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Sci-Fi

Star Trek's 50th Anniversary Celebrated at Comic-Con (deadline.com) 65

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Leonard Nimoy's 59-year-old son released a trailer for his upcoming documentary, For The Love Of Spock. CBS released a video teaser for their upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series. And Schmaltz brewery released a "Trouble With Tribbles" beer.

It was all part of the festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of CBS's original Star Trek series at this year's Comic-Con festival in San Diego, which culminated with an all-star panel of actors from previous Star Trek TV series. William Shatner, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, and Scott Bakula all reminisced on the phenomenon of the show's fan culture, with Dorn telling the audience that Apple's iPad was inspired by Star Trek technology. And Brent Spiner told the audience, "We're in a time now where identity is under attack... Politicians could learn from Star Trek."

Classic Games (Games)

Sega Announces Two New Sonic Games That Seek To Recapture The Glory Days (gamespot.com) 40

An anonymous reader writes: In celebration of Sonic the Hedgehog's 25th anniversary, Sega has announced two new Sonic games at Comic-Con in San Diego. The first game is called Sonic Mania and it's a 2D platformer that features visuals and gameplay reminiscent of the classic Genesis games. "It revamps zones and acts from Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic and Knuckles, in addition to introducing new ones into the fold," writes Mat Paget from GameSpot. The second game has no title [besides "Project Sonic 2017"], but it does have a holiday 2017 release date for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo NX consoles. It reportedly features both classic and modern versions of Sonic, similar to 2011's Sonic Generations. Sega made two additional announcements. "Mobile game Sonic Dash has passed 200 million downloads and will receive a special in-game event that adds the Green Hill Zone and Classic Sonic as a playable character," reports GameSpot. "The event only lasts a week, but players can unlock both the classic level and character for use after the event." The second additional announcement is that the animated Sonic Boom series will be renewed for a second season. "Sonic Mania was born out of our fans' love of the classic Sonic 2D platform games,â said Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka. "This type of collaboration is a first for Sega and we hope everyone will be both surprised and delighted by this title. Sonic Mania has been a passion project for the entire team and we look forward to sharing more details about it later this year. Having the game actually playable at the event itself tonight was testament to the dedication of the team behind it.â
Businesses

Comcast To Offer Pay-As-You-Go TV, Broadband Service (dslreports.com) 42

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Comcast plans to roll-out prepaid cable TV and internet services later this year in portions of Illinois and four other states. According to a company announcement, Comcast's Xfinity Prepaid Services lets users sign up for TV or internet services and renew service for seven or 30 days at a time -- instead of paying by the month. A one-time setup fee of $80 includes equipment and 30 days of service, with users paying $15 for an additional seven days and $45 for an additional 30 days. "We want to create an easy, pay-as-you-go option for people who want more flexibility and predictability when buying our services," said Marcien Jenckes, Executive Vice President, Consumer Services, Comcast Cable. "And our partnership with Boost Mobile will give Xfinity Prepaid customers even more places where they can conveniently sign-up and pay-as-they-go."
Government

Edward Snowden At Comic-Con: 'I Live a Surprisingly Free Life' (theguardian.com) 51

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: Director Oliver Stone talked to whistleblower Edward Snowden in front of an audience at a question and answer session on Thursday evening. He compared Snowden's anxiety over his own appearance in his Snowden biopic film "Snowden" to that of Donald Trump, who was cut from one of his films six years before. Snowden replied: "I'd like to avoid that association." At the event, Snowden did also shed some light on his personal life, years after his revelation of the NSA's secret surveillance of the American public's internet activity resulted in criminal charges under the Espionage Act that led to his exile in Russia. "I can confirm that I am not living in a box," Snowden said. "I actually live a surprisingly free life. This was not the most likely outcome. I didn't actually expect to make it out of Hawaii. I thought it was incredibly risky. I had a lot of advantages in doing what I did; I worked for the CIA on the human intelligence side, I worked for the NSA on the signals intelligence side, and I taught counterintelligence. This is not something that's covered that well in the media. I was about as well placed as anybody could be, and I still thought I was going to get rolled up at the airport and that there were going to be knocks on the doors of the journalists." When asked what he thought about Gordon-Levitt's performance in the film where he plays Edward Snowden, Snowden responded: "This is one of the things that's kind of crazy and surreal about this kind of experience: I don't think anybody looks forward to having a movie made about themselves, especially someone who is a privacy advocate. Some of my family members have said, 'He sounds just like you!' I can't hear it myself but if he can pass the family test he's doing all right." Snowden agreed to participate on the film because he thought it could raise awareness in ways his own advocacy could not. Snowden was also in the news recently for developing a way for potentially imperiled smartphone users to monitor whether their devices are making any potentially compromising radio transmissions.
Businesses

Apple: Pokemon Go Sets Record For Most Downloads In Its First Week (techcrunch.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch that Pokemon Go has attracted more downloads in the App Store during its first week than any other app in App Store history. What's even more surprisingly is that the app was only available in a few countries at the time -- it initially launched in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. Apple didn't provide the number of downloads, but one can assume it's well into the millions. Pokemon Go is expected to become even more popular as it becomes available in more countries -- the game just launched in Japan today. With millions of downloads in the first week alone, Pokemon Go is expected to generate large sums of money for Apple. The Guardian is reporting that Apple will "rake in $3 billion in revenue from Pokemon Go in the next one to two years as gamers buy 'PokeCoins' from its app store."
Movies

Man Builds $1.5 Million Star Trek-Themed Home Theater (cepro.com) 158

CIStud writes: This $1.5 million "Star Trek" home theater is the envy of every geek on the planet. The theater is a reconstruction of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from "Star Trek: Next Generation" and also includes $1 million worth of memorabilia from the classic sci-fi TV show. The home theater was created by financier Marc Bell with the help from Jay Miller of Boca Raton-based Acoustic Innovations. The two started working on the home cinema in 2002 -- before construction of Bell's house even began -- and it took them four years to complete. CEPro reports: "A D-Box controller manipulates hydraulics installed beneath the floorboards, meaning the entire room shakes when anything loud happens on screen. The room also includes a JBL Synthesis sound system, which at the time of installation was only used in commercial theaters. The audio system is currently being upgraded to Dolby Atmos specifications and Bell plans to install a 4K projector. A big movie fan, Bell has had over 3,500 films digitized, which are stored and streamed through a Kaleidescape server. He also spent approximately $35,000 on a Prima Cinema system, allowing him and his family to watch films at home the day they are released in commercial cinemas. A wraparound control center surrounds the 11 custom leather chairs in the theater, eight of which recline into beds, while the doors that open into the theater are exact replicas of the Turbolift doors as seen on the TV show. When someone steps on the circular "transporter," the doors open with that familiar "whoosh" sound." Bell apparently likes to spend his money on others too. He has rented a local movie theater for every Star Trek film released in the past 25 years and has taken all of his employees, friends and their children along on opening night. The Wall Street Journal posted a video on YouTube of the home theater.
Advertising

Spotify Is Now Selling Your Information To Advertisers (engadget.com) 106

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: Spotify is now opening its data to targeted advertising. "Everything from your age and gender, to the music genres you like to listen to will be available to various third-party companies," reports Engadget. "Spotify is calling it programmatic ad buying (Warning: source may be paywalled) and has already enabled it." The nearly 70 million people that currently use Spotify's free, ad-supported streaming service across 59 countries will be affected. The ads will be audio-based and stretch between 15-30 seconds in length. The advertisers who buy ad spots will be able to look for specific users by viewing their song picks to find the best matches for the products they're selling. Two weeks ago, China has released its first ever set of digital ad regulations that seems to all but ban ad blocking.
Nintendo

Apple To Make $3 Billion From Pokemon Go (theguardian.com) 78

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: We all know what Pokemon Go is, and we all know how successful it is. The Guardian is reporting that Apple will "rake in $3 billion in revenue from Pokemon Go in the next one to two years as gamers buy 'PokeCoins' from its app store, according to analysts." One pack of 100 PokeCoins costs about $1 in Apple's app store, but gamers can purchase as many as 14,500 PokeCoins for about $100. "We believe Apple keeps 30% of Pokemon Go's revenue spent on iOS devices, suggesting upside to earnings," Needham and Co brokerage analyst Laura Martin wrote in a client note on Wednesday. The game, which is also available on Android, had over 21 million active users after only being on the market for less than two weeks. It has also been rolled out in 35 countries since its U.S. debut. "Martin said Pokemon Go's ratio of paid users to total users was 10 times that of Candy Crush, the hit game from King Digital that generated more than $1 billion of revenue in both 2013 and 2014," reports The Guardian. Not only has Apple's stock risen since the launch of Pokemon Go, but Nintendo's stock has more than doubled.
Movies

'The Wolf of Wall Street' Movie Was Financed With Stolen Money, Says DOJ (nydailynews.com) 159

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NY Daily News: Federal officials charged a $3.5 billion Malaysian money-laundering scheme helped finance the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "Wolf of Wall Street" -- the Hollywood tale that parallels the corruption charges. U.S. officials seek to recover $1.3 billion of the missing funds, including profits from the Martin Scorsese-directed movie that earned five Oscar nominations. The conspirators used some of their illicit cash to fund Scorsese's tale of "a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven," said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. DiCaprio famously played the lead role of convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort, who was ordered to repay $110 million to 1,500 victims of his scam. The identified conspirators included movie producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the prime minister's stepson, and businessman Low Taek John, a friend of Najib's family. A third scammer identified only as "Malaysian Official 1" was widely believed to be Najib. Court papers indicated that $681 million from a 2013 bond sale went directly into the official's private account. The nation's attorney-general, Mohamed Apandi, came to Najib's defense Thursday, expressing his "strong concerns at the insinuations and allegations" brought against the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Apandi's office, after investigating the $681 million bank deposit, announced in January that the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family. The prime minister wound up returning most of the cash. Federal officials, in their California court filing, indicated they were hoping to seize proceeds from the 2013 movie, along with luxury properties in New York and California, artwork by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and a $35 million private jet. Investigations of 1MDB are already underway in Switzerland and Singapore, with officials in the latter announcing Thursday that they had seized assets worth $176 million. This is shaping up to be the largest U.S. Justice Department asset recovery action in history.
Crime

Feds Seize KickassTorrents Domains and Arrest Owner In Poland (arstechnica.com) 299

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Federal authorities announced on Wednesday the arrest of the alleged mastermind of KickassTorrents (KAT), the world's largest BitTorrent distribution site. As of this writing, the site is still up. Prosecutors have formally charged Artem Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine, with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. Like The Pirate Bay, KAT does not host individual infringing files but rather provides links to .torrent and .magnet files so that users can download unauthorized copies of TV shows, movies, and more from various BitTorrent users. According to a Department of Justice press release sent to Ars Technica, Vaulin was arrested on Wednesday in Poland. The DOJ will shortly seek his extradition to the United States. "Vaulin is charged with running today's most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials," Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in the statement. "In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice." KickassTorrents added a dark web address last month to make it easier for users to bypass blockades installed by ISPs.
Government

Saudi Arabia Revives 15-Year-Old Ban On 'Zionism-Promoting' Pokemon (timesofisrael.com) 325

An anonymous reader writes: Clerics in Saudi Arabia have renewed a 15-year-old ban on Pokemon, following the release of the highly popular augmented reality version of the game, Pokemon Go. According to Reuters, the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars reaffirmed a 2001 ban on the game. The Times of Israel reports: "While fatwa no. 21,758 makes no mention of the latest iteration of [the] game, it does list many sinful aspects of Pokemon. Firstly, the game is seen as a form of gambling, which itself is forbidden. Secondly, it encourages belief in Darwin's theory of evolution, and thirdly, the fatwa says, the symbols used in the game promote the Shinto religion of Japan, Christianity, Freemasonry and 'global Zionism.'" The ruling says: "The symbols and logos of devious religions and organizations are used [including] the six-pointed star: You rarely find a card that does not contain such a star. It is associated with Judaism, the logo and sign of the State of Israel, and the first symbol of the Masonry organizations in the world." Pokemon Go has been such a success that it has already doubled Nintendo's stock price after launching just two weeks ago.
Android

Facebook's Android App Can Now Save Offline Videos (ndtv.com) 30

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NDTV: The latest versions of Facebook's Android app now allow users to save videos for offline viewing. The video is saved inside the app in the 'Saved' section, and is not accessible independently to users. Facebook for Android is showing a 'Save video' option in the dropdown menu of a Facebook video post. The videos can be saved and viewed offline for as many times as the user desires and can also be deleted as per his/her wish. The company might not be willing to provide the video file independently to its users in order to encourage sharing over its own social media networking site, however, it is anybody's guess what the actual reason behind this decision is. It seems in line with what companies like Google have been doing with YouTube in developing nations like India, where a save for offline viewing option is present to combat mobile data woes. As per an Android Police report, the option to save videos is currently showing up in versions 85 and 86 (beta) of the Facebook for Android app.
Businesses

Netflix Stock Price Tanks As Customers Quit Over Higher Prices (theverge.com) 450

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix released its earnings report (PDF) for the second quarter today, where it reported $1.97 billion in revenue and net income of $41 million. The company did however report only 1.54 million subscribers, which is below its projections of 2.5 million new subscribers. As a result, stock is down around 14 percent in after-hours trading. "Our global member forecast for Q2 was 2.5m and we came in at 1.7m. Gross additions were on target, but churn ticked up slightly and unexpectedly, coincident with the press coverage in early April of our plan to ungrandfather longer tenured members and remained elevated through the quarter," Netflix wrote. "We think some members perceived the news as an impending new price increase rather than the completion of two years of grandfathering." The company defended its price hikes, writing that "while ungrandfathering and associated media coverage may moderate near term membership growth, we believe that ungrandfathering will provide us with more revenue to invest in our content to satisfy members, thus driving longterm growth." In the past, Netflix gained 13 million new subscribers in 2014, and 17 million in 2015. Comcast will reportedly allow Netflix onto its X1 platform, which may entice more customers to the streaming service.
Movies

Pixels Are Driving Out Reality (vice.com) 300

An article on Motherboard today investigates the reasons why people didn't go "oh-my-god, that was awesome" looking at the CGI-based scenes in the recent movies such as Independence Day: Resurgence, Batman v Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse. Though the article acknowledges that this could be the result of some poor-acting, spotty storyline, or bad editing, it also underscores the possibility that this could be the aftermath of a "deeper mechanism that is draining all substance from our cinematic imaginary worlds?" The author of the article, Riccardo Manzotti to make his case stronger adds that the original Alien movie was able to impress us because what we saw was strongly linked to actual life. From the article: The humongous spaceship Nostromo -- a miniature model -- provoked awe and respect. When the creature erupted from Kane's abdomen -- a plaster model encased in fake blood and animal entrails -- people were horrified. The shock was registered on the faces of the actors, who, per Ridley Scott's direction, weren't told ahead of time that the moment would include a giant splatter of blood. "That's why their looks of disgust and horror are so real," producer and co-writer David Giler said. Manzotti further argues that some of the modern movies haven't left us awe-inspired because there is just too much CGI content. Compared to 430 computerized shots in the original Independence Day movie, for instance, the new one has 1,750 digitized shots. "People have been looking at pixels for much too long," the author argues, adding: Our imaginary world has been diluted and diluted to the point that, so to speak, there is no longer even a stain of real blood, love, and pain. Nowadays, when spectators see blood, they see pixels. [...] VR and augmented reality and the steady pace of CGI have pushed the process of substitution of reality to a higher level. At least, movies were once made using real stunts and real objects. Now, the actual world is no longer needed. The actual world, which is the good money, is no longer required. The virtual world, the bad money, is taking over. Yet, it lacks substance. The author makes several more compelling arguments, that are worth mulling.
Bug

Apple Begins Rolling Out iTunes Match With Audio Fingerprint to Apple Music Subscribers (loopinsight.com) 61

In May, Vellum's James shared an ordeal that many people were able to relate to. Apple Music had deleted music files from his computer. It's an issue that many of us have faced over the years. At the time, Apple noted that it didn't actually know what was causing this. But it appears, it has finally figured out the issue and patched it. Jim Dalrymple, reporting for The Loop: One of the biggest complaints about Apple Music over the past year was that it wouldn't properly match songs subscribers had in their existing iTunes libraries. That problem is being fixed by Apple. Apple has been quietly rolling out iTunes Match audio fingerprint to all Apple Music subscribers. Previously Apple was using a less accurate metadata version of iTunes Match on Apple Music, which wouldn't always match the correct version of a particular song. We've all seen the stories of a live version of a song being replaced by a studio version, etc. Using iTunes Match with audio fingerprint, those problems should be a thing of the past. If you had songs that were matched incorrectly using the metadata version of iTunes Match, the new version will rematch to the correct song. However, it will not delete any downloaded copies of songs you have in your library. This is a very good thing -- we don't want songs auto-deleting from our libraries.

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