Celebrate 25 Years with FREE Pringles!

 

pringles-logoOffer alert!  Every geek needs to keep stocked up with snacks – and to celebrate 25 years of Pringles, they’re giving away completely FREE Pringles!

That’s right, you can grab a 40g can (the small packs) completely free up to maximum value of 81p.   This is a no purchase necessary offer so go and grab your goodies next time you’re passing the shop.

A Couple of Things to be Aware of…

  • Limited number of coupons available – 25,000.  Grab yours now so you don’t miss out!
  • Any 40g can of Pringles is included in the offer – pick your favourite flavour!
  • Must be used within 14 days of printing the coupon.
  • You must install the ‘Coupon Printer’ software (if you’ve not got it, when you claim the offer you’ll be prompted to download and install) – don’t worry, we’ve installed it and checked it – it’s safe and is also very lightweight (a few megabytes) – should run on most PC’s
  • Everyone’s got a printer these days, right?  Have a printer
  • Ensure your printer is switched on, loaded with paper, filled with ink/toner and you’re good to go.

How to Claim

  1. Like Pringles on Facebook. If you already like them, skip this step.  Surely everyone already likes Pringles anyway!?!
  2.  Look to the left of the screen on the Pringles page menu.  Look right down the list to the bottom – you should see ‘Free Pringles’:
    pringles-facebook-page-menu
  3. Click the button in the centre of the page to grab the SafeCoupons.com software and get your voucher.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to rush to the shop now – once you’ve grabbed your coupon, you’re in.  Just make sure you use it by the valid until date printed at the top of your voucher!

Happy munching!

If this offer, and us alerting you to this offer has helped, let us know below – then we’ll know whether we need to be posting technologically related offers more often!

Apple – Pay Your Bloody Tax!!

 

AppleThere’s nothing more infuriating in the days of austerity to find out that someone isn’t paying their tax bill – and consequently, the tax bills for people that already pay them, like us, rise and continue to rise to make up the shortfall.

David Cameron, our dearly beloved former Prime Minister, once said “those with the broadest shoulders should carry more of the burden”.  He was alluding to the fact that the United Kingdom should embrace a more progressive tax system – it hasn’t quite happened yet… but I’m sure it’s on somebodies to-do list (please, stop laughing!).

Turns out, among the many companies that are alleged to be participating in tax jiggery-pokery, Apple have gone for the top prize.  Apple’s UK and European operations are HQ’d in the Republic of Ireland.

How Much?

Well, how much has been ‘avoided’ (we’re being kind here, whilst not technically evasion – most people will be forgiven for feeling that this is tax evasion, even if not specifically – the ‘correct’ term in this case is ‘cosy tax deals with the authorities’), we’ve got an idea – but ultimately it’s up to the Irish tax authorities to decide.

We’re looking at a minimum of £11 billion – that’s right – £11, 000, 000, 000 in unpaid tax.  This is an estimate provided by the European Union.  Some analysts and accountants have said that the true figure, according to their calculations could be £20 billion – that’s right – £20, 000, 000, 000.  Enough for a decent holiday, right?

However, this is not just any other tax scandal but actually, in all likelihood, the tax scandal of all tax scandals.  The biggest, the “best”, the most outrageous.  Corporate greed at it’s height… and here’s why:

0.005% Tax Rate

Apple seems to have managed to negotiate some kind of marginal tax rate.  I’ll admit, that most people would like to have a personal tax rate this low, but unfortunately it’s just not sustainable even if you want to have the most basic of societies.

Now a 0.005% corporation tax rate isn’t illegal.  However, charging other businesses (including competitors) 12.5% whilst charging another company 0.005% under some kind of special agreement is illegal.  It’s firmly against the rules set out by the European Union – of which the Republic of Ireland is a full member of.  The EU classes this as unlawful ‘state aid’ – i.e. giving some companies a leg up whilst taxing others the full amount.

What makes this even more outrageous is the fact that the corporation tax rate in Ireland is already rock bottom compared to most developed economies, standing at just 12.5%.  To put this in context the UK’s corporation tax rate has been lowered in numerous years following the Global Financial Crisis however this still stands at 20%.  Turns out, 12.5% was just way too much for Apple.  In fact, in their eyes, it appears 1.25% was way too much too.

Apple is the Biggest Company on Earth

That’s right, Apple is the largest corporate entity on Earth – which isn’t surprising.  Have you seen how much iPhones and Macs cost these days!?

There profits year on year are usually above $50 billion.

But, But, But – This Will Destroy Apple and I Like iStuff

Chill out, Apple is going nowhere.  It’s a license to print money.  If Apple collapses, so does capitalism ;-).

But seriously, there’s no need to worry.  Apple currently have approximately $200 billion rolling around in a bank account – even having to pay a much larger bill on $50 billion, they’ve still got reserves many millions/billions of times bigger than most companies on the planet.

To be fair – this isn’t Apple getting fined.  They wouldn’t have a current account balance of $200 billion had they actually paid their bloody taxes!  So don’t feel sorry for them – they’ll be fine.

Ireland are Appealing?

Obviously, Apple are appealing the decision and the United States Government, including the Treasury, are sticking their oar in.

But, guess what, Ireland are appealing as well.  Cue shocked faces.

Why is Ireland appealing this landmark tax ruling?  I guess they don’t want to annoy Apple.  However, maybe the Irish government should consider how annoyed Irish tax payers are/will be that they are paying more tax because multi-national corporations based in their country are paying next to no tax?

Really it beggars belief.  To put this in context:

It’s no secret that Ireland, along with every other developed nation in the world, is still proceeding through a Global Financial Crisis that has brought financial services and governments to their knees.  Ireland know this – after all they needed bailing out by the United Kingdom, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Now the EU are handing them (essentially) a cheque with their name on it for a minimum of €13 billion.

13 billion euros – that’ll probably come in handy to pay down some of the estimated €206 billion national debt that Ireland has – which is currently running at 103.38% of GDP.

Maybe, however, they’re just playing a game.  “Oh no, course we don’t want it.  GIMMIE THE CHEQUE!!”.  Undoubtedly, any government in this day and age that declines (genuinely!) free money is clearly off it’s rocker.

Apple – Pay Your Bloody Tax Bill!

Apple charge us lots for shiny things.  We pay.  They make lots of money and are happy.  Just as with everyone who makes money, you have to pay the rate of tax proportionate to your income.  That’s the way this thing works.  That way, we’re not expecting those on National Minimum Wage to pay a nominal tax rate of 97.8% and make a solitary tin of bins last the whole month ;-).

There’s really no excuse for a company earning mega profits not to be paying their fair share of very low rate taxes – namely 12.5%.

Apple would probably be best to cough up and get this out of media spotlight ASAP.  It’s really not worth it to any company to have to cope with years of legal wrangling with the ECJ when you know you are morally in the wrong.

Expect Apple popularity to drop somewhat and some people to boycott them if they keep up the whole ‘I only want to pay 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% tax routine’.

What are Loops For In Programming?

 

programming-loopsIn programming, we often get situations where we would like to repeat a certain piece of code again and again.  Of course, we could just copy and paste this code one after another – however there are many negative elements to this.

  1. You’d have to know how many times you wanted to repeat the code at compile time – i.e. you could not calculate this at run time as you’d have to know beforehand how many times you need to ‘paste’ your code in.  You may know the number of loops that you want to do at compile time, but then again – you may not.
  2. Your code becomes a monstrosity – picture the scene, block after block of code with the same things repeated over and over again.  This becomes very hard to maintain, your code takes up more disk space (not as much of an issue these days as it once was when there was very limited hard drive space but still there should be a drive, as a programmer, to ensure that the code that you right is as clean and efficient as possible.
  3. It’s not maintainable – you’ll spend hours and hours maintaining one block of code that is actually now 1000 blocks of code that could have just used a loop.  Imagine you need to change one calculation in your block of code.  Now you have to do it 1000 times, 10,000 times, 100,000 times, maybe even 1 million times – you get the picture.

Loops can be used in programming languages where we want to do the same (or similar) set of actions (lines of code) multiple times.  All modern programming languages support looping and most support the different common types of looping such as For Loops, While Loops and Do Loops.

Two Main Types of Loop

There are two main types of loops in programming – when we say types we don’t mean, for example, ‘for’ is a type of loop.  We’re a level higher than that.

The first type of loop is where you are repeating a block of statements for a known number of times (iterations of a loop).  For example, if you know before you enter a loop that you want to loop around it 365 times, one for each day of the year – then you are using this type of loop.  This type of loop is known as a deterministic loop.  This means that the number of iterations is known and defined prior to entering the loop.  This loop will run the specified number of times unless it hits an ‘exit’ statement – which you can use in your code, for example to exit a loop if an error has occurred.

The second type of loop – and you may have guessed it already – is where you are repeating a block of statements for an unknown or indeterminate amount of time.  For example, where the loop being completed depends on variables and results of a calculation being performed in the loop.  While a condition is true, or untrue, the loop will continue until the condition is satisfied.  As a programmer, you have to be careful with this type of loop – as there is the possibility for chaos.  Remember the golden rule:

Indeterminate iteration loops where the number of loops is unknown until the loop is executed should always have an exit strategy!

What does this mean?  It means, don’t get caught in an infinite loop (even the best get caught out sometimes)!  Infinite loops not only hang your application – causing much annoyance to the user, but also can cause the system they are running on to run out of memory and crash – again this causes an even more infuriated user.  Remember, defensive coding is king!

As an example, if you have an indeterminate iteration loop you obviously don’t know how many times it will loop – but we can take precautions to some degree in almost all circumstances where they are used.  Firstly, errors and error handling.  Can your loop continue if one of the passes encounter an error?  Technically, a lot of the time it can – but from a programmatic logic point of view – should it continue and is there any point in it continuing.  If a loop is going to occur hundreds of times but on the second loop pass there’s an error and this means your final result will be wrong, exit the loop and display an error message to the user rather than leave them hanging (in the application sense, literally!).

Secondly, for some indeterminate loops there’s a sensible ‘maximum’.  For example, if your loop on average iterates 50 times, occasionally iterates 100 times and rarely iterates 250 times then it’d be sensible to code in your application that if we get to the 500th pass of this loop, somethings probably gone wrong – exit!  You’d rather have a small bug to patch that is very infrequent for a minority of users than to have users banging their heads in frustration against the keyboard!

Another example would be reading a file.  You might want to loop line by line through a file and output it to the screen.  You could loop 50 times – but what happens if there are 66 lines in this document.  This is another example where the indeterminate loop is your friend.  The number of loop passes is indeterminate as the number of lines contained in a file that the user passes to your application is indeterminate.  Whilst you may want to set maximums in your application – i.e. only files 1000 lines or less, you application won’t be very useful if you say “yes it can process files, as long as they are exactly 12 lines long!”.

Pokémon Go Brings Back Energy Saving Mode!

 

pokemon-goPokémon Go (affectionately known as ‘Pogo’ – p.s. that’s not the thing that we used to bounce around on years ago) has released a new update.  A previous update removed, rather than fixed, things that were broken in the app.  This sucked big time – especially where energy saving mode was concerned.

Energy Saving Mode was a cool nifty thing that meant that Pokémon Go wouldn’t quite eat as much battery as it usually does while running.  For example, it’d kill the screen off whilst your walking around with it in your pocket – but the app would still continue running allowing you to get in your all important steps to start hatching your eggs.

It disappeared in a previous update a couple of weeks ago and Pogo players around the world were in bits.  Why?  Even with energy saving mode enabled, Pokémon Go isn’t the most conservative app with regards to battery usage.  And to some degree, that’s not surprising.  I mean it pretty much uses every capability of a modern smartphone – and some of the features, like GPS, it’s using constantly whilst others like the camera are more infrequent but nevertheless significant drains on the battery.

But without Energy Saving Mode, well – it’s a whole new ball game!  iPhones that you could once charge once every few days now needed religiously charging every evening to ensure you didn’t run out of battery at the critical point when a wild Mewtwo appeared!

Developers Niantic made no reference to the fact that they were going to remove the Energy Saving Mode feature – and we started to fear it had been killed off forever.  Thankfully, it was only removed from the app pending repair.  Although, the developers didn’t let us know this – leading to many messages from concerned fans about where the feature had gone.

But good news Pokémon Go fans – Energy Saving Mode is back!  The new improved energy saving mode means that you don’t get random app freezes when it’s coming out of (or trying to come out of) energy saving mode when you remove it from your pocket.

If you’ve not enabled it – you really should.  There’s no need for the screen to be on whilst your wandering around with it in your pocket.

Enabling Energy Saving Mode

Enabling Energy Saving Mode in Pokémon Go is simple.

Firstly, go to your Pokéball menu:

pokemon-go-pokeball

 

 

Then, go to the settings (the cog icon in the top right of your screen):

pokemon-go-settings-icon

 

Then make sure you check the ‘Battery Saver’ option:

pokemon-go-settings-battery-saver

And hey presto – battery life extended, best app in the world still working!

WordPress Going Slow? Read This Before You Upgrade Your Hosting Account!

 

wordpress-logoFrom time to time we all experience slow downs on our websites.  Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, these can happen occasionally and can be quite frustrating – particularly when we think we’ve put in lots of time to make our site run like a well oiled machine.  Wordpress Hosting accounts used to be pretty niche – but they are becoming increasingly common now.

Essentially, WordPress Hosting accounts are just a branded version of the commonly known shared hosting.  Wordpress Hosting accounts usually (but not always) have less disk space and bandwidth available then a regular shared hosting account – and they normally come in a bit cheaper.  Maybe just a couple of pounds per month.

You’ve landed here, you’re WordPress blog is going slow and you don’t know why.  You think you need to upgrade your hosting account – but before you do that, you might just need to a couple of things to get your blog back up and running at normal speed.

Firstly…

Let’s check whether there’s any obvious reasons for the WordPress slowdown:

  • Is your site experiencing an increase – or a surge – in traffic numbers – maybe you’re site has just tipped over a certain point where the numbers of visitors are placing a strong demand on your hosting account and you really do need to upgrade.  Or, maybe you’ve got a sudden surge in numbers – these are usually temporary but might occur when you make a post that is particularly popular – whether this be because it’s an article on the latest fad or more than a touch controversial.  In these cases, the surge will usually die down and things are back to normal.
  • Is your site under attack?  DDoS attacks are affecting more and more sites these days.  Have you put in some controversial criticism of a group or organisation recently?  Maybe they just want to get there own back a little.  Check your hosting accounts logs to see if this is an issue – if you’re struggling with this or you’re not sure, contact your hosting provider for assistance.
  • Is it just certain pages that are slow?  Maybe it’s not your whole site, maybe just a page or two.  Are these particularly large, feature rich or image heavy?  These can all be reasons for causing a slow down.

One of the Main Culprits…

However, one of the main culprits on WordPress blogs, particularly as they got older, are…..

Plugins!

Yes, that’s right, plugins add cool features but also can slow things down.  If you’re on a limited shared account, you probably want to try and keep plugins in single figures.  Even with the largest hosting accounts on the markets, you have to be careful about having a bazillion plugins.  The more plugins you have, the slower your site is likely to be.  Furthermore, every additional plugin that you add to your WordPress blog increases site maintenance and increases the risk of cross-compatibility issues (plugins have to play nicely together or they can mess up your blog).

This May Surprise You!

Inactive plugins – they’re inactive, so what harm can they do?  Right?

Wrong!  When I first started using WordPress I thought a similar thing.  If a plugin sits there inactive, it’s OK.  It’s inactive – can’t do any harm other than take up a little disk space, right?

Wrong again.  Inactive plugins are a major cause or massive slowdowns – particularly affecting older blogs, that tend to increase the number of inactive plugins are their sites grow.

If a plugins been inactive for a while, it’s time to throw it into the digital bin.  Banish it from your blog and reap the speed benefits.  Your frustrations will decrease, your blog maintenance workload will decrease and you’ll have happier readers.

How Do I Get Rid of Them?

From your WordPress Administration panel, look at the menu on your left hand side and select the ‘Plugins’ option:

wordpress-plugins-menu

Click on the ‘Inactive’ option just below the Plugins title near the top of the page:

wordpress-plugins-inactive-menu

Check the first checkbox on the right of the plugins list to select all the inactive plugins:

wordpress-plugins-check-all-highlight

Click the Bulk Actions dropdown:

wordpress-plugins-bulk-action

The select the ‘Delete’ option:

wordpress-plugins-bulk-action-delete

And hey presto – all your inactive plugins are gone.  Have a quick click around on your blog.  You should find that it’s faster than it was.  The more inactive plugins you had, the greater the increase in speed that you should notice.

Are you a WordPress blogger?  Have you got any tips to share with us how to supercharge the speed of your blog?  Let us know in the comments below!