Paracetamol: the all-purpose emotion reliever

April 16th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

paracetamol Paracetamol: the all purpose emotion relieverParacetamol is one of the most commonly taken drugs in the world, taken for everything from toothache to hangovers. If you want to thwart a bit of pain, then paracetamol is one of the first things many people go for.

However, some scientists believe that paracetamol also gets rid of your feelings, maaaaan.

According to the egg heads at Ohio State University, people who take the tablets don’t seem to be aware of their emotions being affected. Of course, this won’t affect 99% of Bitterwallet readers because they don’t have any feelings, other than a vague sense of bile.

Volunteers in the Ohio State study found that paracetamol munchers felt emotions that were less strong than usual, when they were shown a bunch of photographs of kittens and the like.

Lead author Geoffrey Durso said: “Most people probably aren’t aware of how their emotions may be impacted when they take paracetamol. Rather than just being a pain reliever, acetaminophen can be seen as an all-purpose emotion reliever.”

So if you want to look tough in front of someone while watching a weepy film, might be worth having a couple of paracetamol crushed up in your nachos.

What the most – and least – reliable cars?

April 16th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

eating in the car What the most   and least   reliable cars?Cars are expensive, so you’d hope that once you’ve forked out all that cash for them, they’ll be nice and reliable and not a massive pain in the hole.

Well, What Car? have teamed-up with Warranty Direct to find out which cars are the least reliable. They’ve also tried to find out which cars you can count on, generally speaking, too.

Of their 38-strong league table of cars, surprisingly, the super expensive luxury cars from Bentley and Porsche came bottom of the pile. If you’re spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on a car, you’d hope it was flawless wouldn’t you? Then again, if you can afford these vehicles, then you can afford to keep getting it serviced, no doubt.

At the top of the chart came Honda and Suzuki.

The faults that were most common across the board, were electric faults, as well as problems with axles and suspension faults. Between then, around a quarter of all visits to the garage were for these.

Apparently, air conditioning is the least concern to drivers, with just 3% reporting faults in them. Maybe they get loads of problems with them, but just don’t report them because they can just open a window?

What Car? editor Jim Holder said: “Honda’s success in the reliability index is chiefly down to low failure rates… but, when things do go wrong, the cars are also relatively cheap to fix.”

“Reliability is always one of the key attributes buyers look for when considering a used car purchase, so manufacturers that consistently demonstrate durability will always do well with the consumer.”

Most reliable cars!

1. Honda
2. Suzuki
3. Toyota
4. Chevrolet
5. Mazda
6. Ford
7. Lexus
8. Skoda
9. Hyundai
10. Nissan

Sky now offering Buy & Keep movies to everyone

April 15th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

sky Sky now offering Buy & Keep movies to everyoneSky have gone and expanded their Buy & Keep service, offering it the download/delivery service to non-Sky subscribers. Last year, Sky’s TV subscribers got the service which lets you download a digital copy of a film while you wait for the physical DVD to be delivered, but now, anyone can do it.

If you think this sounds better than just downloading stuff or going down the shops, then from today, you can go to the Sky Store website and sort yourself out.

Seeing as they’re opening it up to everyone, the service is going to be available on a load of different mobile platforms and internet-connected set-top boxes. If this sort of thing fills you with dread, do remember, you can just watch Freeview and tut about stuff.

Nicola Bamford, Director of the Sky Store says: “People want the simplest and most convenient way to buy and watch the movies they love, which is why it’s great news that from today Buy & Keep will be available to everyone and across multiple devices.”

Some bigger, newer films will cost you £13.99, while older flicks are going for £7.99 each. If you use torrents, try and keep your laughing down because you’re upsetting the consumers.

You’ll also be able to use the Follow Me function, which lets you pause a movie and resuming watching it on a different one.

sweets 300x225 Morrisons to start selling halal pick n mixWhile most consumers understand the concept of halal meat, and its importance to certain groups of consumers, few people would even consider the possibility that sweets could be non-halal. However, many jelly sweets contain gelatine products derived from animals, so supermarket giant Morrisons is trialling a halal pick and mix counter at 10 stores, offering gelatine-free sweets to Muslim customers.

The new sweets are being tested at stores in Blackburn, Bolton, Preston, Bradford, West Bromwich, Birmingham, Leamington Spa and at three stores in London. There will be 36 halal-friendly sweets, including liquorice sticks, cola bottles, jelly beans, gummy bears and sugared lips which will be guaranteed to be free of non-halal animal products or alcohol-based colourings and flavourings.

The move has been welcomed by Salim Mulla, chairman of the halal sub-committee at the Lancashire Council of Mosques who said “Sweets are very popular with the Muslim community,” he said. “I think the pick and mix will do really well.”

Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said he also welcomed the introduction of more halal foods in supermarkets, adding that “more and more supermarkets are introducing halal products to meet the needs of the customers, but this is the first halal pick and mix I have heard of. A lot of Muslim children buy sweets, but often have to look at the ingredients to see if they are halal. It’s good that they will be able to see they are halal at a glance.”

So is this a genius move by Morrisons, identifying a genuine gap in the market, or will this just isolate consumers who were already happy with their Morrisons pick and mix? Of course, the trials are likely to be in areas where there are greater numbers of Muslim consumers, so if they aren’t a hit there, it is unlikely that the scheme will be rolled out across the country. And what about consumers who would prefer non-halal products- where are they going to pig out on cola bottles now?

Picture 2 App released which is a door to door public transport networkWith all the fuss over Uber, taxi drivers have been really getting it in the neck. And now, there’s another thing that they should know about… but it isn’t a taxi app, oh no.

The preposterously wealthy Nat Rothschild has unleashed a new app for London that allows you to book individual seats in shared black cab journeys. Sounds like a taxi service, but in fact, we’re assured that it is a ‘door-to-door public transport network’.

It is called Maaxi and wants to make riding in black cabs cheaper. Or, if you prefer, maximising your money in a taxi, hence the name. Of course, there’s going to be a few safety concerns for those who don’t like the idea of sharing a cab with some strangers.

That said, Maaxi does require all users to sign-up with a UK address, which is their way of trying to make the thing safer. This is a kick in the pants if you’re a visitor from overseas. Customers can order female-only (or male-only) fares if they prefer.

Once you’ve signed-up, via the app, you are matched through a departures board screen which will show you the details of both the taxi availability and where the taxi wants to go, and price and all that. Other people can jump-in your cab en route.

Or, you could just stand on the street and wave your arm about and ignore all this nonsense. It is available to download now, if you like making taxi rides slightly complicated.

Google formally hit with antitrust action

April 15th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

google Google formally hit with antitrust actionAs predicted, EU regulators have formally accused Google of violating antitrust laws and abusing its dominance to push their own products.

In a statement, regulators said they’d reached the preliminary decision that that search behemoth “systematically positions and prominently displays its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of its merits.” According to those throwing accusations around, this conduct has been going on since 2008.

The statement reads: “The commission is concerned that users do not necessarily see the most relevant results in response to queries – to the detriment of consumers and rival comparison shopping services, as well as stifling innovation.”

Regulators also opened a separate formal investigation into Google’s Android practices, which could see an end to bloatware for users.

A final ruling from the EU could come at the end of the year, as Google have to make their case first. Worryingly for Google, this could see other territories making similar judgements against them.

Amit Singhal, vice president of Google Search, said the company strongly disagrees “with the need to issue a statement of objections and look forward to making our case over the weeks ahead.”

“Dominance as such is not a problem,” said EU antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager; “However, dominant companies have a responsibility not to abuse their market position either in the market where they are dominant or in neighbouring markets – this is about consumers getting the best possible results of their query.”

“This is nothing to with a company being American, Japanese or whatever,” she added; “If you want to compete in the European market you have to abide by EU rules.”

mark zuckerberg facepalm 274x300 Zuckerberg is bringing free internet to Europe, apparentlyFacebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg has done a Q&A with people Who Like That Sort Of Thing, and has been talking himself up.

He’s said that Facebook’s free internet project, Internet.org, want to muscle in on Europe. He said: ”Yes, we want to bring Internet.org [everywhere] where there are people who need to be connected. We’re starting off by prioritizing the countries with the most unconnected people and by working with network operators and governments who are most excited about working with Internet.org to get everyone online in their countries.”

The service has already launched in India, Kenya, Zambia, Colombia and Tanzania and, in the Q&A, one person said that the service wasn’t very good, to which Zuck replied: “Having some connectivity and some ability to share is always much better than having no ability to connect and share at all”.

As long as Zuckerberg can get his hands on all that lovely personal data, which makes him so dazzlingly wealthy, the quality of the service is a mere by-product.

He also spoke about Oculus VR: “Our mission [is] to give people the power to experience anything. Even if you don’t have the ability to travel somewhere, or to be with someone in person, or even if something is physically impossible to build in our analog world, the goal is to help build a medium that will give you the ability to do all of these things you might not otherwise be able to do.”

People who like watching dirty films on the internet, take note.

mobile phone 300x225 Mobile customers paying £92 extra for handsets youve already paid for?Mobile-havers in the UK are losing £92 each per year (that’s around £355million if you add everyone up) on handsets they’ve already bought, but carry on paying for through their bill.

A lot of contacts combine the tariff and the cost of the device over a period of time, however, the cost isn’t always split, which means many don’t know when they’ve paid off the cost of their phone. Those who are with EE, Vodafone, and Three will be charged under one bundled price, while O2, Virgin Media and Tesco Mobile have separate handset and other tariff costs.

This is all according to Which!!! who gave a couple of examples, which show how overcharging occurs. For example, a contract with O2 Refresh for an iPhone 6 costing £49 a month for 5GB of data and unlimited minutes and texts points out that the handset part of the bill is £25 and the deal price will drop to £24 once the device has been paid for. However, if you do a similar thing with Vodafone, costing £48.50 a month, the price doesn’t change once the contract period is up and the handset has already been paid in full.

According to the Which!!! survey, 60% of those polled think that there should be a clear separation of tariff and handset costs in their bills. Around 97% think that price is a crucial factor when deciding whether or not to switch and 74% reckon that it is paramount that providers inform customers when their contract is coming to an end.

Which!!! big cheese Richard Lloyd said: “Consumers are being misled and as a result are collectively paying millions of pounds each year for a phone they have paid off. All mobile phone operators should separate out the cost of the handset so people don’t continue to pay after the contract comes to an end.”

“Mobile providers need to play fair and ensure their customers are not paying over the odds.”

 

android lollipop Could EU action bring an end to Android bloatware?With Google facing antitrust fines from EU competition regulators, the company have told staff that things could be getting heavy in the coming weeks.

Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, wrote in the memo to his charges, saying that a “statement of objections” to Google’s business practices in Europe would be released on Wednesday by the EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager.

Basically, the European Commission is looking at whether or not Google have been pushing their own products unfairly, at the behest of others.

“Expect some of the criticism to be tough,” Walker continued.

With everyone focusing on search results, Google Maps and various shopping tools online, one thing that could really be shook-up is on Android. Anyone with an Android phone will know that their mobile is filled with a host of apps that you can’t get rid of – and they’re mostly Google branded applications too.

Unless you’re techie and can get under the hood, many users have found at some point, that they’ve tried to delete Google apps, only to find that they’re reinstalled when your  phone does an update, or if your mobile’s settings automatically update your apps. Most users just accept the updates so they can stop the constant reminders and push notifications.

If the EU issues a “statement of objections” against Google is successful, and the company are found guilty of abusing their market dominance, not only will there be some huge fines being thrown around, but it could mean that you’ll be able to uninstall Google apps for good, if you’re not using them and they’re taking up precious memory on your device.

Google have used their platform to push their own products ahead of others on Android handsets, so you can bet that Google will be hoping they can settle out of court. Will it change the way we get to manage what is on our phones?

We’ll have to wait and see.

Want to get your dog stoned?

April 15th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spit the dog Want to get your dog stoned?Dogs live their lives napping, constantly wanting to eat and generally looking confused at the most basic tasks, so it is rather surprising that someone has created some treats for dogs that will get them stoned.

‘Pot for pets’ isn’t a novelty product though – the people behind think that marijuana can be used as a mild pain relief for pooches. They’re thinking of old dogs with knackered hips, but you just know that young pups will be gagging to get at it, so they can play video games and eat Monster Munch all day while you’re at work.

One dog owner apparently said that her hound was all set to be put to sleep by the vet, but bought the special strain of weed and her dog got better: “Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated this. It brought my dog back.”

The side effect is that her dog now listens to festival reggae and wants to go to India to find itself.

There’s a few companies behind this idea and Julianna Carella, CEO of Treatibles who are one of them, is reticent to discuss the actual medical benefits of giving animals drugs.

She said: “Honestly, we’re hands off with that because we’re not doctors and it’s not our place to prescribe it in that way.”

If she’s not a doctor, then surely she’s a dealer? Either way, there’s a good chance that some baby boomer will be curious enough to buy this and find that their 15 year old human child has decided to eat the dog-weed to see what happens. We can only hope the outcome is funny and uploaded to YouTube.

Is this the end of cashback credit cards?

April 14th, 2015 1 Comment By Thewlis

credit card 300x188 Is this the end of cashback credit cards?A new cap on the fees that credit card companies charge retailers is about to hit card payments in the UK. But while the jury is out on whether this will end up being a good or a bad thing for consumers, one immediate effect is that cashback credit cards are already being withdrawn in anticipation of the change- a trend that looks set to continue..

European Union regulations, first mooted back in July 2013, which will be introduced later this month, will limit the ‘interchange fees’ that credit card companies can charge retailers for accepting card payments, reducing them to a maximum 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% at most for credit cards.

According to the European Commission, the changes will create “a more competitive system” that is more transparent and that will encourage technological innovation and investment in new payment options. However Visa Europe do not agree with the EU, claiming that the regulations will lead to less convenience, less innovation owing to reduced cost recovery and will actually cost consumers more as card issuers will start charging higher annual card fees.

Cash back credit cards are currently very popular, as they provide regular payments in the form of a percentage of your overall spending back as credit paid to your card; they are the most searched-for type of credit card according to Which!!! Money. However, in light of the new rules, Capital One has issued a statement saying it will stop offering cash back credit cards to new customers. The company will also scrap or reduce the earnings on its cash back deals for existing customers from 1 June.

The alternative for Capital One, and other card issuers contemplating the interchange fees issue, is to start charging a higher annual fee for the use of a cashback card. However, this could leave consumers looking at a card which will cost more in annual fees than it earns in cashback, particularly if cashback rates fall. Good job EU.

Of course, credit card companies are at their liberty to remove cashback incentives at any time, although most companies, including American Express, Barclays, NatWest and RBS, would need to provide 30 days’ in notice in writing before doing so.

The European Commission reckon that interchange fees currently bring in an estimated £6.5 billion a year for credit card companies, who are going to be understandably peeved at having their lucrative revenue streams cut. As a result, is it any wonder some cards are being withdrawn?

Google’s ‘Project Fi’ app leak

April 14th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

There’s been mutterings of Google’s plans to go toe-to-toe with the mobile carriers, and rumours suggest that there’s going to be some kind of announcement in 2015.

Well, there’s been a leak which has unveiled some details about the service.

It looks like it’ll initially be a US-only thing, but Google have got form for rolling these things worldwide if the Americans take them up. One thing that Project Fi looks like it’ll be doing is only charging users based on data they actually consume and credit unused data at the end of the month.

project fi 800x420 500x262 Googles Project Fi app leak

These details came from a Tycho app that was included in an unofficial build for the Nexus 6.

You don’t need to worry about the Tycho app itself, as it isn’t that great compared to anything else. However, the app does seem to let users do more, including being able to request a new number, activate the service, start a transfer request and close/resume your account from within the app. Not earth-shattering, but useful.

Anyway, the news is the leak of Project Fi, and it looks like Google are going after heavy data users. It seems you’ll be able to switch from one device to another to carry over your Project Fi connection and number.

Google will presumably make money from adverts and using your data for whatever nefarious things they’re into. Mobile carriers might be getting squeaky bums at the prospect of all this.

Poundland top £1bn

April 14th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

poundland Poundland top £1bnPoundland have cashed in over one billion pound coins at the bank after their revenues exceeded £1bn for the first time in their last financial year. Someone’s doing alright aren’t they?

In terms of profit, pre-tax, that’s £44m to play with if the forecasts are correct. Who would have ever guessed there was so much cash to be made from cheap tights, weird plant pots and foreign sweets?

On top of the hundreds of shops they’ve had for a while, Poundland said they’d opened 60 new stores in the UK and Ireland in its last year and, of course, they’re looking at taking over the 99p Stores if regulators allow it.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the deal, which is going to add another 251 shops to their portfolio could see a cut to competition. Poundland said they’ll be making an announcement about all this in due course.

Along with Aldi and Lidl, these bargainous businesses are really hammering the bigger supermarkets like Tesco and Morrisons.

Commenting on the results, chief executive Jim McCarthy, said: “After a solid quarter of sales growth, Poundland’s revenue for the 2015 financial year was over £1bn for the first time. Despite tough trading conditions, Poundland continues to perform well and we served an average of 5.3 million shoppers a week during the quarter.”

“We have managed our costs and cash well, and we expect underlying pre-tax profits to be in line with market expectations for the year as a whole. We achieved our target of 60 net new stores in the UK and Ireland and have a very strong pipeline of store openings for the current financial year.”

“We expect to continue to deliver our growth strategy in the new financial year, notwithstanding some headwinds from a weaker Euro and a tough comparable in the first half.”

Don’t call it a comeback: vinyl is on the up

April 14th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

headphones 300x243 Dont call it a comeback: vinyl is on the upThere’s been a lot of talk about the comeback of vinyl, as people start spending money on things in record shops, all over again.

This comeback has got some people so excited, that a special vinyl chart has been launched. Last year, vinyl sales hit a 20-year high in the UK, which is exciting enough. This new chart launches ahead of Record Store Day on Saturday.

Martin Talbot, the chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said: “With vinyl album sales up by almost 70% already this year,vinyl junkies could well have snapped up 2 million units by the end of this year – an extraordinary number, if you consider sales were one-tenth of that just six years ago.”

Gennaro Castaldo, from industry body The BPI, said: “With sales of vinyl albums at their highest level since the heady days of Britpop and growing, the introduction of an Official Vinyl Chart at this time makes perfect sense.”

“The chart will not only help us to better understand which artists and type of music are driving this resurgence, but will also help guide a new generation of younger, but emotionally-engaged, fans as they contemplate the vinyl delights that await them.”

However, what no-one is saying is that the comeback isn’t nearly as large as people are making out. Vinyl was virtually extinct at one point, which means sales don’t have to be that high to break record sales for two decades.

We’ll let this graph show you the truth of the matter.

vinyl chart 500x395 Dont call it a comeback: vinyl is on the up

 

As you can see, the late ’80s and early ’90s is when vinyl sales took a huge hit, thanks to the advent of CDs and cheap cassettes. While it is encouraging to see people buying vinyl again, sales are nowhere near the mid ’70s peak. You can add into this that no-one buys CDs or cassettes either, which means physical sales are in a sorry state indeed.

Still, seeing as record companies ripped everyone off for years, you could argue that this is all payback.

Paddy Power are offending everyone again

April 14th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Paddy Power’s advertising schtick of ‘get a response at absolutely any cost’ came under fire this week as they promoted the Liverpool-Newcastle Premier League game by likening it to people being beaten and killed in police custody.

You can imagine that this has gone down really well.

paddy power ferguson 398x500 Paddy Power are offending everyone again

As you can see, they tweeted: “Newcastle have suffered more Kop beatings over the last 20 years than an unarmed African-American male”, which is a spectacularly insensitive way of looking at some of the things that have been happening in America recently.

While this prompts the debate of ‘we should be allowed to joke about anything’/'why on earth would you joke about something so horrible’, the response to the promotion was mixed. Some simply lolled while others tweeted things like “This is the most disgusting tweet I’ve read in probably my entire time on Twitter” and “How dare you make the execution of Black men in America the butt of your jokes.”

The timing of the tweet was certainly ill-advised, as only last week, in South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager was charged with the murder of Walter Scott. Of course, Paddy Power have previous, making jokes about the Oscar Pistorius murder trial and another gag about a blind footballer kicking a cat into a tree. They also, bafflingly, sent Dennis Rodman to North Korea to try and make the world a better place.

In response to the latest promo tweet, a spokesman for Paddy Power said: “It’s clearly an acerbic reference to recent police activity in the US. And obviously, no offence was meant.”

If they wanted attention, they certainly got it.