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China Worried About Terrorist Pigeons

Soulskill posted 8 hours ago | from the lesser-known-cousin-to-carrier-pigeons dept.

China 89

An anonymous reader writes: A pleasant event was planned for the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. A ceremony at Tiananmen Square would release 10,000 pigeons at sunrise to symbolize an era of peace. Unfortunately, even symbols of peace can apparently remind people of violence. Chinese authorities searched all 10,000 pigeons for "dangerous materials," after the government was concerned they might be used for attacks. The pigeons' feathers were checked, and they were given a cavity search as well. The reports did not indicate what kind of "dangerous materials" these pigeons might be carrying. It's unclear whether any pigeons disclosed terror plots under interrogation.

Tetris To Be Made Into a Live Action Film

Soulskill posted 9 hours ago | from the followed-by-tetris-2:-revenge-of-the-tetrominoes dept.

Movies 132

SchrodingerZ writes: Threshold Entertainment has announced that it will be producing a live action film based on the Russian stacking game Tetris. Designed in 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov, Tetris has sold over 35 million copies worldwide. Threshold CEO Larry Kasanoff promises "a very big, epic sci-fi movie," explaining, "this isn't a movie with a bunch of lines running around the page. We're not giving feet to the geometric shapes." Kasanoff is known for his work with the video game films Mortal Kombat, and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, collectively grossing $105 million in revenue. The studio is planning "a story behind Tetris which makes it a much more imaginative thing," though no directors nor cast have been connected to the film. Threshold Entertainment teased the idea, saying "What you [will] see in Tetris is the teeny tip of an iceberg that has intergalactic significance."

Grooveshark Found Guilty of Massive Copyright Infringement

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the surprising-nobody dept.

Music 161

An anonymous reader writes: If you're a Grooveshark user, you should probably start backing up your collection. In a decision (PDF) released Monday, the United States District Court in Manhattan has found Grooveshark guilty of massive copyright infringement based on a preponderance of internal emails, statements from former top executives, direct evidence from internal logs, and willfully deleted files and source code. An email from Grooveshark's CTO in 2007 read, "Please share as much music as possible from outside the office, and leave your computers on whenever you can. This initial content is what will help to get our network started—it’s very important that we all help out! ... Download as many MP3’s as possible, and add them to the folders you’re sharing on Grooveshark. Some of us are setting up special 'seed points' to house tens or even hundreds of thousands of files, but we can’t do this alone." He also threatened employees who didn't contribute.

FCC Rejects Blackout Rules

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the now-ban-them-altogether-please dept.

Television 131

Today the Federal Communications Commission eliminated its sport blackout rules, which prevented cable and satellite television providers from showing sporting events that were blacked out on a local station. It's common practice in the NFL to black out football games locally if the stadium didn't sell enough tickets. The ruling now removes government protections for the NFL's policies (the NFL can continue to black out local broadcasts). The FCC's decision is based on "significant changes" to the industry over the 40 years since the rules were adopted. Television has replaced ticket sales as the primary source of revenue, and the NFL is incredibly popular. They also don't think there's any chance the NFL will move its games to pay-per-view.

Matchstick and Mozilla Take On Google's Chromecast With $25 Firefox OS Dongle

timothy posted yesterday | from the what-can-it-slurp dept.

Media 102

An anonymous reader writes Matchstick and Mozilla today announced their open-source take on the Chromecast: a $25 Firefox OS-powered HDMI dongle. The streaming Internet and media stick will be available first through Kickstarter, in the hopes to drive down the price tag. Jack Chang, Matchstick General Manager in the US, described the device to me as "essentially an open Chromecast." He explained that while the MSRP is $25 (Google's Chromecast retails for $35), the Kickstarter campaign is offering a regular price of $18, and an early bird price of $12.

Statistician Creates Mathematical Model To Predict the Future of Game of Thrones

samzenpus posted 2 days ago | from the math-is-coming dept.

Math 124

KentuckyFC writes One way of predicting the future is to study data about events in the past and build a statistical model that generates the same pattern of data. Statisticians can then use the model to generate data about the future. Now one statistician has taken this art to new heights by predicting the content of the soon-to-be published novels in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin. The existing five novels are the basis of the hit TV series Game of Thrones. Each chapter in the existing books is told from the point of view of one of the characters. So far, 24 characters have starred in this way. The statistical approach uses the distribution of characters in chapters in the first five books to predict the distribution in the forthcoming novels. The results suggest that several characters will not appear at all and also throw light on whether one important character is dead or not, following an ambiguous story line in the existing novels. However, the model also serves to highlight the shortcomings of purely statistical approaches. For example, it does not "know" that characters who have already been killed off are unlikely to appear in future chapters. Neither does it allow for new characters that might appear. Nevertheless, this statistical approach to literature could introduce the process of mathematical modelling to more people than any textbook.

Nixie Wearable Drone Camera Flies Off Your Wrist

samzenpus posted 3 days ago | from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.

Toys 63

MojoKid writes Over the past couple of years, drones have become popular enough to the point where a new release doesn't excite most people. But Nixie is different. It's a drone that you wear, like a bracelet. Whenever you need to let it soar, you give it a command to unwrap, power it up, and let it go. From the consumer standpoint, the most popular use for drones is to capture some amazing footage. But what if you want to be in that footage? That's where Nixie comes in. After "setting your camera free", the drone soars around you, keeping you in its frame. Nixie is powered by Intel's Edison kit, which is both small enough and affordable enough to fit inside such a small device.

The Physics of Space Battles

samzenpus posted 3 days ago | from the dodging-the-laser dept.

Sci-Fi 445

An anonymous reader writes PBS' It's OK to be Smart made this interesting video showing us what is and isn't physically realistic or possible in the space battles we've watched on TV and the movies. From the article: "You're probably aware that most sci-fi space battles aren't realistic. The original Star Wars' Death Star scene was based on a World War II movie, for example. But have you wondered what it would really be like to duke it out in the void? PBS is more than happy to explain in its latest It's Okay To Be Smart video. As you'll see below, Newtonian physics would dictate battles that are more like Asteroids than the latest summer blockbuster. You'd need to thrust every time you wanted to change direction, and projectiles would trump lasers (which can't focus at long distances); you wouldn't hear any sound, either."

Expedition 42 ISS Crew Embraces Douglas Adams

Soulskill posted 4 days ago | from the then,-after-a-second-or-so,-nothing-continued-to-happen dept.

ISS 39

SchrodingerZ writes: In November of this year, the 42nd Expedition to the International Space Station will launch, and the crew has decided to embrace their infamous number. NASA has released an image of the crew mimicking the movie poster for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a film released in 2005, based on a book with the same name by Douglas Adams. Commander Butch Wilmore stands in the center as protagonist Arthur Dent, flight engineer Elena Serova as hitchhiker Ford Prefect, flight engineer Alexander Samokutyayev as antagonist Humma Kavula, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti as Trillian, and flight engineers Terry Virts and Anton Shkaplerov as two-headed galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox. The robotic "Robonaut 2" also stands in the picture as Marvin the depressed android. Cristoforetti, ecstatic to be part of this mission stated, "Enjoy, don't panic and always know where your towel is!" Wilmore, Serova and Samokutyayev blasted off September 25th for Expedition 41, the rest of Expedition 42 will launch November 23rd.

Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 2)

Soulskill posted 5 days ago | from the time-keeps-on-slipping-into-the-future dept.

Sci-Fi 27

You might want to go back to Video 1 before watching this one (or reading the transcript). This video is the second part of our recording of a panel discussion at the recent science fiction convention in Detroit. Panelists include writer and forensic science expert Jen Haeger; professor and generally fascinating guy Brian Gray; and expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson. In this video, they continue running down a list of science fiction predictions, both successful and unsuccessful, and evaluating how realistic or far-fetched each now seems. (Alternate Video Link)

Not Just Netflix: Google Challenges Canada's Power To Regulate Online Video

samzenpus posted about a week ago | from the you're-not-the-boss-of-me dept.

Google 108

An anonymous reader writes Yesterday's report on the regulatory battle between Netflix and Canada's broadcast regulator has now grown as Google has jumped into the fight. Faced with similar demands from the CRTC, Google has refused to provide it with requested information, arguing that it is not part of the Canadian broadcast system and not subject to CRTC regulation. "The Google position is notable because it is presumably not based on the question of presence within Canada, since Google maintains a significant Canadian presence. Rather, the core challenge will likely focus on whether a service such as Youtube (which once went by the slogan “Broadcast Yourself”) can properly be characterized as broadcasting for the purposes of current Canadian law."

Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1)

Soulskill posted about a week ago | from the no-mention-of-the-singularity dept.

Sci-Fi 139

Science fiction is the domain of predicting future technology. But we rarely stop to account for which predictions come true, which don't, and which are fulfilled in... unexpected ways. A panel at the recent science fiction convention in Detroit explored this subject in depth, from Star Trek's communicators to nanotech and cloning. Panelists include writer and forensic science expert Jen Haeger; professor and generally fascinating guy Brian Gray; and expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson. In this video, they run down a list of science fiction predictions, both successful and unsuccessful, and evaluate how realistic or far-fetched each now seems.

Netflix Rejects Canadian Regulator Jurisdiction Over Online Video

timothy posted about a week ago | from the on-what-authority dept.

Canada 184

An anonymous reader writes "Last week's very public fight between the CRTC and Netflix escalated on Monday as Netflix refused to comply with Commission's order to supply certain confidential information including subscriber numbers and expenditures on Canadian children's content. While the disclosure concerns revolve around the confidentiality of the data, the far bigger issue is now whether the CRTC has the legal authority to order it to do anything at all. Michael Geist reports that Netflix and Google are ready to challenge it in a case that could head to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the from-here-they-look-like-ants dept.

Star Wars Prequels 138

Jason Koebler writes Over the last couple of weeks, people have been flying drones over Pinewood Studios, where Star Wars Episode VII is being filmed. That made waves last week, but, perhaps most interestingly, the studio ordered a "DroneShield" back in June anticipating the drone problem. According to the company, a DroneShield can provide email and SMS warnings if it detects a helicopters or drone. In any case, the folks over at DroneShield say that Pinewood Studios never actually got the product: The State Department keeps close tabs on products like these that are shipped overseas, and the company's export application still hasn't gone through.

U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music'

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the good-luck-with-that dept.

Music 358

Squiff writes U2 and Apple are apparently collaborating on a new, "interactive format for music," due to launch in "about 18 months." (A direct interview is available at Time, but paywalled.) Bono said the new tech "can't be pirated" and will re-imagine the role of album artwork. Marco Arment has some suitably skeptical commentary: "Full albums are as interesting to most people today as magazines. Single songs and single articles killed their respective larger containers. ... This alleged new format will cost a fortune to produce: people have to take the photos, design the interactions, build the animations, and make the deals with Apple. Bono’s talking point about helping smaller bands is ridiculous ... There's nothing Apple or Bono can do to make people care enough about glorified liner notes. People care about music and convenience, period. As for “music that can’t be pirated”, I ask again, what decade is this? That ship has not only sailed long ago, but has circled the world hundreds of times, sunk, been dragged up, turned into a tourist attraction, went out of business, and been gutted and retrofitted as a more profitable oil tanker."

The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes Will Be Awarded Tonight

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the as-they-should-be dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 30

alphadogg (971356) writes At Harvard University's Sanders Theater this evening, a collection of the most off-the-wall, bizarre and lurid scientific efforts of the past year will be dubiously honored with an Ig Nobel Prize. The Ig Nobels are awarded annually by Improbable Research, an organization devoted to scientific education that publishes the Annals of Improbable Research magazine six times a year. Past honorees have included:*A study about homosexual necrophilia in ducks; Competitive analysis of breakfast cereal sogginess; The discovery that dung beetles can navigate using the Milky Way galaxy. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. EST, and can be viewed online for free here.

Interviews: David Saltzberg Answers Your Questions About The Big Bang Theory

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the here-they-are dept.

Television 106

As the science consultant for The Big Bang Theory for the past seven seasons, Dr. David Saltzberg makes sure the show gets its science right. A few weeks ago, you had the chance to ask him about his work on the show and his personal scientific endeavors. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.

Developing the First Law of Robotics

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the thou-shalt-not-kill-all-humans dept.

Robotics 165

wabrandsma sends this article from New Scientist: In an experiment, Alan Winfield and his colleagues programmed a robot to prevent other automatons – acting as proxies for humans – from falling into a hole. This is a simplified version of Isaac Asimov's fictional First Law of Robotics – a robot must not allow a human being to come to harm. At first, the robot was successful in its task. As a human proxy moved towards the hole, the robot rushed in to push it out of the path of danger. But when the team added a second human proxy rolling toward the hole at the same time, the robot was forced to choose. Sometimes, it managed to save one human while letting the other perish; a few times it even managed to save both. But in 14 out of 33 trials, the robot wasted so much time fretting over its decision that both humans fell into the hole. Winfield describes his robot as an "ethical zombie" that has no choice but to behave as it does. Though it may save others according to a programmed code of conduct, it doesn't understand the reasoning behind its actions.

Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the all-we-want-is-a-captive-audience dept.

Australia 172

ashshy writes 200,000 Australian residents reportedly use Netflix today, tunneling their video traffic to the US, UK, and other Netflix markets via VPN connections. A proper Netflix Down Under service isn't expected to launch until 2015. Last week, Aussie video streaming company Quickflix told Netflix to stop this practice, so Australian viewers can return to Quickflix and other local alternatives. But Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford didn't explain how Netflix could restrict Australian VPN users, beyond the IP geolocating and credit card billing address checks it already runs. Today, ZDNet's Josh Taylor ripped into the absurdity of Quickflix's demands. From the article: "If Netflix cuts those people off, they're going to know that it was at the behest of Foxtel and Quickflix, and would likely boycott those services instead of flocking to them. If nothing else, it would encourage those who have tried to do the right thing by subscribing and paying for content on Netflix to return to copyright infringement."

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