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Games jam played out well in Dundee

September 25 2016

Dundee  developers have come up with new virtual reality games in just 24 hours as part of a competition. A games jam took place from 4pm on Thursday until 4pm on Friday at Tag Games, resulting in games prototypes with names like Spider Spider, Mouse of Horrors and Terminal Station. The developers also created their own answer to the famous Boaty McBoatface, with a game titled Vanny McVanFace. Virtual reality, a form of technology that simulates a player's presence in a replica of a real environment, is said to be the future of games with some VR versions already present in many living rooms. Tag's marketing executive Gavin Moffat said: "At the games jam, staff split into four teams of four people - a designer, an artist and programmers. "They then had 24 hours to design a game prototype. "You would struggle to design a full game in that time, although it could be done if you're extremely good and the game is simple. "But with a prototype, you could then spend months perfecting and polishing it into a full game. "Some really great ideas can come out of these jam - you have to be creative and work fast. It was a great event. "This time the theme was virtual reality. Virtual reality headsets are already being used but it's difficult to say whether they'll become the default in gaming. "It could be the case that it's popular for a few years and then people get bored of it, or it could remain popular. "However, it certainly has great potential." Over the past 20 years Dundee has become an international hub for games developers with the world's biggest-selling video game - Grand Theft Auto - starting life in the city. Games jam are popular events where games developers get together to brainstorm ideas and create new prototypes within a short space of time.


Thousands turn out for Dundee Literary Festival

October 24 2016

The Dundee Literary Festival has enjoyed another successful year as it celebrated its tenth anniversary this month. As the last of the events wrapped up on Sunday, organisers reminisced about the past decade, which saw the festival grow from a two-day gathering to a five day literary bonanza attracting talent from all over the world. This year’s events included a showcase of local writing, featuring Tina McDuff’s Seconds to Snap memoir about her battle with anorexia; Slugboy Saves the World, a children’s book by a Dundee teacher; The Fall of the Tay Bridge by historian David Swinfen; as well as a number of talks and creative workshops by international authors. Peggy Hughes, manager of Literary Dundee, the group which organises the festival, said: “It has been a really varied and illuminating five days. “We’ve had lots of lovely comments from people telling us they’ve had a great time. “As well as literary events we had a tea dance, which was attended by around 150 people — that was really special, to see them all dancing and having fun. “We also tried to reflect the local flavour with some events to showcase comics, students’ work and local authors. “Altogether we’ve had several thousand visitors and there was a great buzz in Dundee. “It’s really important for the city to have its own literary festival. It’s great to look back to ten years ago, when it was just a two day event with a clutch of writers and compare it to now. “It shows that there’s a huge interest and enthusiasm for it in Dundee, and it has been great to see the festival grow.” The festival’s finale took place in the Unicorn on Sunday night with an event by writers Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack. Amy presented The Outrun, winner of the Wainwright Prize 2016, which charts her return from London to Orkney where she began to recover from alcoholism.


Man accused of attempted murder at Templeton Woods committed to trial

August 17 2017

A man charged with the attempted murder of a woman in  Dundee's Templeton Woods has made his second appearance in court. Robbie McIntosh, 31, of Rowan Place, Bridgefoot, appeared in private at Dundee Sheriff Court on Thursday and was fully committed to trial. Appearing before Sheriff Drummond, he made no plea or declaration and was remanded in custody in the meantime. It is alleged that, on August 7, McIntosh assaulted a woman by repeatedly striking her on the head and body with a dumbbell to her permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment and to the danger of her life. McIntosh is also charged with attempting to defeat the ends of justice, on the same date, at Rowan Place, by washing articles of clothing.


Double whammy: Storm Barbara hits Tayside and no chance of white Christmas

December 23 2016

Severe weather is set to batter Tayside over Christmas as Storm Barbara sweeps  into the region - but the chances of snow are minimal. A yellow weather warning is in place for Friday through to Sunday with gusts of up to 60mph expected on Christmas Day in parts of Courier Country. https://twitter.com/metoffice/status/811892781182570496 Festive travel plans have also been disrupted as flights from three London airports – Heathrow, Gatwick and London City - were hit by delays. A spokesman for Dundee Airport confirmed that there are no predicted changes to the Dundee to London Stansted flights, but the situation would be monitored. Restrictions were in place on the Tay Road Bridge on Thursday morning with the road closed to double-decker buses as wind speeds reached 45mph. A 30mph speed limit was in place for all other vehicles. https://twitter.com/RNLI/status/811867394700410880 A spokesman for the Met Office said: “It will certainly be a mixed bag. “The restrictions are likely to remain in place on the bridge with gusts of 50mph expected. “There will be no real change in that — with showers expected to arrive from the west. “These will be largely intermittent but will create hazardous conditions for commuters.” https://twitter.com/CoastguardTeam/status/811911670801059840 The top temperatures for Dundee over the weekend are expected to be 6C on Christmas Eve, warming up to a balmier 12C on Christmas Day – meaning that the chances of snow are almost non-existent. The winds are also expected to be strongest on Christmas Day, which could cause travel disruption. Saturday is forecast to be wet with sunny spells, which will continue on Sunday but without the showers. The lowest temperatures will be at around 3C but it will feel like a much colder -3C, according to the Met Office forecast. The Scottish Government said its resilience arrangements have been activated to ensure the country is as prepared as possible for the severe weather. Some social media users appeared amused by the storm's name, which is part of the Met Office’s alphabetical policy for the strongest weather systems. https://twitter.com/tonysheps/status/811928561141616641 The next storm will be called Conor, although no weather systems passing the naming threshold have been identified, the Met Office said.


Dundee to Perth boat trips set to take off along the Tay

May 9 2016

A Dundee maritime charity is launching public boat trips along the river Tay to raise money for good causes. The Taymara group plans to take up to 12 passengers aboard their new boat, Missel Thrush, which will make its way along a scenic route from Broughty Ferry to Perth. The proceeds will be split up between Taymara’s various projects including initiatives to help sick children, young people with learning disabilities and a scheme to provide boat training to prisoners due for release. David Kett, a development officer at Taymara, said: “This is an extension of our existing work, which includes taking people on dolphin spotting trips across the Tay. “What we’re hoping to do this year is with Missel Thrush is to take the boat from Broughty ferry to Perth and back again. “People will be able to see wildlife and historic landmarks, such as a Roman fort, and the bear and ragged staff near Newburgh, along the way. “We hope that the trips will be popular. “if there is a lot of demand we may use Missel Thrush as well as another boat, Badger, to take on more people.” David expressed his thanks to Channel Islands businessman Graham Meyer who gifted Missel Thrush to the group. He was said to have taken an interest in Taymara’s projects after the group carried out some work for him. The charity plan to launch their trips to Perth at some point this year, but no definite date has yet been set. David said: “We are a volunteer-run charity and as always, we are looking for more volunteers, especially when the trips are up and running. “We also welcome donations and we’re always on the lookout for more funding. “We have volunteers aged 17 to 70, and we welcome people from all backgrounds and walks of life.” Anyone interested in the boat trips, volunteering or donating can contact the Taymara group on 01382542516.  


Campaigner’s concerns over drug education funding

July 18 2016

Two Dundee schools have expressed an interest in using “scratch and sniff” cards to educate pupils about the dangers of drugs, it has been revealed. The pioneering idea was developed by Fife print specialists, St Andrew Print Solutions and CAIR Scotland, a Dundee-based drug and alcohol charity. The cards contain inks mimicking the smells of four commonly used drugs — cannabis weed, cannabis resin, mephedrone and amphetamine — and provide information about the negative effects of so called “legal highs”. St Andrew Print solutions owner Ralph Chalmers said that he was pleased with the interest expressed by Dundee High School and Harris Academy, but was disappointed that the majority of schools in the area rejected his idea. He said: “We wrote to all the high schools in the area around six or eight weeks ago and sent some sample cards. “We have had little feedback from Dundee schools, apart from Dundee High School who were keen to use the cards. “Harris Academy said they may be interested, and to contact them when their new premises officially open in August. “Other schools are saying that they don’t have enough funds, and this is a theme that comes up again and again with schools, charities and other organisations. “We seem to be hitting a brick wall and I’m asking myself, when did all the funding for education on drugs dry up?” Mr Chalmers explained that he was not an expert on drugs, but was inspired to develop the cards after carrying out printing work for the police. His firm found a way of replicating the aroma of drugs on paper, using inks. He added: “This is similar to how ladies perfume samples are advertised in magazines. “The difference is that we’re trying to put young people off drugs, due to their terrible smell. “Drugs are a huge problem in our society, and we’re trying to do something about it.”


‘Black Monday’ warning as Storm Ana descends on Tayside and Fife

December 10 2017

Parts of Scotland are set to be too cold for grit to work with temperatures on ‘Black Monday’ expected to plummet lower than in Siberia. Up to half a foot of lying snow, black ice and -10C lows as part of Storm Ana are predicted to trigger rush-hour problems. Tayside and Fife will escape the worst of the Arctic conditions — however, a yellow weather warning has still been issued for the region. https://twitter.com/trafficscotland/status/939817956120416256 Temperatures in Dundee will hover between -2C and 0C, with sunny spells and freezing fog patches. The low areas of Angus, Perthshire and Fife will fare similarly, with hilly terrain expected to see temperatures as low as -7C and a high probability of snow. Northern Perthshire in particular is likely to see scattered snow showers and widespread frost. Storm Ana follows ‘Snow Sunday’, which saw up to four inches’ snow in Scotland as a ‘snow bomb’ delivered Britain’s biggest snow event for five years. The Met Office warned of “challenging” rush-hour conditions with black ice from remnants of yesterday’s conditions and failing grit, which becomes less effective when temperatures plunge lower than -5C. Motorists using the Tay Road Bridge were urged to “take extra care” due to the low temperatures. https://twitter.com/tay_road_bridge/status/939863044150177792 Met Office forecaster Sarah Kent said: “Monday morning will be challenging on some routes. “There will be lying snow from Sunday plus the risk of ice and black ice in areas which saw Sunday’s snow and rain. “Tuesday could see snow on Scottish hills, Wednesday sees frequent blustery showers and hail - with gales – and it could turn colder again at the end of the week in a northerly air stream.” Storm Ana is a low pressure weather system named by Spanish meteorologists, with the worst of it hitting Spain and some of the effects felt in the UK.


CCTV images released in search for missing Eleanor

November 26 2017

Police leading the search for a 46-year-old woman who went missing from Dundee have released CCV images to help trace her. Eleanor Mair  was last seen at a licensed premises in Reform Street at 6pm on  November 23. The CCTV image, from the Counting House pub, shows Eleanor in the company of a man. Police are keen to speak to him as part of their enquiries. Eleanor is described as white, 5'9, with brown shoulder length hair and of medium build.     She was wearing purple-coloured clothing at the time of going missing. Eleanor walks with the aid of a crutch and is believed to have this with her. Inspector Cath Lannen said: "We are keen to speak to the man depicted in the image, he has helped Eleanor whilst she was leaving the premises. "This witness may have information that can assist the enquiry and I would appeal to anyone who recognises him or Eleanor to get in touch with Police Scotland on 101." The man is described as being around five foot nine inches tall, of medium build, with grey hair which is thinning on top. He is wearing a black jacket. Anyone who has had any sightings of Eleanor is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 and to quote incident number 3929 of  November 23, 2017.


Pensioner housebound after “racist prank” leaves him without mobility aid

October 30 2017

A Dundee pensioner has been left housebound after cruel yobs stole the wheels of his mobility scooter in a suspected "racist prank". Michael Simon, 77, is originally from Curacao in the Caribbean and now lives in Douglas with his wife Catherine, 69. Due to arthritis, the former jute mill worker is unable to walk unaided and uses a mobility scooter, which he stores in the close of his block of flats in Balmullo Square. On Sunday morning, Catherine was leaving for the shops when she noticed the back wheels of the scooter had been stolen. She said: "Michael is very upset - we both are. I'm just shocked that someone would do this. "He is now totally house-bound, as he can't walk very far without the mobility scooter due to his arthritis. I haven't the faintest idea why anyone would want to steal just the wheels, rather than the whole scooter. "It would have required quite a bit of effort and specialist tools, as the wheels can't just be taken off with your bare hands - when we had them put in we had to call a specialist fitter. "It could be a prank, in which case it is a very nasty one. We think it might be racist thing, as Michael is from Curacao. "This is the last thing you need when you're just trying to enjoy your retirement in peace." Catherine explained that even if the wheels are retrieved, it would cost £200 to have them re-installed. A replacement scooter would set them back around £500, which the couple cannot afford. Catherine added: "It looks like Michael will just have to rely on crutches. "He doesn't get out much anyway, but at least the mobility scooter gave him the option. "He'd only had the scooter for around a year and we didn't expect something like this. "We've been living in this street since 2000 and we've never had any problems before." Catherine said she has reported the theft to police and is waiting to hear back. No one at Police Scotland was available to comment.          


E-bikes: Much to love, but please don’t ask me to lift one up to my top-floor flat again

May 17 2018

This week, The Courier has been putting e-bikes to the test. With sales booming in many parts of the world, they are being tipped as one of the answers to cutting congestion in our busy towns and cities. Nadia Vidinova is a reporter in our Dundee office. Here's how she got on trying out a model from Electric Bikes Scotland. The last time I was on a bike was 2015, when I bought a cheap, second hand number with earnest intentions to get fit by cycling to work. My fitness-goddess days lasted exactly three days. The hills of Dundee proved too onerous and cycling in work clothes was awkward, whereas packing them in a bag made them creased. I did make a few leisure trips along the Tay a few times, but I wouldn't class myself as a committed cyclist. When I heard about e-bikes, I was both curious and sceptical. I initially thought having one would be cheating, as I assumed the electric bit did all the work for you. Not so. You can adjust the settings so that you get a boost, but you still have to pedal. When I received the e-bike for my trial I hadn't brought any cycling clothing with me. That wasn't a problem, as the bike was very comfortable, even with my stiff work clothes and bulky coat. The luggage rack took care of the where-to-put-my-handbag dilemma and the chain guard protected my clothes. Cycling home form work that day, I found the hill up Blackscroft to be a breeze. I simply cranked up the e-boost settings and the bike propelled itself forward with ease when I pedalled. I got a moderate work-out rather than the usual red-faced, huffing and puffing ordeal. On even terrain I could switch off the e-assist and the bike functioned as a regular, non-electric model. It was steady on cobbled and potholed streets too, which was handy for navigating my neighbourhood. The first sign of trouble came when I reached my front door. I live on a top-floor flat and bike was seriously heavy. Hauling it up the stairs gave me a bigger work-out than the actual cycling, with the unwelcome addition of pedals ramming into my shins. Getting it back down the next morning was no easier and involved much swearing and accidental bell-pinging, which echoed around the close. Not ideal for the neighbours. Unfortunately, opportunities for cycling were limited over the remainder of the week due to the Beast from the East. I didn't dare test the bike in the snow, although I hear my colleague did and was pleased with the results. I would definitely be tempted to buy an e-bike. Although they come with a hefty price-tag for the casual cyclist or commuter (expect to pay at least £1800 for a decent quality model), the savings I'd make from fuel and parking would pay for the bike over time. Because I could get around on the e-bike wearing anything – even a dress – without getting overly sweaty, I'd be more likely to use it than a regular model for commuting. The only hurdle would be storage. I couldn't face the stairs struggle every day and I wouldn't want to leave such a pricey bike in a communal shed or in the close overnight - even with a lock. Realistically, I will have to wait until I get a house before I can give this serious consideration. If and when this happens, an e-bike would definitely be on my wish-list. Read more: https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/651897/e-bikes-how-a-daily-cycle-commuter-got-on-going-electric/ https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/651910/e-bikes-could-they-be-the-commuting-answer-for-this-busy-dad/ https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/651563/sponsored-join-the-e-bike-revolution-with-electric-bikes-scotland-articleisfree/