First time accepted submitter fotoguzzi writes "Garden State Fireworks is investigating how the entire Fourth of July show was launched after a signal was sent to the barges that would set the timing for the rest of the show after the introduction. Can anyone suggest how such a trivial step could go so disastrously wrong?" It's not the first time such a thing has happened, either.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
judgecorp writes "21-year old computer science student Philip Matesanz is ignoring a 'cease and desist' order from Google over his site YouTube-mp3.org, which rips audio tracks from videos hosted on YouTube. Instead, he has launched a public campaign against Google, arguing that German law allows what he is doing. Matesanz has an online petition."
First time accepted submitter NRI-Digital writes "Could the use of unmanned aerial vehicles open up a whole new world of filmmaking? UAV manufacturer Schiebel and media company Snaproll Media recently teamed up to test Schiebel's Camcopter on an aerial film shoot. Whether filming volcanic eruptions or zipping through forest tree-lines, UAVs have the potential to get shots that manned helicopters would struggle to manage. It's still a young, niche industry, but as costs come down, these little vehicles could become a common sight on the film shoots of the future."
cylonlover writes "Valve has gained a reputation over the years not just for consistently putting out great games, but also for the slick trailers and promo videos that go along with them. But now the developer is turning the tables and handing over its own video-making tools to fans free of charge. With the Source Filmmaker, gamers will be able to direct, animate, and record their own videos as if they were shooting on location inside a video game."
MrSeb writes "The VideoLAN Project has pushed a beta version of VLC for Android to the Google Play Store. The beta brings most of the functionality of VLC for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X to Android in a native UI in the Android 4.0 Holo style. However, there are a few hitches. The beta release published to the Google Play Store today is only compatible with ARM systems that use the ARMv7 architecture set and support the NEON instruction set. That means that there are several devices — mostly those released before the Samsung Galaxy S in late 2010, and anything powered by Tegra 2 — that cannot run the current beta. Also, apparently due to a lack of North America-specific Android test devices, VLC for Android is currently not available from the US or Canadian Play Store. Both problems should be rectified soon, though." VLC is one of those impressive programs that just works with nearly any input thrown at it, and one of the first things I put on any computer. I hope the Android version retains pitch-controlled variable-speed playback, perhaps my favorite VLC feature, and something I miss on my tablet.
Once upon a time, it was easy to characterize Google’s domain and business model: they provided well-organized internet search results through a simple, friendly interface, and made money through targeted advertising. Over the years, the company has grown more complex even faster than has the — still admirably spare — Google home page, as it’s either assimilated or originated all kinds of adjuncts to pure search. The Nexus Q, as the company’s first-ever fully home-grown consumer electronics product (as opposed to Google-branded but jointly developed phones and tablets) shows just how far that path has led, and hints at cooler things to come. By default, though, the device is severely limited, intended basically as an overqualified gateway to content stored at Google’s Play media store, or at (Google-controlled) YouTube. And if that weren’t constrained enough, it requires another Android device (phone or tablet, say) as a remote control. The Q is equipped with impressive hardware internally, though, which might soon be exploited with software more flexible than that which comes loaded.
theodp writes "As a young boy, Batman producer Michael Uslan — a self-described 'ultimate comic book geek' — was traumatized to see the Caped Crusader being 'murdered' in front of his very eyes by the camp 60's TV series. 'I was horrified,' Uslan told a Harper College audience last week. 'I was horrified because the whole world was laughing at Batman, and that just killed me.' At that point, the 13-year-old vowed to teach the world about the Batman he knew, about the crusader who lurked in the shadows, about a darker, grittier superhero. As told in his memoir The Boy Who Loved Batman, he made good on that vow: Uslan has served as the executive producer of all Batman major motion pictures, from 1989's Batman to the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises (trailer)."
First time accepted submitter Dslice_allstar writes "I have a '77 GMC Van that I would like to take into the 21st century with some good tech. I have several large LCD monitors, and I want to hook at least one up for watching movies and doing some mild PC gaming. I am concerned about power, i.e. using an inverter and not frying the computer every time the van starts/stops, and I'm worried about whether the alternator will support a computer/monitor setup as well as LEDs and the like. Would a UPC backup be a good idea? I would also like to be able to play music over the sound system, preferably off the computer. Should I be thinking mini ITX HTPC, or would a netbook better serve my purposes? How would you all pimp out an old conversion van?"
ericjones12398 writes "The effectiveness of television, as an advertising medium and as a return on investment (ROI), has been constantly questioned since the arrival of the 'digital marketing age.' Not surprisingly, those who are loudest with this concern are mainly high-tech technology companies that are either strong proponents of online advertising — like Google — and/or device hardware manufacturers — like Apple. These organizations hope to 'improve the user experience' by introducing proprietary technologies — usually their own — that can integrate within the existing television environment."
Geoffrey.landis writes "At last, a public opinion poll that gets the opinions of ordinary Americans on the issues that matter! Apparently, two thirds of Americans polled think that Barack Obama is better suited to defend against an alien invasion than Mitt Romney, according to a survey from National Geographic Channel, done to tout their upcoming TV series 'chasing UFOs'. In follow-up questioning, Americans would rather call on the Hulk (21%) than either Batman (12%) or Spiderman (8%) to save the day. No word on which candidate is most fit to defend America against shambling hordes of undead seeking to destroy civilization in the zombie apocalypse (perhaps that will be brought out in the debates)." The real question of course is how Obama would handle Galactus.
mahiskali writes "After apologizing for using a likeness of former President George W. Bush's head in the season finale of the first season of 'Game of Thrones,' HBO has digitally altered the offending scene. After releasing an formal apology, HBO proceeded to yank the episode off all digital platforms, as well as halt distribution of the Season 1 box sets. The episode is now back with an altered head; more hair, less chin. Show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss later clarified, 'We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can't afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush.'"
Shivetya writes "Last year Netflix was sued by the National Association for the Deaf for failing to provide closed captioned text through its on-demand streaming service. Now, a judge has denied Netflix's attempt to have the suit thrown out, saying that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination in any venue — not just physical structures. The easiest means to comply would be to remove all videos which do not have a closed captioning component, the other route would require Netflix to pay to have this done to any video it wants to provide. The implications to other providers is immense as well. The plaintiffs will still need to prove that Netflix is legally obligated to provide closed-captioning, but the ruling is still significant for recognizing that Internet sites may fall under the purview of the Americans with Disabilities Act."
zaba writes "Once again, I can hear the tell-tale signs of a hard drive dying. This time, it's in the DVR for one of our TVs. In the U.S., are we at a point where, with a little technical savvy, 'cutting the cord' makes sense? If so, what are the best options? Does a refurb Roku (anywhere from 60-80 USD) make the most sense? Does building a mythbox or some such device make sense? For my family of four (ages 36, 30, 13 and 4), we are paying ~100 USD/month for two receivers (one with a DVR). What, in your opinion, is the best option to have TV service in two rooms of the house? Kid's shows could be in one room and adult shows in another. Or, all of it could be on one server (I have computers lying around) that could go to multiple rooms. We like the DVR for the instant access, but saving a hundred bucks a month would be nice as well. I can drop CAT-5 as needed, but Wi-Fi would be preferred. For programming, we currently have 'standard' cable and mostly watch the major networks. I would love to have ESPN, but can get my sports fix (mostly college football) through other means, I'm sure. How do you all watch TV? What have you found to be the best way to get what you want?"
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Free software lawyer and activist Eben Moglen plans to give a talk at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference in New York next month on the need to apply Isaac Asimov's laws of robotics to our personal devices like smartphones. Here's a preview: 'In [1960s] science fiction, visionaries perceived that in the middle of the first quarter of the 21st century, we'd be living contemporarily with robots. They were correct. We do. We carry them everywhere we go. They see everything, they're aware of our position, our relationship to other human beings and other robots, they mediate an information stream about us, which allows other people to predict and know our conduct and intentions and capabilities better than we can predict them ourselves. But we grew up imagining that these robots would have, incorporated in their design, a set of principles. We imagined that robots would be designed so that they could never hurt a human being. These robots have no such commitments. These robots hurt us every day. They work for other people. They're designed, built and managed to provide leverage and control to people other than their owners. Unless we retrofit the first law of robotics onto them immediately, we're cooked.'"
NASA's been solicited ideas for exploring Mars, but Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp is already planning a different kind of trip than is likely to come from the U.S. government. Lansdorp's Mars One project has the goal of putting humans on Mars in 2022, with a twist that might dampen many people's hopes to be a Mars-exploring astronaut: the trip Lansdorp plans is one-way only. That means dramatically less fuel on board, because unlike typical Mars voyage plans, there would be no need (or ability) to carry the mechanism or the energy storage to return to Earth. If you (and three close companions) are willing to go be the first people to die on Mars, you'll also need to give up more than a pinch of privacy, because the Mars One plan to obtain the necessary funding is straightforward: create a media spectacle, and monetize it through advertising. (Note: If Elon Musk's optimistic sounding predictions are right, maybe one-way Marstronauts can get a return ticket, after all.) Many questions about the proposed journey are answered in the project's FAQ; check there before formulating questions. Ask Lansdorp about the practicalities and impracticalities of reaching Mars with as many questions as you'd like, but (lest ye be modded down) please only one question per post.