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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...

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

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.

UK & World

Businessman in ‘right to be forgotten’ fight with Google waits for ruling

March 7 2018

A businessman who wants Google to stop linking his name to internet media reports about a past crime is waiting to hear whether he has won an historic High Court fight.The man was convicted of “tax fraud” in the late 1990s and his case was reported in the media, a judge has been told.He says his conviction is legally “spent” and he has a “right to be forgotten”. Google bosses dispute his claims.Mr Justice Warby on Wednesday finished analysing evidence at a High Court trial in London which began last week. Barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC, who heads the businessman’s legal team, told the judge: “All he is doing is making a simple, straightforward request for some old material to be taken off the internet.”He said the information at the centre of the case was “spent” under legislation relating to the rehabilitation of offenders and had become “private”.“Google have simply failed to grapple with the importance of rehabilitation,” he said.“Mr Google having decided that his view of public policy is to be preferred.”He told the judge: “The whole point of the right to be forgotten is that in appropriate cases true information deserves to be forgotten.”Barrister Antony White QC, who is leading Google’s legal team, has told Mr Justice Warby that Google had “declined to delist”.Google bosses say the information is accurate and reports about “business malpractice” are likely to be of continuing relevance.They say the businessman plays a role in public life because he is a businessman and there may be investors who “want to know”.Mr Justice Warby is next week expected to analyse a similar case involving a second businessman.He says he will produce a ruling covering both cases on a date yet to be fixed.

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

Cross-party group loses bid to secure legal ruling on Brexit

February 6 2018

A cross-party group of parliamentarians has lost an early-stage bid to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.Seven politicians from four parties, not including the Conservatives, believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally halt the Brexit process if the final deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They claim this offers a third option instead of Britain having to choose between a bad deal on the UK’s future relationship with Europe or crashing out of the EU with no deal.The group is ultimately seeking a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be revoked by the UK on its own, without first securing the consent of the other 27 EU member states.Their legal team went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week to ask a judge to refer the question to the Luxembourg court.On Tuesday, judge Lord Doherty refused to move the case to a full hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court, saying the issue is “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.The politicians have a right to appeal against the decision to the Inner House of the Court of Session.The seven elected representatives who launched the case are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and Joanna Cherry QC MP of the SNP, Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine. None were present in court as the judge issued his decision.Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome.“However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion, the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect.“In my view, the Government’s stated policy is very clear. It is that the notification under Article 50(2) will not be withdrawn.”He went on: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”The judge concluded: “I am not satisfied that the application has a real prospect of success … Permission to proceed is refused.”The legal action was launched following a crowdfunding campaign and is backed by the Good Law Project.Project director Jo Maugham QC tweeted after the hearing: “It’s plainly in the national interest that MPs, MEPs and MSPs, who face a choice whether to approve Theresa May’s deal, know what options are open to them if they don’t.“I will support an appeal against this decision – to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

UK & World

Yahoo! says “state-sponsored actor” behind massive user data breach

September 23 2016

Internet giant Yahoo has admitted a data breach that involved the theft of information from at least 500 million user accounts. The company said on Thursday that it believed a "state-sponsored actor" stole information including names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. An investigation is still continuing into the breach, which Yahoo said happened in late 2014. The company said that the stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information, which is not stored in the system that was targeted. A statement released by Yahoo added: "The investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is currently in Yahoo's network. Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter." Yahoo said it is notifying any potentially affected users and asking any users that have not changed their passwords in the last two years to do so. A list of security tips published on the company's Tumblr platform on Thursday read: "Change your password and security questions and answers for any other accounts on which you used the same or similar information used for your Yahoo account. "Review your accounts for suspicious activity. "Be cautious of any unsolicited communications that ask for your personal information or refer you to a web page asking for personal information. "Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails." Bob Lord, Yahoo's chief information security officer (CISO), said: "An increasingly connected world has come with increasingly sophisticated threats. Industry, government and users are constantly in the crosshairs of adversaries. "Through strategic proactive detection initiatives and active response to unauthorised access of accounts, Yahoo will continue to strive to stay ahead of these ever-evolving online threats and to keep our users and our platforms secure." Network security company NSFocus said that the Yahoo breach had been originally reported in 2012, but that the numbers of users affected had been significantly underestimated. Stephen Gates, chief research intelligence analyst at NSFocus, said: "In 2012, the number of potentially compromised user credentials was estimated to be around 450,000. "However, the hacker known as Peace is claiming to have up to 500 million user credentials he/she is now attempting to sell online." He echoed Yahoo's advice for users to change their passwords and added that companies must also take further measures to protect user data. "Enterprises must first assess what hackers would likely want to steal from them," he said. "Once identified, enterprises must use all measures at their disposal to protect that data - at all costs." Other organisations have commented on the effect the breach could have on Yahoo's impending takeover by US telecoms company Verizon. The firm announced in July that it would be buying Yahoo's operating business - including its search and email services and news pages - for 4.83 billion US dollars (£3.7 billion). Mark James, of internet security company ESET, said: "As Verizon are about to buy Yahoo, they will have to consider the backlash of future issues with compromised account data." Others say that the breach draws attention to outdated security systems across other websites. Brian Spector, chief executive of Miracl, said: "The underlying issue is that the username and password system is old technology that is not up to the standard required to secure the deep information and private services that we as individuals store and access online today. "By contrast, new, secure methods of multi-factor authentication can provide much stronger security, and make database hacks, password reuse, browser attacks and social engineering a thing of the past."

UK & World

Teenager faces sentencing over Cardiff terror attack plan

March 2 2018

A 17-year-old boy who threatened to carry out an Islamic State-inspired vehicle attack in Cardiff will be sentenced on Friday.The teenager, from the Rhondda Cynon Taf area of South Wales, was arrested at his home  in June last year, hours after searching the internet for details of security at a Justin Bieber concert being held at the Principality Stadium.Jurors convicted the youth of preparing for terrorist acts after a nine-day trial at Birmingham Crown Court last November.The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, was also convicted of two counts of encouraging terrorism by posting extremist material on Instagram, and two charges of possessing Isis propaganda magazines.Jurors were told the teenager, from a white British background, hid a hammer and knife in his school bag and wrote a “martyrdom letter” after being radicalised online.At the start of the trial it emerged that the boy had written a note apparently aimed for distribution after his death reading: “I am a soldier of the Islamic State and I have attacked Cardiff today because your government keep on bombing targets in Syria and Iraq.“There will be more attacks in the future.”Cardiff’s Castle quarter was among the areas researched by the boy using Google maps, while other searches sought details of a shopping centre, the city’s Central Library and the New Theatre.After the boy was remanded in custody following his conviction on November 27 last year, Sue Hemming, from the CPS said: “This teenager’s behaviour over many months leaves no doubt that he intended to kill and maim as many people as possible in an attack reminiscent of the incident on Westminster Bridge.“He was also posting extremist content online that could have encouraged others to commit terrorist acts and downloading instructions on how to carry out ‘lone wolf’ attacks.”The boy will be sentenced by Judge Mark Wall QC, who has warned that the offences obviously merit a significant custodial sentence.

UK & World

‘You should have twice your salary saved by age 35’ is now a bona fide meme

May 22 2018

Memes are often born in the strangest circumstances and there’s one currently taking the internet by storm that was inspired by some personal finance advice. For those who missed it, two weeks ago finance news website MarketWatch shared an article on Twitter about how people should have saved twice their salaries by the time they are 35. The post was originally written in January but it took some time for the internet to get wind of it. And of course, many went into panic mode. But as the dust settled on what many believed was an unattainable target, the internet came up with its own (totally achievable and occasionally bordering on ridiculous) goals. And so the “By 35” meme was born. And finally, if nothing else works…

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