Posts Tagged ‘News’
The ASA, the UK’s advertising watchdog, has cracked down in a ruling against online games Moshi Monsters and Bin Weevils. They’re not happy about the ways in which they pressure children to spend money.
The Advertising Standards Authority said both “directly pressured” youngsters to pay subscriptions, and that, in the case of Moshi Monsters, children were told that they’d be “super popular” if they coughed up money. Meanwhile, Bin Weevils’ options to pay subscriptions were put to children as if they were orders, rather than requests.
“Although it was possible to play the games without spending real money or sharing the game, certain activities required participation in a paid-membership system, which entitled members to additional benefits,” the ASA said.
“Both games contained language and prominent calls to action that put pressure on young players to purchase a subscription to take part in additional gameplay. We considered that text, including “Become a Member”, “JOIN NOW”, directly exhorted children to purchase membership subscriptions as well as in-game ‘currency’.”
The ASA added that Moshi Monsters used phrases like “The Super Moshis need YOU” which pressurise children. Of course, putting direct pressure on children is prohibited by the advertising code. It must be a nightmare for the ASA at Christmas eh?
The watchdog said that they’re reminding publishers to take more care with in-game purchase mechanisms aimed at kids.
Mind Candy, who publish Moshi Monsters, said it took its “responsibilities very seriously with regards to how we communicate with all of our fans, especially children”. In a statement, they said: “We have been working with the ASA to ensure that we adhere to best practice and have made changes to the Moshi Monsters game accordingly. We will continue to work with the ASA in any way possible.”
The Bin Weevils publisher, 55pixels, said: “As soon as [we] were made aware of the complaint made to the ASA about a potential breach, and once we had understood the area for concern, we changed all our membership pages to comply with their recommendations. They subsequently upheld the complaint about the original wording but referenced that we now complied, in the text of the ruling.”
British motorists are breaking down in bigger numbers than before, thanks to their vehicles running out of fuel, according to new research. Now, if we were writing a ‘How To’ guide, this would be a short article where we’d say: ‘Keep putting petrol in your car, you dimwit.‘
Around 827,000 drivers ran out of fuel in 2014 compared to the 777,000 the year before… but why?
Well, this study shows that 536,000 motorists frequently ignore their vehicle’s fuel warning light, as there’s clearly nothing more fun than running a car on fumes, to see how much you can squeeze out of it. 267,000 don’t ever notice that their warning light was even on.
24% of motorists reckoned that they could drive over 40 miles after the light had come on and 54% of drivers stated that they’d drive by a petrol station even though they needed a fill-up, in the hope of finding a cheaper petrol station somewhere else.
13% of drivers had broken down thanks to an empty tank, which according to some crude maths, makes for an estimated total of 4.9 million motorists.
John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= Road Rescue, who conducted the survey, said: “Having to buy expensive motorway fuel can be frustrating, but if it saves you the stress of running out of petrol and potentially causing damage to your engine then it’s worth the cost. Roadside assistance is there to help should a motorist find themselves in a sticky situation – but being diligent with topping up soon after the light comes on will help to avoid the headache that a breakdown can bring.”
Next week: we give advice on the reasons why you should always pull your trousers down before going for a poo
Facebook are launching a virtual assistant, that basically is a rip-off of Siri. It’ll also have support from real humans in a call centre somewhere, but basically, it is another thing you can talk to and it will respond accordingly.
This thing will be called Facebook M, and will work within Facebook’s Messenger app. This being FB, you can assume that these things are a wonderful tool for gathering all manner of data on people, which can then be sold for huge sums of money.
Anyway, what does David Marcus from Facebook have to say about it all? He said: “M is a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes tasks and finds information on your behalf. It’s powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by people.”
“Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.”
There’s no date given for a rollout and indeed, it is still being tested.
In Wired, there is more information: “Facebook’s M trainers have customer service backgrounds. They make the trickier judgement calls, and perform other tasks that software can’t. If you ask M to plan a birthday dinner for your friend, the software might book the Uber and the restaurant, but a person might surprise your friend at the end of the night by sending over birthday cupcakes from her favourite bakery.”
So there you go. Fancy letting Facebook be your party planner? That’s if your phone has enough memory on it to cope with yet another pissing update from this shower.
Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri rip-off, already has 75 million devices using it, according to the company. This will be something to do with loads of people installing Windows 10, no doubt.
And with that, Microsoft would like to tell us some interesting facts about it all. You are not legally obliged to find these facts interesting, for the record. You are obliged to slag stuff off in the comments though.
Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Marketing for Windows and Devices, went on Twitter to tell everyone about these titbits, one of them being about Cortana pulling out some wisecracks. Apparently, it has shared over half a million jokes in response to “tell me a joke” query which people keep asking it.
What kind of person asks artificial intelligence for a joke? Arseholes like Clean Bandit, that’s who. You’ll remember them getting friendly with a robot female voice on that godforsaken advert.
Millions have also downloaded Microsoft Solitaire Collection, which is the new version of the old Solitaire time wasting exercise. Also popular with millions, is Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta.
So there you have it. Cortana – telling loads of jokes. Are they funny? Ask it yourself. We’re terrified of it.
So, with that, the idea that there might be crash-proof computers in the not-too-distant future is good isn’t it?
That’s what the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are looking into, and they’ve developed a file system which is part of the computer’s operating system that writes data to disk and remembers where it is stored, so it’s “mathematically guaranteed” not to lose your stuff.
Nickolai Zeldovich, part of the team that carried out the research, said: “What many people worry about is building these file systems to be reliable, both when they’re operating normally but also in the case of crashes, power failure, software bugs, hardware errors, what have you.”
“Making sure that the file system can recover from a crash at any point is tricky because there are so many different places that you could crash. You literally have to consider every instruction or every disk operation and think, ‘Well, what if I crash now? What now? What now?’”
“And so empirically, people have found lots of bugs in file systems that have to do with crash recovery, and they keep finding them, even in very well tested file systems, because it’s just so hard to do.”
We’ll find out more about all this later in the year when the team give out their results. So for the old-fashioned romantics among you, your computer will still frustrate you by crashing out on you from time-to-time, but at least you won’t lose that spreadsheet you spent an hour doing without saving it.
While that seems like good news, there’s criticisms that the energy supplier isn’t doing enough for customers and that the drop should’ve been more substantial, considering the size of the decrease in the amount British Gas pay for their gas.
Comparison website uSwitch is particularly unhappy, and has accused British Gas of “short-changing” everyone.
“British Gas is the biggest energy supplier so they should really be market leading, setting the trend for the others to follow suit,” Ann Robinson, uSwitch’s consumer policy director, said. “Although the price cut is welcome, I wanted [British Gas] to do far more and almost shame the other companies into taking action. But instead we get a price cut that is far smaller than it should be. It short-changes their customers and lets the other suppliers off the hook.”
“I want all of the suppliers to give customers a decent price cut to reflect what has happened to wholesale prices. We have seen these prices falling; they are at a really low level. And we are not talking about months – it has been well over a year now.”
“The reason suppliers give for not cutting prices more is that they buy their stock in advance, and thus was purchased at a pricier level, but that excuse no longer holds water. Now is the time for big suppliers to treat customers fairly.”
British Gas sent a spokesperson out to defend the company. They said: “We’re cutting our gas prices by 5% for almost 7 million customers, taking £35 off the average annual bill. This is the second time we have cut prices in six months – that’s a total saving of more than £72 over the next year.”
“We always cut our prices by as much as we can, as soon as we can, when we see a reduction in our own costs, and we were keen to do this ahead of next winter. There are many moving parts to the bill, some have gone up, others have come down but in the round we felt able to cut gas prices by 5%.”
There’s been a lot of concern regarding the flammability of children’s clothing, and here’s the latest one to take notice of. There’s a product recall on Next children’s robes.
Here’s what they look like.
The following notice has been issued by the retailer:
“Next recalls Children’s Robes (799768, 790152, 936100) due to an issue with UK Nightwear (Safety) Regulations”
“We’ve become aware of an issue with the above robes. Unfortunately, the cotton jersey lining doesn’t meet the stringent flammability requirement set out in the UK Nightwear (Safety) Regulations. We would therefore recommend that you immediately stop using them and contact us.”
“Please call us on 0333 777 8185 to arrange a collection, or return them to your local store (for a full refund), if this would suit you better. If you have given any of these items as a gift, please ask the recipient to get in touch with Next.”
“We’re very sorry for any disappointment and inconvenience this may cause, but we hope you’ll understand that customer safety is a high priority for us.”
Amazon are up to all manner of stuff at the minute and one thing they’re trialling through the Prime Now service, is putting booze on offer. If you’re in Seattle, and you don’t know what to do with that tossed salad and scrambled eggs, you can order hard liquor and beer, and get it delivered to you within a couple of hours.
Of course, you could just walk down the shops and stretch your legs, but y’know, you might be really lazy for all we know.
Prime Now, which hasn’t been rolled out everywhere yet, lets you get deliveries and fast. If trials are successful, then everyone will be able to get on it you suspect, while Amazon try to dominate the entire world.
Amazon are also trialling a new Android app called Amazon Underground, which is offering ‘Actually Free’ apps, games, and in-app purchases worth $10,000. This means they’re giving away apps that don’t have any hidden in-app purchases, which is nice.
The unusual thing here, is that Amazon is playing with the notion of paying certain developers on a per-minute basis, where money is generated for every minute the app is used. There’s surely going to be some irritating app developments through this, but certainly something to keep an eye out for.
Sadly, the Amazon Underground app isn’t available on Google Play, as Google are massive babies who don’t feature apps that offer access to other apps or games. You’ll have to get it through the Amazon Underground website.
This will replace the ‘App of The Day’ promotional giveaway that Amazon have been doing.
“The Amazon Underground app is a long-term program rather than a one-off promotion. Over time, we’ll continue to invent and add more benefits to Underground. For now, enjoy some actually free apps and games!,” said the firm on its website. This is available to people in the UK, America, France and Germany and will no doubt get rolled out everywhere soon enough.
We told you about Burger King taking out full page adverts, in a bid to make a ‘McWhopper’ for a fun publicity stunt. Well, McDonald’s have responded and they couldn’t be more boring about it.
Seriously. This is a company that has a clown for a mascot and they replied to Burger King in the driest way possible. Even drier than a Quarter Pounder with cheese.
Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s’ fantastically tedious CEO, isn’t keen on the idea, and posted a message on Facebook.
Get that. That was worse than listening to Michael Owen talk about… well… anything.
The responses from everyone on the post itself are far from complimentary. You can see them here, but the gist of the replies are; “Ending the ‘Burger Wars’ on Sept 21st would be a fun, unique way to raise awareness all in the name of PEACE. Shame on you McDonald’s for your lousy response” and “What a crappy response. Burger King wasn’t trying to compare your competition with real war, but thinks that this brilliant one-day idea would raise awareness at the concept of peace in this world, and you just shot that down. BK FTW.”
There were funnier replies too. One scamp wrote: “u guys are seriously the worst. opportunity to do something fun and memorable but instead u guys act high and mighty (reminder: you sell animal dick meat on sugar buns, so settle down)”, while another flatly stated that “the flippant comment regarding a phone call at the end has made Steve look like a world class nob end.”
Indeed. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth, etc etc
Sainsbury’s might be having a tough time with the balance sheet of late, but that doesn’t mean they can’t treat their staff right. They’ve vowed to pay its 137,000 store staff more than the Chancellor’s compulsory national living wage.
The supermarket’s 4% pay rise is the highest spike in wages for store staff that they’ve given out in a decade.
Boss Mike Coupe says he’s “committed to rewarding great service” and that they’ll be awarding its colleagues an “industry-leading” 4% pay rise, taking their standard rate of pay from £7.08 to £7.36 per hour.
George Osborne’s living wage is £7.20, and comes into play in April 2016.
Sainsbury’s say that this pay rise will be kicking off from Sunday and applies to staff of all ages, while the government’s living wage is only applicable to those over 25. Sainsbury’s added that they’ll continue to provide staff with paid breaks which are taken during shifts. Not bad eh? Beers are on any Saino’s staff you know.
Mike Coupe said that this raise was a reward for employees’ “hard work, talent and dedication.” adding: “We’re delighted to announce a 4% pay increase for the colleagues who work in our stores across the country. We know what a difference they make to our customers each and every day and we’re totally committed to rewarding them well for the great service they provide.”
“I’ve talked to thousands of colleagues over the past year and they tell me how much they value their package of benefits and the flexibility that we can offer as an employer, as well as hourly pay, which has always been well over the minimum wage.”
“Their hard work, talent and dedication have been central to our success and will remain so in the future.”
The baby was taken to hospital, but died later that day. This week, the coroner ruled that her death was a ‘tragic accident’. The parents bought the cot and hooks from Ikea, who have now said that they will add new warnings to certain products, going ‘over and above’ normal British standards.
So what happened? Well, the court heard the details of the accident and recorded a verdict of accidental death. Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe said: “It’s obviously one of the most upsetting sets of circumstances that we sadly have to deal with as coroners, which is a 14-month-old baby – very well cared for – at the family home that has been put in its cot and found a short time later, having been checked over approximately every hour, where a bit of its clothing became caught in a plastic hook which had been attached to the cot at one point.”
“Possibly the baby tried to move over out of the cot. By the time the mother has found Violet she was not in a state where she could survive.”
Gary Robertson, who is the deputy risk manager at Ikea, said: “We are making changes to our safety instructions. We are adding additional wording which goes over and above British standards.”
The cots will now say ‘do not attach, stick or add any item to the inside or outside of your cot – it may become a catch hazard for your baby.’
Burger King and McDonald’s have been at each other’s throats for years, but now, in 2015, there’s an olive branch. Burger King has decided that they want to make peace with Maccies for one day only.
They want to “settle the beef” by combining their flagship burgers – the Whopper and the Big Mac – into the McWhopper.
This burger would be flogged at pop-up shops in Atlanta, which is the midway point between the headquaters of the two companies (which are Chicago and Miami if you must know).
Burger King made the offer via full-page adverts in The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune, and the want this to happen on the 21st September - the UN International Day of Peace. All proceeds to go to charity, natch. That said, customers won’t be asked to cough-up money, rather, they’ll be asked to sign one of the mats you get on the tray, making a peace declaration with someone.
The peace will even go down to the staff uniforms and takeaway bags.
In a proposal to McDonald’s, Burger King said: “All these ingredients come together to build the burger some said would never happen. Some say the same thing about world peace.”
“Let’s prove them wrong on Peace Day. Everything in our proposal is up for discussion, from the name right through to the packaging. The only thing we can’t change is the date, so let’s talk soon.”
Well, the UK boss of the meat vendor has decided to defend the company’s use of zero-hours contracts, by saying what all the other businesses who use them say: it helps staff to stay flexible. It also screws a load of people who want more work, but there you go.
Paul Pomroy, while speaking to the Beeb, said that all UK employees were notified of shifts two weeks in advance and were allowed to work elsewhere. He says: ”Jobs at McDonald’s are good jobs. Our staff are trained well and are proud to work for the company.”
Stop laughing at the back.
McD’s are also looking at how they will pay the new National Living Wage to staff who are 25 and over, with Pomroy saying that it’ll be a burden on the company. That’d be the company that are worth $92.5bn worldwide, the poor lambs. Oh, and they’re the same company who are being investigated for dodging $1bn in tax too, and that the EU are investigating them. The struggle is real, clearly.
Of course, Pomroy says that McDonald’s have paid a “fair” amount of tax: “I’m confident we’re going to come out clean, we have paid within 1% of the UK corporation tax for a number of years.”
Maybe the new table service will be the thing that sorts everything out, so we forget about McDonald’s numerous dicky doings.
Well, Google have noticed this and are getting in on the action. Of course, they’re not going to fix the potholes themselves, but rather, try and win you over by warning you about them and where they are.
The internet behemoth is already a part of your travel, with Google Maps having all manner of features and Google giving you loads of alerts for things. You can already see if there’s a shedload of traffic en route, and get directions to where you’re going.
Now, they’re aiming to make your ride a bit smoother by telling you about imminent potholes that you’re heading toward.
Google has filed a patent which would allow them to gauge if there are potholes on your journey, using your car’s GPS navigation system and other sensors.
One of the things Google might do, is to monitor the vibrations that rattle through your car, in a bid to track and collate where all the potholes in the world are. They’d cross reference that with GPS data, and hey presto! You’ve got a living map of dodgy roads. With Maps, they’d presumably then suggest alternative routes to save your suspension from getting hammered.
Naturally, Google is making a fleet of autonomous cars that might really want to know about all this.
Lidl are going to win some friends with the introduction of the new ‘Smarter Shopping’ card, which will let you gobble up a different promotion each week. However, it’ll only be available in Scotland… for now at least.
The first of the offers came last week, where you can get £5 off when spending £25, and from then on, the following deals will be highlighted online and in-store, for 10 weeks.
Now, this isn’t a loyalty card, thanks to the time frame on it, and Lidl have said that they won’t be collecting data on their shoppers. Basically, you redeem you rewards at the checkout, and there’s no limit on how many times you can use the card.
Nationwide, Lidl have also unveiled their Autumn range of clothes, which has got some mutters of approval. Certain quarters are rather excited at the classic leather biker jacket that is going on sale, for the price of a paltry £14.99. Lidl sold the item last year, which sold out in three days!
They’ll also be selling a black denim jacket (also £14.99) and a Chanel-inspired boucle jacket, whatever that means.
There’s also going to be some leather-look headphones for £7.99 and some mirrored shades for £2.99. Basically, if you buy all of this stuff, you’ll look like an ’80s action film hero.