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+ - 2K, Australia's Last AAA Studio, Closes Its Doors->

beaverdownunder writes: 2K Australia, the Canberra studio that most recently developed Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, is closing its doors.

The entire studio is closing, and all staff members will lose their jobs. “All hands are gone,” said a source for Kotaku Australia.

2K Canberra was the last major AAA-style studio operating out of Australia. The costs of operating in Australia are apparently to blame for the decision.

This raises questions as to the viability of developing major video games in Australia.

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+ - Ask Slashdot: Best Strategies For Teaching Kids CS Skills?->

beaverdownunder writes: We're currently working on developing a teaching platform based around our BASIC interpreter DiscoRunner, and we would love to hear from Slashdot readers as to what methods they've used in the past to teach kids computer science concepts — which worked, what didn't, and why.

This will obviously be invaluable to us when it comes to working out the lessons that will be taught in our fight-to-save-the-world-from-evil learning environment, and we would be eternally grateful for any scraps of wisdom you could toss our way. =)

Thank you!

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+ - DiscoRunner Applesoft BASIC Interpreter Comes With Close To A Thousand Programs-> 1 1

beaverdownunder writes: DiscoRunner is a multi-dialect BASIC interpreter. Its initial release supports Integer and Floating Point (Applesoft) BASIC from the Apple II.

DiscoRunner is different from other BASIC interpreters in that it is 99.5% compatible with the original languages. It accomplishes this by heavily simulating the host hardware (the Apple II) almost to an emulator level without the drawbacks of running an actual emulator. For example, BASIC programs are saved as text files. We can also add new functionality, such as an editor, a navigable CATalog and a coloured LISTing mode.

The current release has hi- and low-resolution graphics support (rendered in 3D OpenGL) including shape table support, sound (via machine language sound routines), and basic 6502 emulation (primarily used for sound). It supports mouse and gamepad controls.

DiscoRunner comes with a library of close to a thousand classic programs to play, edit and muck around with.

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+ - Melbourne Uber Drivers Slapped With $1700 Fines; Service Shuts Down->

beaverdownunder writes: Will Uber succeed in Australia? It's looking a bit grim for the service: Victoria Australia's Taxi Directorate has begun a crackdown on Melbourne Uber drivers, fining them $1700 each for operating a taxi service illegally, with total fines apparently equalling over $50000. In response, Uber has shut down its Melbourne service, and has refused to comment on whether its drivers will be compensated, since Uber told them they were providing a legal service. (Fined Uber drivers could take the company to the state's consumer tribunal: stay tuned!)

Uber is set to meet with the Directorate next week but it is likely the demands the Directorate will place on Uber drivers, such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance, will make the service in Melbourne unviable.

Meanwhile, the New South Wales government is awaiting a report to determine if Uber drivers operating in that state are doing so illegally, warning that drivers could face substantial fines if they are found to have been operating in breach of the law. In South Australia, it doesn't even appear Uber will get off the ground — the state has made it clear that those who operate as an Uber driver will be driving without being covered by the state's mandatory insurance coverage, essentially de-registering their vehicle and making them liable for fines and license suspension.

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+ - Facebook Debuts New Gender Options, Pronoun Choices-> 1 1

beaverdownunder writes: Facebook has recognised it's a gender-diverse world — at least in the US.

In addition to Male or Female, Facebook now lets US users choose among some 50 additional options such as "transgender," "cisgender," "gender fluid," "intersex" and "neither."

Users also now have the ability to choose the pronoun they would like to be referred to publicly: he/his, she/her, or the gender-neutral they/their.
"When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self," Facebook said in a post on its Diversity page.

"An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just 'male' or 'female,' " the post continued. "So today, we're proud to offer a new custom gender option to help you better express your own identity on Facebook."

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+ - Snapchat Users Phone Numbers Exposed To Hackers->

beaverdownunder writes: From the Guardian:

Snapchat users’ phone numbers may be exposed to hackers due to an unresolved security vulnerability, according to a new report released by a group of Australian hackers.

Snapchat is a social media program that allows users to send pictures to each other that disappear within 10 seconds. Users can create profiles with detailed personal information and add friends that can view the photos a user shares.

But Gibson Security, a group of anonymous hackers from Australia, has published a new report with detailed coding that they say shows how a vulnerability can be exploited to reveal phone numbers of users, as well as their privacy settings.

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+ - Apple Misled Aussies On Consumer Rights->

beaverdownunder writes: Despite a 2011 law requiring retailers to provide a refund option for faulty goods, and free repairs to items reasonably expected to still function properly (this part of the law is intentionally ambiguous), Apple steadfastly stuck to its AppleCare program, denying warranty repairs to units more than one year old (without the purchase of an extension) and only offering replacement or credit for DOA items.

Apple has promised to compensate all Australian customers who were charged for repairs during the last two years, and make the terms of the law clear on the Australian Apple website. How this will affect company warranty policy is unclear — under the law, consumers could be entitled to repairs for the life of the product (barring damage, of course). What is the acceptable 'life' of an iPad? A MacBook?

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+ - Aussie Teacher Faces Child Pornography Charges Over Impersonating 13-Year Old->

beaverdownunder writes: An Adelaide teacher is facing sentencing over child pornography charges brought about after he impersonated a 13-year old girl in an on-line chat forum. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports: 'Grant Geoffrey Martin, 45, pleaded guilty to two charges of producing child pornography, one of them aggravated.

The District Court was told that between June last year and February this year, Martin pretended to be a teenage girl on an online child sex slave chat site and produced written pornographic material about children.'

"He told police he didn't know his actions constituted criminal activity. Clearly he understands the offending is serious but having said that it is not as serious as if he was possessing images of child victims," his lawyer said.

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+ - Sexist Presentations at Startup Competition Prompt TechCrunch Apology->

beaverdownunder writes: Silicon Valley technology conference organisers TechCrunch have been forced to apologise after two Australian men pitched a smartphone app called "Titstare" in front of a nine-year-old girl.

The Sydney duo's presentation had the mainly male audience laughing, but angered Twitter users and reignited a debate about sexism in the technology sector.

The two entrepreneurs — Jethro Batts, 28, and David Boulton, 24 — pitched their "tongue in cheek" idea at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on Sunday after winning expenses for the trip to the US in a similar competition, AngelHack Sydney.

In their pitch, Boulton explained to an audience of hundreds (plus thousands online) that it would allow users to "take photos of yourself, looking at tits".

"It's science my good friend, science," Boulton said.

TechCrunch also apologised for another pitch for a product called Circle Shake, in which a man simulated masturbation.

Additional article: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2013/09/titstare-tech-worlds-latest-brogrammer-joke-techcrunch-disrupt/69171/

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+ - Rolf Harris Charged With Nine Counts Of Indecent Assault Of A Child->

beaverdownunder writes: From the ABC (Australia): "Rolf Harris has been charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four counts of making indecent images of a child.

The charges come as a part of the British investigation prompted by the child sexual abuse allegations against late BBC TV star Jimmy Savile.

Six of the indecent assault charges relate to the alleged assault of a girl aged between 15 and 16 in the years 1980 and 1981, while the other three relate to the alleged assault of a 14-year-old girl in 1986.

The four alleged offences of making indecent images of a child occurred between March and July 2012.

Alison Saunders from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says evidence from the Metropolitan Police has been carefully considered."

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+ - Petition Calls On Twitter To Tackle Abuse After Rape Threats->

beaverdownunder writes: More than 40,000 people in the United Kingdom have signed a petition calling on Twitter to improve its procedures that allow users to report abuse.

Freelance journalist Caroline Criado-Perez started the petition after she was subjected to a barrage of online abuse over her role in a campaign to have women featured on British banknotes.

"Since the campaign won, the tenor of the tweets and the messages changed, and they became very, very violent and abusive," she said.

"They included rape threats and violent anatomical detailing of what various men wanted to do to me."

Ms Criado-Perez reported the matter to police and through Twitter's internal reporting system.

But Ms Criado-Perez says the answer she received from Twitter was not satisfactory.

"The response from Twitter being that, 'Oh well, look, there's this form that you can fill out', that's a really time-consuming process," she said.

"And if you're someone who's receiving about 50 rape threats an hour, it's just not practical to expect you to go and fill in this form for every single tweet.

"[Twitter] are on the side of the abusers, not the victims, and they really, really need to get on the side of the victims."

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+ - Aussie Telco Telstra Storing Data For US Government-> 1 1

beaverdownunder writes: Fairfax Media is reporting today that Australian telecommunications giant Telstra agreed more than a decade ago to store huge volumes of electronic communications it carried between Asia and America for potential surveillance by United States intelligence agencies.

Under the previously secret agreement, the telco was required to route all communications involving a US point of contact through a secure storage facility on US soil that was staffed exclusively by US citizens carrying a top-level security clearance.

The US Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation also demanded that Telstra "provide technical or other assistance to facilitate ... electronic surveillance".

The revelations come as the British and US governments reel from the leaking of sensitive intelligence material that has detailed a vast electronic spying apparatus being used against foreign nationals and their own citizens.

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+ - Melbourne Restauranteur Promotes Addition of 'Th' Key->

beaverdownunder writes: Melbourne restauranteur Paul Mathis has developed a one-character replacement for the word 'The' – effectively an upper-case "T" and a lower-case "h" bunched together so they share the upright stem – and an app that puts it in everyone's hand by allowing users to download an entirely new keyboard complete not just with his "Th" symbol, but also a row of keys containing the 10 or 15 (depending on the version) most frequently typed words in English.

Mathis has already copped criticism on Twitter (one correspondent called him "a crazy arsehole") from people who claim he is attempting to trademark a symbol that is part of the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet (pronounced "tshe", the letter represents the "ch" sound found in the word "chew").

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+ - Ecuador cools on Edward Snowden asylum as Assange frustration grows->

beaverdownunder writes: From the Guardian: The plan to spirit the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden to sanctuary in Latin America appeared to be unravelling on Friday, amid tension between Ecuador's government and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

President Rafael Correa halted an effort to help Snowden leave Russia amid concern Assange was usurping the role of the Ecuadoran government, according to leaked diplomatic correspondence published on Friday.

Amid signs Quito was cooling with Snowden and irritated with Assange, Correa declared invalid a temporary travel document which could have helped extract Snowden from his reported location in Moscow.

Correa declared that the safe conduct pass issued by Ecuador's London consul – in collaboration with Assange – was unauthorised, after other Ecuadorean diplomats privately said the WikiLeaks founder could be perceived as "running the show".

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