First time accepted submitter NewtonBoxers writes "Considering the amount of time most of us spend at work, it's surprising how few novels are set in the workplace and base their plot on the goings-on there. Perhaps, having spent a long day slaving in the corporate salt mines, many of us would rather forget about such humdrum matters and take refuge in books that offer us more excitement. Others, though, seem to enjoy the humor that can derive from the very things that drive us mad – management incompetence, byzantine procedures, pointless meetings... in short the stuff of everyday office life. We read Dilbert, we watch The Office, and we could do a lot worse than read Augustus Gump's very funny second novel, The Rise and Fall of T. John Dick. " Read on for the rest of NewtonBoxers's review.
Andy Prough writes "Apparently those wise folks at Fox have figured out America's reluctance to invest as much money in solar energy as Germany — the Germans simply have more sun! Well, as Will Oremus from Slate points out, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Solar Resource map comparison of the U.S. and Germany, nothing could be further from the truth — Germany receives as much sunlight as the least lit U.S. state — Alaska."
tad001 writes "CNET is reporting 'Discovered last night within a freshly jailbroken iPad: a set of buttons and code references for "radio," a feature found in iTunes on Macs and PCs, but not on the iPad or iPhone.' ... 'The buttons hint at Apple's much-rumored radio service, a product that will let people stream music much like they do on the popular Pandora service, but with deep ties to Apple's iTunes library.' ... 'The discovery follows a high-profile jailbreak of iOS 6.1, the updated system software Apple released just last week. A team of developers came up with a tool that gives users deep system-level access to do things like install applications from third-party app stores, change the look and feel of iOS, and add new software features.'"
jfruh writes "The MPAA and other entertainment industry groups have been locked for years in a legal struggle against Newzbin2, a Usenet-indexing site. Since Newzbin2 profited from making it easier for users to find pirated movies online, the MPAA contends they can sue to take those profits on behalf of members who produced that content in the first place. But a British court has rejected that argument."
LordStormes writes "JJ Abrams, who apparently plans to direct every movie for the rest of time, is teaming with Gabe Newell and Valve to explore films for both the Half-Life and Portal franchises. 'Abrams and Newell made the surprise, succinct announcement at the end of their keynote speech, which took the form of a carefully rehearsed discussion between the two creatives about the strengths and weaknesses of games and movies as storytelling mediums. ... "Movies let you experience moments that you might not think are the point, but really are everything,” Abrams said, pointing to the early introduction of compressed air canisters in the opening scenes of the movie Jaws, which initially seem unimportant but prove consequential to the film’s ending. Newell pointed out that the “take your child to work” scene in Portal 2 accomplished the same thing, setting up important plot points in a way that made them initially seem like humorous throwaways.' No word on Half-Life 3, sadly..."
New submitter jzoetewey writes "An author I know (MCA Hogarth) recently had her book Spots the Space Marine taken off Amazon because Games Workshop claimed it violated their trademark. The interesting thing? Their trademark doesn't include ebooks or novels. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the money to fight them. Plus, the idea of a space marine was around long before they were: 'In their last email to me, Games Workshop stated that they believe that their recent entrée into the e-book market gives them the common law trademark for the term “space marine” in all formats. If they choose to proceed on that belief, science fiction will lose a term that’s been a part of its canon since its inception.' Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing also made this important point: 'Amazon didn't have to honor the takedown notice. Takedown notices are a copyright thing, a creature of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They don't apply to trademark claims. This is Amazon taking voluntary steps that are in no way required in law.'"
theodp writes "Back in Biblical times, creating abundance was considered innovative. That was then. Last Tuesday, GeekWire reports, the USPTO awarded Amazon.com a broad patent on reselling and lending 'used' digital goods for an invention that Amazon boasts can be used to 'maintain scarcity' of digital objects, including audio files, eBooks, movies, apps, and pretty much anything else."
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that Sony, the creators of the MiniDisc audio format, are to deliver their last MiniDisc stereo system in March. Launched over 20 years ago in late 1992 as a would-be successor to the original audio cassette, MiniDisc outlasted Philips' rival Digital Compact Cassette format, but never enjoyed major success outside Japan. Other manufacturers will continue making MiniDisc players, but this is a sign that — over ten years after the first iPod — the MiniDisc now belongs to a bygone era."
Velcroman1 writes "Ever wonder how troops serving abroad in remote locations and even underwater might get to watch the Super Bowl? The very same highly advanced technology used to pass classified drone video feeds will be deployed this Sunday to ensure U.S. troops can see the Super Bowl — - no matter how far away from home they are. The broadcast is the result of a unique media, government and technology partnership with the American Forces Radio and Television Service, Raytheon and the U.S. Air Force. The Global Broadcast Service (GBS) may be normally used to disseminate video, images and other data, but major sporting events have been broadcast over it as well. The system will be 'as small as a laptop, and [equipment] the size of a shoebox and umbrella' yet 'in other places will be projected onto large screens in hangers' like aircraft carriers out at sea, explained Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems' chief innovation officer Mark Bigham."
djl4570 writes "xkcd's 'What If' series consists of humorous takes on highly implausible but oddly interesting hypothetical physics questions, like how to cook a steak with heat from atmospheric re-entry. The most recent entry dealt with flying a Cessna on other planets and moons in the solar system. Mars: 'The tricky thing is that with so little atmosphere, to get any lift, you have to go fast. You need to approach Mach 1 just to get off the ground, and once you get moving, you have so much inertia that it’s hard to change course—if you turn, your plane rotates, but keeps moving in the original direction.' Venus: 'Unfortunately, X-Plane is not capable of simulating the hellish environment near the surface of Venus. But physics calculations give us an idea of what flight there would be like. The upshot is: Your plane would fly pretty well, except it would be on fire the whole time, and then it would stop flying, and then stop being a plane.' There are also a bunch of illustrations for flightpaths on various moons (crashpaths might be more apt), which drew the attention of physics professor Rhett Allain, who explained the math in further detail and provided more accurate paths."
ncc189 writes "The Funimation Roku channel has been basically unusable during primetime for about a month now. With very little feedback from the company and no improvements to the service at all, I canceled my account. My question to Slashdot users is: how long do you give a service to fix issues before you cancel the service, and how much leeway do you give the service's representatives in communicating issue with us? It seems to me that a few days is more than enough in the internet age; 3+ weeks is beyond reason. How long do you think is fair for services like this?"
concealment sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "Late last year, Zoe Keating, an independent musician from Northern California, provided an unusually detailed case in point. In voluminous spreadsheets posted to her Tumblr blog, she revealed the royalties she gets from various services, down to the ten-thousandth of a cent. Even for an under-the-radar artist like Ms. Keating, who describes her style as “avant cello,” the numbers painted a stark picture of what it is like to be a working musician these days. After her songs had been played more than 1.5 million times on Pandora over six months, she earned $1,652.74. On Spotify, 131,000 plays last year netted just $547.71, or an average of 0.42 cent a play. 'In certain types of music, like classical or jazz, we are condemning them to poverty if this is going to be the only way people consume music,' Ms. Keating said. ... The question dogging the music industry is whether these micropayments can add up to anything substantial. 'No artist will be able to survive to be professionals except those who have a significant live business, and that’s very few,' said Hartwig Masuch, chief executive of BMG Rights Management."
silentbrad sends word of a recent lecture given by Valve's Gabe Newell to a college class. He had some interesting remarks about the future of games in the living room: "The threat right now is that Apple has gained a huge amount of market share, and has a relatively obvious pathway towards entering the living room with their platform," Newell said. "I think that there's a scenario where we see sort of a dumbed down living room platform emerging — I think Apple rolls the console guys really easily. The question is can we make enough progress in the PC space to establish ourselves there, and also figure out better ways of addressing mobile before Apple takes over the living room? ... We're happy to do it if nobody else will do it, mainly because everybody else will pile on, and people will have a lot of choices, but they'll have those characteristics. They'll say, 'Well, I could buy a console, which assumes I'll re-buy all my content, have a completely different video system, and, oh, I have a completely different group of friends, apparently. Or I can just extend everything I love about the PC and the internet into the living room.' ... I think the biggest challenge is that Apple moves on the living room before the PC industry sort of gets its act together." There's another hour-long lecture from Newell posted on YouTube talking about productivity, economics, and the future of corporations. Speaking of Steam, reader skade88 points out an article at Linux.com about the current state of the Steam for Linux beta.
An anonymous reader writes in about the latest fallout from CNET's parent company, CBS banning Dish Network's hopper from reviews and award lists. "The Consumer Electronics Association has not only today bestowed its Best in Show title upon the same Dish Network product that started this whole mess in the first place — in the same release, the group says it will no longer work with CNET. CES has enjoyed a long and productive partnership with CNET and the Best of CES awards,' said Karen Chupka, the CEA's senior vice president for events and conferences. "However, we are concerned the new review policy will have a negative impact on our brand should we continue the awards relationship as currently constructed. We look forward to receiving new ideas to recognize the 'best of the best' products introduced at the International CES.""
An anonymous reader writes with news that the first successful case was brought before the copyright tribunal under NZ's three strikes law. From the article: "The first music pirate stung under new file-sharing laws has been fined $616 but 'didn't realise' the actions were illegal. The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) — which represents music studios — took an unnamed offender to the Copyright Tribunal last year for sharing songs on the Internet — a track by Barbadian pop-star Rihanna on two occasions and the other by Nashville band Hot Chelle Rae. In a decision released today, the tribunal found in RIANZ's favor and ordered the offender ... to pay a penalty $616.57." Torrent Freak has a slightly different perspective: a lack of evidence and pushback from the tribunal resulted in much smaller fines than the RIANZ wanted.
The TV show Glee may have borrowed Jonathan Coulton's arrangement of "Baby Got Back" without asking him first, but he's got a response of the kind that it'd be hard for the show's makers to criticize without looking churlish. Borrowing it back, and using it to raise money for charity. As CNET puts it, "Coulton has foxily tossed up on iTunes his own version of the song and titled it 'Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee).' He terms it 'my cover of Glee's cover of my cover.'"
netbuzz writes "An iPhone case with a built-in cup holder? The designers were looking for $25,000 to make it on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo. One look at the contraption should have been enough to convince anyone that the thing was a joke, or a publicity stunt, but a number of mainstream press outlets (LA Times, UPI) and bloggers took the bait with little or no realization that that they might be on the wrong end of the hook. Today the Dutch marketing firm behind the effort acknowledged that it was 'a joke.'"
littlekorea writes "A data analyst has successfully predicted the top ten songs of the world's biggest song contest — the Triple J Hottest 100 — by extrapolating voting intentions fans had posted on Twitter and Facebook. Nick Drewe's Warmest 100 list closely mimicked the Hottest 100 results, predicting the top three in correct order and predicting 92 of the most popular 100 songs."
As reported by news.com.au, Julian Assange has seen leaked copies of the script of an upcoming film depicting WikiLeaks, and blasts it as inaccurate propaganda. He says, among other things, "They tried to frame Iran as having an active nuclear weapons program. Then they try to frame WikiLeaks as the reason why that's not known to the public now." Says the article: "Assange declined to say where he got the script, although he hinted that he had been supplied with several copies of it over time. He also declined to say whether the script would be posted to the WikiLeaks website, saying only that "we are examining options closely.'"
FunPika writes "Jonathan Coulton, who is known for songs such as "Code Monkey", is claiming that his cover of "Baby Got Back" was used without permission on Glee, a television show aired by Fox Broadcasting Company. When the Glee version appeared on YouTube last week, Coulton suspected that it sounded similar to his cover, and several of his fans confirmed this by analyzing the two tracks. Despite Coulton contacting Fox, they continued with airing the episode and have placed the song on sale in iTunes."
Yesterday saw the release of a clip from the upcoming movie jOBS, a biopic about the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The clip shows Jobs, played by Ashton Kutcher, having a conversation with Steve Wozniak, played by Josh Gad, about how influential an operating system for a personal computer would be. The real Steve Wozniak commented on the clip, saying the situation it portrayed was "totally wrong." He said, "Personalities and where the ideas of computers affecting society did not come from Jobs. They inspired me and were widely spoken at the Homebrew Computer Club. Steve came back from Oregon and came to a club meeting and didn't start talking about this great social impact. His idea was to make a $20 PC board and sell it for $40 to help people at the club build the computer I'd given away. Steve came from selling surplus parts at HalTed he always saw a way to make a quick buck off my designs (this was the 5th time). The lofty talk came much further down the line." Wozniak was quick to add that he isn't making any judgment on the quality of the movie based on a single, 1-minute clip, and that the rest of the movie may or may not be more accurate. He also says he hopes it's entertaining.
Ch_Omega writes "According to this article over at The Telegraph, Lego has been accused of racism by the Turkish community in Austria over a Star Wars model that supposedly resembles one of Istanbul's most revered mosques. The anger was provoked by 'Jabba's Palace,' a model of the home of Jabba the Hutt from Lego's Star Wars product range based on the blockbusting series of science fiction films. 'The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed,' said the statement posted on the organization's website. 'It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.'"
azzkicker writes "It looks like J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars VII. From the article: 'Sources have confirmed the Star Trek Into Darkness filmmaker will helm the next Star Wars movie, the highly anticipated installment in the landmark franchise scheduled to reach theaters in 2015."
Zothecula writes "Given that most real-life superheroes don't have the budget of Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne, you would assume that their gadgetry wouldn't be quite on par with what we're used to seeing in the movies. German cyber weapons hobbyist Patrick Priebe, however, has built his own working laser gauntlet... just like the one made famous by a certain Iron Man."
Velcroman1 writes "At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, Netflix announced Super HD, an immersive theatrical video format that looks more lifelike than any Web stream, even competing with Blu-Ray discs. But there's a costly catch. To watch the high-definition, 1080p movies when they debut later this year, you'll need a specific Internet Service Provider. Those on Cablevision or Google Fiber are in; those served by Time Warner or a host of smaller providers will be out of luck. But regardless of whether you subscribe to Netflix, you may end up paying for it, said Fred Campbell, a former FCC legal adviser who now heads The Communications Liberty & Innovation Project think tank. 'Instead of raising the price of its own service to cover the additional costs, Netflix wants to offload its additional costs onto all Internet consumers,' Campbell said. 'That's good for Netflix and bad for everyone else in the Internet economy.'"
Jörg Sprave's day job is as a manager in the world of consumer electronics. But he has been for many years making manifest the sort of things that once filled my school notebook margins with doodles: slingshots and other devices for launching bolts, steel balls, and other stuff at high speed at targets or just into the air. (Some of his "slingshots" are hard to recognize as such; he eschews the classic American wrist-rocket braced design as well as the old Tom Sawyer forked branch in favor of things a bit more elaborate.) Thanks to the Internet, hobbies that were once obscure are now easy to follow, and Sprave's homemade slingshots are no exception; you can follow his exploits through an ongoing series of YouTube videos and a forum site that builds on these videos. He's doing it in Germany, too, where firearms may be harder to come by than in the U.S., but giant honkin' firecrackers are available (at least for part of the year), and acts accordingly. Amazingly, he has yet to lose an eye; his goggles are a wise precaution. Sprave has agreed to answer your questions about his own take on physics as a hobby. As usual for Slashdot interviews, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
An anonymous reader writes "Forbes analyst Adam Hartung has predicted that Microsoft will sell off its entertainment division, which includes Xbox, in the coming years. He even goes so far as to list Sony or Barnes & Noble as potential buyers. Lets forget how crazy this sounds for a moment and focus on the reasons why Hartung believes such a sale will happen. It basically comes down to Windows 8, and how poorly it is selling. Combine that with falling sales of PCs, the Surface RT tablet not doing so great, the era of more than one PC in the home disappearing, and Microsoft has a big problem. The problem not only stems from the PC market not growing, but because Microsoft relies so heavily on Windows and Office for revenue. With that in mind, Hartung believes Steve Ballmer will do anything and everything to save Windows, including ditching entertainment and therefore Xbox."
Kittenman writes "Rick Champagne, a 56-year-old company owner from Arizona has bought the original Batmobile (dating back to Burt Ward and the '60s) for $4.2 million. He's quoted as saying it 'was a dream come true.' From the article: 'The Batmobile design was based on a 1955 Lincoln Futura, a concept car built in Italy by the Ford Motor Company. It was the first time that car had come up for public sale since it was bought in 1965 by car-customiser George Barris, who transformed it in 15 days, at the cost of $15,000 (£9,400), into the superhero's famous vehicle.'"
elashish14 writes "A new survey commissioned by Google suggests that music listeners who utilize P2P filesharing services buy 30% more music than non-sharers. The survey also probed users' opinions on enforcement practices. Users were strongly against either throttling or disconnecting users' internet services, but the majority suggested also that search engines should block access. 52% of Americans also said that downloading infringing content should be a punishable offense."
An anonymous reader writes "Ed Bott recounts the story of Lala.com, an innovative online music service that reached the top of Google search rankings for consumers seeking music. Their prices were frequently better than the prices on iTunes, and they partnered with Google for the search giant's Music Beta. Lala's founder, Bill Nguyen, decided the time was ripe to sell, entertaining offers from both Google and Nokia. Unfortunately, Nokia's offer was poor, and Google tried to lowball Nguyen. Apple, however, was not so foolish. Correctly identifying a threat to its growing music empire, Steve Jobs offered $80 million for the company, and Nguyen accepted. 'The ultimate irony in this story is that quite a few notable members of the Lala-to-Apple team followed Bill through the door and onward to his next venture. They left millions in options at a the $196.48 exercise price they had from the 2009 sale/retention bonuses. Some of those same engineers returned to Apple in the highly covered [Color Labs acquisition] rumor that 20+ engineers went to Apple for $7M. Apple obtained the same employees for pennies on the dollar. This time with even more experience and startup life under their belt. Paying twice was genius.'"
Press2ToContinue writes "Amazon has found a simple way around Apple's tight-fisted App Store rules: give users a web app to buy MP3s that runs in Safari. This way, they have no need to pay 30% per tune to Apple. Freedom of choice of vendor in Apple-only territory? Is this a big breach of Apple's walled garden? I wonder if Apple with have a response to this."
adeelarshad82 writes "The three things any streaming service needs in order to be successful are: a good price, a massive content library, and a decent app that is available on as many devices as possible. Unfortunately the only thing Redbox Instant has going for it right now is the price. The digital library that comprises Redbox Instant at the moment is limited to a handful of comedies, budget horror flicks, and one or two blockbuster titles from the last year. However, there is hope that once the final version is launched, Verizon FiOS On Demand's massive libraries of current television shows will be made available on Redbox. As for the app itself: while it's well designed and offers filtering by search, genre and rating, its biggest drawback is that it's only available on iOS and Android devices. You can't even stream from the Redbox website."
It appears that it isn't just fans who took notice of the failed White House petition to build a Death Star. Star Wars Blog has an official response from the Galactic Empire which reads in part: "IMPERIAL CENTER, CORUSCANT – The overwhelming military superiority of the Galactic Empire has been confirmed once again by the recent announcement by the President of the United States that his nation would not attempt to build a Death Star, despite the bellicose demands of the people of his tiny, aggressive planet. 'It is doubtless that such a technological terror in the hands of so primitive a world would be used to upset the peace and sanctity of the citizens of the Galactic Empire,' said Governor Wilhuff Tarkin of the Outer Rim Territories. 'Such destructive power can only be wielded to protect and defend by so enlightened a leader as Emperor Palpatine.'”
DavidGilbert99 writes "Labelled as an 'oddly regressive move,' developers of Star Wars: the Old Republic have decided that all gay characters will be stuck on a single planet called Makeb. The move comes with the release of the Rise of the Hutt Cartel pack and the Makeb planet will be the only place in the game where players can select 'flirtatious' dialogue options with characters of the same gender. From the article: 'BioWare executive producer Jeff Hickman apologised for same sex relationships taking so long to be added to the game, referring to the company's most famous title Mass Effect, where homosexual relationships are available by default: "First of all, I want to apologize that this is taking so long to get in the game," wrote Hickman in a blog post. "I realise that we promised SGR (same gender relationships) to you guys and that many of you believed that this would be with a companion character. Unfortunately, this will take a lot more work than we realised at the time and it (like some other pieces of content we talked about earlier in the year) has been delayed as we focused on the changes required to take the game Free-to-Play. '"
AliasMarlowe writes "Warner Bros have won an important legal victory over the heirs of one of the creators of Superman, giving it total commercial control of the superhero. An appeals panel unanimously ruled that Jerome Siegel's heirs must abide by a 2001 letter accepting Warner's offer for their 50% share of Superman. The letter was never formally turned into a contract, but the Judge considered that it represented an oral agreement, which was binding. Warner Brothers now owns 100% of the Superman franchise."
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon just debuted a new service called Autorip, which grants you MP3 copies of music when you purchase the CD version. This is a technology people have been trying to introduce since 1999, but only recently have the record labels — and the courts — seen fit to allow it. 'Robertson's first company, MP3.com was one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley when it launched what we would now call a cloud music service, My.MP3.com, in 1999. The service included a feature called "Beam-It" that allowed users to instantly stock their online lockers with music from their personal CD collections. ... Licensed services like iTunes were still years in the future, largely because labels were skittish about selling music online. But Robertson believed he didn't need a license because the service was permitted by copyright's fair use doctrine. If a user can rip his legally purchased CD to his computer, why can't he also store a copy of it online? ... the labels simply weren't interested in Robertson's vision of convenient and flexible music lockers. So MP3.com was driven into bankruptcy, and the "buy a CD, get an MP3" concept fell by the wayside.'"
New submitter fractalVisionz writes "The White House has officially responded to the petition to secure resources and funding to begin Death Star construction by 2016, as previously discussed on Slashdot. With costs estimated over $850,000,000,000,000,000 (that's $850 quadrillion), and a firm policy stating 'The Administration does not support blowing up planets,' the U.S. government will obviously decline. However, that is not to say we don't already have a Death Star of our own, floating approximately 120 miles above the earth's surface. The response ends with a call to those interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields of study: 'If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.'"
Coldeagle writes "It looks as if CNET's parent company, CBS, has laid down the law: 'Just one day after CNet named the Dish "Hopper," a new TV recording system that's drawing rave reviews in the tech press, to an awards shortlist, the site's parent company stepped in and nixed the accolade. Because of a legal battle between CBS and Dish over the Hopper's ad-skipping technology, CBS laid down a ban: CNet won't be allowed to even review Dish products, much less give them awards.' Got to love modern day freedom of the press!"
An anonymous reader writes "Is your work space drab? Do you want art to reflect your geekiness? Then you might like an art movement that has been gaining popularity over the past few decades. This is movement is 'Geek Art' where artists take inspiration from all things tech and geek. The art works range from 'Hello, world!' in 23 programming languages to collages of Old Atari games to more contemporary pieces like modern apps as Famicon software. It's sites like Redbubble and Society 6 which have enabled the independent artist to get their work out there while sites such as 20x200 take a more curated approach. 8bit retro is the new Mona Lisa!"
Decibullz creator Kyle Kirkpatrick talks as fast as an old-time carnival barker and is as enthusiastic about his product as Dr. Ironbeard was about his potions. A lot of people are probably satisfied with $10 earbuds, but it's kind of a cool (more accurately a warm) idea to have earbuds you can heat in your microwave, then shape and reshape as often as you like to fit perfectly in your ears.They're just one of many interesting items on display this year at CES (annoying sound if you click the "CES" link).
An anonymous reader writes "According to ABC entertainment president Paul Lee: 'We'd love to do something with Lucasfilm, we're not sure what yet. We haven't even sat down with them. We're going to look at [the Star Wars live-action TV series], we're going to look at all of them, and see what's right. We weren't even able to discuss this with them until [the deal] closed and it just closed. It's definitely going to be part of the conversation.' Not only that, but it's also been announced that some of the 50 completed episode scripts that producer Rick McCallum has previously mentioned have been written by none other than Ron Moore of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica fame."
redletterdave writes "IBM's super-computer Watson briefly went from smart to smart ass with the help of the Urban Dictionary. According to Eric Brown, an IBM research assistant, he and his 35-person team wanted to get Watson to sound more like a real human. After teaching IBM's super-computer the entire Urban Dictionary, however, Watson simply couldn't distinguish polite discourse from profanity. Watson unfortunately learned all of the Urban Dictionary's bad habits, including throwing in overly-crass language at random points in its responses; in answering one question, Watson even reportedly used the word 'bullshit' within an answer to one researcher's question. In the end, Brown and his team were forced to remove the Urban Dictionary from Watson's vocabulary, and additionally developed a smart filter to keep Watson from swearing in the future."
sciencehabit writes "All you graying, half-deaf Def Leppard fans, listen up. A drug applied to the ears of mice deafened by noise can restore some hearing in the animals. By blocking a key protein, the drug allows sound-sensing cells that are damaged by noise to regrow. The treatment isn't anywhere near ready for use in humans, but the advance at least raises the prospect of restoring hearing to some deafened people."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from an article about the difficulties in bringing so-called '4K resolution' video — 3840x2160 — to consumers. "Though 4K resolutions represent the next step in high-definition video, standards for the format have yet to emerge and no one’s really figured out how to distribute video, with its massive file footprint, efficiently and cost effectively. How exactly does one distribute files that can run to hundreds of gigabytes? ... Given that uncompressed 4K footage has a bit-rate of about 600MB/s, and even the fastest solid-state drives operate at only about 500MB/s, compression isn’t merely likely, it’s necessary. ... Kotsaftis says manufacturers will probably begin shipping and promoting larger TVs. 'In coming years, 50-inch or 55-inch screens will have become the sort of standard that 40-inch TVs are now. To exploit 4K, you need a larger form factor. You’re just not going to notice enough of a difference on smaller screens.' The same quality/convenience argument leads him to believe that physical media for 4K content will struggle to gain traction among consumers. '4K implies going back to physical media. Even over the Internet, it’s going to require massive files and, given the choice, most people would happily settle for a 720p or 1080p file anyway.'"
First time accepted submitter Barryke writes "Today LEGO announces the new mohawk (NASA's turf) sporting MINDSTORMS EV3 platform (press release). And with details on its features and innards (in Dutch) which in short comes down to: 'Its intelligent brick sports an ARM9-soc running Linux on 64MB RAM and 16MB storage memory, and supports SD cards. There are also four ports, which allow four other 'Bricks' can be connected. The intelligent brick can be reached by WiFi, USB and Bluetooth, and supports control via Android and iOS devices. It comes with 3 servo's, two touch sensors and an IR sensor to track other robots at upto six meters. It also includes 17 build plans, shown in 3D using Adobe Inventor Publisher.'"
kkleiner writes "A German company has brought us one step closer to the kinds of shootouts only seen in Sci-Fi films. Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Defense recently tested a 50kW, high-energy laser at their proving ground facility in Switzerland. First, the system sliced through a 15mm- (~0.6 inches) thick steel girder from a kilometer away. Then, from a distance of two kilometers, it shot down a handful of drones as they nose-dived toward the surface at 50 meters per second."
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Al Jazeera plans to start an English-language channel available in more than 40 million U.S. homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar. They announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore seven years ago. But the challenge will be persuading Americans to watch the award winning network with 71 bureaus around the world — an extremely tough proposition given the crowded television marketplace and the stereotypes about the channel that persist to this day. 'There are still people who will not watch it, who will say that it's a "terrorist network,"' says Philip Seib. 'Al Jazeera has to override that by providing quality news.' With a handful of exceptions, American cable and satellite distributors have mostly refused to carry Al Jazeera English since its inception in 2006. While the television sets of White House officials and lawmakers were tuned to the channel during the Arab Spring in 2011, ordinary Americans who wanted to watch had to find a live stream on the Internet. Al Jazeera's Robert Wheelock said, We offer an alternative. It's a broader coverage of news. It's a broader spectrum into countries that aren't traditionally covered.'"
Leif_Bloomquist writes "Videos of the presentations from the recent World of Commodore, held December 1st 2012 in Toronto, have been published on YouTube. The presentations range from new product announcements to remakes of classic Commodore games for iPhone, from animation and music performances to coding tutorials and discussions for retro platforms. The revived World of Commodore is held annually on the first weekend of December by the Toronto PET Users Group."
Serenissima writes "I've spent many hours building my Media Library in XBMC and scraping all the DVD Covers and Fanart. And I love it, I can pull up movies on any computer or device in the house. I played a movie for my son the other day so I could get some cleaning done without him being underfoot. I noticed shortly after that the sound coming from the other room was from a different movie than I played for him. I snuck up and watched for a few minutes and saw him use a trackpad to navigate to the stop and play buttons of different movies in his folder. I know it's only a matter of time before he realizes he can see all of the movies. I don't want him to have nightmares because he saw the T-1000 stab someone in the face. The quickest solution I can think is a screen saver with a password. It's mildly inconvenient to me, but would stop him from accessing anything. However, I remember how much more I knew about computers than my parents when I was a kid, and I have a feeling he's going to surprise me one day. There's a lot of ways out there to stop it, the way we do it now is to not let him watch anything unless we're there (but there are only so many times I can watch the same kid's movie). How do YOU guys find yourself dealing with the convenience of running your own server while keeping your media safe from prying eyes?"
An anonymous reader writes "An irritated father of a 23-year-old gamer hired 'In-game assassins' to attempt to make his son quit playing video games and have him get a job. 'Feng's idea was that his son would get bored of playing games if he was killed every time he logged on, and that he would start putting more effort into getting a job.' While the son recently had a job at a software development company he quit because he decided he didn't like the work."