Television

Comcast Launches Streaming Service and Unveils Pricing For 2G Fiber 107 107

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast has announced the release of its Gigabit Pro service which offers speeds up to 2 gigabits per second. The service is $300 a month (agree to a two year contract and get the early promotional price of $159 per month) with a $500 installation and activation fee. The new service is only available in the Jacksonville, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Florida area. This announcement comes on the heels of the $15-per-month "Comcast Stream" launch. The live TV and streaming video service does not require a cable TV subscription, but live TV channels can only be watched on customer's home internet connections.
Movies

J.J. Abrams On "Star Wars" Cast's Racial and Sexual Diversity 504 504

Yesterday at Comic-Con, director J.J. Abrams held forth on the racial and sexual diversity of the actors portraying the characters of the Star Wars franchise. From CNET's article: For Star Wars, it's a complex debate. The franchise has included prominent and strong female characters, like Princess Leia, as well as central characters played by black actors, such as Cloud City administrator Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, and Jedi Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson. On the other hand, Jar Jar Binks, a computer-generated alien in 1999's "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace," drew fire from some critics, who said he called to mind demeaning black film characters such as those played by Stepin Fetchit in the 1930s. (Not to mention other cultural stereotypes that pop up in Episodes I, II, and III.)
Businesses

FTC Officials Looking Into Apple's Streaming Business Model, Say Sources 53 53

Apple may have a bigger business problem than displeasing Taylor Swift with its new Apple Music service; According to Reuters, U.S. regulators are said (by anonymous sources) to be looking into Apple's treatment of music-streaming rivals, now that the company has gone from selling only downloadable music to competing directly with alternatives like Spotify and Pandora. A slice: While $9.99 has emerged as the going monthly rate for music subscriptions, including Apple's, some streaming companies complain that Apple's cut forces them to either charge more in the App Store than they do on other platforms or erode their profit margins. The Federal Trade Commission is looking at the issue but has not begun a formal investigation, said the three industry sources, who requested anonymity. The agency has had meetings with multiple concerned parties, one source said. The agency meets with companies routinely, and a formal investigation may not materialize.
Google

Chromecast Gets a Hardwired Ethernet Adapter 133 133

Mark Wilson writes: Google's Chromecast has gained quite a following of people looking for a cheap, simple way to stream content to their TVs. Part of the device's appeal is its easy of use and extensibility through the use of apps, but it is reliant on a steady Wi-Fi signal. If this represents a problem in your home, there's now a solution. The new Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast does very much what you would expect — it adds a wired Ethernet port to Google's streaming dongle. This is great news for anyone with a flaky Wi-Fi signal, or those looking to use Chromecast beyond their router's normal range.
Television

Harry Shearer Returns To the Simpsons 100 100

jones_supa writes: Fans of The Simpsons will find this turn of events nothing short of excellent: seven weeks after saying he was done with Fox's endless animated comedy, Harry Shearer has agreed to rejoin the show. Shearer has now signed the same four-season contract as the other five primary voice actors. He previously tweeted, "I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work." Executive producer Al Jean found that tweet confusing, saying, "Everybody on the show does lots of outside projects. He actually gets to record on the phone and do the [table] reads on the phone. So we've never kept him from doing that stuff."
Star Wars Prequels

Han Solo To Get His Own Star Wars Movie Prequel 227 227

New submitter alaskana writes: According to Starwars.com, Han Solo will be getting his own movie prequel. The film will purportedly tell the story of a young Han Solo and how he came to be the wily smuggler that shows up in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. The film is set to be directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (of The Lego Movie fame) and written by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan. Get your popcorn and tickets ready, as the movie is set to debut May 25, 2018.
AI

Dartmouth Contests Showcase Computer-Generated Creativity 50 50

An anonymous reader writes: A series of contests at Dartmouth College will pit humans versus machines. Both will produce literature, poetry and music which will then be judged by humans who will try and determine which selections were computer made. "Historically, often when we have advances in artificial intelligence, people will always say, 'Well, a computer couldn't paint a sunset,' or 'a computer couldn't write a beautiful love sonnet,' but could they? That's the question," said Dan Rockmore, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth.
Cloud

How Apple Music Can Disrupt Users' iTunes Libraries 360 360

An anonymous reader writes: Early adopters of Apple Music are warning others they could get more than they bargained for if they intend to download tracks for offline listening. Since Apple Music is primarily a streaming service, this functionality necessitates turning on iCloud Music for syncing purposes. The way Apple syncs files is to scan your library for known music files, and if it finds one, the service gives your account access to Apple's canonical copy. Unfortunately, this wipes out any custom edits you made to the file's metadata. For those who have put a lot of time into customizing their library, this can do a lot of damage to their organizational system. Apple's efforts to simplify and streamline the process have once again left advanced users with a difficult decision to make.
Sci-Fi

Frank Herbert's Dune, 50 Years On 234 234

An anonymous reader writes: This October will be the 50th anniversary of Frank Herbert's massively popular and influential sci-fi novel Dune. The Guardian has written a piece examining its effects on the world at large, and how the book remains relevant even now. Quoting: 'Books read differently as the world reforms itself around them, and the Dune of 2015 has geopolitical echoes that it didn't in 1965, before the oil crisis and 9/11. ... As Paul's destiny becomes clear to him, he begins to have visions 'of fanatic legions following the green and black banner of the Atreides, pillaging and burning across the universe in the name of their prophet Muad'Dib.' If Paul accepts this future, he will be responsible for 'the jihad's bloody swords,' unleashing a nomad war machine that will up-end the corrupt and oppressive rule of the emperor Shaddam IV (good) but will kill untold billions (not so good) in the process. In 2015, the story of a white prophet leading a blue-eyed brown-skinned horde of jihadis against a ruler called Shaddam produces a weird funhouse mirror effect, as if someone has jumbled up recent history and stuck the pieces back together in a different order."
Movies

How To Design Robot Overlords For "Robot Overlords" 17 17

Hallie Siegel writes: Ever wonder how they make robots look so awesomely real in movies? Visual effects expert Graham Edwards goes behind the scenes with the makers of Robot Overlords to take you through the development of the robots in this movie, from script development and sketches, to filming and post FX. Really cool to see how these robots come to life.
Programming

Watching People Code Is Becoming an (Even Bigger) Thing 135 135

itwbennett writes: Faithful Slashdot readers may recall the story of Adam Wulf, who spent two weeks live-streaming himself writing a mobile app. The phenomenon has quickly become thing, by which we mean a business. Twitch.TV, Watch People Code (which is an offshoot of the subreddit by the same name), Ludum Dare, and, of course, YouTube, are bursting with live or archived streams of lots of people writing lots of code for lots of different things. And just this week, Y Combinator-backed startup Livecoding.TV launched. The site has signed up 40,000 users since its beta went live in February, but unlike the other sites in this space what it doesn't have (and doesn't have plans for) is advertising. As co-founder Jamie Green told ITworld: 'We have some different ideas around monetisation in the pipeline, but for now we are just focussed on building a community around live education.'
Movies

"Jobs" vs. "Steve Jobs": Hollywood Takes Another Stab At Telling the Steve Jobs Story 266 266

theodp writes: Didn't like Jobs, the 2013 biopic about the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher? Maybe you'll prefer Steve Jobs, the 2015 biopic about the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender. "Steve Jobs is a tech visionary, total dick," writes Esquire's Matt Patches in his mini-review of the just-released Steve Jobs trailer. So, is inspiring kids to become the "Next Steve Jobs" a good or bad thing?
Classic Games (Games)

Interviews: Ask Steve Jackson About Designing Games 111 111

Since starting his own company in 1980, Steve Jackson, founder and editor-in-chief of Steve Jackson Games, has created a number of hits, starting with Car Wars . . . followed shortly by Illuminati, and later by GURPS, the "Generic Universal Roleplaying System." In 1983, he was elected to the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame - the youngest person ever so honored. He has personally won 11 Origins Awards. In the early 90's, Steve got international press due to the Secret Service's invasion of his office. The EFF helped make it possible for SJ Games to bring suit against the Secret Service and the U.S. government and win more than $50,000 in damages. His Ogre kickstarter a couple of years ago brought in close to a million dollars. His current hits are Munchkin, a very silly card game about killing monsters and taking their stuff, and Zombie Dice, in which you eat brains and try not to get shotgunned. His current projects include a variety of Munchkin follow-ups, and the continuing quest to get his games translated into digital form. Steve has agreed to put down the dice and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Bug

Chromecast Update Bringing Grief For Many Users 142 142

An anonymous reader writes: Last week, many Chromecast users were automatically "upgraded" to build 32904. Among the issues seen with this update are placing some users on the 'beta' release track, issues with popular apps such as Plex, HBO GO, (more embarassingly) YouTube, and others. Google so far has been slow to respond or even acknowledge the issues brought by customers, save for the beta release mishap. If you're a Chromecast user, what's been your experience?
Input Devices

Disney Bans Selfie Sticks 177 177

New submitter albimaturityr writes with a story from the Orlando Sentinel that Disney is banning selfie sticks from its parks, starting with Disney World (as of Tuesday) but continuing with its other parks in California, Paris, and Hong Kong. Says the report: The issue has been building at Disney. Previously, the sticks were prohibited from its rides, and "no selfie-sticks" signs were at select rides, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom. Cast members have given verbal warnings to rule breakers. Several incidents preceded the change, but officials have been discussing the rules for some time, Disney said. This week at Disney California Adventure park, a roller coaster was halted after a passenger pulled out a selfie-stick. The ride was closed for an hour.