Sunday, 31 January 2016

Ruggie Alarm

When it comes to waking up in the morning, are you a frequent snoozer? Snoozing may give you that extra 5-10 minutes of sleep, but science says hitting the snooze button makes you more tired.The Ruggie is a memory-foam mat you place on the floor next to your bed. It has a built-in LED display that shows the time, and it plays a selection of standard alarm tones or soothing nature sounds to help wake you up. To turn the alarm off, you'll need to place both feet on the mat for at least three seconds, which means you'll either need to be sitting or standing up to disable the alarm. The company has already raised more than $76,000 (about £52,000, AU$110,000), far surpassing its $36,000 goal (about £25,000, AU$52,000). Those interested can order a Ruggie for $79 (about £55, AU$115), plus $15 shipping to the US or $20 (about £15, AU$30) to the UK and Australia. Orders are expected to make it to backers in September, provided the company doesn't run into any production issues.

Brand New Barbie

Barbie, the iconic plastic toy doll model, is getting three new body types this year. The US company behind the famous toy, Mattel, is adding "tall, curvy and petite" body shapes to its line-up of the fashion dolls. Several skin tones, eye colours and hair styles will also be added to the collection, the company said. Barbie's figure has come under fire for years, with critics arguing it set an unrealistic body image for girls. With the new body shapes, the toy makers say they are "offering girls choices that are more reflective of the world they see today". Last year, the company introduced 23 new dolls to its so-called Fashionistas line with varied skin and hair colours, and a much touted flat foot - replacing Barbie's signature heels.The new dolls will go on sale in the spring of 2016 worldwide. However, true to life, Mattel warned that "not all clothes will fit all dolls".

No More 24 Hours

Tesco is ending 24-hour shopping at 76 of its stores - around one in five of those currently open around the clock. The company says the growth of online shopping means that certain shops had few customers during the night. Normal night time activities - such as refilling shelves - will continue in the supermarkets so Tesco says the impact on employees will be "minimal". The move is Tesco's latest effort to turn around its business which has been hit by challenges on several fronts. The outlets affected will close between midnight and 6am and four hundred staff will be "affected". Tesco says it will do its best to make sure all staff affected are "found a new position either in their existing store or stores local to them".

Last of the Defenders

The last Land Rover Defender has rolled off the production line amid cheers, ending 67 years of the 4x4 being made. Jaguar Land Rover has discontinued the famous off-road vehicle, which has been exported across the world. More than two million have been made since the original Land Rover Series began production in Solihull in 1948. Plans to bring in stricter measures for new car emissions by 2020 meant there were "certain conditions the Defender just won't meet", the company said. There were cheers and sadness this morning as we witnessed the last Defender roll off the production line after almost 70 years; the longest-running production car in the world. A replacement model for the Defender is being developed, said the manufacturer.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

£2 Too Much?

A customer who left a terrible review on TripAdvisor of a cafe and bistro in York may have been astounded to realise that their response was somewhat less than apologetic. Hannah C, from north Yorkshire, visited Bennett's Cafe & Bistro in High Petergate, York, for afternoon tea with friends on 7 December, but branded it "absolutely awful" in a review she titled "over-priced and very rude". She says she was on a "tight budget" so ordered hot water and a slice of lemon, which was late arriving. Then, to her dismay, the restaurant charged her £2 for her drink, which she complained was "too much for some water". In a reply to the post, the manager wrote: "I’m sorry that you feel that you were “ripped off” and I’ll try to explain why you weren’t." They went on to detail exactly what is involved in preparing and serving food and drink at a busy bistro like Bennett's - including the waiter's time, in which he "selected a knife, chopping board, got a lemon from the fridge, cut off a slice and put it in the cup. Then, he returned to the dining room, drew off the necessary hot water and carried the cup to your table."

Why It Costs More To Be A Woman

Women usually pay more for a haircut than men. More to dry clean their clothes. And also more for grooming products like deodorant and razors. The difference in pricing, called gender price discrimination -- is so common many people don’t realize that in some places it’s illegal. “Gender price discrimination is where companies or services charge different rates for no other reason that someone is a man or woman,” says Michael Cone, a partner at the law firm FisherBroyles. Cone is a trade lawyer who’s been studying gender price discrimination for over a decade. There are no federal laws that outlaw this practice but they are policed on the state and local levels. California outlawed the practice in 1996 after a state study found a “gender tax” cost women approximately $1,351 more annually. A quick online search revealed price differences for similar products marketed to women and men. Degree deodorant at Walmart was $3.88 for women, $2.47 for men. Walgreens had a 3-pack of Gillette razors at $11.99 for women and $10.99 for men. And Gap had women paying $69.95 for the same fit of jeans versus $59.95 for men. 

Counting The Cost of Calories

Unliever is to cut the size of British ice-creams including Magnum, Cornetto, Ben & Jerry’s and Feast by up to a third to bring them all under 250 calories. From the spring, Ben & Jerry’s single portion tubs will be reduced from 150ml to 100ml, a 33% reduction in size. The price, however, will only drop by 26% – from £2.04 to £1.50. The food group said it had spent 18 months with a signifiant amount invested in research to achieve its aims of bringing all its “single-serving” ice-creams below 250 calories. However, the company is likely to be criticised for increasing the price per gramme of products under the veil of a healthy eating drive. Clarke admitted to the Grocer that there was a risk of a customer backlash but said he was confident shoppers would “appreciate what we are trying to do ... and buy more”.

Sunday, 17 January 2016


McDonald's has offered a sneak peak of the future of its sixty year old brand, and it looks shinyMcDonald's Next landed in Hong Kong complete with a salad bar, touch screens, table service and an open kitchen, as though those kitchens weren't already open enough. McDonald's has called it a “theatre kitchen” because the glass counters and bright lights let customers see the new ingredients. They include 19 different salad ingredients: two choices of salad base greens, two kinds of cheese, three flavours of sauces and the choice of couscous or quinoa. Staff have been trained for 720 hours to prepare for table service, McDonald's said, and the team have been given new uniforms. The restaurant features digital walls that will feature changing food items, phone changing stations and a self-ordering kiosk. Not everything is different though: McDonald's Next still offers the traditional McDonald's menu.

£27m of Bags Stolen

Hundreds of millions of plastic bags worth a total of £27 million have been stolen from supermarkets since the introduction of a 5p plastic bag charge in October 2015, according to a survey. found that, of the 2784 people surveyed, 51 per cent said they took an average of three bags a month from supermarkets. The website crunched the numbers and estimated that around £27 million worth of bags had been stolen since October, or 533 million 5p bags. That's still small fry compared to the 7.6 billion plastic bags taken home by shoppers before the charges were introduced. Plastic bag use has dropped by around 80 per cent since October. The Government hope to raise up to £780 million for good causes from the scheme and save another £13 million in carbon costs. 

Creme Egg Cafe

A pop-up Cadbury Creme Egg café is coming to London, and we weren’t yolking. Now we have all the gooey details... The café will open on Greek Street in Soho next week and stick around for seven weeks, serving a variety of Creme Egg delicacies across three floors. The ground floor is designed for those busy egg-ophiles who are short on time, and will serve Creme Egg toasties to go. Yes, you read right, that’s: Creme. Egg. Toasties. They’ll sell for just £2 a pop. Up on the first floor there’ll be more of a restaurant vibe, with four Creme Egg dishes on offer to eat in. As well as the toasties, these will include: egg and soldiers, Creme Egg tray bake, and strawberries and creme (egg). All dishes on the first floor will cost £4, which we'd say is well worth shelling out for the novelty alone. Tea, coffee and water will be available — no Creme Egg cocktails, alas. On the second floor there will be an interactive ball pool — which, as far as we’re aware, won’t contain any actual Creme Eggs. It's a good opportunity for adults to splash around in a ball pool without scaring little kids and alarming their parents, though.

Hypnos Hoodie

Whether it's by plane, train or automobile travelling usually makes us sleepy, but using an extra shirt or bag as a pillow aren't the best options for comfort. A company has developed a hoodie that helps you get a few minutes of shut eye, no matter where you are. Hypnos Sleep Hoodie is an inflatable hoodie, with a hood that transforms into a pillow. The tricked out sweatshirt is currently listed on Kickstarter , where they company has set a goal of $30,000 by January 11th. A total of $56,708 has already been raised. Co-founder, Josh Woodle, had the idea while on the way to the airport, whose main job is in film production.Him and his brother grew up in Chicago and were constantly wearing hoodies, Woodle recalls, and he wanted to find a way to combine the comfy layering staple with the ubiquitous 'neck pillow as travel accessory,'

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Real Joy

There's been a lot of buzz around Joy Mangano lately, the famed creator of the Miracle Mop, a widely recognized household product. That's probably because she's been the inspiration behind Joy, the new film, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. While Mangano's trials have earned her recent fame in Hollywood, she's had to weather more than two decades of business ownership to get there. Against the odds, she found success with the invention of a self-wringing mop, which she marketed through the television sales giant QVC. Now, more than twenty-five years later, her company, Ingenious Designs, has topped $150 million in annual revenue. (To date, she's generated about $3 billion in her career.) It all started back in 1991. "At that time, it appeared to be insanity," Mangano recalls, "to stand there and say, 'I have an invention. I'm a single, young mom--and I'm going to go after this.'" Joy now has over 100 patents for her inventions.

Netflix Around The World

Netflix launched its service globally, simultaneously bringing its Internet TV network to more than 130 new countries around the world. The company made the announcement -- and the service went live -- during a keynote by Co-founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings at CES 2016. It said it was still trying to expand to China. The other exceptions are North Korea, Syria and Crimea, where it is banned from operating by US law. The company's shares closed the day more than 9% higher. Netflix has served a total of 125 million hours a day of entertainment to its viewers, and had streamed 12 billion hours-worth of video over the final three months of 2015, which is nearly 50% up on the same period in 2014.

CES 2016

CES is an abbreviation of the Consumer Electronics Show, which first debuted in 1967.It used to be held in Chicago, but has since been moved to Las Vegas because the weather is more conducive to an early January show. In total, it's estimated some 175,000 people will attend the week-long show. Each year the biggest technology companies from around the globe descend on the City of Sin to showcase the latest gadgets and innovations. Samsung, LG, Sony, Fitbit, Netflix and more hold press conferences at the show to announce some of their key products and services for the next year. Virtual Reality devices have been a big hit this year with the Oculus Rift launching the opportunity to pre-order the device at £410 for delivery in March but due to high demand the first pre-order is already sold out. Check out the link for highlights of the event.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Oprah Boost for Weight Watchers

Shares of weight loss company Weight Watchers jumped nearly 19% on Wednesday after a television ad featuring Oprah Winfrey was shown in the US. In an emotional one-minute commercial, the former talk show host spoke about her renowned weight loss struggles, flashing back to videos of her working out over the years. She asked viewers to join her, saying "let's do this together". Ms Winfrey bought a 10% stake in the company for $43.2m (£28m) in October. New York listed shares of the dieting company have more than tripled in value since she bought a stake in one of the world's leading weight loss brands. Her stake is now worth more than $148m.The company, however, has been facing stiff competition from the popularity of fitness trackers and other free mobile apps which track your eating. Oprah tweeted her new advert to her 30 million followers.

Frozen Out

Disney has pulled a Frozen branded "Champagne-style" juice drink for kids after fears from alcohol campaigners that the product could encourage underage children to drink. The non-alcoholic drink was onsale at UK bargains website Home Bargains until recently, advertised as "a grown up alternative to juice and pop at parties". "The Disney Frozen Non-Alcoholic Party Drink is a delicious sparkling white grape fruit drink which would be perfect at birthdays, family events, BBQs or after a long day building snowmen with Olaf. "With a champagne style cork pop, your little one is sure to feel part of every celebration," the listing read. It has now been pulled. 

New Coins Are Mint

It is now 2016 and a big year for anniversaries. To celebrate many landmarks in the calendar year the Royal Mint is releasing a new range of designs for coins that will appear on £2 and 50p coins. A member of the Royal Mint said ‘It is always exciting to see the new year’s designs revealed, commemorating the moments that matter, and revisiting some of the great events and stories from our history,’ Anne Jessopp, director of commemorative coin at the Royal Mint, said. ‘The British public should start to see these coins appearing in their change from spring 2016.’