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Number of people in UK games industry employment increases

March 21, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Gaming, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

A new report by video games industry trade association Tiga has found that both employment and investment in the UK sector increased in 2012.Number of people in UK games industry employment increasesBy the end of the year there were 118 more studios and 336 more creative staff than there had been in 2011. Studios also invested £427 million in games.

The rise in employment figures followed a three year period of decline in staff numbers, said the report.

Tiga said the rise of mobiles and tablets had provided a boost.

“The sector’s return to growth has been driven by three factors,” said Tiga chief executive Richard Wilson.

“Firstly, the increasing prevalence of mobile and tablet devices have created a growing market for games: studios are setting up to meet this demand. Secondly, the closure of big console based studios has been followed by an explosion of small start up companies.

“Thirdly, the advent of games tax relief, which Tiga was instrumental in achieving, is already stimulating growth.”

The games tax relief initiative was introduced in the March 2012 budget and is due to be implemented next month.

A similar scheme already exists in the UK film industry and is due to run until 2015.

British productions with a budget of £20 million or less can apply for a 25% rebate on any new games productions.

Record online sales shoppers on Boxing Day

December 27, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, Ecommerce, internet, Online Marketing, Pay Per Click Advertising, Search Clinic, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Record numbers of UK shoppers visited retail websites on Boxing Day-  with analysts suggesting shoppers are also using the internet to identify bargains.Record online sales shoppers on Boxing DayInformation service Experian said UK consumers made 113 million visits to retailers’ websites on 26 December.

The number of visitors to the High Street on the same day was up 0.64% on last year’s Boxing Day trade, according to Experian.

Some big name retailers started their online sales on Christmas Day.

UK internet users made 84 million visits to retail websites on Christmas Eve and 107 million visits on Christmas Day, up 86% and 71% respectively compared to the same days in December 2011, according to Experian.

The Boxing Day level – 113 million visits – was 17% up on the same day in 2011. Typically, during the year, there is an average of about 70 million visits on Mondays – the busiest day of the week for online shopping.

“The UK sales creep continues to advance so that now the post Christmas sales are starting before Christmas,” said James Murray, digital insight manager at Experian.

“Five years ago we called it the January sales, before it became the Boxing Day sales, now retailers have to call it the winter sales as discounting starts earlier to encourage higher spending.”

Shoppers headed back to the High Street, with large department stores such as John Lewis throwing open their doors for clearance sales.

Yet, retail consultants have said that many people heading out to the shops will have already browsed online to choose the items they want.

The squeeze on family finances is likely to keep the lid on retail sales, especially on big ticket items.

However, some positive news in employment levels means that some stores could still record a decent level of sales in the significant post-Christmas sales period.

Experian Footfall said that there was “quiet optimism” on the High Street with the number of shoppers up slightly on 26 December, compared with the same day in 2011.

The growth of the internet means that the peak in sales might already have taken place.

Mr Murray, of Experian, said that 26 December was traditionally the single biggest shopping day of the year online.

And now, shoppers are using digital devices such as tablets and smartphones to search for bargains – then only travel to those specific shops to buy those items.

The amount people spent online was expected to account for 12% of total retail spending.

UK universities in online MOOCs launch to challenge US

December 21, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Online Marketing, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

A partnership of UK universities is launching an online project- MOOCs who are challenging US universities that have dominated this new market.UK universities in online MOOCs launch to challenge USThey will aim to give the public access to higher education courses via computers, tablets or smartphones.

A new company called FutureLearn is being set up to run this online project, which will be majority-owned by the Open University.

These have become known as Massive Open Online Courses – or MOOCs.

The partnership will include the Open University, King’s College London, Bristol, Exeter, Warwick, East Anglia, Leeds, Lancaster, Southampton, Cardiff, Birmingham and St Andrews.

The project will represent the biggest UK response to rapidly growing online universities – with these universities planning to offer courses through a shared online platform.

There are usually no formal entry requirements for students on such courses but individual universities will have to decide how students can be examined and accredited.

Martin Bean, the Open University’s vice-chancellor, said that the arrival of online courses meant that UK universities could either “stick their heads in the sand” or rise to the international challenge.

The vice-chancellor said higher education had to face up to the impact of the internet on delivering courses.

“What the web has taught us is that you can take nothing for granted – those who sit back and hope it goes away will lose,” he said.

Online joint projects, offered by some of the world’s leading universities, including Harvard, Stanford and MIT, have attracted registrations from millions of students.

They have raised the prospect of reaching many more students at a much lower cost. Their courses have used the internet to deliver video and provide interactive exercises and automated testing.

The announcement from the FutureLearn project sees the first major challenge from the UK, headed by the Open University, which has pioneered distance learning.

These universities will be responsible for the content, quality, accreditation and cost of courses offered online.

There will also be social networking-style communities for students. Materials will be designed for portable devices, such as iPads or mobile phones.

In the US, in these early stages of development, courses have been offered free – but there have been charges introduced where there are certificates and invigilated exams.

There are also expectations that high levels of web traffic will be used for advertising or links to other services.

And when universities are charging high levels of tuition fees for their campus-based students, this raises questions about how this will be balanced against awarding online degrees for much less.

Indian spam texts must stop warns advertising watchdog

December 19, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: data security, Dr Search, Email, Messaging, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

A company based in India has been ordered to stop sending spam text messages about PPI and accident compensation to UK consumers.Indian spam texts must stop warns advertising watchdogThe Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints about the texts sent by Mumbai-based claims management company, Data Supplier.

It said it had not seen any evidence that the recipients had agreed to be included on the company’s database.

Many consumers have expressed their general frustration at receiving unsolicited text messages about payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling claims.

A huge industry in PPI claims has built up after providers started paying millions of pounds in compensation for policies sold to people who did not want or need them.

The particular complaint dealt with by the ASA surrounded a text message that said: “We have been trying to contact you regarding your PPI Claim, we now have details of how much you are due, just reply CONFIRM and we will call you back.”

A second text said: “Our records indicate you may be entitled to £3750 for the accident you had. To claim for free just reply CLAIM to this msg. To stop text STOP.”

Three complainants, two of whom received the first text and one who received the second, challenged whether they were misleading and could be substantiated.

These people said they had not recently had an accident or did not believe that they were eligible to reclaim PPI payments, and suggested that the texts breached the advertising code because they were unsolicited.

The ASA ruling said: “We noted that we had not seen any evidence to show that the recipients of the texts had given their explicit consent to be included on the Data Supplier’s database.

“We also understood that none of the recipients had recently had accidents or considered themselves to be eligible to make a PPI claim, and that the texts did not identify who the message had been sent from.

“For those reasons, we concluded that the texts were unsolicited and misleading and were therefore in breach of the code. The texts must not be sent again in their current form.”

The UK’s ASA advertising rules are simply:

  •     Companies must not send “persistent and unwanted” communications by telephone, fax, mail or email
  •     The messages must include the company’s name and details of how to opt out
  •     Companies must make it simple for people to opt out.

Controversial Communications Data Bill to be redrafted admits Cameron

December 17, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Cyber Security, data security, Ecommerce, Email, internet, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

The prime minister David Cameron has accepted the criticism from the public and businesses of the draft Communications Data Bill and agreed to re-write the controversial legislation.Controversial Communications Data Bill to be redrafted admits CameronCivil liberties campaigners have described the proposals as a “snoopers’ charter”, but Home Secretary Theresa May insists they are vital for countering paedophiles, extremists and fraudsters.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaderships agree on the need for new measures, but they disagree over their scope.

Nick Clegg: ”We need a fundamental rethink, go back to the drawing board”

The plans in the draft bill included:

  •     Internet service providers having to store for a year all details of online communication in the UK – such as the time, duration, originator and recipient of a communication and the location of the device from which it was made.
  •     They would also be having to store for the first time all Britons’ web browsing history and details of messages sent on social media, webmail, voice calls over the internet and gaming, in addition to emails and phone calls
  •     Police not having to seek permission to access details of these communications, if investigating a crime
  •     Police having to get a warrant from the home secretary to be able to see the actual content of any messages
  •     Four bodies having access to data: the police, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, the intelligence agencies and HM Revenue and Customs

A report from the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Bill, made up of MPs and peers, accepted a new law was needed to help police fight crime and tackle security threats organised online.

But it warned ministers would be able to demand “potentially limitless categories of data” unless the draft bill was amended.

It called for “safeguards” over the new powers to prevent abuse and accused the government of producing estimates of the cost of implementing the plans which were not “robust” enough. The “net benefit figure” was “fanciful and misleading”, it said.

The MPs and peers added that the draft bill paid “insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy” and went “much further than it need or should for the purpose of providing necessary and justifiable official access to communications data”.

Mr Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the committee had raised “a number of serious criticisms – not least on scope, proportionality, cost, checks and balances, and the need for much wider consultation”.

“It is for those reasons that I believe the coalition government needs to have a fundamental rethink about this legislation. We cannot proceed with this bill and we have to go back to the drawing board.”

But he added: “The committee did not, however, suggest that nothing needs to be done. They were very clear that there is a problem that must be addressed to give law enforcement agencies the powers they need to fight crime. I agree.

In its report, the committee said the home secretary would be given “sweeping powers to issue secret notices to communications service providers, requiring them to retain and disclose potentially limitless categories of data”.

But it added: “We have been told that she has no intention of using the powers in this way. Our main recommendation is therefore that her powers should be limited to those categories of data for which a case can now be made.”

Virtual reality surgery software to help train surgeons

November 09, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Dr Search, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Website Design

The first virtual 3D surgical program to help train surgeons has been developed by the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.Virtual reality surgery software to help train surgeonsMedical students can now practise surgical techniques on 3D models and animations instead of working on cadavers or dummies.

The interactive system allows students to repeat techniques several times, and at their own pace.

Potential future uses could include helping patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options.

Attending the launch, Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “This is a really exciting development which shows how new technology can be used to help improve care and treatment for Scottish patients.”

“I was delighted to visit the Golden Jubilee to see first-hand how this innovative technique will help to train our doctors of the future.  I look forward to seeing how it develops, and how it can be rolled out further to train more doctors in more specialties.”

The training is currently being used within the Golden Jubilee’s Enhanced Recovery Programme, for teaching on knee anatomy and regional anaesthesia.

It could potentially be used for training in other specialties.

The project was developed by Dr Robert Robi Zimmer, a consultant anaesthetist at the hospital’s orthopaedic service, and a software development consultant.

Dr Zimmer said: “As a national resource for the NHS in Scotland, with our own specialist research and clinical skills facility, it is important that we are at the forefront in delivering new and innovative training programmes.

“The 3D training programme is currently in its infancy but the opportunities are limitless and that is something which will benefit patients across Scotland.

“We hope that it will improve people’s understanding and visualisation of the body’s anatomy and in the future can be taken from the training room to the consulting room to educate our patients about their condition and treatment.”

The Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank is home to regional and national heart and lung services, a major centre for orthopaedics and is also the flagship hospital for reducing waiting times in key elective specialties.

BBC closes Ceefax service after 38 years

November 02, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, Smart TV, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Televisions, Uncategorized

BBC Ceefax- the world’s first teletext service has been closed down after 38 years on air.BBC closes Ceefax service after 38 yearsBefore Olympic champion Dame Mary Peters turned off the last of the UK’s analogue TV signals in Belfast, a series of graphics on Ceefax’s front page disappeared down to a small dot.

Ceefax was launched on 23 September 1974 to give BBC viewers the chance to check the latest news headlines, sports scores, weather forecast or TV listings – in a pre-internet era where the only alternative was to wait for the next TV or radio bulletin to be aired.

Its premise was to give viewers free access to the same information that was coming into the BBC newsroom, as soon as the BBC’s journalists had received it.

Ceefax had initially been developed when BBC engineers, exploring ways to provide subtitles to enable viewers with hearing problems to enjoy BBC TV programmes, found it was possible to transmit full pages of text information in the “spare lines” transmitted on the analogue TV signal.

It was called Ceefax, simply because viewers would be able to quickly “see the facts” of any story of the day.

Initially the service was a minority interest, with just a handful of Ceefax-capable TVs in the UK, but it slowly started to gain popularity and the engineering team that developed the service was honoured with a Queen’s Award for innovation.

But the real impetus for viewers came when BBC Television decided to use a selection of Ceefax pages, accompanied by music, before the start of programming each day. Initially called Ceefax AM and Ceefax In Vision, the Pages From Ceefax “programme” continued for 30 years, being broadcast overnight on BBC Two until this week.

As viewers got a small taste of what Ceefax had to offer, millions of Britons during the 1980s invested in new teletext-enabled TV sets which gave them access to the full Ceefax service, which by now included recipe details for dishes prepared on BBC cookery shows, share prices, music reviews and an annual advent calendar.

Its audience peaked in the 1990s when it had 20 million viewers who checked the service at least once a week. Since the launch of the National Lottery in 1994, dozens of jackpot winners have revealed that they first learned their life had been changed when they checked their numbers on Ceefax.

But the launch of the UK’s TV digital signal, and the announcement that the analogue TV signal would disappear in a staged switch-off over five years, meant a slow withdrawal of Ceefax, ending with the final broadcast in Northern Ireland.

Ceefax’s commitment to getting information to viewers as quickly and clearly as possible has been marked by the lifetime achievement award from the Plain English Campaign, the pressure group that calls for the use of concise and clear language in all public communication.

EBay pays £1.2m in UK tax on sales of £800 million

October 29, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, eBay, Ecommerce, Facebook, internet, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

eBay has paid just £1.2 million in tax in the UK an investigation has found.EBay pays £1.2m in UK tax on sales of £800 millionThe Sunday Times newspaper said that its tax bill in 2010 comes despite eBay’s UK subsidiaries generating sales of £800 million.

The auction site – which also owns the PayPal payments system – responded that it “complies fully with all applicable tax laws”.

The report comes after coffee giant Starbucks was also accused of paying just £8.6 million in corporation tax in the UK over 14 years.

According to the Sunday Times, eBay had sales of £789 million during 2010 in the UK at its four British subsidiaries.

Using its worldwide profit margin of 23%, it would have made a profit in the UK of £181 million, leading to corporation tax owed of £51 million. Instead, it paid just £1.2m, the report said.

Accounts for one of its units, eBay (UK) Ltd, show that for 2010 – the last year available – it owed tax of £766,000 on profits of £4.4 million.

Other large online international companies have also been accused of avoiding tax in the UK.

Facebook UK paid £238,000 in tax last year, according to its accounts. Its sales were £20.4 million.

Most of the company’s income is believed to be legally going through its European base in Dublin, where corporation tax is lower than in the UK.

And a report in the Guardian in April said that online retailer Amazon had generated sales of more than £7.6 billion in the UK over the past three years but had not paid any corporation tax on the profits from those sales.

Amazon claims Kindle Fire HD and Paperwhite sales are profitless

October 15, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Apple, Customer Service, EReaders, Google, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Amazon has claimed that it will not make a profit from sales of its latest Kindle tablet and e-reader devices.Amazon claims Kindle Fire HD and Paperwhite sales are profitlessThis is in strong contrast to the strategy of the best selling tablet maker Apple.

The comments as Amazon launches its new Paperwhite e-reader and an associated book lending scheme in the UK, Germany and France.

The latest e-ink powered device features a built in light that will help the firm compete against Barnes & Noble’s Nook Glowlight and Kobo’s Glo, which offer a similar feature.

Amazon is seeking to distinguish its line-up by offering a subscription package that includes access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

The service offers users the ability to borrow up to one book a month from a selection of titles including well known authors – such as JK Rowling – and writers who have published their works through Amazon’s own publishing system.

The UK service will include more than 200,000 ebooks at launch.

While other e-readers lack a matching facility, if they support the ePub format their owners can still borrow ebooks from their local library if it supports the OverDrive system.

Deliveries of Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite will begin in Europe on 25 October, coinciding with the release of its 7 inch Kindle Fire HD tablets.

Android tablet makers also rely on hardware sales. While Google provides their system software for free, the search company keeps a cut of app and digital media sales made via its Google Play marketplace.

Amazon is also attempting to use its hardware to stimulate sales of other physical products sold via its store.

Access to its Lending Library facility will be tied to a £49 annual subscription to its Amazon Prime service.  The offer includes rapid delivery, at no additional cost, of products from its warehouses.

Although this adds to the firm’s shipping costs, evidence from the US suggests that subscribers end up spending more on its site and are less likely to compare prices with rival retailers.

Mobile phone companies’ digital wallet approved by EU red tape

September 03, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, Customer Service, data security, Ecommerce, internet, mobile phones, smart phones, Uncategorized

The UK’s leading mobile phone companies have been given permission to team up together on a digital wallet scheme called Project Oscar .Mobile phone companies' digital wallet approved by EU red tape The go ahead from EU red tape gulators means Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone will jointly develop the product. 3 is not involved.

The firms said they now aimed to release a unified smartphone based service offering an alternative to cash, credit cards and loyalty cards.

Barclaycard, Visa, Paypal and Google are among those comapnies who are building rival schemes.

The mobile operators said in a statement: “It will give consumers a simple and secure shopping experience, allowing them to purchase goods and services using their handsets in physical locations such as shops, using contactless technology, as well as online.”

The three participating operators said the plan would make it easier for retailers and others to offer discounts and other incentives without the need to issue paper coupons or plastic account cards.

The firms had originally hoped to have the service running in time for the London Olympics, but the EU had wanted to check it would not hinder competition.

Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere have now said they intended to create a new company and begin hiring staff “as quickly as possible”, but did not issue a target date by which they hoped to launch a product.

The importance of the winning smart phone payment system battle will be huge to the winners as finance companies and retailers all want a slice of a very profitable pie.