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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...

Gadgets & Games

St Andrews University lab says there are big savings from computing in the cloud

June 11 2011

Experts at St Andrews University say cloud computing could help businesses slash millions of pounds from their technology budgets. Computing "in the cloud" uses web services instead of packaged software, and experts insist it could help major firms save up to £1 million every year. The school of computer science at St Andrews is a world leader in cloud computing research. Home to the UK's first research centre in the UK dedicated to the technique, the university is hosting the first international school in cloud computing for students from all over Europe. A spokesman said, "Cloud computing is a new way for businesses to transform their IT provision. Instead of buying expensive software, servers and air conditioning systems, they can access computer services, provided by companies like Amazon and Google, via the web." Organiser Professor Ian Sommerville is heading up a "virtual" research pool at the St Andrews Cloud Computing Co-Laboratory (StACC). The first group of its kind in the UK, it is prototyping a wide range of ideas surrounding new technologies. Professor Sommerville said, "More than 75% of large companies are considering moving some of their IT to the cloud. Instead of using in-house systems to run their web and e-commerce sites, companies can eliminate the need to buy and maintain their own computers by using cloud services." He added, "Additionally, instead of buying and using office products for email or word processing, companies are reducing costs by using these services in the cloud. It also aids flexible working as services can be accessed on the move, from home or from anywhere in the world." Cloud computing was in the news this week when Apple revealed details of its new IOS 5 and iCloud systems at its Worldwide Developers Conference. Experts at StACC say that using products in the cloud on a pay-as-you-go basis reduces capital costs and spreads running costs. Last year the construction group Taylor Woodrow reported that using Google Apps in the "cloud" instead of Microsoft Office resulted in an estimated saving of £1 million per year. St Andrews was one of the first universities in the UK to move student email to a cloud-based Google application. Professor Sommerville said, "We are now working closely with industry to develop new techniques to help them move existing systems to the cloud and to develop simulation tools that allow them to predict the costs and risks of using the cloud."

Entertainment

Jennifer Lawrence and Kelly Brook pictures likely stolen in “brute force” attack

September 3 2014

Hundreds of nude pictures of female celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Cat Deeley and Kelly Brook were leaked after being stolen from their private collections. As the FBI investigates the hacking allegations, Gayle Ritchie finds out more. The internet went crazy on Sunday with the release of dozens of celebrity nude photos. Over the weekend, numerous reports began popping up around the web that Apple’s iCloud service had been compromised, resulting in a leak of hundreds of intimate photos of female celebrities. The photos, which included Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, former Downton Abbey actress Jessica Brown Findlay, Ariana Grande, Victoria Justice and Kate Upton, were posted on the image sharing forum 4chan. Some 60 naked pictures of Miss Lawrence an Oscar-winning actress were reportedly stolen from her Apple iCloud account, which backs up content from devices like iPads and iPhones on to the internet. Ms Justice and Ms Grande have both said the pictures are fake, while Lawrence’s spokesperson verified their authenticity and said the photos were a “flagrant violation of privacy”. Images of the celebrities were leaked on image posting website 4chan. The user posting them who defined him or herself as a “collector” rather than “hacker” said more images of different celebrities would soon be posted. Copies of the images spread to other services, including Reddit, Imgur and Twitter, from which they were subsequently deleted by administrators. Since the initial leak, a 4chan user has claimed that they alone have access to 400 more images of nude celebrities, and asked other users for help to “figure out precisely how much has been leaked” indicating that more than one user may be involved in the incident. As Apple is investigating whether iCloud accounts have been hacked, the FBI is looking into the allegations that intimate pictures of celebrities have been stolen and posted online. A spokesman told the Associated Press news agency that it was “aware of the allegations” and was “addressing the matter”. While some of the celebrities said the images were fake, others have confirmed their authenticity. Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead posted on Twitter: “To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves. Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this.” Winstead’s comments would suggest iCloud was not actively involved, as pictures on Apple’s service are only viewable online for 30 days. But Spider-Man actress Kirsten Dunst, who is also reportedly a victim of the leak, tweeted: “ Thank you iCloud.” A spokeswoman for Jennifer Lawrence, who is one of the biggest stars to be caught up in the scandal, said she had asked US authorities to prosecute whoever is posting the photos. Experts have raised concerns over the security of “cloud” storage sites. “It would appear that the leaked photographs have been stolen from cloud-based back-up storage,” said Dr Natalie Coull, a lecturer in Ethical Hacking at Abertay University in Dundee “Apple’s iCloud is an example of this, where the user’s phone automatically creates a back-up copy of all the photographs from the phone and uploads them to one of Apple’s remote data centres (basically just a huge computer). “Each user’s photographs are protected by a password that the user creates themselves. This feature is really useful if you lose your phone, as it’s very easy for the user to get their photographs back by accessing their iCloud account with their password.” Dr Coull reckons hackers have managed to gain access to the celebrities’ cloud storage by guessing their passwords, using what’s called a “brute-force password attack”. “A brute-force password attack is when a hacker tries to gain access to an account by guessing every possible combination of password,” she said. “The shorter the password is, the quicker it will be guessed. It is most likely that the photographs have been stolen because the celebrities had “weak” passwords a password less than 15 characters long, with a poor mix of uppercase, lowercase letters, numbers and characters. We always recommend that passwords are longer than 15 characters as they cannot be cracked in our lifetime using the brute-force method.” Anyone caught accessing someone else’s iCloud account in the UK would be breaching the Computer Misuse Act and could receive a prison term or large fine. Different counties have different legislation, and different laws will apply depending on where the breached data centres are located and where the hackers live. “Obviously, trusting your personal photographs to the cloud is another issue entirely and users should weigh up the risks of using cloud storage against potentially losing their phone and associated data,” warned Natalie.

UK & World

Man admits hacking celebrity accounts

April 12 2018

A man has pleaded guilty to hacking into the iCloud accounts of Hollywood stars and others so he could steal personal information, including private photographs and videos.George Garofano, 26, of North Branford, Connecticut, pleaded guilty to unauthorised access to a protected computer to obtain information, federal prosecutors said.The charge stemmed from the investigation into the 2014 scandal in which the private photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, Kate Upton and others were made public.Prosecutors said Garofano sent emails that appeared to be from Apple encouraging victims to disclose usernames and passwords. He then used the information to illegally access nearly 250 iCloud accounts.Garofano, who remains free on 50,000 dollar (£35,000) bail, faces up to five years in prison at sentencing at a date to be determined.

UK & World

Social workers involved in St Helena child abuse inquiry take legal action

March 23 2018

Two social workers who say an inquiry report into allegations of child abuse on the British overseas territory of St Helena destroyed their professional reputations have taken legal action.Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama, who worked on St Helena and made cover-up allegations, have sued the Foreign Office and the senior barrister who led the inquiry.They say they “stand by the accuracy and honesty of their disclosures” and say conclusions were reached on the basis of an inquiry which was procedurally unfair.Lawyers representing ministers and inquiry chairman Sasha Wass QC dispute their claim and say the litigation should not proceed.A judge was on Friday considering issues in the case at a High Court hearing in London.Barrister Neil Sheldon, who is leading a legal team representing Foreign Office ministers, asked the judge, Master Victoria McCloud, to halt the litigation and dismiss the claim launched by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama.The inquiry had been set up by ministers following corruption and cover-up allegations which had been raised in newspaper articles and leaked documents and made by Ms Gannon and Martin Warsama.An inquiry report published in December 2015 concluded that: St Helena did not “attract sex tourism”; said allegations that the island in the South Atlantic was a “paedophiles’ paradise” were not true; reported “no corruption at all”; and found no evidence of any attempt by the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development, the St Helena government or police to cover up child abuse.The report said: “We stress that there was no ‘cover-up’ as alleged by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, rather an ignorance of proper safeguarding procedure.”Nicholas Bowen QC, who represents Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, told the judge the conclusions of the Wass Inquiry “destroyed” the professional reputations of his clients.He said the inquiry process was “procedurally” unfair and said Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama were entitled to “just satisfaction” for their loss.Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama say their claim should not be dismissed but say evidence should be analysed at a trial.

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

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

Angus & The Mearns

Freezing temperatures, snow, rain and sun all forecast for Tayside and Fife’s Easter weekend

March 30 2018

Tayside and Fife is in for "mixed fortunes" this Easter weekend with freezing temperatures, wintry showers, rain and the odd glimmer of sunshine forecast. Locals have been told to prepare for temperatures of as low as -6C in the coming days, while a forecast of "heavy snow" has prompted a Met Office yellow warning for Monday. Cloudy weather, rain and the odd flurry of the white stuff is predicted across Courier Country today(Sat), with northern areas of Perthshire the most likely to experience some sunshine. However Easter Sunday, though cold to start with, is predicted to be a "decent day" across most of Tayside and Fife. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/627429/easter-weekend-our-list-of-the-great-family-events-taking-place-across-tayside-and-fife/ Met Office meteorologist Craig Snell said: "On Saturday you have got some clouds and outbreaks of rain and hill snow affecting the lowlands and Borders area of Scotland. "Some of that will filter up to Tayside and Fife, particularly the south part of the area. It will be fairly cloudy with possibly some hill snow throughout the rest of the day. "Northern Perth and Kinross into the morning should be increasingly bright. In Dundee I think it will be fairly cloudy for most of the day. After that, -5C and -6C is possible. It will be feeling quite cold. So mixed fortunes. "And then going into Easter Sunday we should hopefully see most of that cloud gradually move south-east. It will be a fairly nippy morning with widespread frost. "Temperatures on Sunday morning will be below freezing, especially in high parts of Perth and Kinross. It could be -4C or -5C. It will be a cold start to the day but it will give way for a fairly decent day. (Tayside and Fife) will be one of the better parts of the UK. "There will be bits and pieces of cloud about which may trigger the odd shower, but anyone out hillwalking may have some nice conditions. (Overnight) temperatures will reach -5C or -6C. "Easter Sunday itself looks have nice for many parts of the area. Monday gradually becomes cloudy." He added: "Monday morning will be bright to start the day. We'll start to see cloud moving from the south. By the afternoon you are likely to see rain move in from the south. Some of that may start to turn into sleet and snow. "Perth and Kinross is likely to see some sleet and snow. There is a warning out for Monday for north-west parts of the patch. "Sleet and snow is coming through but it is a long way off at the moment, there is uncertainty on the exact amounts." Monday's Met Office yellow warning covering Tayside and Fife is valid from 12.15am until 11.45pm.

Perth & Kinross

Bungling thieves caught arguing over haul in bizarre garden incident

September 21 2016

A pair of bungling housebreakers gave the game away as they squabbled loudly over their ill-gotten gains. Thomas Cummings and John Strickland were so addled through alcohol and drug abuse that they struggled to carry their loot away from a home in Perth’s Hermitage Drive. As they stumbled through back gardens, a high value computer was dropped and smashed, with Strickland leaving his blood smeared across the keyboard. The owners of the house they broke into watched them noisily fall out from their bedroom window and called the police. Neighbours were also woken by the argument and looked on in bemusement as they continued to shout abuse at each other. Police officers were swiftly on their trail and CCTV footage of the pair was also captured as they exited gardens onto the main road. Were more evidence needed, the 26-year-old Strickland also dropped and left behind his mobile phone at the crime scene. The two accused – no strangers to the wrong side of the law – were later transported to police headquarters in Perth where they initially denied stealing. Any pretence at innocence was swiftly jettisoned, however, as they began to argue loudly and in incriminating terms between cells. As officers listened, Strickland bellowed at his accomplice “You’re the f***ing one who went into the house”. His accomplice, 30, replied at similar volume, shouting back “Shut up. You’re the one who cut your hand and left your blood behind”. Cummings – a trainee chef at posh Knock Castle – was jailed for 12 months after admitting stealing a bag and £160 in cash from the house on February 23 this year. He was described as a prisoner at HMP Perth, but the court was told he hailed from Crieff – as does Strickland, of the town’s Cornton Place, who was jailed for 55 weeks after admitting stealing a computer. Perth Sheriff Court was told the bungling burglary had been an opportunistic crime, with Cummings popping behind a hedge to relieve himself – only to spot an insecure patio door. Judgement clouded by heroin and alcohol abuse, he had entered the home to remove a number of items. He said his inebriated state left him with little recollection of the theft. Strickland, the court heard, had a history of offending in the Stirling and had moved to Perthshire to mend his ways. Instead he plunged into abuse of alcohol and a multitude of different drugs and, to compound his problems, had fallen in with Cummings, who had a long history of addiction and thievery. Sheriff William Wood said he accepted that each man had taken steps to turn their lives around – with Cummings securing a job for the first time in years – but said custody was still appropriate.

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.

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