Bebo is back and bonkers

December 19th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

bebo Bebo is back and bonkersBebo is back!

Yes, the social network that was a social network before the others, has returned. However it’s now all hashtag and avatar messaging.

It first launched in 2005, but went on to spend a few years in the internet wilderness.

In 2013, the original founders Michael and Xochi Birch bought Bebo back from investors for $1 million and have now brought it back in a completely different format: a smartphone messaging app, which launched this week.

The Bebo app is a messaging service along the lines of WhatsApp and Snapchat, but with a load of unique features.

Users now create their own avatar, which you can accessorise with various new hair and skintones, and it’s now all over the site like a rash. Bebo users can chat with connections riddled with hashtags, which then act as links firing off in all manner of games and tools.

The new Bebo is now available to download for free from all regular app vendors.

You can make your little avatar fart and do erotic dances as well as play a Flappy Bird clone, all through the use of hashtags. It looks absolutely mental.

We should’ve known it’d be a daft affair though – when Bebo announced it was relaunching, Michael Birch made a video with the usual tech-promo aspirational music, however, his had a load of drawings of penises in it.

ebay Middle aged men quite selfish on eBay after ChristmasMiddle-aged men don’t give a shit about anyone. That’s essentially the dimensions of a report released by eBay.

In January 2013, men between the ages of 45-54 Last January were behind 3.8 million searches for luxury items, the highest volume of consumer inquiries across the gender and age ranges.

Possibly rewarding themselves for managing to survive Christmas.

It also found that January and March both registered highs of self-gifting. Which is, frankly, a phrase that can be shot into space.

Phuong Nguyen, director of eBay Advertising UK, said: “Our latest Indulgence Barometer shows that high-end purchases aren’t restricted to Christmas; there are year-round opportunities for luxury brands to engage, and January presents a huge opportunity to grow share of wallet as shoppers stop buying for other people, and get ready to treat themselves.”

“Marketers need to make sure that they don’t blow the budget in December; ring-fencing spend for January, and adapting campaign messages to reflect the shift in shopper mind-set is key to cashing in on the January opportunity.”

An Indulgence Barometer! Have you heard such twaddle?!

Shoppers happy to buy wonky looking fruit

December 18th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

funny shaped vegetables Shoppers happy to buy wonky looking fruitWhat do you think of wonky fruit? No need to tell us because we’ve got some figures to share!

Mintel’s Fruit and Vegetables UK 2014 report (very exciting) found 48% of shoppers who bought fruit and veg, would be totally into buying disfigured root vegetables that resemble genitalia and moody looking fruit, if they looked edible enough.

56% of the researched believe that retailers should do a bit more to reduce the amount of food they waste, with 28% voicing concerns about the amount of fruit and veg that ends up scrapped.

Kiti Soininen, head of UK food, drink & foodservice Research at Mintel, said: “It is clear that consumers are open to ‘ugly’ produce, but where oddly shaped fruit and veg sits with mainstream offerings, it is at risk of going unchosen, even if subconsciously.”

“The fact half of consumers would buy good quality oddly shaped fruit and veg, and the recent focus on food waste and the grocers’ role in curbing it showed there was scope to actively use the non-standard quality of produce as a selling point”

“Prices come across as a real consideration for many and by positioning ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables as a tasty, low-cost option should help the grocers to reach this group.”

So, don’t turn that carrot away because it doesn’t conform to conditioned pre-conceptions of what beauty is, right? Yeah.

BT bring Sky Sports to YouView

December 17th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bt sky 300x150 BT bring Sky Sports to YouViewAre you a BT customer with a YouView set-top box? You are? Then behold, there’s some treats in store for you!

You’ll now be offered Sky Sports 1 and 2 on it, as some to-do that’s been wanging on for four years between rival pay-TV sorts, Ofcom and UK competition regulators has now been settled.

The two Sky sports channels will give BT’s YouView customers, who already have access to BT Sport, ESPN and the Eurosport channels, the option of adding an extended range of live Premier League football games.

Which is fantastic news if you like all of the sport, is it not?

BT reckon they’ll offer Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 for £22 a month or £16.50 a month for one or the other of the channels, allowing customers the flexibility to opt in and out of the Sky Sports channels with 30 days’ notice.

Delia Bushell, managing director of BT TV and BT Sport said:“The ability to bundle together great content on our most advanced set-top box will underpin our aim to sell BT TV to more of our broadband customers and to accelerate the number of our customers who take a triple-play bundle from us”.

Existing BT customers who already pay for Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 should be able to swap their Vision+ box for a YouView+ box for £35 at the end of their current contract, but only if they also take BT Infinity broadband.

According to the Sky website, existing Sky customers can currently add all seven Sky sports channels to their subscription for £24.50 per month. New Sky customers can opt for a bundle with sports for £35.25 per month for the first six months, rising to £46 each month after that.

Google News no longer a thing in Spain

December 16th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

Google News is no longer a thing in Spain, due to what the search engine reckons is a new law that would have required it to pay publishers for their content.

Google had previously said that the site was going to stop, to comply with the recent updates in Spanish law, and today the company confirmed that it was off.

googlenews 500x283 Google News no longer a thing in Spain

The post says: “We’re incredibly sad to announce that, due to recent changes in Spanish law, we have removed Spanish publishers from Google News and closed Google News in Spain.” (but in Spanish, obviously).

The new law actually comes into play on January 1st, and will now require search engines to cough-up for the rights to re-link snippets of news stories.

Basically, it’s the first sign of people giving Google what for, and should this take off, expect other countries to follow suit. Things could be about to get rather ugly.

Skype introduces Skype Translator

December 16th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

skype Skype introduces Skype TranslatorSkype have announced the launch of Skype Translator, which feels like something straight out of Star Trek.

Thanks to speech recognition software that can decode foreign tongues in real time, Skype Translator is now out there in the public. Roaming about.

There are up to 40 instant messaging languages to choose from, so you can get up to all manner of saucy talk from around the world now.

According to Skype’s corporate vice president, Gurdeep Pall: “Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets,” explained

“We are starting with English and Spanish and, as more people use the Skype Translator preview with these languages, the quality will continually improve. Our long-term goal for speech translation is to translate as many languages as possible on as many platforms as possible and deliver the best Skype Translator experience on each platform for our more than 300 million connected users,” added Pall.

Microsoft reckon it will open up all sorts of possibilities for the people of Earth, allowing them to connect without any fear of getting the wrong end of the stick in various languages.

Skype Translator is available RIGHT NOW. Do you want to see a video of it in action? What else have you got on?

All I want for Christmas is… a tax return?

December 16th, 2014 1 Comment By Thewlis

tax letter All I want for Christmas is... a tax return?What will you be doing over the festive season? Getting online for those early sale bargains? Pricing up how much you can flog those unwanted gifts for on eBay? If all else fails, actually talking to your relatives? Well, an estimated 23,000 of you will be doing something far less boring instead. You’ll be submitting your tax return.

Last year 23,059 people submitted their self-assessment returns between Christmas and Boxing Day. Admittedly, most of those returns were submitted on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, but there were still over 1,500 people with naff all better to do on Christmas Day than to complete their tax returns.

Of course, if you are sent a return form, or notification to complete a return, then you need to complete it, and around 9 million workers need to submit a self-assessment tax return. The paper deadline for submitting your return was 31 October, so your only option now is to use the online system.

But perhaps these folks aren’t just boring. Perhaps they are just so busy, holiday season is the only time they have to complete their returns. If so, they’d better hope they don’t need to call to ask anything about their return form, as chances are, they’d get cut off and be unable to speak to anyone. Or have to find an extra 40 minutes to wait on hold, according to Which!!! reports on the matter.

If you do still need to file your return for the 2013/14 tax year, you can still file online up to the 31 January deadline, and if you make a mistake, you can amend your return online before that date as well. You also don’t have to complete it all in one go- a bit like Christmas dinner you can do some of it on the day and save the fiddly bits for a curry later in the week as the system automatically saves your progress

BT to buy EE?

December 16th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bt logo BT to buy EE?As we’ve previously touched on, BT have money burning a hole in their pocket and they want to buy something with it, fast. The telco have entered exclusive talks with the owners of EE for a potential £12.5 billion deal.

If it goes ahead, it will give BT the top slot in mobile as well as fixed line services.

BT had been chatting with Telefonica over purchasing O2, however it seems things have moved on and BT now expects further negotiations with EE’s owners to take several weeks to reach a definitive agreement.

If it does happen, BT will pay for EE using half cash and half shares to make the 12.5 billion price tag. Deutsche Telekom will get a 12% stake in BT and the right to appoint one board member while France’s Orange will get more cash and only a 4% stake in BT.

Recent valuations have had EE last month at nearer £11 billion pounds, and O2 at £9.4 billion. However, combining the whole thing could face higher regulatory hurdles than a deal for Telefonica’s O2.

According to Deutsche Telekom’s chief executive Tim Hoettges: “If no significant obstacles arise in the due diligence process, it will pass quickly”.

BT have chipped in by saying that buying the UK’s biggest mobile network would allow it to give their customers seamless access to the internet via wi-fi and fibre broadband.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

zzzw Ofcom survey suggests EE   good, and BT   badIn some peculiar news, EE have been said to do quite well customer satisfaction-wise, according to Ofcom.

While not top, EE still scooped 69% satisfaction rate with customers with their services, whereas BT at the other end of the spectrum BT has been declared the worst.

This rum state of affairs is seemingly at odds with all what we know.

Ofcom’s – them again – latest customer satisfaction levels study, assessed customer satisfaction across the board for Pay TV, landline, Mobile, and Broadband – both fixed and mobile.

O2 were the victors of the survey, with a 78% positive reaction.

Ofcom said: “Overall customer service satisfaction scores for 3/Three, EE, O2, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone are all in line with the 2014 sector average and none of these providers’ overall scores significantly increased from 2013 (where comparable)”

Over on the landlines, Sky topped the survey with a 79% customer satisfaction rate, shading BT’s 40% complaint rate. Ofcom popped up at the fence again, shifted its bosoms and said: “BT’s overall satisfaction score (60%) was significantly lower than average. They also performed below average on specific customer service measures including speed and ease of getting through to the right person, time taken to handle issues and offering compensation or a goodwill payment”.

Amazon’s 1p cock-up causes mayhem

December 15th, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

amazoninstant Amazons 1p cock up causes mayhemA software error on Amazon’s website on Friday saw hundreds of things sold for literally 1p.

The error, which occured between 7pm and 8pm on Friday, could cost retailers – who use the tool RepricerExpress – thousands of pounds.

So what happened? Well, this software balls-up has seen hundreds of items sold for just 1p. The tool, which promises to “auto-optimise” prices on behalf of retailers, allowing them to “sell more and keep listings competitive 24/7 without constant attention”.

While those who spotted the glitch, ramraided the site for tat they didn’t necessarily need and wanged on about it on Twitter, the retailers being hit are mainly small companies, and family-run set-ups.

Well what did Brendan Doherty, the RepricerExpress CEO, have to say about the matter?: “I am truly sorry for the distress this has caused our customers. We have received communication that Amazon will not penalise sellers for this error. We are continuing to work to identify how this problem occurred and to put measures in place to ensure that it does not happen again.”

Amazon said the majority of orders were cancelled immediately and confirmed it would be working with sellers who had seen orders processed.

A spokesman for Amazon said: “We are aware that a number of Marketplace sellers listed incorrect prices for a short period of time as a result of the third party software they use to price their items on Amazon.co.uk.”

“We responded quickly and were able to cancel the vast majority of orders placed on these affected items immediately and no costs or fees will be incurred by sellers for these cancelled orders. We are now reviewing the small number of orders that were processed and will be reaching out to any affected sellers directly.”

UK trounces rest of World in online shopping

December 12th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

online shopping  UK trounces rest of World in online shoppingEveryone! We’re a nation of online shoppers! Praise be! That’s how much we hate human contact and actually walking down a street!

The UK spends around £2,000 online per head each year on average – it’s 50% more than the nearest rival Australia manages, and is down to broadband and our inability to get off our arses.

A higher use of debit and credit cards has also been cited as quite a key thing, according to a new report from Ofcom.

As a bonus, Ofcom also discovered two-fifths of advertising spending was now happening online – way more than in any other country.

Ofcom said the popularity of online commerce was boosted by widespread superfast broadband access in the UK, which is ahead of France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Nearly eight in 10 UK homes have access to broadband services that provide connection speeds of at least 30 megabytes per second.

Said Ed Richards. Ofcom’s chief executive: “The internet has never been more important to the lives of people in this country, and the demand for better connections keeps rising,”

“We are making significant progress in this area. However, we all acknowledge that there is more to do, and this will be the challenge for the coming years.”

Deathwatch: Orange Wednesdays

December 12th, 2014 5 Comments By Ian Wade

orange france smtp 300x300 Deathwatch: Orange WednesdaysOrange Wednesdays are on their way out. We predict mass rioting and people taking this very, very personally.

Yes, from February 2015, the popular cinema buy-one-get-one-free offer will cease to be after more than a decade.

EE announced the scrapping, but have said they’d replace it with another entertainment enticement, which they’ve yet to announce.

They’re also stopping their link-up with Pizza Express, the swines. It’s essentially the last hurrah for the Orange brand, now that they’ve been co-opted into EE.

An EE spokesperson said that Orange Wednesdays were no longer quite the thing: “Orange Wednesday launched over a decade ago and at its peak was a massive success. After 10 great years our brand has changed and our customers’ viewing habits have also evolved so it’s time to move on. The final credits will roll for Orange Wednesdays at the end of February 2015. We’re working on new customer entertainment rewards and we’ll provide more detail soon.”

There you go. Don’t cry. A solution will be with you shortly.

10540788 10153529670258018 6353096475413711141 n Deathwatch: Orange Wednesdays

google wallet All I want for Christmas is to be able to pay for it via a digital wallet claim shoppersQuite a few shoppers would have liked to have used near-field communications (NFC) solutions to pay for things this Christmas.

This is according to a new survey from Skrill who have nothing better to do and added that over a third of 2,000 consumers responded, saying that they’d be well into it.

As an eye-opening insight into consumer habits, 40% said that when they have a budget, they stick to it.

59% believed a prepaid card with a set limit would minimise the risk of going mental, while 8% admit to using a digital wallet. The perverts.

36% reckon using credit cards online was the most likely way of overspending, however 90% said they’d purchase at least one thing online this season, with 26% making between one and five.

Spiros Theodossiou, vice president of product strategy at Skrill threw some insight into these findings: “New technology such as prepaid cards and digital wallets are an ideal way to curb expenditure, as you can set a limit and then cut your cloth accordingly. Spending with new technology like this can help people to enjoy their Christmas and a debt-free January too.”

Mobile wallets are rapidly becoming a thing, with the Apple Pay solution linking up with several retailers when it was launched in September.

Heineken and Wetherspoons: it’s WAR

December 10th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Heineken 254x300 Heineken and Wetherspoons: its WARThe pub chain JD Wetherspoon has pulled Heineken products from its 926 in the UK after a bit of handbaggery over the supply to one pub in Ireland.

Wetherspoon reckoned Heineken had refused to supply, um, Heineken and Murphy’s Stout to its second Irish pub due to open in Dun Laoghaire.

(Is it an Irish theme pub in Ireland? Amazing).

Heineken was less than impressed that Wetherspoon’s first Irish pub were knocking out Heineken’s wares at 40% less than the competition. Whereas Wetherspoon claim Heineken requested its chief executive John Hutson give them personal guarantees to pay all the bills if the pub chain did not pay them.

So instead of doing away with the two ales in dispute, it’s now withdrawn all of Heineken’s wares such as Strongbow, John Smith’s and Fosters (so no great loss then).

In a statement released today, JD Wetherspoon said it is “no longer trading with a major supplier, Heineken, at any of its 926 pubs in the UK and Republic of Ireland”.

Tim Martin, Wetherspoon chairman, said: “We have been trading with Heineken for 35 years and they have never requested personal guarantees before. It’s obstructive to do so now, especially when we made record profits of around £80 million last year. The refusal to supply Heineken lager and Murphy’s just before the opening of our new pub in Dun Laoghaire, which represents an investment by us of nearly four million Euros,  is unacceptable and hard to understand.”

Heineken are probably meanwhile thinking “Oh yeah Christmas” and has said it was seeking a resolution “as soon as possible”.

In a statement the brewer said: “Heineken UK has had a long standing and successful relationship with JDW in the UK market over a 35-year period, and it is unfortunate that commercial issues in Ireland between Heineken Ireland and JD Wetherspoon have led to the current situation. We are seeking a resolution as soon as possible.”

For the love of Jesus.

sky Dont be fooled by Sky broadband for a tenner claimsSky are offering what they reckon is the lowest broadband price in the UK. For a measly £10 a month, you can get their superfast fibre broadband.

It also includes a 25GB usage cap and download speeds of up to 38Pbps and is currently being offered as an alternative solution to the company’s unlimited fibre affairs.

As with the bigger packages, subscribers will have the option to protect their devices with Sky’s Broadband Shield security product at no extra cost, and then still get a load of viruses on their computer any way.

Lyssa McGowan, Director of Sky Broadband, said: “We’re always looking to give customers even more reasons to choose Sky. Sky Fibre means we can now offer superfast speeds for just £10 a month – the lowest standard price in the UK. It’s perfect for those who want to try fibre for the first time.”

Of course, it isn’t really £10 per month as deals like this never are. That’s because there’s line rental which will costs you a further £16.40 per month. So the headline should read: “Get Sky broadband for £26.40 a month!” which isn’t nearly as alluring.

So, for example, you could get Virgin Media’s broadband-only package for £28.50 per month, which granted, is more expensive, but there’s no need for a phone line and there’s no download caps and faster speeds.