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Sci-Fi Authors and Scientists Predict an Optimistic Future

Soulskill posted 44 minutes ago | from the roddenberry-approved dept.

Sci-Fi 23

An anonymous reader writes: A few years ago, author Neal Stephenson argued that sci-fi had forgotten how to inspire people to do great things. Indeed, much of recent science fiction has been pessimistic and skeptical, focusing on all the ways our inventions could go wrong, and how hostile the universe is to humankind. Now, a group of scientists, engineers, and authors (including Stephenson himself) is trying to change that. Arizona State University recently launched Project Hieroglyph, a hub for ideas that will influence science fiction to be more optimistic and accurate, and to focus on the great things humanity is capable of doing.

For example, in the development of a short story, Stephenson wanted to know if it's possible to build a tower that's 20 kilometers tall. Keith Hjelmsad, an expert in structural stability and computational mechanics, wrote a detailed response about the challenge involved in building such a tower. Other authors are contributing questions as well, and researchers are chiming in with fascinating, science-based replies. Roboticist Srikanth Saripalli makes this interesting point: "If the government has to decide what to fund and what not to fund, they are going to get their ideas and decisions mostly from science fiction rather than what's being published in technical papers."

Apple Outrages Users By Automatically Installing U2's Album On Their Devices

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the do-not-want dept.

Music 552

Zanadou writes "Apple may have succeeded at breaking two records at once with the free release of U2's latest album, titled Songs of Innocence, via iTunes. But now, it looks like it's also on track to become one of the worst music publicity stunts of all time. Users who have opted to download new purchases to their iPhones automatically have found the new U2 album sitting on their phones. But even if iTunes users hadn't chosen automatic downloads, Songs of Innocence will still be displayed as an "iTunes in the Cloud" purchase. That means it will still be shown as part of your music library, even if you delete all the tracks. The only way to make the U2 album go away is to go to your Mac or PC and hide all of your "iTunes in the Cloud" purchases, or to use iTunes to manually hide each track from your purchased items list. Other reactions include rapper Tyler, The Creator saying that having the new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was like waking up with an STD.

Original 11' Star Trek Enterprise Model Being Restored Again

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the to-brightly-go-where-no-man-has-gone-before dept.

Sci-Fi 95

NormalVisual (565491) writes The original 11-foot U.S.S. Enterprise studio model from the original series has gone back into the shop again. The Smithsonian owns the model and has had it on display in a gift shop at the National Air and Space Museum for the last 13 years, but will be placed on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall in 2016, to coincide with the museum's 40th anniversary. In the meantime, the model will be undergoing its fourth restoration to address a number of issues. The last restoration in 1991 was performed by Ed Miarecki, a professional modelmaker well known for his work in "Star Trek: The Next Generation", as well as films such as "Event Horizon". This previous restoration had Trek fans up in arms owing to the paint job, which many feel doesn't represent the way the model looked originally. Hopefully this next restoration will bring her back to her former glory.

The Future According To Stanislaw Lem

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the drugs-and-nanotech dept.

Sci-Fi 187

An anonymous reader writes "The Paris Review has an article about SF author Stanislaw Lem, explaining Lem's outlook on the future and his expectations for technological advancement. Lem tended toward a view that technology would infect and eventually supplant biological evolution. But he also suggested an interesting explanation for why we haven't detected alien civilizations: "Perhaps ... they are so taken up with perfecting their own organisms that they've abandoned space exploration entirely. According to a similar hypothesis, such beings are invisible because technological ease has resulted in a 'Second Stone Age' of 'universal illiteracy and idleness.' When everyone's needs are perfectly met, it 'would be hard, indeed, to find one individual who would choose as his life's work the signaling, on a cosmic scale, of how he was getting along.' Rather than constructing Dyson Spheres, Lem suggests, advanced civilizations are more likely to spend their time getting high.""

Verizon Working On a La Carte Internet TV Service

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the i-cannot-in-good-conscience-let-any-of-my-money-go-to-TLC dept.

Television 108

An anonymous reader writes: One of the reasons people have been fleeing cable TV in droves is the idea that they're paying for hundreds of channels but only using a handful. Even though that's not really true, Verizon is now working on an internet TV service that lets people pick and pay for only the channels they want. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said, "I think everyone understands it will go to a la carte. The question is what is that transition look like ... I don't think there is anyone that would stand up here and say the only way it's going to be offered five years from now is linear and it's going to be tied to your TV set because frankly they will miss the market and they will be the ones left behind."

L.A. TV Stations Free Up Some Spectrum For Wireless Broadband

timothy posted 3 days ago | from the slightly-less-waste dept.

Wireless Networking 79

alphadogg (971356) writes An effort to free up some of the airwaves used by TV broadcasts and make them available for wireless broadband took a big step forward this week in the U.S. Two TV stations in Los Angeles, KLCS and KCET, have agreed to share a single frequency to deliver their programming freeing up a channel that can be auctioned off to wireless carriers next year. The change, which the Federal Communications Commission calls "repackaging," is possible because digital TV broadcasts don't need the full 6MHz of broadcast spectrum that was used for analog TV.

Two Bit Circus is 'a Big Band of Nerds' (Video)

Roblimo posted 4 days ago | from the games-that-take-physical-movement-are-healthy-games dept.

8

Brent Bushnell, CEO of Two Bit Circus, is today's interview victim. Two Bit Circus is an amalgamation of technology, play, entertainment, and "immersive social amusements." They develop games like the ones shown in their Great Forest Challenge demo reel video. Their big push right now is preparing for STEAM Carnival – Los Angeles, which will be held October 25 and October 26 at CRAFTED, a permanent craft market at the Port of Los Angeles. The STEAM Carnival is also available as a traveling event; if you'd like to host it in your town, Two Bit Circus just might be able to accommodate you. (Alternate Video Link)

Amazon Instant Video Now Available On Android

samzenpus posted 5 days ago | from the go-ahead-and-watch dept.

Android 76

briancox2 writes Amazon has avoided releasing the Amazon Instant Video app that is on Fire and Kindle to the general Android market, even though the app has been available for some time on iOS. Now, after a workaround had allowed some users to install the app on Android by fiddling with permissions, Amazon has released the app to many devices calling it "Amazon Instant Video for Google TV". It's not clear yet which devices can run this app. Currently it is not available for older Samsung Galaxy lines, however the Nexus, a major competitor of Amazon's devices, can run the new app.

Deadmau5 Accuses Disney of Pirating His Music

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the could-have-become-a-doctor dept.

Music 137

An anonymous reader writes After Disney objected to musician Joel Zimmerman [aka Deadmau5]'s trademark application in the U.S. (his logo is already properly trademarked in many other countries), a battle of trademarks and copyrights ensued. Apparently, Disney was (URL has since been disabled, as per DMCA law requires) hosting a video containing a remix of music which Zimmerman claims ownership of. Not only that, but the Deadmau5 logo was prominently displayed next to said video. The mouse fight was on and a few hours ago Deadmau5 retaliated with a rather surprising counter attack. As it turns out, Disney is hosting a Deadmau5 video on their website, without permission. "Disney prominently features the deadmau5 Mark next to the Infringing Video. implying a non-existent endorsement by Zimmerman," the letter reads. "Again. we are unaware of any license allowing you the right to reproduce, distribute or otherwise exploit the deadmau5 Mark or to exploit Zimmerman's name and likeness in connection with same." At the time of writing Disney hasn't complied with the request, but it seems that they have no other option than to comply. Whether it will change anything in their stance towards the DJ's mouse ear trademark application is doubtful though.

Music Training's Cognitive Benefits Could Help "At-Risk" Students

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the every-gambler-brews-delicious-framboise dept.

Music 58

AthanasiusKircher writes In recent years, emphasis on standardized testing and basic skills has forced many schools to cut back on things like arts and extracurricular activities. A study out this week from Northwestern University hints that schools may be hurting "at-risk" kids even more by cutting such programs. Just two years of music lessons were shown to have significant effects on brain activity and language processing which the researchers argue could help close achievement gaps between at-risk students and more affluent students. Aside from better brain response to language observed in the lab, practical effects of the interventions were readily apparent: 'Leaders at Harmony Project approached the researchers after the non-profit observed that their students were performing much better than other public school students in the area. Since 2008, over 90 percent of high school seniors who participated in Harmony Project's free music lessons went on to college, even though the high school dropout rates in the surrounding Los Angeles areas can reach up to 50 percent.' Note that this is only one of several ongoing studies showing significant cognitive benefits for music training among at-risk students; an article last year from The Atlantic gives a more detailed summary of related research.

Buenos Aires Issues a 'Netflix Tax' For All Digital Entertainment

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the that-is-not-nettily-neutral dept.

Media 165

New submitter DoILookAmused writes A few years ago, the Argentinean government implemented a 35% tax on all offshore buys using a credit card. In yesterday's press release, the city of Buenos Aires announced it will charge a 3% gross income tax for all streaming or media purchase abroad allegedly to bring it to "competitive prices with local media companies". This tax doesn't supersede the national 35% tax, which has sparked several reactions.

Ask David Saltzberg About Being The Big Bang Theory's Science Advisor

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.

Television 226

For seven seasons Dr. David Saltzberg has made sure the science on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory is correct. As science consultant for the show he reviews scripts for technical errors, fixing any problems he finds. He also adds complex formulae to whiteboards on set. Before his life as a science advisor, Saltzberg received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago, performed post-graduate work at CERN, and currently is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA. He writes The Big Blog Theory, where he explains the science behind each episode of the show. Dr. Saltzberg has agreed to answer any questions you have about the show or his previous scientific work. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

For $1.5M, DeepFlight Dragon Is an "Aircraft for the Water"

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the ok-I-want-one dept.

Transportation 76

Zothecula writes No one with red blood in their veins buys a sports car and hands the keys to a chauffeur, so one of the barriers to truly personal submarining has long been the need for a trained pilot, not to mention the massive logistics involved in transporting, garaging and launching the underwater craft ... until now. Pioneering underwater aviation company DeepFlight is set to show an entirely new type of personal submarine at the 2014 Monaco Yacht Show next week, launching the personal submarine era with a submersible that's reportedly so easy to pilot that it's likely to create a new niche in the tourism and rental market.

GOG Introduces DRM-Free Movie Store

Unknown Lamer posted about three weeks ago | from the am-I-dreaming? dept.

Businesses 126

Via Engadget comes news that GOG, the DRM-free game store platform, has launched a DRM-free movie store. The initial set of movies are gamer oriented, and you won't find major studio releases (yet, and not for a lack of trying on the part of GOG). From GOG: Our goal is to offer you cinema classics as well as some all-time favorite TV series with no DRM whatsoever, for you to download and keep on your hard drive or stream online whenever you feel like it. We talked to most of the big players in the movie industry and we often got a similar answer: "We love your ideas, but we do not want to be the first ones. We will gladly follow, but until somebody else does it first, we do not want to take the risk". DRM-Free distribution is not a concept their lawyers would accept without hesitation.

We kind of felt that would be the case and that it's gonna take patience and time to do it, to do it, to do it right. That's quite a journey ahead of us, but every gamer knows very well that great adventures start with one small step. So why not start with something that feels very familiar? We offer you a number of gaming and Internet culture documentaries - all of them DRM-Free, very reasonably priced, and presenting some fascinating insight into topics close to a gamer's heart.
Videos are mostly 1080p (~8GB for a 90 minute film) and can be acquired for about $6. They're using h.264/mp4 and not VP9/Matroska, but you can't have everything ;). If you don't want to download that much data, it looks like all of the videos are also available in 720p and 576p.

MediaGoblin 0.7.0 "Time Traveler's Delight" Released

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the like-rupert-murdoch dept.

GNU is Not Unix 73

paroneayea (642895) writes "The GNU MediaGoblin folks have put out another release of their free software media hosting platform, dubbed 0.7.0: Time Traveler's Delight. The new release moves closer to federation by including a new upload API based on the Pump API, a new theme labeled "Sandy 70s Speedboat", metadata features, bulk upload, a more responsive design, and many other fixes and improvements. This is the first release since the recent crowdfunding campaign run with the FSF which was used to bring on a full time developer to focus on federation, among other things."

BBC and FACT Shut Down Doctor Who Fansite

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the you're-gonna-need-a-bigger-tardis dept.

Sci-Fi 186

An anonymous reader writes with this report from Torrentfreak, excerpting: In just a few hours time the brand new season of Doctor Who will premiere, kicking off with the first episode 'Deep Breath'. There's been a huge build up in the media, but for fans who prefer to socialize and obtain news via a dedicated community, today brings bad news. Doctor Who Media (DWM) was a site created in 2010 and during the ensuing four and a half years it amassed around 25,000 dedicated members. A source close to the site told TF that since nothing like it existed officially, DWM's core focus was to provide a central location and community for everything in the 'Whoniverse,' from reconstructions of missing episodes to the latest episodes, and whatever lay between. But yesterday, following a visit by representatives from the BBC and Federation Against Copyright Theft, the site's operator took the decision to shut down the site for good.

"MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the small-team dept.

Television 364

rbrandis (735555) writes In a video announcement Thursday on Discovery Channel, MythBusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman revealed that longtime co-hosts and fan favorites Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, and Tory Belleci are no longer on the show. "This next season we're going back to our origins with just Adam and me," Hyneman said in the video, which explained that the change took hold as of the season's last episode on August 21. (Our interview with the original-and-remaining Mythbusters is one of my favorites.)

33 Months In Prison For Recording a Movie In a Theater

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the know-when-to-fold-'em dept.

Piracy 465

An anonymous reader writes: Philip Danks used a camcorder to record Fast & Furious 6 in a U.K. cinema. Later, he shared it via bittorrent and allegedly sold physical copies. Now, he's been sentenced to 33 months in prison for his actions. "In Court it was claimed that Danks' uploading of Fast 6 resulted in more than 700,000 downloads, costing Universal Pictures and the wider industry millions of pounds in losses." Danks was originally told police weren't going to take any action against him, but he unwisely continued to share the movie files after his initial detainment with authorities.

The 2014 Hugo Awards

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the congratulations-to-all dept.

Sci-Fi 180

Dave Knott writes: WorldCon 2014 wrapped up in London this last weekend and this year's Hugo Award winners were announced. Notable award winners include:

Best Novel: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Best Novelette: "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal
Best Novella: "Equoid" by Charles Stross
Best Short Story: "The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere" by John Chu
Best Graphic Story: "Time" by Randall Munroe
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Game of Thrones: "The Rains of Castamere" written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter

The results of this year's awards were awaited with some some trepidation in the SF community, due to well-documented attempts by some controversial authors to game the voting system. These tactics appear to have been largely unsuccessful, as this is the fourth major award for the Leckie novel, which had already won the 2013 BSFA, 2013 Nebula and 2014 Clarke awards.

YouTube Music Subscription Details Leak

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the hitting-some-of-the-right-notes dept.

Youtube 71

Several readers sent word that Android Police has leaked details about YouTube's upcoming subscription service, Music Key. The benefits for users will include ad-free music, offline playback, and audio-only streams. It's expected to cost $10 per month. "Of course, one of Music Key's major value propositions is that users will have access not just to official discographies, but to concert footage, covers, and remixes. Play Music already houses some remixes and covers, but YouTube as a platform is significantly more open and workable for derivative content — the platform is much easier to add content to, and user discoverability is substantially different from Play Music." Others note Google still has to negotiate terms with many independent musicians, who could subsequently see their work blocked if they aren't willing to play by Google's rules.

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