Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

Sci-Fi

Why Darmok Is a Good Star Trek: TNG Episode 512

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-always-wanted-to-see-a-Tamarian-Borg dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "Last week, the Ars Technica ran an article listing their staff's least favorite Star Trek: the Next Generation episodes. They hit a few of the predictable ones, like Angel One — wherein Riker's chest hair takes center stage — and Up the Long Ladder — featuring space-Irish. But a surprising suggestion came from Peter Bright, who denounced Darmok, a fan favorite. (You remember: 'Darmok and Jalad, at Tanagra.') Now, Ars's Lee Hutchinson has (jokingly) taken Bright to task, showing how IMDB ratings mark Darmok (5x02) as one of the best episodes of season 5, and among the strongest in the series. He also points out a trend in some of the bad episodes they didn't pick: 'According to the data, the worst episode of TNG by a significant margin is the season 2 finale Shades of Gray, a clipshow episode famously hobbled by the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike. We also managed to not pick season 6's Man of the People (the one where Troi falls in love with a brain vampire and gets really old) or season 4's The Loss (the one where Troi loses her empathic abilities and gets really whiny) or season 2's The Child (the one where Troi has dream sex with a space anomaly and gets really pregnant).' What are your picks for best and worst TNG episode?"
Media

Why Movie Streaming Services Are Unsatisfying — and Will Stay That Way 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the shut-up-and-take-my-money dept.
mendax sends this excerpt from a New York Times op-ed: "like Napster in the late 1990s, [torrent-streaming app Popcorn Time] offered a glimpse of what seemed like the future, a model for how painless it should be to stream movies and TV shows online. The app also highlighted something we've all felt when settling in for a night with today’s popular streaming services, whether Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, or Google or Microsoft’s media stores: They just aren't good enough. ... In the music business, Napster’s vision eventually became a reality. Today, with services like Spotify and Rdio, you can pay a monthly fee to listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. But in the movie and TV business, such a glorious future isn't in the offing anytime soon.

According to industry experts, some of whom declined to be quoted on the record because of the sensitivities of the nexus of media deals involved, we aren’t anywhere close to getting a service that allows customers to pay a single monthly fee for access to a wide range of top-notch movies and TV shows.Instead of a single comprehensive service, the future of digital TV and movies is destined to be fragmented across several services, at least for the next few years. We’ll all face a complex decision tree when choosing what to watch, and we’ll have to settle for something less than ideal."
Media

Are DVDs Inconvenient On Purpose? 490

Posted by Soulskill
from the couldn't-have-been-an-accident dept.
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Why do Netflix and a few other companies keep the DVD format alive, when streaming is more convenient for almost all users? The answer is not obvious, but my best theory is that it has to do with what economists call price discrimination. Netflix is still the cheapest legal way to watch a dozen recent releases every month — but only if you're willing to put up with those clunky DVDs." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Beer

Klingon Beer 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-drink-and-warp-drive dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "We may not have Saurian Brandy or Romulan Ale, but we'll soon have Klingon Beer. Tin Man Brewing Company in Evansville, Indiana has gotten the OK from CBS to create 'Klingon Warnog,' a Dunkelweizen with 'a modern aroma [of] predominantly mild banana and clove.' It will have an ABV of 5.5%. The Klingon beer will apparently join Vulcan Ale in the Federation of Beer. I wonder what their Prime Directive is."
Music

Algorithm Composes Music By Text Analyzing the World's Best Novels 31

Posted by timothy
from the best-novels-worst-music dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The recent development of vast databases that link words to the emotions they conjure up is changing the way researchers study text. Sentiment analysis, for example, is increasingly used to gauge the mood of society on topics ranging from politics to movies. Now researchers have used the same technique to measure the "emotional temperature" throughout a novel and then to automatically compose music that reflects the content. The key advance in this work is the development of rules that map the emotional changes into musical qualities such as tempo, key pitch and so on. The team has fed a number of well known books through the algorithm, which they call TransProse. These include lighter texts such as Peter Pan and much darker novels such as The Road and Heart of Darkness. And the music isn't bad (to my untrained ear). The teams say the new algorithm could lead to audio-visual e-books that generate music that reflects the mood on open pages. And it may even be possible to use the algorithm in reverse to recommend known songs that reflect the mood in a book."
Education

How Did Bill Nye Become the Science Guy? 220

Posted by samzenpus
from the origin-story dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Whether he's debating creationists, taking selfies with President Obama, or 'Dancing with the Stars,' Bill Nye the Science Guy is no stranger to the spotlight. But what about the man behind the public persona? How did Bill Nye become the Science Guy?(video) Bill Nye has made his debut on the PBS series, The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers, to reveal the story of how he rose from being a young comedian from Seattle to becoming a science icon. In his profile, Bill Nye talks about his early days impersonating Steve Martin, why bow-ties are important in the lab (and with the ladies), and how Carl Sagan's advice helped to shape his hit television show."
Television

College Grads Create Fake Tesla Commercial That Elon Musk Loves 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-resume dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Two University of Southern California grads were looking to start a digital content company so they decided to roll the dice and create a home-made (but incredibly professional looking) television commercial for Tesla — just to see if they could get some attention for it. Well, apparently, mission accomplished. R.J. Collins and James Khabushani took $1,500 and created a 60-second Tesla 'faux-mercial' dubbed 'Modern Spaceship' that is well, pretty good. Elon Musk noticed, tweeted it and has helped the thing go viral."
Sci-Fi

Interviews: Ask J. Michael Straczynski What You Will 276

Posted by samzenpus
from the ask-me-anything dept.
J. Michael Straczynski has written Thor, World War Z, and Changeling among many other films. He created Babylon 5 and has worked on numerous comic book titles including Superman and The Amazing Spider-Man. Most recently, he has teamed up with the Wachowskis for an original Netflix sci-fi series, Sense8 . He's agreed to take a break from his busy schedule in order to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Movies

Kickstarted Veronica Mars Promised Digital Download; Pirate Bay Delivers 243

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the netcraft-confirms-film-industry-committing-suicide dept.
ConfusedVorlon writes with word that Warner Bros backed out on their promise of digital downloads for backers of the Veronica Mars film "Backers were promised 'You will receive a digital version of the movie within a few days of the movie's theatrical debut.' Warner Bros are providing a non-downloadable ultra-violet coupon (although Veronica Mars is available for download through other stores). The download is already available on the Pirate Bay. The download is even available on commercial stores. The users have already passed over their $35+. But rather than meet the demand for a DRM-free download, Warner Bros would prefer to return the original pledge to backers who complain.

What does this tell us about how movie studios view the world? There can't be a better indication of willingness to pay than 'they have already paid' — are these the pirates WB fears?"
Sci-Fi

Transhumanist Children's Book Argues, "Death Is Wrong" 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-you-want-to-live-forever? dept.
destinyland writes "Hoping to inspire life-extending medical research, science fiction author Gennady Stolyarov has launched a campaign to give away 1,000 free copies of his transhumanist picture book for children, Death is Wrong. 'My greatest fear about the future is not of technology running out of control or posing existential risks to humankind,' he explains. 'Rather, my greatest fear is that, in the year 2045, I will be...wondering, "What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now...?"' Along with recent scientific discoveries, the book tells its young readers about long-lived plants and animals '"that point the way toward lengthening lifespans in humans,' in an attempt to avoid a future where children 'would pay no more attention to technological progress and life-extension possibilities than their predecessors did.'"
Piracy

Controversial Torrent Streaming App 'Popcorn Time' Shuts Down, Then Gets Reborn 199

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-buy-the-cow dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A piece of software called 'Popcorn Time' drew a lot of attention last week for encapsulating movie torrents within a slick, stream-based UI that made watching pirated films as easy as firing up Netflix. The app ran into trouble a few days ago when it was pulled from its hosting provider, Mega, and now Popcorn Time's creators say they're shutting it down altogether. They say it was mainly an experiment: 'Piracy is not a people problem. It's a service problem. A problem created by an industry that portrays innovation as a threat to their antique recipe to collect value. It seems to everyone that they just don't care. But people do. We've shown that people will risk fines, lawsuits and whatever consequences that may come just to be able to watch a recent movie in slippers. Just to get the kind of experience they deserve.' However, the software itself isn't a complete loss — the project is being picked up by the founder of a torrent site, and he says development will continue."
Books

Why Are There More Old Songs On iTunes Than Old eBooks? 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
New submitter Paul J Heald writes "The vast majority of books and songs from the 20th Century are out-of-print. New data show music publishers doing an admirable job of digitizing older content, but book publishers fail miserably at putting old works in eBook form. I've done some research in an attempt to explain why: 'Music publishers can proceed with the digitization of their back catalog without competing to re-sign authors or hiring lawyers to renegotiate and write new contracts. Research has revealed no cases holding that music publishers must renegotiate in order to digitize their vinyl back catalogs. The situation for book publishers is substantially the opposite. In the landmark case of Random House v. Rosetta Books, the Second Circuit held that Random House had to renegotiate deals with its authors in order to publish their hard copy books in eBook format. ... Another advantage that the music industry may have is the lower cost of digitization. A vinyl album or audio master tape can be converted directly to a consumable digital form and be made available almost immediately. A book, on the other hand, can be scanned quite easily, but in order to be marketed as a professional-looking eBook (as opposed to a low quality, camera-like image of the original book), the scanned text needs to be manipulated with word processing software to reset the fonts and improve the appearance of the text.'"
Music

Interviews: Ask Jonathan Coulton What You Will 48

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-I-know-is-the-steak-tastes-better-when-I-take-my-steak-tastes-better-pill dept.
Jonathan Coulton's song Code Monkey became an anthem for many programmers (not just ones with managers named Rob) and his success is proof that you really can become an internet rock star. Since we last talked, Coulton has became the house musician for the NPR show Ask Me Another and had one of his songs copied without permission, credit, or thanks by the show Glee, much to his chagrin. Jonathan has agreed to answer all your questions about music, internet stardom, and robots. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply.
Music

Neil Young's "Righteous" Pono Music Startup Raises $1 Million With Kickstarter 413

Posted by samzenpus
from the I've-been-a-miner-for-a-format-of-gold dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jose Pagliery reports at CNN that the 68-year-old rock star unveiled his startup, Pono, at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas raising $1.4 million in a single day. Young has developed a portable music player that stores high-resolution recordings and promises to deliver all the delicate details that get chopped out of modern-day formats, like MP3s and CDs. 'Pono' is Hawaiian for righteous. 'What righteous means to our founder Neil Young is honoring the artist's intention, and the soul of music. That's why he's been on a quest, for a few years now, to revive the magic that has been squeezed out of digital music.' With 128 GB of space, the PonoPlayer can carry about 3,200 tracks of high-resolution recordings while an MP3 player of the same size can hold maybe 10 times that many songs. Young says the MP3 files we're all listening to actually are pretty poor from an audio-quality standpoint and only contains about five percent of the audio from an original recording. But isn't FLAC already lossless? What makes Pono better?"
Movies

Movie and TV GUIs: Cracking the Code 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-looking-forward-to-seeing-that-independence-day-virus dept.
rjmarvin writes "We've all seen the code displayed in hacking scenes from movies and TV, but now a new industry is growing around custom-building realistic software and dummy code. Twisted Media, a Chicago-based design team, started doing fake computer graphics back in 2007 for the TNT show Leverage, and is now working on three prime-time shows on top of films like Gravity and the upcoming Divergent. They design and create realistic interfaces and codebases for futuristic software. British computer scientist John Graham-Cumming has drawn attention to entertainment background code by explaining what the displayed code actually does on his blog, but now that the public is more aware, studios are paying for fake code that's actually convincing."

Entropy requires no maintenance. -- Markoff Chaney

Working...