Flea of Pain writes "Director Guillermo Del Toro has confirmed upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit has been put on hold indefinitely because the movie has been caught in a 'tangled negotiation' over the future of the MGM movie studio. The film, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's first book in the fantasy series, was reportedly due to begin shooting this summer, but has been mired in delays. Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who will act as producer on the new film, recently dismissed rumors of trouble with the picture, insisting, 'It's not really been delayed, because we've never announced the date.'"
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krou writes "Sir Ian McKellen has revealed that filming for The Hobbit and its sequel is scheduled to begin in July, and will take approximately a year to complete. Casting is now 'taking place in LA, London and New York,' and [director Guillermo] Del Toro is already 'living in Wellington, close to the Jacksons and the studio in Miramar.' Apparently the script is still being worked on, and 'the first draft is crammed with old and new friends, again on a quest in Middle-earth.' The planned sequel to The Hobbit is to be an original story not written by Tolkien, covering the 60 years between The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings."
jerryatrix writes "Legends of the New Zealand Maori tell of giant man-eating birds. New scientific evidence proves that these birds did exist and were around the same time as humans in New Zealand. From the article, 'Scientists now think the stories handed down by word of mouth and depicted in rock drawings refer to Haast's eagle, a raptor that became extinct just 500 years ago.'"
saudadelinux writes "Last year, the Tolkien Trust, which administers JRR's estate, bellowed stentoriously, 'Youuuu shall not make The Hobbit!' and sued New Line Cinema for 'a reported $220m (£133m) in compensation, based on breach of contract and fraud.' New Line, chastened, has settled for an undisclosed sum of money. The Trust has given its blessing to New Line for Guillermo del Toro to film The Hobbit and for New Line to make other films based on Tolkien's work. Much rejoicing!"
drunken_boxer777 sends us to The Wall Street Journal for a lengthy article on a small tech company, Palantir Technologies, that is making the CIA, Pentagon, and FBI take notice. The submitter adds, "And yes, their company name is a reference to what you think it is." "One of the latest entrants into the government spy-services marketplace, Palantir Technologies has designed what many intelligence analysts say is the most effective tool to date to investigate terrorist networks. The software's main advance is a user-friendly search tool that can scan multiple data sources at once, something previous search tools couldn't do. That means an analyst who is following a tip about a planned terror attack, for example, can more quickly and easily unearth connections among suspects, money transfers, phone calls and previous attacks around the globe. ... With Palantir's software 'you can actually point to examples where it was pretty clear that lives were saved.'"
eyrieowl writes "J.R.R.'s heirs are suing for royalties on the LoTR films. Apparently they haven't gotten any money due to some creative accounting. Peter Jackson ought to understand...he had to sue the studio for much the same reason. As for The Hobbit? FTFA: 'Tolkien's family and a British charity they head, the Tolkien Trust, seek more than $220 million in compensation...[and]...the option to terminate further rights to the author's work.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "The 'hobbits,' dubbed homo floresiensis, caused a worldwide sensation when they were discovered five years ago, when some scientists claimed that the 18,000-year-old human-like fossils found on the Indonesian island of Flores represented an entirely new species. Now researchers at the Natural History Museum in London believe that the creatures' small brains could have developed to reduce the creatures' energy needs, crucial for surviving in an isolated area with limited resources. 'It could be that H. floresiensis' skull is that of a Homo erectus that has become dwarfed from living on an island, rather than being an abnormal individual or separately-evolved species, as has been suggested,' says palaeontologist Eleanor Weston. 'Looking at pygmy hippos in Madagascar, which possess exceptionally small brains for their size, suggests that the same could be true for H. floresiensis, and the result of being isolated on the island.' Although the phenomenon of dwarfism on islands is well recognized in large mammals, an accompanying reduction in brain size has never been clearly demonstrated before."
stevedcc writes "This weekend sees the release of The Hunt for Gollum, a Lord of the Rings fan-film. It'll be available on the web for free. The BBC are running an article about the making of the film, with a budget of £3,000 (spent mostly on costumes and make-up). There were 160 contributors involved, many over the internet." I hope it lives up to the trailer (linked from the BBC story); the finished film is approximately 40 minutes. memoryhole supplies links to YouTube for both the full trailer and a second trailer. Reader jowifi adds a link to NPR's story on the film, writing, "NPR discussed the legality of this type of creation with EFF lawyer Fred Von Lohman, who said it's not clear if such a production violates the copyright for Tolkien's work."
Sockatume writes "SCE's critically acclaimed Shadow of the Colossus is set to become a feature film. The cult boss-rush game will be adapted by Justin Marks, who also wrote the recent Chun-Li movie. A friend of the writer reports that the studio hopes to turn it into an LotR-style fantasy blockbuster, expanding upon the side characters in the original game's minimalistic and solitary storyline. This won't be the game's first trip to Hollywood, however. 2007's Reign Over Me featured characters playing the game, at the suggestion of editor Jeremy Roush."
Pandemic Studios, having enjoyed some success with their release of Star Wars: Battlefront II, sought to bring their style of action game to the Lord of the Rings universe as well. Since both Star Wars and LotR are widely regarded as classics in their respective genres, and both have a rich, deep fan base, the task would appear to be similar in scope. Many were expecting Lord of the Rings: Conquest to be, if nothing else, a playground for Tolkien fans to revel in the environments so vividly brought to life by the movies. Unfortunately, between the short, simplistic campaign and the shallow, uninspired combat, LotR: Conquest merely relies on its name for success, failing to bring the innovation or cleverness that the franchise deserves. Read on for the rest of my thoughts.
VorlonFog writes "According to Information Week, IBM has introduced a line of business computers that avoid Microsoft's desktop environment in favor of open source software. IBM worked with Canonical and Virtual Bridges to create the platform, which IBM claims saves businesses $500 to $800 per user on software licenses and an additional $258 per user 'since there is no need to upgrade hardware to support Vista and Office.'"
o2binbuzios writes "I have two pre-teen boys who are avid readers, and I am going through my mental catalog for great sci-fi & fantasy books for them. What are some of the classics (and maybe new additions to the classics) that would be great for them to read? I am asking because some of the 'straight-up' classics I remember actually seem kind of dark & cynical for younger readers. Starship Troopers and some of the other Heinlein are definitely darker and more political than I remember... Foundation Trilogy and psycho-history maybe too dry. Road-trip reading season is upon us — what are the good reads for the kids in the back seat?"
theodp writes "On June 2nd, almost two-and-half years after the USPTO initiated a reexamination of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' 1-Click Patent, Amazon dumped another load of documents on the USPTO Examiner assigned to the case, asking for consideration of the 185 or so listed references and 'favorable action.' Peter Calveley, the LOTR actor whose do-it-yourself legal effort prompted the reexam, notes that he was cc'ed on 20 kg of documents that Amazon sent earlier to the USPTO as it tried to stave off last October's nonfinal rejection of all but 5 of Amazon's 26 1-Click patent claims. So much for Bezos' 2000 pledge of 'less work for the overworked Patent and Trademark Office.'"
oboreruhito writes "The AP is reporting that the Tolkien Trust and HarperCollins are suing New Line Cinema for $150 million in compensatory damages, unspecified punitive damages, and a court order revoking New Line's rights to produce any more films on Tolkien properties. The Tolkien Trust says that New Line paid them only $62,500 to make 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy of films — instead of the agreed-upon 7.5 percent of gross receipts of all film-related revenue. The suit may set back, if not kill, a film adaptation of Lord of the Rings prequel 'The Hobbit,' which Peter Jackson had recently signed up to make after his own legal row with the studio over payment for the sequels."
theodp writes "After USPTO Examiner Mark A. Fadok rejected Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' 1-Click Patent claims as 'old and obvious,' Amazon canceled and refiled its 1-Click claims in a continuation application as it requested an Oral Appeal, a move that smacked of a good old-fashioned stalling tactic. But the move may have backfired, as Fadok has just completed his review of the continuation app and concluded that all of the refiled 1-Click claims should be rejected, providing explanations of why the Board of Patent Appeals was wrong to reverse his earlier decision after listening to Amazon's lawyers in September. In October, USPTO Examiner Matthew C. Graham rejected most of the 1-Click claims as part of the reexam requested by LOTR actor Peter Calveley, a decision that attorneys for Amazon are currently trying to work around with some creative wordsmithing. Can't see how all of this means 'less work for the overworked Patent and Trademark Office.'"
morphovar forwards a writeup in Low-tech Magazine recounting an almost-forgotten predecessor to email and packet-switched messaging: the optical telegraph. The article maps out some of the European networks but provides no details of those built in North America in the early 1800s. Man-in-the-middle attacks were dead easy. "More than 200 years ago it was already possible to send messages throughout Europe and America at the speed of an airplane — wireless and without need for electricity. The optical telegraph network consisted of a chain of towers ... placed 5 to 20 kilometers apart from each other. Every tower had a telegrapher, looking through a telescope at the previous tower in the chain. If the semaphore on that tower was put into a certain position, the telegrapher copied that symbol on his own tower. A message could be transmitted from Amsterdam to Venice in one hour's time. A few years before, a messenger on a horse would have needed at least a month's time to do the same."
syrinx writes "Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema, and MGM have agreed to work on two new movies: a film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit', and a further sequel. From the article: 'The two Hobbit films ... are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, with pre-production beginning as soon as possible. Principal photography is tentatively set for a 2009 start, with the intention of 'The Hobbit' release slated for 2010 and its sequel the following year, in 2011.'" Not sure if it would be possible to nab Ian Holm as Bilbo, but here's hoping.
theodp writes "Brought together 7 years ago by a threatened boycott over Amazon's 1-Click patent, Tim O'Reilly and Jeff Bezos vowed to reform the U.S. patent system. So in The Register's Open Season podcast (@12:25), Andrew Orlowski finds it very ironic that news of a victory by LOTR choreographer Peter Calveley against Bezos' 1-Click patent broke as O'Reilly was once again busy trotting out Amazon-tied speakers to headline a Web 2.0 conference, this one sponsored by Fenwick & West, the prestigious law firm bested by Calveley. Orlowski notes that O'Reilly, who now counts Bezos among his investors, was oddly silent for a self-described software patent protester, especially one who once vowed to torpedo 1-Click. Equally untalkative was Bezos, who deflected questions on the damage done by Calveley's DIY legal effort, telling a Wall Street analyst to 'refer to our public filings' (although nothing on the subject appears in the 8-K and 10-Q filings). One last dose of irony — in explaining the prior art he used to reject the 1-Click claims, a USPTO Examiner cited the very same TV remote control patent that was deemed to be unsuitable in a 1-Click prior art contest run by the O'Reilly and Bezos-bankrolled BountyQuest (just last year, Amazon testified to Congress that the contest failed to find prior art for Bezos' patent)."
DrJimbo writes "Just in time for the 70th Anniversary of the Hobbit (published September 21, 1937) Entertainment Weekly has a 5-page article on a possible reconciliation between Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema that may pave the way for the director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to return and helm the filming of The Hobbit. It was previously reported here that Jackson would not be making the Hobbit film. The EW article says that Jackson wants to make two films: first the Hobbit in its entirety and then another film that bridges the roughly 60 years between the end of the Hobbit and the start of the Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately Jackson already has a lot on his plate with filming of The Lovely Bones scheduled to start this month and a live action Tintin film in the works."
Last week we asked you for questions to pass on to Turbine CEO Jeff Anderson, about their recently released Lord of the Rings Online Massively Multiplayer Online Game. There were a ton of great queries, and unfortunately Mr. Anderson had only a limited time to spare for us. Over the phone we still managed to discuss a wide variety of topics, including: their use of the license, lessons learned from the Asheron games, World of Warcraft impact on the genre, what Tolkien would have thought, and whether or not they're working on a Linux/Mac client. Make sure to give them a look, and many thanks again to Mr. Anderson for taking the time to speak with us.