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.

Dropbox: nearly seven million accounts hacked

October 14th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Dropbox Logo 580 75 300x168 Dropbox: nearly seven million accounts hackedNearly seven million Dropbox accounts have been hacked.

The latest in the long line of unending hackery was spotted after hackers were able to get at logins and passwords via a third party affair.

Hackers leaked 400 accounts onto site Pastebin, claiming to make the remaining 6.9 million hacked accounts available to users in return for Bitcoin donations, according to The Next Web.

The post threatened that 6.9 million Dropbox accounts had been hacked, including photos, videos and other files.

Obviously Dropbox don’t want to be seen as quite so vulnerable and so dismissed it, claiming: “These usernames and passwords were unfortunately stolen from other services and used in attempts to log in to Dropbox accounts.

“We’d previously detected these attacks and the vast majority of the passwords posted have been expired for some time now. All other remaining passwords have been expired as well.”

Dropbox reckon that the service consistently expiries passwords for accounts that are being attacked, but could not provide a number of accounts that expired recently.

The news comes as wasteman Edward Snowden claims individuals who care about their privacy should “get rid of Dropbox”, counting it among the services that are “hostile to privacy.”

Either way, Dropbox should change their company logo from ‘your stuff, anywhere’, to ‘your stuff, bloody everywhere’.

telephone operator The best (and cheapest) ways to call directory enquiriesRemember the halcyon days of 192? Not the cheesy stalking website 192.com, but the single directory enquiries service run by BT until the market was deregulated in 2003.

Of course, the reason the number was deregulated was to prevent BT’s monopoly of the service, with the introduction of competition clearly enabling a reduction in the call costs. In 2003, a call to 192 cost 40p. Now calls to directory enquiries can cost as much as £5 per minute. Good job deregulators.

The market is, however, still monopolised, with 118 118 (run by The Number UK) and 118 500 (run by BT) taking over 80% of the market share, despite there being hundreds of alternative providers. The Number UK has just released figures showing a healthy £70.9m pre-tax profit, despite falling customer numbers/turnover, with an estimated cost of £2.61 for a 45-second call to the company. That’s still an awful lot of calls to what is classed as a premium-rate number. Surely there is a better way?

If you are at home/at work in easy reach of a computer, the cheapest way would normally be to use an internet search instead of calling someone to do exactly that for you. However, assuming you can’t, for whatever reason, access or use a computer, one better way would be to get the number for free, and if you are on a landline (prices quoted here are for BT landlines) there are some free and lower cost alternatives. The best offering comes from, surprisingly, the company behind 118 118 itself. If you call 0800 118 3733 (that’s 118 FREE for those of you with alphabetic number pads), you can get an automated directory enquiry service for free. This isn’t for people in a hurry though, as you have to listen to adverts, and jump through recorded message hoops before you get your number, but it is a viable alternative.

The other 118 numbers can, and seemingly do, change their rate frequently, so, for example, a 2010 best buy table is not going to be accurate any more. And with so many number fighting over just 20% of  a shrinking market, many numbers simply disappear from existence. However, we have found the following cheaper alternatives that are currently still effective.

The cheapest we could find is 118 390 run by Colt, who charge a flat rate of 32.5p per call, but you can only make one enquiry. And The Number UK actually come out well again, with their less-well known 118 811 service offering a single search for just 50p per call. Or if you’re feeling altruistic, try Ethcom who charge 40p plus VAT per call and donate 9p to a limited choice of (mainly Scottish) charities.  The full list of valid 118 numbers can be found here. But if you want the security of a ‘trusted brand’ that should give you the right number,  BT have a ‘corporate’ directory enquiries number of 118 707 that is charged at a flat rate of £1 per call and is described as ‘no frills’.

But what if you aren’t on a (BT) landline?

If you have a smart phone with an inclusive data allowance, the smart thing to do would be to look the number up on the internet. For free. You can even search BT directories online at 118500.com. But what if you don’t have any data allowance?

First of all, it might be cheaper to buy additional data than call a 118 number though your phone. While data add-on costs vary between plans and providers, as an example, EE offer 50MB of EU roaming data for £3, so it’s worth finding out how much a search using up to 1 or 2MB might cost you.

Calls to any premium rate numbers are even further inflated on a mobile, and 118 numbers are no exception. Fortunately, the main providers actually have a search facility on their respective websites so you can check how much premium numbers will cost before you call them.

For example, Vodafone’s internet calculator tells you that it is the cheapest network if you want to call market leader 118 118- a single call is a snip at £3.25 per minute, compared with BT’s 118 500 or at a full fiver a minute.

EE’s call cost calculator is a bit more complicated, as result depend on whether you are PAYG or Pay Monthly, and they sneakily exclude VAT from the monthly costs to make it look less expensive. Calls to 118 118 cost £4.50 per minute for Pay Monthlies ( but only £2.25 for PAYG)  and 118 500 costs £4.08 per minute (£2.00). O2 is by far the simplest- its own dedicated directory enquiries number of 118 402 is charged at £1 per minute. All other 118 calls are £5 per minute. No confusion there.

As mentioned, the call costs can, and do change all the time, so if you think you might be caught out and need a number in a hurry, it could be worth checking beforehand. While many people haven’t used a directory enquiry service for years, and find it quite incredulous that people still do so, The Number UK’s figures show there are still an awful lot of calls being made. So why not save while doing so?

call centre 300x168 Another attempt for nuisance calls and spam to be regulatedA change to the regulations surrounding nuisance calls and text messages has been recommended by Ed Vaizey.

The Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy wants to make it easier to fine the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

Mr Vaizey would like to get it all sorted by the next general election, which suggests he needs to get his skates on.

A vague attempt at doing this last year was stopped, after a legal ruling went against the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after it fined Christopher Niebel, the co-owner of marketing company Tetrus Telecoms, £30,000 for bombarding people with hundreds of thousands of texts regarding PPI and accident claims.

Simon Entwistle of ICO reckons: “This will make it much more straightforward for us to take action,”

“At the moment, it takes a large amount of effort to prove substantial distress and this change will make it much more proportionate to the problems these calls and texts cause.”

“We understand firms can have legitimate reasons to make marketing calls, but we reckon that for every one concern lodged with us there are about 1,000 nuisance calls or texts.”

Well, about time frankly.

new tube 300x168 London Underground unveil new fancy futurist trains The new tube trains are here!

Designs for the new-look London Underground trains has been unveiled and it’s bad news for the drivers, as they’ve been written out. No wonder they’re going on strike.

Yep, the new trains are driverless and will run on the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City Lines.

Perhaps it will be like a DLR arrangement where they’ve made YOU the driver, or at least you’re the driver after you punched a small child to get that seat anyway.

Paul Priestman, director at PriestmanGoode, says: “TfL wanted the New Tube for London to celebrate the great history of transport design in London, whilst acting as a beacon of innovative 21st century public transport.”

“We took inspiration from iconic London landmarks and key attributes of British design to create a tube that is beautiful, simple, functional and maintainable.”

What he fails to mention is that they aren’t due on the tracks anytime soon, with 2020 being the ‘going into service’ date.

Priestman continues: “London’s Tube is one of the most iconic trains around the world. We are proud to have designed something that it is part of the very fabric of London life, celebrating all that’s great about London’s environment; cutting edge technology, rich history and diversity. The New Tube for London will take the city into the future by enriching the everyday journey of its passengers.”

They’ll still hum of commuter B.O. though.