Posts Tagged ‘News’

Virgin Atlantic cut jobs in restructure

July 1st, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Richard Branson15 415 300x267 Virgin Atlantic cut jobs in restructureVirgin Atlantic are going to be sacking around 500 managerial and support jobs, a matter of months after the airline told everyone they’d made a return to profit.

So what’s the deal? Well, the company said the point of all this is to create a simpler, more efficient structure with few management layers. The people losing their jobs will be given the option of either re-deployment or redundancy.

Craig Kreeger, the airline’s chief executive, said: “To truly position Virgin Atlantic for long-term and sustained success, we need to be a more efficient and agile organisation that has the ability to invest even more in the areas that make Virgin Atlantic’s customer experience unique.”

“As a people-oriented business, these are extremely tough decisions to take, but we know they are necessary,” he added.

Customers shouldn’t notice an immediate difference, as these job cuts won’t be hitting the frontline of staff. That’s something at least, but little consolation to those getting the chop soon.

A few months ago, Virgin Atlantic announced that they’d made a £14.4m pre-tax profit for 2014, which was good news after three years of losses. In addition to that, last year, they shouted about a £300m programme of investment, which will see wifi installed on all its aircraft by the end of 2016.

As well as saving money on wages, the airline will also be ditching routes that are deemed unprofitable.

bank sign Thousands free to reopen claims for compensation from banks?The High Court could be tearing up thousands of legal settlements between customers and their banks over the misselling of interest rate swaps scandal, thanks to a legal spat between the Lloyds Banking Group and the owner of a property company, Gary Hartland.

The Libor-fixing case brought by Hartland’s Wingate Associates could allow individuals to revisit settlement agreements. Lloyds are obviously very unhappy about this, as it has already cost them billions already.

So what’s the craic? Wingate Associates are claiming that the settlement they received in 2011 over misselling should be overturned, thanks to the bank’s involvement in fixing Libor. Lloyds argue that the settlement should hold, because they’re presumably bored of dealing with all this.

Thus far, over 12,000 settlement agreements relating to interest rates have been sorted out under the Financial Conduct Authority redress scheme, which has a value somewhere in the region of £2bn. You can imagine that, should even a small fraction of these claimants reopen their cases, it could be very costly indeed.

Stephen Rosen, the head of financial disputes at law firm Collyer Bristow, told the Indy: “The value of claims out there is still very substantial. When you add Libor-fixing to a claim it can swell its value very quickly and matters such as consequential loss are brought into play.”

What’s more, Hartland has sued before over Libor-fixing. Previously, he made a claim against Barclays through another company he ran (called Guardian Care Homes), which was settled out of court by the bank for £40m.

A spokesman for Lloyds said: “As the matter is now subject to legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment in any detail. However, having previously agreed a full and final settlement with the customer in 2011, we do not believe the matter has any merit and it will be vigorously contested.”

All you need to know about Apple Music

July 1st, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

apple All you need to know about Apple MusicSo, Apple Music has arrived and the tech company continue in the quest to push things further by getting forward thinking tech-lovers to… erm… wear watches and listen to the radio.

Now it is here, what do you need to know about it? If you said ‘nothing’, then feel free to stop reading this article and watch a video of people doing idiotic things instead. If you do want to know what’s going on, here’s the lowdown.

What is it?

Well, Apple Music is like Spotify. There’s a load of tunes on a service and you can listen to them and it is all very straightforward. However, one slight difference is that Apple Music has a thing called Beats 1, which is a radio station with some famous DJs on it like Zane Lowe who used to be on Radio 1 and Ebro from NYC’s Hot 97.

How much?

It’ll cost you £9.99 per month. There’s no free version like Spotify. There is a 3 month trial which is free. There’ll also be a family plan, which allows six people to use Apple Music for £15 a month. Spotify have exactly the same family plan.

What’s so special about it?

Well, some people will like it because it looks and feels so Apple-y. They’ve also managed to negotiate with Taylor Swift and have permission to stream her new album ’1989′. If you don’t like Apple or Taylor Swift, these aren’t going to draw you in. However, if Apple can get exclusives that say, Spotify can’t, that could sway some music nuts.

When is it available?

Update your iPhone or iPad and it is available, right now. Later in the year, it’ll be available on Android too. You’ll also have to wait for it to become available on OS X.

What else do I need to know?

Nothing. That’s basically it. It is a streaming service like the other streaming services.

Sky wants BT broadband competition inquiry

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Picture 2 Sky wants BT broadband competition inquiryEver since BT Sport became a thing, Sky have been furious with their rival. The latest thing that has Sky’s goat is the broadband market in Britain, and they’d like to see a competition inquiry into the whole thing, as they think that BT has an effective monopoly.

Sky said in their letter to Ofcom that they think that a history of under-investment in BT’s infrastructure business, Openreach, had led to problems like faults in the network and long waiting times for new lines to be installed. Openreach operates and looks after the telecoms network in the UK.

Openreach have been accused of missing over 5,000 appointments each month to install new lines for its own customers, and failed to complete a further 4,000 jobs each month.

Sky think that these issues raised as sufficient for Ofcom, who themselves are doing their own review in the sector, to ask the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct an inquiry into BT’s Openreach division.

Another thing that has caused BT’s rivals to chase after it, is the small matter of BT’s plan to acquire EE – Sky and TalkTalk are not happy about that one bit. The companies have asked Ofcom to break up BT, wanting Openreach be spun off.

“We welcome evidence and analysis from all parties to help inform that work, and we will publish an update later in the summer,” an Ofcom spokesperson said.

BT are trying to swat all this away and said Sky are engaged in “selective spin”. ”We acknowledge there is more to do on customer service but breaking up BT is not the answer,” said a spokesperson. ”It would lead to huge uncertainty and fundamentally undermine the case for future investment dragging the UK backwards at the very time it needs important investment in its infrastructure,” they added.

Asda see profits slide

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ASDA logo Asda see profits slideThe supermarket wars (millions dead) have been widely publicised, and most eyes have been on Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Morrisons. However, flying under the radar for the most part have been Asda.

While we’ve all been looking at Aldi and Lidl’s growth, and how it has chipped away at Tesco, one of the retailers that has been faring most badly is Asda, with their market share on a drastic slide. The supermarket’s sales slid 3.5% in the 12 weeks to 21 June.

They’re not alone of course – Tesco and Sainsbury’s saw their sales falling by 1.3%.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, had this to say: ”The two discounters increased their sales by 15.4% and 9.1% respectively. Aldi reached a new high with a 5.5% share of the market while Lidl, also showing continued growth, rose to 3.9%.”

“Waitrose also grew ahead of the market, with sales increasing by 1.2%, moving to a 5.1% share.”

As previously reported numerous times, the cheaper end of the market is faring well, as is the more middle-class end of the sector. Asda reported their first full-year decline in underlying sales in February, and things don’t appear to be correcting themselves.

And it looks like the supermarkets that are treating their suppliers the best, are the ones who are performing the strongest on the high street. Consumers are still shopping, but can the big guns turn everyone back into their aisles?

Uber bosses arrested

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

uber taxi 300x300 Uber bosses arrestedNo-one likes Uber, apart from all the people who use the service all the time, of course. There’s been a lot of legal bother about the company, and now, two Uber managers have been arrested and taken into custody for questioning regarding “illicit activity” which has been linked to taxi business.

The Uber managers, who have not been named, were detained in Paris yesterday.

This is the latest kerfuffle is in a long line of bad press for the company, which has seen violent strikes, and numerous action from governments trying to shut Uber down and stop them from operating in their cities. One of the biggest rows has been about protecting taxi drivers and regulating labour.

French authorities are angered that Uber doesn’t pay the same taxes and social charges as other taxis do.

The latest news saw Uber saying that they would keep operating until a ruling by France’s top court says otherwise.

Globally speaking, Uber have also argued that taxi systems are outdated and need reform, and that everyone else needs to keep up with apps and geo-localisation.

Roaming charges – gone in 2017

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

roam 294x300 Roaming charges   gone in 2017European big-cheese agreed today that mobile roaming charges need to die, beginning in 2017. This is very good news indeed.

These new rules will also include net neutrality regulations, which hope to make sure internet service providers (and other businesses) can’t discriminate between different services that run on their data networks.

The reason behind all this is to try and make the EU more profitable. The idea is that, with no mobile boundaries, the easier it will be for people to work.

Of course, the people who are making money from roaming charges aren’t happy about this. Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom are throwing their toys out of the pram and saying that, by removing roaming charges, this might hamper investment in Europe’s mobile and broadband infrastructure.

They’re not convinced that there’s anything good in reducing the costliness of people using their phones throughout Europe, unsurprisingly. What good could come from people being able to talk more freely from different countries and the like, eh?

“Europeans have been calling and waiting for the end of roaming charges, as well as for net neutrality rules,” Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s vice president for the digital single market, said in a statement. “They have been heard.”

Mobile phone freephone charges to be scrapped

June 30th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Mobile phone holiday beach GUIDE 01 Mobile phone freephone charges to be scrappedIt is thought that, collectively, we’re going to save £900m per year after Ofcom decided that they’re going to get rid of freephone charges for calls from mobiles. It has been a daft situation where consumers have been ripped off for calling numbers that would be free from a landline.

Ofcom, understated as ever, have called this move “the biggest shake-up the mobile phone market has seen for more than a decade”.

Apparently, this will all take place today, which means that 175 million freephone lines will now cost nothing. Seeing as they can cost 20p a minute, and in 2014 we spent 250 million hours calling these numbers, this is good news.

This is all part of Ofcom boss, Sharon White’s changes. She wants to see companies spelling out exactly what they are charging you, with a particular onus on numbers for TV shows like X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. So, numbers that start with 084 and 087 will have to tell you exactly how much they’re charging.

Ofcom’s figures show that there’s roughly 7 million of us, spending a whopping £35m every year on phone calls to take part in TV shows, and 08 and 09 lines are making £1.5bn a year.

White said: “UK Calling is the biggest change to telephone calls in over a decade. It’s important that people understand the cost before they pick up the phone. Callers will be able to see what they’re paying and where their money is going.”

One hour delivery from Amazon

June 30th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

amazoninstant One hour delivery from AmazonAre you an Amazon Prime customer and you want your items in a hurry? You just can’t wait to get your hands on that video game or that multipack of undercrackers you bought?

Well, Amazon have a new thing where they’re promising to give you one-hour delivery from 8am ’til midnight.

It is exclusively for Amazon Prime Members and can be utilised via their app. However, it isn’t available to everyone, so don’t start getting too excited yet.

Amazon say: “We now offer one-hour delivery or same-day, two-hour delivery windows on thousands of items in select areas of London!”

They also say: “Shop for thousands of daily essentials, household products, gift items, and more through the Amazon Prime Now app. Select one-hour delivery for £6.99 or choose from FREE same-day, two-hour delivery windows. Prime Now is available from 8am to midnight, 7 days a week in select areas of London. Exclusively for Amazon Prime members. Download the app to get started.”

Or, you can just go down the shops with your legs if you prefer. We don’t care. We’re not your real dad. If you do decide to utilise this though, you can get £20 off a £50 spend with a code, which you can find here.

They’ve even made a video, complete with the now customary twee-music which blights all promotional guff. You can watch that instead of reading any more words.

lemmon battery  300x225 Samsung show off tech that doubles lithium ion battery lifeBattery life is one of the main bugbears of anyone who has a mobile. Well, researchers at Samsung reckon they’ve found the new technology that will enable batteries to offer up to 1.5 and 1.8 times higher capacity than those doing the rounds now.

How? Well, they’ve come up with a brand new way of coating the battery cathodes, which means they can get more juice for your device.

The report explains to those people who understand this sort of thing: “Here we report direct graphene growth over silicon nanoparticles without silicon carbide formation. The graphene layers anchored onto the silicon surface accommodate the volume expansion of silicon via a sliding process between adjacent graphene layers. When paired with a commercial lithium cobalt oxide cathode, the silicon carbide-free graphene coating allows the full cell to reach volumetric energy densities of 972 and 700 Wh l-1 at first and 200th cycle, respectively, 1.8 and 1.5 times higher than those of current commercial lithium-ion batteries.”

We fell asleep about half way through the second sentence of that. However, BATTERIES THAT LAST LONGER! WE’RE INTO THAT!

The best thing about this, is that Samsung think this is commercially viable, which means this isn’t one of those developments that stay in the lab, which means this should end up in the phones they release in the future.

When will we see this fancy new batteries? Well, Samsung are working things out, trying to improve the effectiveness of the battery.

Valve won’t help you with Steam trade scams

June 29th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

steam logo 300x300 Valve wont help you with Steam trade scamsHey gamers! Here’s some lousy news - Valve aren’t going to help you if you’re victim of a Steam trade scam!

“Our community assigns an item a value that is at least partially determined by that item’s scarcity. If more copies of the item are added to the economy through inventory rollbacks, the value of every other instance of that item would be reduced,” say Steam’s policy.

“We sympathize with people who fall victim to scams, but we provide enough information on our website and within our trading system to help users make good trading decisions.”

Valve concludes that “all trade scams can be avoided”.

So basically, they’re saying ‘it really is your own stupid fault if you get scammed, soz like’. Seems a bit odd to put the onus on the user, but there you go.

If you’re going to trade, then you might want to do some reading up on scams first, so you don’t get burned, because they’re not going to help you out one bit

You can recycle your Sky box for money!

June 29th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

sky You can recycle your Sky box for money!You may not know it, but you can recycle your Sky equipment and be rewarded for it. Of course, if your Sky box is filled with dead birds and covered in old gravy, they’re not likely to take it. However, if not, it is definitely worth checking out if you can!

Over at Sky’s dedicated page, you select your device, pop in your details and you can see what you’re entitled to if you send it back to the company.

Sky will take care of the postage and all that, so you should check out what the score is.

You can get in on the offer if you’re no longer an active Sky customer and resident in the UK who has equipment eligible for return. If you’re a current customer, this doesn’t apply to you sadly.

If you have a Sky+HD 2TB Set Top Box, you could get £20 for your troubles. Same amount is doled out for Sky+HD Set Top Box, and you can get £10 for a Sky HD Multiscreen Digibox or a Sky Hub 2.

Find out what you can get by clicking here.

athens greece1 300x200 What you need to know if youre holidaying in GreeceAre you going on holiday to Greece? Have you been watching the news and getting jumpy about it all? Well, here’s what you need to know.

Today, the 29th June 2015, the currency of Greece is still the Euro. It is advised that you take other forms of payment with you, as well as cash. Make sure you’ve got your debit card and/or credit card. However, there’s a possibility that Greek banking services (including service of ATMs and the processing of credit card payments) could become limited at short notice.

You need to make sure you have enough in Euros to cover any emergencies.

There’s also a lot of strike action going on over there, so there can be disruption to public transport in and out of Greece. There’s also a lot of demonstrations going down, especially in Athens. The government have a dedicated page regarding planned major strikes and demos, which you can see here.

More worryingly, there’s a ‘general threat’ of terrorism and acts of political violence, and again, there’s a dedicated page where you can keep informed about all that, here.

If you’re in Greece and you need to call the emergency services, the number is 112. If you have your UK mobile with you, you can dial 999 and it will automatically put you through to the Greek emergency services.

ripple coffee 297x300 You can now have detailed pictures of your privates on coffee!Behold! A new machine that can create any image on the foam of your cup of coffee! The Ripple Maker combines the mechanics behind inkjet and 3D printers, so you can have any image on top of your brew. You could have a picture of your dog! You could have an image of Ol’ Dirty from the Wu Tang Clan if you wanted!

Lets be honest. Most people are going to draw cocks on it, because that’s what all men do when given the chance of defacing something.

Anyway, the image can be put on your coffee in just 10 seconds, using coffee extract stored in ‘Ripple Pods’. Again, ‘Ripple Pods’ sounds like a euphemism for something that men might want to recreate on their frothy beverage.

Of course, things like this aren’t cheap. People wanting in, can download an app to send their own photos to the machine, which will then be recreated – but it has a price tag of $999 (£634). In addition to the up-front money, there’s also a $75 (£47) monthly subscription fee.

While that is very steep, imagine the advertising you’d get if you’re a coffee shop owner, if you have everyone constantly putting your brews all over Instagram. With everyone being crazy for coffee at the moment, this could be a very wise purchase for some boutique/hipster haunt.

Driver fined for eating a banana

June 29th, 2015 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad bananas 300x201 Driver fined for eating a bananaMost drivers are pretty aware of what they’re doing, hence the reason why you can go for entire months without seeing a bad crash. Drivers, contrary to popular belief, are not stupid because crashing your car is a) Expensive and b) Might mangle you up.

So with that, one driver was stuck in a traffic jam and thought they’d have a bite of a banana. Sounds innocent enough? Well, she was astonished to find that a policeman in an unmarked car was pulling her over and doling out a fine of £100.

Elsa Harris from Dorset said the banana was already half-peeled before she set off to work, and thought she’d have a bite while her car was stationary. The police pulled her over and then accused of momentarily not being in control of her vehicle and was given a fine and the option of three penalty points or paying for a driver awareness course.

She said: “I was dumbfounded. I was horrified that he gave me a ticket – it’s the most expensive banana I’ve ever had in my life. I had already peeled it and started driving. Then when I stopped at a roundabout I pulled down a little bit of banana skin momentarily and carried on eating and driving. Unbeknown to me, there was an unmarked police car that followed me all the way down the dual carriageway and then pulled in front of me and slammed its brakes on. It caused confusion with other drivers and people were beeping.”

“I wondered what on earth was going on and wondered if it was something coming along and he was warning me. When the officer got out he was really angry from the offset, but I was still completely unaware I had done anything wrong. The officer said I was driving without my hands on the wheel and that I was a danger to other drivers.”

“I couldn’t believe it. He put me in the back of his car like a criminal and told me what a danger I was. He gave me a docket and fined me £100 and treated me in a very dismissive and rude fashion. Understandably, it is illegal to take both hands off the wheel but I don’t think I was a danger to anybody. I have never been in trouble with the police before and a warning should have sufficed.”

“You get drink drivers, people texting and eating while they speed along. Surely, me eating a banana in a traffic jam is not that important.”