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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...

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.


Liam Fee trial: Court hears of ‘broken bones’ internet searches

May 13 2016

Mobile phones belonging to two women accused of murdering a Fife toddler were used to carry out internet searches on subjects such as "How do you die of a broken hip" and "How long can you live with a broken bone?", a jury has heard. Nyomi Fee and Rachel Trelfa's devices were used to run the Google searches on March 19, 2014, three days before two-year-old Liam Fee was found dead at a house in Fife, a murder trial was told. Trelfa's phone was also used to ask the search engine on another occasion: "Can wives be in prison together?," the jury heard. And a message from Fee's phone to Trelfa's mobile stated: "Kids should be drowned at birth to save problems, lol." The searches and messages were read out to the court by prosecutor Alex Prentice QC during the evidence of Evita O'Malley, a major crime analyst with Police Scotland. She was the final witness to give evidence for the Crown in the case against Trelfa, 31, and Fee, 28, at the High Court in Livingston. The civil partners deny murdering toddler Liam - who died on March 22, 2014 - and falsely blaming his death on another young boy. The pair - originally from Ryton, Tyne and Wear - also plead not guilty to a string of allegations of wilfully ill-treating and neglecting two other boys over a period of more than two years. Ms O'Malley, 38, told how she analysed the phones after they were surrendered to police by the accused. The court heard how Fee's phone had been used to search for the term "broken leg" on March 17, 2014. Two days later, searches were made on the mobile for terms such as "how do you die of a broken hip?", "how to prevent blood clots", and "broken hip in baby". Internet searches were also made under the terms "will a hip fracture heal on its own" and "hip brace for toddlers," jurors were told. On March 20 and 21 2014, questions asked during internet searches on the same phone included "can you refuse to be treated by a certain doctor?" and "can social services gain access to my house?", jurors were told. Analysis of Trelfa's phone showed it was used to carry out a Google search on March 18 that year for: "How long can a broken leg take to heal?" The following day, it searched online for: "How long can you live with a broken bone?". This internet search returned a web page entitled "Can you die from a broken bone?", jurors heard. By March 21, the day before Liam died, a search was carried out on the device for "Can wives be in prison together?", while another asked: "Can lesbians who are married hot (sic) to jail together?" The murder trial also heard about messages sent between the two devices. One from Fee's phone to Trelfa's stated: "Another few days and he'll crack without sleep and we'll be able to make progress." Another stated: "Bit lip, scratched eye, a bruise while he walked in door yesterday when I was on phone to you, lol. We knew it would bruise, it had to, lol. It's Liam now, graze on forehead and nose looks mighty fine, ha ha." Questioned by defence QC Brian McConnachie, for Trelfa, the witness agreed that the pair had handed over the phones to the police at the first opportunity when they were questioned as witnesses. The Crown has now formally closed its case. Mark Stewart QC, defending Fee, told the court some legal matters now require to be discussed. The jury in the trial, being held before judge Lord Burns, will return to court on Tuesday.

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

Gadgets & Games

Maciej has a go at creating the next Angry Birds

May 28 2011

Can pigs fly? An orphaned pig called Roger: The Flying Pig certainly wants to in a new mobile phone game by a student at Abertay University. Now on sale for iPhone, iPad and Android, Roger: The Flying Pig was created by Maciej Czekala in his spare time. Maciej, a masters student in games development, said, "Mobile phones are perfect for quick, fun games like this. Games like Angry Birds have been unbelievably popular because they can be played by anyone, and can be enjoyed for just a few minutes at a time." He added, "Angry Birds is definitely a big influence on anyone designing mobile phone games, because it's so incredibly well made. I decided to take my own unique slant on this new genre of physics-based games, and hope it will also be a big success." The game has been well received by users, with a series of five-star reviews on Apple's App Store. Maciej's tutor, Ken Fee, said, "We're certainly seeing a shift towards smaller, cheaper computer games, particularly on mobile phones. What Maciej has created is superb fun and really deserves to do well. "There are huge opportunities for individuals and small companies to take advantage of this new market, with people buying games in completely different ways to just a few years ago." He added, "Dundee, with the talented graduates coming out of Abertay University, has a fantastic chance to take advantage of this huge growth in mobile and social gaming. "Companies like Digital Goldfish, Outplay Entertainment and Tag Games in Dundee have great ambitions to be world leaders in mobile gaming, but there's also no reason why a big hit can't also come from one person, building a fun, little game in their own spare time exactly like Maciej." The professional masters in games development is an industry-focused postgraduate course in which students work in project teams as if they were running a small company.


MSP calls for more support for Dundee’s smartphone gaming industry

August 5 2011

Dundee's gaming industry must be given support to capitalise on the boom in smartphone use. New research published by communications regulator Ofcom has revealed more than one-quarter of adults in the UK (27%) and almost half of all teenagers (47%) now own a smartphone, such as an iPhone, Blackberry or Android device. As well as making calls, the phones can also be used to browse the internet and play games. Ofcom's research found that nearly half of all adult users (47%) have downloaded an app while 15% have paid for a game. Tech-savvy teenagers are even more likely to have paid for a downloaded game, with nearly one-third (32%) having paid for at least one. Dundee developers selling apps and games for smartphones are already cashing in on the growing demand. Dundee developer Tag Games has developed iPhone games based on Doctor Who and the recent Coen Brothers movie True Grit. Production manager Mark Williamson said, "It's quite clear that pretty much every device that people use now for their telephones has some kind of connectivity and the ability to play games and apps, so it is a growing market." Mr Williamson said that Tag has developed games for a range of platforms and this expertise will be vital as the smartphone market continues to expand. However, Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick said more government support is needed to support the games industry in the city. He said, "With more people using smartphones than ever, Dundee's digital media industry has a real opportunity to tap into this expanding market. "Typically, the investment required to create mobile-based media is significantly lower than for multi-platform console games, which allows ambitious entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in this industry. "However, these small businesses require support from the UK Government to expand and thrive in a competitive international market. "That is why I continue to press the UK Government to introduce a targeted games tax relief like that found in Canada and perhaps soon Ireland too. "This kind of relief already exists for the film industry and it is only right that games developers in Dundee are able to compete on a level playing field with their international competitors who enjoy significant government support."

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.


Public asked to help solve seal mystery in the Tay

April 2 2013

WALKERS ARE being urged to help solve the mystery of the Tay’s declining seal population. In the past decade, numbers of harbour seals, which are also known as common seals, have plummeted, promoting scientists at St Andrews University’s Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) to investigate why they are disappearing. One theory is that they are being killed by boat propellers. To get to the bottom of the mystery, the SMRU tagged a number of seals to monitor their movements. However, the tags have not been working properly. Seal tags are fitted with a mobile phone sim card to send back information, but this has malfunctioned. The SMRU is now asking members of the public to get in touch if they see a tagged seal so data can be recovered. Senior research scientist Callan Duck said: “If we can recover these tags, all that data is still being collected and we would be able to get all that information from them.” In recent years, seals have been washed ashore with strange corkscrew injuries, suggesting they had been fatally injured after coming into contact with propellers. The data on the tags could help scientistslike Mr Duck find out how the seals wereinjured. Harbour seals are not endangered but have declined in certain areas. Mr Duck said they are now becoming so scarce around the Tay and Eden Estuary there is a danger the local population could struggle to recover from further decline. Anyone who spots a tagged harbour seal on the banks of the Tay is asked to contact SMRU on 01334 463446. ENDS

Scottish Championship

Raith boss Gary Locke looking for on-field bonus from mealtime mobile ban

October 6 2016

Raith boss Gary Locke admits it’s good to talk – as long as his players and staff aren’t doing so on their mobiles. Hibs manager Neil Lennon admitted recently that he will fine a player a week’s wages if he catches them using a phone when they are at training. Locke has steered clear of such draconian punishments but he firmly believes that Raith will reap the benefits of his players talking to each other during mealtimes at their Glenrothes training base, instead of spending time immersed in their mobiles. That is a measure that has also been introduced by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, with the Spaniard keen for his players to communicate with each other when they are at the club. Locke said: "I don't ban mobile phones because it's the way of the world these days, but during breakfast and lunch they don't use them. "I'd rather see them talking to each other. "It's a pet hate of mine – you see youngsters these days and there's maybe five of them sitting at a table and they're all looking at their mobile phones. "I'd rather they came in in the morning and interacted with each other. They can ask each other whatever they want about what they've been up to the night before – as long as they're talking. "The modern-day youngster is quiet and I'd rather see them coming in and having a bit of banter with each other than having their eyes glued to their phones. The same goes for the staff. "I'm quite happy after they’ve had their breakfast and their lunch if they need to get on their phone, as long as it's something important, I've not got a problem with that.” Locke insisted that greater communication off the park can only help his players when they are on it. He added: "Whilst they're in here, they're here to work – they're not here to muck about on their phone. "Without a doubt that can help on the pitch and it helps in training as well. "We go on about it every day – it's all very well coaching players but they've got to talk. It's a huge part of the game, simple wee things like shouting, 'man on', 'time', 'turn'. "That is more important than some of the things we work on every single day. "For me, it's important for team spirit that they come in and have a bit of banter with each other. "The boys here are a great bunch and they all get on well with each other. I've been there myself – if you've got a good team spirit, then you have a chance.”


Fife Council offers new pay-by-text service

April 9 2012

Fife Council has put a new payment option at people's fingertips. The local authority has introduced a text message service allowing people to pay their council tax bill by mobile phone. Financial services manager Joy Mackenzie said: "The cheapest way for us to collect council tax is by direct debit. But we also recognise that for some of our customers this isn't an option. ''So, with the increase in mobile phone use and improvements in technology, which now guarantees safe and secure transactions over a mobile phone, we decided to introduce a pay by text service. ''It's still a lot cheaper for us to collect council tax this way compared to doing it over the phone or by post and we think there will be customers who will find this a quicker, easier and more convenient way to pay.'' Anyone wanting to register should visit www.fifedirect.org.uk/ctaxtextpay for more information. In the financial year 2010-2011, Fife posted a council tax collection rate of 93.8%, below the national average of 94.6%.