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AI

Microsoft Creates an AI That Can Spot a Joke In a New Yorker Cartoon 66

An anonymous reader writes: For over a decade Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor at the New Yorker, and his assistants have gone through 5,000 cartoon entries for the magazine's caption contest each week. Needless to say, the burnout rate of his assistants is quite high, "The process of looking at 5,000 caption entries a week usually destroys their mind in about two years, and then I get a new one," Mankoff says. But now thanks to a collaboration with Microsoft, Bob may finally have found the perfect helper. Researchers have been working on an artificial intelligence project to teach a computer what's funny. Fortune reports: "Dafna Shahaf, a researcher at Microsoft, used the database of cartoons to train the program to understand commonalities and differences in the millions of cartoons, which lets the AI run through the entries the New Yorker receives each week for its back-of-magazine cartoon caption contest. About 55.8% of the time the humans agree with the captions the AI selects, which is a pretty good percentage."
Movies

"Pixels" DMCA Takedown Even Worse Than We Thought 272

ForgedArtificer writes: So we all know about the Pixels takedown on Vimeo, and that it was pretty bad in a lot of ways. But did you know that they took down the short film that inspired the movie? Turns out, the 2010 Pixels, which was taken off Vimeo due to copyright notice, was responsible for inspiring the entire Adam Sandler flick. Unlike Sandler's film, it's critically-acclaimed and has won awards. Talk about kicking someone when they're already down. First Patrick Jean gets to watch them violate his work and now they're claiming that his work violates theirs.
Piracy

Anti-Piracy Firm Sends Out Wave of Takedown Notices For Using the Word 'Pixels' 224

An anonymous reader writes: Columbia Pictures recently released a movie called Pixels to widespread ambivalence. As part of the movie industry's standard intellectual property defense strategy, it hired anti-piracy firm Entura International to try to police infringing downloads. The firm went at the task with vigor, hitting Vimeo with DMCA takedown notices for anything with the word "Pixels" in it. As you might expect, this disrupted a number of independent filmmakers and organizations who did nothing wrong, and in most cases picked a name for their video long before the new movie came out. Even worse, it's incumbent upon the owners of the targeted videos to prove that their content does not infringe upon Columbia's. Even if they get it restored, simply being targeted counts against them in Vimeo's eyes. And of course, Entura is unwilling to help.
Television

French Killers Inspired By Breaking Bad TV Show 182

hcs_$reboot writes: Four people who planned to dissolve a young French woman's body in acid were inspired by hit US TV show Breaking Bad. Two men went to the woman's house to settle a €6,000 drug debt. There, they beat her violently, killing her through a blow to the skull. Later, they bought acid in order to dissolve her body. The victim's body was found decomposing in a flat in Toulouse on Monday night, after having being cut up into pieces, covered in cling film and shoved into a suitcase. Chlorine acid had been used to try and disguise any trace of the corpse. A similar "decomposition" scenario is featured in season one of Breaking Bad (2008-2013).
Movies

Fantastic Four Reboot Released To Tepid Reception 168

An anonymous reader writes: Another month, another superhero movie based on the Marvel universe. Today marked the release of Fantastic Four, an attempt to reboot a film franchise that did poorly in the theaters as recently as 2007. This isn't the same crew that's been pushing out blockbuster after blockbuster, though — it's the crew that keeps releasing mediocre X-Men flicks. From early reviews, it looks like we can expect to see another reboot in 2025. Rolling Stone calls it "the cinematic equivalent of malware," saying that even a solid cast of actors couldn't save it from failure. A.V. Club says it "struggles to fill out its relatively brief runtime," the NY Times says even its special effects aren't up to snuff. Metacritic shows rare agreement between fans (27/100) and critics (2.7/10), and it does just as poorly on Rotten Tomatoes. Even director Josh Trank seemed to have a problem with the film. Those who have seen it, what did you think?
Movies

Dungeons & Dragons Is Getting a Film Franchise 210

New submitter IT.luddite sends word that Hasbro and Warner Bros. have announced Dungeons & Dragons will be getting its own film franchise. They already have a script, and they'll be working with production company Sweetpea Entertainment, but they haven't picked a director, yet. They'll have at least some of the people on board who worked on the D&D movie from 2000, which was a flop. The deal between Hasbro and Warner Bros. comes after a prolonged legal battle about who owned the rights to a D&D movie. They note, "All rights for future Dungeons & Dragons productions have been unified and returned to Wizards of the Coast, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hasbro."
Music

KFC South Africa Lets Customers Listen To Music Using Bone Conduction 50

An anonymous reader writes: The end of annoying restaurant muzak may be nigh: A KFC branch in South Africa has put together a playlist of local artists for diners to enjoy — so long as they do so in silence. The in-shop broadcasts can only be heard using bone conduction as a speaker — diners put their elbows on the table and cup their ears if they want to hear the tunes.
DRM

FirefoxOS-Based Matchstick Project Ends; All Money To Be Refunded 128

Kohenkatz writes: Matchstick, a project built on FirefoxOS that aimed to compete with Google's Chromecast, which was initially funded on Kickstarter, is shutting down and will be refunding all pledges. In a post to Kickstarter backers today, they announced that this decision was due to the difficulty of implementing the DRM components that are necessary for access to a lot of paid content. Rather than drag out the project on an unknown schedule, they have decided to end the project.
Microsoft

Microsoft Taps PBS To Advance Its National Talent Strategy With 'Code Trip' 43

theodp writes: You don't have to be Mitt Romney to question PBS's announcement that it will air the Microsoft-funded 'reality' show Code Trip, in which Roadtrip Nation and Microsoft YouthSpark will send students across the U.S. for a "transformative journey into computer science." Of the partnership, Roadtrip Nation co-founder Mike Marriner said, "Roadtrip Nation is proud to partner with Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative not only to inform others of the many career routes one can take with a computer science background, but also to engage in the much-needed conversation of diversifying the tech field with more pluralistic perspectives." YouthSpark is part of Microsoft's National Talent Strategy (pdf), which the company describes as "a two-pronged approach that will couple long-term improvements in STEM education in the United States with targeted, short-term, high-skilled immigration reforms." The Official Microsoft Blog reports that filming of Code Trip began this week, with the three students traveling around the country to speak with leaders including Hadi Partovi, the co-founder of Code.org and 'major supporter' of FWD.us, who coincidentally once reported to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and is the next door neighbor of Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and a jogging partner of Steve Ballmer.
Music

"Happy Birthday" Public Domain After All? 183

New submitter jazzdude00021 writes: No song has had as contentious of copyright history as "Happy Birthday." The song is nearly ubiquitous at birthday parties in the USA, and even has several translations with the same tune. Due to copyrights held by Warner Music, public performances have historically commanded royalty fees. However, a new lawsuit has been brought to prove that "Happy Birthday" is, and always has been, in the public domain.The discovery phase for this lawsuit ended on July, 11 2014, yet this past week new evidence surfaced from Warner Music that may substantiate the claim that the lyrics were in the public domain long before the copyright laws changed in 1927.
Television

Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May Making Show For Amazon 207

mrspoonsi writes: Amazon has announced that former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will be reuniting to create “an all-new car show” that will be exclusively on Amazon Prime. The first season will be made available worldwide in 2016 and will be produced executive producer Andy Wilman. The BBC reports: "The move follows their departure from the hit BBC Two show earlier this year. Clarkson's contract was not renewed following an 'unprovoked physical attack' on a Top Gear producer. His co-hosts then followed him in leaving the show. They will now make the unnamed new programme with former Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman, who also quit the BBC following the 'fracas.' In a statement from Amazon, Clarkson said: 'I feel like I've climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship.'"
Input Devices

Nokia Announces OZO 360-Degree Camera For Filming Virtual Reality 23

New submitter Sepa Blackforesta writes: Nokia has unveiled Ozo, a next-generation camera for capturing audio and video in 360 degrees. It is built for professional content creators and the company hopes the camera will become the leading device for shooting virtual-reality experiences for Hollywood. A formal launch and price announcement is planned for the fall. A Nokia press release reads in part: "OZO captures stereoscopic 3D video through eight (8) synchronized global shutter sensors and spatial audio through eight (8) integrated microphones. Software built for OZO enables real-time 3D viewing, with an innovative playback solution that removes the need to pre-assemble a panoramic image - a time-consuming process with solutions currently in the marketplace. OZO's filmed content can be published for commercially available VR viewing hardware such as head mounted displays (HMDs), with immersive, full 360-degree imaging and spatially accurate original sound. OZO also integrates into existing professional workflows and works with third-party tools, dramatically simplifying content production at all stages."
NASA

Voyager's Golden Record For Aliens Now Available On SoundCloud 57

An anonymous reader writes: For years you've been able to listen to the sounds recorded on the golden records carried by the twin Voyager spacecraft online but NASA just made it a bit easier. The orginization just uploaded the recordings to SoundCloud. Now you can listen to a continuous stream of clips instead of clicking back and forth to hear the different tracks.
Government

Police Shut Down Anti-Violence Fundraiser Over Rapper's Hologram 298

An anonymous reader writes: A Chicago rapper by the name of Chief Keef has been making headlines recently after the city launched a campaign to deny his performance at an anti-violence event. The event was organized to raise funds for victims of recent Chicago murders in which another rapper was slain. Keef is currently wanted on warrants in the region but is living on the East Coast. He was expected to perform via a live stream projection. While Chicago officials worked to deny his performance from occurring in the city, promoters vowed that he would still perform.

A recent concert called Craze Fest was just held at the Wolf Lake Pavilion in Hammond, Indiana. The Pavilion is part of a public park. The city of Hammond refused to let promoters hold the event unless they agreed that Chief Keef would not be allowed to perform. Instead, the promoters setup a live stream projection of the rapper and showed it at the end of the concert. Once the Hologram of Keef began performing, police rushed in and began shutting down the event. This raises some interesting questions about free speech and the role of technology in it. Here's a local news article, and some brief cellphone footage of the event.
Nintendo

Nintendo TVii Service Will Go Dark August 11th 34

Kotaku reports that Nintendo has announced it will shutter its Wii U TVii in just a few weeks; after August 11th, the service will be no more. The description that Kotaku offers gives some idea of why: Nintendo TVii promised to turn television watching into a robust social experience, tracking users' favorite shows, making suggestions based on familial preferences, integrating with all of the major streaming video services, programming DVR recordings and acting as a second screen experience on the Wii U game pad. It sounded pretty amazing. It wasn’t really. It was awkward and fumbling and a year later the Xbox One came along with its HDMI pass-through and voice-controlled TV watching and made Nintendo TVii look silly."