Mobile phones a waste of time

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While many people are obsessed with their mobile phones and never put them down for a minute, research shows that for many others they are just a waste of time.

In fact, the average Brit will spend more than three weeks of their life looking for lost mobile phones, according to a study by moneysaving site

Researchers found that the average time spent searching for mobile phones is 9.5 minutes a week, which works out at more than eight hours a year.

Even if the average life expectancy is reduced by 18 to reflect the time wasted by adults, it still works out at very nearly three weeks. 

While women in UK tend to live longer than men, the research found that men spend more of their shorter lives hunting for mobile phones, wasting almost a month on average. 

Data thieves face the music

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We found out this week that the younger generation are pretty lazy when it comes to protecting their payment data, with 20% of 16 to 24-year-olds having shared their PIN with a third party.

With lazy consumers such as this, you wouldn't think it would be too hard to take them for all they have.

In a half-hearted attempt at stealing customer's PINs and account numbers, a group of thieves as lackadaisical as their targets used duct tape to attach a poorly disguised iPod nano device to take pictures of PINs while a fake front recorded card data.

As the following tweet from Greater Manchester Police suggests, they didn't get away with it:

No patch for stupidity

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Proving the computer security lament that there is no patch for human stupidity, three UK students have been stung in a Skype scam.

They admitted to North Yorkshire Police that they accepted a friend request on Facebook from a total stranger who claimed to be Cathy Wong, according to Toms Guide

Seeing nothing "wong" in connecting online with someone you have never met is one thing, but agreeing to perform sexual on webcam via Skype takes it to another level of stupidity.

According to North Yorkshire Police, Wong secretly recorded these acts and later used the clips to blackmail the men. Now there's a surprise.

Wong first claimed her grandmother was ill and asked each man for £3,000  but threatened to post the videos to YouTube when they failed to come up with the money.

Police say gangs may be involved in the scam, which may have worldwide reach. In a general warning, North Yorkshire police urged users of social networking sites to be "wary of what they are getting into." 

Big wee data

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527953363-urinal-DenBoma-istock-Thinkstock.jpgHammersmith Hospital has just begun a molecular analysis programme, which will take a close look at what makes up urine. Apparently the machine doing the analysis produces as much data per day as the Large Hadron Collider. Jim in QA has volunteered to provide a sample. Sadly for Jim, with the whole of Downtime watching, getting enough data was harder than the search for the Higgs Boson particle at Cern. What a drip.

The get-fit solution for tech obsessives

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Researchers in Germany claim to have found a way to generate electrical power from walking. Coming in the same week as news that a lack of exercise is a bigger threat to public health than obesity, the crack German boffins might just have extended the lives of millions of obsessive smartphone and gaming users.

The researchers have developed two devices that fit into a shoe, according to the BBC. One, called a "shock harvester" generates power from the shoe striking the ground; whereas the "swing harvester" does so from the swinging of your feet.

For smartphone users forever moaning about the lack of battery life, this could be a solution to extend both their battery and their own life. For fitness fanatics the breakthrough promises a life of never having to charge your phone again, instead using your daily run to boost battery for the day - although you may need a new way to strap your phone, tablet, laptop and every other device to your body while you run.

Of course, committed tech obsessives rooted to the couch may also come to the conclusion that all they need is to sit on a big cushion so their feet don't touch the floor, and swing their feet up and down while surfing to get the same effect. But every health revolution has to start somewhere.

UKIP knocked off internet in update screw-up

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Panic on the streets of Clacton, panic on the streets of Rochester, after the official website of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) dropped off the internet this morning, leaving the party's supporters bereft of policies and detractors bereft of ammo.

At first it was thought that someone at party HQ had forgotten to renew the website's registration, but a search of the Who.Is registry appears to show that while the website is (at the time of writing) definitely down, the registration has not expired and won't until next year. Mark that date in your diary, Nigel.

It seems that an update made just before 10 a.m. on January 6th has somehow knocked the Kippers offline.

Downtime presumes a nameless individual has spilled real ale on the server.

Goodbye Clip Art, goodbye memories of my youth

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First it was MSN Messenger, now it's Clip Art.

Clearly the powers-that-be at Microsoft have no soul. And no memory of what it was like to be a teenager in the noughties. If they did, they wouldn't keep destroying all the memories that we desperately try to cling onto while hurtling through this fast-technology world of social media, blue ticks on WhatsApp and what seems like a billion songs on a tiny little iPod.

Sometimes you just want to say 'stop the world I want to get off'.

Microsoft announced this week that it will be discontinuing its image library - Clip Art. That fine tool which was used to create cool party invitations and your mum's birthday card, as well as "creatively" sprucing up a piece of homework. Perhaps I'm being a bit melodramatic, because Clip Art actually does still exist, but instead of one dimensional brightly coloured cartoons, it is now powered by Bing which offers images from the internet which have a Creative Commons license.

But it is what this change represents. We've only just got over the loss of MSN Messenger which was killed off almost exactly a year ago.

Wasn't it a simpler time when instead of asking Siri, you just asked the Microsoft Clippy?

Mum's (not) the word

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Organisers of Parklife festival have been fined £70,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office after sending festival goers promotional text messages claiming to be from their mothers.

The short-sited marketing attempt left a number of recipients distressed, especially those whose mothers are no longer with us.

In further bad taste, the festival made jokes about the campaign on Twitter until eventually apologising.

The offending text message read:

"Some of the Parklife after parties have already sold. If your going, make sure your home for breakfast!."

We'd cry too if our mums' grammar was this bad. 

Go away, Black Friday, nobody likes you!

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It's fair to say Downtime is a fan of the fine American tradition of Thanksgiving. It's not so much the sentiment behind it (why hello mass genocide of native cultures), more the excuse to binge on massive amounts of food. It's sort of like a pre-Christmas warm-up.

I myself will be spending Saturday evening with some expat friends in London, stuffing myself stupid with cornbread and having the Georgia Tech - Bulldogs game explained to me in detail (give me the Six Nations any day).

I'd be happy for more Brits to take it up. Seriously, guys. Cornbread. Ain't nothing wrong with that, as Chris Rock said.

But it's not that tradition they're importing, is it? No. It's what comes after it. Black Friday.

In the US, because Thanksgiving always falls on the last Thursday of November, anybody who has a few days holiday left takes Friday off as well, and with Christmas just a month away the Friday after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year in the US.

Have you ever been to a mall there and wondered why there was so much more parking than needed? On Black Friday, those parking lots get full. And things have a tendency to get out of hand.

Indeed, Black Friday is named Black Friday because it is the day when most shops' accounts finally tip over into the black.

But recently I've noticed that Black Friday seems to have hopped a flight to Heathrow. Yes, this is one mission that's creeping, and I don't like it one bit. Argos, John Lewis, they're all at it now (shame on you, John Lewis!). The Guardian has even run an item on the best deals.

With a good amount of spending on Black Friday now online as well, there's lots to shout about when it comes to security, network use, load balancing and the like.

Indeed this whole week has seen a stream of PR emails dropping into my inbox trying to interest me in Client A's deep and important thoughts on Black Friday, or Client B's, or, well, basically all the clients. No tech client, apparently, has a story that is too completely unrelated to Black Friday in any way to try to spin some coverage out of it.

Look, I'm sorry, everyone, but it's just that I literally do not care at all about people fighting over flatscreen TVs in a Wal-Mart parking lot!

And I really literally do not care about lame press releases trying to pin a story on something that is not, and really should not, be a thing in Britain. It's intensely annoying, and I would really like the tech industry to stop pushing it on us.

I suppose it's a small crumb of comfort that our esteemed colleagues across the sea in Boston no doubt get a lot of press releases trying to interest them in firework sales figures round about the fifth of November. Yes, I am absolutely certain that this is a thing that really winds up the Americans.

Please, please, please, make it stop.

Aha! Partridge was right. Norwich is cool.

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A bus company has chosen is putting Norwich on the IT map through a trial to send bus users adverts from local retailers.

FirstGroup has put low energy Bluetooth beacons on buses in Norwich which sends hot news of discounts and offers as they travel through the city.

The app will learn and tailor what future notifications to send, as the user interacts with them. So expect plenty of Rover showroom offers for  Bang & Olufsen stereo systems.


How else could you get people off a bus that is passing through Norwich.

Metro bank goes to extremes in customer satisfaction battle

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Downtime believes Metro Bank has crossed a line in the battle to improve customer satisfaction.

Banks are throwing online apps customers as well as introducing iPad wielding staff into branches to make life easier for customers. But Metro Bank has taken this to a new level by offering a customer accommodation in a branch.

With rents in London going through the roof and house prices leaving the earth's atmosphere the bank has decided to give free accommodation. Unfortunately this is against their will.

A customer in Uxbridge enjoyed 3 hours rent free when a door locking and opening system failed. Metro Bank branches open after hours and customers use their cards to get in and out.

So although the new seven day switching system introduced by the Banking Commission makes it easier to get out of a current account with a particular bank standards are slipping when it comes to getting out of banks.

A new breed of banking IT failure

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Online money transfers and banking apps are on the rise, leading to so many branch closures that even bank robbers have given up visiting branches these days.

It's a good job they have as well, as an unsuspecting customer was locked in the Uxbridge branch of Metro Bank this week after the door technology failed.

The bank kits out branches with a door system which allows banking customers into the building to carry out transactions outside of branch opening hours.

Unfortunately the system failed, locking the poor bloke inside the bank for almost five hours before a staff member was able to free him.

Not good news for those who avoid online banking due to fear of financial IT systems failure. 

Drones - another reason not to trust estate agents?

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The use of drones in business is looking to become a regular occurrence in the near future, and this month Amazon proposed plans to test its prototype same-day delivery drones in the UK.

But use of the unmanned aircrafts backfired on an Australian business earlier this week when using the robots to take pictures of a neighbourhood for a billboard advertisement.

Unfortunately it wasn't until the billboard was posted that the company realised the pictures contained images of a resident sunbathing topless in her garden.

Well known utilizer of overhead imagery, Google, also has plans to develop drones with the initial focus of Project Wing being medical support and disaster relief.

At least Google has the decency to blur people's faces to protect their privacy. 

Google arrives in Streatham, but for how long?

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Apparently the UK's first 'Google House' is being kitted out in a flat in Streatham. Will Davies, head of property maintenance firm said the "normal flat", on a very normal street, is being fitted with all of the future hi-tech gadgets and gizmos that make it the house of the future, today. "We wanted to do this in a normal abode to show that this is not just for the Super Rich, it's for anyone from any social demographic," said Davies.

The key thing is, how long will it last before the place gets done over. According to UK Crime Stats, there were 84 burglaries in Streatham in September.

Dutch bloke gets cash injection

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A Dutch cryto -currency fanatic has taken the start-up term "cash injection" a little more literally than expected.

Martijn Wismeijer, who runs a company called in Amsterdam, has put NFC tags under the skin in his hands to store digital cash.

Not put off by the fact that the manufacturer of the chips is called Dangerous Things Wismeijer had NFC Type 2 compliant RFID chipsets encased in 2 pre-loaded biocompatible glass casings, injected in his hands.

While organisations look for the business case for this parents could use it as a way to deliver pocket money. It might reduce the regularity of requests.

Silicon Roundabout to be renamed Silicon Traffic Calming Scheme

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New Transport for London (TfL) plans revealed by the Evening Standard have shed light on the future of London's Silicon Roundabout, heretofore actually less of a roundabout and more of a polluted, congested, six lane cycling death trap.

The new scheme, approved by Boris Johnson as part of a multi-billion pound road improvement plan in the capital, will see one whole side of the roundabout paved over to create a kind of peninsula, a lovely, calming space lined with benches where start-ups can congregate to code under the shade of beautiful London plane trees.

The mayor reckons the scheme will ease traffic flow and make life easier for pedestrians and cyclists.

But amid the architect's drawings (and why is it, by the way, that everybody in architects' drawings are always so slim and pleasant looking, it really doesn't reflect reality in London) and the boasts about nurturing technology and creative talent in East London, what Boris Johnson seems to have failed to consider is the effect on the Silicon Roundabout brand.

Silicon Traffic Calming Scheme just doesn't have the same ring to Downtime's ears.

Virtual penguins to help drain parental wallets

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A shopping centre in London is using augmented reality to put even more pressure on parents at Christmas time.

As if someone dressed as a fat bloke with a grey beard isn't enough of an attraction one Penguin 2.jpgshopping centre is going further with virtual penguins being used to guide children to Santa's Grotto and parents to Wonga.

Downtime wants to know what happens to the penguins after the annual knees up. As we know virtual pets are not just for Christmas. A Penguin suffering an existential crisis is not nice. We have endured the film.

Smart phones, stupid users

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As mobile use becomes more popular, so do mobile related injuries. Although the intelligence of phones is increasing, the intelligence of users is a different story.

We've all been there - walking down the street checking important emails and looking up just in time to avoid walking in to the person headed towards us.

Except not everyone does the looking up part, as according to survey by device warranty provider SquareTrade, 86% of Brits have fallen, stumbled or walked into a lamppost as a result of mobile phone use. Around 20% have been injured by someone else using their phone, and one participant even admitted to walking into a shop window while using a phone.

Doctors are predicting an increase in these kinds of injuries in the future as both the older and younger generations start using distracting gadgets as well.

Apparently smart phones do not necessarily have smart users. 

Met Police take first step in Minority Report implementation

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A technology pilot which has seen the use of data analytics technology to help the Met Police predict which London gang members are likely to commit another crime, is being considered by parliamentary watchdogs to predict the next expenses cheats.

Despite the obvious correlation between being in a London gang and the propensity to commit crime the technology can identify individuals and predict their future crimes.

By combining information on different databases the police will be able to arrest people before they commit a crime. Automation software could be used to send messages to the latest Rob Cop to be deployed to administer punishment as a deterrent.

Similarly parliamentary watchdogs are eyeing the technology to help reduce the amount of tax payers' money being spend in car show rooms, with estate agents, at Fortnum & Mason, or in Habitat. By crunching data from credit card companies, finance firms, and luxury goods suppliers with expenses claims the cheats will be exposed.

Good news for JLS fans!

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Good news for fans of 2008 X Factor finalists JLS. Band member Aston Merrygold [wasn't he in Lord of the Rings? Ed.] has won the domain name from a cyber-squatter.

Domain name registrar Nominet revealed Aston's victory marking the 10,000th domain name dispute it has resolved.

The domain was registered the day after JLS didn't win the X Factor by someone who never used it for anything. Nominet's Dispute Resolution Service (DRS) panel decided that the registration was made in order to take unfair advantage of Aston's rights.

In order to complain to the DRS, you need to own rights, including a trademark, to a name which is the same as or similar to the one you are concerned about. The service is supposed to be quicker (and cheaper) than resorting to legal action.

How lucky is Nominet, though? The 10,000th domain dispute was about someone who was briefly famous for SEO purposes! What are the chances?!

It's just unfortunate for poor old Aston that JLS split in 2013.

NB. At the time of writing was returning a 404 not found error. We will of course keep you posted if this changes*.

* We won't

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