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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...

Rocktalk

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.

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

Readers' letters

September 23: Name new Perth bridge after famous angler

September 23 2010

Today our correspondents suggest a name for a new bridge and discuss tax breaks for the computer game industry, green energy, religion and schools. Name new Perth bridge after famous angler Sir, One of your readers suggested that a bridge over the River Tay at Perth, intended for pedestrians and cyclists, was a waste of money. How very Scottish. The cost of £1.38 million appears a good investment given that Scotland is often seen as the sick man of Europe with high death rates from heart disease and strokes. Anything that enables us to improve our lifestyle by reducing the burden on our health services must be money well spent and the council should be applauded. As concerns a name for this landmark, might I suggest Ballantyne's Bridge after Miss Georgina Ballantyne, who will forever be linked with the river having caught a Tay salmon in 1922 weighing 64lbs - a UK record for a salmon landed by rod and line. Kenneth G. N. Stewart.Landalla,Florence Place,Perth. Throwing good money after bad Sir, I am not sure if Steve Bargeton was being tongue-in-cheek in his recent diary column (September 18) but his opinion on the computer games industry was neatly juxtaposed with an article on the opposite page about the collapse of Dundee firm Realtime Worlds. Your political editor says that providing £40 million of tax breaks per year to the sector would provide the public purse with a net gain of £400 million in tax receipts and create 3500 graduate-level jobs and presumably solve world poverty and reverse global warming at the same time. If only life was that simple. The figures provided sound like typical industry/ political spiel. Meanwhile, back in the real(time) world, your other article quoted an industry expert as saying that the firm's pivotal APB game attracted sales of only one ninth of that necessary for its survival. It seems unlikely that tax breaks would have somehow enhanced the game sufficiently to increase its sales nine-fold. As history has shown time and time again, throwing public funds at fundamentally uncompetitive products and businesses is just taxpayers' money down the drain. Of course, taxpayer-funded assistance and a favourable regulatory environment can help industry in appropriate circumstances but the Scottish political mindset seems dominated by the need to find a deserving home for as much public money as possible - and there's always a queue of willing recipients, whether in the private or public sector. And while the bills for the profligacy have to be paid eventually, both Labour and the SNP seem preoccupied with trying to deny their part in the spending spree, while the Tories and Lib Dems are being accused of threatening the economic recovery by being over-zealous in trying to turn off the tap. Stuart Winton.Hilltown,Dundee. Fantasy of green future Sir, The articles covering the views of the MSPs Jim Mather and Murdo Fraser on wind farms (September 20) are yet another reminder of the dangers of expanding onshore wind production in Scotland. Murdo Fraser is correct in pointing out the adverse effects on our landscape and hence tourism but the concept of visual amenity is subjective and personal. What is more objective and less arguable is the cost of installing the infrastructure and the vast amount of subsidies and incentives given to landowners and developers, relative to the amount of dependable electricity actually produced by wind turbines. Jim Mather and the Scottish Government have long known that wind farms are very poor sources of dependable power, frequently producing less than one per cent of UK supply. He and they also know that Scotland only produces around one-fifth of one per cent of the world's carbon emission "problem." As Energy Minister, Jim Mather owes us all an explanation of why he and his colleagues expect consumers to pay high prices to solve a "problem" that scarcely exists, using a system that scarcely works and at prices more and more people will scarcely be able to afford. It is time the fairy tale of wind power was ended. Ron Greer.Armoury House,Blair Atholl. Two-fronted attack on church Sir, Ian Wheeler asks if the threat of Islam is uniting Catholics and Protestants in the fight for survival (September 21). Let us hope so. Islam has powerful non-Muslim players in the field if you count the secular, the atheist and the left-liberal neo-Marxists, all with their own particular reasons for supporting Islam. The average British secularist disputes any religion but more so Christianity. The average militant atheist attacks the Christian God but, when challenged similarly to treat the Islamic God, refrains, claiming all religions are the same. The neo-Marxists are the most dangerous. Their liberal organisations support Islam in its anti-Christian and anti-capitalist stance which makes them useful in the fight to establish a "progressive" society. Andrew Lawson.9 MacLaren Gardens,Dundee. Educational poverty trap Sir, David Robertson's suggestions that the way to improve school performance in Dundee is to have more religion in them is simplistic and laughable. He erroneously states that schools in Scotland which are not Catholic are Christian. Presumably he means Protestant. I have never come across a school in Scotland which describes itself as Protestant. They are non-denominational. The solution to the gap between the children living in poverty and those who are not is a redistribution of wealth. We do not need to scare children into obedience by telling them untruths about eternity in hell. Alan Hinnrichs.2 Gillespie Terrace,Dundee. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

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."

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

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.

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.

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."

Perth & Kinross

Perth property boom sees homes sold in seven days

April 8 2015

The property market in Perth has become one of the hottest in Scotland, with homes going under offer in an average of just seven days. The country’s biggest solicitor-estate agent Aberdein Considine said that the pace in which properties are changing hands is almost unheard of and similar to levels in Aberdeen during peak periods for the oil and gas industry. The firm’s announcement comes as Perthshire Solicitors Property Centre (PSPC) also revealed an upturn in the local housing market. Its first quarter sales totalled nearly £30 million with 61 properties being exchanged in March, compared to just 48 the year before. James McKay, who heads up Aberdein Considine’s Perth branch on High Street, said the spring market in the city had been fuelled by low mortgage rates. The change from Stamp Duty to a new Scottish system the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax has eased the tax burden on those buying homes below £300,000, making it a true “buyer’s market”. Mr McKay said the average price of a detached home is now just less than £260,000 in Perth and Kinross. “As a national firm, we get a good feel for the market across Scotland,” he said. “What we are seeing in Perth at the moment is the type of market we usually only see in Aberdeen. “In the north-east it has become usual for homes to go in six to 10 days. However, it usually takes a bit longer in Perth. “Our average on the market-to-under offer timescale in Perth was just six-and-a-half days in March, which is remarkable.” He added: “Areas including Oakbank, Viewlands, Craigie, Kinnoull and Scone are particularly popular at the moment. “Buyers appear to be keen to buy in these areas due to schools, bus routes and access to services. The middle market between £100,000 and £250,000 is particularly active.” Mr McKay added that low mortgage rates appeared to be the driving factor. “There is every sign the Perth market will continue to remain active in these areas,” he said. PSPC manager Anne Begg said: “We are delighted to see, in black and white, the promising sales statistics from the first quarter of the year.” She said that although March had seen a boost, overall sales for the first part of 2015 were slightly down. “The good news is that the average price tag being achieved is ahead of this time last year. Values really are holding their own, which is promising for those considering selling up this spring.” Ms Begg said that people were queuing for the firm’s Help to Buy open morning. “With winter in the past, we’re seeing lots of evidence that countless people are ready to make a move,” she added.

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