EdIII writes "The White House petition to secure funding for building the Death Star has garnered over 25,000 signatures, which means the White House must officially respond. I can't wait to see it. My question to Slashdot readers: what modifications would you add to the proposed Death Star? Obviously, as one journalist put it, 'guardrails around any of the facility's seemingly endless number of bridges, spans, shafts and pits.' What other changes would you ask your representatives to make?"
An anonymous reader writes "Last year, when we discussed news that The Hobbit would be filmed at 48 frames per second, instead of the standard 24, many were skeptical that format would take hold. Now that the film has been released, an article at Slate concedes that it's a bit awkward and takes a while to get used to, but ends up being to the benefit of the film and the entire industry as well. 'The 48 fps version of The Hobbit is weird, that's true. It's distracting as hell, yes yes yes. Yet it's also something that you've never seen before, and is, in its way, amazing. Taken all together, and without the prejudice of film-buffery, Jackson's experiment is not a flop. It's a strange, unsettling success. ... It does not mark the imposition from on high of a newer, better standard — one frame rate to rule them all (and in the darkness bind them). It's more like a shift away from standards altogether. With the digital projection systems now in place, filmmakers can choose the frame rate that makes most sense for them, from one project to the next.'"
New submitter Sebolains writes "Unlike previous years, NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) has decided to use Bing maps to track Santa's journey as he goes around the world delivering presents. Starting Christmas eve, one will be able to go to the official NORAD Santa tracking site and use Bing maps to see where Santa is delivering presents at that time. In previous years, NORAD has always gone for Google maps to track Saint Nick. The reason for this switch were not disclosed, but since nearly 25 million people are expected to use this tool come this Christmas, this will definitely benefit Bing in the ongoing competition for online map applications."
netbuzz writes "A new law banning broadcasters from delivering TV commercials at a higher volume takes effect today at the end of a yearlong implementation period. Called the CALM Act, or Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, the law does provide for violators to be fined. TV commercials that crank up the volume have been the No. 1 complaint logged with the FCC over the last 10 years."
Census numbers show that 176,632 people in England and Wales ask themselves, "What would Yoda do?" Although the number of people who list their religion as "Jedi" has dropped by more than 50% in the past 10 years, It remains the most popular "alternative" faith in England. From the article: "The new figures reveal that the lightsabre-wielding disciples are only behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in the popularity stakes, excluding non-religious people and people who did not answer."
First time accepted submitter roc97007 writes "Looks like Netflix may be getting some much needed competition in the video streaming market. From the article: 'Later this month, Redbox will offer an unlimited streaming-video plan that includes movies from Warner Bros. and pay TV channel Epix, along with four nights of physical DVD rentals, for $8 a month, or $9 a month if customers want Blu-ray discs. The offering is a direct attack on Netflix Inc. and is priced even lower than the $10-a-month DVD and streaming plan that Netflix abandoned a year ago. The lowest price plan from Netflix that combines DVDs-by-mail and streaming is now $16 a month.'"
chicksdaddy writes with news of a remote exploit in Samsung Smart TVs, and a warning for those who got one with a built-in camera. From the article: "The company that made headlines in October for publicizing zero day holes in SCADA products now says it has uncovered a remotely exploitable security hole in Samsung Smart TVs. If left unpatched, the vulnerability could allow hackers to make off with owners' social media credentials and even to spy on those watching the TV using built-in video cameras and microphones. In an e-mail exchange with Security Ledger, the Malta-based firm said that the previously unknown ('zero day') hole affects Samsung Smart TVs running the latest version of the company's Linux-based firmware. It could give an attacker the ability to access any file available on the remote device, as well as external devices (such as USB drives) connected to the TV. And, in a Orwellian twist, the hole could be used to access cameras and microphones attached to the Smart TVs, giving remote attacker the ability to spy on those viewing a compromised set."
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes this week with his favorite novelty science gift items for 2012. Levitation engines, puzzles, optical illusions brought to life, and all of the tips and tricks he's found for getting the products to work correctly. Decorative, whimsical, and not too expensive — except for the items that have earned it by being pretty amazing. Read on for the details, and be sure to mention other good possibilities (Just 14 shopping days left until Christmas) in the comments below.
First time accepted submitter Tastecicles writes "Patrick Moore, the monocled surveyor of the sky who awakened in millions of people an interest in galactic goings on, has died at 89. His love of astronomy began at the age of six, and that childhood curiosity developed into a lifelong passion. It was a passion he shared through his program, The Sky at Night, which he presented for more than 50 years, only ever missing one episode due to illness. Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore was born at Pinner, Middlesex on 4 Mar 1923. Heart problems meant he spent much of his childhood being educated at home and he became an avid reader. His mother gave him a copy of GF Chambers' book The Story of the Solar System, and this sparked his lifelong passion for astronomy. He was soon publishing papers about the moon's surface, based on observations made with his first three-inch telescope. His 1908 vintage typewriter enabled him to publish more than a thousand books on subjects ranging from astronomy, his first love, to cricket, golf, and music."
zacharye writes "Microsoft is no stranger to criticism these days, and the company's new Windows 8 platform is once again the target of a scathing review from a high-profile user. Well-known Internet entrepreneur and MIT professor Philip Greenspun handed Windows 8 one of its most damning reviews yet earlier this week, calling the new operating system a 'Christmas gift for someone you hate.' Greenspun panned almost every aspect of Microsoft's new software, noting that Microsoft had four years to study Android and more than five to examine iOS, but still couldn't build a usable tablet experience..."
An anonymous reader writes "The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has declared that the Megaupload shutdown earlier this year has been a great success. In a filing to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the group representing major movie studios says the file hosting and sharing industry has been massively disrupted. Yet the MPAA says there is still work to be done, identifying sites that make available to downloaders 'unauthorized copies of high-quality, recently-released content and in some cases, coordinate the actual upload and download of that content.' Here's the list of sites, including where they are hosted: Extratorrent (Ukraine), IsoHunt (Canada), Kickass Torrents (Canada), Rutracker (Russia), The Pirate Bay (Sweden), Torrentz (Canada), and Kankan (China)."
Zothecula writes "In the past few years, not only has the Corvette-like Batmobile from Batman Returns been put up for auction, but a jet-powered replica of that same style of Batmobile has also been created. A drivable copy of the Dark Knight-era Tumbler has likewise been built, along with a working replica of the associated Bat Pod motorcycle. For many people, however, the only 'true' Batmobile is the original version driven by Adam West in the 1960s TV series – and it's about to be put on the auction block, for the first time ever."
An anonymous reader writes "When Disney films leave the theater and head for TV, they currently go through the Starz channel first. That's going to change in 2016. Disney has signed a deal to give Netflix the first crack at its animated and live-action films. Even if you're not a fan of either company, this is a bit of a big deal; Disney is ditching a traditional pay-TV service in favor of online streaming. (It also includes properties from the recent Lucasfilm deal.) The article wisely points out that pay-TV in general isn't in danger until the live sports situation changes, but this is a big step away from the status quo."
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports on a fan-run project to build a full-scale replica of Han Solo's Millennium Falcon. The ship, 31 feet tall, 114 feet long, and 81.5 feet wide at its widest point, will be built on a plot of land in Tennessee. Since this project is obviously too big for any one fan, or even a small group, they're going to crowdsource some of the construction. Their website has continual updates about various parts of the build, with many, many pictures. For example, here are a couple shots of the Quad guns and cockpit console. Project leader Chris Lee says he bought the land in Tennessee, 88 acres, for this purpose. He says he'd like to 'develop it into more of a creative retreat, like a Maker camp ... where a school could send kids.' The Force is strong with this one!"
An anonymous reader writes "Several large movie studios have asked Google to take down legitimate pages related to their own films, including sites legally hosting, promoting, or discussing them. Victims of the takedown requests include sites where the content is hosted legally (Amazon, CBS, iTunes, Blockbuster, Verizon on demand, and Xfinity), newspapers discussing the content in question (the BBC, CNET, Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The Mirror, The Daily Mail, and Wired) as well as official Facebook Pages for the movies and TV shows and even their Wikipedia entries. There are also a number of legitimate links that appear to be completely unrelated to the content that is supposedly being protected. The good news is that Google has so far left many of the links up."