Posts Tagged ‘News’

mark zuckerberg facepalm 274x300 Zuckerberg is bringing free internet to Europe, apparentlyFacebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg has done a Q&A with people Who Like That Sort Of Thing, and has been talking himself up.

He’s said that Facebook’s free internet project, Internet.org, want to muscle in on Europe. He said: ”Yes, we want to bring Internet.org [everywhere] where there are people who need to be connected. We’re starting off by prioritizing the countries with the most unconnected people and by working with network operators and governments who are most excited about working with Internet.org to get everyone online in their countries.”

The service has already launched in India, Kenya, Zambia, Colombia and Tanzania and, in the Q&A, one person said that the service wasn’t very good, to which Zuck replied: “Having some connectivity and some ability to share is always much better than having no ability to connect and share at all”.

As long as Zuckerberg can get his hands on all that lovely personal data, which makes him so dazzlingly wealthy, the quality of the service is a mere by-product.

He also spoke about Oculus VR: “Our mission [is] to give people the power to experience anything. Even if you don’t have the ability to travel somewhere, or to be with someone in person, or even if something is physically impossible to build in our analog world, the goal is to help build a medium that will give you the ability to do all of these things you might not otherwise be able to do.”

People who like watching dirty films on the internet, take note.

mobile phone 300x225 Mobile customers paying £92 extra for handsets youve already paid for?Mobile-havers in the UK are losing £92 each per year (that’s around £355million if you add everyone up) on handsets they’ve already bought, but carry on paying for through their bill.

A lot of contacts combine the tariff and the cost of the device over a period of time, however, the cost isn’t always split, which means many don’t know when they’ve paid off the cost of their phone. Those who are with EE, Vodafone, and Three will be charged under one bundled price, while O2, Virgin Media and Tesco Mobile have separate handset and other tariff costs.

This is all according to Which!!! who gave a couple of examples, which show how overcharging occurs. For example, a contract with O2 Refresh for an iPhone 6 costing £49 a month for 5GB of data and unlimited minutes and texts points out that the handset part of the bill is £25 and the deal price will drop to £24 once the device has been paid for. However, if you do a similar thing with Vodafone, costing £48.50 a month, the price doesn’t change once the contract period is up and the handset has already been paid in full.

According to the Which!!! survey, 60% of those polled think that there should be a clear separation of tariff and handset costs in their bills. Around 97% think that price is a crucial factor when deciding whether or not to switch and 74% reckon that it is paramount that providers inform customers when their contract is coming to an end.

Which!!! big cheese Richard Lloyd said: “Consumers are being misled and as a result are collectively paying millions of pounds each year for a phone they have paid off. All mobile phone operators should separate out the cost of the handset so people don’t continue to pay after the contract comes to an end.”

“Mobile providers need to play fair and ensure their customers are not paying over the odds.”

 

android lollipop Could EU action bring an end to Android bloatware?With Google facing antitrust fines from EU competition regulators, the company have told staff that things could be getting heavy in the coming weeks.

Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, wrote in the memo to his charges, saying that a “statement of objections” to Google’s business practices in Europe would be released on Wednesday by the EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager.

Basically, the European Commission is looking at whether or not Google have been pushing their own products unfairly, at the behest of others.

“Expect some of the criticism to be tough,” Walker continued.

With everyone focusing on search results, Google Maps and various shopping tools online, one thing that could really be shook-up is on Android. Anyone with an Android phone will know that their mobile is filled with a host of apps that you can’t get rid of – and they’re mostly Google branded applications too.

Unless you’re techie and can get under the hood, many users have found at some point, that they’ve tried to delete Google apps, only to find that they’re reinstalled when your  phone does an update, or if your mobile’s settings automatically update your apps. Most users just accept the updates so they can stop the constant reminders and push notifications.

If the EU issues a “statement of objections” against Google is successful, and the company are found guilty of abusing their market dominance, not only will there be some huge fines being thrown around, but it could mean that you’ll be able to uninstall Google apps for good, if you’re not using them and they’re taking up precious memory on your device.

Google have used their platform to push their own products ahead of others on Android handsets, so you can bet that Google will be hoping they can settle out of court. Will it change the way we get to manage what is on our phones?

We’ll have to wait and see.

Want to get your dog stoned?

April 15th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

spit the dog Want to get your dog stoned?Dogs live their lives napping, constantly wanting to eat and generally looking confused at the most basic tasks, so it is rather surprising that someone has created some treats for dogs that will get them stoned.

‘Pot for pets’ isn’t a novelty product though – the people behind think that marijuana can be used as a mild pain relief for pooches. They’re thinking of old dogs with knackered hips, but you just know that young pups will be gagging to get at it, so they can play video games and eat Monster Munch all day while you’re at work.

One dog owner apparently said that her hound was all set to be put to sleep by the vet, but bought the special strain of weed and her dog got better: “Never in my wildest dreams would I have anticipated this. It brought my dog back.”

The side effect is that her dog now listens to festival reggae and wants to go to India to find itself.

There’s a few companies behind this idea and Julianna Carella, CEO of Treatibles who are one of them, is reticent to discuss the actual medical benefits of giving animals drugs.

She said: “Honestly, we’re hands off with that because we’re not doctors and it’s not our place to prescribe it in that way.”

If she’s not a doctor, then surely she’s a dealer? Either way, there’s a good chance that some baby boomer will be curious enough to buy this and find that their 15 year old human child has decided to eat the dog-weed to see what happens. We can only hope the outcome is funny and uploaded to YouTube.

Apple Watch: waiting times are cut

April 14th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Apple Watch Apple Watch: waiting times are cutWe told you that there was some concern about the delivery times of Apple Watches, thanks to the huge amount of interest generated in them.

There was talk about people having to wait months and months before they could get the new device on their wrists, but it looks like everyone is in for a pleasant surprise. Or a horrible surprise if you work with a smug early Apple adopter and you hate them.

Apple are likely to ship the smartwatches much earlier than initial estimates. They announced long shipping estimates to be on the safe side and wanted people to avoid disappointment. However, the gadgets will be delivered in advance of those guesses, but they’re not saying when. Apple, it seems, is hoping that fans will be happy with a surprise.

With everyone ordering them online, at least we’re all spared of the depressing sight that is fully grown adults camping outside Apple shops for a week so they can get the latest device, first.

Either way, Apple have sold what can only be described “head meltingly loads” in pre-orders with many versions of the watch selling out already. Looks like the company are going to have to ramp up their production so they can meet the demand.

Google’s ‘Project Fi’ app leak

April 14th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

There’s been mutterings of Google’s plans to go toe-to-toe with the mobile carriers, and rumours suggest that there’s going to be some kind of announcement in 2015.

Well, there’s been a leak which has unveiled some details about the service.

It looks like it’ll initially be a US-only thing, but Google have got form for rolling these things worldwide if the Americans take them up. One thing that Project Fi looks like it’ll be doing is only charging users based on data they actually consume and credit unused data at the end of the month.

project fi 800x420 500x262 Googles Project Fi app leak

These details came from a Tycho app that was included in an unofficial build for the Nexus 6.

You don’t need to worry about the Tycho app itself, as it isn’t that great compared to anything else. However, the app does seem to let users do more, including being able to request a new number, activate the service, start a transfer request and close/resume your account from within the app. Not earth-shattering, but useful.

Anyway, the news is the leak of Project Fi, and it looks like Google are going after heavy data users. It seems you’ll be able to switch from one device to another to carry over your Project Fi connection and number.

Google will presumably make money from adverts and using your data for whatever nefarious things they’re into. Mobile carriers might be getting squeaky bums at the prospect of all this.

Poundland top £1bn

April 14th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

poundland Poundland top £1bnPoundland have cashed in over one billion pound coins at the bank after their revenues exceeded £1bn for the first time in their last financial year. Someone’s doing alright aren’t they?

In terms of profit, pre-tax, that’s £44m to play with if the forecasts are correct. Who would have ever guessed there was so much cash to be made from cheap tights, weird plant pots and foreign sweets?

On top of the hundreds of shops they’ve had for a while, Poundland said they’d opened 60 new stores in the UK and Ireland in its last year and, of course, they’re looking at taking over the 99p Stores if regulators allow it.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the deal, which is going to add another 251 shops to their portfolio could see a cut to competition. Poundland said they’ll be making an announcement about all this in due course.

Along with Aldi and Lidl, these bargainous businesses are really hammering the bigger supermarkets like Tesco and Morrisons.

Commenting on the results, chief executive Jim McCarthy, said: “After a solid quarter of sales growth, Poundland’s revenue for the 2015 financial year was over £1bn for the first time. Despite tough trading conditions, Poundland continues to perform well and we served an average of 5.3 million shoppers a week during the quarter.”

“We have managed our costs and cash well, and we expect underlying pre-tax profits to be in line with market expectations for the year as a whole. We achieved our target of 60 net new stores in the UK and Ireland and have a very strong pipeline of store openings for the current financial year.”

“We expect to continue to deliver our growth strategy in the new financial year, notwithstanding some headwinds from a weaker Euro and a tough comparable in the first half.”

Clydesdale Bank fined £20.7m

April 14th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Clydesdale Clydesdale Bank fined £20.7mClydesdale Bank have been kicked up the bum with a £20.7m fine. What for? Why, if it isn’t our old pal Miss Selling of PPI!

The way that the bank have failed customers concerning their handling of payment protection insurance complaints is bad enough, but it turns out they also tried to mislead the City regulator, which is not on. The Financial Conduct Authority said the penalty was the largest they’ve doled out regarding PPI bother.

The FCA said that this fine partly reflected “inappropriate policies” introduced in 2011 by Clydesdale which resulted in PPI complaint handlers “not taking into account all relevant documents when deciding how to deal with complaints.”

The statement said: “In addition, between May 2012 and June 2013, Clydesdale provided false information to the Financial Ombudsman Service in response to requests for evidence of the records Clydesdale held on PPI policies sold to individual customers.”

“A team within Clydesdale’s PPI complaint handling operation altered certain system print outs (in a small number of cases) to make it look as if Clydesdale held no relevant documents and deleted all PPI information from a separate print out listing the products sold to the customer.”

“These practices were not known to or authorised by Clydesdale’s PPI leadership team or more senior management.”

Thanks to all this, the watchdog said that, thanks to Clydesdale’s shenanigans, of the 126,600 PPI complaints they oversaw between May 2011 and July 2013, around 42,000 of them could well have been unfairly thrown out and up to 50,900 upheld complaints may have paid out too little.

Good news if you’re a Clydesdale customer who has been affected, as the bank will be getting in touch to smooth everything over and sort it out. Hopefully, that’ll mean some money in your account.

Acting chief executive of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, Debbie Crosbie, said: “In 2011 we introduced changes to our policies and procedures that were designed to help us respond to PPI complaints. A number of these changes were inappropriate and have disadvantaged some of our customers. We got this wrong and I am sorry for that.”

“We deeply regret any instance which led to the Financial Ombudsman Service receiving incorrect or incomplete information from us. These practices were not authorised or condoned by the Banks. As soon as this issue was discovered, we took immediate steps to stop it; we made the regulator aware and rapidly introduced strict new monitoring procedures to prevent any recurrence.”

Don’t call it a comeback: vinyl is on the up

April 14th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

headphones 300x243 Dont call it a comeback: vinyl is on the upThere’s been a lot of talk about the comeback of vinyl, as people start spending money on things in record shops, all over again.

This comeback has got some people so excited, that a special vinyl chart has been launched. Last year, vinyl sales hit a 20-year high in the UK, which is exciting enough. This new chart launches ahead of Record Store Day on Saturday.

Martin Talbot, the chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said: “With vinyl album sales up by almost 70% already this year,vinyl junkies could well have snapped up 2 million units by the end of this year – an extraordinary number, if you consider sales were one-tenth of that just six years ago.”

Gennaro Castaldo, from industry body The BPI, said: “With sales of vinyl albums at their highest level since the heady days of Britpop and growing, the introduction of an Official Vinyl Chart at this time makes perfect sense.”

“The chart will not only help us to better understand which artists and type of music are driving this resurgence, but will also help guide a new generation of younger, but emotionally-engaged, fans as they contemplate the vinyl delights that await them.”

However, what no-one is saying is that the comeback isn’t nearly as large as people are making out. Vinyl was virtually extinct at one point, which means sales don’t have to be that high to break record sales for two decades.

We’ll let this graph show you the truth of the matter.

vinyl chart 500x395 Dont call it a comeback: vinyl is on the up

 

As you can see, the late ’80s and early ’90s is when vinyl sales took a huge hit, thanks to the advent of CDs and cheap cassettes. While it is encouraging to see people buying vinyl again, sales are nowhere near the mid ’70s peak. You can add into this that no-one buys CDs or cassettes either, which means physical sales are in a sorry state indeed.

Still, seeing as record companies ripped everyone off for years, you could argue that this is all payback.

Paddy Power are offending everyone again

April 14th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Paddy Power’s advertising schtick of ‘get a response at absolutely any cost’ came under fire this week as they promoted the Liverpool-Newcastle Premier League game by likening it to people being beaten and killed in police custody.

You can imagine that this has gone down really well.

paddy power ferguson 398x500 Paddy Power are offending everyone again

As you can see, they tweeted: “Newcastle have suffered more Kop beatings over the last 20 years than an unarmed African-American male”, which is a spectacularly insensitive way of looking at some of the things that have been happening in America recently.

While this prompts the debate of ‘we should be allowed to joke about anything’/'why on earth would you joke about something so horrible’, the response to the promotion was mixed. Some simply lolled while others tweeted things like “This is the most disgusting tweet I’ve read in probably my entire time on Twitter” and “How dare you make the execution of Black men in America the butt of your jokes.”

The timing of the tweet was certainly ill-advised, as only last week, in South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager was charged with the murder of Walter Scott. Of course, Paddy Power have previous, making jokes about the Oscar Pistorius murder trial and another gag about a blind footballer kicking a cat into a tree. They also, bafflingly, sent Dennis Rodman to North Korea to try and make the world a better place.

In response to the latest promo tweet, a spokesman for Paddy Power said: “It’s clearly an acerbic reference to recent police activity in the US. And obviously, no offence was meant.”

If they wanted attention, they certainly got it.

Xbox One – now £299.99

April 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

xbox one square Xbox One   now £299.99There’s been something of a price war between PS4 and Xbox One, as seen regularly in our daily deals. If you’ve been eyeing up a new Xbox One, then prices are about to drop right across the board.

The price of Xbox One at UK retail is £299.99, say Microsoft. The console last had a price drop in September where it fell to £330. While it was initially supposed to be a temporary promotion, prices stuck around the £330, until now.

This means we’re all in for some good prices and decent bundles from retailers as the Xbox tries to keep up the pace set by Sony’s PlayStation.

Regarding the £299 offer, a Microsoft spokesperson said: “This is a UK-only retail promotion and offers great value for fans looking to buy an Xbox One ahead of the launch of 2015’s highly-anticipated games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Batman: Arkham Knight, along with Xbox exclusives such as Rise of the Tomb Raider, Forza Motorsport 6 and Halo 5: Guardians.”

There’ll be TV adverts rolled out, backing this up. Will it be enough to tempt PS4 fans away from the PlayStation or will Sony follow suit and drop the price of their console?

Google face EU antitrust fines

April 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

google Google face EU antitrust finesEver feel like Google are a little too omnipresent in your online life? Well, the EU think the same and could well slap the web gargantuan with a £4.4bn fine.

The EU’s antitrust inquiry is looking at the way Google may or may not have abused their position by pushing their own products, regarding shopping, maps and search. This case has been dragging on for a number of years now, but it looks like the antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager is ready to file formal charges against Google.

Google’s rivals – such as Microsoft – would like to see more competition online, and are hoping to see the kind of action which saw £800m being taken in fines from Intel in 2009, after they were found to be swinging their wangs around the computer chip market.

Of course, Microsoft themselves know all about this, as they were smacked with fines worth around £1.4bn for antitrust-related issues. Google themselves, are clearly worried and have offered to settle on three separate occasions in the past, but alas, to nought.

One of the things Google offered was to give their competitors an increased visibility on their search site, and to make it easier for advertisers to move their campaigns to other companies.

This didn’t happen and it looks like there’s going to be a show of strength from the EU.

Deathwatch: Hidden speed cameras

April 13th, 2015 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

speed camera large 300x235 Deathwatch: Hidden speed camerasHidden cameras – the blight of drivers everywhere and the reason that there’s been a 25% increase in speeding fines – are looking like they could soon be a thing of the past.

After the General Election, Labour have vowed to paint these things bright yellow so drivers can spot them more easily. The Tories meanwhile, are looking at scrapping them if their current review decides they’re a bad thing.

Roads minister John Hayes, who commissioned the Highways England review, will get the report back in the summer. He’s shown concern about ‘stealth cameras’ and said that it is important that drivers know about the whereabouts of these grey menaces.

With almost 113,000 drivers getting speeding fines last year, the figure has shot up from 89,000 in 2013 and around 55,000 in 2010. These hidden cameras have been one of the reasons that there’s been a spike. And we all know that someone is making a pretty penny out of the whole thing.

So, if one of the big two parties wins the General Election, it is looking like the days of the hidden speed camera could be numbered. With £100 fines and points on licences being added for each offence, this is good news for motorists indeed.

That is, of course, if politicians manage to keep their promises.

facebook mobile 300x200 Facebook: sorry for tracking you   it was a bug, honestYou may recall that 25,000 people were suing Facebook over personal privacy issues, which were roundly laughed at by the social network.

The Belgian Privacy Commission (BPC) made claims that Facebook were tracking all visitors to their site – even those that didn’t have a Facebook account. It is one thing tracking your own customers, but those that haven’t signed up certainly won’t want to be followed around online by Zuckerberg’s company. There were also allegations that Facebook were tracking those who had explicitly chosen to opt out of being tracked.

Facebook rejected the claims, but it turns out that they were a little hasty in doing so. It turns out that they had a bug, honest.

They said the bug resulted in collection of non-Facebook user’s data via websites embedded with their ‘Like’ button and, with a straight face, said that it was an accident.

“We don’t, and this is not our practice. However, the researchers did find a bug that may have sent cookies to some people when they weren’t on Facebook. This was not our intention – a fix for this is already under way,” said Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of policy for Europe.

He continued: “The report gets it wrong multiple times in asserting how Facebook uses information to provide our service to more than a billion people around the world. If someone opts out, we no longer use information about the websites and apps that person uses off Facebook to target ads to them.”

“People can opt out of seeing ads on Facebook that are based on the websites and apps they use off Facebook through the industry-standard Digital Advertising Alliance opt out, the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance opt out or the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada opt out. Here, they can opt out of these ads from Facebook and from more than a hundred other companies. People can also opt out using their phone settings,” he added.

“Facebook honours this choice on any device where you use Facebook, whether it’s your phone, tablet, or desktop. When you opt out, Facebook no longer shows you these types of ads, but it also means Facebook does not add this information to the interest lists we use to decide what ads to show you.”

Are you having that?

Holidaymakers conned out of billions

April 13th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

holiday 300x233 Holidaymakers conned out of billionsGoing on holiday this year? Lucky you. Unless, that is, you’re being swizzed out of money by internet ne’er-do-wells.

A report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has fired off a warning to you sun-worshippers, saying that some holidaymakers who have booked vacations online have been collectively conned out of £2.2m in 2014.

Crims have been targeting online booking firms to swipe money from unsuspecting folk, and many of those only find out that they’ve been had once they arrive at their hotel, who tell them that there’s no record of their booking.

The NFIB report shows, during a 12-month period, that 1,569 cases of holiday booking fraud were reported to the police’s fraud squad, with most complaints relating to plane tickets, hacking accounts, posting fake adverts online and setting-up bogus sites. Two groups particularly targeted were sports fans and religious groups, paying for fake tickets to religious sites and/or sporting events, where places are limited and people can charge more.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “Holiday fraud is a particularly distressing form of fraud as the loss to the victim is not just financial but it can also have a high emotional impact. Many victims are unable to get away on a long-awaited holiday or visit to loved ones and the financial loss is accompanied by a personal loss.”

“We would also encourage anyone who has been the victim of a travel-related fraud to report it so that the police can build up a case, catch the perpetrators and prevent other unsuspecting people from falling victim.”