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.

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…

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.

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.

like 300x168 Which!!! fraudster is using your Facebook to obtain false credit cards in your name...Social media is supposed to be fun. Ish. A way to connect with childhood sweethearts and a means for potential employers to decide whether you are the right fit for their company before they hire you. But now Which!!! have found a new, less amusing use for your Facebook profile- a way to get a free credit card.

As an experiment, and using volunteers, Which!!! mined some personal details from Facebook, and then used this information to cross check to other publicly available records, like telephone directories and electoral roll details. Which!!! then used these details to apply for three credit cards who do not require bank account details on an application (as presumably even the most muppety Facebook muppet wouldn’t post their bank account number on Facebook). While the applications with Santander and Nationwide ultimately proved fruitless, it seems it is possible to get a Capital One credit card in someone else’s name relatively easily.

Now, the application did require the correct home address for the person whose name was being used, but apparently this is a minor setback that is relatively easy to solve. Cifas, the UK’s card fraud prevention service, said so-called ‘current address fraud’ accounted for 75% of identity frauds recorded between January and August of this year. Typically, fraudsters target victims who live in blocks of flats where post can be nicked from a communal area, or apply for a credit card while the victim is on holiday (because you’ve been boasting about that upcoming trip ALL over Facebook), making it easier to surreptitiously retrieve the card.

Another sticking point could be your date of birth, and some silly folks still have their full date of birth showing on their ‘about’ tab. However, even if you don’t have this information showing, Facebook helpfully tells all your friends when your birthday is, so that they can write all over your wall, notifying potential identity swindlers of the date. And all you have to then is complain about being “30 next year” or something and they’ve got the year too.

The three card companies Which!!! identified told us they take credit card fraud and online security very seriously and each has various sophisticated measures and checks to prevent fraudulent applications and to verify each applicant’s identity. And to be fair to Santander and Nationwide, their measures seemed to work.

However, Capital One, the one whose checks failed to spot a fraudulent application, told Which!!! without a trace of irony that it “leads the industry both in preventing fraud and in assisting the victims of fraud” but that it advises customers to protect their data and to restrict access to their profiles on social media sites.

Which!!! do have further guidance about how to protect yourself on social media, which includes never mentioning your birthday, and never telling anyone where you are or where you’ve been, and by protecting your tweets so only 17 people can read them. Which all seems to kind of defeat the purpose of social media really…

KFC launches the heart attack snack

October 24th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Well hello coronary and cheerio clean arteries as KFC Korea have just unleashed a bit of a beast.

Their Zinger Double Down King – which sounds a bit like a name for a mattress – takes no prisoners with two piece of fried chicken sandwiching a bacon cheeseburger.

LOOK AT IT.

zinger 429x500 KFC launches the heart attack snack

It contains 750 calories. Just as a comparison, a Big Mac from McDonald’s is about 550 calories and that’s lower than some sarnies from Pret.

There’s no news as to when – or if – it hits the UK, but it’s slightly more welcome than Ebola, and if you’ve gotta die of one or the other, we know which way we’d go.

Failing that, you could always go to Korea.

Dyson unveil a humidifier for mad people

October 22nd, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

dyson humidifier 114x300 Dyson unveil a humidifier for mad peopleDyson have unveiled a humidifier!

The until-now-quite-hoovery Dyson has launched the HumiMain (which doesn’t sound particularly catchy, but give it time) which uses its Air Multiplier fan technology and claims to tackle health issues around dry air and bacteria.

It’s not the first time the company have used this design, as they originally brought out the bladeless Air Multiplier fan in 2009. In 2011 it updated the fan as a heater and is now launching the technology as a humidifier.

And so they should, seeing as they’ve thrown £37.5 million at the project, and went through 643 protoypes.

Apparently the humidifier uses Ultraviolet cleansing technology to kill 99.9% of bacteria used in the product’s water. Do we really want that much bacteria killing? Either way, great news for nutters out there who feel like they’re being swamped by micro-bugs.

There’s a climate control system to measure the temperature and moisture in the air, while a fancy-sounding piezoelectric transducer in the base vibrates at up to 1.7 million times a second – breaking the water down into microscopic particles which are drawn up into the loop amplifier and projected.

According to Dyson, the machine can run for up to 18 hours on a single tank of water: “It projects clean, hydrated air around the room evenly and quietly. Helping you keep healthy in the winter, and doubling up as a fan to keep you cool in the summer.”

It’s being launched in Japan first, as they have a culture of humidifiers, and will be launched in the UK next March. Perfect for summer, if you’re a lunatic.

The car seat that detects heart attacks

October 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

old driver car The car seat that detects heart attacksAll hail the car seat that detects heart attacks! The motor company Ford has unveiled a car seat that can detect when the driver is having a heart attack, therefore allowing the vehicle to come to a safe stop.

Heart attacks are clearly a thing in Fords, so this is an issue that obviously needs sorting.

Using ‘electrocardiograph’ (heart-monitoring) sensors in the seats to detect an irregular heartbeat, combined with an in-car camera that detects when the driver slumps in his seat, the car can activate automated steering and braking systems to bring the car to a stop safely when there’s a problem.

It can then ring the emergency services for you if you’re so inclined. Or not, if you’d prefer to simply perish in your automobile.

Ford’s Research Centre director, the splendidly named Pim van der Jagt, told the FT that the technology is developed for when “100-year olds driving cars will not be abnormal in the future. About 30% of people above 65 have some kind of heart irregularity. And with the number of older car buyers set to rise dramatically this is an area of concern.”

Ford is yet to reveal when exactly this technology can be made available, as there’s no actual date of release yet, but Mr van der Jagt believes it will be in all new models within the next few years.

Frozen food is uncool say the young

October 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Frosty Freezer 300x225 Frozen food is uncool say the youngYoung people don’t dig frozen food.

Or so that’s what a new survey claims, as it discovered that 18-34 year olds were twice as likely to dislike food stored in the freezer than those codgers over 35.

These fascinating findings come from IGD ShoperVista, who surveyed over 4,000 UK adults about their food storage solutions.

It transpires that many of the younger age group only used the freezer to store meat with a close use-by date and “unwanted food gifts”. Many considered food in their freezer an “insurance policy” for when no better options are available, and keep fun stuff like poppers and six-box of Magnums in their freezer instead.

Despite not being fans of frozen food, a quarter of 18-34-year-olds feel they have insufficient room in the freezer. Only 14% of over-35s also felt this to be an issue. Over half of those questioned in both age groups, said that they used their freezer for frozen food rather than freezing home cooked leftovers.

Yet it seems for the younger group, which represented only those who live away from home and do not have children, whatever is in their freezer is gash. Also: defrosting is a bit of a drag.

It all may sound a bit bleedin’ pointless, but this information comes as part of the IGD’s ‘Working On Waste’ campaign, which is trying to tackle these issues and change modern attitudes to leftovers and leaving something in the freezer for the best part of five years.

IGD chief executive, Joanne Denney-Finch says: “In its first year, Working on Waste will reach around 650,000 employees in one month through meal planning advice, top tips, what to do with leftovers and much more,”

“As an industry, we employ 3.6 million people and it is these employees that will form the bedrock of our campaign, taking learnings from their company into their households. A lot of progress has been made already by companies across the industry to help consumers reduce household food waste. However, seven million tonnes of food and drink is still being thrown away by UK homes every year.”

KimJongIlTeapot 225x300 Sometimes cheapest is best. Top teas tested by Which!!!Most people don’t get paid to have afternoon tea, but for four lucky Which!!! experts, that’s exactly what happened*. Which!!!’s latest service to the UK consumer population is a test on the best teabags- with price not necessarily equalling quality in the tea stakes, as some of the cheapest teas proved most popular with the panel.

The panel of four experts blind tasted the teas in different orders, with and without milk. Each tea was scored on appearance, aroma, taste, body/strength and aftertaste. Standard bags were brewed for three minutes and all teas had exactly the same amount of milk and water added. They tested 19 English breakfast and 17 Earl Grey teas, so if you don’t drink either of those teas you are stuffed. Nevertheless Which!!! found that:

Top of the teas in the English Breakfast league were two supermarket own-brand ranges, with Morrisons M English Breakfast and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference English Breakfast (Fairtrade) being awarded the joint highest score of 80%. Both teas were praised by the tea experts for their classic full-bodied flavour even despite their bottom-dollar cost of 2p and 3p a bag respectively. The cheapest teas all came in at around 2p per bag, but Morrisons was the runaway leader at this price point.

Posh cuppa Whittard English Breakfast Tag & Envelope came bottom of the English Breakfast standard tea bags, with a measly score of 50%, despite being joint most expensive  English breakfast tea (with Fortnum and Mason) at 15p per bag . One expert described the tea as tasting “like old cabbage”. Well we all could have done that.

ebtea 500x287 Sometimes cheapest is best. Top teas tested by Which!!!

For the snooty Earl Grey tea drinkers, they might be surprised to learn that Aldi Diplomat topped the taste test for Earl Grey standard tea bags with a score of 78%, for its well-balanced, warm, citrus flavour, another bargain at only 2p per bag. Duchy Originals from Waitrose had the lowest score of 38%, and costs 8p per bag. Aldi bags were the cheapest and Whittard and Fortnum and Mason were again the most expensive, scoring 63% and 58% respectively.egtea 500x298 Sometimes cheapest is best. Top teas tested by Which!!!

Separately, Which!!! also tested premium mesh pyramid tea bags for both English breakfast and Earl Grey. However, these bags are considerably more expensive at around 30p per bag and the best performing ones did only slightly better than the other teas we tested. So we haven’t bothered with those results.

Which!!! newcomer, the inscrutable Richard Headland, said: “Our taste test revealed a big difference in the quality of English Breakfast and Earl Grey teas.  With some of the best teas costing just a few pence per bag, and supermarket own-brands beating luxury brands, it shows you don’t need to spend a lot to get a great cup of tea.” Unless you are buying it from an over-priced coffee house, one assumes…

*we don’t actually know that they got paid. But we bet they did. How do you become a tea expert in a land of dedicated tea-drinkers anyway?

Amazon and Royal Mail in job bonanza

October 21st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Royal Mail Amazon and Royal Mail in job bonanzaJobs ahoy, as Amazon and Royal Mail have announced they’re creating 32,000 of them for the festive season.

Amazon plan to get in an extra 13,000 people to help at their eight distribution centres, as well as looking to employ another 1,000 permanent staff.

The Royal Mail is scoping for 19,000 Christmas workers to help with the additional onslaught that this time of year brings, with contracts from November to January.

Amazon reckon that on their busiest day last Christmas, they had orders for over 4.1 million items – working out at roughly 47 things per second. So yes. Some extra staff might be quite helpful there.

John Tagawa, director of UK operations at the Amazon, said: “The thousands of seasonal associates who join us at this time of year play an integral role in helping us deliver an exceptional experience for our customers during this incredibly busy time.”

“We’re excited to be creating 13,000 seasonal jobs, hundreds of which will lead to permanent, full-time positions.”

“We have created more than 2,000 new permanent roles at our fulfilment centres in the last two years, taking our total permanent fulfilment and customer service centre workforce to over 6,000 employees.”

‘Seasonal associates’. Honestly.

McDonald’s in your facebook

October 20th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

mcdonalds logo McDonalds in your facebookMcDonald’s are to launch 14,500 Facebook pages by the end of 2014, just in case they were omnipresent enough in your life.

This is part of a drive to get every US branch connected to its customers via social media.

While there’s no date of when the UK end plan on doing it, the move will make the burger empire the biggest brand on Facebook.

It will also allow branches to engage directly with problems that customers might have. They’ll probably start wishing you Happy Birthday and butting in on your posts too.

At the moment, in the UK social media consists of bitching about McDonald’s UK and then getting redirected to the branch in question and, should you still be feeling arsed, email the manager directly.

McDonald’s has already rolled out 7,000 pages so far, with a further 7,500 to follow by the end of the year. It will also launch Twitter accounts for individual restaurants.

In a bid to talk the most gunk about a thing ever, David Martinelli, US digital marketing manager at McDonald’s, said the goal was to speak to customers in “real time”.

“Fourteen thousand five hundred pages – we know that’s a lot of pages to get up and running, but we know the customer’s journey doesn’t end at the restaurant. We wanted to connect to them in the place they’re at and deliver that relevant content. It’s important to be part of the conversation and really understand what’s being said, and then join the conversation.”

“We have hundreds of stakeholders that are playing role in launch of this and it’s been a journey bringing them along with us to fully understand the impact on the business.”

He’s said ‘journey’ twice, like he’s on X Factor or something. McDonald’s US will support the new pages with paid ads at a local level, plus activity on other social media outlets.

So grabbing a cheeky Big Mac when you’ve been on the pop is a ‘journey’ now. Fancy that!

Iceland unveil the £5 lobster

October 20th, 2014 4 Comments By Ian Wade

lobster Iceland unveil the £5 lobsterPeter Andre isn’t the only orangey red thing Iceland are throwing at you this season.

The frozen food giant is going to offering a cooked whole lobster for a fiver as part of the Christmas line-up.

Coming ‘atcha from November 5th, it’s the first time the prawn-ring and 89p pizza vendor has offered whole lobster.

Lobster has been on sale in the past at Waitrose (for a sinister £6.66), Tesco and Ocado, but this is the cheapest the high street has seen.

Iceland will also be offering what it reckons is the “best value turkey dinner in Britain”, whose chief component is a turkey crown for 12 priced at £14.

Iceland proudly claim a family of eight could buy a full turkey dinner, with starter and pudding, for £29.39, or £3.67 per head.

Iceland themselves aren’t doing too badly either, seeing as they’ve essentially been doing the cost-cutting thing for years, that Aldi and Lidl are now being praised for. Hurrah!

Facebook to save your life

October 17th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook to save your lifeFacebook are bringing out a new feature that will tell people that you’re okay during a disaster.

While nobody likes to think about such things, increasingly, social media is keyed into every element of modern life, so a move like this is fairly inevitable.

Plus, like, the world is in a bit of pickle innit?

Called Safety Check, the service lets you input whether you are safe or not in the affected area. That, of course, is down to things like your situation not being one where there’s a bomb that wipes out communication or something like that.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced ‘Safety Check’ while in Japan, where they’ve had their unfair share of natural disasters.

If Facebook notices that you are using a device in an affected area during a natural disaster like an earthquake, it will ask: ‘Are you safe?’ Presuming you’re emotionally stable enough to be checking your phone and not crying at the sky, you can confirm or deny.

Location is determined by the city listed in your profile, and your last location if you use the ‘Nearby Friends’ thing or the city where you are using the internet. It can be used around the world on Android, iOS and on computers.

The company says that this development came about from the Disaster Message Board that was created by Facebook after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Naomi Gleit, vice president of product management at Facebook, said:  “Unfortunately, these kinds of disasters happen all too frequently. Each time, we see people, relief organisations and first responders turn to Facebook in the aftermath of a major natural disaster.”

“If you’re ever in a situation that would require you to use Safety Check, we hope it’s a tool that helps you stay connected to those you care about, and gives you the comfort of knowing your loved ones are safe.”

Deathwatch: Mulberry post a profit warning

October 15th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

mulberry 300x156 Deathwatch: Mulberry post a profit warningSnoot handbag peddlers Mulberry have posted a profit warning. The luxury brand has been suffering somewhat after a drop in sales.

Fortunately, in one of those ‘it only makes sense in fashion’ situations, the company hopes it will be saved by a handbag designed by model Cara Delevingne

The company previously revived itself when it launched the Alexa bag, which is based on the TV presenter Alexa Chung. Alan Hansen is on telly more than her though, and no one wants his bleedin’ handbag.

Mulberry’s former designer Emma Hill called the Alexa ‘the anti-It bag that became an It bag’ – and it became so popular that it once had a waiting list that ran into thousands and accounted for a third of Mulberry’s sales.

It’s enough to make you want to strap explosives on to your body.

But Mulberry has since struggled to come up with another hit on the same scale – with the launch of its Willow Tote and other designs failing to capture womens’ imaginations. It is now valued at just £340million.

The bad news sent shares to a four-year low at one point yesterday, wiping 17per cent off the value of the Somerset-firm. 17% was wiped off the swanky company’s value after the departure of creative director Emma Hill, who was widely credited for the success of the Alexa satchel.

It has since launched a range of cheaper styles and has been trying to replicate its success with Miss Chung by contributing with model of the moment Cara Delevingne this autumn.

Executive chairman Godfrey Davis said: “As expected the first half has been difficult. Profit before tax… is expected to be significantly below current expectations. Despite the current challenges I remain confident that we build on Mulberry’s solid foundations.”

As a lure to attract the genuinely quite thick, at £795, there is a Mini Cara Delevingne Bag in black natural leather and this rises to the top end large Cara Delevingne Bag in Black & White Camouflage at £2,500.

Potential deathwatch on our hands here, so we’ll keep our eyes on them.