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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...

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.

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

Business news

Dundee software firm Waracle links success to airport route to London

April 8 2013

A Dundee software development company has won a major contract to create a medical testing app for one of the country’s leading universities and praised the invaluable business links offered by the city’s airport. Imperial College London has one of the largest medical faculties in the UK, and has now hired Waracle to create a mobile app that will revolutionise its medical testing programme. The app will match testing programmes with people based on their individual medical conditions, saving time and money and allowing those on the programmes to submit their responses electronically. Waracle already has a strong track record developing apps websites for leading companies and organisations, including NHS Scotland, the SFA and Sony Music. But the South Tay Street firm said the Riverside airport was crucial when it came to allowing Dundee companies to compete. Business development director David Romilly said: “We’re delighted to have been selected to work with Imperial College London, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, on a ground-breaking project which sees Waracle’s mobile and web technology deployed in the university’s Bioresource programme. “Having fended off competition from nine developers across the UK, including some of London’s biggest app development agencies, ICL chose to work with Waracle based on our significant track record and technical expertise. “Our approach differs to other developers in that we’re focused on the science of app development, using cutting-edge technology to constantly refine and optimise software based on hard data and user behaviour an approach favoured by ICL.” Mr Romilly added: “The Bioresource programme is a pioneering new project being spearheaded by Imperial College London that provides an extensive sampling framework for medical testing. “The programme invites participants to undergo a baseline medical test, and the participants are then matched with specific testing-programmes based upon their individual medical conditions. “Administering a programme of this scale via traditional, paper-based processes can be costly and time-consuming, which is why ICL have chosen to deploy mobile and web technology developed by Waracle to increase speed, efficiency and data security. “Imperial College London were extremely impressed with our track record in delivering mobile and web solutions to the NHS. Last year we developed a tablet survey application that saves the NHS time and money and is currently being used at NHS sites across Scotland. “The tablet app replaced an existing paper-based process with mobile, web and back-end technology designed and developed by Waracle right here in Dundee.” Mr Romilly added that despite the falling passenger numbers at Dundee Airport, its direct services to London City have been invaluable for Waracle. He said: “We often joke when pitching to clients down south that we can be in central London quicker than they can using the Dundee to London City flight. “It’s a real asset to our business and enables us, and other Dundee companies, to compete on a national level, bring in high-profile clients and expand our workforce in Dundee.”

UK & World

Plea postponed for man accused of PC Gordon Semple murder

June 29 2016

The plea has been postponed in the case of a man accused of strangling and dismembering a police officer he met on gay dating website Grindr. Italian Stefano Brizzi, 50, allegedly murdered 59-year-old PC Gordon Semple at his London flat some time between April 1 and April 7. Mr Semple was originally from Inverness in Scotland and had been with the Metropolitan Police for 30 years. He went missing on April 1 and his remains were discovered a week later after a neighbour alerted Scotland Yard to a "smell of death" coming from a property on the Peabody Estate in Southwark Street, south London. Recorder of London Nicholas Hilliard QC has already set a provisional date for Brizzi to face trial on October 18. The defendant appeared before the Old Bailey judge by video link from top-security Belmarsh prison. Wearing sunglasses and a white and beige tracksuit, he spoke only to confirm his name. Prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC asked for the plea hearing to be put back to September 9. Judge Hilliard agreed the new timetable and remanded Brizzi in custody until the next hearing.

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

Fife

St Andrews University in top 100

September 11 2013

St Andrews University is one of the top 100 in the world, according to a new international league table. Scotland’s oldest university is placed 83rd in the QS World University Rankings 2013/2014, its highest ever placing in the table published online at www.topuniversities.com. The top-ranked UK university is Cambridge, which has slipped down a place to third this year, behind Massachusetts Institute of Technology which was also first last year and Harvard, both leading US universities. Also in the top 10 were University College London in fourth place, Imperial College London in fifth, and Oxford in sixth. The other institutions in the top 10 were all in the United States. Edinburgh and King’s College London both moved up into the top 20 in 17th and 19th place respectively. St Andrews has shown one of the greatest improvements amongst UK universities in its standing in the annual global league table, moving up 10 places from last year. The university was rated particularly highly for the reputation of its arts and humanities faculty and its ability to attract the best international staff and students. This year, St Andrews was also ranked within the top 200 in the world for its quality of students, its academic reputation, number of academic citations and its reputation among employers. The largest and most extensive listings of its kind, the QS league table considers a range of factors including academic reputation, research strengths, citations, reputation amongst graduate employers and international influence. Principal and vice-chancellor Professor Louise Richardson said: “As we approach the culmination of our 600th anniversary celebrations, it is very encouraging to witness the university’s rise in international rankings.”

Readers' letters

Lies, damned lies and barrels of bad data

November 22 2013

Sir, I note your leader column (Tuesday’s Courier) about the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) report on Scotland’s economy. The report is a case of “bad data in” equals “bad data out” and bad conclusions. The IFS has used oil price projections from the UK Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), set up by Chancellor George Osborne, and, like the IFS, it is by no means neutral. It is staffed by City-trained and London-centric top-down, neo-classical, laissez-faire economists just likethe Treasury (HMT). The OBR and HMT have a reputation for forecasts that suit London’s short-term agenda by overestimating UK growth to help the Westminster Government and, in particular, underestimating North Sea oil prices. The other problem with using OBR data is that it forecasts Scottish oil and gas industry revenues by using what’s known in statistical analysis as an outlier, a statistical anomaly that is markedly different from others in a sample. Normally, when projecting economic data based on market prices, you would not use an outlier but a mean figure or one more representative of the whole sample. The OBR oil forecast is for an oil price of $98.00 per barrel but the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a well-respected multilateral financial organisation, takes data from the 28 most-developed economies in order to make projections and it is predicting an oil price of $190 per barrel in 2020. This means there is almost a $100 per barrel gap between outliers and instead of using a median figure, the IFS used the lowest outlier. Plug in the OECD upper outlier figure or the UK Government’s own Department of Environment and Climate Change’s forecast metric or the Scottish Government’s conservative projections and you get to a clear picture of Scotland as an economic powerhouse. Jim Duthie. 74b Gray Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee. Mr Salmond is no Mandela Sir, Dudley Treffry mentioned that independence served to create kleptomaniac leaders who served themselves, not their people (The Courier, 11/11). I lived and worked in South Africa, which during apartheid and afterwards was ruled by one political party both the white and black governments abused their power for their own benefit. President Nelson Mandela was a very special type of person who fully believed and practised reconciliation as far as possible. The ANC did not follow his lead. The SNP appears to be heading in the same direction. They have already overturned decisions made by local councils. A “yes” vote will see them with little opposition and they will soon forget any promises made. Mr Salmond does not have the attributes of President Mandela. Mike Wood. 10 Graham Court, Dundee. Clocking the difference Sir, Jack McKeown’s article on the swastika in The Courier (13/11) failed to mention one of the most important aspects of this symbol. There are two, distinct types of swastika: the holy symbol that has been used peacefully for centuries and the adapted version used by the Nazis. The former has outer legs which point in an anti-clockwise direction, while the Nazi version has outer legs which point clockwise. In the picture with the article, the swastika on the lad’s hand is the Nazi version. With this lack of appreciation of the difference between the two symbols it is possible that those who display the original version for peaceful or religious reasons may be vilified by those who are ignorant of the difference. Dave Forsyth. 112 Garvock Hill, Dunfermline. Long fall from hill to knoll Sir, It may surprise those raised on the Camelot myth but the news from Dallas 50 years ago tomorrow provoked a mixed reaction in the Californian college where I was astudent. Classes continued, after which I went surfing at Malibu and I only became aware of the reaction elsewhere in the US and in Europe when my father phoned from the UK. Before 24-hour news and the internet America was loosely connected but Californians were aware of JFK’s womanising, Marilyn Monroe and his father’s mob connections. Our student newspaper often mocked his oratory: a bombastic inauguration speech which led to the Cuban fiasco and his assurance to Berliners that he was a jam doughnut. The fact is his presidency was stalled, especially on civil rights, and my black pals were hoping for a future White House with Lyndon Johnson or Hubert Humphrey. But as occurred after the death of Princess Diana, television swept the nation up in a tsunami of maudlin nostalgia for a wholly illusory loss of hope and innocence. Dr John Cameron. 10 Howard Place, St Andrews.

News

Angry spat over future of Fife base RAF Leuchars

April 11 2011

A furious war of words has broken out in North East Fife, after Liberal Democrat candidate Iain Smith was accused of "blatant double standards." His SNP rival Rod Campbell hit out as the emotive issue of RAF Leuchars' future began to dominate the local campaign trail. Mr Campbell insisted the Lib Dem candidate had been "less than straight" with voters in a new campaign leaflet. "The latest Lib Dem leaflet tries to take credit for changes in taxation by reminding voters that the UK Government is a Tory/Lib Dem coalition," Mr Campbell said. "The changes in question were introduced by George Osborne in his recent Budget and Iain Smith seems happy in this case to be associated with the Conservatives in London. "However, right next to the article on taxation is one about the threat to RAF Leuchars. It posts Mr Smith as champion of the campaign to save the airbase. "Nowhere does this article recognise that it is the Lib Dem/Tory coalition that threatens Scottish defence facilities, not least RAF Leuchars. "When Iain Smith likes the actions of the London coalition, he claims credit for his party. "When it comes to RAF Leuchars, he pretends that he has nothing to do with Nick Clegg and the actions of the London government. However, Mr Smith was happy to laugh off the SNP missive. "This is typically laughable bluster from the SNP," he said. "Yes, thanks to the Liberal Democrats thousands of Fifers will pay no tax from this month and around 180,000 will have a tax cut and, yes, Sir Menzies Campbell MP and Ialong with members of the local community and the RAF Leuchars task forceare campaigning vigorously to save the base. "I am a campaigner for my community and RAF Leuchars is vital to our social fabric, local economy and defence of the UK. "The MoD have repeatedly said that no decisions have been made on the future of RAF bases, but that does not stop us from making the case for its retention. "Sadly, the SNP candidate has yet again undermined the efforts of those fighting hard to save the base."

UK & World

Social workers involved in St Helena child abuse inquiry take legal action

March 23 2018

Two social workers who say an inquiry report into allegations of child abuse on the British overseas territory of St Helena destroyed their professional reputations have taken legal action.Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama, who worked on St Helena and made cover-up allegations, have sued the Foreign Office and the senior barrister who led the inquiry.They say they “stand by the accuracy and honesty of their disclosures” and say conclusions were reached on the basis of an inquiry which was procedurally unfair.Lawyers representing ministers and inquiry chairman Sasha Wass QC dispute their claim and say the litigation should not proceed.A judge was on Friday considering issues in the case at a High Court hearing in London.Barrister Neil Sheldon, who is leading a legal team representing Foreign Office ministers, asked the judge, Master Victoria McCloud, to halt the litigation and dismiss the claim launched by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama.The inquiry had been set up by ministers following corruption and cover-up allegations which had been raised in newspaper articles and leaked documents and made by Ms Gannon and Martin Warsama.An inquiry report published in December 2015 concluded that: St Helena did not “attract sex tourism”; said allegations that the island in the South Atlantic was a “paedophiles’ paradise” were not true; reported “no corruption at all”; and found no evidence of any attempt by the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development, the St Helena government or police to cover up child abuse.The report said: “We stress that there was no ‘cover-up’ as alleged by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, rather an ignorance of proper safeguarding procedure.”Nicholas Bowen QC, who represents Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, told the judge the conclusions of the Wass Inquiry “destroyed” the professional reputations of his clients.He said the inquiry process was “procedurally” unfair and said Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama were entitled to “just satisfaction” for their loss.Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama say their claim should not be dismissed but say evidence should be analysed at a trial.

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