Tag: online

Sainsbury’s borrows Amazon Prime now idea

jamie-sainsbury-twatSainsbury’s is trialling a one hour home delivery service that is similar in concept to Amazon’s ‘Prime Now.’

Sainsbury’s is testing its new service, called ‘Chop Chop’, in Wandsworth which will have a delivery fee of £4.99.

Customers living within three kilometres of its Wandsworth store can order up to 20 Sainsbury’s products for delivery to their home within an hour, using an app on Apple devices.  Of course this means that people with proper phones will not be able to take part, and the target market will have to ask a responsible adult if they can actually use their shiny toy to buy food.

Sainsbury’s Chief Executive Mike Coupe says he could see potential demand for the provision of a basket of food on a very short time scale.

He noted that Sainsbury’s has the nationwide store network, with large fresh food ranges in all of them, and the online retail knowledge, to provide such a service if the market develops.

Amazon launched Prime Now in London a year ago and it is now available to more than 30 percent of the UK population.

The mobile app is available to Prime members and offers one-hour delivery on more than 15,000 items for 6.99 pounds, or delivery at no extra charge within a choice of two-hour, same-day delivery slots.

Items available include essentials such as fresh milk, nappies, coffee and chocolate, as well as games consoles, toys, gifts and sports equipment.

Amazon also launched a British version of its U.S. AmazonFresh food delivery service, stepping up the pressure on the traditional big supermarkets.

 

 

Groupon downsizes

before-and-after-pet-fit-club2.jpg.pagespeed.ce.hhSl6c1-q0X9JD1-lV4hOnline discount outfit Groupon is slashing its staff and pulling out of several countries in a sign that all is not well.

The company is cutting 1,100 jobs mostly in its sales and customer service departments.  This will cost $35 million.

Groupon is also ceasing operations in several markets internationally: Morocco, Panama, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Thailand and Uruguay will all be closing.

The closures come on top of recent exits in Turkey and Greece and a sell-off of a controlling stake in Groupon India to Sequoia.

Writing in his bog, the ironically named COO Rich Williams said that it is all about the size of your feet.

“We believe that in order for our geographic footprint to be an even bigger advantage, we need to focus our energy and dollars on fewer countries.”

The short statement Groupon has filed with the SEC notes that between $22 million and $24 million of the charges will come in Q3 2015, and that the full restructure should be completed by September 2016.

“Substantially all of the pre-tax charges are expected to be paid in cash and will relate to employee severance and compensation benefits, with an immaterial amount of the charges relating to asset impairments and other exit costs.

Cost savings from the cuts will be reinvested in the business.

For the past several years, Groupon has been on a long-term mission to rebalance its strategy from a focus on daily deals to a more diverse business based around local commerce. The company has had mixed success, though.

Brits lead way on watching less TV

old-school-tvA survey from IHS looked at major European TV viewing habits and found that Brits watch less conventional TV than ever before.

IHS surveyed people in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The Europeans watch far less TV than the USA, with Americans averaging nearly six hours every day. The data is based in viewing habits in 2014, contrasted with 2013.

In contrast, British people watch less than three hours a day, but have shifted to catch up and recorded programmes.

The French spend 216 minutes watching broadcast TV a day but the speed of online growth is slower than in the UK.

In Germany, traditional broadcasting remains strong, while in Italy people watch more broadcast than before. The Spanish watched an average of 242 minutes of TV every day, but online video viewing has grown by 24 percent.

American people watch 531 minutes of TV a day and IHS believes that while Europeans turn on the radio for background noise, US citizens would rather switch on the telly.

Oldest computer magazine dies

The oldest popular computing magazine, Computerworld, has shut down its print version after nearly half a century.

IDG’s Computerworld was launched on June 14, 1967 and was touted as the “first newspaper for the full computer community”.

But dead trees will no longer be sacrificed for Computerworld, as editor-in-chief Scot Finnie writes, it will publish its last print edition next week, almost exactly 47 years after the first one appeared. The brand will live on as a website and as a monthly digital magazine.

The move follows the death of Pat McGovern, who started IDG in 1964 as a research firm and put out Computerworld on a shoe string. IDG recently closed PC World as a print edition.

What is surprising many pundits is that Computerworld lasted in print form for so long. Few of the old print magazines are left. Tech news moves so fast the idea of a weekly print magazine giving any current news, or having access to stuff before anyone else, has been eclipsed.

Computerworld might have survived a little longer because it was aimed at IT decision makers in big companies who often wanted more detailed management information which could not be found online. It also did not have to be quite so topical.

We can’t say we are surprised, one thing that is certain is that the days of the print magazine are long gone. But so far no one has worked out a winning way of making useful content for money. The traditional publishing houses are still scratching around looking for a way to sell the news that is profitable. 

Barclaycard sucked into Italian website disaster

British bank Barclays appears to have gone native in Italy with its Barclaycard service.

For a long time, Italian banks have had a reputation for being not exactly helpful. This has saved them money lately. They were largely unaffected by the banking crash because they forgot to loan much money out.

Now it seems that Barclays, which is the only British bank working in Italy, appears to have gone completely native.

Not only are local branches spontaneously closed for no apparent reason, the move to online banking has created a website site www.barclays.it that is full of holes which makes it impossible to do anything basic like order a Barclaycard.

The website appears helpful, telling you all you need to know about the different types of Barclaycard, what you have to pay and how you can do it.

It is more or less what you would expect from a modern banking site, until you come to order the card itself.

The site tells you can order your Barclaycard by visiting the site you are on, visiting Barclaycard.it, phoning up a 24 hour hotline, or going into your branch.

However nowhere on the site does it allow you to apply for a card. Indeed if you go to the Barclaycard sister site www.barclaycard.it, you find similar information, but can’t order one either.

If you call up the 24 hour help line to apply you are asked to input the card number that you have not got before they will put you through to anyone. In fact when we tried to contact them on a Saturday the office appeared to be on an automatic message due to an Italian national holiday.

If you decide to go to your local branch you will find a very helpful person who says you have to apply online for a Barclaycard and she can only do paperwork for an American Express Card.

It appears then that the British Barclays is trying to avoid losing money in Italy. It sets up a nice website, which everyone has to be referred to, and then twice “forgets” to stick the page where you apply for one, thus preventing anyone from applying for one and getting into debt.

Unless it really was a mistake and it was just not spotted by the site QA. 

News Corp buries damaging emails

Thousands of emails which allege that News Corp promoted pay TV piracy have been taken down from a document hosting site in the US.

It appears that the not-for-profit organisation DocumentCloud removed the emails after News Corp and its subsidiary NDS had a word.

According to the Australian Fiinancial Review, the emails contained “confidential and trade secret information” althugh the fact that they fly in the face of denials from NDS chief Abe Peled and News Corp chief operating officer Chase Carey that News Corp tried to use pay TV piracy to kill off competition.

You can still see many of the emails are still available on the afr.com website.

NDS asked that they be removed, although it admitted that they were authentic. Part of the reason DocumentCloud asked Fairfax Media, which publishes the Financial Review, which used the emails to stand up a story to indemnify it against any future legal action. Fairfax Media said no.

DocumentCloud is a free service operated by journalism organisation Investigative Reporters and Editors at the University of Missouri.

Ironically the service is used by The Times, as well as The Guardian, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Sydney ­Morning Herald and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Financial Review used DocumentCloud to uncover details in NDS emails of a £2,000 payment the company made to Surrey Police in the UK in September 2000 “for assistance given to us”.

It raised further questions about News Corp’s relationship with the UK police.

NDS claimed that it was a “one-off charitable donation”. 

Google plans to sell tablets online

Online search outfit Google is building an online store that will sell tablets, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The store will sell Google-branded tablets as well as models made by Samsung and Asus.

Google has not had much luck with selling stuff online. Sales of its first Android phone, the Nexus One, which were made through a webstore were slow and sold better through mobile operators and other stores.

Google hopes that tablets will be a better target because they are meant to be used in the home and on domestic wi-fi rather than on the street and depending on a mobile network. The Journal said that there is no date set for the opening of the online store.

One of the main motivations for Google’s bid to push into hardware again has been the fact that Motorola’s mobile division, which will give it the ability to manufacture its own handsets and tablets.

The Journal said that Google has considered subsidising the cost of its tablets  to compete on pricing with Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire.

 

* See Also: Channel is missing tablet opportunity

16 percent of Brits have never gone online

8 million adults in the UK had never used the internet in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics.

Although 41.99 million adults in the UK had used the interent at some time, or 83.5 percent of the adult population, the 8.2 million who had never gone near it make up 16.3 percent of the adult population. 224,000 more people started using the web since the third quarter of last year. 

UK citizens who were less likely to go online included over 65s, the widowed, and the disabled, according to the report.

The youngest generation surveyed, aged 16 to 24, were the biggest users of the web at a staggering 98.7 percent having gone online. For whatever reason, men were slightly more likely to go online than women, at 86.1 percent used the web compared to 81 percent of women.

8.1 percent of people on pay of under £200 per week had never used the internet. According to the survey, the more people are paid per week, the more likely they were to go online, with absolutely zero non-users for those in the highest pay band of £800 – £899 per week.

The government is still keen to push web use across the country and has rolled out several initiatives to boost the internet in the UK. 

Gargantuan supermarket Tesco, for its part, is trying to get more people online while filling its own pockets – having turned ISP and offering a package for just £2.50 a month, undercutting cheap broadband provider TalkTalk.

TalkTalk said: “TalkTalk remains Britain’s best value home phone and broadband provider. Customers taking Essentials from TalkTalk along with our Value Line Rental save £42 a year compared with Tesco’s ‘evening and weekend’ package. Our Plus customers taking Value Line Rental save £26.25 per year compared to Tesco ‘anytime’.”

Woody Harrelson turned into meme after spectacular social media fail

White Men Can’t Jump star Woody Harrelson, 50, found himself the latest in a seemingly unending string of cynical marketers trying to artificially create a viral on social media, and failing spectacularly.

The ex-Cheers actor is appearing in a new movie called Rampart. Much of the internet will be familiar with the film’s title, but less so with its content, as either he or his agent took to Reddit to get its billion plus userbase to “ask him anything”.

Unfortunately for Harrelson, the thread was turned upside down when he or his agent refused to answer questions about literally anything except his new film, Rampart.

After Woody Harrelson’s no-show on much of the questions, rumours started to appeal. One of them said he took a girl’s virginity after prom and never called back.

Now, a quick search reveals threads like “Upjerk to raise Kim Jong Il form [sic] the dead. <Also starring in Rampart>”. Another is titled “IMPORTANCE LEVEL = RAMPART”, and “RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART RAMPART”.

It just highlights the growing consciousness against trying to go viral. A thread on Reddit can work, if the celebrity involved is willing to put the time in to actually ask questions. Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell recently created a thread that went down well, and even Rampart’s director Oren Moverman answered questions about a month ago

The highest rated comment on the original post, from a redditor called sailormooncake, reads: 

“Mr. Harrelson/Mr. Harrelson’s PR agents:

“You answered a total of 4 questions here today, and when I say “answered”, I mean that loosely. You have also embarassed Mr. Harrelson in the process. Please inform the rest of Hollywood that Reddit is not a publicity outlet and that Redditors don’t tolerate this kind of crap.”

Lesson learned? For Rampart’s marketing team, probably. For others? Probably not.

Marketers continue to misunderstand social platforms – the key word being ‘social’. Rather than an unthinking, nodding and drooling malleable receptical of consumers for advertising, the popularity of social websites is that they are made of people and communities.

Reddit is one of the best examples for web communities there is.

Rampart’s PR agency’s actions are the equivalent of politely knocking on the front door of a house, then brazenly walking around, stripping the walls, and pasting promotional posters over family photos.

Jim Dowling, managing partner at Cake, which looks after social media campaigns for the likes of Sony and the Carphone Warehouse, agrees that Woody’s team really missed the mark.

Speaking to TechEye, Dowling said: “The thing I love most about social media, is that it has reminded us all of one thing. We’re all humans.

“We’re not businesses, institutions, brands, celebrities. We all breathe, sleep, eat and have a life whoever or whatever it is we do. Social media is human-to-human communication with a computer keyboard in the way. All the hierarchy gets flattened.

“If you’re a human – ordinarily – you don’t like being sold to. You look for people you trust. If you want to gain the trust of anyone, you look them in the eye, tell them things straight, and do what you say you’re going to do. That’s all Woody needed to do, and then people may have listened to what he had to say about his film.”

Speaking with TechEye, SEO firm Greenlight’s social media director, Anna O’Brien, said there is a way to get it right: “Social media channels can be great tools for promotion- if you understand them. As a reddit geek myself, I would have the exact same reaction. This channel is notorious for poking fun at those that just don’t get it.

“The reddit community demands one thing of posters; if you’re going to participate, learn the rules first. It’s not difficult. Both Zach Braff and Danny Pudi both have had wildly successful AMA threads, but only because they came into the experience knowing they could and would be asked anything.”

How to stop Facebook and Google trampling on your privacy rights

Companies like Facebook and Google keep infringing on our rights to privacy. Their secretive and menacing privacy policies are ever reaching into our data, handing over the details of your life to third parties when our contacts agree, giving us little choice over who has our information.

We also have the government in the UK talking about shutting down social media in times of unrest and increasing monitoring of social networks, while the US has recently been trying to push through HR 1981, a far reaching data retention bill. Many other countries in Europe already do this, Denmark and Norway to name two, having adopted the EU data retention directive. Denmark goes further, imposing more monitoring than the directive requires.

We are also tracked online pretty much everywhere. Looked at something on Amazon recently?

Somewhere, sat on a data bank, there is a record of your purchases, planned purchases, and things you’ve looked at. Does your Amazon account send your confirmations and delivery reports about purchases to Gmail? Now Google know what you’ve bought, too. Then there’s e-tags and similar technology, which even if you delete cookies, they just reproduce them. Your IP is logged by law under the data retention act (UK).

Depending on the country, all of your activities may also be logged. Many countries have such strict censorship or such oppression of rights that you cannot be yourself online without facing privacy intrusions. Be sure to check the data retention that your country has in place to see how extreme the monitoring of your activities is. This may give you reason to follow these steps, if the rest isn’t enough to persuade you.

It’s time to fight back.

There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself online, so here are a couple of basics.

Yes, it will take effort, maybe a little money, and a lot of reading up, but if you want to keep your privacy it’s worthwhile. It’s also a big ‘up yours’ to governments, Google and others who make a mockery of security around your data, and in some cases, profit from it.

This will not necessarily make you completely anonymous, these are just some basic steps, but it does prevent a lot of your footsteps being traced back to you, giving you some semblance of privacy on the internet.

These suggestions aren’t to be taken lightly, and please remember that abusing these things for ill gives the opportunity for governments to impose restrictions on them. Use them responsibly or don’t bother. Handle your own data. Yes, this one is really obvious, but many people seem to forget that using services online usually has a stipulation of ‘hey we can see what you’re doing!’.

Do you use a Gmail account when you sign up to services? What email address do you use for Facebook? For Amazon? For anything? Do you use webmail a lot? Stop. Get yourself a domain.

It’s cheap and most providers have a nice management system in place so that you can handle your email addresses and so on. Make yourself an email address, set it up in Evolution or whatever email software it is you use. Check that the privacy policy of the webmail service your domain provider has and see if the data stored there is used for anything, instead of just sitting there.

Hosting providers are less likely to be using it for marketing purposes than popular webmail providers like Google, keep in mind that you’re paying them to handle it. If you’re concerned about whether privacy will be available, or you can’t find anything about it, email the domain provider before you sign up and ask what your options are with regards to email privacy. Also ask whether you can permanently delete your content. Again, read their privacy policy. I cannot state enough how important reading the privacy policies of services is when it comes to controlling your data.

Be sure to opt out of showing your personal information in the website’s whois.

Start pretending to be from another country.

That doesn’t mean donning a kimono or wearing a string of garlic, it means getting a VPN. A virtual private network is a tunnelling service. You effectively, using lay terms here, connect to another computer somewhere else in the world and use that IP instead of your own. This makes it much harder for people to log your traffic online. There are plenty of public VPNs available if you believe your security may be at risk due to your habits online.

This is not a suggestion of ‘you can go and do illegal stuff because no one knows it’s you!’, people misusing it in this way risk the legality of the services for those who may actually need them for a number of reasons, or those who want to protect themselves from the prying eyes of companies and governments for their own peace of mind.

There are a lot of people around the world who may be at risk if they were found to be speaking out online, for example. So if you want anonymity to be a little shit, congratulations on making it harder for us who have legitimate reasons.

Private VPNs are available pretty cheap. They do keep information from when you sign up, and some will log your traffic online. Check the privacy policy before you sign up for any private VPN service to see exactly how much privacy you have when using their service. Some will state categorically that they do not log information, but they will still have your details from when you sign up for an account. Others may log absolutely everything you do, and then sell the data to a third party. They do not accept illegal use of their services, and rightly so, and they will hand over your information if you are found to be using it for ill.

Public VPNs are much more private, the whole point of them being anonymity. For most, there is no logging, there is no sign up and so they don’t have any contact details on you. There are many ‘proxy’ sites you can use too. You go to the site, you type in the address of the website you would like to surf anonymously, and voilà! There you go. Again, be sure to check any privacy policy attached to these sites. If you do not find one, do not use it.

Tor is a service which makes your web browsing anonymous. This has been a point of contention recently because of the activities of hacktivist groups who openly discuss the use of it. You download and install, make sure all your settings are right, and then you get surfing.

When you open it, it will tell you the IP address that you are surfing from, and it gives you the option of changing your address if you want to. It also features NoScript, another handy app.

Get NoScript here.  

This comes as standard with Tor, however you can still use it with Firefox without the use of Tor. It allows you control the scripts, cookies and other code websites try to load. You can blacklist certain things, whitelist certain things, and basically handle the amount of scripts that websites are allowed to load on your computer, hence ‘no script’.

From the website: “NoScript selectively, and non-intrusively, blocks all scripts, plug-ins, and other code on Web pages that could be used to attack your system during visits”.

Clear your browsing data.  

This one is probably obvious but you’d be amazed how many people leave their cookies, temp files, and everything else, just building up on their PC. This is not a clever thing to do.

Cookies and other seemingly harmless files are used to track what you do online. Companies leave a little unique ID in a cookie, which identifies that the person using the site is you. Every time you go to that site, if the cookie is there, they know. This is more data for them.

Regularly clear your browsing data. Not sure if it’s clear? Clear it again. Remove cookies, temp files, everything. Fine, you’ll be logged out of your favourite sites, but it’s a small price to pay and you can always just log back in each time.

Pseudonyms and aliases.  Google+ has introduced a ‘real names policy’. This means they want you to use your real name, and not a pseudonym on their services. The backlash from users has been immense.

The reason for the policy? Here’s what Google’sEric Schmidt had to say. “The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a name service for people. Governments will demand it.”

Apparently it’s dangerous for you to be anonymous.

Your government will demand that you have no anonymity on the internet and this implies that it justifies the naming policy! This is a dangerous idea, and it’s dangerous for Google to impose. Are you in China, using the internet to get a message out about human rights? Good luck with not getting arrested.

There’s a system in place to suspend the accounts of people whose names do not fit their policy.

This can still be your name, but if Google says it’s not? Well, there goes your account.

A way around this, if you don’t want to use your real identity for whatever reason (and many, many people have very legitimate reasons) is to use one that fits their policy. Common or bland looking names such as Jonathon Smithson are unlikely to raise any red flags. So instead of using a handle or nickname (hotgirl928143 will flag, stupid) use a made up name.

A first name, and a last name. Try not to make it too obscure, or too bland. Use your imagination a little. The same goes for on just about any other site. If you really want to be anonymous, do not use your name. Especially if it’s uncommon. Make up an identity and use that. Perhaps even make a few.

Don’t be sentimental about your online content.  

Much like ‘clear your browsing data’, this one is really obvious too. Many people are incredibly sentimental about the data they have put online. How much information is on your Facebook wall? Guess what! Facebook gets to keep that as long as it’s there.

A lot of users only keep it because it’s a time line, almost a diary, of the events that have happened over so many years. Records of interactions with your friends. It’s like your life written out online. Facebook plays on this, a lot. When you try and either deactivate or delete you account, you get a nice line of your friend’s tagged photos with the message ‘x will miss you!’. So stay, and minimise the amount of information that is stored on your wall and profile.

You can download your Facebook profile from the account settings. This allows you to download and keep everything that is on your wall if you’re a little sentimental. Every documentation of events, every photo, every status update, all in one handy .zip file. It might take a lot of time, but clearing the old posts from your wall will take a lot of data out of Facebook’s hands.

Every month or so, download a new backup from the account settings tab, and wipe out the old again. This counts for other ‘services’ too. Twitter and Google+ statuses. Old forum posts (if you can’t delete the post, you can always edit out the content). You don’t necessarily have to delete all of it, but have a think about how much of it identifies you, or things about you.

If you have a webmail account, store all of your old emails locally.

You can download them to Outlook or Evolution, and then export them to a file for backup, if your webmail does not offer the chance for you to do this. Then purge the emails stored online. Don’t use the same username everywhere. This one is more about hiding in search results and preventing your information from being easily searchable. Although do remember, data being linked across the web is not good for your privacy on the whole.

Does your gaming nickname cross over with places where you speak to your family, or real life friends? I’m sure you can see how separating them can make a lot of sense. What about support groups? If you are signed up to a forum for help with mental health, physical illness, or anything else, does that use the same name as, say, your Facebook account? Is your username the same everywhere? If you search for your username, does it link to a lot of different websites? This means that if someone wants to find out what you’ve been up to online, it’s only a quick Google search away.

This can include potential employers, current employers, co-workers or just about anyone else.

Are you in a country where your rights are under threat? Could some of your information leave you open to discrimination? Think about how your information can be linked up across the internet by the username you use, and how people accessing that information could harm you.

Switch it up a little and use different usernames for different websites, if you don’t, you could be very easy to find. If you have ever posted anything personal on a website, forum, anything… it means someone who’s run into you on another site can potentially find it. It means employers could find it. If armchair internet detectives can find it, you can bet government can definitely find it.

If you are using a very common nickname, then it’s going to be a little harder to join the dots, but still be cautious, and do not think you are hidden from view because of it.

Don’t use the same information everywhere.

If you are using just one email address and you use it to sign up to every service you use, that’s another way the accounts can be linked and you can be identified. Is your email address searchable on those accounts? Can you be looked up on Facebook with it? What about other places? Much like the username, there are a lot of potential dangers to this.

Get a domain or two, create a bunch of forwarders to your main account, or mailboxes if you have the patience, and use different email addresses in different places on the web. Depending on how much privacy you want to keep, it may be worth getting a few domains. If you keep using the same one, it may start becoming a little obvious.

Don’t be an ass.

Just to throw this in again, this information is intended to help people keep their privacy and control of their data in an age where exactly that is at risk. Do not use it to be an idiot.

People appreciate the ability to keep their lives private. The ability to be anonymous. Some may not have the same rights to privacy as we do here in the UK, and it makes advice like this valuable.

Anonymity online is not an excuse to do whatever you want. Acting like a moron is partially why there are attempts to banish it. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us.