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Archive for September, 2012

TalkTalk most complained about telecommunications company

September 28, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, internet, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

TalkTalk remains the most complained about telecommunication landline and broadband provider- according to the official UK regulator Ofcom.TalkTalk most complained about telecommunications companyIt has topped the charts since Ofcom began publishing them in October 2010.

Complaints about its broadband service often related to line faults while landline quibbles focused on billing and customer service Ofcom found.

For mobiles, Ofcom received the most complaints about 3, while BT Vision was the most complained about pay-TV service.

The regulator said that generally complaints were falling, with all broadband and landline providers generating fewer issues between April and June 2012, compared to previous periods.

This is Ofcom’s sixth quarterly report on the state of complaints in the mobile, broadband and landline markets.

It aims to help consumers make informed choices when choosing new services.

During the second quarter of 2012, it received 0.53 complaints per 1,000 of TalkTalk’s customers.

TalkTalk was the only provider whose complaint levels were above average for landline services, although Ofcom pointed out that this quarter saw the fewest number of complaints since it had begun publishing the data.

In the same period, Virgin Media was the least complained about with 0.14 per 1,000 customers.

In broadband, TalkTalk generated 0.42 complaints per 1,000 customers, again above the industry average. BT Retail also had above average levels of complaints during the last quarter.

Despite TalkTalk topping the charts again, Ofcom said it was not planning to take any action at present. In the past TalkTalk has been fined £3 million for incorrectly billing customers for services they had not received.

It is also currently under investigation about the number of silent calls received by its customers.

Ofcom said it had seen a rise in complaints about this type of call – which occur when automatic dialer systems used by call centres make more calls than they have people to take them.

Apple’s manufacturer stops production after China riots

September 26, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Computers, internet, mobile phones, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Foxconn Technology- a major supplier for Apple products has halted production at a plant in northern China after a fight broke out among workers.Apple's manufacturer stops production after China riotsFoxconn confirmed that a “personal dispute” escalated into an incident involving about 2,000 workers, injuring 40 of them.

Police later dealt with the situation near the facility in Taiyuan, which employs about 79,000 workers.

Foxconn has previously been accused of having poor conditions for its workers- with 20 workers committing suicide in the past few years.

Foxconn said the incident started on Sunday at about 23:00 local time (15:00 GMT) in a dormitory near the Taiyuan manufacturing facility in Shanxi province.

Internet users in China posted pictures on microblog sites which they said had been taken at the scene showing windows of nearby shops smashed and police vehicles overturned.

Some photos showed police and paramilitary officers in riot gear being deployed to the scene.

About 40 people were taken to hospital and a number of individuals have been arrested, the company said.

A senior government official from Taiyuan City was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying that three of the injured people were in a serious condition.

The Xinhua agency reported that the dispute had been brought under control by 5,000 policemen by 09:00 local time on Monday.

Unverified messages on the Twitter-like social network Weibo suggested that violence from security guards may have sparked the unrest.

One said that four or five security guards had beaten a worker almost to death, while another said that rioting workers had been targeting security guards who had earlier beaten some of their colleagues.

Earlier in the year a fight broke out in a restaurant at a Foxconn plant involving about 100 workers.

Apple is voted coolest brand in UK

September 24, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Computers, Google, internet, Technology Companies, Twitter, Uncategorized, YouTube

The world’s most valuable company- Apple Inc has clocked up another accolade- it has been voted the “coolest brand” in the UK.Apple is voted coolest brand in UK It beat Aston Martin, which has taken the top spot in six of the previous seven annual CoolBrands surveys.

Online and technology brands performed well, with YouTube pushing Aston Martin into third place. Twitter came fourth, followed by Google and the BBC’s iPlayer.

The results are decided by responses from 3,000 consumers and a panel of 39 experts.

Twitter, Skype and Nikon were in the top 20 for the first time in the 11 years of the survey.

Some of the luxury brands have dropped out of the top 20, including Maserati, Ferrari, Chanel, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, which all featured last year.

A quarter of the top 20 brands are free to consumers.

“It is interesting that in this age of austerity our perception of cool has increasingly shifted from aspirational, luxury brands to free or more affordable brands that provide us with pleasure,” said Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the CoolBrands expert council.

YouTube was among the biggest risers, having come in tenth place last year.

CoolBrands top 20

  1. Apple
  2. YouTube
  3. Aston Martin
  4. Twitter
  5. Google
  6. BBC iPlayer
  7. Glastonbury
  8. Virgin Atlantic
  9. Bang & Olufsen
  10. Liberty
  11. Sony
  12. Bose
  13. Haagen-Dazs
  14. Selfridges
  15. Ben & Jerry’s
  16. Mercedes-Benz
  17. Vogue
  18. Skype
  19. Nike
  20. Nikon

Smartphone patent wars continue with Samsung suing iPhone 5

September 21, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Customer Service, Samsung, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The smartphone patents war has taken a new twist as Samsung has launched a new legal battle against Apple’s iPhone 5.Smartphone patent wars continue with Samsung suing iPhone 5Apple faces becoming embroiled in a further US patent clash after Samsung said it intended to sue the firm over technology in the new iPhone 5.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to resolve Apple’s earlier victory over Samsung as Apple is expected to ask the judge to treble a jury’s $1.05 billion damages award.

A jury in California drew up the figure last month after ruling that the South Korean firm had infringed several of its rival’s software and design patents.

Apple now has the right to request that damages are increased since the jury said Samsung’s actions had been “wilful”.

As the South Korean firm has indicated that it intends to appeal, both Apple and Samsung are due to file paperwork in the case on 21 September.

A hearing had also been scheduled to consider Samsung’s request that a US sales ban on some of its tablet computers should be dropped.

The judge indicated she would have granted the request, but said that since Samsung had taken its appeal against the ban to a higher court it was no longer in her power to do so.

Samsung has filed paperwork with a California court saying it intends to extend complaints made against existing Apple handsets to include the new device. It indicated that it believed at least eight of its US patents had been infringed.

A statement from Samsung said: “We have always preferred to compete in the marketplace with our innovative products, rather than in courtrooms.”

“However, Apple continues to take aggressive legal measures that will limit market competition. Under these circumstances, we have little choice but to take the steps necessary to protect our innovations and intellectual property rights.”

The amount of litigation that the firms are now involved in is a concern.

From Apple’s perspective you reap what you sow.  It started this by filing lawsuits about patents relating to unique software features, and it now faces allegations that hardware parts of its devices infringe others’ technologies – they would be much harder to change if it loses.

Fighting litigation is always a drain on resources. Apple has a large amount of cash, but you have to ask whether the money would be better spent on R&D than lawyers.

Facebook users spying on ex lovers damage themselves

September 19, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Cyber Security, Facebook, Social Media, Social Networking, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Facebook users are risking psychological damage from using the website to spy on ex lovers, according to new research analysis.Facebook users spying on ex lovers damage themselvesAs many as half of Facebook users are risking psychological damage from using the site to spy on ex lovers, according to new research.

Two of the most cited reasons for accessing Facebook are to keep in touch with others and to surreptitiously monitor them – with between a third and half of users using it to check up on ex-partners.

With close to a billion users, it means hundreds of millions may be finding it more difficult to get over a broken romance.

If it was unhealthy being together in the first place, it may be even more emotionally damaging to continue following their lives.

Psychologist Dr Tara Marshall said in the past, such spying and keeping tabs with what your ex was up to was challenging. You could try and pry information from his or her friends, telephone, or drop by their place, but it was usually unlikely you would turn up much useful information.

This made it easy for people to distance themselves from the relationship and move on – an emotionally healthy breakup. But as long as you remain ‘friends’ with your ex on Facebook, they are now able to keep up with everything you are doing.

While satisfying a certain curiosity factor, it seems likely that it would make it far more difficult to actually emotionally distance yourself from your past relationship.

In a survey of 464 participants, most of whom were undergraduate students, she found people who remain Facebook friends with an ex-partner will experience poorer breakup adjustment and personal growth relative to those who do not.

The findings suggest continued online exposure to an ex-romantic partner may inhibit post-breakup recovery.  Notably, frequent monitoring of an ex-partner’s Facebook page and list of friends was associated with greater distress.

Dr Marshall, of Brunel Universoity, Uxbridge, said: “Previous research has found continuing offline contact with an ex-romantic partner following a breakup may disrupt emotional recovery.

“Analysis of the data provided by 464 participants revealed that Facebook surveillance was associated with greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth.

“Overall, these findings suggest that exposure to an ex-partner through Facebook may obstruct the process of healing and moving on from a past relationship.”

Dr Brenda Wiederhold, editor of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking which published the research Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with PostBreakup Recovery and Personal Growth , added: “This study sees again virtual life mirroring real life.

“Just as real life contact with ex-partners may inhibit growth, healing, and well-being, so may virtual contact.”

Web browser market share- latest research results

September 17, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Browser, Customer Service, Google, internet, Microsoft, Mozilla, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The lastest web browser market share results have been announced for August 2012.Web browser market share- latest research resultsIt’s been a while since the Search Clinic last looked at the web browser share statistics- 2010 to be precise, when the Internet Explorer browser fell below 50 per cent market share.

Then the usage breakdown was Internet Explorer had a 49.87 per cent share of the global browser market, with Mozilla’s Firefox on 31.5 per cent market share, while Google’s Chrome browser accounted for only 11.54 per cent of the market.

The figures were researched by StatCounter.

The latest figures below have again been compiled by StatCounter and are based on analysis from 3 million websites.

The statistics for web browser market share in August 2012 show that now Chrome is top of the tree with a total web browser market share of 33.58%.

Internet Explorer now has a total share of 32.81%.

With the Firefox web browser now having a share of 22.86%.

Two other thoughts are that in 2010 the three browsers had a total share of 92.91- last month that dominance had only dropped to 89.25% and that despite Apple’s recent growth thier Safari browser is still a great distance away from disturbing that dominance.

UK broadband expansion aided by planning permission rule changes

September 14, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Computers, Customer Service, internet, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The government is changing planning permission rules to aid the quicker rollout of faster internet speeds across the UK.UK broadband expansion aided by planning permission rule changesThis includes permission for firms to install broadband cabinets and other related infrastructure on public land without local councils’ permission in England.

It is also consulting about ways to shorten the time it takes to agree approval for cables and cabinet installation on private land UK-wide.

The commitment includes £150 million to create 10 “super-connected” cities offering download speeds of at least 80Mbps (megabits per second) by 2015, and £530 million from the BBC licence fee to help boost speeds in the countryside.

The overall aim is to offer speeds of at least 24Mbps to more than 90% of the UK to become the “fastest in Europe” within three years.

At that speed it would take 15 minutes to download a 90-minute high definition programme.

The plans are designed to make it easier for BT and others to install their 4ft 7in tall dark green cabinets, and retrofit existing ones with new outer shells without running the risk that they will be opposed by the public.

The government said that English councils would only retain the right to object if plans affected a site of special scientific interest.

Internet providers have also been told that they will “face less cost and bureaucracy in laying cables in streets” in England and Wales once officials have found a way to simplify current permit schemes.

BT ran into problems earlier this year when London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea rejected 96 of its 108 applications for street cabinets needed to offer its fibre optic cabling service, leading to the plans being withdrawn.

BT Openreach cabinet BT said it typically took between 28 and 56 days to be granted council permission to install its cabinets.

UK laptop designer Bill Moggridge dies

September 12, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Bill Moggridge the British industrial designer who created the original computer laptop shape, has died.UK laptop designer Bill Moggridge diesBill Moggridge patented the “clamshell” computer design- which is still used by many laptops.

Mr Moggridge died from cancer at the age of 69.

His computer, the Grid Compass, was designed in 1979 and initially used by the American military.

It retailed at £5,097 ($8,150) and went into space on board the space shuttle Discovery.

The magnesium-cased device was distinctive because the screen display folded down over the keyboard.

Mr Moggridge founded a London-based design company in 1969, which is now a global consultancy firm called Ideo.

He also became visiting professor in interaction design at the Royal College of Art in London and consulting associate professor in design at Stanford University, California.

Mr Moggridge wrote two books, Designing Media and Designing Interactions.

In 2010 he was given a lifetime achievement award by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Mr Moggridge had been director of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York since 2010.

Mr Moggridge is survived by his wife, Karin, and sons, Alex and Erik.

Mobile phone fraud targeted by cyber thieves

September 10, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Cyber Security, data security, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Cyber thieves are targeting mobile phones to steal cash from victims, suggests a report.Mobile phone fraud targeted by cyber thievesIn nine months viruses that steal cash have jumped from 29% of mobile malware to 62%, found the report by mobile security firm Lookout who said the growth was down to phone fraudsters industrialising their scams.

Viruses were getting on to phones via booby-trapped apps and through adverts and webpages harbouring malware, it said.

Kevin Mahaffey, head of technology at Lookout, said phone fraudsters were increasingly using viruses that surreptitiously added charges to a user’s bill to cash in.

Over the last few months, he said, Lookout had seen fraudsters stop experimenting with ways to steal cash and move on to large scale campaigns on networks where they knew they would succeed.

This meant, he said, that some territories had been hit hard by mobile malware once the fraudsters found a loophole to exploit. For instance, he said, in June this year 30-40% of those who signed up for Lookout’s security service in Russia already had malware on their phone.

China and India were also places that were suffering significant amounts of infection, he said.

Mobile viruses were being included in so-called crimeware kits, he said, sold to thieves with little technical knowledge that automate the process of stealing cash.

In addition, said Mr Mahaffey, Lookout was starting to see attacks that did not directly try to steal money from a phone. Instead, he said, they inserted a virus called “NotCompatible” on to a phone as a way to hide other nefarious activity.

A phone infected with the “NotCompatible” virus would have traffic piped to it that it would then be sent on to a target website, he said. In this way the true source of that traffic, the criminal, would be hidden.

Such a virus might be used to artificially inflate the popularity of an advert, a song on a music website to help generate a larger return for criminals.

UK censorship consultation closes

September 07, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Cyber Security, internet, Personal Security, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

A consultation into whether UK internet users should be automatically censored and have to opt-in in order to access adult content closed yesterday.UK censorship consultation closesOver 2,000 responses had been submitted by the eve of the deadline, the Department for Education said.

Proposals for an opt-in system are supported by several MPs, but fiercely opposed by internet rights campaigners.

Internet service providers (ISPs) have also voiced concerns, favouring instead an “active choice” system.

This method, already in place at several ISPs, prompts a new customer to choose if they want inappropriate content to be filtered out by their provider.

However, the option is currently only offered to new customers, and therefore does not address the huge majority of internet users already set up.

The findings of the consultation are due to be published later in the year.

The government’s discussion paper canvassed opinion on three possible ways of helping parents filter inappropriate content. They were:

  • Opt-in: Also known as “default on”, homeowners would be required to contact their ISP in order to have access to adult content (similar to existing systems in use for accessing the internet on smartphones)
  • Active Choice: The popular system among ISPs, an active choice rule would mean providers would have to present filtering options to all customers as they set up their connections
  • Active Choice Plus: This method would give users a detailed breakdown of content types, and would encourage filtering by pre-selecting options to block content

In a joint letter to the Prime Minister, several rights groups – including Big Brother Watch, the Open Rights Group and Index on Censorship – argued that an opt-in system undermined dialogue between parents and children.

“Blocking is trivial to circumvent and it is likely a default blocking system would lull parents into a false sense of security,” the letter said.

“A more complex, connected world needs parents to engage more with their children on issues of safety, privacy and personal development.”

This view was backed up by Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the world wide web: “My personal preference has always been that if you want to block sites, you download software, and you install it for your children, rather than having the ISPs involved.

“The job of the ISPs is to provide good internet connectivity, not to spy and not to block.”