Free Credits

There seems to have been some confusion recently over what free credits can be used for on

Registered users get 10 free credits every day, unregistered users (in the UK) get 5 every day.

Free credits can be used on the following services:

Free credits may not be used to search the Electoral Roll so when performing a People Search, be sure to select “Phone Book” as the data source if you wish to only use free credits.

Please see our pricing page for a full list of how many credits each service costs.

Behind The Scenes: Hull-isms

In spite of the bad press, many view Hull as a city of hidden charms. Due to become Britain’s City of Culture in 2017, it is home to the engineering wonder that is the Humber Bridge, a recently restored marina and promenade as well as the terrific aquarium, The Deep.

In addition to this, the city has given birth to musicians, poets and actors as well as two of our very own Directors here at Simunix. With this in mind, Hull is a hot topic of conversation in the Simunix offices and coming up with various “Hull-isms” has become a popular Friday lunchtime game. Here are some of John and Ian’s favourites:

  • Er kner (Oh no!)
  • Arse in yer kerk (Ice in your Coke)
  • The bern’s rarin’ (The baby’s crying)
  • The fern (The telephone)
  • Ferth uv Jular (American Independence Day)
  • Thes a hernet on’t bern’s cernet (there’s a wasp on the baby’s ice-cream)
  • Ezzle Rerd (the main thoroughfare between Hessle and Hull)
  • Perch degg (poached egg)
  • Ners kern  (nose cone)
  • Merhbarle fern (mobile phone)
  • Mamamia  (Mother I have returned home)
  • Iantgoranee (I do not have any)
  • Jinerr? (do you know?)
  • A hertell  (A hotel)
  • Shurrup (please be silent)
  • Anglebie Rerd (Anlaby Road)

Any Hullensians please feel free to add to the list!

Nearly Departed

A List of Five Famous Groups of Persons Who Have Mostly Passed Away

1 – The Mercury Seven

Chosen in 1959 in a fanfare of publicity, America’s first astronauts flew that nation’s first manned spacecraft, the tiny single-seat Mercury capsule. Alan Shepard was the first to fly, performing a sub-ortbital flight in 1961; John Glenn’s more famous orbital flight followed in 1962. Their story was related in the 1983 movie The Right Stuff.

As of April 2014, only Glenn (lower second from right), the oldest of the men, remains with us. He became a Senator, and eventually flew in space again in 1998 aboard a Space Shuttle.

  • Gus Grissom (top centre) followed Shepard in a sub-orbital flight (his capsule famously sunk after landing), flew the first two man Gemini flght, and died in the Apollo launch pad fire in 1967.
  • Donald Slayton (lower, second from left) was grounded but stayed as Astronaut chief; he flew the joint US and Soviet mission in 1975 and died in 1993.
  • Alan Shepard (top, left) flew to the moon in 1971 as the commander of Apollo 14 and became the oldest moonwalker aged 47. He died in 1998.
  • Gordon Cooper (top, right) flew the final Mercury mission and a Gemini flight but lost his seat on a Moon mission to Shepard. He died in 2004.
  • Walter Schirra (bottom, left) flew in Mercury, Gemini and the first manned Apollo, he died in 2007.
  • Scott Carpenter’s solo flight in 1962 went badly (he was blamed for an off-target landing) and he never flew in space again. He died in 2013. He is pictured at the right of the lower row.

2 – The Mamas and The Papas

Only originally together from 1965-1968, the American folk harmony vocal group left a legacy of work that remains renowned and popular to this day.As of April 2014 only Michelle Phillips (lower centre) remains with us. She has had a sucessful TV and film acting career.

  • Cass Elliot (top centre) died in London in 1974 during her sucessful solo career. The untrue story that she choked on a sandwich (she suffered a heart attack) is mirrored by the actual coincidence of Keith Moon’s death in 1978, in the same flat.
  • John Phillips (lower right), the group’s leader and Michelle’s former husband, released a couple of solo albums, was convicted of drug trafficking, revived the group in the 1980s, had a liver transplant, and died in 2001 aged 65.
  • Denny Doherty (lower left) had a faltering solo career, went sober in the 1980s, joined the revived group and died in 2007.

Here is a clip of the band performing their most famous song live in Monterey in 1967.

3 – Dad’s Army Cast

The show ran originally from 1968 to 1977. As might be expected, the elderly cast members passed away in the years that followed, and in April 2014 only Frank Williams, who played the vicar, and Ian Lavender playing the teenage Frank Pike, are still with us.

  • James Beck (Private Walker) died in 1973 aged just 44.
  • Edward Sinclair (The Verger) died in 1977.
  • John Laurie (Private Frazer) died in 1980.
  • Arthur Lowe (Captain Mainwaring) died in 1982.
  • John Le Mesurier (Sergeant Wilson) died in 1983.
  • Arnold Ridley (Private Godfrey) died in 1984.
  • Clive Dunn (Corporal Jones) was much younger than the role he played; he died in 2012.
  • Bill Pertwee (Hodges) died in 2013

Here is a short clip of the most famous scene from the series. The platoon have been ordered to guard a captured U-Boat crew.

4 – T-Rex

The classic lineup of T-Rex, that recorded their hits in the early 1970s, is pictured above. Formed originally in 1967 by singer-songwriter and guitarist Marc Bolan, T-Rex continued to record and perform until 1977.

As of April 2014 only the drummer Bill Legend (left) is still with us.

  • Marc Bolan (second from right) had divorced, had gained a son, and hosted a sucessful TV show in 1977, when he was sadly killed in a car accident.
  • Steve Currie (right) played bass and left the band in 1976. He was also killed in a car accident, in 1981.
  • Mickey Finn (second from left) was the percussionist. He left the band in 1975, but played with a revived T-Rex from 1997 until his passing in 2003.

Here is a clip of the above lineup performing “Jeepster” in London in 1972.

5 – The Great Train Robbers

The stopping and seizure of the millions of pounds from the mail train in 1963 rocked the establishment more than any activities of the young in the later 1960s. Most of the gang were caught and jailed, and none had a long and happy young retirement as a result of the raid. Their “gentleman thieves” image was forever damaged by the premature death of the train driver, badly injured during the robbery.

As of April 2014, of the known criminals involved in the robbery (three were never caught), only Douglas “Gordon” Goody (the “brains” behind the operation) and Thomas Wisbey remain alive.

The fates of some of the more (in)famous members of the gang are recorded here:-

  • Charles Wilson, regarded as the most dangerous of the robbers, was murdered in Spain in 1990.
  • Buster Edwards, famously portrayed by Phil Collins in the 1988 movie Buster, was found dead in 1994; the verdict was “open” but suicide was suspected.
  • James Hussey died in 2012. He had made a deathbed confession to being the robber who attacked the uncooperative train driver Jack Mills. The validity of the confession has been disputed.
  • Bruce Reynolds was the gang leader. He hid overseas until being captured in 1968. He died in 2013.
  • Ronald Biggs was the most famous of the gang members due to his escape and long residence in Brazil. He finally returned to the UK, was re-imprisoned, released on compassionate grounds and died in 2013, having attended Reynolds’ funeral earlier in the year.

Replacing images with pure CSS buttons!

I’ve been doing some work on corporate to bring it up to date – making the design a couple of hundred pixels wider, converting the old XHTML to HTML5 and replacing the old menu button images with new, pure CSS3 ones. We’re going to talk about the new menu buttons as there are a couple of really good reasons for doing this:

If we wanted to add a new menu button in the past, I had to open up Adobe Fireworks and create two new images (the menu buttons had images for both their off and on states). Sometimes I had problems here as I couldn’t find the original multi-layer PNG file and had to try my best to replicate an existing, flattened one – this led to inconsistencies with the gradients, text drop shadows, and sometimes even forgotting that the menu buttons were supposed to have slightly rounded corners… Oops!

Not only was this time consuming, but at present, we have 219KB worth of menu images. The CSS code (plus fallback background images for older browsers) weighs in at a tiny 814 bytes, and if we need to change the text or add a new button, we just have to make a simple edit to the HTML. Much better!

Here’s the HTML code:
[code lang=”html”]
<a href="#" class="menu-button">Electoral Roll</a>

Here’s the CSS:
[code lang=”css”]
.menu-button {
border: 1px #CDCDCD solid;
display: block;
width: 135px;
height: 38px;
line-height: 38px;
border-radius: 3px;
text-decoration: none;
color: #313131;
font-family: ‘Georgia’,serif;
font-size: 14px;
padding-left: 11px;
text-shadow: 7px 4px 4px #ccc;
background: url(images/menu-bg.png); /* fallback image */
background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #fff, #efefef);
background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #fff, #efefef);
background: -ms-linear-gradient(top, #fff, #efefef);
background: -o-linear-gradient(top, #fff, #efefef);
background: -webkit-gradient(linear, 0% 0%, 0% 100%, from(#fff), to(#efefef));
margin-bottom: 3px;

.menu-button:hover {
color: #313131;

.menu-button.on {
border-color: #A1CAF8;
color: #063261;
background: url(images/menu-bg-on.png); /* fallback image */
background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #fff, #DBEBFB);
background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #fff, #DBEBFB);
background: -ms-linear-gradient(top, #fff, #DBEBFB);
background: -o-linear-gradient(top, #fff, #DBEBFB);
background: -webkit-gradient(linear, 0% 0%, 0% 100%, from(#fff), to(#DBEBFB));

And finally – the old image (left) compared with the shiny new CSS replacement (right).

Although CSS3 isn’t supported by older browsers, actually, the worst thing that happens is the buttons lose their rounded corners, and are missing the slight drop shadow on the text. These browsers will all fall back to a 1px wide repeated backround image – you can’t even tell the difference!

Behind The Scenes: Simunix Staff Pick Their Top 10 Greatest Albums of All Time

For a bit of fun, we’re starting a series of “Behind the Scenes at Simunix” blog posts. To kick off the series, we asked some of our Simunix staff members to list their top 10 albums of all time…

John Lewis – Managing Director

  1. Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks
  2. The Beatles – Revolver (except Yellow Submarine)
  3. The Beatles – Rubber Soul
  4. Kate Bush – The Dreaming
  5. The Band – The Band
  6. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
  7. Van Morrison – St Dominic’s Preview
  8. Weezer – The Green Album
  9. Brad Paisley – 5th Gear
  10. Joni Mitchell – Blue

Ian Martin – IT Director

  1. Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
  2. Janis Ian – Between The Lines
  3. Genesis – A Trick of The Tail
  4. Joni Mitchell – Clouds
  5. The Cardigans – Life
  6. Amy Winehouse – Frank
  7. Swing Out Sister – Kaleidoscope World
  8. Bear Macreary – Battlestar Galactica Season Three Soundtrack
  9. English Sinfonia – Sir Charles Groves Conducts Elgar, Ravel, Fauré, Satie etc
  10. RJD2 – Since We Last Spoke

Laura Cunningham – Marketing Executive

  1. Jay-Z – The Black Album
  2. Nirvana – Nevermind
  3. Jurassic 5 – J5
  4. Joni Mitchell – Blue
  5. Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
  6. Green Day – Dookie
  7. Kate Bush – The Kick Inside
  8. Radiohead – The Bends
  9. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  10. London Grammar – If You Wait

Jamie Bradley – Developer

  1. Radiohead – In Rainbows
  2. Built To Spill – Keep It Like A Secret
  3. Bombay Bicycle Club – Flaws
  4. Pixies – Doolittle
  5. Daughter – If You Leave
  6. Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts Of The Great Highway
  7. Deftones – Around The Fur
  8. The War On Drugs – Slave Ambient
  9. Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American
  10. Björk – Debut

Patrick Wahl – Developer

  1. Pearl Jam – Vitalogy
  2. Pearl Jam – Yield
  3. Red Hot Chilli Peppers – One Hot Minute
  4. Underworld – Beaucoup Fish
  5. Springbok Nude Girls – Goddank Vir Klanke/The Fat Lady Sings
  6. T.R.O. – Play Times Over
  7. Pixies – Surfer Rosa
  8. Depeche Mode – Songs Of Faith And Devotion
  9. Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
  10. Various Artists – Dad, I Blew up America

Burying the cost of dialling 118

4 April 2014, York

The cost of calling directory enquiries is continuing to rise and can now cost more than £3.50 for a one minute call from a landline.

According to research performed by York-based directory services provider Simunix, the amounts charged for a one minute landline call to the two biggest directory services are currently £3.58 for 118 118 and £2.98 for a call to BT’s 118 500. Costs can spiral even more if you ask to be put through to your requested number.

When the directory enquiries market was deregulated in 2003, it was thought that opening the market up to new firms would increase competition, therefore reducing costs to consumers. However, the opposite became true when the cost of calling directory enquiries began to rise and has continued to do so ever since.

But just how transparent are these directory enquiries providers about the cost of their services? Many of them display the cost on their home page, albeit in very small print at the very bottom of the page. There are those providers, however, that will go so far as to bury the cost of their service in the About Us page, making it difficult to keep up with the regularly changing costs.

In answer to this Simunix has created a daily updated infographic to chart the cost of a one minute call to different 118 numbers. It shows The Number’s and Maureen’s directory enquiries services both coming out as the most expensive at £3.58 for a one minute call with BT coming second at £2.98 for the same call. The lowest cost option listed on the infographic is 118 365 at 50.9p for a one minute call.

Consumers also need to be aware that dialling these numbers from a mobile phone can incur even greater costs. O2 customers can expect to pay £5 per minute for dialling a 118 number, the EE network charges £4.50 minimum for dialling 118 118 and a one minute call to 118 500 on the Vodafone network will set you back £3.75.

Simunix hopes to raise awareness of the true cost of dialling 118 numbers and asks that consumers not be blinded by the adverts they see on television. There are many lower cost options out there and even some online services that offer free directory enquiries.


Why Do I Suddenly Need The Visual C++ Runtime Library?


Angry Lady

This is a transcript of a recent conversation in this office. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the confused.

Jeb: Seb

Seb: Yeah?

Jeb: I’m installing an application on my computer.

Seb: Yes?

Jeb: It says I need to install the latest Visual C++ Runtime Libraries.

Seb: So?

Jeb: What is Visual C++?

Seb: It’s a program used to develop applications, in C++. C++ is a programming language.

Jeb: But I don’t want to install that. I just want my new application to work. Why is life complicated?

Seb: It means that your new application was developed using Visual C++. You just need to install the runtime software in order to make it run on your computer.

Jeb: How much will that cost me?

Seb: Nothing, it’s free. You can get it from here.

Jeb: Why doesn’t it just install with the application?

Seb. Normally it does, but you can do it yourself in a minute or less.

Jeb: I never used to have to do this? What’s changed?

Seb: Do you want the long technical version or the short one?

Jeb: I don’t do long technical.

Seb: OK. Windows applications used to ship without the need to do that. They included all the software bits of Windows that they needed to do everything.

Jeb: Sounds simpler.

Seb: It was but not good. Most applications today instead just hook up to the Visual C++ runtime component that you install (normally it’s just installed when you install your new application). They don’t need to carry a load of Windows code with them.

Jeb: Why do they do that?

Seb: Well, if a security flaw or a bug shows up in Windows, Microsoft just update that runtime component, when you run Windows Update.

Jeb: My PC does that every morning at 3AM.

Seb: Most do. When the C++ runtime is updated, it also fixes the flaw or bug in your application, with no need to update the application. As if by magic.

Jeb: I see. So if it didn’t use the runtime I’d be stuck with a bugged version of my application until the people who created it could update it.

Seb: Assuming they did.

Jeb: The runtime is installed. Time to play.

Seb: My decade is complete.



Farewell Windows XP

It’s 1st April but this is not a joke article.

Windows XP arrived just a few weeks after the world was shocked by the events of 11th September 2001. Since then it has been upgraded through various servce packs, the final being Service Pack 3 (SP3). Windows XP was finally replaced (in theory) by Windows Vista in 2007, and subsequently by the more popular Windows 7 in 2009. The controversial Windows 8 arrived in 2012.

Users of Windows XP have been able to receive security and bug fixes through the Windows Update procedure, but all that will cease finally on 8th April 2014.

So how does this affect Windows XP users?

Well, on 8th April your XP computer will continue to function. You’ll be able to use Google,Twitter, Facebook, send and receive emails, create documents, play games and do anything that you were doing on 7th.

If, however, in the weeks and months after 8th April, a security flaw is found in a component of Windows XP, you will no longer receive a ‘patch’ from Microsoft.

Should you then upgrade your operating system, replacing the 13 year old XP with Windows 8.1 and/or a new computer?

Microsoft of course advise this course of action and whilst I would agree that an upgrade should be implemented (unless you intend to cease all online operations), XP users may find that an upgrade to Windows 7 is a move into more familiar territory. Look on your favourite online auction and other retailers for a Windows 7 upgrade.

Any website which serves a multitude of customers in the commercial and government sectors will be aware that the proportion of clients that are still using Windows XP is higher than might be initially expected. Of course we recogise that the actual users have no control over their operating system and in some cases web browser, and are reliant on their IT department to implement upgrades from XP. If users of XP can choose to use a different web browser (and if this is permitted), they should do so.

Try Google Chrome (you don’t need to log in to Google) or Firefox. Any alternate browser should also be upraded regularly – most browsers check themselves for an upgrade.

Our developers at retain a couple of PCs running Windows XP for software testing purposes, including testing our websites on Internet Exporer 7 and 8. Whilst we cannot assist if there are future security issues with XP, we will continue to ensure that the websites function on older versions of Internet Explorer.

We’re not abandoning our support for XP.