SternisheFan writes with news of rumors over Microsoft's plans for its next-gen Xbox console. According to The Verge, the company is working on a cheap, Xbox-based set-top box for some time in 2013. "The device will run on the core components of Windows 8 and support casual gaming titles rather than full Xbox games typically found on a dedicated console. Although hardware specifications aren't fully locked down, we understand Microsoft will use a chipset to enable an "always on" device that boots quickly and resumes to provide near-instant access to TV and entertainment services. Microsoft's Xbox set-top box work is said to be part of a broader effort to ensure its core architecture for the next-generation Xbox is scalable enough to be put together to run on a number of devices. We understand that the company could opt to combine its core system for the next Xbox with a phone stack to deliver a phone capable of running a full version of Microsoft's Xbox Live services."
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An anonymous reader writes with news that hardware vendors aren't too happy about expanded levies on media. From the article: "Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Dell, and Imation are suing the Dutch government over new levies on hard disks, smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players that are meant to compensate the music and movie industries for losses caused by home copying. The entertainment industry estimates lost income of €40 million, which is much too high, according to the hardware companies. 'That amount is excessive and completely unfounded,' they said. The €40 million also incorporates damages for illegally downloaded music and movies which, according to the companies, legally cannot be recovered by a levy on devices. Furthermore the Dutch government established a levy on all devices including devices for professional use that are not used for private copying, they said."
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like the next generation of 'Battle Bots' is here: 'Syfy has greenlit and shot the first season of a new show where eight-foot-tall state-of-the-art humanoid robots will rock 'em and sock 'em in a boxing cage until one is defeated. The future-shock new series is called Robot Combat League and the project has been kept under wraps until today. The action resembles a real-life version of last year's hit movie Real Steel, with large menacing robots pounding away at each other in a satisfying shower of sparks and gushing hydraulic fluid.' Pictures are included with the story."
An anonymous reader writes "The Tolkien Estate has filed an $80 million copyright infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court over the use of Lord of the Rings slot machines. The complaint hinges on a contract between the estate and Warner Bros. which allows the creation of LotR merchandise but not LotR 'intangibles,' like the experience of playing a slot machine game. According to the estate (PDF), 'Not only does the production of gambling games patently exceed the scope of defendants' rights, but this infringing conduct has outraged Tolkien's devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien's legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works.'"
Hugh Pickens "The LA Times reports that after years of stubbornly arguing that iTunes was, in the words of singer Brian Johnson, 'going to kill music if they're not careful,' AC/DC has reached a deal with Apple to sell its entire catalog — 16 studio albums, four live albums and three compilations — through the service. AC/DC was one of the last high-profile holdouts from the digital music marketplace, outlasting the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd, all of which jumped into the realm long after much of the population had accepted the downloading future. Angus Young, AC/DC's lead guitarist (known for wearing a schoolboy's uniform when performing), had long argued against hawking the band's music because he didn't like the idea of allowing for individual song downloads — submitting that the group's albums were designed to be listened to from beginning to end. 'It's like an artist who does a painting,' he said in 2008. 'If he thinks it's a great piece of work, he protects it. It's the same thing: This is our work.'"
jfruh writes "Most Slashdotters have been following the debate among the various players in the music industry about how much money artists (and their labels) get from traditional music outlets like radio and newer services like Pandora or Spotify. But Zoë Keating, a professional cellist who has a professional interest in the outcome of this argument, thinks there's one thing missing from all the proposals: more data on who her audience is. Even digital services can't tell her how many people heard her songs or where they're most popular. 'How can I grow my business on this information?' she asks. 'How do I reach them? Do they know I'm performing nearby next month? How can I tell them I have a new album coming out?'" She proposes mandatory reporting of information on listeners as part of royalties.
rjnagle writes "I'm an American lover of music who is interested in buying legally music from other countries. How do I know which CD/online music stores are legit and actually benefit the artist? I'm very cost-conscious and prefer indie music anyway, but the types of international music for sale on Amazon/iTunes tends to be from the bigger labels. Suppose I wanted to buy music from Pakistan/Ukraine/China/Brazil/Chad. What's the best way to identify which labels or online stories are authorized to sell them? Perhaps all I need is a list of the best known online music stores for each region (Yesasia.com, etc)."
smi.james.th writes "Here on Slashdot, the concept that older models of business need to be updated to keep with the times is often mentioned. A friend of mine owns a DVD rental store, and he often listens to potential customers walk out, saying that they'd rather download the movie, and not because his prices are unreasonable. With the local telco on a project to boost internet speeds, my friend feels as though the end is near for his livelihood. So, Slashdotters, I put it to you: What can a DVD store owner do to make his store more relevant? What services would you pay for at a DVD store?"
another random user writes with bad news from the BBC for anybody who enjoys a hamburger now and again: "Meat-eaters 'easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes,' according to a controversial school textbook available in India. New Healthway, a book on hygiene and health aimed at 11 and 12 year-olds, is printed by one of India's leading publishers. 'This is poisonous for children,' Janaki Rajan of the Faculty of Education at Jamia Millia University in Delhi told the BBC. 'The government has the power to take action, but they are washing their hands of it,' she said. 'The strongest argument that meat is not essential food is the fact that the Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables,' reads a chapter entitled Do We Need Flesh Food? The chapter details the 'benefits' of a vegetarian diet and goes on to list 'some of the characteristics' found among non-vegetarians. 'They easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes,' it says."
An anonymous reader sends in this thoughtful article about the format of Doctor Who: "The New Series has given itself two basic tasks. One, to put back and keep on our screens a program by the name of Doctor Who that maintains substantial visible continuity with the classic series in many ways. Two, and this is where conflicting elements start to come in, to seek to define this resurrected program against many aspects of the classic series, even fundamental aspects, in pursuit of task one. In itself this is neither good nor bad. If anything it is on balance probably a good thing to seek to redress the shortcomings of the classic series, but what matters, ultimately, is the choices involved and their execution."
ananyo writes "Rappers making up rhymes on the fly while in a brain scanner have provided an insight into the creative process. Freestyle rapping — in which a performer improvises a song by stringing together unrehearsed lyrics — is a highly prized skill in hip hop. But instead of watching a performance in a club, Siyuan Liu and Allen Braun, neuroscientists at the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Maryland, and their colleagues had 12 rappers freestyle in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. The artists also recited a set of memorized lyrics chosen by the researchers. By comparing the brain scans from rappers taken during freestyling to those taken during the rote recitation, they were able to see which areas of the brain are used during improvisation. The rappers showed lower activity in part of their frontal lobes called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during improvisation, and increased activity in another area, called the medial prefrontal cortex. The areas that were found to be 'deactivated' are associated with regulating other brain functions. The results echo an earlier study of jazz musicians. The findings also suggest an explanation for why new music might seem to the artist to be created of its own accord. With less involvement by the lateral prefrontal regions of the brain, the performance could seem to its creator to have 'occurred outside of conscious awareness,' the authors write in the paper." Bonus points for science rhymes; for anyone who has the time.
MrSeb writes "The dream of faster-than-light travel has been on the mind of humanity for generations. Until recently, though, it was restricted to the realm of pure science fiction. Theoretical mechanisms for warp drives have been posited by science, some of which actually jive quite nicely with what we know of physics. Of course, that doesn't mean they're actually going to work, though. NASA researchers recently revisited the Alcubierre warp drive and concluded that its power requirements were not as impossible as once thought. However, a new analysis from the University of Sydney claims that using a warp drive of this design comes with a drawback. Specifically, it could cause cataclysmic explosions at your destination."
ndogg writes "Netflix now works on Linux... sort of. The folks at iheartubuntu have figured out a way to get Netflix to run on the Windows version of Firefox using Wine (with a number of custom patches) and Silverlight. They plan on releasing packages for it all soon. Currently, it seems they have only had success with 32-bit, while compiling for 64-bit is tricky."
jfruh writes "Google TV, despite bold predictions from the company's execs, has singularly failed to take over the TV world. Nevertheless, the company is still plugging away, and one development that might have far-reaching implications is its new context-aware voice search. 'Context aware' is the key to revolutionizing the TV-watching experience: you can say the name of a TV show, the name of a channel, the description of a show, or the description of a kind of video you'd like to find on YouTube, and the TV will show it to you."
Velcroman1 writes "Every second in your body, thousands of tiny isotopes are bursting with radioactive decay. And, all around you, imperceptible gamma rays explode in a brilliant but invisible lightshow. And they've just formed a live band. Yes, you read that correctly. But it's all for science: The Radioactive Orchestra 2.0 is part of a Swedish project to help us understand how low-energy radiation works, by showing the energy patterns of nuclear isotopes. Swedish musician Kristofer Hagbard conceived of the orchestra about a year ago and released an album last spring, but the new 2.0 version of 'the band' allows him to perform live in front of an audience. 'This can be looked at as a piano for high energy photons, so every detection gives us a note,' Hagbard said. 'The musical instrument is as good as the gamma spectrometer we are using.'"