People with disabilities want better tech and they know how to build it

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Eyes flickering along the alphabet, I can “type” my name without lifting a finger.

The sight-controlled keyboard following my gaze is being showcased by the Australian startup Psykinetic as part of the City of Sydney’s Unlimited Possibilities: Disability and Science Fiction Expo.

Nick Temple, a software engineer at Psykinetic, guides me through the process of calibrating the system. I explode red dots on a computer screen by concentrating my gaze, so the eye tracking system can get to know my habits. 

After that, I’m able to type short sentences in only tens of seconds.

More about Tech, Psykinetic, Remarkable, Disabilities, and Australia

Lawyer for Julian Assange’s accuser says he’s ‘violating’ her in the media

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Julian Assange on Wednesday released his account of the events that led to him being accused of rape in Sweden in 2010, earning the ire of the lawyer for his accuser, who said he was “violating” her client in the media.

From the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he remains confined, the WikiLeaks founder leaked the testimony he gave in November to Swedish prosecutors. 

In it, he declares he did not have sex with the woman as she slept — the centre of the accusations against him.

Swedish prosecutors are yet to charge Assange with a crime, and his testimony forms part of a preliminary investigation.  Read more…

More about Wikileaks, Sweden, Julian Assange, Australia, and World

If all goes to plan, Amazon might be the messiest tech story of 2017

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If the hype is to be believed, Amazon will be targeting Australia from Sept. 2017 with extreme prejudice.

“We are going to destroy the retail environment in Australia,” an Amazon staff member is reported to have said, according to the Australian Financial Review

As further indication of its intentions, there were numerous reports Wednesday the company has local trademarks pending across a variety of products, including its home assistant Amazon Echo.

While Australians can already shop on Amazon, spending about A$500 to A$700 million according to research published in August by Citi, international shipping rates and wait times can be a deterrent.  Read more…

More about Business, Online Retail, Catch Of The Day, Adore Beauty, and Ebay

The enduring cultural power of 2016’s #IndigenousDads hashtag

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Despite its critics, social activism was stronger than ever on Twitter in 2016. 

In Australia, hashtags like #blacklivesmatter, #letthemstay and #loveislove dominated according to Twitter’s own statistics, but the country’s #IndigenousDads movement also had lasting power.

On Aug. 6, people began sharing images of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fathers and grandfathers after a “racist” cartoon was published in The Australian newspaper, sending the grassroots hashtag trending. 

Drawn by Bill Leak, the cartoon came on the back of an ABC news program that exposed the horrific mistreatment of young people in the largely Indigenous juvenile detention centre, Don Dale, in Darwin. Read more…

More about Indigenous, Aboriginal Australia, Indigenousdads, Twitter, and Don Dale

Top YouTube clips of 2016 prove this country wishes it was the 51st state

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Australia did its part for the global monoculture in 2016.

The top 10 videos watched by the nation during the year were heavily American and heavily banal. The list, announced by YouTube Wednesday, was dominated by The Late Late Show with James Corden‘s infamous “Carpool Karaoke” segment. 

Corden’s clip with Adele topped the list overall, but Aussies could not get enough of the late night host belting tunes with Jennifer Lopez, Sia and First Lady Michelle Obama as well. Yeah, Sia is Australian, but barely.

The only two homegrown clips in the top 10 were by the comedy YouTube channel Superwog as well as radio station Triple J’s “Like a Version” cover session, which saw American artist, Halsey, cover an American singer, Justin Bieber. So, points for effort? Read more…

More about Youtube, Carpool Karaoke, Australia, and Social Media

Airbnb scams tripled in 2016, earning a consumer watchdog warning

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Where people go, scammers follow, so it’s no surprise to find the sharing economy being targeted.

Australia’s consumer watchdog issued a notice Monday, warning holiday-goers that scams relating to accommodation booking sites such as Airbnb are on the rise.

In fact, complaints about sharing economy cheats to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch have tripled since 2015. 

In 2016, there were more than 150 reports and A$80,000 reported lost, compared to A$65,000 last year.

ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard warned in a statement that scammers have a number of methods: They are likely to direct consumers away from the Airbnb site to make transactions, or create fake versions of the online platform as well as scam emails to steal personal information. Read more…

More about Trips, Sharing Economy, Accc, Airbnb, and Australia

Spidering lightning and red skies are the ominous weather 2016 deserves

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If you’re superstitious about the awfulness of 2016 (see Bowie, Prince, Cohen and Trump), one Australian state’s end-of-days weather over the weekend will only seem appropriate.

Saturday evening brought a spectacular clash of red sunset skies and spidering lightning to southeast Queensland, but also some danger: A teenager was hit by lightning and a number of homes were damaged, ABC reported.

That didn’t stop locals from capturing some impressive snaps and video of the light show, which they were kind enough to share on social media. Read more…

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Virtual reality aims to transport lonely patients out of the hospital bed

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Virtual reality may be struggling to crossover into the gaming mainstream, but doctors are excited about the role it could play in medical treatment and therapy.

In 2016, VR let clinicians step into a cancer cell, and now an immersive experience named Joy is being tested for its ability to alleviate loneliness among long-stay hospital patients.

Built by Australian VR company Liminal and commissioned by the health insurer Medibank, it aims to provide a comforting experience for those who are unable to leave their hospital bed. Read more…

More about Medical Vr, Liminal, Medibank, Virtual Reality, and Australia

What will Aussie politicians do this Xmas? Hang out at ‘Cheers,’ obviously.

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If this video is anything to go by, best to avoid Malcolm Turnbull this holiday season should you run into him in a bar. He’ll chew your ear off drunkenly complaining about the Labor party.

ABC’s Insiders has a doozy of a mashup to finish the year, adding Australia’s prime minister, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and other ministers to the bars from your favourite sitcoms and films. 

George Brandis is another sook to stay away from, no matter how much you’d like to hang out with the guys from The Big Lebowski. Only Barnaby Joyce looks like he’s having fun making drinks next to Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Read more…

More about Bill Shorten, Malcolm Turnbull, Cheers, Australia, and Watercooler

California sports teams tweet support and donate after fatal Oakland party fire

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Some of California’s major sports teams across football, baseball and basketball have pledged on Twitter to help the victims and families affected by a devastating fire that tore through an Oakland warehouse party Friday night, killing at least 9 people.

The Oakland Raiders said it would join Oakland Athletics to match donations up $30,000.

The NFL team also announced it would observe a moment of silence prior to its game against the Buffalo Bills at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Sunday.

We have teamed up with the @Athletics to aid those affected by Friday’s Oakland warehouse fire.

To help donate: https://t.co/MZjQOQlKA6 pic.twitter.com/DHXcEJ6SHe

— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) December 4, 2016 Read more…

More about Golden State Warriors, Oakland Warehouse Fire, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco Giants, and World