Twitpic not quite dead after all

October 28th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

twitpic 300x300 Twitpic not quite dead after allTwitter has calmed down and sort-of saved Twitpic. If you missed the news, Twitpic had basically had enough, and was going to shut down for good on October 25th, which was nice for them, but they didn’t exactly bugle about it.

Twitter – who launched in 2008 – has now reached an agreement with Twitpic, after a dispute over a trademark application last month.

Now both parties have agreed to keep the service open, although how much content it has kept hold of is in question, but Twitpic has promised that users can still view stuff already stored on there.

In a final blog post, Twitpic founder Noah Everett said that the service will go into read-only mode and will no longer host new photos.

“We weren’t able to find a way to keep Twitpic independent. However, I’m happy to announce that we have reached an agreement with Twitter to give them the Twitpic domain and photo archive, thus keeping the photos and links alive for the time being,” he said.

Basically, the Twitpic iOS and Android apps will no longer accept new uploads, and both have been removed from their respective stores.

Users will simply be able to log in to their account, then view, export, download or delete photos, but not add. So it will become like another dead internet space full of your shit.

Deathwatch: Cadbury Chocolate coins

October 28th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

chocolate coins 300x212 Deathwatch: Cadbury Chocolate coinsCadbury have discontinued producing chocolate coins. Cue half of Britain screaming: Noooooooo!

The news was revealed when a Twitter user asked Cadbury about the news, which they sadly confirmed.

The treat, which can usually be found 98% of the time in a Christmas stocking, had been in production for over 40 years, but now reckon cheaper alternatives from your discounters had taken them over saleswise.

So they’re driving consumers to scoff inferior chocolate. WELL DONE EVERYONE.

Some brusque – and tellingly, unnamed spokesman for Cadbury told the Telegraph that the production of the coins “fiddly”. Pouring charm into wounds by adding “We are sorry to see the coins go, but that’s business.”

Cadbury said Christmas was still its most important time of year, but that the company preferred to focus on Selection Packs, Roses boxes and tins, tree decorations and its new chocolate snowmen.



Lloyds Bank in further PPI debacle

October 28th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Lloyds Banking Group 001 300x180 Lloyds Bank in further PPI debacleTroubled horse-logo’ed bank Lloyds have paid out the most in PPI, confirming that their bill for the scandal has soared to a whopping £11 billion!

The tax-payer saved bank is said to have put aside £600 million to cover the PPI mis-selling shambles, which is on top of another £600m which Lloyds threw at it earlier this year.

Lloyds said at the time that, although the number of PPI claims is falling, it is still paying out around £200m a month to victims.

This is on top of the news that the bank was the worst performing UK bank in the European bank ‘stress test’ and the confirmation that there’d be 9,000 job losses over the next three years .

As PPI was designed to cover repayments on loans and credit cards, most loan and credit card companies sold the product at the same time as they sold the credit.

By May 2008, 20 million PPI policies existed in the UK with a further increase of 7 million policies a year being purchased thereafter. Surveys showed that 40% of policyholders claim to be unaware that they had a policy.

Walmart says sorry for ‘fat girl’ costumes

October 28th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Supermarkets and big businesses aren’t best known for their tact, so it comes as no surprise that Walmart is apologising for something they’ve done.

On the retail behemoth’s site, you could access an area in the Halloween category called ‘Fat Girl Costumes.’ Obviously, they’ve deleted it now, but not after it was swiped and screengrabbed and everyone kicked off about it.

B1CPOg6IYAAC0fw 500x244 Walmart says sorry for fat girl costumes

Basically, the collection of outfits was aimed at plus-sized women who, when we last checked, didn’t like being referred to as ‘fat girls’.

Walmart, of course, tweeted an apology: ”This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable, and we apologize. We worked quickly to remove this.”

Amazon selling mobiles on contract

October 28th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Amazon Smartphone 300x180 Amazon selling mobiles on contractAmazon UK have, without much fanfare, started flogging pay monthly mobile phones to its online store.

As of today, you’ll be able to get over 90 phones on deals starting from £13 with nothing to pay upfront. All of Amazon’s plans are 24 months long and are through the O2 network, should you care about those details.

There’s some decent offers too. You can get the HTC One for £0 upfront and £28 per month (with unlimited texts and 1GB of data) or the Nokia Lumia 735 for nothing upfront and £15 a month.

Of course, this gives Amazon the chance to flog their own Fire Phone too, which you can get with a new Amazon contract. With unlimited calls and texts and 1GB of data, you can land one for £0 upfront and £28 a month.

Don’t bother looking for an iPhone though because it looks like Amazon doesn’t want anything to do with Apple. Not yet at least. You can check out Amazon’s deals and phones here.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have been switching people to a combined benefits system which sees a merging of employment and support allowance, income support, child tax credit, working tax credit, and housing benefit into a single payment.

Iain Duncan Smith is positive that this is a good thing, despite scrapping targets that had been previously set. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) aren’t impressed though and have hit out at an alleged lack of transparency over the project’s cost and failures to meet various deadlines. There’s a lot of indications that the DWP’s work is in trouble.

Over on Twitter, something happened that indicated that things aren’t going too well.

DWP tweet 500x245 Are the DWP writing fake tweets about universal credit?

One user spotted that the DWP Press Office sent out a tweet that looked rather suspect. They said: “This doesn’t look at all like the DWP trying to plant fake tweets and getting the wrong account. Nope.”

It all looks rather suspect from the DWP and they deleted the tweet, but not before it was screengrabbed. Seems that people in parliament still don’t understand how the internet works.

Just how many accounts the DWP are running isn’t clear, but it looks like a case of positive spin in the face of mounting criticism and failures where no-one can cope with universal credit.

Futurewatch: Windowless planes

October 28th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Windowless planes could soon be a thing if a UK developer gets their way.

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), has unveiled a video showing the technology, which has the screens replicating what is outside the plane and showing places and points of interest such as other aircraft and the International Space Station in real-time.

The giant, flexible OLED screens will show a real time view of the places you’re flying over, but might get a bit oppressive what with the whole ‘no natural light’ drawback.

However they can be powered down for a kip on long haul flights or show other content like in-flight movies and commercials… which would be a bit like flying in a giant airborne tube of adverts.

Here’s a video about it:

Apparently, the environment – something planes are keen fans of – is the overall winner. Windows in planes actually require the fuselage to be strengthened, and without them planes would be lighter and consume less fuel.

The CPI thinks OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) could be harnessed to make the screens, and that this technology will be all over the shop within the next ten years.

Dr Helliwell of the CPI said.”What would be great would be to make devices based on OLEDs that are flexible. We can make transistors that are flexible but if we can make OLEDs that are flexible, that gives us a lot of potential in the market because we can print OLEDs on to packaging, we can create flexible displays,”

“We are talking about [the idea] now because it matches the kind of development timelines that they have in the aerospace industry.

“So you could have a display next to a seat if you wanted it; you could have a blank area next to a seat if you wanted it; you would have complete flexibility as to where you put [the panel screens]. You could put screens on the back of the seats in the middle and link them to the same cameras.”

Fancy that! Keep an eye on Ryanair with this though. They might not give natural light panels, but windowless planes is something you can see them going for.

Tesco given ASBO for mess?

October 27th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

tesco bag 300x187 Tesco given ASBO for mess?Tesco’s woes continue, and now, they’re looking at an ASBO. That’s right – they’re getting treated like the kind of wag who drinks cans of Ace in the Ford Capri sat on bricks down the side of their house listening to 50 Cent at full tilt all day.

This is happening because the supermarket behemoth has allegedly failed to deal with litter at one of their stores in Cambridge.

Peter Roberts, a city councillor who works for Waste, Environment & Public Health made the accusations, saying: “We are potentially pursuing a community protection notice against Tesco. We’ve asked several times they clean their ground as part of the agreement they have with us as the city authority and they continually, despite their claims otherwise, carry on just leaving it.”

These Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) are now actually called ‘community protection notices’ (CPN) – we definitely didn’t find that out after one of our writers got in trouble for an ill-advised three day party in their house.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “Contractors will be visiting the site shortly to undertake the necessary works and we will continue to monitor the situation on an ongoing basis.”

car 300x225 New regulations for used car sellers to make sure consumers get a better dealComplaints about second-hand cars are one of the biggest issues people take to the Citizens Advice consumer service. Between April 2013 and March 2014, Citizens Advice dealt with almost 70,000 enquiries relating to second-hand cars and the AA estimates that around 210,000 vehicles sold per year have a major fault. AA research suggests that, even now, 18,000 vehicles a year are sold ‘clocked’- where the odometer is fiddled with to reduce the mileage showing- in order to screw more cash out of the consumer.

However, the Used Car Commission, set up during Consumer Week at the start of November last year, have now decided that sitting around in a room talking about the problems with buying second hand cars isn’t actually achieving anything, and that they might actually have to take some action if they want anything to improve.

The Commission found, during its investigations over the last year, that the industry generally works well for consumers, but it has identified some areas for improvement. In response, Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson has called on the commission to get out of its comfy chairs take forward its proposals to get a better deal for consumers.

The Commission will now oversee implementation of its recommendations including:

closer cooperation between the Police and Trading Standards to target organised criminals who steal vehicles for export, clone them or break them up for parts

the development of a minimum set of requirements for used car codes and trader approval schemes to ensure consumers are better protected and improve customer services

a focus on information gathering on used cars so current and emerging issues can be quickly identified and acted on by police forces and Trading Standards

Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said:

“Whilst the majority of second-hand car buyers will have a trouble free experience, too many consumers are left with unresolved issues or thousands of pounds out of pocket.

The AA estimates that 750,000 consumers a year face unresolved problems with a used car purchase, so it is clear why the Commission’s work is so important.

The recommendations are an excellent starting point and it is good to see the sector working together to get the best possible outcomes for consumers. I am grateful to all the members of the Commission for their work so far.”

However, before you get too excited it is worth noting that the Used Car Commission does not, in fact, cover sales of all used cars, and therefore neither will its recommendations. The Commission’s work specifically excludes the private sale of used cars, so won’t help you with the dodgy chap selling his brand new, perfect condition Ford Fiesta down the road. In fact, according to the BCA Used Car Market Report 2013, that’s 38% of the used car market (using 2012 figures) that won’t see any benefit from this Commission or its recommendations at all…

porn Dirty websites to do more to stop minors watching smutThe internet is filled with mucky stuff, but now, dirty websites are being asked to do more with regards to verifying the age of people accessing adult material, as there are too many underage people looking at bongo films.

Mobile phone companies and credit card firms are going to now ensure that someone proves they’re older than 18 to get access to explicit material – unless of course, they’re just looking at naughty pictures that come up on Google Images. No-one will be policing Google, that’s for sure.

This is all because a study showed that one in 20 visitors to adult sites are under 18.

The research for Atvod shows that 6% of people aged 15 or under had been looking at adult-material online over the course of a month and that 112,000 minors accessed PornHub from the UK.

Atvod said that young people using porn sites was an issue so urgent that it was ‘critical the legislation is enacted during this Parliament.’

These new plans don’t just cover smutty sites, but also places that sell guns and other age restricted things. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is working on the plans with Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom.  A DCMS spokesman said: “We take the issue of child safety online very seriously and have set out a series of robust measures, including family friendly filters, to help keep children safe online.”

“We are always looking at ways to build on these measures to make children even safer.”

There is a small snag though – these rules will only cover UK-based websites, and seeing as most dirty films are made, distributed and hosted outside of the UK, it won’t be making a blind bit of difference to most porn-lovers.

Google Inbox unveils new design

October 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

googlemail 300x168 Google Inbox unveils new designGoogle’s Inbox email app has been redesigned, which thw=ey reckon is now “a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what matters”.

The Inbox introduces new features including bundling – which gives people the option to group all sorts of stuff together like emails and receipts.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Android, Chrome & Apps, says Inbox was developed to tackle issues around email including “important information buried inside messages” and “our most important tasks slipping through the cracks”.

“Inbox will even display useful information from the web that wasn’t in the original email, such as the real-time status of your flights and package deliveries.”

There’s also various assists to help users remember to get in touch with shops, people and what have you, by supplying you with the phone number and will tell you if the shop is open or not.

Inbox by Google is also one of the first Google products to use Google’s new Material design direction. Unveiled in June, the Material features updated colours, icons, typography and imagery guidelines.

Google is currently sending out the first round of invitations to use Inbox.

Hold tight.

HS3 trains to halve travel times in the North?

October 27th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

train HS3 trains to halve travel times in the North?The time a train journey takes between Northern English cities could halve if predictions about the new high-speed rail project are correct, according to a report.

The HS3 plans were backed by Prime Minister David Cameron who reckons the new fast railways will ‘create a northern powerhouse’ by giving a shot in the arm to jobs and businesses.

Sir David Higgins, the head of the £50billion HS2 project, unveiled the next phase of plans which will potentially see travel times reduced between Leeds and Manchester, not to mention a host of other journeys.

He described it a ‘strategic necessity’ and as important to the North as the Crossrail is to London.

Cameron added: “Improving connectivity and reducing journey times between our great northern cities is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan for the north. That’s why we are backing HS3.”

The improvements would be in addition to the north-of-Birmingham phase two of HS2 which will see a Y-shaped route going to Manchester and Leeds.

With HS2/3, the predicted times are indeed, much shorter, with Manchester to Leeds taking half an hour, Birmingham to Sheffield taking three quarters of an hour and Manchester to York being doable in under an hour. How much it will cost everyone to use this service and whether trains will be on-time, is quite another matter.

Several European banks fail ‘stress test’

October 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bank sign Several European banks fail stress testA ‘stress test’ of banks’ finances has been failed by 24 European banks, the European Banking Authority has announced.

Fortunately none of them are UK banks. PHEW.

The 24 banks now have nine months to get their act together or face being shut down. The review was based on the banks’ financial health at the end of 2013.

Ten have already taken steps to bolster their balance sheets in the meantime. All the remaining 14 banks are in the eurozone. The health check was carried out on 123 EU banks by the EBA to determine whether they could handle another financial crisis.

The list of 14 includes four Italian banks, two Greek banks, two Belgian banks and two Slovenian banks.

The worst offender was Italian bank Monte dei Paschi, which showed a capital shortfall of €2.1bn. Bloody Nora. Admittedly banks are in a better place than they were in 2011, when the last stress test was taken. Although various analysts question the validity of these tests as they failed to spot the collapses in Ireland and Belgian bank Dexia.

But now that’s all changed, as the profits that banks are allowed to make through a future financial crisis are capped. Net income is slashed by 20% and there is greater transparency around how the data is used, giving more certainty to investors.

Also, the introduction of the Asset Quality Review looks at banks’ loans and their governments debts, which has lead to a more sturdy assessment.

The banks that still need to raise capital:

Austria: Oesterreichische Volksbanken
Belgium: AXA Bank Europe, Dexia
Cyprus: Hellenic Bank Public Company
Greece: Eurobank Ergasias, National Bank of Greece
Republic of Ireland: Permanent TSB
Italy: Banca Carige, Monte dei Paschi, Banca Popolare di Milano, Banca Popolare di Vicenza
Portugal: Banco Comercial Portugues
Slovenia: Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor, Nova Ljubljanska Banka

The best and worst UK hotels revealed!

October 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

hotel 300x300 The best and worst UK hotels revealed!A survey by Which!!! to find out Britain’s best hotel chain has revealed Sofitel as the winner. The upmarket version of Novotel has rooms at £144 a night and only has three branches in the UK.

The runner-up Premier Inn, offers 650 hotels in the UK, and is more the hotel of choice for those on a smaller budget.

Eligible hotel firms were judged in nine categories, including cleanliness, customer service, food, and value for money. The rest of the Top five were Warner Leisure Hotels, Hampton by Hilton and Q Hotels.

However at the other end of the chart lurk Travelodge, Britannia Hotels and Old English Inns/Hotels. Shall we have a look at the chart in full?

Yes, let’s:

Name                                    Average Price    Customer score

Sofitel                                     £144                       83%
Premier Inn                          £61                         82%
Warner Leisure Hotels    £128                       80%
Hampton by Hilton           £80                         78%
Q Hotels                                £102                        78%
Marriott Hotels                  £110                        73%
DoubleTree by Hilton      £112                         72%
Holiday Inn Express         £72                          72%
MacDonald Hotels            £124                        72%
Novotel Hotels                    £97                          72%
Radisson Blu                       £111                         72%
Holiday Inn                         £88                          71%
Ibis                                           £63                         71%
Crowne Plaza Hotels        £107                       70%
Ramada                                  £75                         69%
Best Western                       £92                         67%
Hilton Hotels                       £110                       67%
Ibis Budget                            £32                        67%
Copthrone Hotels              £86                         64%
Mercure Hotels                  £93                         64%
The Hotel Collection        £109                       63%
Jurys Inn                               £87                         62%
Days Inn/Hotel                   £55                         61%
Thistle Hotels                      £101                       61%
Travelodge                            £44                        60%
De Vere Hotels                    £115                       58%
Principal Hayley Hotels  £120                       55%
Old English Inns/Hotels £70                         50%
Britannia Hotels                £56                         33%

Poor old Travelodge. But hey, with average price of £44 a room, it’s good for romps with your secret lover or somewhere to be sick in and crash after a work’s party.

No power cuts this Winter, vows Davey

October 27th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

day2energy bkgd2 660x852 232x300 No power cuts this Winter, vows DaveyThere will be no power cuts this Winter. That, is what UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey, has vowed.

The government were moved to comment on the unrest that the UK could be thrown back into the 1970s when it was power cuts ahoy. Davey has also claimed that a back-up plan is ready to be set in motion should anything actually go wrong.

One of the plans involve is where firms could be paid to generate their own electricity and factory production could be shifted to non-peak times.

Fears of what was called an ‘energy crunch’ were heightened after several fires and incidents at power stations, along with the closure of others.

Davey said: “We have extra contingencies on top of the caution, and extra contingencies on top of the contingencies.”

“They [the companies] volunteer to get payments – if the National Grid say, ‘we want you to come off the national grid for a few hours and generate your own power’, you will get paid for that. That is cheaper for the consumer than building an extra power plant. Cheaper, quicker and industry likes it.”

“And some companies would change their behaviour, voluntarily, and be recompensed for it. Turning down their refrigerators by a degree, or changing a shift pattern for a week so staff come in earlier… the idea is to move factory production away from peak demand periods.”

The UK is looking down the barrel of an energy crunch over the next two winters when the capacity margin – how much its total generating capacity outstrips expected peak demand – is expected to shrink to as little as 2%.

In addition to all this, Davey also advised households that they could be saving £200 by choosing a new energy tariff: “I want people to get a better deal on their energy bills. Some of the new smaller suppliers are cutting prices and forcing bigger players to respond. Over two million people switched energy supplier between last October and March this year as competition hots up.”