Feature spotlight: Find a person

This is perhaps the most powerful search feature on ukphonebook.com and Orbis and one that many of our users don’t make the most of. You will be surprised by the amount of information that can be found on an individual (which many find disconcerting, but we’ll save that discussion for another blog post!).

I’m going to take you through some of the ways you can use the find a person feature that you may be unaware of.

Search by name, email address or phone number

The most obvious way to search for a person is by entering their name. It is a good idea to narrow your search further by also adding a location, especially for more common names e.g. John Smith, York.

But did you know you can also search for someone using their email address or telephone number? Both these features are available with our corporate service, Orbis. This data comes from opted in sources so is fairly limited but useful nonetheless!

Location only

I find this one of the most useful ways to search for people. You can find all residents at an address, on a street or within a specific postcode by entering the location only. This can sometimes bring back a large number of results, in which case you can refine your search further using the other parameters such as name, date of birth, gender etc.

Wild card searching

If you do not know a person’s full name or email address you can use our wild card search tool. Start typing the name or email followed by a * e.g. smi* or john.smith@*

Specify second resident

This method of searching is useful if you’re unsure of the location of a person you are looking for but you know the names of other occupants at their address. Simply enter one of the names in the first search box and then there is space to specify a second resident at the bottom of the form.

So, what information do you get once you’ve found who you’re looking for?

Our find a person data comes from the edited UK electoral roll, the telephone directory and opted in consumer data and includes information on the following:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • full address, including postcode
  • landline and mobile telephone numbers
  • email address
  • other occupants at that address (including historic occupants)
  • house details
  • occupation details
  • linked records

It is important to note that not all of this information is available with every record as many people opt out of sharing information such as telephone numbers and email addresses.

We also access Companies House data and can show Director details where relevant, which includes information on companies that person is associated with.

So, there we have a brief overview of how find a person can be used. The more you use it, the deeper you’ll find you can delve!

GDPR – What are the implications?

GDPR has been heavily in the news recently and there is still a lot of confusion about what it means and what the implications, both on the consumer and supplier side, actually are.

Simunix, as a company, are fully committed to understanding our obligations under the new legislation and we will ensure our affiliated products – ukphonebook.com, Orbis and t2a.co – are fully compliant. We are not burying our heads in the sand about GDPR. This has been at the forefront of our minds for the last 12 months.


Firstly, we think GDPR is a great thing.

The general consensus is that GDPR will put the data industry into a tailspin. Certainly, some businesses that are heavily leveraged against consumer data may want to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm that is GDPR.  We at Simunix don’t see it that way.

Firstly, we believe GDPR will be beneficial to individuals as they will now have more control over what data is held on them and they will have the right to have it withdrawn at any time (see details below).

It is also beneficial for Simunix and our products as we can be confident that the data we continue to supply is of high quality and fully compliant. There will never be any confusion or ambiguity over permissions, as our data is always sourced from compliant and opted in data controllers, as it has been since we started out as the first online directory enquiries service in 1997.

I will be attending further courses on GDPR over the next few days and I will update my findings and share them with you in due course.

For now, here is an overview of what GDPR is.

What is GDPR?

For those unfamiliar with it or those coming to it fresh, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most important change in data protection legislation in the last 20 years.

The legislation was approved by the EU on the 14th April 2016 and will be enforced from the 25th May 2018. On this day, GDPR will replace the current Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.

The main thrust of the new legislation will be to standardise data protection laws across all EU states and enforce a new approach on how organisations handle personal data.

GDPR key changes;

Ultimately, the aim of GDPR is to protect EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly globalised world where technological advances have allowed the sharing of data on an unprecedented scale. Although the key principles of data protection from the outgoing legislation are still relevant, many changes have been proposed to the regulatory policies. In brief, these are;

Increased Territorial Scope (extra-territorial applicability)

The biggest change that new legislation will introduce will be the extended jurisdiction of the GDPR, as it applies to all businesses who process personal data of subjects residing in the EU, regardless of the organisation’s location.


Under the new legislation, organisations in breach of GDPR can be fined up to 4% of their annual global turnover or €20 Million (whichever is greater). This is the maximum penalty that can be applied to an organisation that flouts the core directives. There will be a tiered system of penalties applied to lesser misdemeanours, but these penalties will still be severe.


The granting and withdrawal of consent will be improved for EU subjects. The granting of consent will no longer be camouflaged under legal jargon, buried within a data controller’s terms and conditions. The consent granted will be clearly cross referenced with the data for which it was requested. An EU subject will also have the ability to withdraw their consent from a data supplier without difficulty.

The rights of Data Subjects.

Breach Notification

Under GDPR, an organisation will be expected to notify parties affected by a data breach within 72 hours of a data breach occurring.

Right to Access

As part of the expanded subject rights, an individual now has the right to view their personal data held by a data controller, complete with the original purpose for which that data was held.

Right to be Forgotten (data Erasure)

This allows a data subject to request that their data be erased by the data controller, not quite as draconian as demonstrated in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film ‘Eraser’, but similar in principle. This can potentially halt third parties from processing the data too. Personally, I’d like to seek clarification on this last point as I believe responsibility should lie solely with the data controller. It makes more sense for a record to be removed from the source.

Data portability

GDPR introduces the right for a subject to retrieve the data held on them  in a machine readable format. The subject then has the right to port this information over to another source if they desire.

Privacy by Design

The concept of privacy by design has been around for some time. GDPR places more responsibility on data controllers to assume the data subject wants to remain anonymous rather than them make their information available to the controller and affiliated 3rd parties.

Data Protection Officers

Article 29 of the GDPR states that in scope organisations must appoint a data protection officer (DPO). Organisations who require a dedicated DPO will be;

  • Public authorities.
  • Organisations that carry out large scale monitoring of individuals e.g. asset protection.
  • Organisations that carry out processing of individual data relating to criminal activities.

The main tasks of the DPO are to;

  • Inform their fellow employees of best practice regarding GDPR.
  • Monitor compliance.
  • Be the first point of contact for supervisory authorities.

The DPO does not need to have a specific qualification to fulfil this role.

Note – I can envisage little need for even large organisations to have a dedicated DPO. More likely there will be several ‘GDPR champions’ dispersed across the organisation.


As mentioned above, I will be attending some seminars on GDPR in the near future and I will post more soon.

How to save on call costs when travelling (overseas calls to/from the UK)

I recently went on holiday to South Africa to see my family and introduce my son to all his aunties, uncles and cousins. I’m quite a thrifty person and try not to waste money so the trip was planned well in advance to try get the best flight prices. We even booked some accommodation in advance to take advantage of a weaker currency (I booked a safari when it was R24 to the pound a few months back, on our holiday it was about R18). I even saved big on currency conversion as I have a credit card that charges no ATM fees or conversion fees and uses a genuine exchange rate.
After all this planning it would be a shame to waste money on calling costs which can be extortionate.  My mobile phone would have cost 80p a minute to make a call!

I needed to call my family to discuss our plans before we arrived and my wife needed to keep in touch with her granny whilst we were away so it was important we found a solution to keep costs down. Here are my tips based on my recent experience.

1)      Call over Wi-Fi when you can. With things like WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime even messenger you can call each other for free. If you both have Wi-Fi (i.e. not using your data allowance) you can use several apps to make calls. Unfortunately for me this wasn’t really an option as my brother and my wife’s granny have no Wi-Fi at home!

2)      Make sure your phone is not SIM locked and get a local SIM card when you are abroad. When you are travelling around whilst on holiday you usually need to make a few local calls (see if attractions are open, hotel information etc.) so instead of using your UK SIM, use a local Pay-As-You-Go one that you top up. You can also use your local SIM to call the UK as it’s sometimes cheaper. In my case my UK SIM would cost 80p a minute to call the UK, the local one would cost about 7p (depending on currency fluctuations).

3)      Save on your mobile data/Satnav hire. Whilst travelling from place to place we needed a Satnav or Google maps for directions. Satnavs are quite expensive to rent with your car hire firm & Google Maps use mobile data (though I think you can save directions offline) which is not too bad if you have a local SIM. My plan, which worked well, was to download the HERE maps app on my android phone, then download the South African map (about 500MB) to use offline. So on our travels around the Western Cape, Cape Town and Garden Route I set HERE maps to offline mode and then searched for directions. Sometimes I needed to go online to find certain less popular places, but we could normally do this when we had Wi-Fi.

4)      Sign up to your mobile providers travel bundle. Now this one is my last choice as it could be the most expensive (depending on how many calls you make). My provider charges a flat fee per day and you can use your monthly minutes/texts/data while abroad.

I hope the tips above help you save your money for something more worthwhile, like a Boerie roll and a bottle of Castle lager!


How to Look Impressive and Like You Know What You’re Talking About

Have you ever been thrown off course during a conversation where someone drops in an obscure acronym? It often happens during conversations with teenagers as new abbreviations pop up on social media every second and leave you feeling lost and confused. A few that I recently learned the meaning of include:

  1. TL;DR: Too Long; Didn’t Read. Indicating a passage of text is too long to invest the time to digest.
  2. BAE: Before Anyone Else. Not just an acronym, this has now become the name of the thing it is referencing e.g. “My BAE and I are staying in tonight”.
  3. NSFW: Not Safe For Work. Signifying that a post or article is considered inappropriate for the workplace e.g. contains nudity.

However, I’ve also found myself stumped when mixing with certain professionals such as accountants or lawyers. In any industry there are a number of acronyms that become part of that industry’s language but leave the rest of us wondering what on earth they’re talking about.

In the directory enquiries and tech industry we have an endless list of such abbreviations. Here are a select few that are used regularly in the Simunix offices:

  1. DQ:Directory Enquiries. A telephone service used to find someone’s telephone number e.g. ukphonebook.com.
  2. XD: Ex-directory. When a person chooses not to have their telephone number listed in a telephone directory or available through directory enquiries.
  3. ER: Electoral Roll. An official list of people in a district who are entitled to vote in an election.
  4. TPS/CTPS: Telephone Preference Service/Corporate Telephone Preference Service. A register of telephone numbers whose users have indicated that they do not wish to receive sales and marketing calls.
  5. TBR: The Bereavement Register. A central database that acts as the main register of deaths with the aim of stopping direct mail being sent to the deceased.
  6. PAF: Postcode Address File. A database which contains all known postcodes in the UK.
  7. OSIS: Operator Services Information System. This database holds directory listings for all UK Communications Providers.
  8. OS: Ordnance Survey. The national mapping agency providing large-scale detailed maps of Great Britain.
  9. GPS: Global Positioning System. A satellite navigation system that allows land, sea and airborne users to determine their exact location.
  10. API: Application Program Interface. A set of functions and procedures that allow the creation of applications which access the features or data of an operating system, application or other service.

So next time you find yourself in the company of a directory enquiries expert, you can impress with your knowledge of industry acronyms. If you really want.


Confusion over new UK Calling charges for 118 numbers

YORK – July 24, 2015 – 118 365, one of the UK’s cheapest directory enquiry services, is aiming to clarify the new charges for 118 numbers that came into effect on 1 July 2015, amidst growing consumer confusion.

When Ofcom announced a new system that would make the cost of calling these numbers more transparent and easier to understand, many people were still left confused. The cost of calling a service number is now split by a service charge and access charge. The access charge is set by caller’s phone service provider and the service charge is set by the service provider.

However, many 118 services are still charging an amount per call, plus their own service charge with the access charge added on top of that. In addition, it is not immediately clear what the access charge will be and callers are having to contact their phone service provider to find out.

For example, a one minute call to 118 118 from a BT landline costs £2.75 per call plus £2.99 per minute with an access charge of 9.58p, totalling £5.84.

John Lewis, Managing Director of 118 365 says, “We aim to make our charging as simple as possible and do not charge customers per call. Our service costs 55p a minute plus the cost of the access charge, that’s it. Although the total price of a call has gone up slightly due to the introduction of the access charge, we remain one of the cheapest directory enquiry options out there.”

To help callers determine what their access charge will be, 118 365 has included links on its FAQ page to information pages provided by the main telephone companies that bill their callers. Access charges appear to be varying from 5p for TalkTalk landline calls up to 25p for O2 calls.

118 365 is urging its callers to remember that the access charge is paid per minute and is not just a one-off charge.

People can find more information on the cost of calling directory enquiries by checking this daily updated infographic which charts the cost of a one minute call to different 118 numbers.


Clear Call Rates for 08, 09 and 118 Numbers

Numbers beginning 08, 09 or 118 are known as ‘service numbers’ and the cost of calling these numbers can vary from a few pence to several pounds. It is not always clear just how much you are being charged for calling one of these service numbers.

This is all set to change from 1 July 2015. Ofcom has announced a new system that is being introduced to make the cost of calling 08, 09 or 118 numbers much clearer. The changes apply to both consumer mobiles and landlines.

The cost of calling a service number will be made up of two parts: an ‘access charge’ going to the caller’s phone company (e.g. BT), and a ‘service charge’ set by the organisation or service you are calling.

So what does this mean for our 118 365 number?

The cost of a one minute call to 118 365 will increase slightly. We will continue to charge 51p a minute but the access charge will now be added to the total cost of the call. For example, a one minute call to 118 365 from a BT landline will cost 51p for the service charge plus 9.8p for the access charge, making that about 61p for the whole call.

Remember, the access charge may differ slightly depending on your phone company.

Also on this day, calls to Freephone (0800 and 0808) numbers will become free from all consumer phones – including mobiles, making this the biggest overhaul of phone calls in more than a decade.

The Spacecraft Soon Arriving at Planet Nine…

New Horizons

In July of 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft will arrive in the vicinity of Pluto. It will make the first flyby of Pluto, the last of the classic nine planets of the Solar System to be visited by a spacecraft. Below is an artist’s impression of the unmanned craft.

Until 1962, all eight planets had only been viewed through earth-based telescopes. With the dawn of the space age, unmanned probes were dispatched to those distant worlds; gradually they gave up their secrets, and Pluto will be the final one.

1962 – Venus

In December of 1962, the American Mariner 2 spacecraft made a flyby of Earth’s closest neighbour, Venus. The cloud-covered planet was further visited by several U.S. and Soviet craft, including a short-lived landing craft in 1967. The harsh surface conditions (a runaway “greenhouse” effect) presents a challenge to any lander.

1965 – Mars

Mars has in recent years received several American landers and rovers, but its first successful visitor was the Mariner 4 spacecraft in July 1965. The crude images returned showed none of the famous “canals” that had been mistakenly observed from Earth (an optical illusion) but more significantly showed a cratered surface not unlike the Moon. Later craft showed apparent river channels and other features from early Martian history that suggested the former presence of water, and a possibility of past or even present Martian life.

1973 – Jupiter

In December of that year, a spacecraft from Earth, the American Pioneer 10, made a flyby of the largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter. Pioneer 10 was aptly named, and paved the way for the heavier and more famous Voyager spacecraft, launched in 1977, both of which visited the planet.

The Jovian system has since been visited by more spacecraft, including the Galileo craft which went into orbit around the planet. It was thus able to witness the demise of the Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 as it crashed into the planet in 1994, and was able to launch the first probe into the atmosphere of the gas giant.

The use of the gravity assist technique to increase the speed of a spacecraft as it travels to more distant worlds,has ensured that Jupiter has received several passing visitors.

1974 – Mercury

The closest planet to the Sun, Mercury, was first visited by yet another U.S. spacecraft in the Mariner series, number 10. Once again, it revealed a cratered world.

The old notion that one, similar to the Moon, Mercury kept one face pointing at its parent, is not the case (which spoiled a few science fiction stories).

1979 – Saturn

In September 1979, two years after the Voyager craft had been launched, the earlier Pioneer 11 spacecraft flew past Saturn, the ringed planet, returning the first close-up images of this beautiful world. The craft had earlier visited Jupiter along with its sister Pioneer 10.

Since 1979, the Saturnian system has been visited by several craft, the Voyager probes and the Cassini spacecraft which landed a probe on the largest moon, Titan.

1986 – Uranus

In January 1986, the Voyager 2 probe became the first, and so far only, probe to fly by the seventh planet. The triumph of this feat of unmanned engineering, after a 9 year voyage, was to be marred a couple of days later by the Challenger accident.

1989 – Neptune

The Voyager 2 probe’s final planetary encounter (though it is still working as of 2015) was with the blue gas giant, Neptune, in 1989. The eighth planet has yet to receive any further visitors.

2015 – Pluto

Pluto was “demoted” from the club of planets in 2006; it is now a minor planet, along with the larger dwarf planet Eris, and others.

If all goes to plan, in July, humans will finally be able to view this most distant rocky world and its largest moon, Charon.

The digital images, broadcast back to Earth at the speed of light, will take over four hours to make the journey; compare that with the second and a bit that it takes a light from the Moon to reach us, and the 8 minutes that is required for light from the Sun to reach us.


Google will start penalising websites that are not mobile-friendly from April 21st. The search engine is making significant changes to its mobile search algorithm to promote sites which are responsive to different browser screen sizes.

A Google survey found that a staggering number of people browse the internet from mobile devices, even if they can get to a desktop computer. Websites which are not mobile-friendly will appear much lower down in Google search results.

It is generally recommended that web designers make use of Responsive Design when developing websites. This type of design dynamically adapts content to suit the size of the browser window, changing menu layout, scaling pictures and reducing the number of columns displayed.

A recent article on TechCruch reported that almost half of the Fortune 500 websites are not currently mobile-friendly. Simunix has been working to make sure all of our websites adapt to varying screen sizes.

Ten Easter Eggs

The Easter weekend is over and the more restrained amongst you may still have some chocolate eggs lurking in your kitchen cupboards. However, did you know there may also be some Easter eggs hanging about in your favourite films, or even on your computer?

I’ve rounded up a few of my favourites:

1. There’s a Starbucks cup visible in every scene of Fight Club.

2. An X appears before the death of someone in The Departed.

3. R2D2 and C3PO appear in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

4. The Chrome “unable to connect” dinosaur turns into a game when you press the space bar.

5. The Spotify app updates – look at the last one in “What’s New”.

6. A strange bug in the Windows calculator – find the square root of 4, then subtract 2, the answer isn’t 0.

7. This product page – just wait.

8. On IMDb, the rating for This is Spinal Tap goes up to 11.

9. The Facebook globe icon changes depending on where you are in the world.

10. Enter the Konami code on Buzzfeed.com (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a).

Cold Calling Clampdown

The government announced last week that it intends to clamp down on cold call companies, leaving them more vulnerable than ever to potentially massive fines.

Penalties of up to £500,000 can be imposed on telemarketing companies if they are considered to be making nuisance cold calls. Currently, firms can only be punished for this if it can be proved that the call has caused “substantial damage or substantial distress”. However, the government are making changes to the law which will remove this legal requirement and make it easier to impose fines on offending companies.

People can opt out of receiving unsolicited sales calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Telemarketers must TPS check their call lists against this register at least once a month as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can issue fines to organisations that cold call TPS registered numbers.

Organisations making automated marketing calls are required to have the individual’s consent before making a call or sending a text to that person; a breach of this regulation can also incur a hefty fine.