Hove bar blocks mobile phone signal to be more social

A landlord in Sussex has built a “Faraday cage” around his bar to block mobile phone signals, in an attempt to encourage face-to-face conversation.

 
A landlord in Sussex has built a “Faraday cage” around his bar to block mobile phone signals, in an attempt to encourage face-to-face conversation.
 
Steve Tyler put silver foil in the walls and copper wire mesh in the ceiling of the Gin Tub in Hove.
 
He said he was tired of people coming in and not socialising with each other or with anyone else in the building. “I’ve seen it progressively get worse and worse and I thought, ‘I want to stop this,'” Mr Tyler said. 

“I want people to socialise with the people they are with, rather than the people they are not with. 

I took the bold decision by not blocking the signal with a jammer but doing as best as I could with a Faraday cage and make people talk to each other, and to be honest it has worked very well. 

I had quite a lot of copper mesh and thought, ‘I could put this in the ceiling.’ 

I was mucking about with it to see if it would block a signal, and it does when you put your phone in it.”

 
Mr Tyler plans to have a mobile phone area outside similar to a smoking area. “When it comes to making 999 calls in case of emergency, the bar has a landline phone in order to do so,” he said. “It’s the same as the London Underground – that’s no more dangerous than my bar. The response I’ve had is overwhelming. People enjoy the fact they can only take pictures and then go outside to log on or check in,” he said. “I’ve had one complaint from a customer, and it was that she got a signal. We moved her to another table.”
 

Manchester taxi firm will drive you around the city to catch Pokemon

A Manchester-based taxi company is making the most of the Pokemon Go craze by offering to drive Pokemon hunters around the city.

 
A Manchester-based taxi company is making the most of the Pokemon Go craze by offering to drive Pokemon hunters around the city.
 
For a £20 flat fee, Street Cars will take you to known Pokemon spawning sites around the city. They have a fleet of 600 cars and 12 are currently dedicated to giving Pokemon rides. The service has only been on offer for three days, but Street Cars say they’ve already been swamped with enquiries.
 
Company director Naveed Arshad told Newsbeat it started as a marketing stunt. 

“Quite a few of our staff play Pokemon,” he says. 

“We had the idea that we could use it as a marketing gimmick and it’s just exploded.”

 
At first, the company was only taking routes within the city centre, but they’ve started venturing outside Manchester due to popular demand. They say people are investing hefty taxi fares into expanding their Pokedexes.
 
“We’re giving quotes now because people are coming from out of town,” says Arshad. “Someone came from Altrincham, so we charged him a fare to and from there, and then the £20 to go around the city centre. There are rare Pokemon in the parks like Heaton Park so people want to go there too.”

 
The Poke-cabs have been so busy that Arshad says eight of the fleet of 12 dedicated drivers are busy at any one time. He has, sensibly, put the drivers who love Pokemon Go on duty more regularly.
 
“I’ve only just started, I’m on level four,” he says. “We’ve got specific Pokemon drivers. They’re on level 18 or 20, they know everything. [We also use] live Pokemon maps on Google that tell you where the Pokemon are.”

 
Most of the customers, says Arshad, have been adults, apart from a mum who booked a car to Poke-hunt with her son. It’s been so popular that Street Cars is even considering re-painting one of its cars as Pikachu.
It’s doing wonders for their business, too.
 
“Wowcher have been in touch, and we’ve had a couple more companies contact us to do a collaboration,” Arshad explains. “We’ll keep doing it as long as the drivers are happy. But you don’t know how long this buzz is going to last.”

 

Broadband providers launch Fix Britains Internet campaign

TalkTalk, Sky, Vodafone, and the Federation of Communication Services have launched a campaign called Fix Britains Internet, urging broadband customers to voice their opinion on Openreach.

 
 

TalkTalk, Sky, Vodafone, and the Federation of Communication Services have launched a campaign called Fix Britains Internet, urging broadband customers to voice their opinion on Openreach.
 
Earlier this week, Ofcom ruled that Openreach should become a distinct company within the BT Group, but not an entirely separate company – it`ll still be attached to BT. That`s not the final decision though. The consultation is still ongoing, with Ofcom seeking thoughts from broadband users and industry bodies – and that`s where Fix Britain`s Internet comes in.
 
A number of providers feel that Openreach in fact ought to be completely independent body, fully separate from BT, something which Ofcom felt would be too complicated and risky. Providers, however, feel that Openreach hasn`t been handled properly under BT, and are calling for action.
 
“The internet is essential to our lives and futures,” TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding said. “It shouldn’t just work for the benefit of one large company, it should work for everyone. For too long now though, UK broadband users have been let down by promises of improvement which neve materialises. It`s time for brave, bold action by Ofcom to solve the problem once and for all.”
 
Legal separation of Openreach from BT would benefit other providers who use the Openreach network, not least because it would mean they`re no longer reliant on a rival provider`s infrastructure, though how it would work out for consumers is still up for debate.
 
Some providers think it would mean more fibre rollouts, especially to hard-to-reach areas – although Ofcom has already ruled that Openreach must invest more money in this anyway – and less admin and red tape.
 
 
 

Virgin Media engineers ‘cut off home’

A home in the north-west of England has been cut off by roadworks carried out by Virgin Media as part of its super-fast broadband rollout.
 
A home in the north-west of England has been cut off by roadworks carried out by Virgin Media as part of its super-fast broadband rollout.
 
David Henshall told the Manchester Evening News that he came home from work and “found they had barricaded my wife and daughter inside”. He emailed pictures of the work to Virgin Media chief executive Tom Mockridge.
 
The firm apologised for the inconvenience. In a statement it said: “Virgin Media expects the very highest standards of work from all its contractors. We will be discussing the matter with the contractors as a matter of urgency.”
 
The home in Bolton was completely surrounded by fencing which in turn protected a newly-dug trench. “My wife informs me that the workmen left at 2pm with no thought to the fact she could not move her car from our drive and it is stuck now,” he told the paper.
 
The incident does not appear to be an isolated one. On the Virgin Media community website, a member complained last month that workmen “have dug right across the driveway”, blocking in a car and covering it in dust. Another asked this week: “I am trying to find out who to speak to about Virgin laying cables and constantly digging up the road, then making a mess.”
 
In February 2015, Virgin Media announced that it was to invest £3bn in improving its cable broadband service, increasing its network’s reach from 13 million to 17 million homes.
 

Pokemon Go: Player claims to have caught all UK characters

A man has claimed to have become the first to catch all the characters available in the UK. Sam Clark posted an online video showing he had caught 143 virtual characters when playing the game around Southampton and Gosport.
 
A man has claimed to have become the first to catch all the characters available in the UK. Sam Clark posted an online video showing he had caught 143 virtual characters when playing the game around Southampton and Gosport.
 
The 33-year-old said he has spent “pretty much every waking hour” on the app since it was launched on 6 July. Mr Clark said he had lost more than two stone in weight during the process and claimed his final catch was a Lapras found “round the back of Primark”.
 
The online augmented reality game – which is attracting millions of players – involves finding virtual Pokemon characters in real locations across the world.
 
Mr Clark said he completed the collection of all the 142 characters available in the UK, as well as a Tauros, – exclusive to the US, but which he had succeeded in hatching from an egg. 

He said he is “pretty damn sure” he is the first UK player to reach the level, and has not heard of anyone making a claim to have got there first.
 

A Brooklyn-based collector, Nick Johnson, was reported as completing the set in the US.
 
Mr Clark, a phone repair engineer and lifelong gaming enthusiast, said he had spent hours walking around Southampton’s city centre parks to try to track down the creatures. He also said Town Quay, where he caught a Gyarados, seemed to be a “hotspot” in the city.
 
Mr Clark set up the Cyberjam Gaming group with other gaming enthusiasts and said more than 200 people had recently attended a Pokemon Go meet-up they had organised.
 
“This is the game I’ve waited for for 20 years. It’s taken this long for the technology to catch up. It brings people together – there is no competition, everyone is just chuffed if you catch them. It’s unreal – when you are in the park you can tell who is looking for them and everyone smiles and waves,” he added.
 

Samsung profits boosted by smartphone sales

Strong smartphone sales have helped Samsung Electronics post its best quarterly results in more than two years.
 
Strong smartphone sales have helped Samsung Electronics post its best quarterly results in more than two years.
 
Second-quarter operating profit jumped 18% to 8.1tn Korean won ($7.17bn; £5.46bn), in line with the company’s guidance issued in July. Operating profit at its mobile division soared 27% year-on-year to 4.3tn won.
 
That is mainly driven by strong sales of its Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphone models. Samsung predicts continued increase in demand for its smartphones and tablets in the second half of the year. But the company also indicated that “market competition is expected to strengthen as other companies release new mobile devices”.
 
Samsung is confident that the release of a new large-screen flagship smartphone in the third quarter will help maintain the track record of its smartphone sales.
 
Samsung’s results are in contrast to rival Apple. Earlier this week, the US company reported a 15% drop in iPhone sales for the April-to-June quarter. And it also said it expected sales to fall again in the current quarter. As for other divisions in the Samsung conglomerate, the company is forecasting a decline in TV demand for the second half of the year, citing “weakened demand in Europe and a prolonged economic slowdown in emerging markets”.
 
The South Korean corporate giant also reported earnings growth in its consumer electronics division, which sells refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioning units.
 

Blackberry battles on with Dtek50 Android phone

Blackberry has launched its first touchscreen-only Android handset, in a bid to diversify its range of devices. The company says its Dtek50 smartphone offers improved security over rival Android devices, and will cost less than its previous handset Priv.
  
Blackberry has launched its first touchscreen-only Android handset, in a bid to diversify its range of devices. The company says its Dtek50 smartphone offers improved security over rival Android devices, and will cost less than its previous handset Priv.
 
It is the firm’s second Android handset after switching focus away from its struggling BB10 platform.
 
One analyst said the phone was the “right move” but that the company still faced an “uphill battle” with devices. 

“The real challenge is whether Blackberry can convince enough corporate buyers to buy a batch of mid-range phones,” said Nick McQuire, analyst at CCS Insight. 

“A lot of that comes down to the beauty of the device and what it has inside, but more importantly the price.”

 
The Dtek50 is a touchscreen-only device, without the physical keyboard often associated with Blackberry. The firm’s boss, John Chen, has been open about exploring new partnerships to reduce the cost of handset manufacture. The Dtek50 shares the design of the Idol 4S – a handset produced by Alcatel, a Chinese-owned rival.
 

“It’s certainly a low cost, low risk way of going about it,” said Mr McQuire. “It’s a necessary move for the handset business and delivers on a promise Mr Chen has been making, about complementing the Priv with a number of other devices.”
 
But Blackberry says the phone has unique internal hardware, with its chips protected by cryptographic keys to prevent tampering and thwart hackers. Blackberry was once the predominant name in smartphones, but was slow to adapt to an era of data-hungry multimedia devices with big touchscreens, ushered in by Apple’s iPhone in 2007.
 

Its new operating system – BB10 – was launched four years after Google had released its Android software. By then, Android had taken the largest share of the market.
 
Blackberry released its first Android smartphone in 2015. But the Priv – a large touchscreen device with a slide-out keyboard – came with a premium price tag (£579 in the UK) that put some people off.
 
“The fact that we came out with a high end phone was probably not as wise as it should have been,” Mr Chen later told The National.
 

Although it is best known for its handsets, Blackberry says a majority of its revenue comes from the software it licenses to companies and governments. That includes its enterprise server products, which let companies manage the smartphones they give to employees.
 
Mr Chen has been clear that he would not continue to produce phone hardware if it became unsustainable.
 
“The biggest challenge Blackberry faces is that it has to consistently educate customers that it’s not a dying company,” said Mr McQuire. “Fundamentally its software business is good, and financially has been much stabilised in the last 12 months. But news reporters only tend to touch the handset business, that’s what people like to read about. Its software security business doesn’t get the same headlines. It’s a decent business, but it’s boring.”
 

Subtitles for live channels on BBC iPlayer in world-first

In a first for any major video on-demand service in the world, the BBC has begun trialling subtitles for live channels on BBC iPlayer. To date, subtitles have only been available for on-demand programmes.
 
In a first for any major video on-demand service in the world, the BBC has begun trialling subtitles for live channels on BBC iPlayer. To date, subtitles have only been available for on-demand programmes.
 
The trial, currently available on PC and Mac computers* will allow deaf and hearing-impaired viewers to watch more BBC TV programmes wherever and whenever they want. The BBC will test and improve the feature over the coming months before it is rolled out to BBC iPlayer’s app for mobiles and tablets – and over time to Connected TVs.
 
With almost 2m programmes a day or 20% of all on-demand programmes watched using subtitles on BBC iPlayer – there is already huge demand for this feature to be extended to live content too.
 
Gareth Ford Williams, head of accessibility for the BBC said: “The BBC is already a world-leading provider of accessible services– but we know there is always more to do. We want to ensure our content and services are accessible to everyone – and this trial will give viewers who are deaf or hearing-impaired access to even more programming than ever before.”
 
Dr. Roger Wicks from Action on Hearing Loss said: “We welcome this breakthrough from the BBC, which is a huge step in the right direction for full accessibility for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. Our Subtitle It! campaign has been working towards increasing online broadcasters’ use of subtitles on online content and we’re delighted that the BBC is leading the way by trialling this new feature.”
 
 

Councils demand reassurance on universal broadband pledge

Councils have urged the government to “reaffirm its commitment” to a minimum broadband speed to stop thousands of homes and businesses falling into a “digital twilight zone”.
  
Councils have urged the government to “reaffirm its commitment” to a minimum broadband speed to stop thousands of homes and businesses falling into a “digital twilight zone”.
 
The Local Government Association called for a “timetable for action”, saying it was “paramount” to press on with extending broadband to all of the UK. Ministerial changes after the Brexit vote must not delay work, it added. The government insisted it was on track with its broadband coverage plans.
 
The promise to give every household a legal right to high-speed broadband was announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, as part of measures to make the UK a “world leader in the digital economy”.
 
The government expects an initial minimum speed of at least 10 Mbps (megabits per second) by 2020 under the new “broadband universal service obligation” (USO). The pledge is included in the Digital Economy Bill, which will also include powers to direct Ofcom to regularly review the speed provided to ensure it is “still sufficient for modern life”.
 
Council leaders said they supported the creation of a national minimum broadband speed, but called for a “safety net” for those who were unlikely to be covered by the plan. The government plans to set a reasonable cost threshold above which the remotest properties could be expected to contribute to the cost of their connection.
 
Mark Hawthorne, from the Local Government Association (LGA), said good digital connectivity was “a vital element of everyday life”, and key to the economy. A minimum speed was “a good start”, but it must keep pace with national average speeds, especially at peak times, he stressed. “Without this there is the real possibility of some areas – particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas – falling into a digital twilight zone. The LGA’s call comes a day after Ofcom announced proposals to make BT’s Openreach division a distinct and legally separate company from BT to ensure “faster, more reliable broadband.”
 
But Ofcom stopped short of calling for Openreach – which runs the UK’s broadband infrastructure – to be spilt off entirely.
 
Responding to the LGA’s intervention, Digital Minister Matt Hancock said nine out of 10 UK homes and businesses could already get superfast broadband, and Britain was on target to reach 95% coverage by the end of next year.
 
Fast and reliable broadband was “a must these days”, he added, saying the bill to make the minimum speed requirement law was currently going through Parliament.