First time accepted submitter loftarasa writes "A group of scientists led by Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin and MIT Professor of Physics Vladan Vuletic have developed a form of matter by binding massless photons together in a special kind of medium to create 'photonic molecules', effectively bringing us a bit closer to a world with lightsabers. 'The discovery, Lukin said, runs contrary to decades of accepted wisdom about the nature of light. Photons have long been described as massless particles which don't interact with each other – shine two laser beams at each other, he said, and they simply pass through one another. "Photonic molecules," however, behave less like traditional lasers and more like something you might find in science fiction – the light saber.' The work is described in Nature (paywalled)."
Have you META-MODERATED today? Sign up for the Slashdot Daily Newsletter! DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25.×
cagraham writes "BitTorrent has released a new file format called Bundle into closed alpha-testing today, according to VentureBeat. The format allows artists to embed a paywall inside of their work, and then distribute the art for free over BitTorrent. When users open the work they can listen or view part it for free, and are then prompted to either pay a fee, turn over their email address, or perhaps share the work over social media, in order to see the rest. The new format may ease artists concerns about releasing work for free and having to hope for compensation in the future. Artists who have already signed on include Madonna, The Pixies, and author Tim Feriss."
An anonymous reader writes with word that two of the more intriguing memes of recent times have been outed as elaborate performance art. Bizarre Twitter-centric entities @Horse_ebooks and Pronunciation Book aren't really inexplicable, it turns out: "[These feeds] have been running for the past several years, both have the hallmarks of automation, chugging along anonymously and churning out disjointed bits of text in a very spam-like fashion, but neither is as it appears." The Escapist has a bit more, now that the horse is out of the bag.
An anonymous reader writes "Two weeks ago, a man sued Apple after finding out that the $22.99 he paid for a season pass of Breaking Bad was only good for the final season's first 8 episodes. ... In light the mix-up, Apple late on Monday began informing folks who purchased a season pass for the 5th season of Breaking Bad that they are entitled to a refund in full in the form of a $22.99 iTunes credit." "Mix-up" seems an entirely charitable description.
schwit1 writes "A group of Serbian academics, disgusted with the poor state of their country's research output, have scammed a Romanian science journal by getting it to accept their completely fabricated hoax article. From the article: 'The paper is replete with transparent gimmicks — obvious, that is, had anyone at the publication been paying attention — including a reference to the scholarship of [singer Michael] Jackson, Weber, [porn star Ron] Jeremy and citations to new studies by Bernoulli and Laplace, both dead more than 180 years (Weber died in 1920). They also throw in references to the "Journal of Modern Illogical Studies," which to the best of our knowledge does not and never has existed (although perhaps it should), and to a researcher named, dubiously, "A.S. Hole." And, we hasten to add, the noted Kazakh polymath B. Sagdiyev, otherwise known as Borat.' Their paper is hilarious and completely ridiculous, and yet it was published in a so-called serious journal without question. The best part is that they list Alan Sokal's hoax paper from 1996 as one of their sources."
schliz writes "A one percentage point increase in an inflation forecast brings about a 75% rise in laughter, according to an American University PhD student, who studied transcripts of the Federal Open Market Committee at the Federal Reserve. Laughter usually comes in response to witticisms during a meeting at the time of the inflation forecast, and has been shown to be a mechanism for coping with the stress of a perceived threat."
MojoKid writes "The Xbox One has both HDMI-in and HDMI-out capability. The point of HDMI-in is to allow you to hook up a cable box, with output then running from the Xbox One to your television. As it turns out, however, that's not the only thing the Xbox One can do. Since the HDMI-in port is a standard option, it can accept video input from a PS4 and also accept a video stream from a PC. According to Xbox senior director of product management, Albert Panello, "any application can be snapped to a game... this could be the live TV feed, so if you wanted to play Ryse and Killzone (a PS4 exclusive), you could snap that." Keep in mind, snapping a title to the Xbox One doesn't mean that you can actually keep using Xbox One controllers in the game. If you want to snap in a PS4 game, you still need PS4 controllers. If you want to hook a PC into the Xbox One's video output, you still need mouse and keyboard, though if the Xbox One's controllers are eventually PC compatible, then you might be able to use the same controller on both platforms without doing much more than flipping a switch."
llebeel writes "Lucasfilm is currently prototyping the combining of video game engines with film-making to eliminate the post-production process in movies. 'Speaking at the Technology Strategy Board event at BAFTA in London this week, the company's chief technology strategy officer, Kim Libreri, announced that the developments in computer graphics have meant Lucasfilm has been able to transfer its techniques to film-making, shifting video game assets into movie production. Real-time motion capture and the graphics of video game engines, Libreri claimed, will increasingly be used in movie creation, allowing post-production effects to be overlayed in real time. "We think that computer graphics are going to be so realistic in real time computer graphics that, over the next decade, we'll start to be able to take the post out of post-production; where you'll leave a movie set and the shot is pretty much complete," Libreri said.'"
rDouglass writes "The Open Goldberg Variations team has launched a new project to make an open source, public domain version of J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. The work is significant because of its enormous influence on musicians and composers throughout history. A new studio recording, a new digital MuseScore score (with support for MusicXML and MIDI), as well as all source materials (multitrack WAV, lossless FLAC) will be provided as libre and gratis downloads. New to the project are publisher GRIN Verlag, as well as record label PARMA Recordings. GRIN and PARMA will produce and distribute the physical score and double CD, even though the digital versions are to be widely available and in the public domain. Their enthusiasm for the project runs counter to the general publishing and music industry's fear of digital file sharing, and shows growing momentum for finding new models to make free music commercially sustainable."
cagraham writes "While rival Netflix dominated the news this summer with original programming and content deals, the only news from Hulu was a July announcement that they might be sold off. Parent companies Disney, 21st Century Fox, and Comcast seem to have decided against that now, and acting CEO Andy Forssell says they're 'kicking back into action.' The main take is that they've signed an agreement with the BBC to add show like Sherlock, MI-5, and Doctor Who, although the deal isn't exclusive, and the shows are already on other streaming services."
Bruce66423 writes "As the NSA scandal moves from appalling to laughable, the latest report in the Guardian indicates that the current NSA chief spent US taxpayers' money to create a command center for his intelligence operations that was styled just like Star Trek. From the PBS News Hour report: 'When he was running the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a 'whoosh' sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather 'captain's chair' in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen. "Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard," says a retired officer in charge of VIP visit '"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Lee Hutchinson writes at Ars Technica that when you're picking out a DVR for your home, there's a pretty short list of candidates — TiVo has its new 6-tuner DVRs, or you can get something from your cable provider, or you can roll your own. But SnapStream makes a line of 30+ channel DVRs that can record dozens of TV shows simultaneously. Its products are the monster trucks of the DVR world, used by popular shows like The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and The Soup. A SnapStream cluster can repackage, transcode, and distribute content for re-use — functionality you won't find on a consumer-grade DVR. 'Being able to record, say, all of the news channels was something companies were interested in,' says Aaron Thompson, SnapStream's president. 'The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and so on all use it to record a bunch of stuff, find what they want to make fun of, and quickly get it into their editing bays to get it on air.' Prior to SnapStream, the big media companies were using isolated DVRs to record all the different television channels and shows like The Colbert Report had armies of interns to watch and catalog all the recorded TV, but SnapStream can search the entire recorded library for video based on keywords in the closed captions. 'We bring some of the power of 'new media,' the ability to search, copy and paste, and e-mail clips, to the old media of television for organizations,' says Rakesh Agrawal . 'You weren't able to search television before, but now you can. Now you can pinpoint stuff and you can hold people accountable and move at the same speed at which media works in the online world.'"
David Gerard writes "Here in the future, musicians and record companies complain they can't make a living any more. The problem isn't piracy — it's competition. There is too much music and too many musicians, and the amateurs are often good enough for the public. This is healthy for culture, not so much for aesthetics, and terrible for musicians. There are bands who would have trouble playing a police siren in tune, who download a cracked copy of Cubase — you know how much musicians pirate their software, VSTs and sample packs, right? — and tap in every note. There are people like me who do this. A two-hundred-quid laptop with LMMS and I suddenly have better studio equipment than I could have hired for $100/hour thirty years ago. You can do better with a proper engineer in a proper studio, but you don’t have to. And whenever quality competes with convenience, convenience wins every time. You can protest that your music is a finely-prepared steak cooked by sheer genius, and be quite correct in this, and you have trouble paying for your kitchen, your restaurant, your cow."
cagraham writes "Pandora has been the standard for internet radio since it launched in 2000, and just announced the appointment of new CEO Brian McAndrews. They claim they're not worried about Apple, but iTunes' massive user base (575 million), content deals, and cheaper pricing options should give them legitimate reason for concern. Can Pandora survive iTunes Radio? Do a-la-carte options like Spotify make any internet radio service irrelevant?"
Have you ever wondered how much energy is needed to power a phaser set to kill? A trio of researchers at the University of Leicester did, so they ran some tests and found out it would take roughly 2.99 GJ to vaporize an average-sized adult human body. Quoting: "First, consider the true vaporization – the complete separation of all atoms within a molecule – of water. With a simple molecular structure containing an oxygen atom bonded to two hydrogen atoms, it takes serious energy to break these bonds. In fact, it takes 460 kilojoules of energy to break just one mole of oxygen-hydrogen bonds — around the same energy that a 2,000-pound car going 70 miles per hour on the highway has in potential. And that's just 18 grams of water! So as you can see, it would take a gargantuan amount of energy to separate all the atoms in even a small glass of water — especially if that glass of water is your analog for a person. The human body is a bit more complicated than a glass of water, but it still vaporizes like one. And thanks to our spies spread across scientific organizations, we now have the energy required to turn a human into an atomic soup, to break all the atomic bonds in a body. According to the captured study, it takes around three gigajoules of death-ray to entirely vaporize a person — enough to completely melt 5,000 pounds of steel or simulate a lightning bolt."
angry tapir writes "Much of the urban vistas of Man of Steel, Cars 2 and the horrible remake of Total Recall were not modelled by hand. Instead they relied on a product called CityEngine, which is more typically associated with local government bodies' urban planning and urban design. The software procedurally generates cities using scripts written in a Python-like language. The next version of CityEngine, coming out next month, will incorporate an SDK so third-party developers can use parameter-defined procedural generation of urban environments in their own applications. CityEngine's product manager talks about the upcoming version, how it's being used at the moment, and plans to incorporate augmented reality in it."
judgecorp writes "Britain's Channel 4 screened Blackout, a drama about a cyber-attack which crashes the national power grid. The show was silly enough, with a strong message about the dangers of lighting candles in such a situation, but the Twitter responses were even better. The show terrified some viewers who apparently didn't realise that their TV screen was powered by the grid."
Barence writes "The wild man of antivirus software, John McAfee, has been forced to deny reports of his own death. Internet reports circulating last night claimed the hard-living security software entrepreneur had died after one too many drink and drugs sessions. However, McAfee has taken to his Twitter account in the past few hours to assure everyone that he's still alive, and hasn't mislaid his sense of humour.'"I felt great when I went to bed last night. I had such great plans,' tweeted McAfee, alongside a link to a report — now hastily withdrawn — that claimed he had died from an overdose."
Dave Knott writes "Sony today announced the PS Vita TV box. Measuring 6.5cm by 10.5cm, it can play Vita games on your television, stream content via HDMI or wirelessly, and play all the existing PlayStation Network content available on the standard Vita platform. This is seen by some analysts as an attempt by Sony to compete with such devices as the Ouya and Apple TV. The PS Vita TV is so far announced for a Japan-only release in early 2014 at a price of approximately $100 US. In related news, Sony also announced a lighter, slimmer, more colorful iteration of the standard Vita handheld console." The $100 model does not come with a controller; a $150 model was also announced that will include a Dualshock 3 and an 8G memory card.
CNET's Steve Guttenberg ("The Audiophiliac") profiles prolific audio engineer and general music industry do-it-all Steve Albini; Albini (who's worked on literally thousands of albums with musicians across a wide range of genres) has interesting things to say about compression, the rise of home-recording ("The majority of recordings will be crappy, low-quality recordings, but there will always be work for engineers who can do a good job, because there will always be people who appreciate good sound."), and why he still prefers to record to analog tape. (Note: Albini is justly famous not just for his production work, but in particular for his essay "The Problem with Music.")
Freshly Exhumed writes "A security blogger, acknowledging that the NSA methodically ranks communications on the basis of their 'foreignness' factor to determine candidacy for prolonged retention proposes, is proposing '...an opportunity for us on the civilian front to aid the NSA by voluntarily indicating citizenship on all our networked communications. Here, we define the syntax and semantics of X-No-Wiretap, a HTTP header-based mechanism for indicating and proving citizenship to well-intentioned man-in-the-middle parties. It is inspired by the enormously successful RFC 3514 IPv4 Security Flag and HTTP DNT header.'"
Eloquence writes "Three years ago, Musopen raised nearly $70,000 to create public domain recordings of works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert, and others. Now they're running a new campaign with a simple but ambitious objective: 'To preserve indefinitely and without question everything Chopin created. To release his music for free, both in 1080p video and 24 bit 192kHz audio. This is roughly 245 pieces.'" Adds project organizer aarondunn: "His music will be made available via an API powered by Musopen so anyone can come up with ways to explore and present Chopin's life."
An anonymous reader sends this news from the Wall Street Journal: "A 19-year-old model helicopter enthusiast was killed Thursday when a toy helicopter he was flying struck him in the head, a law-enforcement official said. Victim Roman Pirozek 'was known to be aggressive in his flying and often executed tricks. He was executing a trick when he was struck,' the official said. Mr. Pirozek – depicted in [this YouTube video] he posted in July — was flying a remote-controlled helicopter worth about $2,000 when it struck him, cutting off the top of his head, the official said. The Woodhaven, Queens, resident was pronounced dead at the scene. His father was with him at the time of the accident, the official said."
An anonymous reader writes "GamePolitics reports that the Postal Regulatory Commission has ordered [PDF] the U.S. Postal Service to equalize the rates paid by mailers who send round trip DVDs, and concluding (sort of) a dispute that has been underway for more than four years. The new postage rates take effect on September 30th. Some mailers, prominantly Netflix, send their round-trip movie DVDs as 'letters,' but GameFly's gaming disks are sent in slightly bigger envelopes as 'flats' to avoid breakage, and so GameFly has paid a much higher postage rate. GameFly argued that this was unfair discriminatory treatment because USPS was providing special hand-sorting treatment for Netflix disks without charging Netflix for the extra handling. But now there's a new twist: the Postal Service wants to reclassify DVD mailing [PDF] as a competitive product, where the prices would not be limited by the rate of inflation, because it says that mailed DVDs compete with the internet, streaming services, and kiosks such as Redbox. The regulatory agency is accepting responses [PDF] from interested persons until September 11th to the Postal Service's latest comments on its request [PDF]."
cartechboy writes "Usually, smartphones are a problem for humans transporting themselves — a massive distraction. But Honda is working on a way to use smartphones to protect pedestrians from bad drivers. The 'V2P' (Vehicle-to-Pedestrian) tech uses a smartphone's GPS and dedicated short range communications (DSRC) to warn drivers when a pedestrian say, steps out from behind a parked car. So the driver sees a dashboard message warning of an approaching pedestrian (which also notes whether said walker is using phone, texting or listening to music — which sort of shouldn't matter as you, uhm, brake.) The lucky pedestrian gets an alert on their phone telling them there's a DSRC-equipped car coming – that's if, say, actually looking at the road isn't telling you that already." The lesson here is to always keep your eyes on your smartphone when you're crossing the street. If you get an alert, stop where you are and read it! Relatedly, there's another phone app in development to help you avoid gunfire.
Anita Hunt (lissnup) writes "Hot on the heels of Dave Cameron's demands to make such content universally 'opt-in,' the Independent reports 'Westminster computers were prevented from accessing sex sites 114,844 times last November alone and on 55,552 in April, while February saw just 15 and in June officials blocked 397 attempts.' No explanation has been offered for the variation, although it would be interesting to know if the fall in the number of recorded/reported attempts coincides with the date the FOI request was filed."
AmiMoJo writes "The Ministry of Sound, a UK dance music brand, is suing Spotify because it has not removed users' playlists that mirror their compilation albums. The case will hinge on whether compilation albums qualify for copyright protection due to the selection and arrangement involved in putting them together. Spotify has the rights to stream all the tracks on the playlists in question, but the issue here is whether the compilation structure — the order of the songs — can be copyrighted."
An anonymous reader writes "After the airline lost his father's luggage (and presumably was less than helpful in resolving the issue), one man decided to use Twitter's self-serve ad platform to issue a warning to fellow travelers in the New York and UK markets. The tweets have gotten the attention not only of media outlets, but also of fellow airlines. A JetBlue executive even retweeted it. While companies use the platform to target customers, it's interesting to see it being turned around."
First time accepted submitter manu0601 writes "Since the NSA snoops, intercepts and store our e-mails forever, why not use it as a backup service? It just lacks the API to restore files, therefore this guy [YouTube video] called the NSA to ask for a backup restoration. Guess what? It did not work." After all, why should we have to pay twice for services already performed with tax dollars?
damnbunni writes "Frederik Pohl, one of the last Golden Age science fiction authors, passed away on September 2nd of respiratory distress, as reported on his blog. Pohl is perhaps best known for his Heechee Saga novels, beginning with Gateway in 1977, but his work in pulp magazines in the '30s and '40s helped give rise to science fiction fandom."
The Hugo awards were presented last night, providing recognition to the best science fiction of the past year. The award for Best Novel was presented to John Scalzi for Redshirts, a comedic work playing on the trope of low-ranking officers frequently getting themselves killed in sci-fi works. Best Novella went to Brandon Sanderson for The Emperor's Soul, and Best Novelette went to The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi by Pat Cadigan. Best Graphic Story was awarded to the creators of Saga. Best Dramatic Presentation (long form) was given for Joss Whedon's The Avengers movie, and (short form) was presented for the "Blackwater" episode of the Game of Thrones TV show. The Best New Writer was Mur Lafferty. Here's a full list of the nominees and winners.
usacoder writes with news of Craig Zucker, former CEO of the company behind Buckyballs, the popular neodymium magnet toys that were banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in July 2012. Zucker ran a brief campaign to drum up opposition to the government's ban, but it didn't turn out to be enough. Unfortunately for Zucker, the story didn't end there. Despite the magnets being labeled as not for kids, the Commission filed a motion to find him personally liable for the costs of a product recall, estimated at around $57 million. "Given the fact that Buckyballs have now long been off the market, the attempt to go after Mr. Zucker personally raises the question of retaliation for his public campaign against the commission. Mr. Zucker won't speculate about the commission's motives. 'It's very selective and very aggressive,' he says. ... Mr. Zucker says his treatment at the hands of the commission should alarm fellow entrepreneurs: 'This is the beginning. It starts with this case. If you play out what happens to me, then the next thing you'll have is personal-injury lawyers saying "you conducted the actions of the company, you were the company."'"
sfcrazy writes "Bad news for all ChromeCast users who were thinking of being able to stream local content to their HD TVs. Google has pushed an update for ChromeCast which has broken support for third-party apps like AirCast (AllCast) which allow users to 'stream' local files from their devices to ChromeCast connected TV sets."
onehitwonder writes "Lawrence Lessig has teamed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to sue Liberation Music, which recently demanded that YouTube take down a lecture Lessig had posted that features clips from the song 'Lisztomania' by the French band Phoenix (on Liberation Music's label). Liberation claimed copyright infringement as the reason it demanded the takedown, but in his countersuit, Lessig is claiming Liberation's 'overly aggressive takedown violates the DMCA and that it should be made to pay damages,' according to Ars Technica."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Despite a record year, like every year before it, 2013 remained fraught with its fair share of box office disasters. What if studios could minimize their loses and predict when the next Pluto Nash-level flop was imminent? According to new research published in PLoS One, they may actually be able to. Using data gleaned from Wikipedia articles, researchers measured the likelihood of a film's financial success based on four parameters: number of total page views; number of total edits made; number of users editing; and the number of revisions in the article's revision history, or 'collaborative rigor.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Star Trek veterans such as Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov), Tim Russ (Tuvok), Robert Picardo (the Doctor) and others are busy in pre-production of a professionally produced pilot episode for a suggested new online Star Trek series named Star Trek: Renegades, which will be faithful to the original Star Trek canon. The events of the series are placed a decade after Voyager's return from Delta Quadrant. When the pilot is complete, they'll present it to CBS in the hopes that it'll be picked up. They have also opened an Indiegogo campaign, seeking more funds from Star Trek fans to help make the production even more professional. They've already reached their primary funding goal."
Lemeowski writes "Cygnus Solutions co-founder Michael Tiemann takes an in-depth look at whether music can truly ever be open source. Leaning on his personal experiences of trying to convince the market that a company that provided commercial support for free software could be successful, Tiemann argues that similar to how 'the future of software was actually waiting for the fuller participation of users ... so, too, is the future of the art of music.' In his essay, Tiemann makes a case for open source music, from licensing for quality recordings to sheet music with notes from the original composer in an easy-to-reuse format, and he offers ways to get involved in making music open source." Apropos open source music, reader rDouglass adds a link to the Open Goldberg Variations project, last mentioned on Slashdot in 2012.
An anonymous reader writes "With Netflix continuing to rely upon Microsoft Silverlight, the video streaming service hasn't been supported for Linux users as the Mono-based 'Moonlight' implementation goes without Silverlight 5 DRM support. However, there is now Netflix support for Linux-based web-browsers via the open source Pipelight project. Pipelight supports Netflix and other Silverlight-based web applications by having a Netscape plug-in that in turn communicates with a Windows program running under Wine. The Windows program then simulates a browser to load the Silverlight libraries. Netflix then works as the Pipelight developers implemented support for the Netflix DRM scheme within Wine."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Claire Suddath writes in Businessweek that the number of drive-ins in America has dwindled from over 4,000 in the 1960s to about 360 today. Since Hollywood distributors are expected to stop producing movies in traditional 35 millimeter film by the end of this year and switch entirely to digital, America's last remaining drive-ins — the majority of which are still family-owned and seasonally operated — could soon be gone. 'We have challenges that other movie theaters don't,' says John Vincent, president of United Drive-In Theater Owners Association and the owner of Wellfleet Drive-In in Cape Cod, Mass. 'We have fewer screens and can only show one or two movies a night. Now we have to spend tens of thousands of dollars just to stay in business.' According to Vincent, only 150 drive-ins have converted to digital so far — the other 210 have until the end of the year either to get with the program or go out of business. It may seem silly to fret over the fate of 210 movie theaters whose business model is outdated, even compared with regular movie theaters, but Honda Motor Co. is offering help with a program called 'Project Drive-In.' The car company is planning to give away five digital projectors by the end of the year. Winners will be determined by voting from the public, which can be done online through Sept. 9 at ProjectDriveIn.com. 'Cars and drive-in theaters go hand in hand,' says Alicia Jones, manager of Honda & Acura social marketing, 'and it's our mission to save this slice of Americana that holds such nostalgia for many of us.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The FCC is looking to put regulatory fees on a per-subscriber basis for IPTV providers. 'We will assess regulatory fees on Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) licensees and we will create a new fee category that will include both cable television and IPTV,' says the report. What services they consider IPTV is yet to be seen; they call it simply 'digital television delivered through a high speed Internet connection.' We can only hope it doesn't affect too many internet video sites. "
jrepin writes "Music player Amarok 2.8 has been released and it brings a fancy audio analyzer visualization applet, smooth fade-out when pausing music, many UI improvements and visual tweaks including better support for alternate color themes, significantly enhanced MusicBrainz tagger, power management awareness with a pair of new configuration options, and performance optimizations and responsiveness tuning all over Amarok."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Daniel Kottke and Bill Fernandez had front-row seats to the birth of the personal computing industry, as well as the most valuable technology company in the world. Both served as employees of Apple Computer in its earliest days: Kottke working with the hardware, Fernandez developing the user interfaces. Both have some strong opinions about the new feature film Jobs, which dramatizes the personal and professional escapades of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and his more technically inclined partner, Steve Wozniak. Kottke consulted on early versions of the script, attended the movie's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in February, and is currently planning to see it again shortly after its release on August 16. Fernandez, on the other hand, hasn't seen it and doesn't intend to, because he considers it a work of fiction and thinks it will upset him. In this lengthy interview with Slashdot, both attempted to distinguish the facts and longstanding geek legends from the instances of pure creative license exercised by the filmmakers."
smaxp writes "It's no surprise that few people love their pay TV providers. In May, Variety reported that the American Consumer Satisfaction Index ranked cable television providers last in all consumer categories. Pent up frustration with cable and satellite TV providers fuels a steady buzz that Amazon, Apple, Google and Netflix will disrupt TV. These new entrants promise to offer variability in pricing and greater choice fueling notions that Americans have officially cut their proverbial cords. But true disruption is wishful thinking. Data from the PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PwC) global entertainment and media outlook for 2013-2017 doesn’t support a disruptive market scenario. Incumbent cable and satellite pay TV providers and over-the-top (OTT) challengers such as Amazon and Netflix are both forecasted to grow. OTT TV has only reinvented a single part of the TV business, streaming archival movie and television content over the internet replacing physical DVDs and time-shifted DVR replay of TV programs. To displace incumbents, OTT TV has to continue to change TV business models in ways that appeal to consumers and attract content owners. "
tlhIngan writes "One reason that many people pirate TV shows is 'it's not available in my country until months after it airs.' Which is why the second episode of Breaking Bad's final season was aired globally within a few hours of each other yesterday evening. Despite this, many users still decided to download it than watch it when it aired locally. Australia users we the top, perhaps because it was on FoxTel. This was followed by U.S. and Canada (who obviously got to see it when it aired), and the UK where Netflix had it within hours of the U.S. premier. Fifth on the list was the Netherlands, where it had aired hours before the U.S. premier on a public channel. It's obvious that despite the global release, the show was headed to top its previous highs in number of downloads. Could this spell the doom to future global releases, since the evidence is people just pirate them anyways?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Miriam Kramer writes at Space.com that in the new movie Elysium, Earth is beyond repair, and the rich and powerful have decided to leave it behind to live in a large, rotating space station stocked with mansions, grass, trees, water and gravity. 'The premise is totally believable to me. I spent 28 years working on NASA's International Space Station and retired last summer as the director of ISS at NASA Headquarters. When I took a look at the Elysium space station, I thought to myself, that's certainly achievable in this millennium,' says Mark Uhran, former director of the International Space Station Division in NASA's Office of Human Exploration and Operations. 'It's clear that the number-one challenge is chemical propulsion.' Nuclear propulsion could be a viable possibility eventually, but the idea isn't ready for prime time yet. 'We learned an incredible amount with [the International Space Station] and we demonstrated that we have the technology to assemble large structures in space.' The bottom line: 'If you threw everything you had at it, could you reach a space station of the scale of Elysium in 150 years?' says Uhran. 'That's a pretty tall order.'"
RemyBR writes "Can computers tell a good joke? Is comedy just a matter of statistics or is there something only a human can bring to creating a joke? A joke generator created at the University of Edinburgh (PDF) suggests that AI can be funny. Some AI generated jokes: 'I like my relationships like I like my source, open,' 'I like my coffee like I like my war, cold,' 'I like my boys like I like my sectors, bad.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Adi Robertson reports in The Verge that classic science fiction magazine Omni, created in 1978 by Penthouse mogul Bob Guccione and partner Kathy Keeton, is coming back — and with it, questions about how our vision of science and science fiction has changed since Omni closed up shop in 1996. 'There's a heavy dose of nostalgia in the proceedings, and it's not just about bringing back an old name,' writes Robertson. 'Longtime editor Ben Bova has described Omni as "a magazine about the future," but since his time as editor, our vision of the future has been tarnished — or, at the very least, we've started looking at the predictions of the past with rose-tinted glasses.' Omni's resurrection comes courtesy of Jeremy Frommer, a collector and businessman who acquired Guccione's archives earlier this year. Like the original magazine, now available at the internet archive, the new Omni will publish a mixture of new fiction and nonfiction publishing the old illustrations that helped define Omni alongside the stories. Longtime science writer Claire Evans will edit the new online project described as an 'Omni reboot' but plans to jettison one of the magazine's most dated elements — a fondness for extraterrestrials and conspiracy theories. 'Omni always had a distressing new agey tinge to it,' says Bruce Sterling. 'There was a lot of "aircraft of the pharaohs'"rubbish going on, which I didn't have very much tolerance for.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jennifer Finney Boylan writes in the NYT that for those who did not get beaten up in high school, 'Doctor Who' is a beloved British sci-fi series about a character called the Doctor who is able to regenerate into a new body whenever a mortal would die or whenever an actor grows tired of the gig. The Doctor has been played by 11 different men since the show went on the air in 1963 and with Matt Smith, stepping down this Christmas, many fans had hoped that this time, a dozen cycles in, the Doctorship would finally go to a woman. 'Maybe it was the election of Barack Obama that made it seem, fleetingly, as if there were no more glass ceilings, for offices from president to pontiff,' writes Boylan. 'Whether the 45th president is a woman (Hillary Rodham Clinton?) or a Latino (Marco Rubio?), it still feels, on a good day, as if we've entered a time when there are fewer limits on what men and women can aspire to.' But unlike presidents or popes, we may not get that many more chances at a glass-shattering Doctor. According to long-held Doctor Who mythology, the character's 13th regeneration could be his last. 'As the producers think about whom they want to take on the role next, they should keep in mind the way people's hopes are lifted when they see someone breaking the glass ceiling, even when it's for something as seemingly trivial as a hero on a science-fiction program. Equal opportunity matters — in Doctor Who's universe as well as our own.'"
TorrentFreak reports that piracy rates of the television show Under the Dome shot up by more than a third last weekend, even though official ratings dropped. What caused the increase? On Friday, three million subscribers to Time Warner's cable TV service lost access to CBS programming, the network on which Under the Dome airs. The article says this provides compelling evidence that the availability of a show is a key factor in the decision to pirate it. "To find out whether download rates in the affected markets increased, we monitored U.S. BitTorrent downloads of last week's episode as well as the one that aired this Monday following the blackout. The data from these two samples show that in Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Pittsburgh, relatively more people downloaded the latest episode, an indication that customers are turning to unauthorized channels to get the show. With hundreds of thousands of downloads Under The Dome is one of the most pirated TV-shows at the moment. Of all sampled downloaders in the U.S. 10.9% came from the blackout regions for last week's episode, and this increased to 14.6% for Monday's episode, a 34% increase. In New York City, one of the largest affected markets, the relative piracy rate more than doubled from 1.3% of all U.S. downloads last week to 3% for the episode that aired after the blackout."