Deathwatch: Phones 4U plunge into administration

September 14th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

pr374 Deathwatch: Phones 4U plunge into administrationPhones 4U have gone straight into administration and did not pass Go, or collect £20. The whole thing kicked off after their last remaining mobile partner, EE, ditched the retailer.

EE brought around half of Phones 4U’s sales in and Vodafone had already said that they weren’t renewing their contract and  O2 walked away from the retailer in February.

The business has 720 stores and employs over 5,000 people, who will be briefed tomorrow morning by management. BC Parters, Phones 4U’s private equity owner, said it is “intended that employees will continue to be paid until further notice”.

PwC will be appointed as adminstrators.

All the Phones 4U stores will be closed while it is decided whether the administrators can open the doors or not. If you have a mobile contract through Phones 4U, you’ll be thrilled to learn that, at the moment, it doesn’t change anything.

David Kassler, chief executive of Phones 4U, said: “Today is a very sad day for our customers and our staff. If the mobile network operators decline to supply us, we do not have a business. A good company making profits of over £100 million, employing thousands of decent people has been forced into administration.”

“The great service we have provided should have guaranteed a strong future, but unfortunately our network partners have decided otherwise. The ultimate result will be less competition, less choice and higher prices for mobile customers in UK.”

There could be something fishy afoot too. Phones 4U, it has been rumoured, were considering a complaint to industry watchdogs, alleging that the mobile operators were in cahoots to reduce competition and start hiking the prices up for everyone.

Vodafone: Now in HD

September 12th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

mobile Vodafone: Now in HDVodafone have gone HD!

The UK endz of the Vodafone operation have announced nationwide availability of the service, which is part of a massive spending and investment spree totalling ONE BILLION POUNDS.

Depending on your network capacity, phones with it in will automatically switch to HD voice (although both callers need it in order to have an effect).

In a statement, Fergal Kelly, Vodafone UK’s technology director, said: ”Our HD voice brings our best call quality to our customers.”

“It is another important step towards our commitment to deliver our strongest ever network to the U.K.”

Vodafone’s eventual catch-up in this area follows Orange (September 2010) and 3UK (May 2011). However O2 haven’t got around to it all. It only works on the 3G network too, so if you’re 4G, you’ll roll back to 3G when you make a voice call.

So there you have it. HD phone calls. Great news for those who want absolute clarity when they’re breathing heavily down the line to their ex-wife who left them for a karate instructor.

Asda streamlines internet presence

September 12th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

asdabag 228x276 Asda streamlines internet presenceAsda are shutting down their Direct website. The portal that sells everything that isn’t food, clothing or home guff is going.

However from February, 80% of the Direct stuff will be merged into the grocery site, while George.com will remain the home for all your fashion needs, but will become the online lifestyle store bolstered with no doubt matching towels, toys and pleasing-but-fragile cushions.

The Direct site especially triumphed with deals in stuff like books, garden bits and bobs as well as white goods, like electrical cleaning solution providers such as the washing machine.

This follows Sainsbury’s announcing similar last month, with streamlining  its non-food into their grocery site.

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said: “We’re creating an online experience that logically fits with how our customers want to shop and focuses on the areas that our customers love. Ultimately, we want to give more people access to the price, quality and style that we are famous for.”

There’s that dreaded ‘experience’ again.

“In what is still a challenging market, I am delighted that we are able to make an investment that will not only step on delivery of our strategy, but also bring new and convenient ways for our customers to shop with us,” Clarke adds.

The company are also hoping to boost online sales by launching the first fully automated click and collect points in the UK, which should roll out in London and the South East from early 2015.

Delete yourself with Facebook

September 12th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

facebook mobile 300x200 Delete yourself with FacebookFacebook have been testing again!

The social media giant has been experimenting with a new thing that allows the users to create self deleting posts.

Oh hang on, sounds familiar. Snapchat anyone?

When upon posting some bon mot on the Facebook, one can now select an expiration date for it to delete itself, ranging from one hour to seven days.

It’s currently happening as a pilot on the Facebook iOS app. And currently only in New Zealand.

It will be interesting to see if the younger set who favoured the ephemeral existence of a Snapchat missive, may be tempted back to join the old squares banging on about cats, babies, dogs and car parts.

This is quite interesting too, as Snapchat said no to a $3 billion offer from Facebook late last year.

It’s not the start of some lol-fest where one can post something horrible for an hour and upset everyone and then it vanishes though, as even posts removed from the user’s profile hang around the company’s servers for three months.

Britons: rubbish at pensions

September 12th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

pensiner 300x225 Britons: rubbish at pensionsAround most half of Britons who are not yet retired aren’t very good at preparing for the winter of their lives, according to some musings by the Office for National Statistics.

These figures show that 45% of men and 49% of women did not have any private pension savings, which means in the future, there’s going to be a lot of old people complaining about freezing to death while living in a McDonald’s bag on a hard shoulder, on social media.

Barnett Waddingham’s senior consultant Malcolm McLean said: “The figures released by the ONS this morning paint a worrying picture of the state of unpreparedness for retirement of a significant proportion of the working age population.”

‘Unpreparedness’ there. We were hoping he would’ve gone for ‘unpreparedity’ or something. Anyway, the there seems to be some areas of employment where people are more clued-up about their future years in the wilderness.

In the accommodation and food service industries, 95% of men and women didn’t pay into a private pension, while those working in public administration, defence and social security, only 7% of men and 9% of women choosing not to contribute to a private pension.

McLean continued: “This illustrates how important that particular government initiative is to secure an improvement in this situation. Not surprisingly perhaps, wealth is also unequally distributed – with those households with a private pension being seven times more better off than those without.”

So there you have it. Stop buying Maoams and cans of gin and tonic and go sort yourself out a pension.

Planes: More seats – less legroom

September 12th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

fat man on airplane 300x255 Planes: More seats   less legroomWhile Ryanair have been shopping and snapping up a load of Boeing planes, it has announced that it will be able to accommodate 197 seats up from the original 189.

The airline’s purchase of the Boeing 737 MAX 200s, will be able to carry more passengers due to slimmer seats and less galley space than the current 737-800s.

Obviously, Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, reckons the extra seats would generate around €1million of additional revenue per plane per year. Oh as a bonus, he hopes it will start an old fashioned price war… “which, like all the old price wars, Ryanair will win,” the charmer bellowed.

Ryanair do say that the legroom will in fact be increased due to the seats and smaller galleys. The customers – although not fully disclosed – would have 30 inches of leg room.

However  Airbus said the MAX 200 configuration would mean the removal of three of eight galley trolleys, which would leave just five trolleys for almost 200 passengers.

This is the latest in the ongoing quest to get more passengers on to planes other than just laying them on top of each other, or sitting on laps.

The number of economy seats in Boeing 777s has gone from 15% of its 74 777s taking ten abreast (up from the original nine) in 2010, to 69% in 2012.

Even Airbus have offered up designs which show an 11-abreast seating arrangement on its A380 superjumbo efforts, which would gain 35-40 more seats.

The nutjobs also tried to offer up a design featuring just saddles, but that might have been the result of someone doing some smoking.

Air-rage is increasing as a result of the battery hen scenes on the long-haul flights, with at least three planes having to be diverted in the last month.

Shall we look at a chart showcasing who has the most legroom on their economy flights? Go on, it’ll be fun!

                                  Legroom (pitch)                Seat width

Monarch                 28 ins*                                   17 ins
Thomson                28                                            16.5-17.2
Thomas Cook       28-33                                      16.2-18.5
EasyJet                   29                                            17.5
Ryanair                  30                                            17
Aer Lingus            31-32                                       17
British Airways   31-34                                      17-18
(*with an “extra legroom” option of 32 ins for a fee)

How to delete an unwanted U2 album

September 12th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

u2 300x300 How to delete an unwanted U2 albumSo you’re one of the billions of people who were “gifted” a copy of the new U2 album and you don’t want it stinking up your iTunes, yeah?

Well, help is at hand.

As not everyone is a massive fan, or even occasional fans, who might have liked a few numbers by the hitmakers once upon a time but that moment has been obliterated by Bono being Bono and his band’s increasingly desperate attempts to remain a colossal thing and all that avoiding tax lark, you might need help in deleting their new album.

If the panto phishing business seemed bad, to some, this felt like a home invasion. Well anyway. Calm down.

Go to your music, select albums, mainly ‘Songs of Innocence’, and then swipe each track to reveal the delete option.

To remove it from your iPhone or iPad, go to Music and switch off “Show all Music”. This way you won’t see any tracks that aren’t actually on your iOS device.

This is quite informative if you’ve ever drunkenly bought something several years ago like, for instance, Kate Nash’s ‘Foundations’, and you were horrified when the cloud shoved it onto your new laptop.

So there you have it. And well done to those of you who already knew how to delete the U2 album and crowed about how much you didn’t care about the whole stunt on Twitter to your 32 followers.

Screen Shot 2011 11 24 at 09.17.44 300x236 Topshop to show off new stuff online before catwalkTopshop are doing a first this weekend, and showcasing its Spring/ Summer 15 (SS15) Unique collection on Facebook before the catwalk.

As part of London Fashion Week, on Sunday (September 14th), their looks will be seen on their social media channels before the likes of the front row of mostly bored looking F-listers get a gander.

Five of Topshop’s users will be filling up the social media channels with the wares and exclusives available in the range.

The high street giant has also turned to Instagram to deliver content around the show.  Five users of the platform have been chosen to populate Topshop’s social channels and website over the course of the week.

Their content, alongside other posts and pictures from fans who use the hashtag #TOPSHOPWINDOW will be pulled in to a custom-designed installation in the window of Topshop’s flagship store on Oxford Street.

There will be an interactive digital mosaic type-thing acting as something of a livestream of the show, and anyone can dig what they see and walk in and get it.

A lady named Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA, Facebook said: “It’s such a trailblazing move to premier part of their SS15 collection on Facebook and off the runway, and further demonstrates Topshop’s bold use of digital to reach fashion lovers around the world and offer them a truly unique way to interact with the action from London as it happens.”

That Sir Phillip Green is keen to make Fashion Week more of an accessible thing to his punters: “This season, the strength of our social community allows us to be the first brand to debut looks from a catwalk collection on a social network granting unprecedented access online”.

“I believe that enabling Topshop’s fans to view key looks from the collection before our industry insiders is a real revolution – and one that we are proud to pioneer.”

Get them!

Thorntons back on the up again

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

After being in our Deathwatch a number of times,zs 300x138 Thorntons back on the up again Thorntons have had something of a turnaround in their fortunes this annum!

The confectionary vendors have announced a 60% jump in annual profits due to their cost-cutting drives.

Pre-tax profits and one-off items jumped to a better-than-expected £7.5 million in the year to the end of June, from £4.7 million a year earlier. Revenue was only marginally ahead, at £222.4 million.

Since their chief executive Jonathan Hart joined the company in 2011, he’s been attempting to stir the company back into life, and it looks like he’s succeeding.

Two years ago shares were at 10p a pop, now they’re up to dizzy heights of 109.75p, before settling on 103p

This is due to Hart helping move the brand and sales online and to supermarkets, even though 39 branches of the chain shut in the last 12 months.

The company are quite pleased, as you can imagine, and have concentrated on a Classics range as well as an Easter dude named Harry Hopalot who did wonders during the egg-and-Christ based event.

Now, if anyone wants to send us some personalised chocolate with a crude insult written on it, we won’t be offended at all…

5 million Gmail adresses and passwords dumped online

September 11th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

gmail logo stylized 300x300 5 million Gmail adresses and passwords dumped onlineNearly 5 million Gmail addresses and plain text passwords was posted on a forum this week, which is a massive pain in the arse for someone – probably the person who has to answer questions at Google about security breaches and the like.

Someone called ‘tvskit’ posted the archive file on a Bitcoin security forum called btcsec.com, which you can imagine, is a riotous read and will keep you entertained for literally seconds. They reckon that over 60% of the credentials in the file are valid.

“We can’t confirm that it is indeed as much as 60%, but a great amount of the leaked data is legitimate,” said Peter Kruse, the chief technology officer of CSIS Security Group. “We believe the data doesn’t originate from Google directly. Instead it’s likely it comes from various sources that have been compromised.”

What that means is, Google haven’t been hacked, but rather, accounts on other sites where people have used their Gmail addresses as the user name have been obtained.

Google said: “The security of our users is of paramount importance to us. We have no evidence that our systems have been compromised, but whenever we become aware that an account has been compromised, we take steps to help our users secure their accounts.”

In conclusion, here’s the usual ‘you might want to change your password on sites where you’ve used your Gmail address as a user name’ advice.

Ryanair doing a bit better than last year

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Ryanair New Plane Logo 214x300 Ryanair doing a bit better than last yearRyanair reckon they’re flying six more customers per flight this year than in 2013. SIX WHOLE CUSTOMERS!

This small but obviously a good thing, is said to be down to the company’s improved customer service and ticket selling.

The airline expects load factors to increase 3-4 percentage points to ‘close to 86% of available seats this year.

So basically, translated into humans, an increase of 3-4 points on the Boeing 737s, with space for 189 people on them, would represent between 6-7 more passengers.

This news comes just after the Irish airline took delivery of the first part of 380 Boeing jets over the next ten years. That’s a big letter box that fits 380 planes through it.

This addition to the fleet should take the airline’s passengers from 82 million to 150 million a year.

Forward bookings also increased between September and January, when the airline started to sell tickets up to a year in advance instead of the previous nine months barrier.

To top that off, they’re looking to buy Cyprus Air and have completed all the paperwork required to start its first routes to Russia, with proposed flights from Dublin to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Deathwatch: iPod Classic

September 11th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

While everyone was ooohing and aaahing over the new iPhone and Apple Watch news while complaining about Bono invading their privacy, the noble giant that begun the Apple revolution was, basically, taken out the back and killed.

Since the Apple site was updated to show off the new products, the iPod Classic was nowhere to be seen, indicating once and for all that that’s it.

ipod classic Deathwatch: iPod Classic

This means no more hard drive and wheel control for the iPod line-up, and more importantly, no more 80 or 160GB of storage.

Literally a design classic that put the whole i-thing into the vernacular, there have been no new iPods produced since 2012, however there are still places where you can snap one up before they’re a thing of the past.

Poor the iPod Classic. You were brilliant.

(But Christ. Jet. What were people thinking?)

Banks to ditch Scotland if it votes ‘Yes’

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

rbs Banks to ditch Scotland if it votes YesScotland’s indyref is causing all manner of problems for a lot of businesses, which of course, many will find funny. Rich people being inconvenienced is never to be underestimated.

Directors from RBS and Lloyds are not happy at the prospect of Scotland voting ‘Yes’ to independence and are mithering the government to introduce legislation that would  help the relocation of their legal headquarters. They want politicians to usher in a new Act of Parliament so that banks can avoid the need for a lengthy legal process handled by the courts when they want to flee Scotland, screaming in panic.

Bosses from both companies are worried that the relocation process will be a faff, because of their banking licences and legal base. They need to go through a thing called a Part 7 Transfer under the Financial Services and Markets Act, and they think it would be far too time-consuming.

They’ve had months and months to sort this out. It all reeks of doing your homework on the bus to school and moaning about it to everyone else, but what else would you expect from this shower?

Basically, the banks are concerned about the currency that an independent Scotland would adopt and Lloyds and RBS are fretting over credit ratings agencies downgrading them if they keep their headquarters in Scotland. Both banks have made plans to move their legal bases to London, and Lloyds have a slight edge because they’ve had operations in England for over a century.

RBS said: “There are a number of material uncertainties arising from the Scottish referendum vote which could have a bearing on the Bank’s credit ratings, and the fiscal, monetary, legal and regulatory landscape to which it is subject. For this reason, RBS has undertaken contingency planning for the possible business implications of a ‘Yes’ vote.”

“As part of such contingency planning, RBS believes that it would be necessary to re-domicile the Bank’s holding company and its primary rated operating entity (The Royal Bank of Scotland plc) to England.”

RBS added that this referendum was “a matter for the Scottish people” and that they’d been based in Scotland since 1727: “RBS intends to retain a significant level of its operations and employment in Scotland to support its customers there and the activities of the whole Bank.”

Lloyds said: “While the scale of potential change is currently unclear, we have contingency plans in place which include the establishment of new legal entities in England. This is a legal procedure and there would be no immediate changes or issues which could affect our business or our customers.”

Burger King go goth

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Seems like Burger King have been having their photos taken in castle ruins, listening to Bauhaus and writing awful poetry, as they’ve made a goth burger.

Sadly for you gloom merchants, you’ll have to go to Japan for one.

gothburger2 Burger King go goth

These rascals are called ‘Kuro Burgers’ and have bamboo charcoal buns, onion and garlic sauce made with squid ink, burgers made with black pepper and black cheese.

You can get a Kuro Pearl and a Kuro Diamond with all the doom trimmings. Eating one may turn you into Robert Smith, so weigh that up before chowing down.

Millions moving banks

September 11th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bank sign Millions moving banksMore than a million people have switched their bank accounts since a national switching service began a year ago.

Thanks to The Payments Council, a trade body which came up with the ‘switch guarantee’ as a thing to encourage competition, said that the number of switches was up 19% on the year before.

The highly lucrative current account market is dominated by four banks – HSBC, RBS, Barclays and Lloyds – and they provide three quarters of the UK’s bank accounts.

The Payments Council have not issued a breakdown, but outside of the big four, Santander have been one of the biggest beneficiaries, with Nationwide.

A lot of switchers have come from the troubled Co-operative Group, who’ve been basically handing out their customers to their competition.

While no sign of them making much of an impact, the future could be shaken up by TSB, Tesco, Virgin Money and M&S Bank.

David Mann, who is the head of money at comparison service uSwitch, said “We no longer see our bank as our lifetime companion.”