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Sci-Fi

New Doctor Who Companion Announced 255

Posted by samzenpus
from the hanging-out-with-the-doctor dept.
eternaldoctorwho writes "Jenna-Louise Coleman will be the newest companion to the Doctor (Matt Smith) on the hit series Doctor Who. The announcement came earlier today on the BBC's Twitter page devoted to the program, along with some other details about the upcoming season of the show. Miss Coleman is also known for her previous roles on Emmerdale and Captain America: The First Avenger."
Privacy

New Samsung TV Watches You Watching It 320

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-watching-who? dept.
CanHasDIY writes "Straight out of 1984, Samsung has unveiled a new series of televisions with integrated cameras and microphones, complete with facial and voice recognition software. Best of all, there appears to be no physical indication of the mic and camera's status, so consumers have no way of knowing when they're being monitored, or by whom... and if you don't find the idea of a TV that watches you creepy enough, apparently Samsung's Terms of Service include a clause allowing third-party apps to make use of the monitoring system, and use the data gathered for their own purposes. Nothing Orwellian about that..."
Toys

3D Printer Models For Universal Construction Toy Connectors 76

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-would-pirate-a-car-wouldn't-you dept.
dangle writes "F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab have officially released their Free Universal Construction Kit, allowing builders to freely interconnect parts from Lego, K'Nex, Fischertechnik, and other common building sets. ZomeTool and Zoob patterns will be available after related patents expire. The makers have also spent considerable effort investigating and anticipating legal complaints from manufacturers, using an Inverse Think of The Children Argument: Some may express concern that the Free Universal Construction Kit infringes such corporate prerogatives as copyright, design right, trade dress, trademarks or patents of the supported toy systems. We encourage those eager to enforce these rights to please think of the children — and we assert that the home printing of the Free Universal Construction Kit constitutes protected fair use." Model files are available over at Thingiverse. The designs are all covered by the CC BY-SA 3.0.
Businesses

The Numbers Behind the Copyright Math 311

Posted by Soulskill
from the each-song-is-worth-all-the-songs dept.
TheUnknownCoder writes "The MPAA claims $58 billion in actual U.S. economic losses and 373,000 lost jobs due to piracy. Where are these numbers coming from? Rob Reid puts these numbers into perspective in this TED Talk, leaving us even more puzzled about the math behind copyright laws. 'Ignoring improbabilities like pirated steaks and daffodils, I looked at actual employment and headcount in actual content industries, and found nothing approaching the claimed losses. There are definitely concrete and quantifiable piracy-related losses in the American music industry. The Recording Industry Association’s website has a robust and credible database that details industry sales going back to 1973, which any researcher can access for a few bucks (and annoying as I’ve found the RIAA to be on certain occasions, I applaud them for making this data available). I used it to compare the industry’s revenues in 1999 (when Napster debuted) to 2010 (the most recent available data). Sales plunged from $14.6 billion down to $6.8 billion — a drop that I rounded to $8 billion in my talk. This number is broadly supported by other sources, and I find it to be entirely credible. But this pattern just isn’t echoed in other major content industries.'"
Movies

Michael Bay To Remake TMNT As Aliens 481

Posted by Soulskill
from the stop-assassinating-my-childhood dept.
Nidi62 writes "We all know that Michael Bay loves to put 86 minutes of explosions into a 90-minute movie. But it appears that he has found a new way to screw up a movie. He is directing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot in which the turtles are not created with ooze: they are 'from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.' No word yet on whether he's consulting with George Lucas on how to totally destroy the origin and essence of a classic story." Responding to criticism, Bay thoughtfully explained that fans need to "chill."
Books

Teacher Suspended For Reading Ender's Game To Students 1054

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-the-teachers,-they're-the-enemy dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Forbes reports that a middle school teacher in South Carolina has been placed on administrative leave for reading sci-fi classic Ender's Game to his students. According to blogger Tod Kelly, '[A parent] reported him to the school district complained that the book was pornographic; that same parent also asked the local police to file criminal charges against the teacher. As of today, the police have not yet decided whether or not to file charges (which is probably a good sign that they won't). The school district, however, appears to agree with the parent, is considering firing the teacher and will be eliminating the book from the school.'"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Patent Troll Targets Samsung and RIM With Emoticon Button Patent 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-live-without-a-:)-button dept.
eldavojohn writes "Apparently the Samsung and Apple patent hoedown has received some uninvited guests that wish to troll with the big trolls — all over a built-in button for an emoticon. According to Varia Holdings (don't bother googling, you won't find anyone trying to license their patents to you) 'by asserting [its European] emoticon patent against Apple, Samsung has recognized the value of the type of invention embodied in [Varia's] '731 Patent.' And, thusly, Varia feels this provides grounds to sue Samsung and RIM. Techdirt provides commentary on the obviousness of said patent while raking the USPTO examiner over the coals (although, curiously, gives Samsung a free pass)."
Cellphones

Connecticut Considers Digital Download Tax 244

Posted by samzenpus
from the taxing-the-tubes dept.
SonicSpike writes in with a story about the latest state contemplating raising revenues by taxing the net. "Downloading music, movies, e-books and Apps could soon cost Connecticut residents more as lawmakers consider a tax on digital downloads. The bill, proposed by the General Assembly's Finance, Review and Bonding Committee, would have consumers pay the 6.35% sales tax on any electronic transfer. Supporters say the bill would level the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers in the state who are already required to charge Connecticut sales tax to consumers who purchase these products in their stores. About 25 states around the country have already begun taxing digital downloads."
Books

One Sci-Fi Author Wrote 29 of the Kindle's 100 Most-Highlighted Passages 239

Posted by Soulskill
from the precise-but-not-necessarily-accurate dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today Amazon announced that a science fiction writer has become the Kindle's all-time best-selling author. Last June Suzanne Collins, who wrote the Hunger Games trilogy, was only the fourth author to sell one million ebooks, but this month Amazon announced she'd overtaken all her competition (and she also wrote the #1 and #2 best-selling ebooks this Christmas). In fact, 29 of the 100 most-highlighted passages on the Kindle were written by Collins, including 7 of the top 10. And on a separate list of recent highlights, Collins has written 17 of the top 20 most-highlighted passages." It's pretty interesting to go through the top-100 list and look at the passages people think are worth highlighting. Taken out of context, many of them could be patched together and re-sold as a self-help book. None are quite so eloquent as #18 in the recent highlights.
Microsoft

Microsoft Patent Monetizes Your TV Remote 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-will-pay-in-all-the-ways-you-are-able dept.
theodp writes "Microsoft, reports GeekWire, is seeking a patent on monetizing the buttons of your TV remote. In its application for a patent on 'Control-based Content Pricing,' Microsoft explains how one can jack up the cable bill of those who dare fast-forward past a diaper commercial or replay a sports highlight. From the patent application: 'If a user initiates a navigation control input to advance past (e.g., skip over) an advertisement, the cost of a requested on-demand movie may be increased. Similarly, if a user initiates a replay of a sporting event, the user may be charged for the replay control input and for each subsequent view control input.'"
The Courts

Netflix Terms of Service Invalidates Your Right To Sue 206

Posted by timothy
from the but-you-agreed-didn't-you dept.
New submitter ebombme writes "Netflix has decided to go the route of AT&T and others by trying to take away the rights of their users to form class action lawsuits against them. A copy of the new terms of use states 'These Terms of Use provide that all disputes between you and Netflix will be resolved by BINDING ARBITRATION. YOU AGREE TO GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO GO TO COURT to assert or defend your rights under this contract (except for matters that may be taken to small claims court). Your rights will be determined by a NEUTRAL ARBITRATOR and NOT a judge or jury and your claims cannot be brought as a class action. Please review the Arbitration Agreement below for the details regarding your agreement to arbitrate any disputes with Netflix.'"
Music

Mastering Engineer Explains Types of Compression, Effects On Today's Music 382

Posted by timothy
from the squeeze-play dept.
Stowie101 writes "Today is Dynamic Range Day, which is an event to educate the public about the 'Loudness Wars' that are compressing and harming the quality of today's music. Ian Shepherd, a mastering engineer and founder of Dynamic Range Day, explains why music lovers should avoid MP3 files. 'The one that springs to mind is to avoid MP3, especially if it's 128 kbps. Apple uses a more advanced technology called AAC, but if someone can get lossless files like FLAC that's a better place to start.' Shepherd says it's actually harder to make a good 'lossy' encode of something that has been heavily musically compressed. Very heavy dynamic compression and limiting makes MP3s sound worse, so the loudness wars indirectly make MP3s sound worse."
It's funny.  Laugh.

10 Ways To Celebrate Pi Day 196

Posted by samzenpus
from the irrational-holiday dept.
alphadogg writes "There are holidays, and then there are holidays for nerds, and March 14 (3.14) is one of those. Based on the mathematical constant number that represents the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of a circle, Pi Day has grown to become somewhat of a day to celebrate for mathematicians and techies. Here are 10 things to do on the big day."
DRM

Details of Initial "Disc to Digital" Program Emerge 201

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the digitize-your-digital-video-disc-today dept.
MojoKid writes with an excerpt from an article at Hot Hardware: "Walmart's burgeoning partnership with the Ultraviolet DRM system backed by major Hollywood studios and their plans to 'assist' customers in registering DVDs with the Ultraviolet system, made headlines not long ago. Walmart has also since announced additional details to the program and it's a clever attempt to drive more users to Vudu, Walmart's subsidiary movie streaming service. Here's how the service works. 'Starting April 16th, 2012 in more than 3,500 stores, Walmart customers will be able to bring their DVD and Blu-ray collections to Walmart and receive digital access to their favorite titles from the partnering studios. An equal conversion for standard DVDs and Blu-ray discs will be $2. Standard DVDs can be upgraded to High-Def (HD) for $5.' Anyone who doesn't have a Vudu account will have one created for them as part of this process. That's part of the genius to the plan. If customers embrace the offer, Walmart signs up hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people for Vudu. Even better, from Walmart's perspective, is that first-time users who pony up $2 for a digital version of their DVDs are effectively paying to create Vudu accounts."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Huge Triangle-shaped Spot Over the Sun 229

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the elaborate-advertising-campaign-for-new-x-files-movie dept.
jojo_it writes "NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed a gigantic spot on the sun's corona, that takes the shape of a black triangle. The spot is visible on the AIA 193 channel [of NASA's solar dynamics observatory] since March 11th. 2012 doomsday-theorists should be delighted."

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