Volkswagen To Introduce iBeetle – iPhone-equipped Car

vw ibeetle

Volkswagen claims that its new vehicle, being showcased this  week in Shanghai and set to debut in 2014, will be the first to feature a fully  integrated iPhone. Available as a coupe or  as a convertible, the iBeetle was developed in partnership with Apple and as  such draws on the US technology firm’s design ethos as much as its smartphone  know-how.

As such, it can be ordered in shades of black, white or  silver, boasts specially conceived “disc” alloy wheels and features an  aluminium effect dashboard, where the iPhone will take pride of place in a  specially designed docking cradle that holds the handset in landscape mode.

Once connected, the iPhone’s and the Beetle’s interfaces become one thanks to  a specially developed Beetle app and the user can make calls, send emails and  text messages and access navigation as well as supplement the stereo system via  the iTunes music library.

The Beetle app puts Spotify front and center, allowing  users not only to stream tracks but also to share recommendations with friends  (hands-free, of course).

But the app also offers a number of unique features such as  ‘Expert,’ which turns the iPhone into part of the instrument  panel, displaying g-force generated in corners, oil and coolant temperature, a  stopwatch and a compass.

In ‘Trainer‘ mode, a driver can compare route history to see  average journey times and fuel economy. It also connects with Facebook and  Twitter to crowdsource advice and to share tips and tricks.

Using the ‘Postcard‘ setting within the Beetle app allows  the driver to send his or her current location to friends on social media  networks as a digital postcard complete with a map and a photo snapped by the  iPhone of the view from the driver’s seat.

The iBeetle and iBeetle convertible go on sale in Spring  2014 but Volkswagen will start taking orders in October, when it  is also expected to reveal pricing.

Volkswagen iBeetle

Cut Your Speed, Cut Your Petrol Bill

petrol

Slowing down is the easiest way to cut your petrol bill, and coupled with some simple techniques you could save hundreds.

There’s a very simple way to save money on petrol: slow down. A car speeding at 80mph uses 10% more fuel than one cruising at 70mph, according to the Department for Transport.

This week, Spain introduced a 110km per hour (68mph) limit on its motorways as part of a series of measures designed to cut petrol consumption in the country by more than 5%. Yet Britain seems to be heading in the opposite direction, with transport secretary Philip Hammond suggesting recently that our speed limit could be raised to 80mph to put the economy in the fast lane.

But while Clarkson-ite petrolheads might cheer a rise in speed limits, in practice British drivers are already taking their foot off the pedal to save cash. Of 15,000 drivers who took part in a recent AA survey, 59% said they would think about slowing down if it saved them money. During the last petrol price spike in 2008, average speeds on British motorways fell to 69mph from 70mph the year before, while the number exceeding the limit by more than 10mph fell even more. But once petrol prices eased back again, average speeds rose.

But you can drive at the same speed and still save on petrol by sticking to a few simple techniques, according to automotive engineer Anthony Sale of Powertrain.

• Avoid over-revving

Drivers typically let the revs run to 3,000 per minute on a petrol car and 2,500 on a diesel before moving up a gear, but Sale says we should be changing up when we hit 2,500 revs on a petrol and 2,000 on a diesel, and move into fifth (and sixth on new models) at the appropriate point.

Your engine may not sound as if it is labouring, but in reality speeds above 75mph-80mph are when your engine starts glugging gas. “At very high speeds engines will rev higher, the engine will have to work much harder and it will start to drink far more petrol,” Sale says.

In general, the economical band for petrol vehicles is between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm (for diesels it is between 1,300 rpm and 2,000 rpm), and these bands are the same for the vast majority of vehicles, Sale says. “The exception to the rules are vehicles which have either a very high or a very low power to weight ratio. If the engine has a lot of power but very little weight (for example, the 1.6l Mini diesel) then the revs can be kept closer to 1,600 or 1,700 rpm rather than going right to 2,000 rpm. Equally, if a low-powered engine is fitted to a heavy vehicle then it is likely that the engine will have to work much harder to move the mass of vehicle along, hence the need to rev the engine higher than the 2,500rpm top end of the band.

“It is important to remember that at whatever point you change gear you don’t want the engine to labour as you tread back in.”

• Acceleration and deceleration

“Stamping on the brakes and then accelerating hard is efficient driving’s worst enemy. An efficient driver is a smooth driver,” Sale says. If you have cruise control, try to use it whenever appropriate.”

There are times when you can cut your fuel usage to zero: by cruising in gear as you slow down to a junction or roundabout. Many drivers occasionally put the car into neutral and let it coast as it slows, which is a no-no. “Lifting off the throttle, rather than putting it in neutral, means you will use no fuel at all,” Sale says. It’s safer, too.

• Speed bumps

Braking hard, accelerating, then braking hard for the next speed bump means you drink petrol, Sale warns. Drive along speed-humped roads at a steady 15mph-20mph instead.

• Tyres

Over time, tyres will naturally leak a bit of air. The RAC says you can improve fuel consumption by up to 2% if you regularly check and maintain pressures. It’s safer, too: dozens of people a year die due to poorly-inflated tyres.

• Roof racks

A report by car manual maker Haynes says get rid of the rack – fully loaded it can add 30% to fuel consumption. But AutoExpress says that’s a myth. Its test found that those with aerodynamic designs added little to the fuel bill.

But reducing weight – for instance by clearing unnecessary items from the boot – will definitely make a difference, albeit small, to fuel consumption.

• Air con v open windows

At low speeds, such as driving around town, air conditioning can add 5%-7% to fuel costs, Sale says, so just wind the window down. At higher speeds the effects are less noticeable.

Radio/CD player

In a survey by BP, 10% of drivers thought that turning off the radio improved fuel consumption. It doesn’t.

• Engine size

Don’t assume smaller engines use less petrol. A big car with a 2l engine may use less than the same car with a 1.6l engine as it strains to pull a larger weight. On test, a people carrier with a small engine recorded worse fuel efficiency than one with a bigger engine.

• Petrol v diesel

In general diesels will use less fuel, but as they typically cost more to buy the savings aren’t always obvious. The Environmental Transport Association has a calculator on its website which gives you an indication of the costs of running on diesel, petrol, biodiesel, electric battery or fuel cells. Sale says: “I’ve driven diesels with dreadful fuel efficiency, and petrol cars that have excellent fuel efficiency.”

King Willem-Alexander Takes Dutch Throne

king willem alexander

Big crowds gather in Amsterdam for the abdication ceremony of Queen Beatrix, who is handing over power to her eldest son.

Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander has become Europe’s youngest monarch after his mother, Queen Beatrix, abdicated the throne.

Beatrix signed the official act of abdication in Amsterdam on Tuesday, making her eldest son Willem-Alexander the first Dutch king in more than 100 years.

The much-loved Beatrix ended her 33-year-reign as thousands of revellers dressed in orange cheered outside the Royal Palace in the Dutch capital and millions more watched on television.

Queen Beatrix and Prince Willem-Alexander
Queen Beatrix signs the instrument of abdication next to her son

With her abdication, she becomes Princess Beatrix and her son ascends the throne as King Willem-Alexander. He is the first Dutch king since Willem III died in 1890.

The 46-year-old father of three’s popular Argentine-born wife becomes Queen Maxima and their eldest daughter, Catharina-Amalia, becomes Princess Orange and first in line to the throne.

Willem-Alexander gripped his visibly emotional mother’s hand after they both signed the abdication document.

Beatrix, 75, announced her decision to relinquish the crown in January to make way for a new generation.

The handover is laden with constitutionally prescribed ceremony.

Signing of the abdication instrument
Beatrix signs over the throne to her son after 33 years

It began with the Queen signing the “instrument of abdication” at which point her 46-year-old son will become King Willem-Alexander.

The two then appeared together on a balcony of the Royal Palace on the city’s famous Dam Square and briefly addressed the crowd.

Then the investiture will be held before 2,000 guests in Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk, which also serves as a joint session of the two houses of the States General – the Dutch parliament.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be among those in the audience as the new king swears to be faithful to the Constitution and faithfully discharge the duties of his office.

Later in the afternoon the new king, together with his wife and their three daughters, will head a royal boat parade which will see a performance by the Dutch club DJ Armin van Buuren with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

On Monday night Queen Beatrix thanked the Dutch people in a televised address, where she urged them to support her son, whose wife Princess Maxima will be queen.

Beatrix said: “Now that my oldest son is to take over this fine and responsible job, it is my deep wish that the new royal couple will feel themselves supported by your loving trust.

“I am convinced that Willem-Alexander will apply himself with true devotion for everything a good king is obliged to do.”

She also praised her late husband, Prince Claus, who died in 2002, for teaching their children to be in tune with changes in society.

“Prince Claus brought our House (Of Orange) closer to this time,” she said.

“Possibly history will show that the choice of this husband was my best decision.”

Privatisation Of Royal Mail To Begin

Royal Mail postboxes

Business minister Michael Fallon has fired the starting gun on a £3bn privatisation of Royal Mail and described the sell-off as a “practical, logical, commercial decision”.

At least 10% of the shares will be handed to Royal Mail employees, but the government refused to say whether staff would get the shares free or at a discount.

“I strongly believe that employees should share in the company’s future success and dividends,” Fallon said in a speech to the Policy Exchange thinktank on Monday night. “And it is our intention to have such a scheme in place at the time we conduct a sale of Royal Mail.”

It will be the largest employee share scheme since the privatisation of British Gas 26 years ago. About 140,000 postmen and women and delivery office workers are expected to each collect shares worth about £1,500 on average.

The public will also be able to buy shares alongside banks and institutional investors. The government is likely to launch an advertising blitz along the lines of the “Tell Sid” campaign to encourage the sale of British Gas shares in 1986.

Fallon said that unless Royal Mail passed into private hands, it would not be able to access equity markets, without which “every £1 it borrows is another £1 on the national debt”.

The sell-off will formally begin on Tuesday with the government issuing tendering documents to banks to prepare for Royal Mail’s flotation on the London Stock Exchange before April 2014. It is the most ambitious sale of a state-owned business since the railways were privatised in the 1990s.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it was attracted to an initial public offering (IPO) flotation as “the preferred method of sale”, but Royal Mail could be sold to a trade buyer, sovereign wealth fund or private equity house.

Margaret Thatcher, who privatised British Gas, British Airways, British Telecom and dozens of other state-owned institutions in the 1980s, famously refused to countenance a sale of Royal Mail, saying she was “not prepared to have the Queen’s head privatised”.

But Fallon, Tory MP for Sevenoaks, said the government’s decision to go ahead with the sale of the 497-year-old postal service was “not based on ideology”.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said postal workers oppose privatisation, which “not even Thatcher dared do”. Billy Hayes, general secretary of the CWU, said: “Privatisation is an old-fashioned idea. We don’t believe it’s in the interests of customers, the workforce or the wider industry. We want a modern Royal Mail in full public ownership and able to deliver the universal service six days a week to all parts of the UK.”

He said postal workers would not “sell their soul” for a 10% stake in the company. “Postal workers up and down the country know there are no free lunches,” he said. “What they want is real money in their pockets. Postal workers know that privatisation would mean the break-up of the company, more job losses, worse terms and conditions and attacks on their pensions. It would be a wrecking ball to the industry they work in.”

Fallon promised that privatisation would not threaten Royal Mail’s pledge to deliver mail six days a week to villages as well as cities at the same prices (pdf).

“A change of ownership in Royal Mail will not mean that Royal Mail can stop delivering to rural areas,” he said. “Royal Mail will remain the UK’s designated universal postal service provider and must continue to provide a six-day-a-week service throughout the UK.”

A forerunner to Royal Mail was set up by Henry VIII in 1516. The General Post Office (GPO) was established in 1660 and adhesive postage stamps introduced in 1840.

Palace Seeks Chef To Cook Meals Fit For A Queen

queen elizabeth

Buckingham Palace is looking for a new sous chef to cook meals fit for a Queen.

The job, which is advertised on the official palace website, states that the chef will be based at Buckingham Palace, but must be able to travel to other Royal residences.

The applicant, if possible, should also have a “good understanding of kitchen French”.

And while the salary for the deputy chef role is only 23,000 pounds annually, there are other perks that come with the job.

“The post-holder has contact with members of the Royal family, their guests, all levels of household staff and employees at the private residences.

“From state banquets for 200 to lunches for two; and from canapé receptions for 800 to staff restaurant meals; our chefs prepare it all to the same exceptional standards,” the ad says.

Candidates are also required to have experience in “menu planning and development”, substantial experience from a five-star culinary establishment, previous experience of fine dining and a “good knowledge of classical French cuisine”.

And although applicants are expected to be “proficient in all four sections of the kitchen: larder, vegetable, sauce and pastry,” a former royal chef told The Daily Mail that the job does not just involve state banquets.

Darren McGrady said that when at home the 87-year-old Queen Elizabeth is a woman of simply tastes.

“Some of her favourite foods include Special K cereal, jam sandwiches and chocolate cake, he said.

Applications for the role close on May 10.

One World Trade Centre Completed

One World Trade Center rises above the lower Manhattan skyline

One World Trade Center. Installation of the 800-ton, 408ft spire began in December.

Construction workers were due to lift the last pieces of the One World Trade Center spire to the building’s roof on Monday.

When these pieces and a steel beacon are later put in place to cap the building, it will become the tallest in the western hemisphere  at 1,776ft.

Installation of the 800-ton, 408ft spire began in December, after 18 pieces were shipped from Canada and New Jersey. The spire will serve as a  broadcast antenna.

With the beacon at its peak to ward off aircraft, the spire will provide public transmission services for television and radio broadcast channels that were destroyed on 9/11, along with the Trade Center towers.

Overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the 104-floor high-rise is scheduled to open for business in 2014.

The tower is at the northwest corner of the site, which is well on its way to reconstruction with the 72-story 4 World Trade Center and other buildings.

The new tower’s crowning spire is a joint venture between the ADF Group engineering firm in Terrebonne, Quebec, and New York-based DCM Erectors, a steel contractor.

The world’s tallest building, the 2,700ft Burj Khalifa, is in Dubai.

How To Upgrade To Outlook.com

outlook upgrade

In just six months 60 million people either made the transition from Hotmail, or signed up for Outlook.com’s smart and powerful email experience.

Upgrade Hotmail to Outlook.com

If you use Hotmail, you can easily upgrade to Outlook.com and get the great new Outlook features – all while keeping your current address, contact list, and settings.

How? In the top right of your Hotmail inbox, click on ‘Options’ and then ‘Upgrade’. You’ll be instantly taken to your Outlook.com inbox with all of your current settings intact.

Getting an Outlook.com email address

Microsoft’s new Outlook.com email service has been designed to work seamlessly on the web and with Windows 8, Windows Phone and Office 2013..

Whether you’re a seasoned Hotmail user, or just keen to try out the modern email service that will (in-time) replace Hotmail – you’ll be pleased to learn Outlook.com takes care of both.

If you’ve never owned a Hotmail email account before and want to register a new Outlook.com email address then this is the option for you. Just visit Outlook.com and click the ‘Sign up’ button to begin.

How to set up an Outlook.com alias.

Got a Hotmail email address already?
If you’re already using Hotmail, SkyDrive, Xbox LIVE or have a Windows Phone you can do two things.

The first: create an Outlook.com alias so all mail sent to that address arrives in the inbox of your Hotmail account.
Second: rename your Hotmail account – this will change your existing @hotmail.com address to a new @outlook.com one.

How to create an Outlook.com alias

Using this method means that when using Outlook.com in your browser – you will be able to choose which address (so your original Hotmail address or the new Outlook.com alias) to send email from.

Creating an alias is easy, just visit this page. Once you’ve chosen your desired alias you can choose where you want mail is sent to when it arrives. For instance you can choose an existing folder (like your inbox) if you so wish.

You can’t sign in to your account with your alias; you’ll need to sign in with your original Hotmail address.

How to rename your Hotmail account

If you feel ready to say a tearful goodbye to your Hotmail.com email address just follow the following link (along with any prompts).

Renaming your Hotmail account means you will sign in with your new Outlook.com account from this point forward and all mobile devices will send email from the new address.

Most importantly: all of your email will automatically be redirected to your new Outlook.com email address.

For anybody using Windows 8, your new Outlook.com email address will become the log-in details for your Microsoft account.

Tobacco Display Ban In Large Shops Comes Into Force

display ban

A ban on the display of cigarettes and other tobacco products in large shops in Scotland has come into force.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said the move will help prevent young people from taking up smoking.

Under the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010, the sale of cigarettes from vending machines is also banned.

Stores that do not comply could be convicted of a criminal offence or receive a fixed penalty fine.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland have already brought in similar bans to prevent large stores from displaying cigarettes and tobacco.

The Scottish government’s Tobacco Control Strategy also supports the introduction of standardised packaging.

‘Right step’

Mr Matheson said: “These bans are the right step to prevent young people in Scotland from taking up smoking.

“It is well known that smoking is associated with a range of illness and is the primary preventable cause of ill health and premature death. Each year, tobacco use is associated with over 13,000 deaths and 56,000 hospital admissions in Scotland.

“That is why it is so important that this government works to improve health by reducing the number of people who choose to smoke and evidence shows that young people exposed to the promotion of tobacco are more likely to try smoking.”

The move has been welcomed by Cancer Research Scotland but the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA) – which represents more than 26,000 shopkeepers across the UK – has argued against the legislation.

And the Scottish Grocers’ Federation said it will mean longer transaction times at the till and confusion over pricing.

It also believes the new laws will not make any difference and that smokers will still smoke.

John Hammond, from the federation, told BBC Scotland: “We think it’s unnecessary. We don’t believe that displays of cigarettes behind the counter actually influences anyone to buy cigarettes.

“There is no doubt that smoking can be harmful but it’s a legal practice.

“We stock it, sell it, and will continue to do so.”

Large shops are defined as those with a relevant floor area exceeding 280 square metres.

Smaller retailers have until 6 April 2015 to comply with the display ban.

Smoking in vehicles

Meanwhile, a consultation on proposed legislation to ban smoking in vehicles when children are present is to be launched by Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume.

Mr Hume said such a ban has already gained support from a number of charities, including Children in Scotland and the British Heart Foundation.

The South of Scotland MSP will launch the consultation on proposals for his Members Bill next month.

He said banning adults from smoking in cars when children are present is the next step in tobacco control.

“Passive smoking is entirely avoidable and a private vehicle is one of the few places a child can still be legally exposed to tobacco smoke,” he said.

“I stand alongside the British Heart Foundation, British Lung Foundation, Children in Scotland and ASH Scotland, among many others, in seeking a change to the law and hope that people and organisations from across Scotland can take part in this important consultation.

“It doesn’t seem fair that any child should have to be trapped in a car which is filled with smoke. When you consider the real implications this can have for a child’s immediate and future health, it is clear we need to do what we can to protect children and give them the best start in life.”

Barack Obama Plays Daniel Day-Lewis Playing Barack Obama

The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is historically a chance for the US president to show off his lighter side, and Barack Obama has done so yet again, and showcased his acting skills to boot.

Two years ago Obama used the address to poke fun at Donald Trump and the “birthers”, claiming to have unearthed a video as conclusive proof of his origins … which turned out to be a clip from The Lion King.

This year it was again a movie that took centre stage with the president, riffing on Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln, in a clip with Steven Spielberg in which Obama played Day-Lewis playing himself.

Barack Obama as Daniel Day-Lewis (caption)

Barack Obama as Daniel Day-Lewis as Barack Obama.

Spielberg tells us Obama’s “already a lame duck” so makes perfect sense as the subject of his next movie: Obama. Obama, as Day-Lewis, says the “cosmetics were challenging” sending up his own ears, and illustrates his struggles with capturing the Ohio accent. The self-deprecating video was warmly received in hall.

The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is ostensibly a ceremony for honouring the press corps, but attracts A-list starts and has become a fixture for presidents showing a comic turn.

Barack Obama as Daniel Day-Lewis (ear)

Barack Obama as Daniel Day-Lewis on the difficulties of getting the ears right.

Obama closed by noting the nation’s recent tragedies in Massachusetts and Texas, praising Americans of all stripes from first responders to local journalists for serving the public good.

Saturday night’s banquet not far from the White House attracted the usual assortment of stars from Hollywood and beyond. Actors Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Claire Danes, who play government characters on series, were among the attendees, as was Korean entertainer Psy. Several cabinet members, governors and members of Congress were present. Late-night talk-show host Conan O’Brien headlined the event.

Some of Obama’s jokes came at his Republican rivals’ expense. He asked that the Republican’s minority outreach begin with him as a “trial run” and said he’d take his recent charm offensive with Republicans on the road, including to a book-burning event with Michele Bachmann.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson would have had better success getting Obama out of office if he simply offered the president $100m to drop out of last year’s race, Obama quipped.

And on the 2016 election, the president noted in self-referential irony that potential Republican candidate Marco Rubio wasn’t qualified because he hasn’t even served a full term in the Senate. Obama served less than four years of his six-year Senate term before he was elected president in 2008.

Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner

Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

The gala also was an opportunity for six journalists, including Associated Press White House correspondent Julie Pace, to be honoured for their coverage of the presidency and national issues.

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza won the Aldo Beckman award, which recognises excellence in the coverage of the presidency. Pace won the Merriman Smith award for a print journalist for coverage on deadline.

ABC’s Terry Moran was the winner of the broadcast Merriman Smith award for deadline reporting. Reporters Jim Morris, Chris Hamby and Ronnie Greene of the Centre for Public Integrity won the Edgar A Poe award for coverage of issues of national significance.

Amir Khan Nearly Wasted His Career By Enjoying Celebrity Lifestyle

amir khan

Amir Khan has revealed that his career nearly fizzled out after he became engrossed in the celebrity life style after moving to Los Angeles.

Khan has since ditched his LA base for the relaxed surroundings of Oakland, and he faces Julio Diaz in Sheffield this week as he bids to put together a title push.

But the light welterweight admits his career nearly slipped away after he put partying over boxing following his move to America.

‘If I had stayed in Los Angeles, I could have become a big-time Charlie,’ said Khan.

‘Normally I’m a very humble man, but when people come over and say there’s this party happening and people like you should be there, you think “wow”.

‘I went to parties and I’d be on the A-list with celebrities, but I used to go to the gym tired the next day.

‘I’m in a position where I cannot afford to lose again, I have to make a stand against doing certain things.’

Boxing - Amir Khan and All Boxers Weigh In - English Institute of Sport
Crunch clash: Khan is set to face Julio Diaz

A huge part of Khan’s turn around has been the decision to join Virgil Hunter’s gym where the setup is more personal and more one-to-one coaching goes on.

‘In the gym in Oakland, there’s just my trainer Virgil, his assistant and maybe two more and if you start doing something wrong Virgil will stop the session,’ revealed Khan.

‘He doesn’t care who is there, my dad or any other member of my team he will call a stop and say to me ‘“Look you are doing this wrong”.’

‘It’s so different to what I remember from the Wild Card. I’s be standing there just taking shots and no one ever asked why.’

Diaz is highly rated in America, and arrives in England five years after claiming the IBF world lightweight title, and Khan knows that he’ll be a tough test.

‘I get the impression that the Diaz camp thinks we have underestimated him.’

‘Nothing could be further from the truth.’