An anonymous reader writes "Valve on Monday announced the public release of Big Picture, Steam's new mode that lets gamers access their games on a TV, in over 20 languages. Big Picture lets you use a traditional gamepad (as well as a keyboard and mouse) to access the complete Steam store and Steam Community from the comfort of the couch in your living room."
I recently retired my ancient AthlonMP rig for something a bit more modern, and in the upgrade got a new DVD±RW drive. Since I have the new rig and a lot more disk space, the time has come to re-rip my ~450 disc CD collection into FLAC (I trust active storage more than optical discs that may or may not last another twenty years). The optical drive I had in my old rig was one recommended by Hydrogen Audio or somewhere similar for ripping CDs, and can grab an hour long album in about five minutes. My new drive, unfortunately, takes about fifteen to do the same. With the number of discs I have to churn through and the near-instaneous encoding, it's somewhat annoying. After searching the Internet high and low for advice I came up empty handed, and so I ask Slashdot: are there any SATA DVD burners that don't suck at ripping CDs? Read on for more details if you wish.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Washington Post reports that Apple has finally unveiled their new version of iTunes, overhauling its look and feel and integrating it more closely with the company's iCloud Internet- storage service with one of the biggest upgrades Apple has made to the program with 400 million potential users since its debut more than a decade ago. The new design of iTunes moves away from the spreadsheet format that Apple has featured since its debut and adds more art and information about musicians, movies and television shows. It also adds recommendation features so users can find new material. According to David Pogue of the NY Times Apple has fixed some of the dumber design elements that have always plagued iTunes. 'For years, the store was represented only as one item in the left-side list, lost among less important entries like Radio and Podcasts. Now a single button in the upper-right corner switches between iTunes's two personalities: Store (meaning Apple's stuff) and Library (meaning your stuff).' Unfortunately, Apple hasn't fixed the Search box. As before, you can't specify in advance what you're looking for: an app, a song, a TV show, a book. Whatever you type into the Search box finds everything that matches, and you can't filter it until after you search. It feels like a two-step process when one should do. 'Improvements in visual navigation and a more logical arrangement of tools are good, but for me the biggest positive within iTunes 11 remains its vastly improved performance on all three Macs I've tested it on, including a relatively ancient five-year-old MacBook,' writes Jonny Evans."
An anonymous reader writes "The Boring 2012 Conference, the celebration of unexciting things served with dry British humor, now belongs to the wastepaper basket of history. Correspondents at the third annual London conference report that speakers covered a range of such dull topics as supermarket self-service checkouts; a photographic survey of results produced by breakfast toasters; a web site tracking the physical heights of celebrities; and the use of Google Maps to the chart the location of IBM cash registers around London." Funny thing is, the talks described actually sound fascinating.
eldavojohn writes "NPR pointed out a press release claiming that North Korean archaeologists have found a 'unicorn lair' in Pyongyang. The members of the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences have "reconfirmed" that this site was used for King Tongmyong's unicorn where the unicorn would concoct his unicorn schemes and do his unicorn things if anyone ventured too closely. The last line is, perhaps, the most important line of the article, 'The discovery of the unicorn lair, associated with legend about King Tongmyong, proves that Pyongyang was a capital city of Ancient Korea as well as Koguryo Kingdom.' Fear not that North Korea is surpassing the world in cryptozoology, Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, TX has claimed to have recently sequenced Bigfoot's DNA and he's part human."
An anonymous reader writes "Mitsubishi was the last hold-out in the big-screen rear-projection display business after Samsung left the category in 2009. Now Mitsubishi has dropped the dinosaur. Every big-brand CE manufacturer got their start in the big-TV business via rear projection sets from CRT to DLP to LCoS, eventually replacing them with modern-day flat screens. Mitsubishi did develop LCD flat-screens for a time, but dropped out of that market to focus on rear DLPs after Samsung gave it a monopoly. The author, a CE editor, takes a nostalgic and amusing look at her 15 years with three Mitsu rear pros, the only big-screen TV she's known."
Readycharged writes "A generation's childhood dreams have come true with the creation of a working 'robot in disguise' Transformer which, when operated by remote control, morphs from a luxury sports car to a missile hurling robot in seconds. Japanese inventor Kenji Ishida is planning to make 10 lucky (and undoubtedly rich) purchasers owners of these toys in the run up to Christmas, having first displayed them at the Maker Faire in Tokyo during the first week of December. For those willing to wait a few years, Ishida plans to have created a life size, drivable model by 2030."
jfruh writes "Automakers are striving mightily to bring their in-dash systems into the modern age, providing integration with smartphones and other advanced features. The problem: while smartphones go in and out of vogue every few years, modern cars have lifespans of a decade or more. Add in the fact that many (though not all) manufacturers have no plans to allow software upgrades to their systems, and you might end up driving a car with a fancy in-dash computer system that's completely useless for much of the time you own it."
eldavojohn writes "Art critic and University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia Camille Paglia has written a book that not only claims George Lucas is the 'World's Greatest Living Artist' but also that 'Revenge of the Sith' is our generation's greatest work of art. That's right: Titian, Bernini, Monet, Picasso, Jackson Pollock and ... George Lucas. If you thought you understood art but you hated Episode III, it might be difficult to understand how her book 'Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars' ends with 'Revenge of the Sith.' There is a possibility that the art world remembers this generation by examining that movie."
An anonymous reader writes "We've heard this one before, over and over again: pirates are the biggest spenders. It therefore shouldn't surprise too many people to learn that shutting down Megaupload earlier this year had a negative effect on box office revenues. The latest finding comes from a paper titled: 'Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Computerworld asks: What will happen if big advertisers declare AdBlock Plus a clear and present danger to online business models? Hint: it will probably involve lawyers. From the article: 'Could browser ad blocking one day become so prevalent that it jeopardises potentially billions of dollars of online ad revenue, and the primary business models of many online and new media businesses? If so, it will inevitably face legal attack.'"
mask.of.sanity writes "This custom Yamaha TRX 850 has been outfitted with wireless sniffing and attack tools, routers, a laptop, Raspberry Pi and even a heads up display integrated within the bike helmet. It was built from open source kit and cheap hardware by a security penetration tester who wanted to make his love of wardriving more nimble. The plans are detailed in a diagram and a video."
SternisheFan writes with news of rumors over Microsoft's plans for its next-gen Xbox console. According to The Verge, the company is working on a cheap, Xbox-based set-top box for some time in 2013. "The device will run on the core components of Windows 8 and support casual gaming titles rather than full Xbox games typically found on a dedicated console. Although hardware specifications aren't fully locked down, we understand Microsoft will use a chipset to enable an "always on" device that boots quickly and resumes to provide near-instant access to TV and entertainment services. Microsoft's Xbox set-top box work is said to be part of a broader effort to ensure its core architecture for the next-generation Xbox is scalable enough to be put together to run on a number of devices. We understand that the company could opt to combine its core system for the next Xbox with a phone stack to deliver a phone capable of running a full version of Microsoft's Xbox Live services."
An anonymous reader writes with news that hardware vendors aren't too happy about expanded levies on media. From the article: "Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Dell, and Imation are suing the Dutch government over new levies on hard disks, smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players that are meant to compensate the music and movie industries for losses caused by home copying. The entertainment industry estimates lost income of €40 million, which is much too high, according to the hardware companies. 'That amount is excessive and completely unfounded,' they said. The €40 million also incorporates damages for illegally downloaded music and movies which, according to the companies, legally cannot be recovered by a levy on devices. Furthermore the Dutch government established a levy on all devices including devices for professional use that are not used for private copying, they said."
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like the next generation of 'Battle Bots' is here: 'Syfy has greenlit and shot the first season of a new show where eight-foot-tall state-of-the-art humanoid robots will rock 'em and sock 'em in a boxing cage until one is defeated. The future-shock new series is called Robot Combat League and the project has been kept under wraps until today. The action resembles a real-life version of last year's hit movie Real Steel, with large menacing robots pounding away at each other in a satisfying shower of sparks and gushing hydraulic fluid.' Pictures are included with the story."