virgin media logo2 300x281 Virgin Media   still getting the hang of emailVirgin Media have had to apologise to customers after an email distribution list error.

Anyone pressing ‘reply all’ on a recent customer service email was sent out, was able to message everyone on the mailing list.

The email was sent to inform the company’s customers of new changes to Google services.

Soon many customers inboxes were filled with up to 700 emails, many of them spam or just customers having a bit of banter.

Virgin Media said the problem related to a “sub set” of its virgin.net email customers, but it did not know the precise number affected.

According to the BBC, Bob Alexander, 69, from Taunton, said he had suffered “a great deal of inconvenience and stress” after receiving more than 700 emails.

“I am a quadriplegic and to delete 700 emails from my Blackberry handset has taken me all evening.”

Naturally a Virgin Media bot was on hand to trot out the traditional “We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

The tools.

Glass war on the streets of San Francisco

April 15th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

google glass Glass war on the streets of San FranciscoGoogle Glass wearers are being attacked on the streets, according to CNN. And why not, you may ask, if someone is willing to waltz about with a grands worth of computer on their head?

It seems that where once before, you’d have your phone and you’d slip it in your bag or pocket and no one would be the wiser, going around with the device on your face is a bit more obvious.

Also, you’d be a bit narked if someone pointed a camera at you, so that narkiness would only exacerbate when someone wearing the Glass is staring at you, seeing as it has built-in video and web capabilities.

As only a few people have them at the moment, it is seen as a symbol of an affluent elite. They may as well be wearing fur or something, the ponces.

It’s starting to drive San Francisco a bit mad. Where once it was all bumming and car chases, Silicon Valley has encroached itself onto the city to drive the rents up and alter its character. Some people are obviously a bit ‘Glass War’ about this, and so spotting a poltroon wandering around with hi-tech gadgetery on their head has become something of a new sport. Even going as far as calling them Glassholes.

WE SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.

Most of the anti-tech attacks have focused on big-name companies such as Google and Twitter and the private bus systems that ferry their employees from the city to various corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley.

But individual employees are increasingly being targeted, with protesters picketing in front of the home of Kevin Rose, co-founder of Digg and now a partner with Google Ventures. The protesters claimed his group, which helps Google decide which start-ups to invest money in, has helped to inflate prices in the city.

America eh? Still, hold tight UK. We’ve got it all to come.

green houses 300x225 Low and middle income Londoners need to earn £50k to get in on shared ownership scheme?Remember the good old days when things other than creosote did exactly what it said on the tin? The latest Mayor of London scheme to help the little people on to the property ladder is under fire from critics who claim that the very people the scheme has been set up to benefit are being excluding from taking part.

The London scheme is run by First Steps and offers those unable to afford a whole property in the capital (which is pretty much everyone who isn’t a Russian oligarch) the chance to buy a slice of a property, to (potentially) reduce their monthly outgoings and to benefit from any increase in property values. However, in practice, it seems that many of the properties are still dangling just out of reach of the average nurse, teacher or policeman the scheme was designed to look out for.

Take the case of Joanne Pearson. The 36 year old nurse profiled in the Guardian lives Southwark, south London, and earns around £26,500. She had hoped to buy a 25% share in a one-bed flat but has been disappointed by the First Steps offering: “Many of the one-bedroom flats advertised on the website require an income of above £50,000 a year, while for others you must earn above £33,000,” she says. “I wonder how many nurses, teachers or other workers on low or modest incomes actually earn £50,000?” Under current NHS bandings nurses earn between £21,388 and £34,530, although there is a London weighting added as appropriate.

Ms Pearson also claims that the mortgage payments would be cheaper than the £1,000 rent she is currently paying. She is not a happy bunny. “As a person who provides an essential public service, I feel disheartened and let down that I’m locked out of this scheme.” A report by Green party member of the London Assembly, Darren Johnson, found that the average minimum income required (where this was stated by housing associations) through First Steps was £38,452.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said that, of the 50,000 low and middle-income Londoners buying their own home through First Steps, “some” are on salaries of around £25,000 a year, with the average household income of those accessing the scheme at £33,000. However, with “affordable” properties on the site reaching as much as £712,000 (Blandford Street, Marylebone), and requiring an income of £128,000, perhaps the mayor’s office is just a little out of touch…

Customer fines Npower £50 for ineptitude

April 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Thewlis

npowerlate 220x300 Customer fines Npower £50 for ineptitudeYou know how it is when a service provider provides a bad service and you just wish you could fine them, or charge them for your wasted time trying to sort out their  incompetence? Well that’s exactly what one man has done, after getting increasingly frustrated with Npower’s apparent inability to refund his credit balance after he switched supplier.

Dave Clark, was not only sick of not finding a cheque on his doormat every morning, but was also getting more and more peeved at receiving final demand letters from Npower, when it was they who owed him money since the previous November.

So he decided to respond in kind. He wrote and emailed npower using the language from their demands, culminating in the issue of a final demand  (complete with obligatory red capital letters) which included a £50 fine on top of the £137.41 he had overpaid. And Npower not only paid it, they apologised.

Mr Clark, who outlined the whole sorry process on his website, said: “I’m satisfied. The regulator should be looking into the days and weeks it takes to pay someone’s money back and if the likes of Npower persistently refuse to give money back straight away they should be fined heavily.

“They’re very quick to bill the rest of us so perhaps if we all hit them with charges they would realise they need to improve service.”

Guy Esnouf, director of external communications at Npower said: “We are very sorry. Where we know we’ve caused inconvenience we’ll look to a goodwill gesture because we don’t want to cause our customers inconvenience.”

Mr Esnouf added: “We said in December we are having system problems. We are making good progress, but we made it clear we wanted to improve, we are trying to improve and we are.”

So surely now everyone else to whom Npower owe money can expect a nice windfall and better service…

Charge your phone in 30 seconds!

April 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zzzw2 300x216 Charge your phone in 30 seconds!Smartphone battery life – it’s a bugger isn’t it? One minute you’re all charged up and on fire. The next your entire world is about to collapse.

Well, it looks like that will soon be a thing of the past, as a company named StoreDot has created a prototype battery charger, which they reckon will be bring charging time down to 30 seconds.

30 SECONDS. Amazing.

The company, which hailed from the nanotechnology department at Tel Aviv University, has developed its prototype for the Samsung Galaxy S4, and has plans to adapt the technology to other phones.

The prototype still involves a charging device, the main change is the battery itself.

StoreDot has been developing biological semiconductors, made from naturally occurring compounds called peptides – a compound created by two or more linked amino acids – which is used in the battery to reduce charging time.

The technology was unveiled at Microsoft’s Think Next conference in Tel Aviv, and while the prototype is bulky, the makers say it plans to create a smaller version of it before it’s commercially produced.

However there’s still going to be something of a wait, as the makers plan to go into production in late 2016, with no actual confirmed date for when the product will be released.

Still, the future eh? Looks like it’s going to happen at some point! Hurrah!

House of Lords want BOGOFs to bog off?

April 7th, 2014 1 Comment By Thewlis

bogof 300x209 House of Lords want BOGOFs to bog off?Some say politicians live in ivory towers, divorced from the real life the rest of us have to face, and perhaps none more so than those unelected bods in the House of Lords. Not that that stops them meddling in the lives of the little people, and the latest tirade to emerge from the maroon benches is denigrating supermarket offers.

Specifically, the House of Lords European Union Committee is particularly dismayed by the ever-popular BOGOF offers, claiming that, rather than saving shoppers money, these bargains just lead to excess food waste.

Committee chair Baroness Scott of Needham Market described it as ‘morally repugnant’ that at least 90million tonnes of food were dumped each year in the EU, including 15million in Britain.

“We are calling on the new European Commission, which will be appointed in November this year, to publish a five-year strategy for reducing food waste across the EU, and to do so within six months of taking office,” she said.

“We are urging supermarkets to look again at offers such as ‘buy one get one free’, which can encourage excess consumption, which leads to food waste.”

She also suggests “tax incentives” might be employed in order to “encourage” supermarkets to ensure unsaleable food goes for actual human consumption, such as through food banks.

So is this the beginning of the end for BOGOFs? And how will it impact on your pocket? Or is the committee right, and it will just make your wheelie bin lighter?

legoman 300x287 Fastest way to improve an advert? Make it out of Lego.Some people have too much time on their hands- some lucky sorts at YouGov have been busy playing with toys doing important research work into how to improve adverts. They have recreated four recent adverts using Lego characters to see whether this improves the ad. No- brainer, surely?

The four companies involved were BT, Confused.com, Premier Inn and the British Heart Foundation. And yes, you have seen the BHF ad- the one with Vinnie Jones doing CPR to the Bee Gees.

Respondents were hugely positive about the Lego ads, with around 60% saying they stood out and were more memorable than usual ads. A massive 73% declared that more brands should think of creative ways to advertise. In all cases, using Lego minifigures improved brand sentiment towards the ad. For example, when considering the BHF ad, 15% of respondents said the original ad made them feel a lot more positive about the brand but this more than doubled to 33% when considering the Lego ad.

The BHF ad was most popular overall, in both original and Lego versions, but the original showed better recall among respondents, with 86% for the original and 32% for the Lego one. The Premier Inn advert came second, showing what YouGov describe as “the impact of celebrities.” Vinnie Jones we’ll give you, but does Lenny Henry really still count as a celebrity?

But while we might enjoy Lego ads, and appreciate the creativity, it’s still not the answer to the Holy Grail of social media marketing. When asked whether they would share the Lego ad on social media, hoping for the next big viral Thing, results were emphatically inconclusive. Almost the same proportions said they would (34%) or would not (31%) share the ad, and the other 35% shrugged and said they had no strong feelings on the matter.

Still, perhaps if Paddy Power had used a Lego figure everything would have been different

Motorola are about to properly launch their new smart watch. The Moto 360 is a round smart watch running on Android Wear and they’re very excited about the shape of it because watches are supposed to be circular, not square, right?

According to the company, the 360 will allow you to see alerts with a twist of the wrist, which sounds all very modern doesn’t it? Not great it you’re making a cup of tea or giving someone the Vs.

Other than a video about feelings, there’s not an awful lot more information about the 360 so far, except that it will be available to buy this Summer.

If it’s cheaper than Apple’s planned wearable technology, expect to see this being worn solely by social media executives who use it to send messages to their mums, asking to borrow money for the rent.

A rum old do: Bacardi has a redesign

March 18th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bacardi has a had a redesign. The rum-making behemoth has had an identity refresh courtesy of Here Design.

The famous bat – the brand’s symbol since 1862 – has been slightly reconfigured too. It was introduced when Bacardi Maso’s wife saw a colony of fruit bats in the distillery.

zzzzF A rum old do: Bacardi has a redesign

Bats are symbols of good luck in Spain and Cuba. Bats! So when the symbol was introduced, a lot of Cubans who couldn’t read or write, were able to know what they were drinking courtesy of the trusty Bat signal.

Here Design were asked by the Bacardi family to work on new branding, and once they started to research it, they realised its extraordinary story.

Bacardi Masso founded Bacardi around events including an earthquake in Cuba, a cholera outbreak that killed his son Juan and daughter Maria, and the exile of his son Emilio Bacardi Moreau, a ‘freedom fighter, politician and philanthropist’, according to Bacardi rum. This forced the brand out of Cuba, and its Puerto Rican plant became its main production house.

The refreshed branding forms part of a wider campaign launching this month, centred on the ‘Bacardi – untameable since 1862’ message.

Bats!

Berlin. It’s the home of baseball isn’t it. It isn’t?

Well, according to German Amazon.de listings for ‘Bondage Fetish Mega Dildos‘, they’ve certainly found a home for baseball. Or at least the Basballschlägel (baseball bat – German Ed) any road. And that home is up the arse.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZmissy elliot Baseball bats   now sex toys according to Amazon

For 25.95 Euros, you can get The Berlin Slugger, or perhaps the more hygienic among you may prefer the aluminium elegance of The Weisendorf Wanger for 34.95 Euros. Oooh! Choices!

The company listed as the supplier of these items is called FEIHOFF Sarl, and a brief gander at their other wares suggest various levels of unsavouriness, such as the sex toys based on dogs, horses, and, um, whales.

Whatever next, eh? (Actually don’t answer that, we’re scared). Now, a singalong if you know the words!

Nimm mich mit zum Ballspiel! Nehmen Sie mich mit der Menge! 
Kaufen Sie mir ein paar Erdnüsse und Crackerjacks!
Es ist mir egal, wenn ich nie wieder!
Lassen Sie mich root! root! root!
Für die Heimmannschaft! Wenn sie nicht gewinnen, es ist eine Schande,
Aahh, Denn es ist eines, zwei, drei Treffer sind Sie aus
An der alten Ballspiel!

One of the weirder fashion trends that has cropped up over the years is the advent of the ‘thigh-gap’, where women want a triangular void between their legs, whether their skeleton allows it or not.

Of course, a lot of fashion brands have noticed this and Target decided they wanted in too with their Xhilaration Junior’s Midkini 2-piece leopard print swimsuit.

target 478x500 Target achieve thigh gap by genital butchering

Now, whether you should be advising young women (hence the ‘junior’ bit of the description) to go for a thigh-gap is one thing. However, if you look at the close up, Target’s idea of achieving a thigh-gap is quite peculiar. It seems, ladies, if you want one for yourself, you must erase your under-gusset up to somewhere in the region of your pubis.

Photoshop disaster, 101.

Moneysupermarket to start trading in YOU

March 5th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zzzzfd1 300x180 Moneysupermarket to start trading in YOU

If you think you weren’t being exploited enough by advertisers, think again.

Moneysupermarket.com are hoping to develop a new revenue stream worth millions, by selling consumer data from approximately a third of the UK.

Advertisers will have access to a wealth of personal data, if these plans go ahead. Moneysupermarket revealed that their financial growth over the next 12 months would be driven by the exploitation of the company’s data and users.

“The data asset in Moneysupermarket is a real foundation for growth,” said Peter Plumb, chief executive. “I don’t think there’s any other business out there that has the breadth and depth of quote data that we have.”

The company, whose revenue passed £225 million in 2013, expect that they can rake in around £10 million from this, but stress that it wants to offer trend data rather than sell off individual customer data.

Now throw your internet into the sea.  We’re all for sale basically.

River Island stay classy

March 4th, 2014 4 Comments By Ian Wade

River Island have brought out a t-shirt with the word ‘Homeless’ on it.

The clothing chain, favoured mostly by those wanting a step-up from Primark, have been quietly selling the item on their website for a little while for a not entirely unreasonable £16.

zzzzzzz2 500x500 River Island stay classy

The website reckons it will “Give your day a quirky talking point in this black and white “homeless New York City” print t-shirt”.

“We plan to give some of the proceeds of sales to homeless charities rather than making a LOL out of people less fortunate than ourselves” would be a better tagline.

Be who you wanna be on Facebook

February 14th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zxzxzxz1 300x300 Be who you wanna be on FacebookFacebook has added a host of gender identities, alongside the old school male and female.

Facebookers in the US can now select ‘other’ in the new settings and choose one from up to 50 genders to be displayed on their profile page. Among these terms are cisgender, transgender, intersex, androgynous, bi-gender and gender fluid.

There’s also the option of them being able to choose their preferred pronoun, such as he/ his and she/her, and Facebook will tailor their prompts and messages to suit.

Also as part of the move, Facebook is making it possible for users to choose who can see their gender and who cannot.

“When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organisations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self,” the social network wrote on its Facebook Diversity page. “An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just ‘male’ or ‘female’.”

And in a nice “Yeah!” touch, they’ve even hung some lovely flags at their Californian headquarters.