jfruh writes "Google TV, despite bold predictions from the company's execs, has singularly failed to take over the TV world. Nevertheless, the company is still plugging away, and one development that might have far-reaching implications is its new context-aware voice search. 'Context aware' is the key to revolutionizing the TV-watching experience: you can say the name of a TV show, the name of a channel, the description of a show, or the description of a kind of video you'd like to find on YouTube, and the TV will show it to you."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Velcroman1 writes "Every second in your body, thousands of tiny isotopes are bursting with radioactive decay. And, all around you, imperceptible gamma rays explode in a brilliant but invisible lightshow. And they've just formed a live band. Yes, you read that correctly. But it's all for science: The Radioactive Orchestra 2.0 is part of a Swedish project to help us understand how low-energy radiation works, by showing the energy patterns of nuclear isotopes. Swedish musician Kristofer Hagbard conceived of the orchestra about a year ago and released an album last spring, but the new 2.0 version of 'the band' allows him to perform live in front of an audience. 'This can be looked at as a piano for high energy photons, so every detection gives us a note,' Hagbard said. 'The musical instrument is as good as the gamma spectrometer we are using.'"
ananyo writes "Many people dislike the clashing dissonances of modernist composers such as Arnold Schoenberg. But what's our problem with dissonance? There has long been thought to be a physiological reason why at least some kinds of dissonance sound jarring. Two tones close in frequency interfere to produce 'beating': what we hear is just a single tone rising and falling in loudness. If the difference in frequency is within a certain range, rapid beats create a rattling sound called roughness. An aversion to roughness has seemed consistent with the common dislike of intervals such as minor seconds. Yet when cognitive neuroscientist Marion Cousineau of the University of Montreal in Quebec and her colleagues asked amusic subjects (who cannot distinguish between different musical tones) to rate the pleasantness of a whole series of intervals, they showed no distinctions between any of the intervals but disliked beating as much as people with normal hearing. Instead the researchers propose that harmonicity is the key (abstract). Notes contain many overtones — frequencies that are whole-number multiples of the basic frequency in the note. For consonant 'pleasant sounding' intervals the overtones of the two notes tend to coincide as whole-number multiples, whereas for dissonant intervals this is no longer the case. The work suggests that harmonicity is more important than beating for dissonance aversion in normal hearers."
The screenwriter of Toy Story 3, and Little Miss Sunshine, Michael Arndt is writing the script for Star Wars: Episode VII according to Lucasfilm. From the article: "...The new movie has just entered pre-production and is slated to be released in 2015. It was announced just last month as Disney acquired Lucasfilm, but there’s still no word on what the major plot points of the new chapter will entail. However, Vulture reports that 'the studio’s brass want to bring back the three central characters of the original Star Wars: a much older Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. No deals are in place with any of the original actors, though our source did say it had high ambition to sign up Mark Hamill, and EW recently reported that Harrison Ford was open to the idea of returning.'"
MrSeb writes "Scientists at Duke University have created the first invisibility cloak that perfectly hides centimeter-scale objects. While invisibility cloaks have been created before, they have all reflected some of the incident light, ruining the illusion. In this case, the incident light is perfectly channeled around the object, creating perfect invisibility. There are some caveats, of course. For now, the Duke invisibility cloak only works with microwave radiation — and perhaps more importantly, the cloak is unidirectional (it only provides invisibility from one very specific direction). The big news here, though, is that it is even possible to create an invisibility cloak of any description. It is now just a matter of time before visible-light, omnidirectional invisibility cloaks are created."
New submitter speedlaw writes "Rovi has just announced that they are stopping the TV Guide OnScreen service as of April 13th, 2013. This was announced via the service itself. This is an on-air listing service that provides listings over the air, as part of an OTA TV signal. Many devices, notably the Sony HDD 250 and 500 Digital Video Recorders, will no longer function without the clock-set data this stream provides. When other companies decide to stop supporting something, they don't make older systems useless. Worse, Sony never came out with another DVR in the U.S. market. Why do we have to rent them? How do we get Sony or Rovi to provide at least a software patch to set the clock so the DVR can at least retain 1980s VCR functionality? Sony admits there is no fix. A thread on AVS forums has a bunch of information on TV Guide OnScreen. The TV stations who broadcast the data have been ordered by Rovi to disconnect the data inserters and ship them back. I have a TiVo, and yes, I know all about HTPC, but this data stream was 'lifetime listings' like TiVo has 'lifetime listings' — now that Rovi is looking to cut service, my two DVR units are about to become useless."
sciencehabit writes "It's a good 130 years too late to answer that question empirically, but at least symbolically Charles Darwin has won support from more than 4000 voters in the 10th congressional district of Georgia, thanks to an initiative headed by James Leebens-Mack, a plant biologist at the University of Georgia in Athens. Like many others, Leebens-Mack was deeply troubled by a speech his Congressman, Paul Broun (R-GA), gave at an Athens church in October deriding teachings on evolution, embryology, and the big bang theory as 'lies straight from the pit of Hell.' Broun, a medical doctor, is a member of the U.S. House of Representative's Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and chair of its Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. Leebens-Mack says the 'protest vote should make it clear to future opponents that there are a lot of people in the district who are not happy with antiscience statements.'"
"Reverberation is the persistence of sound in a particular space after the original sound is produced," says Wikipedia. More often than not, in studio recordings reverb is added digitally; virtually every FOSS or proprietary sound-editing program has a built-in reverb utility. But what if you're the sort of purist who prefers the analog sound of vinyl records to the digital sound of MP3s or CDs? What if you're the kind of musician who records at the original Sun Studio in Memphis to get that original rock and roll sound? That may be overly picky for most musicians, but there are some who would rather sound like Johnny Cash than Flavor Flav, and they're the ones who are going to insist on real analog reverb instead of twiddling a setting in Audacity. There are many types of analog reverbs, of course. One of the purest types, preferred by many audio purists, is the adjustable plate reverb, and Jim Cunnigham's Ecoplate is considered by many to be the best plate reverb ever -- which brings us to Mike Storey, who wanted an Ecoplate-type plate reverb so badly that he spent eight months building one. He'll run your audio files through it for a (highly negotiable) fee, and maybe give you a bit of advice if you want to build your own, although his biggest piece of advice for you (at the end of the video) to think long and hard before you become a home-brew reverberator, with or without advice and components from Jim Cunningham.
another random user writes that Fox's preliminary attempt to stop Dish Network's Autohop feature has failed in court. "A bid to block a TV service that allows viewers to automatically skip adverts on recorded shows has been rejected. Fox had called for a preliminary injunction on Dish Network's Autohop ahead of a copyright ruling. Broadcasters Fox, Comcast, NBC and CBS have each sued Dish Networks, saying the show recordings are unauthorized. Fox said it would appeal against the ruling. It says Autohop is 'destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem.' But Dish called the decision not to grant a preliminary injunction a 'victory for common sense.' Its Hopper digital video recorder can record and store prime-time content from the four major networks for up to eight days. And the Autohop feature lets viewers skip advertisements completely — rather than fast-forwarding through them — at the press of a button."
RenderSeven writes "As previously reported the immensely popular Buckyballs office toys have been targeted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Last week Maxfield and Oberton, the maker of Buckyballs gave up the battle and announced they would discontinue sales and close. However, being driven out of business is not enough for R Buckminster Fuller's estate, who has filed yet another lawsuit that they own all rights to the name "buckyballs" despite widespread use of the term. If you still haven't bought your own yet, a few thousand sets in stock are still available."
SchrodingerZ writes "95 million years ago, the dinosaur Sauroniops pachytholus roamed northern Africa. Fossils, originally found in southern Morocco, only consisted of the upper skull, which included the eerie looking eye socket which resembles the Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings movies. Using skull comparison, it is theorized the two-legged meat-eater would have been 40 feet tall, challenging the Tyrannosaurus Rex in height. More fossils are needed for a full analysis, but so far it is very clear this dinosaur towered over many."
Velcroman1 writes "No smartphones. No exploding pens. No ejector seats. No rocket-powered submarines. 'It's a brave new world,' gadget-maker Q tells James Bond in the new film Skyfall. The new film, released on the 50th anniversary of the storied franchise, presents a gadget-free Bond fighting with both brains and brawn against a high-tech villain with computer prowess Bill Gates would be envious of. What inspired such a villain? 'Stuxnet,' producer Michael G. Wilson said. 'There is a cyberwar that has been going on for some time, and we thought we'd bring that into the fore and let people see how it could be going on.'"
theodp writes "Just when you think the cable TV viewing experience couldn't get any worse, GeekWire reports on the Microsoft Xbox Incubation team's patent-pending Consumer Detector, which uses cameras and sensors like those in the Xbox 360 Kinect controller to monitor, count and in some cases identify the people in a room watching television, movies and other content. Should the number of viewers detected exceed the limits of a particular content license, the system would halt playback unless additional viewing rights were purchased."
Hugh Pickens writes "iTunes has been criticized in the past for being slow and growing increasingly unwieldy as more and more media types have been added to what used to be simply a music player. Apple announced iTunes 11, the latest version of the program, at its iPhone 5 event in September and said the update would be released by the end of October, but Apple's deadline for the upgrade has slipped. 'The new iTunes is taking longer than expected and we wanted to take a little extra time to get it right,' Apple told technology site AllThingsD. 'We look forward to releasing this new version of iTunes with its dramatically simpler and cleaner interface and seamless integration with iCloud before the end of November.' The update is said to be the most significant upgrade to iTunes in the 11-year life of the program, which has grown from a simple music player to the most powerful retailer in the music business — and a force in the movie, television and e-books businesses — and, on Apple's PCs, the portal to its app store."
An anonymous reader writes "Mathematician Benjamin K. Tippett has written a fascinating and deadpan paper (Pdf) giving insights into Cthulhu. A 'Bubble' of warped Space-Time makes alarmingly consistent sense of the dead God's cyclopean city under the sea. From the paper: 'We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.'"