Non-Facebook users can have Messenger

June 25th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Facebook 300x300 Non Facebook users can have MessengerAre you a member of Facebook? No? Have you been looking enviously at Facebook Messenger app? Of course you haven’t – there’s a load of other options at your disposal to talk to people, isn’t there?

Well, Facebook aren’t bothered about that, and they’ve started making eyes at non-Facebook users and saying that you can use the app whether you’re signed-up with Facebook or not. All you need is a phone number and a willingness to have your personal privacy poked at relentlessly.

The latest update will allow you to sign-up with their name, phone number and a photo. Now, this hasn’t been rolled out in the UK yet, but it is only a matter of time before it is.

For those considering it, the Messenger app already has 600 million users, and you can send instant messages, as well as do video calls and play games on it.

“With this update, more people can enjoy all the features that are available on Messenger – including photos, videos, group chats, voice and video calling, stickers and more. All you need is a phone number,” said Facebook’s Louis Boval.

Gmail: now you can cancel sent emails

June 25th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

gmail logo stylized 300x300 Gmail: now you can cancel sent emailsWhen Google aren’t basically tapping your laptop like spies, they’re doing other, less worrying things. They are of course launching a music streaming service just to annoy Apple, and they’ve also come up with a thing which could spare your blushes if you’ve just sent a disastrous email.

Gmail has launched an “undo send” option, which is perfect if you’ve just absent mindedly put thirty kisses on the end of a message to your boss, or you’ve accidentally sent a photo of your bare arse to the wrong person.

After years of experimenting with the feature, everyone will now be able to choose an option of cancellation of up to 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds. Perfect for those idiots who don’t know the difference between ‘reply’ and ‘reply all’.

If you go into your Settings, you’ll see the new feature there, which is disabled by default. If this sounds like your bag, then go switch it on right now.

Once you do that, with every email sent, you’ll get the thin yellow notification bar at the top of your screen, and it is there you’ll be able to cancel your error laden message’s delivery.

Sadly, this tool only works on desktop, so won’t be any use to you if you send all your messages via the mobile or tablet app.

Government delays Network Rail upgrade

June 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

traintrack 300x225 Government delays Network Rail upgradeEveryone complains about the state of the railways in Britain, so with that, the government are going to delay or cut back a number of modernisation projects planned for Network Rail, which is just wonderful, eh?

So why is this happening? Well, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin says rising costs and missed targets have scuppered the £38.5bn plan, and he says that Network Rail are to blame as they should have predicted what needed to be improved, and sorted them out before they were left so late that they would take longer to fix and be more expensive to sort out.

McLoughlin said electrification work would be “paused” on the Midland mainline and on the Trans-Pennine route between Manchester and Leeds. He added that Network Rail’s chairman, Richard Parry-Jones, would leave the group and none of the executive directors would get a bonus for the last year.

Replacing Parry-Jones will be Sir Peter Hendy, who is the current commissioner of Transport for London.

The chief executive of Network Rail, Mark Carne, told the BBC: “Over the last year, it has become obvious that the challenges of operating, maintaining and enhancing the railway are significant. I think it’s time to level with the public and say that some of these extraordinary projects that we absolutely need are going to take longer and are going to cost more than we originally thought.”

“We are going to take the summer to re-evaluate the extension of the programme – we need to do that properly with the Department for Transport and, of course, looking at the impact on trains as well.”

Does anyone fancy introducing Mr Arse and Mr Elbow to each other?

 

New strict rules for being drunk on a plane

June 25th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

plane 300x225 New strict rules for being drunk on a planeThere has been a bit of bother, with people being drunk on planes. Recently, a drunk lady ‘performed’ a sex act while on a flight, and we’ve seen BA staff getting threatened with a stabbing too. More recently, a man was taken off a Thomas Cook plane by police for being disorderly and sexually assaulting a stewardess, forcing a flight to land.

With that, budget airline Jet2.com, say that more measures are needed to protect staff and non abusive passengers, from drunk people. The airline say that they’re backed by some of the UK’s biggest travel operators, in what they deem to be an increasingly serious problem.

Phil Ward, managing director of Jet2.com said: “We are a family airline and holiday company carrying millions of passengers every year. These are people who have chosen to take their well-earned summer breaks with us and we want them to have a wonderful time. Therefore, under no circumstances will we allow the disruptive few to spoil the experience for the majority of the fantastic customers that fly with us.”

Jet2.com are working with other holiday companies, industry bodies and the UK’s leading airports, to bring in more comprehensive measures to stop disruptive behaviour associated with air travel. And they see it as people who have had far too much to drink before flying.

The company added that cabin crew are more frequently dealing with passengers who are abusive, racist, noisy and aggressive, which is causing misery for everyone else. They added that they have an educational scheme to make sure passengers are aware of the impact of alcohol at high altitude and that they’ve given staff the power to make quick decisions when it comes to disruptive passengers, including verbal and written warnings.

One of the things that can be doled out, is a bill to the culprits, for the cost of the diversion and the potential for legal action, after the flight has completed.

Jet2.com are taking this further too, writing to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, and they’re urging the Government to take decisive action to help enforce new, stricter policies.

Ikea to open little shops (with meatballs)

June 25th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ikea meatballs 300x300 Ikea to open little shops (with meatballs)

While out-of-town supermarkets have been ailing, Ikea have been doing just fine, with people travelling  to get their throws and furniture. That said, soon, you might not have to travel very far if you’re after some meatballs, as Ikea have decided to start opening smaller, high street stores.

Of course, thanks to these shops being smaller, there’ll be less furniture on offer, but there’ll be click-and-collect facilities, and their famous Scandinavian cafes.

The first of these small stores will open in Norwich, and it could well be a success, as people who don’t drive might be more inclined to buy Ikea stuff, if they’ve got a little, local shop to go in. The retailer has been struggling to find land that was large enough to accommodate their enormo-shops, so this is the next best thing.

Gillian Drakeford, UK country manager, said: “We know that consumers in the UK like to shop across many channels and are using multiple devices.”

“Our customers are also telling us that with 18 stores in the UK, we are often too far away. Order and Collection Points give us the opportunity to trial new ways of being more accessible.”

Pimms 300x200 Pimms advertising comes over all Big BrotherYou know how it is- it’s a lovely hot summer’s day, you’re waiting at a bus stop to cram yourself on to a sardine tin full of sweaty people, daydreaming of  a cool glass of Pimms in a local beer garden. However, it seems the people at Pimms know this too, and their latest advertising campaign uses the latest smart technology to read your mind and fulfill your desires.

Diageo, who own the Pimms brand, are trialling a new digital advertising campaign at bus stops in London. Not only will the digital screens show you a tantalisingly chilled glass of Pimms, you know, with a drop of condensation slowly sliding down the side of the glass, but they will also tell you where you can enjoy one in comfort.  You see, the advertising will search through the local hostelries in the Taylor Walker chain in the London Victoria area and The Metro in Clapham and, using a beacon network, will count the number of  smartphones in the area. This means that the advertising board cannot only tempt you with the idea of an ice cold Pimms, but it can tell you where the nearest beer garden is, one with (presumably, unless everyone in there is a pensioner with a Motorola Razr) actual vacant seats, and may even give you directions on how to get there.

And don’t worry, it’s all up to the minute stuff- the advertising boards will only activate when the temperature reaches 16 degrees C (as no one drinks Pimms when it’s cold), and it will measure occupancy at five-minute intervals- which means that if it computes a beer garden in the list is full, that pub is removed from the advertising and the next nearest one inserted in its place.

Digital advertising screens are fast becoming the next big thing. Static pasted billboards (PB) with one message are so yesterday’s news. Companies like Pimms are tailoring their advertising spend to specific times, days and even ambient temperature already- for example adverts for air conditioning units are likely to be far more effective on hot days; adverts for kebabs after 11pm at night. And while advertisers are getting cleverer and savvier, does this mean we, as consumers need to get wise to their moves, or should we just be grateful that companies can now tailor our bombardment to things we might actually want to buy…

Tidal boss quits after 3 months

June 24th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Tidal Tidal boss quits after 3 monthsWhen Tidal launched, the assembled musicians stood around Jay Z, nodding gravely about how they were collectively going to save the music industry. In fact, the way they were going on, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were going to save the world.

Well, everyone didn’t take too quickly to the service, preferring to stay with Spotify or indeed, waiting for Apple to get their thing going. It was seen as an immediate flop.

And now, a mere 3 months into the job, the chief executive of the service has quit. Peter Tonstad took on the gig after Tidal sacked previous honcho Andy Chen. At the time Tidal said Tonstad “has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo”.

At the moment, Tidal has around 800,000 subscribers. If you compare that to Spotify’s 20 million, you can see what a difficult job they’ve got on their hands. When Apple get going, the competition will be much, much tougher.

In a statement Tidal said: “We are thankful to Peter for stepping in as interim CEO and wish him the best for the future. Tidal will be transitioning to a permanent CEO as part of our strategic plan to create a leading platform, and current executives in New York and Oslo will continue to lead our rapidly developing innovation and content initiatives until our new CEO is in place.”

Should they just hang up their headphones already?

google Google launch music streaming service (but might be spying on you)Google art taking shots at Apple by launching a free version of its music streaming service Play Music. Of course, Google Play Music as a subscription service is already a thing, but the internet behemoth has decided to take on Apple’s music service (and of course, Spotify’s).

This free version is going to be made up of curated playlists, which have been designed for different times of the day, which sounds a bit rubbish. Initially, this service is only available in the States and will have adverts like Spotify’s freemium service.

With Apple set to launch their music service on 30th June, they’re no doubt going to be annoyed by this.

In a blog post, Google product manager Elias Roman said: “Even if you’re not already a Google Play Music subscriber, we’ve got you covered. Google Play Music now has a free, ad-supported version in the US, giving you a new way to find just the right music – and giving artists another way to earn revenue.”

“The new free, ad-supported version of Google Play Music is launching first in the US. It’s available on the web today, and is rolling out this week to Android and iOS.”

However, this won’t cover up the fact that a load of people are losing their baps about Google spying on everyone. Open-source developers noticed that Chromium (that’s the open-source version of Chrome) had been installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users.

Now, this code has been put in, so that people can talk to their computers via OK Google thingummy, which is all well and good, but the kicker here, is that the listening technology was activated without anyone’s permission. That, obviously, isn’t cricket.

“Without consent, Google’s code had downloaded a black box of code that – according to itself –  had turned on the microphone and was actively listening to your room”, said Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate party founder. “Which means that your computer had been stealth configured to send what was being said in your room to somebody else, to a private company in another country, without your consent or knowledge, an audio transmission triggered by… an unknown and unverifiable set of conditions”.

Google say that this isn’t activated “unless you opt in to hotwording”, but developers aren’t having that. Developer Ofer Zelig says: “While I was working I thought ‘I’m noticing that an LED goes on and off, on the corner of my eyesight [webcam]‘. And after a few times when it just seemed weird, I sat to watch for it and saw it happening. Every few seconds or so”.

So there you go – you can have free music, but Google might end up listening to you caterwauling along to it as well.

TalkTalk 300x180 TalkTalk gets rid of separate line rental for ultrafast broadbandTalkTalk has decided to scrap line rental for their own broadband network in York. This, they say, is offering an ultrafast connection at a “all-in” price.

They reckon that this will give York’s dwellers with broadband that is (more than) 12 times faster than the top speed on BT’s network for £21.70 with no extra fees. Not only that, they say that it will charge no more for ultrafast broadband than they charges for standard broadband in other bits of the county.

With line rental going up by roughly 60% since 2008, this looks like a decent move by TalkTalk. However, it is only any use to you if you live in York. And not all of York, as only certain areas will get this deal.

The reason it isn’t being offered around the country is, according to TalkTalk, BT’s fault. TalkTalk relies on wholesale access to the BT network, and if they start offering this to everyone, they’ll be penalised by comparison websites.

The reason that this isn’t applicable to some York residents, is that the operator is building their own all-fibre-optic network in the city, in partnership with Sky.

TalkTalk say that this network will offer speeds of one gigabit per second, and BT’s network has a top speed of 76 megabits per second.

Lady Harding, big cheese at TalkTalk, said this is a milestone in TalkTalk efforts to win investor support for networks in other cities: “We are now starting to have very serious discussions with investors.”

pensions 300x187 New pension freedoms see £1bn taken out over 2 monthsWe’ve been going on about the new pensions freedoms for a while now, telling you what to look out for and whatnot, and it seems a lot of people have been getting stuck right into it.

It has been reported that over-55s have withdrawn £1 billion from pension pots in the first two months since these new directives came into play. According to the chancellor, 60,000 individual investors had withdrawn an average of £17,000 each, after the government allowed pension savers to take money from their pensions whenever they like.

Of course, there’s a worry that these freedoms will allow people to fritter away their pensions and spend all their retirement money, and ultimately end up having to rely on state funds. Others have criticised this new pension regime, saying that all this might make things easier for fraudulent investment people, and that older people could be on the receiving end of unexpected tax bills and the like.

You try telling nana that, who has been getting stuck into the gin with her feet up in Majorca for the past 8 weeks.

“The UK has a problem with saving, not spending,” says Old Mutual Wealth’s Adrian Walker, “so care needs to be taken when deciding how to measure the success of the pension freedoms.”

“I would suggest that a more appropriate measure of success will not come for many years, when those people who have withdrawn money from their pensions are still enjoying the retirement they planned and saved many years for.”

How to fix your iMessage

June 24th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo How to fix your iMessageHave you been having trouble with your iPhone? Don’t all shout at once. It seems like there’s a number of problems with Apple devices, and the latest one sees iPhone users complaining that the iMessage system went down.

Not everyone has been affected by this and will be wondering what everyone is moaning about, however, others have moaned that their messages are sending slowly or not sending images. It is all a bit of a mess, especially when some iPhone users have noted that their phones keep randomly switching themselves off.

Well, we’ve had a look into it and it seems that, if you want to get things working again, there’s a rather unsophisticated way of fixing this.

If you haven’t, trying restarting your phone. This has been a successful fix for a number of iPhone users. If that doesn’t work, then you should try turning iMessage off and then on again in the Settings. Again, this isn’t the most fancy way of getting it working again, but it seems to have worked for a number of people with this problem.

Apple haven’t said anything about the problem, even though it has been trending on Twitter.

This follows some outages for Apple’s iCloud, which bothered a number of people earlier this month. Anyway, feel free to add your own ‘just works’ comments below.

housemoney 300x213 Make sure youve got a will  but not drawn up by BarclaysWhile no one likes to talk about popping their own clogs, figures suggest that around half of UK adults don’t have a will. Writing a will is important as it is the only way to ensure your stuff ends up with whom you intend (rather than relying on intestacy laws), and there are a number of low-cost ways to get a will prepared, including Will Aid every November, meaning you won’t break the bank to get one. Or so you’d think. A legal case is now headed for the high court, where a £90 Barclays will has led to legal action chasing hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost inheritance…

The case in question involves a man who owned a London home who used Barclays’ will writing service to determine where his assets would go. He directed that his daughter should receive his half of his London home on his death. So far so simple. However, the problem was that the house was jointly owned with his wife (who is not the mother of his daughter), and where property is owned as ‘joint tenants’ (which is normally the default position when buying houses as a couple), the property will pass to the other joint tenant on death, irrespective of and in priority to any provisions in a will. This meant that when the father died, the half share of the property was legally and correctly inherited by his wife and the daughter received nothing.

The daughter’s claim against Barclays is that they should have been aware of the legal priority given the joint ownership, and that they should have taken steps to ensure her father’s wishes, as detailed in his will, were fulfilled. Breaking a joint tenancy and replacing it with a ‘tenants in common’ form of joint ownership is a simple legal formality, but it would then have allowed separate joint shares to be bequeathed by will instead of automatically passing to the other joint owner.

As Barclays is, as we all know, a bank, the daughter first took the case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), who found that the bank was at fault. The Ombudsman found that the property had passed in accordance with legal procedure but in a manner contrary to the wishes of the deceased. The FOS said:

“There is no subsequent right for this to be contested with the co-owner in a court of law. Had the bank referred [the] will instruction form to its solicitors I am aware [the solicitors would] issue the notice of severance as a matter of good practise. In order to resolve the complaint we would usually ask the bank to put the consumer back in the position they would have been had the correct steps had been taken in the first instance.”

“Unfortunately, the share in the property in Balham is incapable of being gifted now. Therefore, I would ask Barclays to come up with a settlement that would fairly and reasonably resolve the complaint – taking into consideration the value of the property and the intended gift.”

However, given that a half share of a property in London is worth about 172 million quid these days, Barclays have taken the questionable step of ignoring the Financial Ombudsman’s recommendation to pay ‘fair and reasonable’ compensation and the matter has now gone to the High Court.

But how can Barclays, a massive financial services group authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and therefore bound to act on the Ombudsman’s findings, even if it disagrees with them, just decide to ignore a decision it doesn’t like? Well, it has claimed that actually, its will-writing division is entirely separate, and, in common with the whole will-writing industry, is not regulated. As an unregulated business, therefore, it would not have to adhere to the Ombudsman’s findings.

In an emailed statement, Barclays told Telegraph Money: “The matters raised are the subject of ongoing legal proceedings. It would not be appropriate to comment on the specific points raised. We note that the Financial Ombudsman Service issued its latest decision in relation to the complaint raised… on 19 February 2015. The Financial Ombudsman Service concluded that the matter was outside of the scope of its service.”

The FOS confirmed that it accepted the case was technically out of its scope, once Barclays had insisted that it deal with an unregulated arm, but stressed that its opinion remained that Barclays was at fault.

So what have we learned? While getting a will is definitely still A Good Idea, you should always make sure you get your will prepared by a reputable will writer. And we all know banks are not reputable types. Note that wills prepared by a solicitor will be regulated under solicitors regulation rules.

Thorntons bought for £112m by Ferrero Rocher

June 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ferrero rocher 300x216 Thorntons bought for £112m by Ferrero Rocher“With these Rocher, you are spoiling us.” We can only imagine that the boardroom of Thorntons said that, when Ferrero Rocher bought the company for £112m.

Of course, Thorntons have been having a thoroughly lousy time of it for a while now, so anyone showing any modicum of interest in them is welcome. Being bought out by the people behind Nutella has seen their share price soaring today.

There might be some of you who are worried about a British institution being bought out by someone from overseas, but the Italian company has vowed to stay true to the Thorntons brand and keep the factory in Derbyshire open.

You can assume they won’t be that faithful to the way Thorntons have been doing things, unless of course, they just want to lose a load of money in a product that no-one is really interested in these days. Either way, it is good news that the Derbyshire factory will be keeping 3,500 jobs safe.

Giovanni Ferrero, chief executive of Ferrero Rocher, said he admires Thorntons and “what they have achieved in the UK as demonstrated by their tremendous customer loyalty, and we look forward to working with their experienced team”, adding that the Italian company’s good performance in the UK convinced them that “now is the right time to broaden our roots in this important market”.

Giant, personalised Easter eggs filled with Nutella, anyone?

Government cuts Lloyds stake to below 17%

June 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Lloyds Banking Group 001 300x180 Government cuts Lloyds stake to below 17%The government’s stake in Lloyds Banking Group is below 17% after they flogged more shares to investors. At a knock-down rate? We wouldn’t like to speculate…

Anyway, the crew at UK Financial Investments (UKFI) – the people responsible for handling the government’s stakes in all the privatised banks – has been slowly selling off the Treasury’s stake in Lloyds after the bank got £22.5bn from taxpayers in the financial crisis and subsequent bail outs.

The government initially owned a 41% stake in Lloyds, before selling bits of it off in 2013. What this all means for taxpayers, is that around £11.5bn has been returned. Are the rest of the shares going to get the amount recouped back to £22.5bn? Doesn’t look like it.

“Today’s announcement shows the further progress made in returning Lloyds Banking Group to full private ownership and enabling the taxpayer to get their money back,” Lloyds Banking Group said in a statement.

The Treasury have been given an extra 6 months to get some money back, and Chancellor George Osborne reckons there’s still a chance to sell a further £9bn of Lloyds shares through 2015-16.

Optimism, there.

Labrokes and Gala Coral to merge?

June 23rd, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

zs 300x222 Labrokes and Gala Coral to merge?Ladbrokes have confirmed that they’re in talks with their Gala Coral, in what is looking like a massive merger, which would create the largest gambling firm in the UK. This saw Ladbrokes’ shares rocketing by more than 10%, however, like all mergers like this, this will get the authorities interest piqued, as there’s sure to be concerns about fair competition.

This isn’t the first time Ladbrokes have tried to take over Gala Coral – they tried to do it back in 1998. However, the move was blocked by Peter Mandelson who was the Trade and Industry Minister back then.

If it does go through, the merger will unify around 2,100 shops from Ladbrokes and 1,845 from Coral. William Hill would stop being the biggest bookies in the UK in the process.

Ladbrokes chief executive Jim Mullen said: “A merger with Gala Coral could create a combined business with significant scale and has the potential to generate substantial cost synergies, creating value for both companies’ shareholders. The board has not yet concluded whether a transaction is strategically attractive and can be delivered to shareholders on appropriate terms.”

Substantial cost synergies eh? It seems they’ve not only got loads of money, but loads of nonsense businesspeak too.

For fans of Bingo, this merger will not include Gala’s bingo business, but Gala Coral will be looking into “all strategic options” for their business, adding: ”There can be no certainty that the discussions between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral Group will lead to any agreement and Gala Coral Group remains confident in its future as a standalone business with highly attractive future potential.”