New submitter Tmackiller writes with an excerpt from VG247.com: The British government has decriminalised online video game, music and movie piracy, scrapping fuller punishment plans after branding them unworkable. Starting in 2015, persistent file-sharers will be sent four warning letters explaining their actions are illegal, but if the notes are ignored no further action will be taken. The scheme, named the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is the result of years of talks between ISPs, British politicians and the movie and music industries. The UK's biggest providers – BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky – have all signed up to VCAP, and smaller ISPs are expected to follow suit. VCAP replaces planned anti-piracy measures that included cutting users' internet connections and creating a database of file-sharers. Geoff Taylor, chief executive of music trade body the BPI, said VCAP was about "persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection." He added: "VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It's about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice." Officials will still work to close and stem funding to file-sharing sites, but the news appears to mean that the British authorities have abandoned legal enforcement of online media piracy. Figures recently published by Ofcom said that nearly a quarter of all UK downloads were of pirated content." Tmackiller wants to know "Will this result in more private lawsuits against file sharers by the companies involved?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Back in the day (which is a scientific measurement for anyone who used to walk to school during snowstorms, uphill, both ways), integrated audio solutions had trouble earning respect. Many enthusiasts considered a sound card an essential piece to the PC building puzzle. It's been 25 years since the first Sound Blaster card was introduced, a pretty remarkable feat considering the diminished reliance on discrete audio in PCs, in general. These days, the Sound Blaster ZxR is Creative's flagship audio solution for PC power users. It boasts a signal-to-noise (SNR) of 124dB that Creative claims is 89.1 times better than your motherboard's integrated audio solution. It also features a built-in headphone amplifier, beamforming microphone, a multi-core Sound Core3D audio processor, and various proprietary audio technologies. While gaming there is no significant performance impact or benefit when going from onboard audio to the Sound Blaster ZxR. However, the Sound Blaster ZxR produced higher-quality in-game sound effects and it also produces noticeably superior audio in music and movies, provided your speakers can keep up."
meghan elizabeth writes If the Turing Test can be fooled by common trickery, it's time to consider we need a new standard. The Lovelace Test is designed to be more rigorous, testing for true machine cognition. An intelligent computer passes the Lovelace Test only if it originates a "program" that it was not engineered to produce. The new program—it could be an idea, a novel, a piece of music, anything—can't be a hardware fluke. The machine's designers must not be able to explain how their original code led to this new program. In short, to pass the Lovelace Test a computer has to create something original, all by itself.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with news that Google is expanding its online music services through acquisition. From the article: Songza focuses on playlists curated by music experts that are designed for specific activities or occasions and then suggested to specific listeners based on seven points of context: day of week, time of day, the device used being used, weather, location, what the particular listener has done before with the service considering those previous five points, and then what all other Songza listeners have done before given the first five context points.
cartechboy writes What if you got into your car and you had to authenticate that it was you behind the wheel? That might be what's coming in the near future as Ford's working with Intel to bring facial recognition to the car. The idea would be to improve safety and in-car tech with this system which is being called Project Mobil. When someone enters a Project Mobil-equipped car the system uses front-facing cameras to authenticate the driver. If the driver can't be authenticated it'll send a photo to the vehicle owner's phone asking for permission for this person to drive the vehicle. Once identified, the car can then automatically adjust certain settings to the driver's preference. This could also theoretically allow parents to control how loud their kids listen to the music while driving, how fast they can drive, and even simply monitor them driving. Obviously this NSA-like surveillance tech is a bit creepy on some levels, but there could be a lot of terrific applications for it. While only an experiment, don't be surprised if your dashboard stares back at you eventually.
Nate the greatest (2261802) writes "Here in the US it is legal to resell your MP3s on Redigi, and thanks to the UsedSoft decision you can resell downloaded software in Europe. But if you want to resell your ebooks you had better act fast. Tom Kabinet launched last week in the Netherlands to offer a marketplace for used ebooks, and it is already getting legal threats. The Dutch Trade Publishers Association (GAU) says that the site is committing piracy and if it doesn't shut down the GAU plans to take it to court. Citing a ruling from a German court, secretary general of the GAU Martijn David said that the question of legality had already been settled. Would anyone care to place a bet on whether the site is still in operation in 6 months?"
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Apple is one of the biggest headphone makers in the world thanks to those signature white earbuds that have shipped with every iPod, iPhone, and iPad since 2001. But even two years after earbuds became 'EarPods,' the design could still be improved — and competitors are taking notice. Amazon recently unveiled a new pair of in-ear headphones that are magnetic, tangle-free and $5 cheaper than Apple's $30 EarPods, while smaller startups are promoting their own wireless and customizable 3D-printed earbuds. But Apple has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of patents for a set of headphones with 'one or more integrated physiological sensors' designed to help users keep track of their body stats."
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes The banjo is a stringed instrument that produces a distinctive metallic sound often associated with country, folk and bluegrass music. It is essentially a drum with a long neck. Strings are fixed at the end of the neck, stretched across the drum and fixed on the other side. They are supported by a bridge that sits on the drum membrane. While the instrument is straightforward in design and the metallic timbre easy to reproduce, acoustics experts have long puzzled over exactly how the instrument produces its characteristic tones. Now David Politzer, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 2004, has worked out the answer. He says the noise is the result of two different kinds of vibrations. First there is the vibration of the string, producing a certain note. However, the drum also vibrates and this pushes the bridge back and forth causing the string to stretch and relax. This modulates the frequency of the note. When frequency of this modulation is below about 20 hertz, it creates a warbling effect. Guitar players can do the same thing by pushing a string back and forth after it is plucked. But when the modulating frequency is higher, the ear experiences it as a kind of metallic crash. And it is this that gives the banjo its characteristic twang. If you're in any doubt, try replacing the drum membrane with a piece of wood and the twang goes away. That's because the wood is stiffer and so does not vibrate to the same extent. Interesting what Nobel prize-winning physicists do in their spare time.
Google I/O, the company's annual developer tracking^wdevelopers conference, has opened today in San Francisco. This year the company has reduced the number of conference sessions to 80, but also promised a broader approach than in previous years -- in other words, there may be a shift in focus a bit from Google's best known platforms (Chrome/Chrome OS and Android). Given its wide-ranging acquisitions and projects (like the recent purchase of Nest, which itself promptly bought Dropcam, the ever smarter fleet of self-driving cars, the growing number of Glass devices in the wild, and the announcement of a 3D scanning high end tablet quite unlike the Nexus line of tablets and phones), there's no shortage of edges to focus on. Judging from the booths set up in advance of the opening (like one with a sign announcing "The Physical Web," expect some of the stuff that gets lumped into "the Internet of Things." Watch this space -- updates will appear below -- for notes from the opening keynote, or follow along yourself with the live stream, and add your own commentary in the comments. In the days to come, watch for some video highlights of projects on display at I/O, too. Update: 06/25 17:41 GMT by T : Updates rolling in below on Android, wearables, Android in cars, Chromecast, smart watches, etc.Keep checking back! (Every few minutes, I get another chunk in there.)
An anonymous reader writes: Here's a fun project: engineer Yuriy Guts built a Visual Studio extension that lets people program using MIDI instruments. You can write code letter by letter on a piano keyboard. Granted, it's not terribly efficient, but it's at least artistic — you can compose music that is also a valid computer program. Somewhat more usefully, it also allows you to turn a simple MIDI input device, like a trigger pad into a set of buttons that will run tests, push/pull code, or other tasks suitable for automation. The extension is open source and open to contributions.
An anonymous reader writes So I, like many people, want to make my own game. Outside of MATLAB, Visual Basic, and LabVIEW I have no real programming experience. I initially started with Ruby, but after doing my homework decided that if I ever wanted to progress to a game that required some power, I would basically need to learn some form of C anyway. Further digging has led me to C#. The other parts of game design and theory I have covered: I have ~8 years of CAD modeling experience including Maya and Blender; I have a semiprofessional sound studio, an idie album on iTunes, and am adept at creating sound effects/music in a wide variety of programs; I'm familiar with the setbacks and frustration involved with game development — I beta tested DotA for 9ish years; I already have my game idea down on paper (RTS), including growth tables, unit types, unit states, story-lines, etc. I've been planning this out for a year or two; I will be doing this on my own time, by myself, and am prepared for it to take a couple years to finish. The reason for listing that stuff out, is that I want people to understand that I know what I'm getting myself in to, and I'm not trying to put out a not-so-subtle "help me make a game for free lol" type of post. With all of that said, where is a good place to start (i.e., recommended books) for learning C# for game programming? I am familiar with object oriented programming, so that's a little bit of help. I'm not necessarily looking for the syntax (that part is just memorization), but more for the methodology involved. If anyone also has any suggestions for other books or information that deal with game development, I would love to hear that too. I know enough to understand that I really don't know anything, but have a good foundation to build on.
New submitter Hammeh (2481572) writes "BlackBerry announced they have reached a licensing agreement with Amazon to provide the Amazon Android Appstore to be shipped with BlackBerry OS 10.3, which is due to be released this fall. The Amazon Appstore will exist alongside the current BlackBerry World, bringing more than 200,000 Android apps directly to BB 10.3 devices. As part of the announcement, BlackBerry also outlined how they will be closing the Music and Video sections of BlackBerry World, as they will be provided by the Amazon Appstore. The question: is it enough to save BlackBerry in the consumer market, or is it too little, too late?
Sockatume writes: In a statement to the Financial Times and reported by the BBC, Google has confirmed that it will remove the music videos of independent artists unless they sign up to its upcoming subscription music service. Many independent musicians and labels have refused to do so, claiming that the contracts offer significantly worse deals than the likes of Spotify and Pandora, and that Google is unwilling to negotiate on the rates it offers artists. A Google spokesperson indicated that the company could start removing videos within days.
This isn't a "both peddlers are equal" bike. The person sitting in the rear seat is in the "control" position. Because of the wide handlebars, he or she can reach around the person in the front seat to steer. The person in the front seat can't really do much except enjoy the ride, or maybe lean back and whisper a sweet nothing or two if the person in the back seat is someone the front-seater loves. The bike is called the UnaTandem (turn music off in the lower left corner of the page), and Shawn Raymond tried to get Kickstarter funding for it back in 2012 but only raised $1651, which was quite a ways short of his $70,000 goal. So, with Kickstarter in the rear view mirror, Shawn is trying to do his own crowdfunding. Will this work? Can he get enough people to buy into his idea of a tandem bike that gives you the old "riding on the handlebars" feeling to get his company off the ground? Can he use his own money (assuming he has enough) to build and sell his tandem bikes without bringing in outside investors at all? And then there's the price problem. Shawn says he's looking at a retail price in the $850 range. That may not seem like a lot to some, but you can buy 10 Walmart bikes for that much. Or four or five bikes from specialty bicycle or sporting goods stores. Despite the high price, some will undoubtedly buy these short tandem bikes and like them. But will enough people buy enough of them to make this a viable business? Shawn obviously thinks so. (Alternate Video Link)
The New York Times, in an article about Apple CEO Tim Cook, focuses in large part on the ways in which Cook is not Jobs. He's less volatile, for one thing, whether you think that means he's less passionate or just more circumspect. A small slice: Lower-level employees praise Mr. Cook’s approachability and intellect. But some say he is less hands-on in developing products than his predecessor. They point to the development of the so-called iWatch — the “smartwatch” that Apple observers are eagerly awaiting as the next world-beating gadget. Mr. Cook is less involved in the minutiae of product engineering for the watch, and has instead delegated those duties to members of his executive cabinet, including Mr. Ive, according to people involved in the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to press. Apple declined to comment on the watch project. ... Mr. Cook has also looked outside of Apple for experienced talent. He has hired executives from multiple industries, including Angela Ahrendts, the former head of Burberry, to oversee the physical and online stores, and Paul Deneve, the former Yves Saint Laurent chief executive, to take on special projects. He also hired Kevin Lynch, the former chief technology officer of Adobe, and Michael O’Reilly, former medical officer of the Masimo Corporation, which makes health monitoring devices. Not to mention the music men of Beats.
theodp (442580) writes With the battle for the connected home underway, Wired's Mat Honan offered his humorous and scary Friday the 13th take on what life in the connected home of the future might be like. "I wake up at four to some old-timey dubstep spewing from my pillows," Honan begins. "The lights are flashing. My alarm clock is blasting Skrillex or Deadmau5 or something, I don't know. I never listened to dubstep, and in fact the entire genre is on my banned list. You see, my house has a virus again. Technically it's malware. But there's no patch yet, and pretty much everyone's got it. Homes up and down the block are lit up, even at this early hour. Thankfully this one is fairly benign. It sets off the alarm with music I blacklisted decades ago on Pandora. It takes a picture of me as I get out of the shower every morning and uploads it to Facebook. No big deal." Having been the victim of an epic hacking, Honan can't be faulted for worrying.
An anonymous reader writes This article in The New York Times shows the clash of purists and people who desire to experiment with "new technology" available to them. The geek in me is really curious about this concept of a digital orchestra (with the ability to change tempos, placement of speakers in an orchestra pit, possibly delaying some to line them up ...). I understand that instrumentalists feel threatened, but why not let free enterprise decide the fate of this endeavor instead of trying to kill it by using blackmail and misrepresentation? Isn't there a place for this, even if maybe it is not called opera ... maybe iOpera?
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes with word of a new extension to European consumer protection laws: Previously, anyone who bought a product online was allowed seven business days during which they were able to change their mind and return the product for a full refund. This 'cooling-off period,' during which a refund can be requested without being required to give a reason for the cancellation, has now been extended to fourteen calendar days from the date on which the goods are received. Online retailers and providers are now also banned from 'pre-ticking' optional extras on order forms, such as those adding insurance to the cost of a purchase. For the first time, laws have also been introduced to offer a cooling-off period for digital content, including music, films and books, as BBC News reports. Consumers may now cancel an order for digital content within fourteen days, but only if they have not downloaded it.
jfruh writes: "For many tech-savvy folks, it may come as surprise that physical media like DVD and Blu-Ray still generate more movie revenue than streaming services. But PriceWaterhouse Coopers is predicting that the the lines will cross in 2017 as physical media sales and rentals decline; already, fully half of those revenues come from supermarket Redbox kiosks. Still, there are signs that physical media won't vanish entirely, including the obsessive needs of collectors and the music industry's increasing suspicions of digital sales."
Lucas123 writes 'A study released at the Telematics Detroit 2014 conference revealed the obvious: Most people don't want more distracting embedded apps in their cars; they just want essential apps like navigation and music to be intuitive to use and reliable. Part of the study involved a focus group of 46 people who were asked to evaluate infotainment systems from three luxury car makers and four "mass consumer" car makers. The drivers were asked to do three things: Navigate home, find a pizza shop and find a radio station. Only 40% were able to complete all three tasks. Not surprisingly, the highest rated infotainment system was Tesla because its icons were "large" and it was easy to figure out.'