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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...

Business news

Scots firms ready to grab opportunities at Mobile World Congress

February 25 2012

Four digital media firms from Tayside and Fife will be thrust into the limelight next week at the world's largest trade event for mobile and wireless technology. A contingent of 21 Scottish companies are attending the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona a show that attracts more than 60,000 delegates including representatives of the world's leading technology firms with the support of Scottish Development International. Developers Outplay Entertainment, TAG Games and Yoyo Games of Dundee will all be showcasing their latest developments along with Dunfermline-based Zendit, a company which provides a platform for multi-channel internet applications. Yoyo Games founder Sandy Duncan, a former vice-president of XBOX Europe who worked with Microsoft for 17 years, said it was essential that Scotland's digital gaming talent found the global recognition it deserves. He said his company had picked up work at a recent trade fair in Hamburg and he was flying out to the Games Developer Conference in San Francisco immediately after the Spanish conference where Yoyo was to be an exhibitor for the first time. He said: ''The best-kept secret within the games industry is how prominent the games industry is within Scotland. I met with a guy this week who sold his company to AOL (America Online) for £100m and he asked what we were doing in Dundee. ''I had to explain to him that Dundee was full of games people. Conferences help to explain to people that Scotland is pretty much the centre of British games industry.'' Among the major companies that will be at MWC next week are Qualcomm Ventures, HTC, Nokia, Orange, Microsoft and Intel Capital. SDI chief executive Anne MacColl said: ''We know the skills, innovation and expertise Scotland has in mobile technology are world-leading. ''The Mobile World Congress is an unparalleled opportunity for our companies to showcase their products and innovations to a global audience. ''The agility of our companies in this sector, their knowledge of the market and creativity and innovation, means they are ideally placed to maximise the global opportunities that this event represents to create new connections and develop new deals.'' The Scottish companies will also link with members of the GlobalScot network from companies such as Juniper Networks, Panasonic and Telefonica 02 Europe who will be on hand to provide advice, support and connections. Alasdair Gunn, project director for Scottish Enterprise's Interactive Scotland, said: ''The transformations created by social media, mobile commerce and social gaming are disrupting traditional mobile and internet business models as well as creating a wealth of new business opportunities. ''Scottish Digital Media and Creative companies have recognised that this presents exciting new market opportunities for their business and it's great to see the global interest Scottish companies are receiving from many of the world's leading players.'' Photo PA

Retro phones and cutting edge cameras on show as Mobile World Congress opens

February 25 2018

Cutting edge technology mixed with retro gadgets as the first phones of Mobile World Congress (MWC) were announced in Barcelona.Korean phone giant Samsung unveiled their new Galaxy S9 and S9+ devices, direct rivals to the iPhone X that come with high-powered cameras and a personalised emoji creator tool called AR Emoji.But a phone originally from 1996 was also among the talking points as Nokia announced a revamped 4G version of the 8110.The phone, which is curved to follow the shape of the face and gained prominence after appearing in the original Matrix film, also comes with a slider that reveals the keypad as well as answers calls.The unveilings were among several made ahead of the opening of the annual tech show in Barcelona on Monday, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors and is the setting for hundreds of phone launches.Nokia, whose phones are now licensed by Finnish firm HMD Global, released an updated version of its classic 3310 at MWC last year, and the company’s return to nostalgia again was praised by experts.Analyst Ben Wood from CCS Insight said: “In a sea of smartphone sameness it is little surprise that consumers get excited by a little bit of nostalgia.“It’s a smart move by HMD Global to add to its retro line with the addition of the new 8110. The 3110 was a huge success last year and helped return the Nokia brand to consumers’ consciousness in a spectacular manner.“Given the 8110 is another phone that is fondly remembered, particularly because of its appearance in The Matrix films, HMD Global will be hoping it will have a similarly positive effect on the awareness of Nokia branded phones.”The powerful new cameras on Samsung’s S9 and S9+ flagship phones include a feature called dual aperture to take better photos in low light as well as during the day, while the phones will also feature AR Emoji – an emoji creator tool designed to rival the iPhone X’s Animoji.Mr Wood said Samsung’s focus on the small details of their camera showed how competitive the smartphone market now was.“The S9 and S9 Plus are all about incremental gains over the S8. This is potentially a tough sell for Samsung but the real goal of the S9 is making an already good product even better as Samsung takes the fight to Apple,” he said.“The S9 underlines the dilemma all leading smartphone makers are facing. Innovation in smartphones has plateaued and now it is all about marginal gains, be that screen technology, camera features and processing power.”On Monday morning, Sony is expected to unveil its own latest flagship smartphone, while Taiwanese firm Asus will do the same on Tuesday.Fellow smartphone giant Huawei is withholding the announcement of their next phone until next month, however the Chinese firm has launched a new premium Windows laptop and a new line of tablets ahead of the show.

Samsung’s new flagship phones expected to headline Mobile World Congress

February 24 2018

Samsung, Sony and Nokia will be among the tech giants revealing new smartphones when Mobile World Congress (MWC) opens on Monday in Barcelona.The annual trade show is one of the biggest mobile industry events of the year and this year is expected to see Korean giant Samsung unveil its latest flagship devices, the Galaxy S9 and S9+.Sony Mobile and Nokia, whose phones are now launched under licence by Finnish start-up HMD Global, are among the other big names expected to unveil new smartphones.Last year, Nokia announced an updated version of the 3310 – a phone first released in 2000 – among its range of new devices. The firm will reveal a series of updates to its line-up at this year’s event.Samsung’s new device will be the company’s first response since the launch of the iPhone X in November, and the Korean firm has already teased a focus on redesigning the camera on its flagship phone. The company’s Unpacked event, where the phone is set to be revealed, has the tagline “The Camera. Reimagined”.Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, said rumours of dual rear cameras and other design changes would excite consumers.“With the launch of Samsung’s latest flagship devices, it would seem incremental advances, not out-and-out innovation, could be the name of the game,” he said.“The teased dual cameras on the plus will no doubt please budding snappers, but for many the best change would be the decision to ‘stack’ the fingerprint ID below the cameras – and kill the scourge of sticky lenses once and for all.“While the camera itself is unlikely to improve massively to the casual observer, the expected inclusion of super slo-mo mode for videos would see Samsung going toe-to-toe with Sony.” Mr Bhikha said the rising price of flagship smartphones from the likes of Samsung and Apple – whose iPhone X starts at £999 – could leave the door open for lesser known manufacturers to gain market share.“The price point is critical now though. If the rumours are to be believed, the S9 could be as much as £100 more than its predecessor – and that’s before we’ve even mentioned the potentially bigger price tag of the S9+.“Samsung and Apple have been nudging the price of flagships upwards, and while this is unlikely to hit appetite too hard, they are creating space in the £400-£600 price range for high-spec underdog devices with what might be, for some, a much more compelling price tag.”Many firms hoping to occupy that space will be among the more than 2,000 exhibitors at the convention.More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the four-day event, which will also feature demonstrations on virtual reality, smart home devices and driverless cars.

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


US finds ‘fiscal cliff’ deal but more cuts on way

January 3 2013

A LAST-MINUTE deal to avoid the US “fiscal cliff” sent world stocks climbing yesterday but did not solve the massive budget deficit, meaning other battles on deep spending cuts are looming. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 1.8% as US markets opened. A smiling President Barack Obama said he would sign the law “that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans while preventing tax hikes that could have sent the economy back into recession.” Then he left for Hawaii to resume his holiday. The deal that squeezed through a sharply divided Congress just hours before most financial markets reopened from the New Year’s holiday keeps income taxes from rising on the middle class and the poor, but it puts off major decisions on more than 100 billion dollars in defence and domestic spending cuts. Congress also will have to act as early as next month on raising the $16.4 trillion federal borrowing limit, which will allow the country to pay its bills. “If Congress refuses to give the United States government the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff,” Mr Obama said. That means more potential drama ahead for those who have marvelled at the inability of US leaders to address chronic deficit spending. Mr Obama warned that he will “not have another debate with this Congress” on the debt ceiling. The make-up of Congress changes today, when dozens of new members are seated. If the fiscal deal had not been reached by then, the new Congress would have had to start over again and Americans would have faced automatic spending cuts and tax increases of more than $500bn this year alone. The fiscal cliff, with its January 1 deadline, was put in place in 2011 as motivation for the Obama administration and Congress to find ways to reduce the deficit. The deal passed a final hurdle when the House of Representatives passed it, despite loud protests from conservativeRepublicans who hate the idea of raising taxes. They wanted to see more spending cuts in the agreement. “I’m embarrassed for this generation. Future generations deserve better,” said Republican opponent Louie Gohmert. The deal put off the issue of spending cuts.

Angus & The Mearns

Gingerbread tribute to the Wee Red Town

October 14 2013

When Libby Jones was invited by Bank Street Gallery owner Susie Clark to exhibit at her gallery in Kirriemuir, she became intrigued by the history of the town. As well as Kirriemuir’s most famous son and Peter Pan author JM Barrie, she discovered the town had also been home for a time to AC/DC singer Bon Scott, Victorian mountaineer Hugh Munro, and 19th century writer Violet Jacob. She found the town had been a hotbed of witchcraft in the 16th century and is also world famous for its gingerbread and decided to combine all these elements. Ms Jones went on to craft a boxed set of prints, which also doubles as a card game. She said: “This tongue-in-cheek edition of 10 boxes, of 20 cards per box, features Kirriemuir characters presented on a slice of gingerbread on a plate. I have also made a poster featuring all the 10 characters in the game.” Visitors can see images of Edinburgh Castle with fireworks, wildlife such as gannets, and artwork made after a visit to Antarctica. Londoner and master printmaker Ms Jones exhibited work from her sub-zero stay at a Discovery Point exhibition in Dundee last year. Children can see her work Cooking the Climate, a comment on global warming, which consists of a microwave oven and slideshow with rotating polar animals. There is also a fossilised mobile phone in a second installation, Fossils of the Anthropocene an exploration of the traces that might remain of civilisation in 50 million years’ time. She is also exhibiting a selection of her woodcuts, linocuts, collagraphs and screenprints at the gallery. The exhibition runs until November 8 and opening hours can be found on www.bankstreetgallery.org, or by telephoning 01575 570070.

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.


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.

What is your child texting about? 10 re-imaginings of classic modern acronyms

January 30 2018

The abbreviations of text conversation can seem like nonsense to older generations, so it was only a matter of time until they were made into something even more baffling – a meme.In an intoxicating cocktail of 21st century language, the Twitter trend sees users re-imagining the meanings of acronyms such as “LOL” and “TTYL” for specific topics ranging from politics to Pokemon. So, what’s your child texting about? You’ll probably be more confused than ever after this.1. Classical Greek literature2. Olive Garden3. US Congress4. Transformers5. The Lord of the Rings6. Intersectional feminism7. Charles Dickens8. That Tide Pod trend9. Pokemon10. Linguistics