1729 (581437) writes Back in August, there was speculation that the "real life" Walter O'Brien (alleged inspiration for CBS's new drama Scorpion) might be a fraud. Mike Masnick from Techdirt follows up on the story: "The more you dig, the more of the same you find. Former co-workers of O'Brien's have shown up in comments or reached out to me and others directly — and they all say the same thing. Walter is a nice enough guy, works hard, does a decent job (though it didn't stop him from getting laid off from The Capital Group), but has a penchant for telling absolutely unbelievable stories about his life. It appears that in just repeating those stories enough, some gullible Hollywood folks took him at his word (and the press did too), and now there's a mediocre TV show about those made up stories." Masnick's article is a fascinating look at a man who appears to have conned both TV executives and journalists into believing his far-fetched Walter Mitty fantasies.
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muterobert writes It's been announced that Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, and OTOY are collaborating to recreate the iconic Batcave from Batman: The Animated Series in virtual reality for Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift. OTOY is providing what they call "holographic video" technology to render the scene in a way that's true to the Batcave of the classic 90s show.
An anonymous reader writes The BBC and RT report that 16 men named after the Star Wars character "Darth Vader" are running for parliamentary elections in Ukraine later this month. In addition, a Chewbacca, Palpatin, Padme Amidala and Grand Jedi Master Yoda will stand in the snap October 26 polls. All of them have been nominated for parliament by the Internet Party of Ukraine. "This is not the first time Darth Vader has stood for election in Ukraine. In April, a man going by that name tried running for presidency, but his application was rejected by the Central Electoral Commission. One official suggested that his campaign could be an attempt to make a mockery of elections in Ukraine - possibly by Russia."
An anonymous reader writes Gizmodo published an article on Saturday pointing out that, with The CW having aired its last episodes of Vortexx cartoons last weekend, this is the first weekend in the United States with no Saturday morning cartoons playing on national broadcast stations. NBC stopped airing Saturday morning cartoons in 1992, CBS stopped shortly after, and ABC followed suit in 2004. Gizmodo failed to take into account the Public Broadcast Station (PBS), but during an age of instant online media access...and cable...the oversight is understandable because everyone has already moved on. TV is dead. Long live the Internet.
An anonymous reader writes: Redbox, the company behind the giant red boxes at malls and grocery stores that dispense DVD and game rentals, partnered with Verizon in 2013 to launch a video streaming service to compete with Netflix. This naturally led to accusations that Verizon was throttling Netflix to tilt the scales in favor of Redbox. Well, as of Tuesday, they're packing it in. Redbox's streaming service will shut down at the end of the day on October 7th. They'll be refunding all current customers, though that number took a hit over the past several months as a credit card fraud problem caused Redbox to shut down their billing servers. This meant no new customers could sign up, and existing customers couldn't renew their subscriptions.
uCallHimDrJ0NES writes Why is the world in love again? TMBG's website announced the return of the nerd music favorite 'Dial-a-song' service as a website. The plan is apparently a new song every week. The original PSTN-based Dial-a-Song service, which ran on an old-school answering machine, was a staple of nerd culture for years. Remember, those giants don't want to rule the world. They just want your half.
An anonymous reader writes In response to the FCC's discontinuation of rules that support the NFL's blackout policies, the NFL issued a statement indicating that it would nevertheless continue to enforce its blackout policies through its private contract negotiations with local networks. On Wednesday, however, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced a bill that would rescind the antitrust exemption that enables the NFL to demand blackouts in the first place and formally warned the NFL to abandon blackouts altogether. The antitrust exemption gives sports leagues "legal permission to conduct television-broadcast negotiations in a way that otherwise would have been price collusion" and further allowed the formation of the NFL from two separate leagues. Meanwhile, the NFL enjoys a specialized tax status and direct monetary support from taxpayers to build arenas and stadiums.
An anonymous reader writes: A pleasant event was planned for the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. A ceremony at Tiananmen Square would release 10,000 pigeons at sunrise to symbolize an era of peace. Unfortunately, even symbols of peace can apparently remind people of violence. Chinese authorities searched all 10,000 pigeons for "dangerous materials," after the government was concerned they might be used for attacks. The pigeons' feathers were checked, and they were given a cavity search as well. The reports did not indicate what kind of "dangerous materials" these pigeons might be carrying. It's unclear whether any pigeons disclosed terror plots under interrogation.
SchrodingerZ writes: Threshold Entertainment has announced that it will be producing a live action film based on the Russian stacking game Tetris. Designed in 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris has sold over 35 million copies worldwide. Threshold CEO Larry Kasanoff promises "a very big, epic sci-fi movie," explaining, "this isn't a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page. We're not giving feet to the geometric shapes." Kasanoff is known for his work with the video game films Mortal Kombat, and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, collectively grossing $105 million in revenue. The studio is planning "a story behind Tetris which makes it a much more imaginative thing," though no directors nor cast have been connected to the film. Threshold Entertainment teased the idea, saying "What you [will] see in Tetris is the teeny tip of an iceberg that has intergalactic significance."
An anonymous reader writes: If you're a Grooveshark user, you should probably start backing up your collection. In a decision (PDF) released Monday, the United States District Court in Manhattan has found Grooveshark guilty of massive copyright infringement based on a preponderance of internal emails, statements from former top executives, direct evidence from internal logs, and willfully deleted files and source code. An email from Grooveshark's CTO in 2007 read, "Please share as much music as possible from outside the office, and leave your computers on whenever you can. This initial content is what will help to get our network started—it’s very important that we all help out! ... Download as many MP3’s as possible, and add them to the folders you’re sharing on Grooveshark. Some of us are setting up special 'seed points' to house tens or even hundreds of thousands of files, but we can’t do this alone." He also threatened employees who didn't contribute.
Today the Federal Communications Commission eliminated its sport blackout rules, which prevented cable and satellite television providers from showing sporting events that were blacked out on a local station. It's common practice in the NFL to black out football games locally if the stadium didn't sell enough tickets. The ruling now removes government protections for the NFL's policies (the NFL can continue to black out local broadcasts). The FCC's decision is based on "significant changes" to the industry over the 40 years since the rules were adopted. Television has replaced ticket sales as the primary source of revenue, and the NFL is incredibly popular. They also don't think there's any chance the NFL will move its games to pay-per-view.
An anonymous reader writes Matchstick and Mozilla today announced their open-source take on the Chromecast: a $25 Firefox OS-powered HDMI dongle. The streaming Internet and media stick will be available first through Kickstarter, in the hopes to drive down the price tag. Jack Chang, Matchstick General Manager in the US, described the device to me as "essentially an open Chromecast." He explained that while the MSRP is $25 (Google's Chromecast retails for $35), the Kickstarter campaign is offering a regular price of $18, and an early bird price of $12.
KentuckyFC writes One way of predicting the future is to study data about events in the past and build a statistical model that generates the same pattern of data. Statisticians can then use the model to generate data about the future. Now one statistician has taken this art to new heights by predicting the content of the soon-to-be published novels in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin. The existing five novels are the basis of the hit TV series Game of Thrones. Each chapter in the existing books is told from the point of view of one of the characters. So far, 24 characters have starred in this way. The statistical approach uses the distribution of characters in chapters in the first five books to predict the distribution in the forthcoming novels. The results suggest that several characters will not appear at all and also throw light on whether one important character is dead or not, following an ambiguous story line in the existing novels. However, the model also serves to highlight the shortcomings of purely statistical approaches. For example, it does not "know" that characters who have already been killed off are unlikely to appear in future chapters. Neither does it allow for new characters that might appear. Nevertheless, this statistical approach to literature could introduce the process of mathematical modelling to more people than any textbook.
MojoKid writes Over the past couple of years, drones have become popular enough to the point where a new release doesn't excite most people. But Nixie is different. It's a drone that you wear, like a bracelet. Whenever you need to let it soar, you give it a command to unwrap, power it up, and let it go. From the consumer standpoint, the most popular use for drones is to capture some amazing footage. But what if you want to be in that footage? That's where Nixie comes in. After "setting your camera free", the drone soars around you, keeping you in its frame. Nixie is powered by Intel's Edison kit, which is both small enough and affordable enough to fit inside such a small device.
An anonymous reader writes PBS' It's OK to be Smart made this interesting video showing us what is and isn't physically realistic or possible in the space battles we've watched on TV and the movies. From the article: "You're probably aware that most sci-fi space battles aren't realistic. The original Star Wars' Death Star scene was based on a World War II movie, for example. But have you wondered what it would really be like to duke it out in the void? PBS is more than happy to explain in its latest It's Okay To Be Smart video. As you'll see below, Newtonian physics would dictate battles that are more like Asteroids than the latest summer blockbuster. You'd need to thrust every time you wanted to change direction, and projectiles would trump lasers (which can't focus at long distances); you wouldn't hear any sound, either."