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By Namerah S
Atari VCS pre-orders go live in Australia and New Zealand today
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
Atari's upcoming new hybrid gaming PC/console, the Atari VCS, is set to debut in the Australian and New Zealand regions later this year. Today the company announced that it has partnered up with Bluemouth Interactive for distribution purposes in these markets. Customers located in these areas will be glad to know that pre-orders for the VCS go live today.
Frédéric Chesnais, CEO of Atari, commented on the alliance with Bluemouth:
After a long and arduous journey featuring multiple delays and other issues, Atari finally announced a release window of fall 2020 for the VCS last month. An exact release is still missing from the picture, however, the upcoming gaming system's website states that orders in the U.S. will be delivered before December 24, 2020.
Today's updates contained in a press release shed more light on the matter, stating that the Atari VSC will launch in Australia and New Zealand in November 2020. Presumably, this applies to the U.S. as well, as it aligns with the previously disclosed information.
It must be noted that only the Atari VCS 800 with 8GB of RAM will be available in the Australian and New Zealand regions. As for the pricing details, they can be found below:
Atari VCS 800 Onyx Base version | AU$699.95/ NZ$749.95 Atari VCS Classic Joystick | AU$109.95/NZ$129.95 Atari VCS Modern Controller | AU$109.95/NZ$129.95 Atari VCS 800 All-In bundle (includes Classic Joystick and Modern Controller) | AU$849.95/NZ$899.95 Those who are interested in purchasing the hybrid PC/console and its accessories and are situated in either Australia or New Zealand may pre-purchase the items starting today. Orders can be placed through Bluemouth's online store or other participating retailers such as EB Games, JB HiFi, The Gamesmen, Catch.com.au and Mightape.co.nz.
Uber Pro now available to drivers in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Canada
by Paul Hill
Following the pilot of Uber Pro in some cities across the United States, Uber has announced that it’s rolling it out across the whole country as well as in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Uber Pro is a rewards program that offers drivers perks for the effort they put into their work, for example, drivers can save money on fuel, roadside assistance, dent repairs, and even get all of their tuition covered for Arizona State University Online (ASU Online).
Commenting on Uber Pro, Sunil Parekh, Senior Product Manager at Uber, said:
The expansion of Uber Pro is just the latest measure the company is taking to reward drivers’ efforts and ultimately help with day-to-day costs. Earlier this year, it launched the Summer of Rewards program which gives drivers cashback when they use their Uber Visa Debit Card to buy fuel. It also expanded its partnership with Fair earlier this month so that Uber Pro drivers can earn Fair Credits.
The newly added countries join India, Brazil, France, and Mexico where the scheme has already been launched to assist Uber drivers.
Study: Excessive phone use at uni linked to lower grades and mental health issues
by Paul Hill
A new study published last month (via BBC News) looked to see whether there was any association between excessive smartphone use and other offline consequences. The researchers from the University of Chicago, University of Cambridge, and the University of Minnesota found that excessive phone use was associated with mental health issues, lower grades, alcohol use, and an increase in sexual partners.
The researchers initially reached out to more than 9,000 people, but only 3,425 people answered the questions about smartphone use. Of those, 687 (20.1%) said they used their phone too much. They were more likely to be female, undergraduates, have lower grade point averages, and belong to fraternity/sorority houses.
In the results, the researchers found that alcohol usage was higher among the group of 687 with the link being described as “significantly associated.” While alcohol use was up, the researchers found that excessive phone use was not associated with any other drug problems.
With regards to sex, the researchers found out that those who use their phone excessively were significantly more likely to have had more sexual partners in the last 12 months. The study looked at each group and how many partners people in those groups have had in the last year, it found that those who use their phone more were more likely to have had two, three, four, or six or more partners than those with normal phone use.
As for mental health issues, those who use their phone more were found to have a higher score on the Barratt Impulsivity Scale, have poorer self-esteem, have higher rates of ADHD, PTSD, and worse anxiety and depressive symptoms. With that said, excessive phone use was not significantly associated with binge eating disorder or with taking prescribed medication.
The results of this study add to the growing amount of evidence that highlights the impact screens are having on people’s lives. The World Health Organisation, for example, has already begun recognising obsessive gaming as an illness.
Five Eyes reportedly targeted Yandex in late 2018 to spy on user accounts
by Paul Hill
The Russian search engine Yandex has reportedly been attacked by one or more Western intelligence agencies, possibly from the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and/or Canada, which make up the so-called ‘Five Eyes’. The attack, according to four people with insider information, said it took place in late 2018 and included rare malware called Regin which the hackers hoped to use in order to spy on user accounts hosted by Yandex.
Yandex has acknowledged the attack which took place between October and November 2018. Ilya Grabovsky, a spokesman at the firm, said:
When the attack was discovered, Yandex called in the Russian security company Kaspersky which learned that the attack was actually targeting several developers at Yandex. According to the sources, the infiltrators were trying to work out how Yandex authenticates user accounts so that they could impersonate users and gain access to private messages.
The Regin malware that was used was revealed to be a Five Eyes utility back in 2014 after The Intercept published information obtained from the former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden. The sources that spoke with Reuters claimed that the Regin code found on Yandex systems is newer than what has been used before which only increases the likelihood that Western nations are behind the attack.
If it is Western intelligence agencies or associated parties behind the attack, a conclusion deemed likely by Kaspersky's own private assessment, it’s doubtful that we’ll hear any more of the attack unless Yandex or Kaspersky are willing to share more details about what they’ve uncovered.
Kim Dotcom begins final appeal against extradition to the United States
by Paul Hill
Image via Kim Dotcom (Twitter) Kim Dotcom, the founder of MegaUpload, has begun his appeal this week in the New Zealand Supreme Court to overturn an extradition request which was granted back in 2015. Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, and Finn Batato, all former executives at MegaUpload, are all facing extradition to the U.S. following failed appeals to New Zealand’s High Court and Court of Appeal.
According to the FBI, which wants Dotcom extradited, the MegaUpload website earned its founder millions of dollars on the back of illegal file-sharing. On Monday, his lawyers argued that the site wasn't created in order to encourage breaches of copyright and Dotcom himself reiterated this stance via Twitter.
According to the BBC, if the Supreme Court upholds the extradition order then the final decision on whether to extradite the MegaUpload execs will be left to Andrew Little, the country’s Justice Minister. Should they get extradited to the U.S., the men could face long jail terms.
This appeal is just the latest episode in a saga that has been running since the FBI indicted Dotcom back in 2012 for allegedly knowing about copyright infringement on a mass scale, which, they allege, caused $500 million of losses for film and music producers.
Source: BBC News