Articles about Consumers

Statler and Waldorf - copyright - The Walt Disney company - the muppets studio

What will happen when I'm too old to push? (buttons, that is)

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I'd like you to consider my underwear. As we move inexorably towards another Christmas – for American readers, I understand you prefer the euphemism "Holiday Season" for its more generous syllable-count – close relatives have begun asking what gifts I might like to receive on the big day. What I want, of course, is toys. …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Oct 2016

Banks don’t give a 2FA

The online security of a majority of UK banks is failing customers. Tests by consumer group Which? found that only five out of the 11 providers it tested offered two-step authentication for logins. Lloyds and Santander were among the banks faulted for not doing enough to protect consumers from ID theft and banking fraud. In …
John Leyden, 21 Oct 2016
Radbot teaser image by Damon Hart-Davis

Hardware ain't hard, money is: Crowdfunding, bootstraps and startups

Radbot Our quiz on startup branding revealed that a worrying number of you are not to be trusted with a hot iron - branding, soldering, or even wool setting, it seems. I made a slight oversight in that while in banking I did not "put aside" (as a friend calls it) the megabucks to become a gentleman of leisure and science, so we need …

Hard-up Brits 'should get subsidy for 10Mbps'

Folks in the UK unable to afford speeds of 10Mbps under the Universal Service Obligation (USO) should be offered a subsidy, the representative body for 370 councils has said today. The Local Government Association is calling on the government to introduce a subsidised broadband service to help anyone facing undue hardship in …
Kat Hall, 20 Oct 2016

China's LeEco eyes up US, takes on, er, Apple, Samsung, Netflix, Tesla

Pics Chinese tech maker LeEco (pronounced Le Echo) has made its entrance into the US market – with a lavish press conference in San Francisco that showed the Middle Kingdom isn't afraid to take on some of the biggest names in technology. The giant unveiled a high-spec smartphone that massively undercuts rivals Apple, Samsung, and …
Iain Thomson, 19 Oct 2016

Coming soon to smart home devices? Best Before labels – with patch cut-off dates

The big outcome of a one-day special IoT security session run by the US government? A new labeling system for your smart home devices. It's not going to happen for a few years, and today's meeting in Austin, Texas, only agreed to set up a working group to look into the issue. However, after five hours of discussion with …
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Oct 2016
Photo by Helga Esteb / Shutterstock

Whinge on: T-Mobile US docked $48m for limiting 'unlimited' data plans

T-Mobile US has agreed to pay the US comms watchdog the FCC $48m to settle claims that it illegally throttled the connections of some unlimited-plan data users. The settlement package [PDF] ends an investigation the US broadband watchdog launched over T‑Mobile's handling of customers on its unlimited data plans. At issue was …
Shaun Nichols, 19 Oct 2016
Boy with a backpack hides his eyes and cries. Pic by Shutterstock

No shoes for little Timmy, Mama needs a new 10TB hard drive

Seagate has announced six new Guardian Series disk drives for internal use in portables, desktops and gaming rigs, with BarraCuda and FireCuda branding and a variety of form factors. Here is the product list: 2.5-inch BarraCuda 7mm thick with 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities BarraCuda 15mm thick with 3TB, 4TB and 5TB …
Chris Mellor, 19 Oct 2016

Skin tattoo will tell your phone when you've had a skinful

Drunk driving costs thousands of lives every year and, as El Reg tests have shown, personal breathalyzers aren't that reliable. But now government-funded boffins think they've cracked a way of stopping people driving when they've had a skinful. The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) has …
Iain Thomson, 19 Oct 2016

LG’s V20 may be the phone of the year. So why the fsck can’t you buy it?

For beleaguered Android phone makers, you might think a juicy prize has just appeared. For some of them, it could be a life-saver. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 was expected to ship around 20 million units over its lifetime. A flammable battery emphatically put paid to that - with the potential loss of tens of millions of more sales …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Oct 2016

The answer to Internet of Things madness? Open source, of course!

"Open is always going to win," states Ed Hemphill, CEO of WigWag, a company that hopes to make sense of the ever-expanding and ever-more-complex Internet of Things market. WigWag is named after the traditional flags used by the US military's Signal Corps to communicate messages. Hemphill and his cofounder Travis McCollum both …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Oct 2016
Man holds white flag while sitting alongside empty beer bottles next to a toilet bowl. Pic by Shutterstock

Soylent bars farting recall

Future food firm Soylent has issued a total recall on its food bars after reports that they were giving some consumers upset stomachs. The food bars, launched last month and designed to give 12.5 per cent of the total nutrients needed for a day, have now been withdrawn from sale and the company is offering a full refund. "A …
Iain Thomson, 13 Oct 2016

3D printers might sell. Really

Gartner has forecast that worldwide shipments of 3D printers will more than double in 2016. 455,772 units are expected to ship this year, a whopping 108 per cent of the 219,168 units shipped in 2015. despite slowing growth rates, more than 6,700,000 are expected to be shipped in 2020. "Once a niche market, 3D printing has …

WD gives My Passport spinning rust drives a lick of paint

WD has refeshed the design style of its portable USB 3.0 My Passport, My Passport for Mac and desktop My Book external disk drives, using colours and texture. We guess it has ambitions of competing more strongly with Seagate's designer-influenced LaCie brand. The design was worked on by fuseproject and the descriptive …
Chris Mellor, 12 Oct 2016

Will Microsoft's nerd goggles soar like an Eagle, or flop like a turkey?

Analysis Stone the crows! Rather than copying the early market leaders - as it has traditionally done - the modern era Microsoft is showing signs of calling trends correctly well in advance. Only last week we were congratulating Microsoft on being the only platform provider to correctly call the wearables trend. That allowed it to …
Andrew Orlowski, 12 Oct 2016
Vodafone adds payment cards to mobile wallet

Europe loves to pay by bonk* - survey

Consumers use of a mobile device – either a smartphone, tablet or wearable – to make payments has tripled over the past year, according to a Visa-backed survey. The number of Europeans regularly using a mobile device for payments has tripled from 18 per cent to 54 per cent since 2015, according to the results of an online poll …
John Leyden, 12 Oct 2016
Windows Server 2016, now with Windows 10 desktop

First look at Windows Server 2016: 'Cloud for the masses'? We'll be the judge of that

Review Microsoft has released Windows Server 2016, complete with container support and a brand new Nano Server edition. What is the essence of Windows Server 2016? First, a quick look at the context. Server 2016 follows the same pattern as previous releases, in that it follows a new release of the Windows desktop operating system, in …
Tim Anderson, 12 Oct 2016
Falling profits

PC sales sinking almost as fast as Donald Trump's poll numbers

New data from analyst outfits IDC and Gartner suggest the PC market continues to crater. The latter firm's 3Q2016 data records an eighth consecutive quarter of shipment decreases, to 68.9 million units or a 5.7 per cent decline from the third quarter of 2015. IDC found “nearly 68 million units in the third quarter of 2016 ( …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Oct 2016

FCC slams Comcast with largest-ever fine for a cable company

Updated The US Federal Communications Commission is trumpeting the “largest civil penalty assessed from a cable operator” after it fined Comcast $2.3m for charging its customers for services they didn’t ask for and equipment they didn’t need. The government regulator said Comcast had shown a pattern of “negative option billing,” where …
Iain Thomson, 11 Oct 2016

Cheer up Samsung! You might get back $400m for copying the iPhone

Samsung received good news of a sort on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court heard arguments for why Apple should reimburse the company $399m. In the latest round of a four-year fight, Samsung told the Supremes that it was unfair to be forced to pay back all the profits it made from smartphones that a court decided back in 2012 had …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Oct 2016
Radbot teaser image by Damon Hart-Davis

Adventures in (re) naming your business: Fire up the 4-syllable random name generator

Radbot Our goal as a company is to get hundreds of millions of our smart devices out there, in the hands of Joe Public. Saving money and carbon, and mental energy for the things in life that normal people actually care about. But, as I’m learning, we can't do it all at once: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" …
Image by Maksim Kabakou

Stickers emerge as EU's weapon against dud IoT security

The European Commission is readying a push to get companies to produce labels that reveal the security baked into internet-of-things things. The labelling effort is part of a broader push to drive companies to better handle security controls and privacy data in the notoriously insecure and leaky devices. Deputy head of …
Darren Pauli, 10 Oct 2016

18 seconds that blacked out South Australia

Comment In spite of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) putting South Australia's blackout down to fallen 275 kV transmission towers, the prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has doubled down on the stupid notion that renewables made the blackout. One of his comments is plain silly: saying that in electricity grid priorities, “the …

Reseller offered $$$ for old tech gear – then stiffed thousands with suddenly lower quotes

US trade watchdog the FTC has terminated second-hand electronics reseller Laptop & Desktop Repair in Sparks, Nevada – after the biz shafted people out of millions of dollars. The company, operating under such names as,,, and, offered …
Iain Thomson, 06 Oct 2016
Phone Booth

ISP GMX attempts the nigh impossible: PGP for the masses

Internet service provide GMX claims to have overcome the notorious usability problems of PGP with the launch of a new email service that offers end-to-end encryption. The new email security works across all devices and platforms: including laptops, tablets, smartphones and web browsers, according to GMX, which says that the …
John Leyden, 06 Oct 2016
A tortoise catches an orange frisbee. Photo by Shutterstock

Mobile data is getting slower, faster

US cities have seen a massive crash in LTE data speeds this year - but consumers haven’t noticed as latencies are getting lower. According to TwinPrime’s State of Mobile Performance, T-Mobile has emerged as the fastest mobile operator in the US and many European countries. The survey also shows Europe continues to enjoy faster …
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Oct 2016

Samsung gobbles Siri maker

Samsung has announced that it's buying AI startup Viv Labs, the company responsible for building Apple's digital assistant Siri. "Viv was built with both consumers and developers in mind," said Injong Rhee, CTO of the mobile communications business at Samsung. "This dual focus is also what attracted us to Viv as an ideal …
Iain Thomson, 06 Oct 2016

OK Google, Alexa, why can't I choose my own safe, er, wake word?

Analysis One of the oddest things about this week's Google hardware launch was to constantly hear the same phrase over and over again from everyone in the same room: "OK Google." Why? Because the ad giant has chosen that phrase to wake up its digital assistant, whether on the new Pixel phone or the new Google Home. OK Google. OK Google …
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Oct 2016

Google's home tat falls flat as a soufflé – but look out Android makers

Comment This year’s bid by Google to fill your home with its tat collapsed like a soufflé yesterday – but at least one part will have a huge impact. In the phone world, the impact of its Pixel brand on its partners will be huge. Google had hyped the consumer event as the biggest since Android’s launch, but since it added only one new …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Oct 2016

‘You can’t opt out of IoT’: Our future is the Rise of the Sensor Machines

IPExpo “The majority of SMEs are bamboozled by the Internet of Things and how it will support their business,” Mike van Bunnens, MD of comms tech firm Comms365 told The Register today. Predicting a future where “everything” is an IoT device that “binds us together”, van Bunnens - flanked by colleagues Shaun Nicholls and Nick Sacke - …
Gareth Corfield, 05 Oct 2016

Mastercard rolls out pay-by-selfie across Europe

Analysis MasterCard’s "selfie pay" will be coming to Europe next year after trials in the US, Canada and the Netherlands. The financial services firm  is rolling out biometric technologies that will allow European consumers to authenticate their identity without a password, but with a selfie, in order to provide customers with a more …
John Leyden, 05 Oct 2016

Microsoft disbands Band band – and there'll be no version 3

“Devices come and go,” mused Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella this March, discussing the wearables market. Now Nadella can notch up another hardware kill. Microsoft, the only enterprise vendor with a wearable platform, has confirmed it has no plans to launch a third version of its activity wearable, the Microsoft Band. Reports also …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Oct 2016

Brit telcos plead with Ofcom: No one should own more than 30% of available spectrum

Telcos are calling on Ofcom to slap a 30 per cent cap on operators bidding in the next spectrum auction - a move that would limit the proportion of airwaves an operator can own. TalkTalk, Three, CityFibre, the Federation of Communication Services, and Relish called on the regulator to impose the moratorium in a joint letter …
Kat Hall, 03 Oct 2016

Apple puts on its grey suit: Firm, 40, keen to meet corporate types

Apple and consulting firm Deloitte are teaming up to help organisations with their business transformation efforts through the use of Apple devices. The move is just the latest sign that Cupertino is feeling the need to get more serious about the business market than in the past. We wonder why... Apple’s latest foray into the …
Dan Robinson, 29 Sep 2016
A Starship bot face-tp-face with a pensioner on the street

Pisspoor IoT security means it'd be really easy to bump off pensioners

Two things are fixed on everyone's minds when it comes to the Internet of Things: security and law. How does industry overcome the threats posed by these two hurdles? Speaking at yesterday's Cambridge Wireless IoT event in London, Max Heinemeyer from Darktrace was all in favour of automating away the security problems. He …
Gareth Corfield, 29 Sep 2016

FCC death vote looms for the Golden Age of American TV

Special report We’re living in a “Golden Age of TV”, and the United States makes the most envied popular TV drama in the world. Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and The Wire raised the bar for everyone in TV drama. More cash is invested in content: last year Netflix alone spent more on shows than either the BBC or HBO. It takes more risks and …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Sep 2016

Sad reality: Look, no one's going to patch their insecure IoT gear

If you think ordinary people are going to look out for and apply firmware fixes to patch vulnerabilities in the Internet of Things, you're crazy. It's going to be down to manufacturers to secure IoT devices, Intel Security's chief technical strategist says, because consumers will cheerfully give away their security and privacy …
Iain Thomson, 29 Sep 2016

Samsung: And for my next trick – exploding WASHING MACHINES

Samsung's bad month gets worse as the South Korean electronics giant warns that some of its washing machines may halt and catch fire. The tech giant says it is working with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on a plan to fix top-loading washing machines prone to what Samsung terms "abnormal vibrations", or as the …
Shaun Nichols, 29 Sep 2016
Snowball angry about being neutered

After AT&T's crushing blow, FTC tells Senate it wants its balls back

US trade watchdog the FTC says it will appeal the August decision stripping its ability to fine AT&T. In a hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation this week, FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez confirmed her agency will challenge the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling that corporations that deliver a …
Shaun Nichols, 28 Sep 2016
Value pack of two tins of Spam

Brit loan firm gets comeuppance for 7.7 million spam texts

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a financial firm £130,000 after it sent out over seven million spam texts flogging credit cards. Manchester-based Intelligent Lending, trading as Ocean Finance, has also received an enforcement notice forcing it to stop sending out the spam, after it had sent out 7.7 …
Crying baby in autumn. Photo by shutterstock

BT tops Ofcom's broadband whinge list

BT has topped a UK watchdog's quarterly whinge list for the most moaned about fixed line broadband provider in Blighty. Communications regulator Ofcom said it received 300 complaints a day for mobile, broadband, phone and Pay TV. The report for the three months to June published today, deals with Blighty's biggest providers. …
Kat Hall, 28 Sep 2016
Argos Cannon Street Station, photo: Argos

Argos tech team updates iOS app with helpful info on 'eleventy-billion toilet seats'

Strange things are afoot among the developer team at Argos, it’s just not clear if an ill-judged lunchtime trip to the boozer, hijincks related to the recent £1.4bn takeover by Sainsbury’s or a rogue staffer are to blame. Argos screengrab from reader's phone.... Screengrab from the iPhone of a gentle Reg reader... The iOS …
Paul Kunert, 28 Sep 2016

Did last night's US presidential debate Wi-Fi rip-off break the law?

The host of the first presidential debate on Monday night, Hofstra University in New York, may have broken the law and could be in line for a huge fine. Reporters at the event were appalled to find that among the heavily marked-up items they were offered – $150 to rent a lamp, anyone? – was a $200 charge for a "secure wireless …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Sep 2016
Defeated-looking young man puts his head against table in front of laptop and pile of papers in conference room. Pic via Shutterstock

Yahoo! Mail! down?! Great! timing! as! more! US! senators! dogpile! hacked! web! giant!

Yahoo!'s embattled mail service was dealt another blow Tuesday when an outage hit users worldwide. Data from outage monitors DownDetector and Outage.Report back up multiple reports from users that the service was knocked offline for a period of time earlier this morning US time, or afternoon for those in Europe. Y mientras el …
Shaun Nichols, 27 Sep 2016

EFF dinks HP Inc finks in rinky-dink ink stink

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has written to HP Inc demanding it reverse its attempt to prevent any third-party ink cartridges or refilled cartridges from working in its Officejet Pro printers. HP Inc, and many other printer makers, have traditionally sent users a Doomsday warning message when anything but their own …
John Oates, 27 Sep 2016

Ordinary punters will get squat from smart meters, reckons report

Smart meters will benefit suppliers nearly twice as much as consumers in terms of cost savings, according to an assessment by the late Department for Energy and Climate Change. The government's £11bn smart meter project will require energy suppliers to offer 53 million meters to homes and small businesses by 2020. Smart meters …
Kat Hall, 27 Sep 2016

Narcissist Heidi Powell wants her dot-com and she wants it now, now, NOW!

Heidi Powell wants her namesake dot-com and she's suing to get it. Heidi who? Heidi Powell of course, the legendary fitness coach from Flagstaff, Arizona. What do you mean you've never heard of her? The Heidi Powell. Perhaps this will help: we're not talking about 60-year-old marketing consultant Heidi Powell who registered …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Sep 2016

The Great British domain name rip-off: Overcharged .uk customers help pay for cheaper .vodka

UK domain name holders are being overcharged while the company behind it wins contracts by undercutting the market in what may be illegal market abuse. In recent months, Nominet has signed a number of contracts with commercial operators of dozens of internet extensions ranging from .boston to .vodka. More deals are in the …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Sep 2016
Green data centre

Microsoft: We're hugging trees to save the 'world'

Microsoft is turning over a new leaf and going green. At least, that's what the firm’s chief environmental strategist has claimed as he sketched plans to make its data centres more sustainable and efficient. This is not the first time Microsoft has talked about cleaning up its act, but at a green technology event in Santa …
Dan Robinson, 23 Sep 2016

Oi, Apple fanbois. Your beloved Jesus Phones are pisspoor for disabled users

Opinion Apple describes their sexy new iPhone 7 and iOS 10 operating system as the most advanced yet. Well, they say that every year, don't they? However, despite the fanfare, press coverage, and queues outside Apple stores - except in Denmark - one group of iPhone users can be forgiven for feeling let down by Apple, yet again. With …
Colin Hughes, 23 Sep 2016