial topic. It won’t be letting up any time soon as reports show that UK taxpayers lost out £180m on the deal. A small mercy is that it was originally thought to be a much greater loss, somewhere in the region of £1bn.

However, £180m is no joking matter.

The inquiry headed by Lord Myners will conclude this week and will show that the Government could have received additional proceeds of somewhere between £120m and £180m if the sale of shares had been conducted properly.

The report will also underline the inadequacies in the way that the Shareholder Executive (who looks after state-owned assets) handled the privatisation. It adds that, based on initial interest from investors, the price range for the shares should have been higher.

Vince Cable, who commissioned Myners to complete the inquiry, asked him to examine whether the way future Government asset sales should be changed.

The inquiry are set to make a number of recommendations, including measures to overhaul conventional market practices, like the earlier publication of prospectuses which will facilitate better investor education and enabling a greater number of analysts to publish research on companies and the like.

There will also be calls for an examination of whether or not there should be standardised shareholding disclosure requirements for all institutions. This will mean a lot of changes in the market and a shake-up of the way things are done between regulators and institutional investors.

Facebook add auto photo-enhancement to iPhones

December 18th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Facebook have brought out an automatic photo-enhancement thing for the iPhone. Now, if you upload a photo onto the social network through iOS, it will be automatically optimised for online viewing.

Facebook have offered such options, but now they will be applied whether you want it or not.

facebook photo 500x500 Facebook add auto photo enhancement to iPhones

Users can still apply their own tweaking and have the option to revert to the original image, which is a nice touch. Facebook haven’t announced it for the desktop, but Android users will be getting it soon

The changes come after Facebook-owned Instagram launched five new filters for its own app yesterday – the first time it’s updated the range since December 2012.

The new filters are called Slumber, Crema, Ludwig, Perpetua and Aden, and take the total number of options up to 25. They all sound like the names of posh people’s children.

Google to introduce one-click shopping?

December 18th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

google Google to introduce one click shopping?You’ve inevitably seen Amazon’s one-click ordering button, and it looks like Google want in on the action too.

A report reckons that Google’s ‘Shopping’ tab will soon allow you to buy stuff without going through menus and the like.

So does that mean Google are getting into the idea of e-commerce? Not quite - Google won’t be selling the products directly, which means that the internet behemoth is likely to team up with business partnerships with other retailers.

Sounds like it is going to be slightly more faffy than Amazon’s offerings.

Talks with retailers are said to be in preliminary stages, and, if rumours are to be believed, Google like the idea of to-day shipping, again, very similar to Amazon who have Amazon Prime.

As these talks are in the very early stages of development, it could mean that Google ditch the idea after weighing up all the pros and cons. However, Google want more of your data and online behaviour patterns, so this is an attractive prospect that they’re obviously going to take seriously.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Shoppers happy to buy wonky looking fruit

December 18th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

funny shaped vegetables Shoppers happy to buy wonky looking fruitWhat do you think of wonky fruit? No need to tell us because we’ve got some figures to share!

Mintel’s Fruit and Vegetables UK 2014 report (very exciting) found 48% of shoppers who bought fruit and veg, would be totally into buying disfigured root vegetables that resemble genitalia and moody looking fruit, if they looked edible enough.

56% of the researched believe that retailers should do a bit more to reduce the amount of food they waste, with 28% voicing concerns about the amount of fruit and veg that ends up scrapped.

Kiti Soininen, head of UK food, drink & foodservice Research at Mintel, said: “It is clear that consumers are open to ‘ugly’ produce, but where oddly shaped fruit and veg sits with mainstream offerings, it is at risk of going unchosen, even if subconsciously.”

“The fact half of consumers would buy good quality oddly shaped fruit and veg, and the recent focus on food waste and the grocers’ role in curbing it showed there was scope to actively use the non-standard quality of produce as a selling point”

“Prices come across as a real consideration for many and by positioning ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables as a tasty, low-cost option should help the grocers to reach this group.”

So, don’t turn that carrot away because it doesn’t conform to conditioned pre-conceptions of what beauty is, right? Yeah.

New BlackBerry goes back to classic design

December 18th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

BlackBerry have announced a new smartphone that harks back to yore.

The company’s new Classic smartphone has a qwerty keyboard, trackpad and the usual buttons along with a touch screen. Just look at it would you?

blackberry 500x371 New BlackBerry goes back to classic design

Chief Executive Officer John Chen said at an event in New York: “When I went to visit customers — and these are the CEOs of top banks in this town – a lot of them pulled out their BlackBerrys. Don’t mess around with this thing.”

This brings BlackBerry full circle, after the touch screen efforts that fell flat with regular BlackBerry fans, and people fled the company due to it.

And it all looks quite promising, as pre-orders for it have outstripped demand for any BlackBerry item of recent years. So it’s all looking hopeful for the beleagured firm.

BlackBerry is currently selling the Classic for $449 in the U.S. with a view to introducing it elsewhere in the new year.

kanavape 300x282 Introducing the first cannabis electronic cigaretteDo you enjoy the drugs, but trying to quit smoking? Well, rejoice stoners, for the first ‘e-joint’ is now available to buy in the UK.

The first cannabis electronic cigarette came out in June, but it was only available abroad.

KanaVape, a device similar to electronic cigarettes but with cannabinoids, will be purchasable online from the UK from next Thursday.

The product uses hemp with 5 per cent cannabidiol, meaning that it apparently gives users the same effect  – especially the relaxed feeling – as cannabis but without the psychotic side-effects.

The e-joint will mean users can inhale cannabis vapour without the usual smell of smoke.

However the makers of Britain’s first e-joint – Antonin Cohen and Sebastien Beguerie – claim their product is entirely legal as it contains no THC – the chemical in marijuana.

As if to make it sound a bit wholesome, the hemp used in the e-joint is grown in France, Czech Republic and Spain without the use of synthetic pesticides and chemicals.

They said, in unison apparently: “We made KanaVape to give millions of people a legal and tasteful way of using cannabinoids. We craft our production with love, care and scientific research. KanaVape is good for our customers and good for the planet.”

Drug charities aren’t that impressed by the idea, shading it off as something of a lousy gimmick, but accept that it will be legal due to the THC issue.

That’s literally someone’s idea of a very merry Christmas. Not here though. Bitterwallet’s body is a temple.

Christmas AdWatch: Apple

December 17th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Just when we thought we’d finally seen the back of Christmas adverts for the year, along comes a late entry from Apple.

The advert – ‘The Song’ – sees a young lady – via a variety of Apple products, naturally – create a nice duet based on her Gran’s recording of Love Is Here To Stay.

The sell Apple is giving it is: “With a Mac, iPhone or iPad you have the power to create thoughtful, emotional gifts and memories that transcend time. It could be a movie, a homemade card or a song that brings two generations closer together.”

Have a gander at it now. Here.

It’s genuinely quite lovely, and seeing gran tear up as she flicks through photos of yore will have you… no, it’s okay… just something in our eye.

Perhaps it is good that it’s come out a bit later than all the others, otherwise December’s commercial breaks would soon become an intolerable minefield of feelings and heart-string-pulling emotions., and we can’t be having that.

presents tree 300x225 The search for the perfect Christmas present is over…It’s just over a week to Christmas, and present panic-buying starts to set in. What will you do if you can’t find that Frozen Minecraft Lego Barbie your child so desperately needs. But never fear, it seems what they really want for Christmas is cool hard cash.

Of course, unless you wrap every fiver like a pass the parcel, money under the tree isn’t going to look quite the same, but according to a Halifax survey of over 1000 people with under 18s, a third thought their children would prefer cash to an actual present.

But, of course, everyone will still drive themselves mad trying to find that perfect present which ends up gathering dust, or in the next box for the charity shop. The Money Advice Service polled over 3,000 people and almost 40% said they had received presents they hadn’t used, with an average value of £54. So why not just wang your kid £50 instead?

Even better, why not give them a cash gift they can’t even use. Invest it in a Junior Isa or even a pension for a child and you can force them to invest for their future in this time of peace and goodwill.

“It’s nice to have presents that you can unwrap at Christmas but it’s a very sensible approach to give money and it is a nice way of teaching children about the value of money and putting money aside,” says Anna Bowes, who despite commenting on behalf of savingschampion.co.uk, had absolutely no vested interest in saying that.

Although the benefits of investing in a pension as early as possible are well documented, the most obvious options when investing money for children are Junior ISAs and standard children’s savings accounts. Junior ISAs are available to children under the age of 18, who don’t already have a Child Trust Fund. Importantly, children cannot get to their ISA cash until they are 16, whereas a savings account gives them access to the money from as early as eight years old. When they’d only spend it on Freddos and Tizer.

So now you’ve got your presents sorted. No need to thank us.

What on earth have you been looking at online?

December 17th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers
a child on the internet 300x182 What on earth have you been looking at online?

A boy stood with the internet

Another year is nearly over and Google are looking back at what everyone’s been up to. Of course, in Spain, they won’t get one of these nostalgiafests next year, because Google has fallen out with an entire country.

So what has everyone been searching for through Google in 2014? You’d have to assume the word ‘nudes’ and ‘fappening’ have ranked highly, but then, you also have to assume that Google have only decided to show everyone the PG results of this year.

Concerning the latter, you’d be right. Instead of searches for leaked photos of the nice lady from The Hunger Games, Google say that the number one search of 2014 was Robin Williams, after his untimely death in August.

In second place, unsurprisingly, was the World Cup while in third place was the delight that is Ebola. They were followed by missing Malaysian plan Flight MH370 and then the ALS/Ice Bucket Challenge. Oddly, at number six in the chart, was the infuriating Flappy Bird.

Then, finishing off the top ten, we find Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst, those folks who make up ISIS, the Frozen movie and the Sochi Winter Olympics.

When it comes to consumer electronics, the iPhone 6 topped the results, followed by Samsung Galaxy S5, Nexus 6, Moto G and the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Seeing as we’re on the internet, you should stop reading all these words and have a nice time watching this thoroughly overblown video, made by Google themselves.

There’s things landing on comets, science and medicine breakthroughs and some political movements… but no nudes at all.