Posts Tagged ‘News’
But it will cost you.
Basically, Google have unveiled a new service called ‘Contributor by Google’ and the company say: “Today’s Internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?”
What this means is that you’ll be asked to ‘contribute’ between $1-$3 per month which will go to the website in question (and, you have to assume, Google will take a cut too). You can pay more than the minimum offered too, which basically means, if you really, really like a website, you can throw coins in their cup. Regardless of what you offer, you’ll get the same service.
The Onion, Mashable, Imgur, Urban Dictionary and WikiHow have already signed-up for this, and Google have also said that there’s more on board too, as these are just “a few” of the confirmed partners.
So what happens to the adverts? Well, they’ll be replaced by a thank-you message or a pixellated box, which doesn’t sound like a better option, but there you go.
Google say: “When you visit a participating website, part of your contribution goes to the creators of that site. As a reminder of your support, you’ll see a thank you message – often accompanied by a pixel pattern – where you might normally see an ad.”
If you’re interested, have a look at Google’s dedicated page here.
This morning, Great Anglia Rail reported delays on one of their services. Always annoying when one of your trains is held-up, but this one piqued the interest.
The delay was because of ‘an unusually large passenger’.
Spotted by Amy Gray on Twitter, commuters must’ve wondered what in the blazes was going on. It’s one thing being so large you hold a train up, but this passenger was such a behemoth that they were holding up TWO services!
Naturally, the truth of the matter is quite tedious. The word ‘flow’ was cut off the end of the message.
Tim Weller was the last senior executive at the payday lender who was appointed by Errol Damelin, the company’s controversial founder who jacked it all in back in June.
Andy Haste has now taken over the day-to-day management of Wonga, and he says: “At a critical time for Wonga, when we will complete our forbearance programme, prepare to apply for FCA authorisation and introduce a cap-compliant product, I’m taking an even more active role in leading the business.”
“Tim Weller therefore stepped down as CEO in October. This was a mutual decision, following a comprehensive handover, and will ensure clear leadership in the weeks and months ahead. I want to thank Tim for his three years in the business as chief financial officer.”
“Our search for a permanent group CEO is well underway and Tara Kneafsey, our new UK managing director, will join us in December.”
Running Wonga is a tough gig at the moment as, only last month, they were forced to write off £220m of customer debts after they admitted they’d be wrong in lending money to some 330,000 people. While they were at it, they also axed interest charges for another 45,000 customers.
WhatsApp will now have encrypted messages from now, which is a boon for those who are concerned about personal privacy when chatting and sending photos of their junk to hook-ups. Of course, governments and spy-agencies won’t be at all happy about this, as they get jumpy and start shouting ‘TERRORISTS!’ as soon as anyone hides what they’re talking about.
WhatsApp said that this is the “largest deployment of end-to-end encryption ever.” What that means, in English, is that your messages are safe from people listening-in, unless of course, WhatsApp have a deal with someone where they’ll pass all that information on. Seeing as they’re owned by Facebook, you’d be daft to not indulge that in your thoughts.
Thus far, it’ll only work on Android and is limited to one-on-one text-only chats. So group chats and photos are not as locked down.
Whisper Systems – the company behind the software which is being used to encrypt your WhatsApp messages – have said: ”We have a ways to go until all mobile platforms are fully supported, but we are moving quickly towards a world where all WhatsApp users will get end-to-end encryption by default.”
It does look like chat-apps are all working toward utilising this kind of encryption, which is a headache for the NSA and GCHQ. In their eyes, the only people who should have encrypted messages are government officials and people like the FBI.
Things haven’t been going well at the Royal Mail for some time, so it is no surprise that they’ve just reported a fall in half-year profits. They’re looking at companies like Amazon and TNT (now going by the name of Whistl) with some contempt right now.
Pre-tax profits for the six months to 28th September fell to £218m, from £233m in the same period last year. Obviously, there’s still a load of money floating around, but a downward trend is still a downward trend.
Amazon’s new delivery network is the thing the Royal Mail are most concerned about and said that ”unfettered” competition posed a “potential material threat” to the Universal Service (that’s the thing where the Royal Mail promise to deliver to every letterbox in the UK).
Whistl, it is thought, could knock £200m off the Royal Mail’s revenue by 2018. With that, the Royal Mail want the government to reconsider the depth of their Universal Service obligations. Sounds a bit sulky from here.
Royal Mail boss Moya Greene said that it isn’t all doom and gloom and that their performance is in line with expectations, ”but as always,” she added, “this depends on us delivering another great Christmas, for which we are fully prepared”.
Of course, the thing hanging over the Royal Mail is the small matter of the company being privatised in 2013, with taxpayers losing out after the shares were suspiciously undervalued and a small number of people seemed to do very well out of it all.
Looks like things need to change at the Royal Mail, and sharpish.
A couple went to a hotel in Blackpool and they didn’t have a nice time. So, like many disgruntled customers, they complained about it on the internet. After leaving a critical TripAdvisor review, they found themselves being fined £100.
Tony and Jan Jenkinson left some negative comments on the review site after being thoroughly unimpressed with their stay at the Broadway Hotel. Later, when checking their credit card bill, they found an erroneous £100 charge. The hotel, it turns out, has a policy where they take money from you for bad review.
Of course, the Trading Standards are now investigating as it looks like The Broadway Hotel has breached unfair trading practice regulations.
If you look at the hotel’s policy, which is contained in the booking document, it says: “Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review.”
You can almost admire the cheek.
If it is in the t&cs, then what is the excuse of the Jenkinsons? Well, when Mrs Jenkinson signed the papers, she didn’t have her glasses on so she couldn’t read the small print. Mr Jenkinson isn’t having any of that though. He is vowing to fight the fee, and told the BBC: “Annoyed isn’t strong enough for how I feel about this, what happened to freedom of speech? Everybody we have spoken to says they (the hotel) are not allowed to do this.”
Councillor John McCreesh, cabinet member for trading standards, said: “Customers need to be free to be honest about the service they’re getting. Other customers depend upon it. Hotel owners should focus on getting their service right rather than shutting down aggrieved customers with threats and fines.”
“People should have the right to vent their disappointment if a hotel stay did not meet their expectations and should not be prevented from having their say.”
Netto have been opening a crop of new shops with little fanfare, but the one to keep an eye on is B&M Bargains.
Simon Arora, the chief executive of B&M, has been saying that his company are “genuinely disruptive” to the retail industry and that they will be doubling in size in the UK. B&M floated on the stock market earlier this year and are valued at £2.7bn.
While Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda have all been keeping an eye on each other, they collectively failed to noticed that B&M, Poundland, Aldi and Lidl have been stealing their customers through good prices and expansion.
B&M also happen to be chaired by former Tesco boss, Sir Terry Leahy, so you know they’re not messing around. The company already has 400 outlets, but they’re looking at getting to 850 stores in the next couple of years.
Arora said: “Half the UK does not have a B&M in convenient access. We will become a national retailer not a regional retailer.” While they don’t sell food, “you can find a toaster in B&M and it will be cheaper than a specialist shop.”
B&M are looking at becoming something like Woolworths, filling the gap for those who want the kind of things you wouldn’t buy with your groceries. B&M are also looking at grabbing the buildings left by Homebase who closed a quarter of their stores.
Sir Terry Leahy says: “The business is well-positioned as the leading limited assortment general merchandise discounter in a growth sector which offers scope for it to at least double in size in the UK alone over the next few years – and we are making good progress towards that objective.”
“B&M has delivered good momentum in sales, profits and cash generation during the first half whilst at the same time pushing on with rapid store rollout and investing in new infrastructure and team capability to support this long-term growth.”
The Big Four – the ball’s in your court.
We all know that the big supermarkets aren’t doing particularly well and, as far as the consumer is concerned, why should anyone care? As long as someone is offering a decent price on decent products, it doesn’t matter where you shop.
And so, to Goldman Sachs who think they have a solution for the big players in supermarket world – they need to be broken up and scaled down.
In a research note, Goldman Sachs said Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons must cut space by around 20% by 2020 if the want to survive the onslaught from Aldi and Lidl. “Our analysis of the UK grocery industry suggests capacity exit is the only viable solution for a return to profitable growth,” their analysts said.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that someone has suggested that. We’ve spoken about the idea of Tesco becoming ‘smaller’ in a bid to stay relevant.
It is believed that like-for-like sales through the bigger stores will fall by around 18% and that earnings could also fall by 60% between 2013 and 2017 if supermarkets don’t sort this issue of space, out.
The supermarkets have already noticed this and tried to find a remedy for it, that’s why so many of them are setting up ‘convenience’ versions of their supermarkets, because no-one is using their enormo-markets that are found out-of-town.
And while the big four have been slashing prices, or at least threatening to, it isn’t enough according to Goldman Sachs. They think that “the major decisions that will shape the future of the UK grocery market are yet to be taken”.
We can only wait and see.
Tesco are trying to win over the public with free WiFi in their stores. Of course, this means Minority Report fans are going to lose their baps over this, thinking that the whole thing is an exercise in stealing your data and tracking you around the aisles.
In fairness, that’s probably true.
In a press release, Auntie Tesco said:”Customers are now able to take advantage of BT WiFi free in Tesco Extra and Superstores across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Tesco is helping customers get more value out of their shopping experiences with free and fast WiFi access at stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland, thanks to a new partnership with BT.”
So how do you go about getting it?
Tesco add: “To enjoy the new service, customers should simply select ‘Tesco Wi-fi’ or ‘BT’ on their smartphones or tablets and they can begin browsing. The free service has been fully rolled out to 806 Tesco Extra and Superstores in the UK and 113 stores in the Republic of Ireland.”
While you’re using it, you’ll be allowed to download Clubcard vouchers and get product information too, as well as browsing recipes and hawking the latest in-store offers and all that.
Tomas Kadlec, Group Technology Director, Tesco, said: “Customers now want the same kind of experience in-store as they enjoy online, with fast and convenient access to product information, pricing and offers at the touch of their fingertips. We were the first supermarket in the UK to offer free WiFi and the first to launch online shopping. We’re now bringing these innovations together to put our customers in control with better service and value than ever before.”
Get on the torrents while you’re shopping for beans, eh?
Remember when The Royal Bank of Scotland’s IT systems went awry and no-one could get into their accounts? Well, that’s coming back to bite them on the posterior as the bank is looking at a fine for £50 million.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who will be doling out the fine, haven’t said how much they’re going to slap RBS with, but it looks like it’ll be tens-of-millions.
FCA need to make a show of RBS because their cock-up saw over 100 million transaction being delayed, with people going to buy their shopping and finding that their cards didn’t work, to people’s direct debits for rent not leaving their account. It was a grade-A mess.
Of course, it was customers of the RBS Group that were inconvenienced, with RBS customers being annoyed, as well as those with NatWest and Ulster Bank.
In addition to this, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned all the banks and financial institutions that there’s going to be need for radical reform after a number of scandals. Let us not forget, the banks are also being investigated for diddling foreign exchanges and a whole lot more.
Regarding the latter RBS have already coughed-up £400m to the FCA and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (an American regulator).
They’re not the only villains in all this: HSBC, UBS, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America are also settling with regulators all over the place, totalling $4 billion in payments. As for RBS, this IT mess has already cost them £175m to resolve. The whole thing is a depressing mess, especially given that the taxpayer now part-owns the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Carney said: “The repeated nature of these fines demonstrates that financial penalties alone are not sufficient to address the issues raised. Fundamental change is needed to institutional culture, to compensation arrangements and to markets.”
“The succession of scandals mean it is simply untenable now to argue that the problem is one of a few bad apples. The issue is with the barrels in which they are stored. Standards may need to be developed to put non-bonus or fixed pay at risk.”
If you’re thinking that we need further reforms, Carney says: “Some might feel that, having apparently reached the finish line, the race has been extended. Indeed there will be inevitable calls by some vested interests to turn back. Already we can hear some of the runners, particularly those at the back, making world-weary arguments that more reform will hurt jobs and growth, and even that financial crises are just something that happens every five to seven years.”
“If that were true, we are due for another crisis about now. Does anyone find that acceptable?”
As well as letting you book and pay for a cab all through a mobile app, it looks like you’ll be able to act as in-car DJ as, according to a new report, the Uber app will soon let you play Spotify tunes through one of their car’s speakers.
That means you can put on your playlist that features both Barry Manilow and Ty Dolla Sign while someone drives you to the pub.
You’ll have to wait for Uber to update the Android and iOS apps to let you be the tune selecta in your cab, but it will be happening and TechCrunch have some screenshots of the new service. Drivers will need the relevant tech to make this work, so if you jump in an Uber cab and the driver is listening to 20 Greatest Roy Orbison Hits on an 8-track, you’ll have to plug your headphones in your phone if you want your own tunes.
That means drivers will have to update their Uber information to let customers know whether they’ve got an AUX input, just in case you’re the kind of person who demands control of the stereo and can’t be doing with Magic FM being played at full tilt.
Now, the screenshots shown don’t say which music company is behind the Uber music crossover, but all fingers are pointing and voices are muttering in the direction of Spotify. There’ll be a press conference later, which will confirm that it is Spotify.
Anyway, tops off. Taxi rides are about to go H.A.M.
Are you the kind of person who prefers to look at your own arse in the mirror while you’re having sex? Well, LIVE IN THE NOW as someone has come up with an app for Google Glass so you can check yourself out while on the job.
The app is called Glance which captures the viewpoint of your partner, you fantastically vain swine. Of course, this isn’t all about you. If you and your partner like filming yourself whilst knocking your uglies together, then you can both do a movie and play them back side-by-side.
Basically, you can now truly see what your partner has to put up with during your grunting sweatfests.
What happens is that you pop on your Google Glass(es) and say ominously: “Okay glass, it’s time.” The app will then stream the footage. For the full experience, you’ll need a pair of Google specs each. Amusingly, to stop the footage, you need to say “Okay glass, pull out.”
The creators said: “Glance let’s you see two different perspectives, seamlessly. It changes the way you experience something personal. Like sex. Having sex with Glance brings a completely new perspective.”
The inventors also said that they’re very concerned about you and your partner’s privacy and that they won’t host the videos anywhere and that you’ll be the only people to own a copy. Of course, if you store it on a cloud service, that could all go out the window. Either way, the app database won’t store anything and the footage will be on your phone only.
The next ‘Fappening’ is going to be interesting isn’t it?
There’s a lot of rules and regulations around pubs that many see as damaging to our noble boozers. One of them is the ‘beer-tie’, which means that tied leaseholders are legally obliged to buy their beer at whatever price their landlords choose.
The OFT said that ‘beer-ties’ were ‘working well’ for customers, despite the fact a lot of pubs have closed down because of it, which isn’t great for those who like a snifter down their local at all. This ruling has mainly hit pubs in less affluent areas the hardest, where they’ve been priced out of the market by landlords and of course, supermarkets.
Tied-landlords are shutting down pubs and the people that own them are flogging them as little more than property. It is enough to drive you to drink, if you had somewhere to drink that is.
However, MPs are pushing for an amendment to the proposed Pubs Code, where they hope to axe the ‘beer-tie’.
Greg Mulholland, LibDem MP for Leeds North West and chair of Parliament’s Save the Pub Group, is pushing an amendment to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill which proposes that landlords should be offered a ‘market rent only’ option, which in plain English, means that they’ll have no obligation to buy beer from the group that owns their pub. That means a better variety of booze and, with more competition, better prices on the pumps.
If you’ve ever wondered why, for example, your local hasn’t ever served Doom Bar or Timothy Taylors, even though everyone wants to sup it, chances are, the person who runs your pub isn’t allowed.
Federation of Small Businesses chairman John Allan said: “Pub company tenants aren’t getting a fair deal and this will continue unless they have the option to go free of tie.”
There’s some opposition to this proposal, but these people are clearly not concerned about communities having proper boozers, rather than priced-up gastrononsense.
Will this be the end of the ‘beer-tie’ or are the breweries too powerful to budge?
The Conservative MPs are supporting an appeal to get rid of the BBC TV Licence. No surprise there as this is the latest in a long history of the Tories versus the BBC, wherein the political party finds it slightly unfair that they’re unable to sell it off and make money out of it.
The appeal, which has been led by – always the way – backbencher Andrew Bridgen, urges Culture Secretary Sajid Javid to spearhead a government review of BBC funding.
According to a letter that Mr Bridgen has sent to Mr Javid, he accuses the current funding of the BBC as “becoming unsustainable and out of keeping with the modern media environment”.
“The corporation should be planning for a future without the licence fee and investigating subscription-based payment options, as well as the wealth of further opportunities that exist for its worldwide operation”.
Seemingly unaware that for £145 a year you get a total bargain and somewhere relatively free of Simon Cowell, advertising and Keith Lemon, the licence fee is what separates one from the animals.
But Mr Bridgen is a backbencher Tory and so claims that the fee is “the most regressive taxes in the UK today”.
Bridgen has been previously involved with the Government to review whether non-payment of the licence fee should be classed as a civil offence, after people had been given jail terms.
Bridgen reckons: “The BBC should move to a subscription model as soon as it is practicable. The sheer pace of technological change will render the licence fee redundant. It is a matter of when the fee goes, not if.”
So. Turning the BBC into Netflix essentially. A BBC spokesman said that the subscription, which costs £2.80 a week, had risen in support by 22% since 2004, and said that “It’s vital that programmes like EastEnders, Strictly, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Match Of The Day can been watched by everyone, not a select few.”
BBC haters – you know where the comments are.