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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

Digital switchover reaches final stage

August 17 2010

The final stage of the switchover to digital broadcasts from the Angus television transmitter will begin early on Wednesday. After the ending of the BBC Two analogue service on August 4, all the remaining analogue channels will be stopped permanently from around midnight. The Angus transmitter serves most of Angus and Dundee along with parts of Perthshire and Fife. Anyone receiving its signals should be able to get more than 40 channels on the digital Freeview service. Its 23 relay transmitters will not be able to carry as many TV channels and they are expected to broadcast only around 15, from the BBC, STV/ITV, Channel Four and Five, although they will also carry radio and text services. The switch means that anyone who relies on broadcast television and has not yet fitted their set with a Freeview set-top box, or bought a TV with an internal Freeview decoder, will lose all reception. The changes taking place to the transmitter and its relays mean that all Freeview viewers will need to do a re-scan to pick up their services. Freeview should be back on air from the Angus transmitter by 6am and also from the Perth and Tay Bridge relays. The rest of the relays will be upgraded during the day, with Grandtully and Methven expected to be the last added by late afternoon. Viewers receiving their TV service by satellite or cable will not be affected by the switchover.

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

UK & World

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.

Dundee

Dundee councillor signals TV viewers’ frustration

April 1 2013

A Dundee councillor has described the city’s digital TV output as a postcode lottery. Thousands of households in the city receive fewer TV channels from digital terrestrial TV than others served by a different TV transmitter. Lib Dem councillor Fraser MacPherson has written to Maria Miller MP, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, calling for the government to review the multiplex arrangements on Freeview. He said: “It is postcode lottery for many of my constituents as the majority of them particularly in the southern part of the West End ward can only get TV signals from the Tay Bridge relay transmitter that carries a reduced number of TV and radio channels.” He continued: “Here in Dundee, those who are served by the main Angus main transmitter get all Freeview TV and radio channels, but in the case of Tay Bridge transmitter, its 35,000 viewers do not get access to Freeview, including most residents of the West End and City Centre and much of Craigiebank and Broughty Ferry, as well as parts of north Fife.”

Business news

Profits rise and debt cut at STV

February 22 2013

Broadcaster STV failed to meet its own ambitious digital and production revenue targets last year, but was still able to boost profit and pay down a debt pile which stretched to more than £50 million. Overall turnover climbed £700,000, or less than a percentage point, to £102.7m last year, while pre-tax earnings rose by £400,000, or 3%, to £14.4m. But the company which runs what used to be regarded as the third terrestrial TV channel in all parts of Scotland except the former Border area said it had reduced debt by £9.2m, or 17%, to £45.3m during the year to the end of December. It said it would retain a short-term focus on debt reduction, but its board remained committed to resuming dividend payments “at an appropriate time”. The operator had been locked in a bitter and complex 1-year legal battle with ITV over payments related to programmes, and yesterday booked an exceptional £5.3m charge for the final accounting of its £18m settlement with the network. STV said the sum also included a charge related to its switch to affiliate status, and a £4.1m write-down in the value of programme assets. The dispute ended in early 2011, with STV agreeing to settle the case a matter of weeks before it was due to come to court. The disagreement prompted ire from many viewers who found themselves unable to watch their favourite ITV programming, with popular shows, including landmark dramas, dropped from the schedules. Chief executive Rob Woodward said the company had delivered “strong” results, with double-digit growth in operating profit before exceptionals. He said a Westminster decision to extend the broadcaster’s licences for up to a further decade gave reassurance to investors. “Our digital and production businesses are delivering strong growth momentum, with STV Productions continuing to secure new series commissions,” he said. “The recommendation to renew our licences for the maximum term of 10 years provides certainty for the future, and we remain on track to deliver our sustainable growth objectives.” Digital revenue climbed to £6.5m and by 84% in growth areas, but failed to reach a £9.1m target though, at 26%, anticipated margins were exceeded. Production revenues fell £1.8m short of their £12m target despite growing 21% on the prior year, and managed only a 2% profit margin against the board’s 10% goal. STV said its relationships with advertisers had strengthened, with developing online platforms helping to attract new clients. The company also increased the data it holds on its audiences by as much as 55%. It expects air-time revenue to climb by 3% in the first quarter of this year, despite a 16% slide in regional income thanks to the phasing of advertising spend by the Scottish Government. Digital revenues are expected to climb 35% in the quarter. STV said production income would be boosted by new commissions for Celebrity Antiques Road Trip and a new Jo Brand chat show. Markets reacted positively to the news, with shares climbing 12.6p to 142.1p. business@thecourier.co.uk

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

Dundee

Downton Abbey mystery game launched by Dundee studio

October 6 2015

The Crawley family and their servants are stepping from the Edwardian era straight into the 21st Century thanks to a Dundee mobile games studio. Downton Abbey: Mysteries of the Manor has been launched by Tag Games and Activision Publishing of Santa Monica, California. The hidden object game is based on the multi-award-winning British drama series now in its sixth series on ITV. The mobile game is set in the abbey. Players take on the role of a private detective, hired by the Crawley family, to act as an undercover butler and unravel the mystery of why the family home has been ransacked. The player must explore 15 photo-realistic 3D rooms, interrogate 11 disingenuous characters from the TV series to unearth segments of the story and piece together the clues to crack the puzzle. Paul Farley, chief executive of Tag Games, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Activision to bring the Downton Abbey world to life in a mobile game for the first time. “The combination of familiar Downton characters, magical setting, high-resolution visuals and hidden object game-play is bound to be a success with both fans of the TV show and fans of hidden object games.” He added: “As a free-to-play title we can also look forward to delighting players further with the release of new content and improved features for a long time yet!” The game utilises fully rendered 3D environments and comes packaged with Tag’s manager tool allowing players to download new content without having to reinstall the game. Downton Abbey: Mysteries of the Manor is available on iOS, Android and Kindle devices. Based in Dundee, Tag has been making mobile games since 2006 and is well established as a leader in the global mobile space. They work across a number of genres and business models and have heavily invested in free-to-play and games as a contracted service. Tag, based at Seabraes House, Greenmarket, has a staff of 44 in game design, production, marketing, programming and visual arts, and hopes to recruit more staff as it pursues more project contracts. The sixth season of Downton Abbey is running for eight episodes to end with a Christmas special concluding the phenomenally successful period drama. The show will receive a special award at this year’s International Emmys. The Academy will present the 2015 International Emmy Founders Award to writer and creator Julian Fellowes. The award is given to individuals whose creative accomplishments have contributed in some way to the quality of global television production.

UK & World

BBC licence fee likely to rise by £15 over next five years

May 12 2016

The BBC licence fee is likely to rise by £15 over the next five years, under plans outlined in the Government's White Paper. It has been frozen at £145.50 for the past six years, but will now increase in line with inflation starting from next year. The cost of a licence is forecast to reach £160.50 by 2021/22 - the equivalent of 44 pence per day. It will provide the BBC with over £18 billion of public money between 2017/18 and 2021/22. An increase of £15 is the equivalent of a 10% rise in the licence fee, but it will be staggered over the next five years with annual rises of around £3. The amount could change if the level of inflation rises or falls, however. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbSUqN6qfAI Explaining its decision in the White Paper, the Government said it wanted to "ensure the BBC has sufficient funding to invest in high quality, distinctive output that audiences enjoy and value at a time when the revenues of some leading commercial providers have been growing. "This rising public investment in the BBC will also continue to result in continued value in the UK's creative industries." It added that the rise in the licence fee came with the "clear expectation and incentives to ensure the BBC uses public money in the most efficient way possible". Everyone in the UK who watches or records TV programmes at the same as they are broadcast needs to be covered by a TV licence. This includes TVs, computers, mobile phones, games consoles, digital boxes and DVD/video recorders.

News

Digital switchover is coming closer

August 3 2010

Residents in Tayside and Fife have been preparing for the start of the region's digital switchover by snapping up set-top boxes and televisions. The Angus transmitter and its 23 relays serve around 200,000 homes in the area and the two-stage switchover begins on Wednesday with analogue channel BBC2 being replaced with the first group of digital services. On August 18, the switchover will be completed as the remaining analogue channels BBC1, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are switched off. Electrical retailer Comet has reported a dramatic surge in sales in the local area with set top boxes up by over 90%, LCD TVs soaring by 119% and digital TV recorders increasing by 82%. Dundee store manager Mandy Griffin said, "We've been giving all of our customers advice on how to make the switch to digital and have seen sales of digital products soar as they get ready for switchover. We know that many people are ready for the switch, but there are late converters." Digital UK said last month around 90% of viewers in the region were ready for the switchover, but that figure left around 20,000 households, which will lose the service. There are a number of options for people who haven't yet switched, including Freeview, Freesat, Sky, Virgin Media and BT Vision. Those not ready for digital will automatically lose reception for BBC2, but the time of day of the switch will vary. When the remaining analogue channels go digital later this month, people who have not switched will lose their TV service. People with Freeview, BT Vision or Top Up TV will need to retune existing equipment. It is recommended that any set people wish to keep watching after the switchover should be converted with a digital box, digital recorder or replaced with a digital TV. Vulnerable residents have been receiving help to ensure their screens do not end up turning blank. Help is also available for those having difficulties with the switchover process for a £40 fee. It will be free of charge for eligible households receiving pension credit, income support or jobseekers allowance. The Digital UK Roadshow will be in Dundee's City Square on Wednesday and Thursday, and again on August 18. There will also be advice points in Arbroath, Perth and Cupar. For more information about events, contact Digital UK on 08456 50 50 50.

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