Cabbies go cashless

July 15th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

london cab 300x225 Cabbies go cashlessLondon, and it seems that to get around these days, you don’t need any cash.

Well actually you do, to charge up your Oysters and all that, but a London cab driver is trialling Barclay’s Pingit app for the next week.

It allows the fare on the meter to be transferred between bank accounts within 30 seconds.

Mr Cable, who has been a London black cab driver for 23 years, told the Independent: “I am always up for trying new technology to help make mine and my passengers’ lives easier.”

He’s Mr Future basically, as he was also the first cabbie to accept chip and pin cards in 2004.

“It means I have more time on the road to earn money – rather than stopping off at the bank to pay in my earnings or pulling up at ATMs for passengers with the risk of getting a hefty parking fine,” he added.

Of course, you can still probably get away with doing a runner if you’re that way inclined, but we’d never advise readers to do anything like that.

A man named Darren Foulds, the director of Barclays Mobile and Pingit, said: “We are always keen to support new ways to make people’s lives easier. This trial really demonstrates the huge potential for mobile payments as they gain more widespread use.”

The app will use QR codes (SEE? THERE IS A USE FOR THEM AFTER ALL) and can access any bank account when cash is needed for their fare.

Uber, meanwhile…

National parks get phone signals

July 14th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Green Park London   April 2007 300x200 National parks get phone signalsA deal between mobile operators to boost mobile coverage in England’s National Parks has been agreed.

The Mobile Operators Association (MOA, obvs) represents O2, EE, Vodafone and 3, and have said that themselves and the parks have settled on an agreement, without ruining the natural beauty and loveliness of the parks.

Now you can do a selfie with a deer and share it instantly rather than go through the agonising wait until you reach civilisation [This could make for some really fancy hook-ups with Tinder and Grindr and the like - Ed.]

It will also help boost the lives of those who work and maintain the parks, and they can alert people quicker to them with a simple “leg in mantrap lol” and not be left to rot there for a fortnight.

A chair named Jim Bailey, from the National Parks England and the North York Moors National Park Authority said: “Today’s agreement will be good for the thousands of businesses and people living in our National Parks, for the millions who visit them, and for the stunning landscapes and towns that are the lifeblood of our rural economies,” he said.

The work will cover the 10 National Parks of England: The Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, South Downs and the Yorkshire Dales.

Splendid.

Apple Store Fifth Avenue 300x225 Apple can now sue if your shop looks like itApple have stirred up a nest of palaver after securing the right to register its store layouts as a trademark.

This follows a similar trademark registration in the US in 2010.

The ruling now means that if anyone thinks you’ve pinched their store layout, then you could be forced to change it or even be shot at* (*sued)

A chap name David Dalziel, who is the creative director at retail consultancy Dalziel and Pow, said to Design Week: “I am really surprised about this ruling, it doesn’t seem to be defendable to me.

“It is one thing to protect against the direct copy, which can and does happen in some developing regions where design is less sophisticated, but to attempt to protect a store layout would seem to be too broad, too sweeping to defend.

“Stores designed with a rigid table plan existed long before Apple was invented and will continue long after Apple evolve their concept to their next iteration. That is the nature of retail design.”

Of course, there have been outrageous copies all over the world, as previously reported on Bitterwallet.

The European Court’s judgement reckons that Apple’s store layouts fulfill the three main criteria  – they constitute a sign, are capable of graphic representation and can distinguish the goods sold by one company from those of another.

Nobody else seems to be remotely bothered about this ruling, however now Apple has stirred it up, it means that more companies can start copyrighting its store layouts and sue other retailers if they feel that they’ve been copied.

Of course, it’s just another layer of bullshit that we were doing really quite well without until yesterday.

God help us if there’s a war.

Warburtons overtaken by bears

July 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

warburtons paddington 300x225 Warburtons overtaken by bearsBread vendors Warburtons are to be renamed Warbeartons.

Don’t panic, it’s just as a promotional tie-in with the slightly creepy looking Paddington movie that’s due to hit the cinemas in November.

Six million ‘half-and-half’ products (sort of half-arsed ambidextrous white and brown bread efforts) will feature the marmalade sandwich loving bear on its packaging.

There will also be a roadshow touring the country in the form of a double decker bus, with freebies, goodies and adventure guides for families. And as we’re in the social media age, if anyone uploads a picture of themselves near the bus, they’ll be entered into a competition to win a family holiday.

No specification as to where the holiday will be, but it’s unlikely to be Peru.

A brand director named Megan Harrison reckons: ”Devoting our packaging to Paddington and taking him on a tour to visit families across the country is a great way to inspire families to go out and have their very own adventures like Paddington”

“Plus, they can get creative with innovative sandwich recipe ideas to help fuel those adventures on the way”.

Paddington half half range 300x212 Warburtons overtaken by bears

So that’s four months of branding ahead of a film about a bear that looks like an axe-murderer. Well done there, everyone.

Now you can control things with your mind

July 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

mindwave 300x203 Now you can control things with your mindThe future is still utterly terrifying, with news that London start-up This Place has developed a way to let users control Google Glass with THEIR MIND.

The app entitled MindRDR converts the wearer’s brainwaves and turns those into commands for the head-mounted devices.

So basically, you can utilise your brainwaves for evil and make like some techno Damien or literally become Scanners.

The brainwaves are harvested by NeuroSky, and translated into commands to the wearable.

By simply concentrating or relaxing, the user can operate the device, as wearers will see a horizontal line that sits in the middle of the screen which moves up the more they concentrate and down the more they relax.

Once the line reaches the top of the screen, Google Glass will take a photo. The user can then decide to share the picture on social media, by raising the line again, or discard it by letting the line fall to the bottom.

ortunately, taking and uploading pics is all MindRDR can do, but the plan is to making it an open source affair.

he man who will be a target when robots from the future come for him, Dusan Hamlin, said MindRDR could eventually “enable those with locked-in syndrome, severe multiple sclerosis or quadriplegia to interact with the wider world using Google Glass”.

Oooh actually, that’s quite a good benefit.

While Chloe Kirton, who’ll no doubt be screaming as weapons are fired come the robopocalypse, said the company wer already in talks with world-famous physicist Steven Hawking, who suffers from Motor Neurone Disease, and others “about the possibilities MindRDR could bring as the product evolves”.

OH LOOK LET’S JUST WATCH A VIDEO

Technology, eh?

UK fashion all the rage

July 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

British fashion has been really happening, after reports of a sharp rise in sales from home and abroad.

Burberry’s sales have risen by 9% to £370 million in the previous three months, compared with like-for-like sales up 12%

SuperGroup, the owner of Superdry that makes clothing for SuperPeople, reported a 3.2% rise in like-for-like sales for the last year, while Primark said that sales rose by 22% on a constant currencies basis in the 16 weeks to June 21.

Burberry said that exchange rates will be a material (HAHAHA SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE) impact on profits, warning that retail and wholesale profits would be reduced by £55m. Probably helped by having that Harry Potter lady in their ads too. Tourists love that.

Burberry And Emma Watson1 500x256 UK fashion all the rage

Primark, SuperGroup and Burberry are leading a charge of British fashion brands expanding overseas, as the citizens of the world get lured in by Cara in a mac or try and channel middle-aged gays in SuperDry. Meanwhile, Primark is preparing to open its first US store in Boston in 2015.

Christopher Bailey of Burberry, said: “This first quarter performance reflects our focus on striving to give customers the best possible experience of the Burberry brand through ongoing investment in retail, digital and service, both on and offline.

“The 12% increase in comparable sales demonstrates our teams’ success in unlocking the benefits of these investments, as we continue to concentrate on the things we can control in an uncertain external environment.”

Meanwhile, although it looks like SuperGroup are all happening and  reporting an increase in sales, pre-tax profits for the year to from £51.8m to £45.2m. Shares in the retailer slumped in May after SuperGroup warned that like-for-like sales had fallen in the final quarter of its financial year.

Fortunately chief exec  Julian Dunkerton insisted the results represented a “solid performance”

“With a strong pipeline of new stores, particularly in mainland Europe, we are well positioned for further profitable growth in the year ahead. The strength of the Superdry brand and the investment we have made in our business leaves me confident in our ability to implement and deliver the growth strategy.”

So hurrah for British clothing brands being a thing around the globe!

new food labelling 300x105 Our EU chums are getting shirty over our traffic light labelling on foodEveryone knows that if you constantly eat crap, you end up a pale and unhealthy glutinous mass. Of course, everyone is free to choose what they eat, but as part of a drive to help people make informed choices, UK food retailers largely conform to the voluntary traffic light food labelling system, which tells you whether the amount of fat and sugar you are about to cram in your gob is good (green) or less good (red).

Now, however, some of our European chums have decided that, far from being helpful and informative, this traffic light labelling is in fact discriminatory and rude, and have run off to the European Commission to tell tales. The group, led by Italy, is concerned that, as their national produce such as prosciutto and Parmesan might end up with red labels, we are clearly trying to stealthily stop all UK people eating foreign muck.

Italy accused the UK’s labelling system of ‘clearly influencing customer choice’ and got its mates, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, Romania, Portugal together with France just for good measure, to back it up. They all stood around huffily in the EC until the Commission agreed to investigate. Their challenge is supported by UK local retailer the Co-operative who undertook a survey which found that 40% of women and 30% of men had decided against buying a product owing to its red traffic light labelling.

The Commission’s findings are expected in a few weeks, but its investigation will consider whether the labelling infringes basic EU tenets of the free market within Europe.

However, Glenis Willmott, UK MEP Health Spokesperson condemned the challenge, describing the case as “spurious” and claiming EU legislation was clear in permitting voluntary informational labelling on products. If the EU finds against the UK, and the UK refuses to withdraw the labelling, we could be landed with a heavy fine.

It seems the irony of us pasty Britishers hankering after a more Mediterranean diet is lost on our near neighbours.

Look everyone! Instagram for Children!

July 8th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

popjam 300x187 Look everyone! Instagram for Children!The company behind Moshi Monsters have invented an ‘Instagram for kids’.

Mind Candy have created the new app called PopJam, which will allow the nippers to create art and stories and games and that, and share them with fellow users around the world.

The app is similar to Instagram in that users can follow their friends or other users if they like their creations, and they can also ‘like’ and comment and draw responses to other creations that pop up in their feed.

As well as all the fun, there’ll be stuff from Natalia Vodianova, who will teach about philanthropy and they’re also in talks with Jamie Oliver about teaching the kids about food and nutrition.

The Mind Candy man speaketh!: “One of our key learnings from the six years of building Moshi Monsters has been how much kids love to create, share and show-off,” said Michael Acton Smith. ”We love the idea of empowering kids with digital tools and then seeing what they come up with.”

Of course there’s the danger that your child could be chatting with a friend who turns out to be an obese 50-something with his underwear around his ankles, but Mind Candy hope they’ve got that covered, as contributions will be monitored and moderated by a team headed up by Mind Candy’s online community expert Rebecca Newton. Children are also discouraged from sharing selfies unless they are disguised with stickers.

Michael again: “Creating a product like this is full of complex challenges but we feel very strongly that without a viable community designed for this younger demographic, kids under 13 will continue using apps designed for over 13 year olds like Instagram, SnapChat and Tumblr,”

“PopJam is a walled garden where kids can be kids.”

You can block Google Street View now too

July 7th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

street map wee 300x171 You can block Google Street View now tooGoogle have taken down and/or blurred a variety of high profile addresses.

The likes of Fred Goodwin Paul McCartney, Lily Allen and Tony Blair have even gone as far as to have their homes completely blocked on the street where he lives, so you can wander along Street-View-ly, and then a black hole comes up (probably).

The blurring and what-have-you comes a week after the Google legally acknowledged users “right to be forgotten”, yet Google Street View is not affected by the new law, but may well have been part of the admin when high profile types decided to erase their past.

People who are keen to blur Street View images of their properties can now report the images to Google, who then decide on whether the image should be altered or removed.

So now, if you’re walking around London with Google Glass on, using Street View maps to guide you, and you come across a blurred out house, you should immediately stroll up to the front door, open the letter box, and shout “STREISAND EFFECT!” through it until someone pokes you in the eye.

Network Rail: Officially late and crap

July 7th, 2014 6 Comments By Ian Wade

train Network Rail: Officially late and crapNetwork Rail has been fined more than £50 million!

The train’s regulator has chalked up the astronomical penalty of £53.1m for causing trains to run late, and now the Treasury plan to plough the money back into the railways to provide faster WiFi on commuter trains.

Because obviously, if your train is running late, you can at least piss about on the internet while you lose your mind.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has slapped a £53.1m fine on the track operator, the biggest it has yet levied for missing targets.

Almost one in six long-distance trains ran last year, nearly twice as many as permitted by the 92% punctuality target. More than one in 10 commuter trains in London and the south-east ran late, where the target was 93% running on time.

The ORR did praise Network Rail for much of its work in its review of how it spent the last five years’ budget, including its upgrade of the track and work to close unsafe level crossings, the regulator said the company “fell significantly short” in ensuring long-distance trains’ punctuality.

For its part, Network Rail has also pledged to spend an additional £25m to improve the resilience of the south-east commuter network.

The government said some of the fine would go towards improving WiFi, with track side equipment being put in place by Network Rail over the next three to four years to provide a much faster service, which should cost the company around £90m.

Revealed: the voice of the self-service tills

July 7th, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

helena breck Revealed: the voice of the self service tills As you pass your tins of beans and vacuum packed sandwiches over the beepy things, you’ve probably dimly wondered: ‘Who is the woman who does the voice on the supermarket self service tills?’

Is she a robot voice, developed in a lab by Tesco to hit the right soothing notes when she asks you whether you have a Clubcard for the 458,079th time? Or is it a real woman who once spent an afternoon in a sound booth trying to say ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ in a variety of emotionally resonant ways?

Well, wonder no more. The voice of the tills (not to be confused with Alan ‘Voice of the Balls’ Dedicoat) is actress Helena Breck. Early devotees of 80s Eastenders might know her as the long-suffering wife of panto yuppie villain Wilmott-Brown. She was also in Crown Court and Triangle.

And now she’s the voice of 10,000 tills. What a CV!

Ms Breck was chosen after till manufacturer NCR were looking for a ‘calming voice and approachable manner.’ But like any actress, she doesn’t want to be typecast. There’s more to her range than ‘Please scan your items’, ‘Do you have a Clubcard?’ and ‘Please indicate payment type.’ She can do bloody SHAKESPEARE, darling.

‘Out damn spot! Out of the bagging area, I say.’

l plate Superstitious learner drivers seem a bit mentalPeople learning to drive feel like they need all the luck they can get, which has made some of them weirdly superstitious.

And the AA Driving School has created a list of some of the more peculiar rituals for getting luck on test day, which are way beyond wearing lucky socks and such.

One student got her mother to crack an egg on each tyre before they took their test, which another complete lunatic spent the last lesson parking up and standing on drain covers every time they spotted them in pairs.

In the case of the latter, you might think they failed their test for being a complete nuisance on the road, but alas, both eggy wheels and drain coverist both passed their tests. Feel free to complain about the quality of driving these days, compared specifically to when you got your licence.

Learner driver Will Law, aged 17, is hoping it is his skill behind the wheel that gets him his licence: ”I’m not superstitious at all. I have never been. I could see why people would do those little things before their test because it’s quite nerve-wracking and intense I guess for many people.”

While Will Law sounds completely sane, his driving instructor believes in magic, specifically the kind of luck that is brought from a monkey toy. Mr Martin said: ”Monkey always sits in the back, and I always tell them monkey knows that they can pass and he is waiting for them to pass.”

“Other rituals I have is I always get them to book their test for the morning … usually 9.07am, sometimes 10.14am – whatever they feel comfortable with. If it works, it’s safe and you drive to the right specification to pass the test then you will pass whether it’s Friday the 13th, first thing on a Monday or last thing on a Friday.”

Other people have done things like wave at magpies while driving, while one lady insisted on wearing a t-shirt she wore when she gave birth to her daughter – hopefully it was washed.

So there you have it – Britain is filled with people who crack raw eggs on wheels, wear placenta covered t-shirts and believe in the power of toy monkeys. No wonder we’re doomed.

wages 300x199 Wages: Still favouring men, unsurprisinglyAccording to the Office for National Statistics, Men are rogues and all is still unfair in the wages war.

The report claims that Men apparently don’t reach the height of their salary until they are 50. As for women, they reach their height at 34, which is right there, not really very good news.

Combining the results for both sexes produced a hypothetical highest average wage age of 38 last year, according to an Office for National Statistics report.  The average overall income was £13.93 per hour.

Comparing and contrasting that with what it was like nearly 40 years ago, the highest average earnings for a female was 29, but they were paid the equivalent of £7.09 per hour.

A bright, thoughtful type has helpfully pointed out that it reflects the fact that many women work part-time after having kids, and so the gender gap reflects that.

For workers of almost every age, average real earnings were higher in 2009 than last year, the ONS says. We can look down and laugh at the hoodlums in their twenties as they only learned 12% less.

Good looking and thin they might be, but older people can afford hitmen to take them out. Like we said – this is a wage WAR.

Stewart James Wright 300x199 Man tries to carry stolen 42inch telly – on his bike If you’re going to walk into a house and steal a MAHOOOOSIVE telly, you’d better make sure there’s plenty of room in the car boot.

In fact, you’d better make sure you have a getaway car in the first place, rather than a.. er, push bike.

This didn’t occur to bungling burglar Stewart James Wright of Middlesborough, who decided to steal the TV from a student house after seeing a door was open.

Pleased with his quick thinking, he carried the enormous telly out of the door, but was stopped by police further up the road when he was spotted trying to balance the 42 inch beast on the handlebars.

It’s not the first time that this light-fingered klepto has stolen things and been caught. In fact, the raucous robber has been nicked for a grand total of 192 offences during his illustrious career, and has appeared in court 80 times.

He’d just completed a year in prison after a fed up judge had sentenced him with the immortal words: ‘the public needs a rest from your activities.’

Still, you’ve got to admire his chutzpah.

Skype redesigned for iPhone

July 3rd, 2014 4 Comments By Ian Wade

skype Skype redesigned for iPhoneSkype has had a redesign for its iPhone app.

The chatty visualisation joy of Skype, has introduced a new interface and has added a functionality that focuses on ‘user conversations and chat’.

The design is apparently a “total re-write and redesign of the app” according to Skype creative lead Jesse Boyce and  “takes inspiration from iOS7, Microsoft’s modern UI design language and Skype’s brand equity”

Brand equity‘ there.

This now includes photo sharing, and the ability to start a group chat.

The interface has been made simpler, features include Recents, Favourites and Finding people, users can receive IM messages offline, and they can see chats and chat history across devices.

Perfect for touring Northern comedians who like sexing people up behind their wife’s back when they’re feeling depressed in a Travelodge.

To show off the new Skype, Boyce created an ‘awareness film’ starring illustrator Kate Moross and Jamie Elliot of fabricators JAILmake who have collaborated by using Skype for iPhone to create a  Skype logo “to demonstrate the revamped product in a real world context” and “celebrate the handcrafted tech inherent in the product” he says, in a bid to spout as many branding-bollocks bingo keywords as possible.

There’s a film on a microsite and sits alongside demonstration clips. Photographer Kate Booker has captured stills and video footage of Kate Moross and Jamie Elliot “to extend the story and narrative across all creative assets” says Boyce.