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4 things to do after your credit card has been hacked

Posted by Rattana_S On December - 20 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

As many as 40 million Target shoppers who hit stores in the three weeks after Thanksgiving had their credit and debit card information stolen.

If you’ve visited a Target (TGT, Fortune 500) over the past several weeks, there are four steps you should take immediately to protect yourself.

1) Check your statement. It may seem obvious, but the first step you should take is looking for any charges you don’t recognize on your statement.

Don’t just look for large charges, either. Hackers often ping an account with micropayments of only a few cents to check the viability of the account. So if you see purchases of 6 cents or 11 cents, that could be a sign your information has been compromised.

2) Call your credit card company, bank and Target. Credit card companies generally offer customers fraud monitoring services at no cost, and customers aren’t on the hook for any fraudulent charges. Typically, the card issuer or the merchant is responsible for those costs.

But don’t wait for your card company or bank to call you. Let them know you’ve shopped at Target recently. All you have to do is call the number on the back of your card.

Target has also set up a phone line for customers who suspect there has been unauthorized activity on their accounts. Shoppers can call 866-852-8680.

3) Replace your credit card, change your PIN. If the bank didn’t already do this for you, do it yourself. This will put an end to any more fake charges.

Once you receive your replacement card, make sure to update your new card information with any companies that have your account on file for automatic payments or monthly fees, like your Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) iTunes account or cable provider.

4) Sign up for a fraud monitoring service. If you’re concerned about credit card theft going forward, LifeLock and other similar threat detection services claim that they can monitor your card activities and alert you when your account has gotten into the wrong hands. Most credit card companies offer similar services for free, but threat detection services say they go above and beyond, including offering protection of credit card information on the Internet and even lost-wallet insurance.

Ticket sales moved to 6th floor

Posted by Rattana_S On December - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The Suvarnabhumi Airport has relocated airline ticket sales counters to the 6th floor, to provide greater space for passengers.

The airport’s general manager Rawewan Netrakavesna said that the airline ticket sales booths have been moved from the 4th to the 6th floor in a bid to increase space in the passenger terminal.

Rawewan said that the relocation will provide extra 900 square metres of space on the fourth floor, in line with the increasing number of passengers.

The airport is now welcoming over 100,000 passengers a day and the number could be as high as 130,000 persons a day during the annual peak season between October and March.

Up to 54 airline ticket vendors including Emirates, Japan Airlines, China Airlines, Bangkok Airways and many more will move to the new floor.

What is the appeal of Candy Crush Saga?

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 18 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Candy Crush Saga – the “match-three” mobile game – was the highest grossing app on both iPhone and iPad in 2013. How did millions of commuters become entranced by a grid of brightly coloured sweets, asks Chris Stokel-Walker.

Stand on a crowded commuter train in New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, or Berlin and you will see a multitude of people. Goldfish-mouthed, eyes glazed, deeply breathing, fixated on one thing only.

Getting rows of red jelly beans or orange lozenges to disappear.

The game is also immensely popular on Facebook, with the site hosting support groups for self-confessed addicts.

Worldwide, Candy Crush Saga is estimated to make £610,000 ($1,000,000) per day from its users, according to Appdata. It is one of a growing number that is free to download but generates extraordinary revenues by nudging addicted players into paying more to get gizmos that help them progress through difficulty levels.

Crushing the numbers

Candy crush sweets
  • 150 billion games of Candy Crush Saga have been played to date
  • 500 million people have installed Candy Crush
  • An estimated £550,000 per day is earned from the game in the US
  • 60% of UK gamers play to and from work
  • 28% play at work or during work hours
  • Source: King, Think Gaming, Ask Your Target Market

They buy add-ons, extra lives and access to higher levels. These microtransactions have been criticised, but its British-based developer King is quick to point out that more than half of players who reach the last level in Candy Crush Saga have done so without any financial outlay.

The hefty revenues have led to speculation that King, which has its HQ at London’s Kings Cross, is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) of shares in the US.

King has taken advantage of a change in the way people play video games. There was a time when a particular demographic was overrepresented among gamers – young men at home, using consoles. The advent of smartphones and tablets has changed gaming – so much so that the typical Candy Crush Saga player is a woman aged 25-45.

Some people’s devotion to the game leads to them changing their smartphone’s internal clock so that they get more lives, an all-important (and scarce) commodity doled out at regular intervals.

One gamer, Laura Wilson, travelling on a Friday afternoon train from Kings Cross to Newcastle, played for only a few minutes before her lives ran out. With a small sigh she closed the app on her iPad and opened up an e-book. For her the e-book was scant consolation. “You get addicted,” she explains matter-of-factly. She isn’t alone.

Women holding iphones

An afternoon Tube journey across London saw a carriage full of players hunched over their phones. Two men, one in his 40s, one in his 20s, were sitting across from each other manipulating sweets into patterns, their lives measured out in cascading bon-bons and exploding chocolate buttons. Six in ten UK players while away their journey to work like this, though most are progressing through the hundreds of levels in the midevening, between 6pm and 9pm.

“It’s a good stress relief,” says Amy Bolton, a 21-year old student at Newcastle University.

Gamers like Bolton drop in and out during the course of the day, according to internal usage figures described by King. A quick session snatched here and there helps people progress through the hundreds of levels in the game. Some of the most eager gamers are keeping pace with King’s coders, who have released more than 500 levels to date, snaking up a path that King readily admits owes a debt to the layout of popular board games.

They can start a game over breakfast on their laptop while scrolling through Facebook. They can then play it on their phone on the train to work, where they can switch on their iPad and continue their game where they left off. This smooth continuity of gameplay is something King believe is part of their success.

Candy Crush is not so much a new type of game as an incredibly well-researched and careful fine-tuning of existing concepts.

There have been plenty of games that follow the same basic format as King’s creation. Candy Crush Saga owes a debt to the likes of Tetris and Bubble Bobble, both of which captivated audiences in the 1980s.

Candy Crush Saga displaced Bejeweled, a similar matching game originally developed 12 years ago, from the Facebook gaming charts earlier this year. Now other games aim to replicate Candy Crush’s success with minor tweaks.

An image from Candy Crush Saga game

Sebastian Knutsson, chief creative officer and co-founder of King, says that none of his team foresaw Candy Crush Saga’s success when developing the game, initially for the company’s website.

Knutsson was and remains an avid gamer, and was especially enamoured of the early 1990s arcade games and their bright, brash colours. Working with artists and designers from a small office, he produced a game that stood out from the other “match-three” games that were on the market. Sweets were chosen, he reveals, to appeal to their core audience, which is far from the stereotypical gamer.

Not that Candy Crush Saga was perfect from the first iteration. “We had an early theme based around the French Art Deco style,” Knutsson explains. That included an over-the-top French voice egging on players when they made good moves. “It didn’t work out,” Knutsson says. People hated the accent, finding it too jokey. It was replaced with a smooth, deep male voice whispering encouragement.

The function of the game, and the way it rations lives, has been carefully crafted by King to provide maximum enjoyment, and to keep people coming back for more. Players regularly check the countdown until their next life is released and they can play on. It’s precision-engineered addiction, and it has resonated with the public.

“They give you unlimited lives, or the levels don’t get more challenging in the same way,” says Bolton, explaining why she prefers Candy Crush to its competitors.

Though Knutsson says that “we don’t want to be a Candy Crush company”, the game is far and away King’s largest property. It makes up the lion’s share of the company’s 225 million unique monthly users. Appdata, an analyst of iOS and Facebook applications, estimates that Candy Crush Saga has 137 million active monthly users alone, topping charts.

There has been criticism of the revenue structure around the game – free to download but delicately engineered to get users spending money.

A recent Candy Crush expansion pack has had a 40-strong team of developers working on it, four times the number of programmers and artists who brought the original Facebook version of the game into existence.

Knutsson says that King will keep adding levels to the regular Candy Crush. The addiction will continue.

Nervously, Bolton admits that before she goes to sleep, she’ll often fit in a game.

“And when I close my eyes to go to sleep, I can see all the shapes still, like a virtual Candy Crush in my head.”

Follow @BBCNewsMagazine on Twitter and on Facebook

Facebook tops Google searches for UK in 2013

Posted by Nuttapon_S On December - 17 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Google has revealed that Facebook topped its list of the most searched-for terms of 2013 in the UK.

The social networking site beat the search company’s own YouTube video service to the top spot. Google itself made it in to third place.

Shopping sites proved popular with web users with eBay, Amazon and Argos all making an appearance in the top 10.

Aside from spending and sharing, news proved popular with BBC News and the Daily Mail featuring high on the list.

Google also examined what questions people typed in to its search engine and from this compiled a top “what is” list. Facebook topped this too with a substantial number of UK-based searchers wanting to know what the social networking site was.

The second question was more a more heartfelt, “What is love?”

Other popular “what is” topics included searches for cancer, energy and blood pressure. Perhaps reflecting economic news throughout the year “What is the minimum wage” and “What is Universal Jobmatch” made it in to the top 10 most-asked. Universal Jobmatch is a government-run jobs-listing site.

Explaining Facebook’s position at the top of the most searched and “what is” lists, Chris Green – an analyst at the Davies Murphy Group consultancy – said: “Facebook has now firmly established itself as a hub on the internet, making it a destination for surfers to do multiple tasks such as communications, gaming, shopping, photo-sharing and information gathering.

“These are tasks that would have previously involved using a search engine to source multiple sites.”

The “most searched-for” terms are based on the number of times the relevant words are typed into Google’s search engine.

Mr Green added that Google’s own appearance near the top of its list could be explained by the fact that Chrome and other internet browsers can be set to automatically use the search engine when a phrase – rather than a full web address – is typed into their top bars.

“Chrome makes no distinction between web addresses and words in its search box so people get lazy and just type in single words like Google rather than full web addresses,” he said.

“But this registers as a search.”

Man of Steel

Google also unveiled its “top trending” search terms for the UK in 2013. These are the entries that have seen the largest increase in traffic compared with 2012.

Many of the entries on the list reflected major news events of the past 12 months.

Superman logo
The film Man of Steel took first spot in the most searched-for films list

The death of the Fast and the Furious film star Paul Walker was at the top of the list.

Both Nelson Mandela and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who died this year also feature in the top 10.

The birth of Prince George in July came in at number four on the UK list.

“Celebrities always get a lot of interest and the passing of well-known figures makes people want to learn more about them,” said Google’s Claudine Beaumont.

“Despite that, some of the more traditional aspects of British life, from the Grand National to the royal birth, have generated many Google searches and will be remembered as events that have characterised the year.”

New product launches helped the iPhone 5S and Microsoft’s Xbox One become the biggest tech trending search terms.

There was a battle of the superheroes in top 10 most searched-for movies. Man of Steel beat Iron Man 3 in to top place. A small triumph for Superman who had lost out at the box office to his metal-clad rival.

Oscar winners Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty also featured. Only one animated film made the list, Despicable Me 2, but it was one of three sequels that were searched for including The Hangover 3.

Google’s Top 10 search terms

1. Facebook

2. YouTube

3. Google

4. Hotmail

5. Ebay

6. BBC News

7. Amazon

8. Daily Mail

9. Argos

10. Yahoo

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