Posts Tagged ‘News’

sse SSE ditch free number   how to ring them, or anyone, for freeSSE may have dropped their prices, but they’ll be trying claw money back in other ways, like scrapping the free phone number customers can call them on.

The energy company have stopped using the 0800 number, and instead, fired up the 0345 numbers, which will cost you (up to) 9p a minute from a line land, or 40p from your mobile.

Now, you may remember that the rules around 0800 numbers changed recently. The short version is that Ofcom said that 0800 numbers had to be properly free, with no hidden costs. This change has seen a number of companies having to be straight-up about any charges that crop up when you ring them.

SSE are throwing the blame at Ofcom, even though they could actually run a free phone service if they wanted to. The energy company said that this was adding a “a significant cost”. They also assume that most people have inclusive phone minutes packages, so it should be free in the long run (tough cheese if you don’t).

Of course, if you want to ring a company for free (any company for that matter), there are ways around it. You could try the WeQ4U app for starters.

The app says: “WeQ4U is a FREE Android/iPhone App and Service that puts you through to UK 01,02,03 and 08 numbers for FREE, without queueing. Mobile users save approx. 35p per minute on their 084 and 087 calls with WeQ4U, whether they encounter a queue or not, so it saves you money and time.”

Give it a whirl. Don’t give misers your money.

Ashley Madison add new ‘mask’ security feature

February 5th, 2016 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

Ever wondered why superheroes don’t get recognised immediately when all they’ve done is put a little mask over their eyes? Well, you can now apply your sleuthing skills when perusing Ashley Madison.

The affair-having dating site has decided to add a new feature to keep your identity a secret (well, the colour of your eyebrows and if you’ve got bags under your eyes), as you can upload a picture and then put a little mask on it.

No, seriously. Have a look!

 Ashley Madison add new mask security feature

Something had to be done after the massive hack that the site suffered last year, which saw 32 million people getting their information leaked and dumped online.

That all said, since the hack was so widely publicised, it seemed to do a nice bit of free advertising for the company, as since the attack, subscriptions actually went up.

Anyway, the site said: “We respect your need for discretion so we’ve added some tools to keep your identity a secret.”

So, you can choose a black or brown mask, three different levels of blurriness, or if you’re old-school, a black bar across your face like a reader’s wives entry. We’re not sure how discrete some of these are – it feels a bit like saying “No! Darling! That couldn’t possibly be me, because they’re wearing a tie, and as you can see, I am not wearing a tie right now!”

Either way, fill your boots if that’s your thing.

App Store and iTunes is down

February 5th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo App Store and iTunes is downThere’s been a fair amount of complaining on social media, about Apple’s various outlets being down. One problem sees users being told that they’ve been frozen out of their iTunes account, being asked to validate their details, only to find they still can’t get in.

Other services are on the blink too, with problems arising with the App Store, iTunes Store, Mac App Store, Apple TV, iBooks Store, iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Match and the Volume Purchase Program. Looks like there’s issues with some iCloud services too.

People have also been reporting problems with iMessage too.

So, basically, if you’ve been trying to buy stuff through Apple, or update your apps, and been having a nightmare with it all, don’t worry yourself unduly – it isn’t just you. Of course, it is really irritating, but at least there’s a load of you that have fallen foul of it, rather than something being wrong with your account.

If you look on DownDetector, you can see that this is a global problem across multiple Apple services. There’s no word on what’s happening yet, but it is safe to assume that Apple are trying to get it all fixed as quickly as possible.

Careful! There’s a new eBay scam!

February 4th, 2016 8 Comments By Mof Gimmers

ebay Careful! Theres a new eBay scam!If you’re a big fan of eBay, then be aware that there’s a scam doing the rounds, which you won’t be a fan of, at all! As usual, the aim of the scam is to get at your personal details, and to distribute all manner of malware.

Security crew, Check Point, notified everyone of this flaw, who say that you could be in a world of trouble if you get hit by it. Basically, the scam works like this - the scam artist sets up an eBay shop, complete with listings with a bunch of products that have malicious code in them.

A pop-up message tricks you into opening the page, and gets you to download an app that looks like an official eBay thing offering a one-off 25% discount, when obviously, it gives you no such thing at all. That’s because it is a scam, if you drifted off half way through all this.

Oded Vanunu, Security Research Group Manager at Check Point, said: “The eBay attack flow provides cybercriminals with a very easy way to target users: sending a link to a very attractive product to execute the attack. The main threat is spreading malware and stealing private information.”

“Another threat is that an attacker could have an alternate login option pop up via Gmail or Facebook and hijack the user’s account.”

eBay, at the time of writing, haven’t managed to lock this scam down, so stay vigilant! And here’s a video of the scam, so you know what you’re looking for.

Keep ‘em peeled.

windows 10 Youre about to get an automatic upgrade to Windows 10If you have a PC, then it’ll be getting Windows 10 soon, automatically. As of February 8th, the update is going to upgrade your operating system for you, even if your settings say that you’d like to do it manually.

Don’t worry though, as this won’t cost you anything and isn’t a trial version that you’ll have to pay for, or turn down at a later date. If you hate the idea of Windows 10, then you’ve got reason to be annoyed.

Microsoft has said that you’ll be getting a notification which will pop-up on your screen, confirming the switch to the newest OS, but that’ll only happen once the files have been downloaded already.

Now, if you really, really, really don’t want it, then Microsoft say that you’ll be able to ditch Windows 10 and revert to your old favourite within 30 days.

Now, Windows 10 is a little bit too keen when it comes to hooveirng up your data, and memorising keystrokes and the like, but no fear! Once you’ve done the switch over, check out our super-easy way of stopping Microsoft from getting at all your personal stuff, by clicking here.

The response to the new system has been largely positive, so if you’ve been a bit nervous about it, don’t worry. Also, this change isn’t going to affect business customers, so you don’t have to give your IT team too much of a headache.

Here’s a video of some hidden features on Windows 10 that you might like

O2/Three price freeze promise

February 4th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

really nice mobile phone action 300x231 O2/Three price freeze promiseThere’s been some concern that prices will go up, if Three and O2 merge. Of course, with the way Three have been treating their legacy customers, it isn’t surprising that suspicion is being aroused by the whole thing.

Well, the firm behind the proposed deal – Hutchison – have vowed that there’s going to be a five-year price, if the £10bn merger goes through. The promise is that the price of voice minutes, texts, or megabytes will not go up for customers.

Canning Fok, group managing director, said: “From the outset, we have followed the principle that as technology improves people should always get more and pay less for their mobile services. That has not always made us popular with our competitors.”

“In short, over the next five years Three+O2′s customers will be getting more and paying less than they do today for mobile services and the wholesale market will also be better off.”

“Over the coming weeks the promises I have laid out will be an important part of the case Three will put to Europe’s competition authorities.”

This merger will see the new company becoming the biggest mobile operator in the UK, so there’s a lot at stake here, as the competition heats up, given that BT and EE are soon to become one.

kettlefoods jpg 241x300 Product Recall: Some Kettle Chips have plastic in themSome bags of Kettle Chips have been recalled, because they’ve got bits of plastic in them that looks like crisps. No, honestly.

The crisps in question include 150g bags of the lightly salted variety, which have been sold at Asda, as well as 40g bags of the sea salt and balsamic vinegar crisps, and the 40g mature cheddar and red onion crisps, as well as the 30g multipacks of lightly salted Kettle Chips.

All of the affected crisps have a ‘best before’ of 28th May 2016. All other flavours and bags with different ‘best before’ dates on are fine.

Kettle Chips themselves say: “Kettle Foods Ltd has identified that a very limited number of bags of KETTLE Chips products, all with a best before date of 28th May 2016, may contain pieces of plastic that are similar in appearance to the crisps.”

“As a precautionary measure, we are asking customers not to eat the product and to contact us for a full refund. If you have any of the products referred to in this notice please return the empty pack for a full refund including postage, together with your name and address to Kettle Foods Ltd, Barnard Road, Norwich NR5 9JP.”

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank our customers in advance for their cooperation.”

If you want more information about all this, or want to speak to someone at the company, then you should call the Freephone number 0800 616996 or get yourself over to kettlefoods.co.uk.

Has Age charity been promoting E.On deals for cash?

February 4th, 2016 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

about british gas image Has Age charity been promoting E.On deals for cash?Here’s a worrying accusation – the charity Age UK may have been promoting unfavourable energy deals in exchange for money from E.On. The watchdog, Ofgem, are looking into the claim, after an investigation by The Sun.

The paper claimed that the energy deals that were being offered by Age UK with supplier E.On could well have been more expensive than necessary, with cheaper deals available. The Sun continued that, in return, Age UK pocketed around £6m from the energy company.

Given that Age UK are there to serve pensioners, who are often vulnerable when it comes to things like this, this is serious indeed. If it is true that the charity have been doing pensioners out of money, and messing with anything that might affect the warmth of their home, there’s going to be hell to pay.

It is worth pointing out that Age UK have rejected these claims, while E.On have simply said that their tariffs are as competitive as anyone else’s. Okay? Will that suffice, watching lawyers?

Now, back to The Sun’s report – they have said that Age UK recommended a special rate from E.On, which typically costs pensioners £1,049 for the year, which is £245 more than the cheapest rate which you could’ve been offered in 2015. The paper also said that the charity got around £41 from the energy firm, for every person signed-up, which totalled somewhere in the region of £6m.

A spokesperson for Age UK said: “We strongly reject the allegations and interpretation of figures in this article. Energy prices change all the time and we have always advised older people to look out for new good deals and we will continue to do so.”

E.On said: “We always work to make sure our tariffs, for all customers, are competitively priced and that is further evidenced by the fact that our current Age UK tariff was the UK’s cheapest product of its type in the UK when it was launched, a two-year fixed deal, and when we launched our current one-year fixed product, it was also the cheapest in the UK.”

Ofgem are going to look into this and, if there’s any foul play, expect some huge fines to be handed out.

Are the Tube strikes close to ending?

February 4th, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

london underground tube 300x210 Are the Tube strikes close to ending?There could well be an end in sight to the problems that have seen strikes on the London Underground, which also means the Night Tube could be a reality.

A new pay deal has been offered to staff, and they’ve been urged to accept the offer. Of course, nothing is final yet, but one of the big players in this – the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union – have said that they’re in agreement with Transport for London (TfL) with their new offer.

Of course, there’s other unions involved in this situation who have to agree to the new deal as well, but this is very encouraging.

Basically, the low-down is that there’s going to be a lot of new staff being hired, and everyone’s going to be guaranteed a decent work/life balance. And there’s a decent pay package involved too.

The 10,000 people who work for TfL will now vote on whether or not they like the sound of all this on February 11th.

Mick Cash, RMT’s general secretary, said: “Following consultation with your representatives, the National Executive Committee will be recommending that you vote YES to accept the company’s offer as it relates solely to Pay & Night Tube remuneration and is the best offer attainable in the current climate.”

All the updates from TfL on the strike, can be found here. The Bitterwallet guide to getting around London without the Underground, can be found here.

Have Microsoft bought SwiftKey?

February 3rd, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Windows 300x300 Have Microsoft bought SwiftKey?Microsoft have apparently bought the hugely popular keyboard app SwiftKey for $250 million. It is thought that they’ve bought this, not just for its popularity, but also that it can be used with artificial intelligence in Microsoft’s imminent Word Flow smart keyboard.

The app, if you haven’t ever seen it or used it, allows you to type text without removing your finger from your screen. It uses AI to predict which words you’re using, and analyses your writing style to improve the more you use it.

It has topped the charts on iOS and Android platforms, and has technology that can learn slang, which emoji you prefer, and people’s nicknames. The company themselves say that they’ve saved almost two trillion keystrokes and over 23,000 years in combined typing time.

It looks like this.

However, like a lot of businesses with a good idea, SwiftKey has not exactly been a great business model. That’s where Microsoft are hoping to change things.

Microsoft have indeed been busy of late, buying to-do app Wunderlist, the Sunrise calendar app, and Acompli. It looks like Microsoft are staying relevant by acquiring third-party apps. Could be a winner, provided they don’t make a hash of it.

old driver car Would removing road markings make for better drivers?Would you be a better driver if someone removed the white lines on the road? Well, this is something that is being thought about, in a bid to slow people down.

It seems the uncertainty that comes with roads that have no markings, could make things safer. Research is saying that doing this could see average speeds reduced by as much as 13%. Are you thinking this is crazy talk, by any chance?

Either way, there’s some pilot schemes happening, which are being drawn up in Norfolk, which would see that lines on narrow roads being erased. There’s already been trials in Derby and Wiltshire, and lifted lines have not been replaced on three roads in South London.

Transport for London’s experiment said that “removing central white lines resulted in a reduction in vehicle speeds” and that the results displayed a “statistically significant” reduction in vehicle speeds as a result of the removal of central markings. That’s because these lines “can provide a psychological sense of confidence to drivers that no vehicles will encroach on ‘their’ side of the road.”

“There can also be a tendency for some drivers to position their vehicles close to a white line regardless of the traffic conditions, believing it is their ‘right’ to be in this position” they added.

While some are in favour of this, the AA’s head of road policy, while talking to The Times, is not one of them, saying that the white lines saved lives.

So what do you make of this? Do you think a driver’s common sense would see that the roads were largely safe, or indeed, do you not like the idea because you worry about the lack of common sense that some people have?

Boots do away with charging more for pink things

February 3rd, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

boots logo 300x182 Boots do away with charging more for pink thingsThe price of products is obviously something that is of interest to us all, especially when we think certain prices are unfair. One of the things that has been talked about a lot, is the ‘pink tax’. Now, this is basically a thing that sees items that are aimed at women being priced up, simply because they’re pink.

There have been various online petitions and campaigns against this and, surprisingly, Boots have listened.

For example, Boots were selling eye cream for women at £9.99, but the same product for men would have cost £7.99. Razors for men were being sold for £1.49 for ten, while women’s razors were sold for £2.29 for eight. Obviously, you could argue that women could just buy the razors aimed at men, but that’s not the point. If overpricing women is systematic, then products that have no male-equivalent may also be marked-up.

Boots said in a statement: ”We have clear pricing principles that ensure all of our products are priced individually based on a range of factors including formulation, ingredients, and market comparison and were surprised and disappointed to see recent examples in the press that did not reflect our own standards.”

“Boots disposable razors and Botanics eye roll on, are indeed exceptional cases which do not completely meet our principles and we have taken action to correct these with immediate effect.”

The Times even did an investigation into all this, and they found that there were hundreds of examples of the ‘pink tax’ on toys, clothes, and a host of beauty products, as well as other things.

Naturally, men may well be stung over male-only products too, which means they should kick up a stink with retailers, rather moan at women for kicking up a stink about the stuff that matters to them. That probably won’t be happening any time soon though, eh?

No-one likes the new Uber logo

February 3rd, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Uber have had a redesign, and of course, with change, comes people moaning about it. Seems that the most vocal about the new Uber logo, are those that really hate it. Obviously, most people can cope and have been doing more useful things like drinking a brew or blaming silent trumps on the dog.

Anyway, there’s going to be an update, and you’ll get the new logo.

CaSATZdWcAAYLoz No one likes the new Uber logo

As you can see, the ‘U’ has been replaced with something else. Uber say that this new logo is connected to bits and atoms.

Some Twitter users were not at all impressed. One fully grown adult actually said: “The new Uber app icon is freaking me out. It looks like it’s in a constant state of updating,” while another wailed about it being “so odd”. Another adult human being said: “Dear Uber: your old logo was very bad but useful. Your new logo is very bad and useless. Yours truly, Everyone.”

Travis Kalanick, founder and chief executive of the company, says: “The early app was an attempt at something luxury – that’s where we came from, but it’s not where we are today.”

He also said that the old logo seemed cold and “this belied what actually Uber was – a transportation network.”

Now, there’ll be this new one, which will have a unique colour for all 65 countries it operates in. The interface will be the same as it was before and, naturally, black cab drivers will still seethe at the very mention of it.

Anyway, if you’re into marketingspeak, Uber have done a video about their fondness for atoms. Check it out.

Petrol price drop – looks like it is over

February 3rd, 2016 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

petrol Petrol price drop   looks like it is overIf you’ve been enjoying the price drops in fuel for your car, don’t get used to it as it looks like it is over. For now at least.

The RAC are predicting that the cost of petrol and diesel at the pumps is going to start nudging upward again. With wholesale prices on the rise again, last week’s fuel-for-under-a-quid aren’t looking like they’ll be coming back any time soon.

The RAC’s fuel guy, Simon Williams, told Sky: “Motorists have seen petrol and diesel prices reach their lowest points since 2009.”

“January saw the oil price go into free-fall with talk of a barrel dropping to $20 and possibly even to $10 dollars, but since the low of $26 a barrel the market has started to creep back up.”

“However, the oil market is notoriously volatile, even in more stable economic times, so it’s still possible that the price could drop back again.”

So don’t lose hope drivers! The fuel market is up-and-down more times than Charlie Brown’s mood, but any drop in price won’t be happening soon.

Three new Apple devices next month?

February 3rd, 2016 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

apple Three new Apple devices next month?Do you like spending money on Apple gadgets? Well, you’re in luck, because it looks like there’s going to be three new things you can buy in March - the iPhone 5SE, the iPad Air 3 and a new version of the Apple Watch.

Some rumours are so specific, that the date for the new devices is March 15th, so if you like watching glitchy livefeeds of Apple events, you should mark the date in your diary. Or not. No-one’s forcing you. Of course, it might just be an announcement, rather than Apple showing off their new wares, so don’t get your hopes up.

The new phone is rumoured to be the iPhone 5SE, the 6C, or a 7 Mini, depending on who you’re listening to, and it’ll be a new entry level phone, to replace the 5C. You can assume it’ll be lighter, faster, have a better camera, and all the usual things you’d expect from an updated handset.

It should act as a teaser for the iPhone 7, which is due to hit the shelves some time in September of this year.

As for the iPad Air 3, quite a few people thought that we’d see that just before Christmas. Again, it’ll be an updated version of a previous model, and will be lighter, thinner, and will have improved speakers – possibly something tied in with Beats.

The new Apple Watch won’t be a huge change from previous models, apart from some new software and no doubt, a load of new straps you can buy for it. There’s talk of a FaceTime-camera being built into the smartwatch.

Obviously, these are all just unconfirmed mutterings, which will be met with a mixture of excitement from Apple fans, jaded sighs from people who think Apple isn’t as good as it used to be, and outright anger from people who don’t like Apple at all. It wouldn’t be Apple if it wasn’t for all three.