DavidGilbert99 writes "Labelled as an 'oddly regressive move,' developers of Star Wars: the Old Republic have decided that all gay characters will be stuck on a single planet called Makeb. The move comes with the release of the Rise of the Hutt Cartel pack and the Makeb planet will be the only place in the game where players can select 'flirtatious' dialogue options with characters of the same gender. From the article: 'BioWare executive producer Jeff Hickman apologised for same sex relationships taking so long to be added to the game, referring to the company's most famous title Mass Effect, where homosexual relationships are available by default: "First of all, I want to apologize that this is taking so long to get in the game," wrote Hickman in a blog post. "I realise that we promised SGR (same gender relationships) to you guys and that many of you believed that this would be with a companion character. Unfortunately, this will take a lot more work than we realised at the time and it (like some other pieces of content we talked about earlier in the year) has been delayed as we focused on the changes required to take the game Free-to-Play. '"
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AliasMarlowe writes "Warner Bros have won an important legal victory over the heirs of one of the creators of Superman, giving it total commercial control of the superhero. An appeals panel unanimously ruled that Jerome Siegel's heirs must abide by a 2001 letter accepting Warner's offer for their 50% share of Superman. The letter was never formally turned into a contract, but the Judge considered that it represented an oral agreement, which was binding. Warner Brothers now owns 100% of the Superman franchise."
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon just debuted a new service called Autorip, which grants you MP3 copies of music when you purchase the CD version. This is a technology people have been trying to introduce since 1999, but only recently have the record labels — and the courts — seen fit to allow it. 'Robertson's first company, MP3.com was one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley when it launched what we would now call a cloud music service, My.MP3.com, in 1999. The service included a feature called "Beam-It" that allowed users to instantly stock their online lockers with music from their personal CD collections. ... Licensed services like iTunes were still years in the future, largely because labels were skittish about selling music online. But Robertson believed he didn't need a license because the service was permitted by copyright's fair use doctrine. If a user can rip his legally purchased CD to his computer, why can't he also store a copy of it online? ... the labels simply weren't interested in Robertson's vision of convenient and flexible music lockers. So MP3.com was driven into bankruptcy, and the "buy a CD, get an MP3" concept fell by the wayside.'"
New submitter fractalVisionz writes "The White House has officially responded to the petition to secure resources and funding to begin Death Star construction by 2016, as previously discussed on Slashdot. With costs estimated over $850,000,000,000,000,000 (that's $850 quadrillion), and a firm policy stating 'The Administration does not support blowing up planets,' the U.S. government will obviously decline. However, that is not to say we don't already have a Death Star of our own, floating approximately 120 miles above the earth's surface. The response ends with a call to those interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields of study: 'If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.'"
Coldeagle writes "It looks as if CNET's parent company, CBS, has laid down the law: 'Just one day after CNet named the Dish "Hopper," a new TV recording system that's drawing rave reviews in the tech press, to an awards shortlist, the site's parent company stepped in and nixed the accolade. Because of a legal battle between CBS and Dish over the Hopper's ad-skipping technology, CBS laid down a ban: CNet won't be allowed to even review Dish products, much less give them awards.' Got to love modern day freedom of the press!"
An anonymous reader writes "Is your work space drab? Do you want art to reflect your geekiness? Then you might like an art movement that has been gaining popularity over the past few decades. This is movement is 'Geek Art' where artists take inspiration from all things tech and geek. The art works range from 'Hello, world!' in 23 programming languages to collages of Old Atari games to more contemporary pieces like modern apps as Famicon software. It's sites like Redbubble and Society 6 which have enabled the independent artist to get their work out there while sites such as 20x200 take a more curated approach. 8bit retro is the new Mona Lisa!"
Decibullz creator Kyle Kirkpatrick talks as fast as an old-time carnival barker and is as enthusiastic about his product as Dr. Ironbeard was about his potions. A lot of people are probably satisfied with $10 earbuds, but it's kind of a cool (more accurately a warm) idea to have earbuds you can heat in your microwave, then shape and reshape as often as you like to fit perfectly in your ears.They're just one of many interesting items on display this year at CES (annoying sound if you click the "CES" link).
An anonymous reader writes "According to ABC entertainment president Paul Lee: 'We'd love to do something with Lucasfilm, we're not sure what yet. We haven't even sat down with them. We're going to look at [the Star Wars live-action TV series], we're going to look at all of them, and see what's right. We weren't even able to discuss this with them until [the deal] closed and it just closed. It's definitely going to be part of the conversation.' Not only that, but it's also been announced that some of the 50 completed episode scripts that producer Rick McCallum has previously mentioned have been written by none other than Ron Moore of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica fame."
redletterdave writes "IBM's super-computer Watson briefly went from smart to smart ass with the help of the Urban Dictionary. According to Eric Brown, an IBM research assistant, he and his 35-person team wanted to get Watson to sound more like a real human. After teaching IBM's super-computer the entire Urban Dictionary, however, Watson simply couldn't distinguish polite discourse from profanity. Watson unfortunately learned all of the Urban Dictionary's bad habits, including throwing in overly-crass language at random points in its responses; in answering one question, Watson even reportedly used the word 'bullshit' within an answer to one researcher's question. In the end, Brown and his team were forced to remove the Urban Dictionary from Watson's vocabulary, and additionally developed a smart filter to keep Watson from swearing in the future."
sciencehabit writes "All you graying, half-deaf Def Leppard fans, listen up. A drug applied to the ears of mice deafened by noise can restore some hearing in the animals. By blocking a key protein, the drug allows sound-sensing cells that are damaged by noise to regrow. The treatment isn't anywhere near ready for use in humans, but the advance at least raises the prospect of restoring hearing to some deafened people."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from an article about the difficulties in bringing so-called '4K resolution' video — 3840x2160 — to consumers. "Though 4K resolutions represent the next step in high-definition video, standards for the format have yet to emerge and no one’s really figured out how to distribute video, with its massive file footprint, efficiently and cost effectively. How exactly does one distribute files that can run to hundreds of gigabytes? ... Given that uncompressed 4K footage has a bit-rate of about 600MB/s, and even the fastest solid-state drives operate at only about 500MB/s, compression isn’t merely likely, it’s necessary. ... Kotsaftis says manufacturers will probably begin shipping and promoting larger TVs. 'In coming years, 50-inch or 55-inch screens will have become the sort of standard that 40-inch TVs are now. To exploit 4K, you need a larger form factor. You’re just not going to notice enough of a difference on smaller screens.' The same quality/convenience argument leads him to believe that physical media for 4K content will struggle to gain traction among consumers. '4K implies going back to physical media. Even over the Internet, it’s going to require massive files and, given the choice, most people would happily settle for a 720p or 1080p file anyway.'"
First time accepted submitter Barryke writes "Today LEGO announces the new mohawk (NASA's turf) sporting MINDSTORMS EV3 platform (press release). And with details on its features and innards (in Dutch) which in short comes down to: 'Its intelligent brick sports an ARM9-soc running Linux on 64MB RAM and 16MB storage memory, and supports SD cards. There are also four ports, which allow four other 'Bricks' can be connected. The intelligent brick can be reached by WiFi, USB and Bluetooth, and supports control via Android and iOS devices. It comes with 3 servo's, two touch sensors and an IR sensor to track other robots at upto six meters. It also includes 17 build plans, shown in 3D using Adobe Inventor Publisher.'"
kkleiner writes "A German company has brought us one step closer to the kinds of shootouts only seen in Sci-Fi films. Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Defense recently tested a 50kW, high-energy laser at their proving ground facility in Switzerland. First, the system sliced through a 15mm- (~0.6 inches) thick steel girder from a kilometer away. Then, from a distance of two kilometers, it shot down a handful of drones as they nose-dived toward the surface at 50 meters per second."
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Al Jazeera plans to start an English-language channel available in more than 40 million U.S. homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar. They announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore seven years ago. But the challenge will be persuading Americans to watch the award winning network with 71 bureaus around the world — an extremely tough proposition given the crowded television marketplace and the stereotypes about the channel that persist to this day. 'There are still people who will not watch it, who will say that it's a "terrorist network,"' says Philip Seib. 'Al Jazeera has to override that by providing quality news.' With a handful of exceptions, American cable and satellite distributors have mostly refused to carry Al Jazeera English since its inception in 2006. While the television sets of White House officials and lawmakers were tuned to the channel during the Arab Spring in 2011, ordinary Americans who wanted to watch had to find a live stream on the Internet. Al Jazeera's Robert Wheelock said, We offer an alternative. It's a broader coverage of news. It's a broader spectrum into countries that aren't traditionally covered.'"
Leif_Bloomquist writes "Videos of the presentations from the recent World of Commodore, held December 1st 2012 in Toronto, have been published on YouTube. The presentations range from new product announcements to remakes of classic Commodore games for iPhone, from animation and music performances to coding tutorials and discussions for retro platforms. The revived World of Commodore is held annually on the first weekend of December by the Toronto PET Users Group."