Monday, March 24, 2014

Amazon buys stake in Yodel from Barclay brothers

Best Buy-011.jpg">

Amazon has struck a deal with the Barclay brothers, owners of the Ritz hotel and Telegraph newspaper titles, to acquire a stake in Yodel, which was recently voted Britain's worst parcel delivery service for the second year running.

More than 10% of Amazon's $75bn (£45.5bn) global revenues are thought to be made up of sales to customers in the UK, although the US group controversially books these transactions through its Luxembourg-based office.

The decision to strike a deal with Yodel appears to signal that Amazon is prepared to support Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay's loss-making business in the crowded parcel delivery market.

Yodel accounts show Amazon has been given an option to acquire 4.2% of Yodel in a deal which values the business at £207m. The option to acquire the stake for £8.7m remains open until 2022.

Amazon and Yodel declined to comment on closer commercial ties between the two firms.

Yodel, based in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, was born out of the delivery business of catalogue retailer Littlewoods, which is also part of the Barclay brothers' business empire. Following a series of acquisitions, it now ships more than 135m parcels a year, making it the second largest delivery service after recently-privatised Royal Mail.

Yodel has more than 5,000 vans and employed more than 16,000 people delivering 14m parcels during last year's Christmas rush. Its top clients include some of Britain's largest and fastest-expanding online retailers, such Tesco Direct, Boots and Argos. But the business has lost big clients in recent years, including John Lewis, Matalan and Mothercare.

Yodel has attracted criticism from some quarters for the quality of its service. In a poll of 9,000 shoppers by in January, 58% of customers who had goods delivered by Yodel rated the experience "bad". Only 22% reported a good experience.

Responding, Yodel said it had serious concerns about the validity of the poll, noting it was "open to influence by parties with a vested interest in affecting the outcome". The delivery group's own research, which Yodel said was independent and based on verified feedback, suggested the company was, in fact, ahead of competitors on customer satisfaction.

Yodel's worst Christmas, in 2011, saw the business caught out by the leap in seasonal demand. At one stage, it was failing to deliver about 15,000 parcels a day. The episode led to an online petition calling on Amazon to stop using Yodel, which was backed by thousands of disgruntled shoppers.

Since then, however, the parcel business has brought in new management under executive chairman Dick Stead, and insists it is has transformed the quality of services it offers.

Latest accounts show Yodel Distribution Holdings sales for the year to 30 June 2013 fell 19% to £439m as the business exited a lot of unprofitable business. Pretax losses were almost unchanged at £112m.

The company directors said: "The group continues to operate in a rapidly changing marketplace in which the shift in retailing channel to online shopping presents a significant opportunity, but where overcapacity ... has created a high degree of competition."

One unexplained aspect of the option granted to Amazon over Yodel shares is the implied valuation of £207m. The warrants granting the option were issued just days before a corporate reshuffle saw the Yodel business transferred between Barclay-controlled holding companies at a value of £500m. Asked why Amazon had been granted an option at such a deep discount to Yodel's fair value, a spokesman for the brothers declined to comment.

Move over Microsoft: RealNetworks has a GOOGLE problem

Evaluating the cost of a DDoS attack

Analysis "When you start a company that has good success, then you step away from it and it doesn't continue on the trajectory you would like it to be on, your pride kicks in," says RealNetworks chairman and interim chief executive Rob Glaser.

Glaser was explaining why he returned to the company in mid-2012 after a two-and-a-half year absence.

He was speaking at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where his company announced the global availability of RealPlayer Cloud, following its 2013 US launch. RealPlayer Cloud combines a cloud storage and streaming service for personal videos with client apps for PCs and mobile devices.

The users can create videos on their smartphones or tablets, upload them to the internet, and share them with friends via social networks, email or SMS messaging. Users get two gigabytes of storage free, and subscribe to get additional space. RealNetworks is using Amazon Web Services for cloud storage under the covers.

Hasn't YouTube already got this market sewn up?

"One difference is that we keep it private," says Glaser. "We don't insert ads in front of it. I really don't want to see an ad for nappies in front of the video for my dad's memorial service. It is a very moving personal document and I don't want to be perturbed with advertising. There are a set of things are different about personal video than public video. YouTube is the king of public video, we want RealPlayer Cloud to be the leader of personal video.

"RealPlayer Cloud does three things. It creates a permanent place to store videos. We automatically make four or five different file formats, different bitrates, so we have at least one version that will play on any device. The third thing is that it is easy to share out the video. We think of it as dropbox for mac for video."

I asked Glaser why RealNetworks lost its way. In its heyday, RealPlayer was everywhere, required for watching BBC videos and more. Why did it get beaten to the punch by YouTube?

People want their video to work EVERYWHERE...

The key issue, says Glaser, was the decline of standalone video players. "YouTube became a way to do embedded video largely based on industry standards. If you look at us, if you look at Microsoft, the standalone players became less important."

That said, he believes that media clients are becoming significant again in the mobile era. "Increasing numbers of consumers want their video to work anywhere. It doesn't take us back to the era of media players, but it does mean media client software adds a lot of value in the context of a cloud." RealPlayer is also still around today. "RealPlayer is used by 25 million people a month," says Glaser. "They use it to download over 100 million videos."

Fifteen years ago, Glaser fought with Microsoft for a fair market in video players. His company then sued Microsoft for $1bn in 2003, accusing the Redmond giant of using its relationship with OEMs through control over access to Windows to make them accept Windows Media Player rather than take Real Player.

Glaser was a former Microsoft executive who helped found RealNetworks as Progressive Audio in 1993 in Microsoft's hometown of Seattle, Washington. The company cooked up the Real Audio and Real Video proprietary formats needed to consume media with its various players.

"We believe our business would be substantially larger today if Microsoft were playing by the rules," Glaser said at the time.

He settled two years later in a deal worth $761m with Microsoft agreeing to promote Real's Rhapsody music service on MSN ad offer RealNetworks' games via MSN Games and Xbox Live Arcade. The agreement was unveiled at a press event and sealed in a handshake with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

That was then, and today even Microsoft is struggling - now against a new breed of threat from Apple and Google.

Is Glaser concerned about Apple or Google today making it difficult for third parties to compete?

"RealPlayer Cloud is out in the Google Play store, and in the iPhone and iPad store, so I don't have a specific concern. I do think that the amount of control those platforms have on what software is listed in their stores is an issue that the industry and government watchdogs should keep an eye on. For instance, Apple doesn't let you have any of those keyboard substitutes like Swype.

"Google has a business policy that if you want to ship one Google app which a phone, you have to ship all of them. These platforms are more open than not open, but there are things to be mindful of."

Back in the day, a common complaint about RealPlayer was that users got more than they expected, with ads and download services coming along for the ride. Is that reputation a problem today?

"I don't think so," says Glaser. "We did a brand study with RealPlayer, it had high recognition and very positive attributes. People understand that we are the people who helped bring audio and video to life. I am sure we had a few times where we were active in putting advertising up, but we moved away from that. People are willing to judge the product on its own merits."

After meeting Glaser, I put RealPlayer Cloud to the test. Sign-up is easy, but uploading videos was slow for me, half the speed of Microsoft's SkyDrive - which also offers private video sharing, as in fact does YouTube, making RealPlayer's differentiation challenging. The company is early in supporting Google's Chromecast, and the PC software (Mac is on the way) lets you stream videos stored on a local network as well as on the cloud, which works well.

However there are still signs of the RealNetworks of old. The RealPlayer Cloud offered to install the Google Toolbar by default. I clicked a link for "accelerated transfer" and got an offer for RealPlayer Plus 16. I clicked No Thanks and got another offer, this time for free software if I completed a third-party product trial.

Monetisation is hard when Google and even Microsoft give so much away to support their respective ecosystems, but these details spoil the user experience. However, Glaser says advertising is not on the table for RealPlayer Cloud. "We have no plan at all for advertising. The model is we wanted it to be free and to consumers to have comfort that there would not be inappropriate adverts put in front of their poignant personal videos."

What is it like to be back in the fray? "It's actually been a blast," says Glaser. "Everyone is very motivated to reinvent the company."

That is just as well, since it will not be easy. ®

4 reasons to outsource your DNS

Friday, March 21, 2014

DeLand Winn-Dixie employee accused of using coupons to steal $23,000

A Winn-Dixie in Volusia County was experiencing a worrisome financial trend when investigators said reports showed a plunge in profits due to excessive use of coupons -- not by coupon-cutting customers, but an employee.

Ibilola Badmus, 30, faces grand theft charges for using Price Compare to pocket $23,000 over the course of about five months.

Badmus was arrested Tuesday and booked her into the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.

Financial reports in February alerted managers of the Winn-Dixie on North Woodland Boulevard that an unusually large number of coupon transactions had resulted in negative sales. Deputies said the store's loss prevention officers were able to trace the suspicious activity to Badmus, who had been collecting fraudulent refunds from the codes.

Managers determined Badmus had accumulated $23,000 since November, deputies said.

When loss prevention officers confronted the Sanford resident Tuesday, she admitted to the scheme and said she needed the money for her sick child's medical bills. Deputies, however, said she claimed to have only taken $10,000.

Store personnel then notified the Volusia County Sheriff's Office. When deputies interviewed Badmus, she said $3,000 of the stolen money was still in her bank account, which she had her husband withdraw and turn over to the Sheriff's Office.

Movie Review: Gang Of Ghosts

<Best Buyimg src="">


The trouble with this gang of ghosts is that it is all on the surface, and all so dreary.

Director : Satish Kaushik
Cast: Sharman Joshi, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Anupam Kher, Mahie Gill, Asrani, Saurabh Shukla, Yashpal Sharma
IE Rating: * 1/2

A remake, even if it is official, is sometimes lost in translation. 'Bhooter Bhabhishyat' in Bangla, directed by Anik Dutta, was original and fresh. Satish Kaushik makes of it a pastiche which is neither here nor there : not ghastly, or ghostly, enough to be interred, nor good enough to be praised, just a thing that limps along.

Parambrata, reprising his role from the original as an ad filmmaker, shows up at a mansion which is a 'bhooton ka basera'. Sharman Joshi plays a writer who has a story full of ghosts, and who is dying to make a film of it. The two chat up a gaggle of ghosts-a yesteryear heroine overdoing the nasal twang, a Sikh Army man, a buck-toothed zamindar, a British overlord, a Jat rock musician, a loverlorn girl in a mini-skirt, and so on.

These 'bhoots' rub up against each other in a medley which includes all manner of heard-before film industry insider jokes, a couple of item numbers, a super-rich builder, his dead wife, and a lecture on the ills of urbanization : when greedy land-grabbers ruin peoples' dwellings, they become ghosts, and finally even they have no place left to hang up their shingles.

The trouble with this gang of ghosts is that it is all on the surface, and all so dreary. The loud decibel is used to hide the listless pace and gags : the idea of a `Spookbook' instead of `Facebook' could have gone somewhere, but Kaushik makes little of the occasional smart possibilities of the script, opting instead for tired laughs. A ghost that farts? Why not?

The stinging satirical tone of the original was its hook. This 'Bhootiyapanti', as it is called in the film, keeps looking for one.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New Straight Talk Promo Codes are Now Available on SheNuts Website

March 15, 2014 --

Los Angeles, Ca (PRWEB) March 15, 2014

SheNuts, a website that offers the most current wireless promotional codes and coupons, has just added new Straight Talk promo codes that can help consumers save money on their next wireless purchase. The exclusive codes can be accessed by visiting the SheNuts website and clicking on the different offers.

For example, people who are hoping to save money on Straight Talk wireless services and products may now receive free ground shipping on any phone order from the company, as well as other savings and deals on plans and phones.

As an article on notes, Straight Talk offers a variety of some of the most popular mobile phones, along with plans that are easy on the budget, and outstanding service. These include the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the iPhone 4 with 8 GB, and the Blackberry Curve. For people who are looking to get a top quality popular mobile phone at an affordable price, Straight Talk is a one stop discount shop that will allow them to do just that.

In order to help people get access to the most current codes and coupons on Straight Talk phones, offers helpful instructions on how to use the website. First, an article on the website explained, once cell phone shoppers find the offer that they want to use, they should click on the handy link to get started. This will usually take them to a page where they can enter in the zip code of where they will typically use their mobile phone.

After verifying their zip code, people will then see a list of phones that are currently available, as well as the different features for each one. Shoppers can browse through the various offers, and then select the phone that best suits their needs and budgets. Once they click on the specific phone they want, shoppers can then choose from a variety of service plans.

The last step is the order details, where you will enter the coupon or Best Deals, the article said, adding that people should see a box that asks if they have a promo code, to enter it in the box.

Once you have entered it click the submit button and the order will update with discount applied.

About SheNuts: has been providing the latest wireless coupons and promotional codes for over 2 years. The website is updated daily, so people are sure to find the latest promo codes and coupons for the products they are looking for. For more information, please visit

Read the full story at


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Democrats accuse Christie of trying to raise taxes

Democrats are accusing Republican Gov. Chris Christie of trying to create new taxes, for a change.

The governor's $34.4 billion state budget proposal for fiscal 2015 calls for imposing a tobacco tax on e-cigarettes for the first time and making out-of-state online retailers pay sales taxes for goods sent to New Jersey. Both items are listed among a handful of other provisions in the budget proposal released last month as ways to bring in $205 million by closing loopholes.

But Democrat Gary Schaer, the chairman of the Assembly budget committee, said the measures deserve extra scrutiny.

"If it walks like a tax and quacks like a tax, it is a new tax," he said in an interview.

Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, said the online sales tax is not new because it's already required for in-state businesses. Roberts said the administration would offer more details on the plans in coming weeks.

Christie, a possible 2016 presidential contender, has often boasted about adopting budgets without tax increases, and he has routinely blasted Democratic lawmakers for their calls to increase the income tax rate on high earners.

The e-cigarette proposal got attention at a budget hearing in Montclair last week, when some residents said it isn't right to impose a higher tax on a product that some people have used to help stop smoking. A pack of conventional cigarettes has a tax of $2.70.

The online sales tax measure has not had as much public attention.

Currently, online sales to New Jersey customers are not subject to the state's 7 percent sales tax unless the business has a physical presence in New Jersey, such as retail stores or a distribution center. Local businesses often say that structure puts them at a disadvantage.

The state did start collecting last year from the biggest online store, Deal, as part of a deal struck when the company announced in 2012 that it was building its first two warehouses in New Jersey.

The U.S. Senate last year passed a bill to mandate local sales taxes on online purchases, but the House has not voted on the measure.

Mike Proto, a spokesman for the New Jersey office of the anti-tax group Americans For Prosperity, said the national group opposes the idea and believes it raises constitutional issues over whether states can regulate businesses outside their borders. But he said his office hasn't studied the New Jersey plan in detail.

In his talks about his budget plan, Christie has focused on the state's growing contribution to the pension funds for public workers, saying changes are needed to control those costs.

The Assembly budget committee has a hearing on Christie's plan scheduled for Tuesday in Trenton.

The budget must be balanced and adopted by July 1, when it takes effect.

Follow Mulvihill at

Friday, March 14, 2014

Holi Hungama on Electronics on Infibeam: Use Coupon codes to Avail Additional Discount on Electronics

Holi Hungama on Electronics on Infibeam: Use Coupon codes to Avail Additional Discount on Electronics

Infibeam is offering best Holi offers on electronics. Customers can get extra off on various electronic items on Infibeam using coupon codes.

Mumbai: Holi is just around the corner and most people like to buy something new on the festive occasion. Infibeam introduced Holi Hungama on Electronics offer in which additional discount is offered on various products. Customers can use the coupon codes mentioned in the site and avail additional discount on electronic items. Click here to explore.

  • Home appliances can be purchased from Infibeam using the BEATTHEHEAT coupon to avail 5% additional discount. Customers can get a maximum of Rs. 1000 discount under this. This offer is valid on cart value of Rs. 5000 and above.
  • CAM10 is the Deal Today that should be used to save an additional 10% on selected camera. maximum benefit that the customers can get on cameras that are priced below Rs. 10,000 is Rs. 999 and Flat Rs. 1000 discount is offered on all cameras that are priced above Rs. 10,000
  • Televisions will be cheaper by 5% extra on Infibeam. Customers have to use the coupon code FLASHTV5. Customers can get a maximum of Rs. 1500 discount on cart value of Rs. 20,000 and above
  • Old tablet, computer or smartphone can be exchanged with new ones on Infibeam for Rs. 5000.
  • Cashback of 10% is offered to customers with Citibank credit cards. Maximum cashback the customers can get is Rs. 2500. This is valid on both EMI and non-EMI transactions.
  • Coupon code LUCKY70NCOMP can be used to get 7% additional discount on all purchase of computers and accessories. This is valid on cart value of Rs. 10,000 and above and the maximum discount one can get is Rs. 1500
  • CARE#% coupon code can be used to avail Flat 35% discount on gadget care
  • All mobile phones are offered at best prices
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 comes for up to 19% discount
  • Nokia Lumia 525 will be cheaper by 17%. This handset is available in white, yellow and black color options
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 2 N7100 in grey color will be offered for Rs. 27,990 which is 33% off on the list price
  • Nokia Asha 502 is offered for 25% discount and is available for Rs. 5,159
This entry was posted in Buy Gadgets, News, Tech on by .

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How do I redeem an iOS app promo code / download code?

App promo codes can be redeemed with iTunes on a computer. To use a Coupon Code or download code open iTunes and navigate to the iTunes Store.

The quick links section will be visible on the right side of the iTunes store window. Click redeem and enter your AppleID password if prompted.

Enter the promo code in the Code field and click the Redeem button.

Promo codes can also be redeemed on an iOS device. First open the App Store, iTunes Store or iBooks Store on your iOS device.

Scroll down to quick links at the bottom of the Featured section and tap Redeem. Sign in with your AppleID if prompted, then enter the content code.