One in five has never sent an email

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As the clocks go back this weekend, Gabby Logan and BT urge people to use the ‘extra’ hour to help someone send their first email to family and friends

One in five (20%) adults in the UK has never sent an email, according to new research from BT’s Get IT Together campaign. The findings are released as Gabby Logan, who is fronting the campaign, is encouraging people to ‘Give an Hour’ this weekend to help someone send their first email – an important step to getting online.

Gabby, said: “I love being able to drop a friend a quick email to say ‘hi, hope you’re ok’. We take it for granted that everyone can use the internet but the reality is many people don’t know how to.

“The internet makes it quick and simple to stay in touch, make arrangements and keep up to date even if you live at different ends of the country. You can send instant messages, share photos and even video call. So if you know someone who isn’t online yet, why not use the extra hour this weekend to help them send their first email?”

The BT/ICM telephone poll of more than 2,000 adults found that of those already online four in ten (40%) have used email to reconnect with someone and more than half (53%) got back in touch using Facebook. Almost half (47%) of those who had lost touch with a close family member said they would like to reconnect with them*. Only about one in ten (9%) wanted to get back in touch with a former flame.

A lack of time and physical distance are often the cause of people losing touch. More than half (54%) of those surveyed said they had lost contact with someone because they didn’t have time to keep in touch. Almost half (46%) reported losing touch because their friend or family member had moved to another part of the country and 42% of those who had lost touch said distance prevented them reconnecting.

To make it easy to explain the benefits of email BT’s Get IT Together campaign and Gabby have produced a short film that you can show to someone who has never sent an email before. The film forms part of a series of four and can be accessed via www.bt.com/getit.

Around 9 million people in the UK still haven’t used the internet. BT, through it’s Get IT Together campaign, is committed to helping to get another 100,000 people online for the first time by the end of the London Olympic year. BT will also encourage and enable at least 10,000 people to become ‘Digital Champions’ helping and inspiring others to get online. As a leading partner of Race Online 2012, BT is supporting its ‘Give an Hour’ campaign, encouraging people to use the hour created by the clocks going back on 30th October to help someone get online.

Martha Lane Fox is the UK’s Digital Champion, and leads Race Online 2012, the national campaign to get everyone in the UK online by the Olympic year. Fox, said: “There are still 8.7 million people in the UK who’ve never made a free Skype call, explored and expanded their interests or got a great deal online. Yet, it’s impossible to imagine life without the web for anyone who uses it regularly”.

“We live in an age when ‘digital’ is a vital life skill: as basic as knowing how to read and write. 90% of new jobs require it: you’re 25% more likely to get work when you have web skills and once in work you’ll earn up to 10% more. It’s simply unacceptable that so many people are still unable to benefit from what the web can offer. BT’s commitment to get an extra 100,000 people online by the end of next year is just the kind of dedication we need to make the UK the first nation in the world where everyone can use the web.”

Gavin Patterson, BT’s CSR champion, said: “These days there are so many great ways to stay in touch. In the world we live in, the internet can really help people who are isolated or disadvantaged. Of those not online, four million are also the most socially and digitally excluded. We’ve been working since 2002 to tackle this digital divide and are committed to helping 100,000 more people get online by the end of next year.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T-Mobile accidentally give away free contracts to 2,000 customers

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T-Mobile accidentally offered 2,000 customers a free mobile contract for a year before realising its mistake.

The online offer advertised the SIM-only 12 month plan with 300 minutes and texts as free for 12 months, instead of free for one month and then £10.21 a month after that.

Much to its surprise, customers who signed-up were then sent emails confirming the super deal.

However, when the mobile network spotted the error – after it had been online for six hours – it retracted the deal and offered the same package for £7.71 per month, instead of £10.21.

A spokesman for T-Mobile blamed Monday’s mistake on an ‘administration error’.

He added: ‘We are contacting all customers to inform them of this error and offer them an alternative price plan as gesture of goodwill.’

However, angry customers on HotUKdeals.co.uk are threatening to take T-Mobile to court.

But the mobile phone company has said that it does not have to honour the deal due to a loophole in its terms and conditions.

The spokesman for T-Mobile said: “€˜We are not legally obliged to offer this deal to customers. That’€™s because our web terms and conditions say that a legal contract is not formed until we confirm that the credit check has been successful and the customer’€™s offer has been accepted by us.”€™

Customers have set up a Facebook campaign for the network to uphold its original offer.

 

A third of our lives now live online finds TalkTalk

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Thirty per cent of life tasks are now conducted online according to an analysis by TalkTalk, the phone, broadband and mobile company.

The firm quizzed more than 20,000 people about their online habits and found that in homes with a broadband connection almost one third of everything we do – from communication to entertainment to shopping to life management – is now conducted online.

According to TalkTalk’s figures, the internet is now used in broadband homes to solve at least six out of every ten problems, from finding a plumber to researching an illness.

Eighty six per cent of people in broadband homes use internet banking at least once a year while 96 per cent of people make at least one online purchase annually, suggesting the wariness we once had about online transactions has all but disappeared.

The internet has also transformed our leisure time. In the past year 38 per cent of people in homes with broadband have downloaded at least one movie and 54 per cent have listened to music online.

“We are turning to the internet to meet more and more of our life needs, from paying a bill or finding a life mate,” said Tristia Clarke, Commercial Director of TalkTalk.

“That’s why it is so important that we move at full speed to get the 8.7 million people in this country who are not currently online into the digital era. The gap between online and offline Britain may already be more socially and economically significant than the north/south divide.”

This week TalkTalk staff are donating an hour of their time to teach basic internet skills to people who, for whatever reason, have not yet joined the internet revolution. It’s all part of Go ON Give an Hour, the biggest campaign ever devoted to helping millions more people in the UK get online.

 

 

Check the latest TalkTalk broadband deals here.

 

 

 

BT ordered to block Newzbin2 filesharing site within 14 days

BT has been given 14 days to block access to a website accused of promoting illegal filesharing “on a grand scale” by Hollywood studios, in the first high court ruling of its kind under UK copyright law.
 
BT has been given 14 days to block access to a website accused of promoting illegal filesharing “on a grand scale” by Hollywood studios, in the first high court ruling of its kind under UK copyright law.
 
Justice Arnold handed down a written judgment to BT – which, with about 6 million customers, is the UK’s biggest internet service provider – to block its customers’ access to the website Newzbin2 at the high court in London.
 
The judge backed the argument brought by a coalition of Hollywood studios, including Warner Bros, Paramount, Disney, Universal, Fox and Columbia, which have argued that Newzbin2 has made millions profiting from exploiting other people’s work.
 
Wednesday’s court order also allows for the blocking of any other IP or internet address that the operators of the Newzbin2 site might look to use to continue to offer copyrighted content to users.
 
The judge said that limiting the blocking order to the Newzbin2 site would be “too easily circumvented to be effective” because the site’s owners have already made available software that could allow users to get around a BT block.
 
He backed the studios’ proposal that BT should also move to block “any other IP address or URL whose sole or predominant purpose is to enable or facilitate access to the Newzbin[2] website”.
 
“Furthermore, I do not consider that the studios should be obliged to return to court for an order in respect of every single IP address or URL that the operators of Newzbin2 may use,” he added.
 
The court said BT must foot the bill for the cost of implementing the web block on Newzbin2.
 
BT, which argued that the creative industries should pay, has estimated the cost to be about £5,000 and £100 for each subsequent notification.
 
Arnold rejected an attempt by BT to include an undertaking for the studios to reimburse the telecoms company for any losses it might incur from a site being blocked, such as from any legal action to fight the move.
 
The judge also said BT customers would not be able to make claims against the company for breach of contract because its broadband package is covered under an acceptable use policy that explicitly says copyright must not be infringed.
 
The order is viewed by the creative industries as a landmark that could set a precedent for the widespread blocking of illegal filesharing websites by ISPs, helping to stem the flow of digital piracy in the UK.
 
“The law is clear. Industrial online piracy is illegal and can be stopped,” said Lord Puttnam, president of the Film Distributors’ Association.
 
Chris Marcich, managing director of film industry trade body the MPA, said today’s “win” would allow for more investment in digital services from TV, film, music and publishing companies.
 
“Securing the intervention of the ISPs was the only way to put the commercial pirates out of reach for the majority of consumers,” Marcich added. “This move means that we can invest more in our own digital offerings, delivering higher quality and more variety of products to the consumer.”
 
BT said it is “helpful” to have a court order to bring “clarity” to the site blocking process.

Steve Jobs vowed to ‘destroy’ Android

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Apple founder Steve Jobs declared war on Android and vowed to destroy Google’s platform with Apocalypse Now-style extreme prejudice, it has emerged.

A new biography of Jobs’ life and work lays bare the extent of the tech visionary’s animosity towards Google’s Android platform after the arrival of an Android phone that he claims liberally borrowed from the iPhone’s feature set.

According to Walter Isaacson, author of ‘Steve Jobs’, the Apple main man regarded the handset’s touchscreen user interface and similar overall look and feel to the iPhone as “grand theft’ on Google’s part.

Jobs reportedly told his biographer: “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $US40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

Prior to Google’s decision to enter the smartphone market, the search giant and Apple had an uncommonly convivial relationship – by Silicon Valley standards at least.

So much so, that Google CEO Eric Schmidt sat on Apple’s board until August 2009, before an unworkable conflict of interest arose following the success of the likes of the T-Mobile G1 (the OG of Android phones).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mobile phone makers wage war to protect their patents

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The patent system was created to spur on innovation. But over recent years it has sparked an arms war between some of the world’s leading mobile phone companies.
 
The likes of Apple and Microsoft do not only sue their rivals to protect their own inventions, but go on to buy third party patents to build up their weapon stockpile. What is more, they appear increasingly willing to litigate.
 
The number of handset patent infringement filings to the US courts grew from 24 cases in 2006, to 84 cases in 2010, according to Lex Machina, an intellectual property litigation data provider. It expects that number to grow to 97 cases this year, reflecting more than a four-fold rise in the space of half a decade.
 
“Filings in this litigation space appeared to have hit a plateau this summer, but are now strongly back on the rise,” says Lex Machina’s chief executive, Josh Becker.
Part of the problem is the speed at which the industry is evolving. The US patent system offers inventors a limited monopoly on new ideas lasting twenty years from when they are filed. However, mobile phone users expect giant leaps in progress over a much shorter time span.
 
As the devices transform into music players, cameras, internet browsers and beyond, they involve an increasing amount of intellectual property. There are now potentially more than 250,000 active patents relevant to a single smartphone, according to RPX, a San Francisco based patent aggregator and licensor.
 
“The devices we used 10 years ago to make voice calls have become hand-held computers incorporating a vast array of software and hardware, which increases the breadth of patent exposure,” said RPX’s chief executive, John Amster. “And this problem increases with the capabilities of these devices to do new things. The lawyers become involved when a company either doesn’t want to share its advances, or wants to be paid a fee for their use. Some experts believe this is now becoming a default tactic.”£
 
“For some time, the threat of mutually assured destruction among the major technology players such as IBM and Microsoft limited the outbreak of patent warfare,” says Kevin Werbach, associate professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Today however, especially in the mobile market, asymmetric threats are widespread. There may be a few local winners in the mobile patent wars, but we all lose when the central competitive arena switches from serving customers to winning at high-stakes litigation.”
 
Keeping track of the tangled web of claims and counter claims is becoming a complex task in itself. Microsoft is suing handset maker Motorola Mobility over its use of video coding and other patents, but Motorola is counter suing over Microsoft’s implementation of email, instant messaging and Wi-fi. Motorola is being taken over by Google, which is being sued by Oracle over its use of the Java programming language in its Android operating system.
Google also intervened in HTC’s legal fights against Apple, selling some of its patents to the Taiwanese handset maker. HTC claims Apple violates its power management technology and other innovations, while Apple challenges the way HTC uses touch screens and gesture recognition.
 
Meanwhile, Apple has used patent and design-related rights lawsuits to prevent Samsung Electronics from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in Australia and Germany. The South Korean firm has retaliated trying to ban iPhone sales in Japan and Australia. LG, Sony, Ericsson, Kodak and Nokia have also been active in the courts.
Florian Mueller keeps track of developments at his blog, Foss Patents, and was recently commissioned by Microsoft to study certain types of patent litigation. “When you get two technology giants battling each other, they will always ensure there is no sign of weakness,” he says. “So you will see one firm counter-suing against the other, even if their claim is of dubious merit, to make sure they don’t go down without a fight. Litigants look for jurisdictions that they believe are favourable to their interests, which can give them a quick win… as a result the disputes spread geographically.”
 
However, Nokia stresses decisions to take legal action are not taken lightly. The Finnish phone maker recently settled a patent lawsuit with Apple after the US firm agreed to pay a one-off charge and ongoing royalties.
 
“Our industry requires significant R&D. Nokia alone has invested around 45bn euros ($61.8bn, £39.4bn) in the past two decades,” the firm’s chief legal officer, Louise Pentland, said. “Companies which use the resulting inventions must have permission and compensate those who took the risks and invested to create them.”
 
“So, though litigation is not Nokia’s preferred option, we don’t allow others to use our intellectual property without authorisation or get a free ride on the back of our innovation,” says Ms Pentland.
While Nokia tackled Apple head-on, the iPhone maker and Microsoft are litigating against handset makers using Google’s Android system, rather than the search giant itself. Google does not charge for the software, but instead relies on its partners’ devices driving users to its various search services. The firm’s latest results show its mobile advertising business is generating revenue at rate of $2.5bn a year, so giving away Android for “free” makes financial sense.
However that creates a major problem for its rivals.
 
Microsoft’s business model relies on handset makers paying for the right to use its Windows Phone 7 system. Apple has to price in the development costs of its iOS system when selling its iPhones. Microsoft’s solution seems to be to force Android manufacturers to pay it a royalty if they use Google’s software. At least that was the outcome of patent talks with HTC in 2010 and Samsung last month.
 
The terms have never been disclosed, but Citigroup analyst, Walter Pritchard, believes HTC and Samsung pay Microsoft between $1-5 for each Android handset sold. “I think with approximately 50% of Android handsets covered by royalty arrangements, they will continue to pursue the same course of legal action… for the remaining smaller Android players,” Mr Pritchard says.
 
By contrast, Apple seems more intent on keeping its innovations proprietary. “We spend a lot of time and money and resource on coming up with incredible innovation and we don’t like it when someone else takes those,” said Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, after the firm released its most recent results. He declined to elaborate further.
 
However, a recent court filing by one of Apple’s lawyers revealed it could be willing to license Samsung some of its “lower-level patents”, but in return Samsung would need to agree to “cease copying the features and functionality” of Apple’s products.
As patent attacks become more common place, companies are stocking up on ammunition. In December 2010, Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and the data specialist EMC spent $450m on 882 patents, and patent applications, belonging to Novell, an ailing infrastructure software provider. That sum was then dwarfed by the $4.5bn paid in July for a 6,000 strong patent portfolio belonging to bankrupt telecoms manufacturer, Nortel. Microsoft and Apple shared the library with Blackberry maker, Research in Motion, and three others.
 
Then, in September, Google revealed plans to buy Motorola Mobility, and its 24,500 patent library, for $12.5bn. Notably, the deal was secured one month after Google’s Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, wrote a blog titled “When patents attack”.
“Our competitors are waging a patent war on Android,” he said. “Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices – and fewer choices for their next phone.”
 
Although vast sums are involved, experts say it could prove cost-effective if the acquisitions encourage cross-licensing deals under which firms swap permission to use each others’ inventions. “We’re in a situation now of patent poker where the deck has been redealt and everyone has a new hand, and all the patent lawyers are saying we need to review our positions,” says Ben Wood, chief of research at mobile analysts CCS Insight. “I would like to think this might result in renewed sanity and a realisation that trying to kill each other in court isn’t to the greater good of the industry.”
“As long as major companies feel they need to shore up their patent portfolios, we’ll continue to see patents valued as defensive assets in a total war, rather than based on their potential for value creation,” says Professor Werbach.
“While in the short run Nortel’s creditors and Motorola’s shareholders may have benefitted from patent price inflation, the overall impact will be significant market distortion.”
 

Traditional conversation beats email and text for trustworthiness

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Despite the growth in emails, texts and social media sites, the majority of people still look to more traditional forms of communication when they have something important to say according to a study led by the University of Cambridge and sponsored by BT.

Over nine in ten (93%) people surveyed said that they think talking to someone face-to-face is the most trusted method for conveying an important message. Telephone conversations are seen as a trusty backup with 86% of people turning to landlines and 82% to mobile phones.

There was a marked drop-off in trust when it came to text-based communications with only 59% of people saying they trust email for communicating an important message. Only 45% would trust text messaging, whilst less than a quarter (23%) would rely on instant messenger.

The research, conducted with over 1,200 people across the UK also showed that for the majority of people, face-to-face communication is still the preferred way of communicating in everyday life. Almost two-thirds (65%) of those surveyed in the UK cited face-to-face conversation as their preferred method of communication. Surprisingly, this was found to be the same for both adults (65%) and children (64%).
Professor John Clarkson, director of the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Cambridge and Principal Investigator of the study, said: “Whilst there is a commonly held belief that we are all glued to our smart phones or other mobile devices, this research shows that traditional methods of communication are still extremely important to us all, both young and old.

“While the ways in which people communicate have developed, people still have a particular need to hear the other person’s voice or see their facial expressions. This is especially true when a person is having an emotional or sensitive conversation where you would like to be sure a message has been received in the ways you intended. You can tell as much from tone of voice, nuances and expression as you can from the words themselves. This is reflected in our survey, where responses indicate that ‘live’ conversation is here to stay.”

Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Retail, adds: “We are very fortunate today in that we have so many methods of communication available to us. The key to having a healthy relationship with this technology, and the people around you, is to think about what you want to say and the best way to say it. Asking someone what time you’re meeting can easily be done by text messaging but if you want to say something important, face to face or phone is always going to be much better”.

“From the research it seems that the majority are getting it right but it’s important to keep a check on ourselves – as our lives get busier, and technology become ever more accessible we just need to make sure we don’t fall into bad habits.”

To help people maintain control and maintain a balance, BT has introduced a ‘five-a-day’ Balanced Communications Diet to help families get the most out of their communications.

A copy of BT’s a Balanced Communications Diet can be downloaded at: www.bt.com/balance

 

 


 

The BT Balanced Communications Diet

Be aware – Before you can make any changes, you need to understand how you and your family are using technology.
Many families who took part in the research were surprised and at times dismayed by their technology habits. Keeping a log of your family’s use of technology will help you identify good and bad habits and also changes you may want to make.

Location, location, location – Think about where technology is located in the home.

Parents often complained that their children abandoned family time to go on the computer or video game console in their room. Similarly, children reported feeling that they lost out on parents’ attention when they were ‘quickly’ checking up on work in the home office. Keeping computers and consoles in a central location will allow your family to share what they are doing online, or at least all be in the same place while using technology.

Have rules – Set some boundaries about how, when and where technology is used.

Our research showed that rules around technology usage reduced anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. The rules are up to you: try removing technology from the dinner table, organise a family games evening either with or without technology, use parental controls to manage use of social networks or the time spent on the family computer, or agree limits on the number of text messages sent in a day.

Just remember, whatever rules are introduced, it’s important to talk them through and agree them as a family – and parents sometimes need just as many rules as children!

Education – Be a good example: teach and demonstrate the importance of balance and safety in the way technology is used.

It’s important for parents to set good examples, so think about your own behaviour. For example, avoid checking your smart phone unnecessarily when with your family. It’s easy for children to pick up bad habits from you.

In addition, children are using technology at an increasingly early age and teaching safe and responsible use is vital from the outset, it’s important to make sure your children are taking the right steps to keep themselves safe.

Find your Balance – Don’t be concerned by overly positive or negative hype about communications technology. Every family and individual uses technology differently. We hope that this advice helps you find a healthy balance for you so that you have control of technology and are making the most of all forms of communication whether it’s by phone, email, social media or face-to-face.

 

 

 

 

 

Plusnet and Virgin Media see broadband ads banned

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Plusnet and Virgin Media have fallen foul of the UK’s advertising watchdog for creating “misleading” broadband promotions.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a Plusnet radio promo broadcast in April and two Virgin Media ads that appeared in PC Gaming magazine in June.

A listener complained about the Plusnet campaign, which repeatedly stated that the Yorkshire-based internet service provider offers broadband from £6.49 per month.

However, it failed to mention that this price is dependent on the location the subscriber lives in, as large areas of the British Isles are not in Plusnet’s low-cost areas.

Just over three-quarters of households are eligible to receive the low-cost service.

Virgin Media drew criticism for two print ads that claimed its 50Mbps fibre optic broadband service is the best in the UK for online gaming.

The ASA ruled that the statement could not be substantiated and was also guilty of exaggeration. In particular, the regulator revealed the 50Mbps package suffers from “high upstream jitter”, a significant factor affecting the performance of online games.

“We concluded that the overall impression given by the ads was misleading,” the ASA explained.

Orange to offer home broadband customers online protection

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Orange today announced it is to become the first home broadband provider to offer all its customers free anti-virus and parental control software. From the 15th October, both new and existing customers across all of Orange’s home broadband plans will be able to install McAfee AntiVirus Plus 2012 with additional Parental Control software on up to three home computers or laptops – at no extra cost.

Orange has partnered with McAfee, the world’s largest dedicated security technology company, to not only offer all Orange home broadband customers premium virus and identity protection, but also parental control software to tackle issues such as cyber-bullying and management of children’s online activity. The software will be free for all home broadband customers for the first 12 months, after which they can either cancel the service or continue to receive it for half price on the second year.

The software will be available for customers to install directly on their computers, and as it will not be just network embedded, allows them to continue to remain protected, even if they’re using their laptop outside of their home.

Sylvain Thevenot, Marketing Director, Orange Home said: “We believe that our customers need a complete online security solution that is simple to install and understand, so they can use it both when they’re in the home and when they’re on the move with their laptops. As a result, we’re pleased to be the first home broadband provider to offer all of our customers, irrespective of their package, access to award-winning protection software for free. It’s yet another good reason why Orange really does provide the best all round value broadband in the UK”

Orange was awarded Best Corporate Social Responsibility Broadband Provider in 2010 by the Internet Services Providers’ Association, the UK’s Trade Association for providers of Internet services. The company also received the highest ISP customer service satisfaction in the industry according to Ofcom in July 2011.