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Education

New 'Civilization' Game Will Be Sold To Schools As An Educational Tool (technobuffalo.com) 129

An anonymous reader writes: In the fall of 2017, a special version of Civilization V will be made available for schools to use as an educational tool. "CivilizationEDU will provide students with the opportunity to think critically and create historical events, consider and evaluate the geographical ramifications of their economic and technological decisions, and to engage in systems thinking and experiment with the causal/correlative relationships between military, technology, political and socioeconomic development," announced Take-Two Interactive Software.

"We are incredibly proud to lend one of our industry's most beloved series to educators to use as a resource to inspire and engage students further..." said the company's CEO. "I can't think of a better interactive experience to help challenge and shape the minds of tomorrow's leaders."

Special lesson plans will be created around the game, and as an alternative to standardized tests teachers will have access to a dashboard showing each student's progress. Of course, this begs an important question: Are educational videogames a good idea?
Television

Is The Future Of Television Watching on Fast-Forward? (washingtonpost.com) 248

The average American watches three hours of TV each day, and researchers have found that most people already prefer listening to accelerated speech. "After watching accelerated video on my computer for a few months, live television began to seem excruciatingly slow..." writes the Washington Post's Jeff Guo. "Movie theaters feel suffocating. I need to be able to fast-forward and rewind and accelerate and slow down, to be able to parcel my attention where it's needed..." Slashdot reader HughPickens.com distills some interesting points from Guo's article: You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like, and a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime. Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. "Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I've lived before finding this gem!!" one user wrote.

According to Guo speeding up video is more than an efficiency hack. "I quickly discovered that acceleration makes viewing more pleasurable. "Modern Family" played at twice the speed is far funnier -- the jokes come faster and they seem to hit harder. I get less frustrated at shows that want to waste my time with filler plots or gratuitous violence. The faster pace makes it easier to appreciate the flow of the plot and the structure of the scenes."

Guo writes that "I've come to believe this is the future of how we will appreciate television and movies. We will interrogate videos in new ways using our powers of time manipulation... we will all be watching on our own terms." Will this eventually become much more common? How many Slashdot readers are already watching speeded-up videos?
Transportation

Star Trek Actor's Death Inspires Class Action Against Car Manufacturer (cnn.com) 311

Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed Sunday when his own vehicle rolled backwards. Now Slashdot reader ripvlan writes: It has recently emerged that his vehicle was a Jeep. As discussed on Slashdot previously consumers are having a hard time knowing if the vehicle is in "Park." A new class action lawsuit is gaining momentum... Also Maserati has a similar system and can join the class action.
In fact, Maserati "is recalling about 13,000 sedans that have the same sort of gear shifter that was used in the Jeep that killed Yelchin," according to CNN Money, and Chrysler Fiat had in fact already filed a recall notice with federal regulators in April for Yelchin's band of Jeep, "but owners had only received a warning and not an official recall notice at the time of Yelchin's death". The lawsuit claims Chrysler "fraudulently concealed and failed to remedy a gear shifter design defect affecting 811,000 vehicles and linked to driverless rollaway incidents," including 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2012-2014 Chrysler 300s, and 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers.
Crime

From File-Sharing To Prison: The Story of a Jailed Megaupload Programmer (arstechnica.com) 122

An anonymous reader writes: "I had to be made an example of as a warning to all IT people," says former Megaupload programmer Andrew Nomm, one of seven Megaupload employees arrested in 2012. Friday his recent interview with an Estonian journalist was republished in English by Ars Technica (which notes that at one point the 50 million users on Megaupload's file-sharing site created 4% of the world's internet traffic). The 37-year-old programmer pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement in exchange for a one-year-and-one-day sentence in a U.S. federal prison, which the U.S. Attorney General's office called "a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history."

"It turned out that I was the only defendant in the last 29 years to voluntarily go from the Netherlands to the USA..." Nomm tells the interviewer, adding "I'll never get back the $40,000 that was seized by the USA." He describes his experience in the U.S. prison system after saying good-bye to his wife and 13-year-old son, adding that now "I have less trust in all sorts of state affairs, especially big countries. I saw the dark side of the American dream in all its glory..."

In U.S. court documents Nomm "acknowledged" that the financial harm to copyright holders "exceeded $400 million."
AI

Scientists Force Computer To Binge On TV Shows and Predict What Humans Will Do (geekwire.com) 60

An anonymous reader quotes a report from GeekWire: Researchers have taught a computer to do a better-than-expected job of predicting what characters on TV shows will do, just by forcing the machine to study 600 hours' worth of YouTube videos. The researchers developed predictive-vision software that uses machine learning to anticipate what actions should follow a given set of video frames. They grabbed thousands of videos showing humans greeting each other, and fed those videos into the algorithm. To test how much the machine was learning about human behavior, the researchers presented the computer with single frames that showed meet-ups between characters on TV sitcoms it had never seen, including "The Big Bang Theory," "Desperate Housewives" and "The Office." Then they asked whether the characters would be hugging, kissing, shaking hands or exchanging high-fives one second afterward. The computer's success rate was 43 percent. That doesn't match a human's predictive ability (72 percent), but it's way better than random (25 percent) as well as the researchers' benchmark predictive-vision programs (30 to 36 percent). The point of the research is to create robots that do a better job of anticipating what humans will do. MIT's Carl Vondrick and his colleagues are due to present the results of their experiment next week at the International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in Las Vegas. "[The research] could help a robot move more fluidly through your living space," Vondrick told The Associated Press. "The robot won't want to start pouring milk if it thinks you're about to pull the glass away." You can watch their YouTube video to learn more about the experiment.
Microsoft

Surface 3 Stocks Dwindling As Microsoft Plans System's Demise (arstechnica.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft's Surface 3 may be coming to an end. Brad Sams at Thurrott.com reports that many versions of the Surface 3 are listed as being out of stock in Microsoft's online store, with no expected availability. He notes that the only version in stock online is the version with 2GB RAM/64GB storage/LTE. There's more availability in-store, but stock appears to be limited overall. What this generally means is that manufacturing is slowing down or going to stop entirely. In a statement, Microsoft said: "Since launching Surface 3 over a year ago, we have seen strong demand and satisfaction amongst our customers. Inventory is now limited and by the end of December 2016, we will no longer manufacture Surface 3 devices." It's possible a Surface 3 successor is right around the corner, although Ars Technica notes "there hasn't even been the merest hint of a rumor about such a device." The Surface 3 is being powered by a Cherry Trail Atom processor, which hasn't seen a major upgrade or replacement since they were released in the first quarter of 2015. "Without new processors, there's little reason to update the Surface 3 line," writes Ars. Microsoft could equip the Surface 3 successor with a Core M processor, but the implications of that decision would likely cause the device's price to shoot up or cause the device's quality to significantly decrease. Microsoft may simply abandon the segment entirely and focus strictly on the Surface Pro line.
The Courts

Valve Faces Lawsuit Over Video Game Gambling (bloomberg.com) 72

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bloomberg: Valve's Counterstrike: Global Offensive game is being sued for its role in the multibillion-dollar gambling economy that has fueled the game's popularity. Michael John McLeod filed a lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut alleging that Valve violated gambling laws and engaged in racketeering with a handful of off-shore gambling companies. McLeod, who has been gambling on CS:GO since 2014, is asking for class-action status for the suit. The suit was first reported by Polygon and doesn't give a specific request for damages, nor does it say how much money he lost by betting on the site. According to Bloomberg: "Valve provided for money, technical support, and advice to such websites as CSGO Lounge and Diamonds, which take bets, and OPSkins, which runs a market where virtual goods are traded and can be redeemed for cash." Valve has yet to respond to the suit.
Businesses

Netflix to Soon Let Users Download Videos, Says Report (dslreports.com) 79

Karl Bode, writing for DSLReport:Netflix will soon let users download and store videos locally, according to Penthera (a Pittsburgh-based firm that focuses on delivery of HD media to mobile devices by storing content on the recipient device) COO Dan Taitz and a report over at Light Reading. Taitz told the outlet that it shouldn't be long before the feature arrives. Netflix has been working harder to help consumers manage broadband caps, and being able to download a video on Wi-Fi for later viewing would go a long way in helping users (especially on wireless networks) that consistently find themselves hamstrung by their monthly usage allotments. "We know from our sources within the industry that Netflix is going to launch this product," Taitz tells the outlet. "My expectation is that by the end of the year Netflix will be launching download-to-go as an option for their customers."Bold move, if it does happen.
Chrome

Chrome Bug Makes It Easy To Download Movies From Netflix and Amazon Prime 126

A vulnerability found in Chrome by researchers allows people to save copies of movies and TV shows from streaming websites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. From a Gizmodo report:The vulnerability, first reported by Wired (Editor's note: Wired blocks adblockers), takes advantage of the Widevine EME/CDM technology that Chrome uses to stream encrypted video from content providers. Researchers David Livshits from the Cyber Security Research Center at Ben-Gurion University and Alexandra Mikityuk of Telekom Innovation Laboratories discovered a way to hijack streaming video from the decryption module in the Chrome browser after content has been sent from services like Netflix or Amazon Prime. The researchers created a proof-of-concept (which is currently the only evidence of the exploit) to show how easily they could illegally download streaming video once CDM technology has decrypted it.Google was notified of the bug last month but is yet to patch it.
Digital

BitTorrent Adds Music, Video Streaming Options With Re-Launched BitTorrent Now (billboard.com) 29

Dan Rys, reporting for Billboard:As streaming continues to consolidate its foothold as a major force in the music-listening community, more and more players are getting into the increasingly crowded space. Today, BitTorrent announced it is adding an ad-supported streaming option to its BitTorrent Bundle offerings, which is officially re-launching as BitTorrent Now. But before anyone thinks the company is throwing its hat into the ring alongside Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal (or even Netflix and Hulu), BitTorrent Now isn't designed as a full-catalog competitor. Rather, its streaming component will be part of the distribution framework established with BitTorrent Bundle in 2013, giving artists who use its direct-to-fan platform the option to allow fans to stream their releases rather than download them. BitTorrent Now is currently available as an app on Android devices, with iOS and Apple TV apps on the horizon "shortly," according to a rep.
Hardware

WiFi-Connected Hard Drive Fits a Plex Server In Your Pocket (engadget.com) 67

An anonymous reader cites an Engadget report:Over the years we've seen Plex's media software run across a number of different devices, from PCs to game consoles to NAS and cellphones. Now, it's teamed up with Western Digital for what it says is the first portable Plex Media Server. The hardware is handled by the My Passport Wireless Pro, a battery-powered portable hard drive that can run standalone for 10 hours, charge mobile devices, and back up data via SD or USB 3.0. The all-in-one box can even create a WiFi network to sync with mobile devices or stream media to any device running Plex. The 2TB version is ready to take your stuff on the go for $230, and upgrading to 3TB only costs an extra $20.
Businesses

LeBron James Used A Steve Jobs Speech To Motivate The Cavs To Victory (bgr.com) 97

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: Well, LeBron James finally accomplished what he set out to do when he announced his triumphant return to the Cleveland Cavaliers 2014: he brought an NBA championship to Cleveland. Going into the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers were clear underdogs. And once the Cavs went down three games to one, the odds in Vegas that LeBron and co. could take back the series were as high as +900. Looking back at the Cavaliers' historic championship run and odds-defying victory, ESPN has a fascinating piece up detailing how LeBron sought to find every and anything that could help motivate his teammates and help them believe that an unprecedented comeback was indeed within the realm of possibility. And interestingly enough, one of the sources of inspiration James turned to was Steve Jobs. Specifically, James played portions of Steve Jobs' iconic 2005 Stanford University commencement speech to rally the troops ahead of game 3. "You can't connect the dots looking forward," Jobs passionately said, "you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." You can watch Jobs' aforementioned speech in its entirety here on YouTube.
Businesses

Indie Dev TinyBuild Lost $450K To Fraudulent Sales Facilitated By G2A (pastemagazine.com) 104

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Paste Magazine: Indie developer TinyBuild, the studio behind Punch Club, Party Hard and SpeedRunners, had thousands of their game codes stolen through fraudulent credit card purchases, which then wound up on G2A.com, a site that allows people to resell game codes. The basic idea behind G2A is straightforward and pretty harmless: with the amount of game codes sold through Steam, the Humble Store/Bundle, and more, the site gives consumers a place to sell unwanted game codes. However, in doing so, G2A has created a huge black market for game codes sales. As TinyBuild described in their blog post on the matter, the common practice for scammers is to "get ahold of a database of stolen credit cards on the dark web. Go to a bundle/3rd party key reseller and buy a ton of game keys. Put them up onto G2A and sell them at half the retail price." This allows scammers to make thousands of dollars while preventing any profit from reaching the game developers because, once the stolen credit cards are processed, the payments will be denied. G2A states that TinyBuild's retail partners are the ones selling the codes on G2A, not scammers, despite the thousands of codes they lost through their online store to fraudulent credit card purchases. In 2011, TinyBuild was in the news for uploading their own game, a platformer called No Time To Explain, to the Pirate Bay.
Android

Taking the Headphone Jack Off Phones Is User-Hostile and Stupid (theverge.com) 594

A WSJ report on Tuesday claimed that the next iPhone won't have the 3.5mm headphone port. A handful of smartphones such as LeEco's Le 2, Le 2 Pro, and Le Max 2 that have launched this year already don't have a headphone jack. The Verge's Nilay Patel has an opinion piece in which he argues that smartphone companies shouldn't ditch headphone ports as it helps no consumer. He lists six reasons:
1. Digital audio means DRM audio :Restricting audio output to a purely digital connection means that music publishers and streaming companies can start to insist on digital copyright enforcement mechanisms. We moved our video systems to HDMI and got HDCP, remember? Copyright enforcement technology never stops piracy and always hurts the people who most rely on legal fair use, but you can bet the music industry is going to start cracking down on "unauthorized" playback and recording devices anyway.2. Wireless headphones and speakers are fine, not great.
3. Dongles are stupid, especially when they require other dongles.
4. Ditching a deeply established standard will disproportionately impact accessibility.:The headphone jack might be less good on some metrics than Lightning or USB-C audio, but it is spectacularly better than anything else in the world at being accessible, enabling, open, and democratizing. A change that will cost every iPhone user at least $29 extra for a dongle (or more for new headphones) is not a change designed to benefit everyone.5. Making Android and iPhone headphones incompatible is incredibly arrogant and stupid.
6. No one is asking for this.
Advertising

74% of Netflix Subscribers Would Rather Cancel Their Subscription Than See Ads (allflicks.net) 316

An anonymous reader writes: AllFlicks conducted a survey of more than 1,200 people on Reddit, asking them a series of questions regarding ads on Netflix. "Would you rather pay more for Netflix or see advertisements while you stream?" they asked. Of more than 1,200 respondents, an incredible 90% said they'd prefer a price hike to ads. "The sweet spot appears to be $1-2 [more], which 57% of respondents chose as their upper bound. A further 22% said they could go as high as $2-3 more, and less than a quarter were willing to go higher." The next question they asked: "If Netflix started showing ads, would you cancel your subscription?" Nearly 74% said they'd be done with Netflix if ads debuted on the service. AllFlicks writes, "Netflix's users are sending the service a pretty clear message: if the service starts selling ads, customers would consider leaving." In early May, CordCutting.com crunched some numbers and found that each Netflix subscriber saves themselves about 158.5 hours of commercials per year.

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