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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


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.

Business news

TIGA unveils vision to rapidly grow games sector

February 20 2018

A leading games industry figure based in Dundee has welcomed ambitious goals to rapidly grow the sector in the next five years. TIGA, the trade association representing the UK video games industry, wants the number of games studios to rise from 768 to 1,100 by 2022. It is targeting an increase in games development employment from 13,277 in 2017 to nearly 20,500 in 2022 and the annual investment by games development companies to increase from £670 million to over £1 billion over the same period. The aims have been backed by Paul Durrant, who heads the UK Games Fund, which supports young games companies create working prototypes of their games from its base in Dundee. Mr Durrant said: “TIGA is correct in highlighting the growth potential for the UK’s video games industry. “Our fourth funding round for the UK Games Fund recently attracted over 180 applications from games developers the length and breadth of the UK. “Over 40% of those applications were from start-up companies reflecting the increased studio numbers highlighted in TIGA’s report. “We also believe that skills and talent development is crucial for the sector and our Studiotel proposal for the Tay Cities Deal is intended to put Dundee at the centre of initiatives to grow the UK games development talent base.” TIGA looks to ensure the UK becomes a globally recognised centre for games education and continuous professional development in the sector’s workforce. The body has called on the Government to support their vision by retaining and improving Video Games Tax Relief, the Research and Development Tax Credits and tax incentives for start-ups and small firms. It is also seeking the introducing of a Video Games Investment Fund to provide grants and pound for pound match funding for original IP game projects. Among its other ideas is accrediting UK video games courses, delivering TIGA games industry awards, publishing business guides for best practice and providing data on the industry. TIGA CEO, Dr Richard Wilson said: “Our vision is to make the UK the best place in the world for games development, games education and games service providers.”

Gadgets & Games

Government urged to help UK firms compete for share of growing video games market

July 7 2011

Dundee will lose its share of the global video games market expected to grow to more than £46 billion this year unless tax breaks for games firms are introduced, it has been warned. A report by Gartner Inc published on Wednesday said it expects the games market to grow 10.4% between 2010 and this year. Spending on video games should increase in coming years so that by 2015 worldwide spending will reach £69.9 billion. Despite the increasing value of the video game sector to the UK, the coalition government has still, so far, refused to rethink its decision to scrap tax relief for games firms. Games developers and campaigners warn this puts British companies at a disadvantage next to those based in countries that offer similar benefits. Dundee West MP Jim McGovern said, "This report increases the pressure on the UK Government to start acting to support our computer games industry. In the last month Ireland has announced it will introduce tax breaks and Pennsylvania became the 17th US state to do the same. Now this. "When this report says the global industry increased by 10%, our industry continues to shrink. That isn't good enough. The industry will be worth $112 billion by 2015 we must fight to have a share of that. "There is much more the UK Government could be doing to make this happen and they are not doing it." Gartner's research showed that although spending on hardware such as consoles is expected to increase by just under $10bn between 2011 and 2015 to $27.4bn, spending on online gaming will increase far more rapidly. By 2015 it is expected that around $28.2bn (£17.6bn) will be spent annually on online gaming, fuelled in part by the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers such as the iPad.MobileGartner research analyst Tuong Nguyen said, "As the popularity of smartphones and tablets continues to expand, gaming will remain a key component in the use of these devices. Although they are never used primarily for gaming, mobile games are the most downloaded application category across most application stores." Last year Dundee's leading games firm Realtime Worlds went bust after its APB failed to enthuse gamers. As well as requiring users to buy a copy of the game, it also required people to pay a monthly subscription fees a payment model the Gartner report says is unlikely to survive. It claims that "freemium" pay models will take over, where the game is given free but is paid for through in-game advertising. Dundee has become Scotland's video game capital thanks, in part, to Abertay University's groundbreaking courses in video game design. Dr Louis Natanson, of the institute of arts, media and computer games at the university, said, "With so many people carrying portable gaming devices around all day, we're seeing a major shift in the types of games people play and the way they play them. "People who might not consider themselves a 'gamer' and don't own a console might still spend a few hours each week on fun little games like Bloons by Dundee's Digital Goldfish or the Doctor Who games created by Tag Games. "The opportunity for new companies to be formed and to create worldwide successes with just a few members of staff is something completely new for the industry, and it's a trend the computer games education at Abertay is consciously set up to train students for."

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Gadgets & Games

Video games firms welcome Scottish Affairs Committee’s report

February 8 2011

The computer games sector has broadly welcomed the publication of a Scottish Affairs Committee report on the state of the industry. TIGA, the body that represents the video games industry, has backed the committee's findings that highlight the need to improve education for those entering software and IT development, provide greater incentives to retain skilled people in this country and recommend that tax relief for the industry should be reviewed. The trade association, whose aim it states is making the UK the best place in the world to do games business, also backed the committee's findings that the sector needs more government support, calling on Westminster to offer economic incentives to gaming in a similar way that it does to British cinema. Monday's publication came on the back of last summer's announcement by the coalition government to scrap tax relief for the games industry a decision TIGA hopes will be reversed. CEO Dr Richard Wilson said, "The UK video games industry is high tech, highly skilled and export oriented. "If the coalition government is serious about its intention of rebalancing the economy then it should invest in the UK video games industry by introducing games tax relief. "This would create jobs, boost investment, power an export focused sector and generate much needed tax revenue for the government." TIGA estimates that tax relief over a five-year period could create or safeguard 9519 direct and indirect UK jobs and could more than pay for itself over the time. The body also predicts that such a move would benefit Scotland directly by creating or safeguarding £28 million in investment over the same period.Start-upAttending the announcement at Abertay University was Chris Wright, CEO of Edinburgh's Games Analytics, a company founded only last year. As a start-up firm Mr Wright was particularly keen to attend the publication of the committee's report and, while pleased at what he heard, he remained adamant Britain's place in the gaming world is in severe jeopardy. He said, "It's a hard market and the games industry is going through massive change. We're going from boxed products to digitally downloaded games and it's the same in the music and film industries. "There are lots of new ideas and opportunities and we're in the middle of that. It's an exciting time for the industry but it needs support. "If we don't watch out we will see the same as has happened in other industries." Although largely supportive of the committee's findings, Mr Wright was another who could not hide his disappointment that no consensus had been reached on the issue of tax relief. However, pleased they had recommended the issue to be put under review, he added his belief financial assistance could make or break some smaller companies. "It's not as far as I'd like to see them go and that's a shame as there was real cross-party support for tax relief and the government pulled it after the election."


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

Gadgets & Games

New XBox One will cost £429 in UK

June 11 2013

Microsoft has revealed that its new XBox One games console will carry an "expensive" price tag of over £400 when it is launched in November. At the E3 electronic entertainment trade show in Los Angeles, the US firm announced that its latest piece of hardware will set gamers back £429. It came just hours before Microsoft's rival Sony raised the curtain on its new PlayStation 4, pushing the "next-gen console wars" between both tech giants to fever pitch. Microsoft's presentation saw the unveiling of XBox One games, with a mix of legendary franchises such as Metal Gear Solid and Halo together with a clutch of new titles. It also introduced new features such as Twitch, which will allow players to broadcast their gaming sessions live online. Video games expert Daniel Krupa, who writes for entertainment website IGN, said: "At £429, the Xbox One will be an expensive investment when it launches in November but Microsoft's wide array of games was a clear statement of intent for those who worried it might focus too heavily on the entertainment features. "They have significantly invested in a wide range of gaming experiences, from triple-A blockbusters to quieter indie titles, and games for kids. "From what we've seen so far, both Microsoft and Sony want to make next-gen gaming a more social experience, even allowing you to broadcast your gaming session live to the internet. "The price is high, but the Xbox One right now has bags of functionality and promise. All eyes are now on Sony to see what they have up their sleeves for round two." The XBox One, described as an "all-in-one system" for games, live television, films and music, was first unveiled at Microsoft's US headquarters in Redmond, Washington, last month. It incorporates a blu-ray drive, the use of video calling service Skype, and an upgraded Kinect camera which allows the device to better analyse body movements.