taxi 300x200 London black cabs offer off peak fares to combat UberIn a bid to thwart the progress of Uber, cabbies in London will be offering new off peak fares for those wanting to ride in black cabs on longer journeys across London.

These new fixed prices are (up to) 30% lower than the metered fare and will apply to any trip that is 6 or more miles long. You’ll have to book your cab through the Gett app, and these discounts will apply on weekdays between 10am and 4pm, 8pm to 11pm and 2am to 6am.

Remo Gerber, chief executive of Gett in the UK, said: “Some taxi apps charge more when they’re busy. We think this is unfair so we make fares cheaper when we’re quieter.”

“Our passengers have the best of all worlds — a highly trained black cab driver, getting you home quickly and safely, using bus lanes to avoid the traffic, and a fare confirmed before the cab even turns up. No other taxi app offers all this in London.”

Of course, one of the criticisms of black cabs is that they’re already too expensive, and the advent of satnav means those whole idea of a cab driver with The Knowledge is a thing of the past. Still, if you prefer riding in black cabs, then this could be very useful for you, unless all your journeys are well under 6 miles.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said this is all good for being competitive against the likes of Uber. He said: “Minicabs can change their fares as and when they want. We can’t do that, and rightly so — you couldn’t have a situation where you put your hand up in the street at 3pm and the cab’s a fiver and you put it up at 4pm and it’s a tenner.”

“The difference between us and Uber is that when it’s quiet we’re going to give you a discount but when it’s busy we’re not going to charge you more.”

When Auschwitz is mentioned, a number of bleak images spring to mind, not least, the thought of Hitler killing huge numbers of Jews in those infamous showers.

So, with that, Poland is having a bit of a heatwave at the moment and the people who run Auschwitz have decided to help visitors cool down with showers, which of course, could well be a bit tasteless if you’ve got even the vaguest knowledge of what happened there.

auschwitz 500x500 Auschwitz add showers for visitors to use   cue outrage

People can stand under the showers and get a fine mist of water over themselves, to cool down in the former concentration camp. Presumably, when things get cold, the Auschwitz management will provide people with ovens to climb into, eh? Or maybe they’ll serve mouldy bread with a thin, meatless soup in the canteen for patrons?

Anyway, The Krakow Post reported that visitors have been fainting thanks to the heat, so installed the showers to help everyone cope with temperatures that have reached around 40 degrees Celsius.

Of course, the powers that be were just trying to be nice and do something useful for those visiting, but you’d think that the people who run a site where millions of people were killed might be a bit more sensitive wouldn’t you?

Contactless payments up to £30

September 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

contactless payment Contactless payments up to £30We told you before about contactless payments going up to £30 before, and understandably, many of you probably thought it was too good to be true. You couldn’t imagine a world where such a beautiful thing could exist.

Well, it has finally happened! The single payment limit for a contactless card transaction has been bumped up to £30 from £20! This is our moon landing. This is everything we’d ever wanted. Human endeavour has peaked. We might as well give up on all projects now, as this won’t be topped.

This increase also affects smartphone payments like Apple Pay, and the rest, which lets you buy stuff by wafting stuff at a machine without entering a PIN number. PIN numbers eh? They’re like the dark ages.

Of course, with such a glorious development, some places won’t be able to offer the new limit because they haven’t updated their software. Go easy on them. Such huge life-changing events can take time to form in people’s minds.

The UK Cards Association said there’s 58 million contactless cards in the country, and last year, over £2.5bn was spent using them. The places that are accepting these payments are growing too. It is like living in a science fiction film. Corner shops will sell lazer guns next, and Boots will probably have suicide booths or something.

Richard Koch, who has a name that has been tittered at since he was born, is the head of policy at the UK Cards Association, and he said: “Contactless payments are fast, easy and secure and use the same robust encryption technology as chip and PIN. Consumers are increasingly choosing contactless as a way to pay and the new £30 limit will give shoppers and retailers even more opportunities.”

Poundland now letting you shop online

September 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

poundland Poundland now letting you shop onlinePoundland has launched online, meaning you can buy their wares on the internet. There’ll be the usual items available, like shampoo and packs of biros, but there’ll also be Poundland’s own brands like the Jane Asher kitchen range and Tommy Walsh’s DIY stuff.

There’s no minimum order value, but it will charge you £4 for delivery. You can buy in bulk, and if you spend over £50, delivery will be free.

Jim McCarthy, Poundland’s chief executive, said: “The online shopping market is a rapidly growing channel and one which could provide a significant potential opportunity for us. This trial is an important first step towards giving more customers access to our amazing value.”

This follows Poundland’s £55m takeover of the 99p Stores, as the company expand in the UK. They’ve got nearly 600 shops now throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. Sales have been up too, rising by 11.4% and of course, profits are up as well.

Visit the Poundland website here

FA suspend England tickets over Tube strike

September 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

england badge  FA suspend England tickets over Tube strikeThe Football Association have suspended ticket sales for England’s European Championships qualifier with Switzerland thanks to the planned Tube strike.

Now, this move is only a temporary one, because the FA want to allow “transport providers to ensure they can manage current ticket holders’ journey to the stadium on the night of the game.” Of course, a Tube strike could be a big problem for the match, with so many extra people wanting to get around London.

There’s previous too – last year, Wembley’s capacity was dropped for the game between England and Germany’s women’s teams, thanks to maintenance work, which ended up with a fair amount of mayhem with 10,000 people who bought tickets unable to get to the stadium.

The RMT union has set dates of September 8th and 10th for strikes, but of course, planned talks between Tube staff and bosses could be successful, and the strikes could be called off.

The strikes, of course, are all regarding pay and conditions for an all-night service. Even if talks are successful and everything runs as normal, if someone could see to it that the England brass band can’t get to within 20 miles of the stadium, that’d be wonderful.

Here’s the Bitterwallet guide to getting around London during the Tube strikes

sad apple logo Hundreds of thousands of Apple accounts stolen from iPhonesEven though Apple’s iOS is well regarded for its robust security, it isn’t completely without the risk of some swine causing bother with it. If you jailbreak a phone, you do away with all that lovely security so you can get full control of your gadget.

With that, malware is being installed via third-party iOS apps onto jailbroken iPhones, which has resulted in what is being described as “the largest known Apple account theft caused by malware.”

The malware is called KeyRaider, and has stolen around 225,000 iOS users’ Apple account credentials, purchasing receipts, certificates and private keys according to the security firm, Palo Alto Networks and Chinese iPhone developers Weiptech.

And now, for a lot of jargon.

“The malware hooks system processes through MobileSubstrate, and steals Apple account usernames, passwords and device GUID by intercepting iTunes traffic on the device. KeyRaider steals Apple push notification service certificates and private keys, steals and shares App Store purchasing information, and disables local and remote unlocking functionalities on iPhones and iPads,” the Palo Alto Networks wrote in a blog post.

So what’s happening, in plain English? Around 225,000 accounts are thought to be affected, and some people have said that their accounts are showing abnormal purchasing history. Others have said that their phones are being held for ransom by people who are best described as ‘not-rights’.

If you don’t have a jailbroken iPhone, iPad or iPod, then you don’t need to do anything at all. You’re golden. Those with affected jailbroken phones reside in countries including the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Russia, Japan, America, Canada, Israel, Italy, Spain, Singapore, and South Korea.

You can read all of Palo Alto Networks findings and check out their tool which will help you to check if your device has been affected and some other helpful bits… click here.

Tesco is selling vinyl again!

September 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

records Tesco is selling vinyl again!Records are lovely things. It is nice that, when you buy some physical media, you get something big for your money. Of course, vinyl attracts dust and if you’re moving house with a load of records, you wished they’ve never been invented… but other than that, it is lovely to have records in the house.

Of course, vinyl got hammered by the introduction of cassettes and CDs. When everything got thrown into oblivion by MP3s, vinyl clung on in there and is currently in the middle of a small resurgence. While vinyl sales have been climbing, compact disc sales fell by 6.5% last year and legal downloads were down by 9%. Everyone’s streaming these days or off up the torrents.

So with that, surprisingly, vinyl is going to make an appearance on supermarket shelves for the first time in ages!

Tesco will be stocking the new Iron Maiden album, on LP, from Friday. While you’re in your local Tesco, you can see if they’ve got any Iron Maiden beer in and make a night of it, if that’s your thing.

Michael Mulligan, responsible for sourcing music for Tesco, said: “Parents are getting their old vinyl albums down from the loft and teenagers are discovering the joys of the 12 inch record for the first time.”

‘The Book Of Souls’ by Iron Maiden will be on sale in 55 of the largest Tescos and is on a whopping triple LP format and, thanks to the dewy nostalgia in us, we’re going to be very happy seeing a bunch of records in a high street supermarket again.

Bank Holiday forecast: travel disruptions

August 28th, 2015 1 Comment By Thewlis

summer holiday 300x293 Bank Holiday forecast: travel disruptionsIf you are lucky enough to have been paid this month, you might indeed be planning a little bank holiday getaway. Unfortunately, so is everyone else, with Which!!! calculating that nearly 10 million people are planning a getaway this weekend- which will inevitably lead to travel delays.

A fifth of the UK public plan to travel over the August bank holiday, with 62% of those taking to the road in cars and buses, 17% by plane and 15% travelling on trains. Almost half of those planning to travel this weekend are expecting a delay of some kind.

As a result, three quarters of bank holiday travellers are planning to alter their journey, with the most common concessions being leaving more time, travelling outside of peak hours or even travelling overnight, perhaps with a stop somewhere.

If you’re travelling by car, beware as August is traditionally the busiest month on the roads with motorway traffic 9% higher than average. The busiest roads (and therefore the ones to avoid if at all possible) are the M25, Manchester’s ringroad the M60 and the M1 south of the M6 junction at Rugby.

Those travelling by plane are ​also more likely to be delayed in August than any other month. Which!!! counted 38,000 flights delayed by 15 minutes or more last year, and 790 flights delayed by three hours or more, which could then be entitled to delayed flight compensation.

Finally, those travelling by train have not only bank holiday cramming to contend with, but also a number of major engineering works this weekend. And we all know that trains are always late in any case- just make sure you’ve looked up your train company’s compensation policy beforehand…

Which!!! executive director Richard Lloyd said, helpfully: “We all want to make the most of the bank holiday weekend, and with so many people looking to travel it’s important to plan ahead. Some delays are unavoidable, but if you’ve bought a ticket for an airline, coach or train journey then you could be entitled to compensation.​”

Crackdown on Moshi Monsters

August 28th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

moshi monsters 300x300 Crackdown on Moshi MonstersThe ASA, the UK’s advertising watchdog, has cracked down in a ruling against online games Moshi Monsters and Bin Weevils. They’re not happy about the ways in which they pressure children to spend money.

The Advertising Standards Authority said both “directly pressured” youngsters to pay subscriptions, and that, in the case of Moshi Monsters, children were told that they’d be “super popular” if they coughed up money. Meanwhile, Bin Weevils’ options to pay subscriptions were put to children as if they were orders, rather than requests.

“Although it was possible to play the games without spending real money or sharing the game, certain activities required participation in a paid-membership system, which entitled members to additional benefits,” the ASA said.

“Both games contained language and prominent calls to action that put pressure on young players to purchase a subscription to take part in additional gameplay. We considered that text, including “Become a Member”, “JOIN NOW”, directly exhorted children to purchase membership subscriptions as well as in-game ‘currency’.”

The ASA added that Moshi Monsters used phrases like “The Super Moshis need YOU” which pressurise children. Of course, putting direct pressure on children is prohibited by the advertising code. It must be a nightmare for the ASA at Christmas eh?

The watchdog said that they’re reminding publishers to take more care with in-game purchase mechanisms aimed at kids.

Mind Candy, who publish Moshi Monsters, said it took its “responsibilities very seriously with regards to how we communicate with all of our fans, especially children”. In a statement, they said: “We have been working with the ASA to ensure that we adhere to best practice and have made changes to the Moshi Monsters game accordingly. We will continue to work with the ASA in any way possible.”

The Bin Weevils publisher, 55pixels, said: “As soon as [we] were made aware of the complaint made to the ASA about a potential breach, and once we had understood the area for concern, we changed all our membership pages to comply with their recommendations. They subsequently upheld the complaint about the original wording but referenced that we now complied, in the text of the ruling.”

HSBC HSBC forgets to pay everyone before the bank holidayThe last three days of August signal the end of the summer holiday period, with many people looking to take advantage of the last long weekend before Christmas to get away for some bank holiday holidaying. However, for about 275,000 people this could prove difficult as it seems a bank error at HSBC has meant that they simply haven’t been paid.

HSBC is Britain’s biggest bank and has 16million UK customers, but an IT glitch discovered today means they have failed to transfer hundreds of millions of pounds on pay day. Up to 275,000 people were not paid today and face a cashless Bank Holiday weekend after the bank’s BACS payments system failed.

Of course, being stuck for your bank holiday jolly is one thing, but being unable to pay your mortgage or not having any money at all is quite a serious problem for those affected.

While the fault seems to be confined to HSBC systems, employees who don’t bank with HSBC are still affected. This is because salaries from employers who bank with HSBC were not transferred from HSBC business accounts to the accounts of employees, including those who bank elsewhere.

HSBC could now incur huge costs from the error, both in compensation from customers and victims as well as a fine from Britain’s banking regulator the Financial Conduct Authority. There is apparently no question of any kind of foul play, it is just a colossal accident, to rival that of RBS’s failure earlier this year- which led to a record fine of £56 million.

HSBC said, sheepishly: “There has been a fault in the information used to process some payments from HSBC business customers. Approximately 275,000 payments have been affected, including payments to customers of other banks.”

“HSBC apologises for the inconvenience this has caused. We are taking immediate steps to ensure the payments reach beneficiaries as quickly as possible. We will work with other banks to ensure that customers do not lose out as a result of today’s problems.”

 

Motorists keep running out of petrol… but why?

August 28th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

petrol Motorists keep running out of petrol... but why?British motorists are breaking down in bigger numbers than before, thanks to their vehicles running out of fuel, according to new research. Now, if we were writing a ‘How To’ guide, this would be a short article where we’d say: ‘Keep putting petrol in your car, you dimwit.

Around 827,000 drivers ran out of fuel in 2014 compared to the 777,000 the year before… but why?

Well, this study shows that 536,000 motorists frequently ignore their vehicle’s fuel warning light, as there’s clearly nothing more fun than running a car on fumes, to see how much you can squeeze out of it. 267,000 don’t ever notice that their warning light was even on.

24% of motorists reckoned that they could drive over 40 miles after the light had come on and 54% of drivers stated that they’d drive by a petrol station even though they needed a fill-up, in the hope of finding a cheaper petrol station somewhere else.

13% of drivers had broken down thanks to an empty tank, which according to some crude maths, makes for an estimated total of 4.9 million motorists.

John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= Road Rescue, who conducted the survey, said: “Having to buy expensive motorway fuel can be frustrating, but if it saves you the stress of running out of petrol and potentially causing damage to your engine then it’s worth the cost. Roadside assistance is there to help should a motorist find themselves in a sticky situation – but being diligent with topping up soon after the light comes on will help to avoid the headache that a breakdown can bring.”

Next week: we give advice on the reasons why you should always pull your trousers down before going for a poo

Facebook M: Here to help like Siri

August 28th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Facebook Facebook M: Here to help like SiriFacebook are launching a virtual assistant, that basically is a rip-off of Siri. It’ll also have support from real humans in a call centre somewhere, but basically, it is another thing you can talk to and it will respond accordingly.

This thing will be called Facebook M, and will work within Facebook’s Messenger app. This being FB, you can assume that these things are a wonderful tool for gathering all manner of data on people, which can then be sold for huge sums of money.

Anyway, what does David Marcus from Facebook have to say about it all? He said: “M is a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes tasks and finds information on your behalf. It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people.”

“Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.”

There’s no date given for a rollout and indeed, it is still being tested.

In Wired, there is more information: “Facebook’s M trainers have customer service backgrounds. They make the trickier judgement calls, and perform other tasks that software can’t. If you ask M to plan a birthday dinner for your friend, the software might book the Uber and the restaurant, but a person might surprise your friend at the end of the night by sending over birthday cupcakes from her favourite bakery.”

So there you go. Fancy letting Facebook be your party planner? That’s if your phone has enough memory on it to cope with yet another pissing update from this shower.

Cortana has told half a million jokes already

August 28th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri rip-off, already has 75 million devices using it, according to the company. This will be something to do with loads of people installing Windows 10, no doubt.

And with that, Microsoft would like to tell us some interesting facts about it all. You are not legally obliged to find these facts interesting, for the record. You are obliged to slag stuff off in the comments though.

Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing for Windows and Devices, went on Twitter to tell everyone about these titbits, one of them being about Cortana pulling out some wisecracks. Apparently, it has shared over half a million jokes in response to “tell me a joke” query which people keep asking it.

What kind of person asks artificial intelligence for a joke? Arseholes like Clean Bandit, that’s who. You’ll remember them getting friendly with a robot female voice on that godforsaken advert.

Millions have also downloaded Microsoft Solitaire Collection, which is the new version of the old Solitaire time wasting exercise. Also popular with millions, is Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta.

So there you have it. Cortana – telling loads of jokes. Are they funny? Ask it yourself. We’re terrified of it.

Beware Rugby World Cup ticketing scams

August 28th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

rugby union 300x252 Beware Rugby World Cup ticketing scamsLike all big events, scamsters are swarming around the Rugby World Cup. An investigation by Which!!! has uncovered rip-off deals for those trying to get to Twickenham, where money is stumped up, but tickets don’t arrive.

One of the sites that has been singled out is GetSporting.com, who appear to be offering tickets for games that have sold out. They seem to have hundreds of tickets, including every England match and the final, but do they have the tickets?

Which!!! say: “We’ve found one website – GetSporting.com – offering deals that may be too good to be true, selling tickets for sold out matches like England v Australia and England v Wales. It appears consumers are unlikely to receive tickets or could even receive fake ones.”

GetSporting.com seems to have an infinite supply of tickets for England’s opener against Fiji on September 18th, and the site isn’t keen on telling you where your seat in the stadium will be, or what the face value of the ticket is. If you’re reselling tickets for an event, by law, you have to disclose both of these things – so keep an eye out for that.

Which!!! continued: “Its payment methods have also given us cause for concern. It’s offering a discount for people who pay for their tickets through wire transfer but this method of payment means it’s almost impossible to get your money back if something goes wrong.”

The ubiquitous Richard Lloyd from Which!!! says: “With fans trying to get last minute tickets to Rugby World Cup 2015, it’s an ideal time for ticket scammers to try to make a fast buck.”

“We expect the authorities to take swift action against dodgy sites and we advise people to keep their wits about them. If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

If you want tickets, then visit tickets.rugbyworldcup.com or rugbyworldcup.com/buyofficial. Otherwise, just watch it on the telly.

Crash proof computers in the future?

August 28th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

brand new computer with nice legs nearby 300x237 Crash proof computers in the future?Computers crashing is, and make no mistake, one of the worst things that can befall a human being. Famine, war… they don’t come close to the fury that comes with a computer carking it on you.

So, with that, the idea that there might be crash-proof computers in the not-too-distant future is good isn’t it?

That’s what the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are looking into, and they’ve developed a file system which is part of the computer’s operating system that writes data to disk and remembers where it is stored, so it’s “mathematically guaranteed” not to lose your stuff.

Nickolai Zeldovich, part of the team that carried out the research, said: “What many people worry about is building these file systems to be reliable, both when they’re operating normally but also in the case of crashes, power failure, software bugs, hardware errors, what have you.”

“Making sure that the file system can recover from a crash at any point is tricky because there are so many different places that you could crash. You literally have to consider every instruction or every disk operation and think, ‘Well, what if I crash now? What now? What now?’”

“And so empirically, people have found lots of bugs in file systems that have to do with crash recovery, and they keep finding them, even in very well tested file systems, because it’s just so hard to do.”

We’ll find out more about all this later in the year when the team give out their results. So for the old-fashioned romantics among you, your computer will still frustrate you by crashing out on you from time-to-time, but at least you won’t lose that spreadsheet you spent an hour doing without saving it.