True Sheffield grit and determination showed this week as our team braved the adverse weather to get in to the offices, demonstrating the teamwork and will to win that is core to the people of Plusnet.
We all take pride in the continued service we deliver to our customers: it’s reasons like this that Plusnet has continued to be recognised by the industry and customers. This never failing commitment to customer service was recognised in two separate award wins this week.
At the MoneySuperMarket Awards this Wednesday, Plusnet scooped three major awards, all voted for by our customers: Best Value Broadband, Best for Quality and Reliability and Best for Customer Service. And Thursday night, we did it again at the uSwitch Broadband Awards, where Plusnet won the much coveted Best Customer Service, Best Value Home Broadband and Best Broadband and Homephone awards.
This is a a real testament to the quality of people in our business and the hard work we have put in over the last year.
2015 is upon us and it’s time for our annual predications for the world of technology and the Internet. We’ll score last year further down but first this is what we think will be headline worthy in 2015.
1. My first prediction has to be related to Back to the Future. BTTF2 was partly set in 2015 and gave us a glimpse of what life would be like. Now, 26 years later, we can see if they were right. I don’t think we’ll have flying De Loreans, but the hoverboard is coming.
We’ll hopefully see special edition Pepsi bottles and Nike shoes with power laces and I think the Cubs will win the World Series and the food hydrator will get a prototype. Oh and The Power of Love to be number 1.
2. 2015 is election year in the UK. After 5 years of the coalition we get to go to the polls again. I’m not going to predict the winner, instead I’m going to predict that whoever is in charge come June will announce that the next election will be the first in the UK to allow people the option to vote electronically and online.
3. If we can get a hoverboard in 2015 then surely next must be a broom. A Kickstarter project with a prototype broom will launch next year so that we can have a real Quidditch World Cup in 2018.
4. For each of the last 3 years I’ve predicted Apple will launch a television, so this year I’m going to predict they won’t and the only TV product coming from Cupertino will be a slightly revised Apple TV set-top box.
5. The robots are coming. People have predicted that robots will be doing our jobs and saving us time for years, this year we’ll start seeing robots all over the place, drones, cars, vacuum cleaners. The most sought after Christmas gifts will all be robots of some kind.
6. We’ll spend over £1bn via Mobile payments in 2015. Apply Pay will be the most commonly used but there will be others getting into this field.
7. The price of both petrol and diesel will fall below £1 per litre in the UK.
8. The Force Awakens in December and to go alongside the film will be some of the most technologically advanced toys including actual flying ships.
9. Shops try and grab your attention with window displays, but they are fairly limited with what they can have in them and how often they can change them. That will change with the advent of window TV screens, the whole window is a transparent TV screen which can advertise whatever the shop wants, can do bespoke offers, even tying into the apps we have on our phones but still lets you see through the window inside the store.
10. Smart Dummies, the ultimate wearable, but for babies. The Smart Dummy (I should trademark that) will check your baby’s vital statistics and send them to your phone so you can check if they are running a temperature and compare it to previous days.
And finally Bob’s chipped in with our bonus predictions for this year. He reckons Half Life 3 won’t see a release this year but one of the next generations consoles will be on sale at for less than £200 by the end of the year (at the time of writing the PS4 is £325 and Xbox One £299 on Amazon).
Now to see how badly I did last year.
1. 2014 will be the year of wearable tech.
We saw plenty of smart watches but the wearable tech hasn’t really hit mainstream yet. Cat Nav though is real
2. The Internet of Things!
People definitely have more devices this year than last year but they’re still mainly the common items (tablets, phones, computers, games consoles etc.)
3. Third year lucky, this year will finally be the year for the Apple television and iWatch.
Well the Apple Watch is coming next year, I’ll take that.
4. Big changes are ahead at Microsoft next year.
Didn’t do too well here, Windows 9 never made it, Nokia is going and the Surface is still around.
5. Brazil will win the most watched World Cup of all times and that increase in viewers will be driven almost entirely by people streaming it.
I changed my mind on this one and put my money on Germany before the tournament started. Won’t be counting that though and 2006 still looks like it leads the ratings
6. One of Eastenders, Doctor Who, Top Gear or Masterchef will see episodes aired on iPlayer first before being on BBC1/2.
All new episodes of these shows aired first on TV although BBC3 will shifting to be entirely online.
7. Indecision 2016 may still be over 2 years away but the prospective presidential candidates will start to emerge over the year and one of the key topics will be security and privacy due to the revelations from Edward Snowden.
I’m going to take another half point here. What happened to Sony has really kicked off that debate.
8. I think the PS4 will sell the most in 2014 but it won’t be far ahead of the Xbox One.
13.5 million for the PS4 vs 10 million for the Xbox One. Wii U has over 7.3 million. That’s got to be worth a full point.
9. If you take the combined power of these apps and then do what Google and others have done for outdoor mapping you can create indoor maps too and use technology like Google Glass to plot you a visible sat-nav style route to the beans.
10. Wireless proximity charging will become commonplace in 2014.
The Apple Watch will support inductive charging, I think that’s another half point.
What have we missed, please leave a comment or post in our Forums with your predications for the year ahead.
Millions of iPhone users around the world use Siri to set alarms, ring friends and find out what the fox says. One thing Apple probably didn’t foresee, is the positive impact for people with autism.
Siri is helping people with autism to communicate more effectively, as one mum found out when her son started using the app. With this benefit only just being realised, we look at how people can use this to help their relatives with disabilities…
Siri and its benefits
Siri acts much in the same way as any other (virtual) personal assistant, but for some it has become much more. Siri is able to find information about specific queries and present it back to the user.
With this in mind, we compared three different virtual assistants (OK Google for Android, Cortana for Windows and Siri for Apple) to see which was able to provide relevant, useful information for a range of different queries. Watch the video below to see which did best:
The questions were designed to test the virtual personal assistants’ ability to quickly retrieve information, especially niche information that may not be readily available elsewhere: queries about Morse code and flight schedules for example.
Although Siri was often slightly slower, this was because it was taking extra time to present the information in a more digestible way– arguably more useful than just presenting a Google search and letting you click on the result you think is most suitable.
Siri’s predictability, ability to talk about a single topic for hours on end and, indirectly, its need for the user to enunciate clearly makes it the perfect companion, and one which can help people with autism to practice communication at any time.
Lynn Tomkinson, ABLE Scheme Manager for Broadacres Housing Association, says, “I believe that it is a valuable tool which enables communication at a level which is appropriate to the individual.
“Communicating with someone with autism can be difficult and every individual has different needs. Siri is useful because it is a device which is non-judgemental, direct and non-emotional (all attributes needed for successful interaction in these situations).”
Lynn adds that because it is a device, there are fewer elements of communication for the user to worry about. “Eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, body language can contribute to the individual’s anxiety resulting in difficulties in processing information” she says, “I believe Siri works so well because it is more specific and communicates in short, direct language, which is better than giving broad answers the individual has the potential to misinterpret.”
Siri isn’t the only app that can help people with autism. There is an endless stream of apps that are waiting to help and here are just five we picked out to test and try:
Autism Apps – Free
A list of apps that can help disabled people. It splits them down into categories to make it easier to search and download.
FindMe – Free
This game encourages children to find people, and helps them practice social skills by adding increasingly more distracting objects around the person they need to find. This helps them to practice attending to people and maintaining focus, rather than looking at distracting objects.
AutismXpress Pro- £1.49
This helps children to learn different facial expressions. It has pictures of different emotions and encourages children with autism to interact with the expressions and match them to feelings. This helps the child to understand different emotions and transfer that knowledge to social interactions.
Look in my Eyes – £1.99
Look in my Eyes is a game that encourages eye contact in children who find it difficult. It does this by showing the child an image of a face with numbers over the eyes. It then asks the child what number was on the eyes and, if they get it right, they earn money they can use in the game.
Proloquo2go – £149.99
An app that uses images and words to help autistic people to communicate. The user can tap on a picture to make the app say the words underneath it, and this enables them to communicate. Although it’s expensive, it has been proven to help thousands of people, and there is a video about the app here.
Are you a fan of Siri? What do you think to Siri being able to help people with autism? Let us know your thoughts below….
Today we are launching our best ever business broadband offer. We are offering FREE Unlimited Business Broadband for the first 12 months, this is the UK’s lowest priced business broadband.
New customers signing up between 12th – 27th January, can receive Plusnet Unlimited Business Broadband for free for the first 12 months, from £13 a month thereafter on a 24 month contract. Line rental at £10.50 a month applies throughout.
By taking our Unlimited Business Broadband you’ll no longer need to worry about unexpected usage charges and more people can be online at the same time. The price includes both the cost of installation and your router**, plus you get a dedicated Business Support Team and 24/7 free phone access to our UK call centre.
Andy Baker, CEO at Plusnet commented, “Broadband is such a key element of a business’ infrastructure so we are very proud to help our customers save money in the first 12 months by offering this fantastic deal. As champions of local businesses we know how important it is to have everything running smoothly, which is why our dedicated business support team is on hand 24/7, not just during office hours.”
Sign up online or give our business sales team a call before the 27th January 2015 to take advantage of this fantastic Business Broadband offer at our best ever price.
To sign up for this deal online, you can visit our website at http://www.plus.net/business.
Terms and conditions
*UK’s Lowest Priced Business Broadband when compared to major business broadband providers, check plus.net/business for details.
Available to new Plusnet Business customers who sign up to a 24 month contract and take Plusnet Unlimited Business Broadband with Plusnet Business Line Rental. For customers signing up by 27th January at http://www.plus.net/business or by calling our business sales team.
For Unlimited Business Broadband, if you are located in a low cost area and take Plusnet Business Line Rental at £10.50 a month you pay £0.00 a month for the first 12 months, then £13.00 a month from month 13 (otherwise £0.00 a month for the first 12 months, then £18.00 a month from month 13).
**Router delivery of £4.99 applies, should you choose one. Prices exclude VAT at 20%. Plusnet plc, Registered Office: The Balance, 2 Pinfold Street, Sheffield, S1 2GU. Registered in England no: 3279013. Plusnet plc. All rights reserved.
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