Star Trek: New Voyages, The Fan-Based Star Trek Series ( 90

An anonymous reader writes: The New York Times has published an article on Star Trek: New Voyages, a fan production that's based on TOS. “People come from all over the world to take part in this — Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and every state in the union,” said James Cawley, the show’s executive producer. “That’s the magic of Star Trek. It’s spawned this whole generation of fans who went on to professional careers — doctors, lawyers, engineers — who are now participating in that shared love here.” With TOS fans generally being less than enamored with the movie reboots, are fan produced web series the wave of the future?

Can Star Trek's World With No Money Work In Real life? ( 541

The economics of the Star Trek universe were discussed at New York Comic Con on Sunday. Paul Krugman was among the panelists who debated whether a world without money could actually work. CNN reports: "Star Trek has dared to 'boldly go where no man has gone before' — including a world without money. 'One of the things that's interesting about Star Trek is that it does try to imagine a post-scarcity economy where there's no money. People don't work for it. People don't work because they have to but because they want to,' said Annalee Newitz, the editor of Gawker's io9 blog. Newitz -- along with Nobel Prize winner and economist Paul Krugman, 'Treknomics' author Manu Saadia, economics professor Brad DeLong, Fusion's Felix Salmon and Star Trek writer Chris Black -- discussed economics through the lens of the Star Trek world at a New York Comic Con panel Sunday."

Will You Ever Be Able To Upload Your Brain? ( 263

An anonymous reader points out this piece in the Times by professor of neuroscience at Columbia and co-director of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience Kenneth Miller, about what it would take to upload a human brain. "Much of the current hope of reconstructing a functioning brain rests on connectomics: the ambition to construct a complete wiring diagram, or 'connectome,' of all the synaptic connections between neurons in the mammalian brain. Unfortunately connectomics, while an important part of basic research, falls far short of the goal of reconstructing a mind, in two ways. First, we are far from constructing a connectome. The current best achievement was determining the connections in a tiny piece of brain tissue containing 1,700 synapses; the human brain has more than a hundred billion times that number of synapses. While progress is swift, no one has any realistic estimate of how long it will take to arrive at brain-size connectomes. (My wild guess: centuries.)"
Lord of the Rings

See the Sketches J.R.R. Tolkien Used To Build Middle-Earth ( 48

Esther Schindler writes: In addition to writing the story of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien drew it. The maps and sketches he made while drafting it "informed his storytelling, allowing him to test narrative ideas and illustrate scenes he needed to capture in words," reports Ethan Gilsdorf at Wired. "For Tolkien, the art of writing and the art of drawing were inextricably intertwined."

It's all coming out in a new book, but here we get a sneak preview, along with several cool observations, such as: "If Tolkien's nerdy use of graph paper feels like a secret message to future Dungeons & Dragons players, then so does his 'Plan of Shelob's lair.' Tolkien's map of tunnels stocked with nasties—here, a spider named Shelob—would be right at home in any Dungeon Master's campaign notes. He even marks the place for a classic dungeon crawl feature: 'trap.'"


How To Make Messages Easy For an Alien Race To Understand ( 186

szczys writes: The screen on that new cellphone has amazing pixel density, color vibrance, and refresh rate. The high-end headphones you just picked up do an amazing job reproducing sound. These devices interface extremely well with humans but might not be very good modes of communication for an Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Sure, we haven't made contact with alien life yet. Even if they did pick up our broadcasts or space probes the relatively narrow-range of audio (narrow and low frequency), visual (slow refresh rate), and data transmission methods are likely to make no sense to non-human entities. The Voyager Golden Record took a fascinating approach to making some data available to new civilizations; it's interesting to think of other ways we might communicate with beings of fundamentally different biology.

A Remarkable Number of People Think 'The Martian' Is Based On a True Story ( 364

MarkWhittington writes: The Martian is a smash hit movie that made $100 million worldwide during its first weekend. The science and engineering depicted was, with certain notable exceptions, near perfect. The cinematography and special effects were so well done that one could almost imagine that Ridley Scott sent Matt Damon and a film crew to Mars to shoot the movie. In fact, perhaps the film was a little too good. Buzzfeed took a stroll through social media and discovered that many people think that The Martian is based on a true story.
Hardware Hacking

Making Your Graphing Calculator a Musical Instrument 54

An anonymous reader writes: Thanks to a recently published open source music editor/sequencer, you can now create music on Texas Instruments graphing calculators. The complexity of the sound is impressive (video) for such a simple device, which does not feature any dedicated sound hardware. HoustonTracker 2 is open source, and is available for the TI-82, 83, 83Plus, and 84Plus.

What Non-Geeks Hate About the Big Bang Theory 406

v3rgEz writes: It has been said that there is a lot to dislike about the Big Bang Theory, from the typical geek's point of view: It plays in stereotypes of geekdom for cheap laughs, makes non-sensical gags, and has a laugh track in 2015. But what does the rest of America (well, the part of America not making it the number one show on television) think? FCC complaints recently released accuse the show of everything from animal cruelty to subliminal messaging, demanding that the sitcom be ripped from the airwaves lest it ruin America. The full complaints for your reading pleasure.

Review: The Martian 241

I was both pleased and disappointed, as always, when I heard that a book I enjoyed was being made into a movie. Andy Weir's The Martian was the best new book I'd read in years. It was written for nerds, by a nerd — by somebody with an obvious love for NASA, science, and spaceflight. How could it possibly be condensed into the format of a Hollywood blockbuster? Well, director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard figured out how. The Martian is an excellent film, well worth watching. Read on for my review (very minor spoilers only), and feel free to share your own in the comments.

TiVo's Latest Offering Detects and Skips Ads, Adds 4K Capability 85

As described by The Verge, the newest generation of TiVo is in some ways a step backward: it comes with fewer tuners than some earlier models, and less storage as well. However, two big features that distinguish the company's new Bolt DVR may entice users anyhow: it adds 4K recording, and (probably of use to more people, given the scarcity of 4K content, not to mention its file size) also can recognize and skip commercials, a feature that users have sorely missed as a mainstream feature in standalone DVRs for quite a while. (And it's possible that broadcasters will come up with a way to kill the commercial-skip function as they did with Dish's AutoHop.)

Inside the Spaceflight of 'The Martian' 123

benonemusic writes: Science writer Michael Greshko partnered with a team of scientists and engineers to explore the spacecraft and mission plans in The Martian (novel and movie), down to the rescue plan itself. Incorporating the help of Andy Weir, the novel's author, he comes up with a calendar of events for The Martian, explores the hazards of going back to save Mark Watney, and explains how a real world interplanetary spacecraft would pull off a rescue maneuver.
The Courts

A Broke Fan Owes $5,400 For Pokemon-Themed Party Posters 212

Jason Koebler writes: A fan has been ordered by a Washington judge to pay the Pokémon Company International $5,400 for copyright infringement after attempting to throw a Pokemon-themed party earlier this summer. Even though he canceled the free event, the Pokemon Company successfully sued Ramar Larkin Jones, for using an image of Pikachu to promote the Unofficial PAX Pokemon Kickoff Party.

EU Probes TVs Over Energy Test Scores 93

joesreviewss writes: The European Commission says it will follow up on evidence that Samsung and another TV-maker use software that alters their screens' power use during tests. The BBC reports: "One study indicates that some Samsung TVs nearly halve their power consumption when a standardised test is carried out. Another accuses a different unnamed manufacturer of adjusting the brightness of its sets when they "recognise" the test film involved. Samsung has denied any wrongdoing. It acknowledged that it used software that altered its televisions' performance during tests, but said this was the effect of a general energy efficiency feature that came into effect during normal use and had nothing to do with the testing process."

Amazon To Cease Sale of Apple TV and Chromecast 223

Mark Wilson writes: As of 29 October, shoppers will no longer be able to buy Apple TV or Chromecast devices from Amazon. Citing compatibility issues with Prime Video, Amazon emailed marketplace sellers to inform them it is not accepting new listings for the two media devices, and any existing listings will be removed at the end of October. The move indicates not only the importance Amazon places on its streaming Prime Video service, but also that it views Apple and Google as serious rivals. The two companies have yet to respond to the news, but it is unlikely to be well-received.

Targeting Tools Help Personalize TV Advertising 60

schwit1 writes: Surgical marketing messages are taken for granted on the Internet. Yet, they are just now finding their way onto television, where the audience is big though harder to target. As brands shift more of their spending to the Web where ads are more precise, the TV industry is pushing back. Using data from cable set-top boxes that track TV viewing, credit cards and other sources, media companies including Comcast's NBCUniversal, Time Warner's Turner, and Viacom are trying to compete with Web giants like Google and Facebook and help marketers target their messages to the right audience. Where can I get adblock for my FiOS?