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An anonymous reader writes "It's a common trope in sci-fi that when AIs become complex enough to have some form of consciousness, humans will be able to communicate with them through speech. But the rate at which we transmit and analyze data is infinitesimal compared to how fast a computer can do it. Would they even want to bother? Jeff Atwood takes a look at how a computer's timescale breaks down, and relates it to human timeframes. It's interesting to note the huge variance in latency. If we consider one CPU cycle to take 1 second, then a sending a ping across the U.S. would take the equivalent of 4 years. A simple conversation could take the equivalent of thousands of years. Would any consciousness be able to deal with such a relative delay?"
An anonymous reader writes "A new FCC report (PDF) has found that U.S. cable TV prices are rising at four times the rate of inflation over the past two decades. 'Basic cable service prices increased by 6.5 percent [to $22.63] for the 12 months ending January 1, 2013. Expanded basic cable prices increased by 5.1 percent [to $64.41] for those 12 months, and at a compound average annual rate of 6.1 percent over the 18-year period from 1995-2013. ... These price increases compare to a 1.6 percent increase in general inflation as measured by the CPI (All Items) for the same one-year period.' Equipment prices rose faster than inflation, too. The report also found that the price increases weren't helped by competition — in fact, the prices rose faster where there were competing providers than in areas where the main provider had no effective competition."
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired the rights to the new book by journalist Glenn Greenwald about fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the studio said Wednesday. James Bond franchise producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli will make the movie version of 'No Place to Hide,' described as 'a political film that will resonate with today's moviegoers.' The book, subtitled 'Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State,' was just recently published in Britain by Hamish Hamilton and in the United States by Metropolitan Books."
M3.14 writes: "H. R. Giger, the Swiss artist and designer of Ridley Scott's Alien, has died, aged 74. Hans Rudolf 'Ruedi' Giger sustained injuries caused by a fall, Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung has reported (link in German — English summary available). The terrifying creature and sets he created for Ridley Scott's film earned him an Oscar for special effects in 1980. In the art world, Giger is appreciated for his wide body of work in the fantastic realism and surrealistic genres. Film work was just one of his talents. Giger is also known for his sculptures, paintings and furniture. The H.R. Giger Museum, inaugurated in the summer of 1998 in the Château St. Germain, is a four-level building complex in the historic, medieval walled city of Gruyères. It is the permanent home to many of the artist's most prominent works."
An anonymous reader writes "A article on The Register titled talks about a demo that was given in London last month by NCC Group where they turned a modern TV into an audio bug. 'The devices contain microphones and cameras that can be utilized by applications — Skype and similar apps being good examples. The TV has a fairly large amount of storage, so would be able to hold more than 30 seconds of audio – we only captured short snippets for demonstrations purposes. A more sophisticated attack could store more audio locally and only upload it at certain times, or could even stream it directly to a server, bypassing the need to use any of the device’s storage.' Given the Snowden revelations and what we've seen previously about older tech being deprecated, how can we protect ourselves with the modern devices (other than not connecting them to the Internet)?"
phmadore writes: "Some clever German pranksters managed to put one over on a sect of the intelligentsia just the other day. In this 30-minute presentation (video) at the re:publica 2014 tech conference, activists going under the pseudonyms of Paul von Ribbeck and Gloria Spindle presented four new (and moderately credible) Google products making up the 'Google Nest': Google Trust, Google Hug, Google Bee, and Google Bye. 'We can't really guarantee that we protect your information, but we can do our very best to protect you,' says Spindle about eight minutes in. Google is reportedly rather upset about the whole affair. The conference organizers were in on the joke — the audience were clued in afterward and asked to participate in order to fool the media. For me, the discussion-worthy items here are: data insurance and the value of data."
An anonymous reader writes "Lost amid the disappointment of the Star Wars prequels were the unfortunate edits George Lucas has made to the original trilogy when he re-released them. Lee Hutchinson points out a few of the worst: 'In Return of the Jedi, Jabba's palace gains an asinine CGI-filled song-and-dance interlude. Dialogue is butchered in Empire Strikes Back. And in the first movie, perhaps most famously, Han no longer shoots first.' Lucas flat-out refused to spend time and money remastering the original versions of the movies. But now Disney is in control of the franchise (and the business case for releasing different versions of the same films has been proven). So there's hope, right? According to Hutchinson: maybe, but not for a while. While technological advances have reduced the price tag for such an endeavour, lawyers will keep it expensive. It turns out 20th Century Fox still owns distribution rights to the Star Wars films. Because of complex and irritating legal reasons, Disney was not able to acquire those as well. Thus, Disney will have to get Fox's approval and probably cut Fox in for some of the profits, if they were to re-release the series."
New submitter bobbrocolli (3647945) writes "Equipped with a hidden laptop and Oculus Rift, O'Driscoll may be the first person to have ever gone on a 'Real VR' roller coaster with perfect motion feedback. The duo's system displayed a virtual version of the exact same roller coaster that O'Driscoll and Forder were on. With some practice they managed to sync the virtual reality roller coaster to the real rollercoaster."
New submitter echo-e writes: "A deal has been made between groups representing content creators and ISPs in the UK concerning how the ISPs should respond to suspected illegal file sharers. In short, the ISPs will send letters or emails with an 'educational' rather than threatening tone, alerting users to legal alternatives. The rights holders will be notified of the number of such alerts that have been sent out, but only the ISPs will know the identity of the offenders. Only four of the UKs ISPs have agreed to the 'Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme' so far, but the remaining ISPs are expected to join the programme at a later stage. The debate between rights holders and ISPs has raged on for years. This agreement falls short of the of the proposals put forward by the rights holders groups, but the ISPs have argued that it is not their responsibility to police users and that a legal process already exists for going after individuals."
An anonymous reader writes "Multiple publications report that Apple is undertaking its biggest acquisition ever, buying Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion. The deal would give Apple control over the popular 'Beats by Dre' headphones as well as a new music streaming service. Analysts suggest the headphones will open up a new series of product lines for Apple, while the streaming service will jumpstart its efforts to compete with Pandora and Spotify, as iTunes' growth slows. 'If Apple wanted to, it could certainly have built a streaming subscription service itself; the company had been floating the notion of one with label executives in recent months. But it's possible that Apple's most recent attempts to extend its music business beyond the iTunes store helped convince Cook that he was better off getting outside help.' The deal hasn't been completed yet, but a candid video of Dr. Dre was posted to Facebook in which he appeared to confirm it."
astroengine (1577233) writes "The people of planet Earth would be wise to raise their cosmic consciousness prior to contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, a new study shows. 'The scientific community now accepts to some degree that this contact may occur in the next 50 to 100 years,' said Gabriel De la Torre, a clinical neuropsychologist and human factors specialist at the University of Cádiz in Spain. 'Consequently, we are becoming more concerned about this possibility and its aftermath Certainly the topic of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations raises a number of questions that are not easy to answer. We estimate that this type of event will have not only a social effect, but also on both consciousness and biology as well.' Although we may not have the necessary social skill set to deal with an encounter of the third kind, scientists or astronauts might make the best candidates for the first alien conversation."
An anonymous reader writes "Nielsen, the company that studies the viewing habits of television viewers, announced its findings in a blog post Tuesday. Since 2008, the number of cable TV channels offered as a bundle rose from 129 to 189 in 2013, but in that time-frame viewers have consistently only watched an average of 17 channels. The data seems to support the notion that consumers are better off subscribing to channels a la carte, but cable companies are of the opinion that 'the price of cable TV wouldn't change much if channels were served à la carte because content providers won't sell the most popular programs to cable companies unless the provider's other channels are also served up.' Nielsen concluded in its post that 'quality is imperative—for both content creators and advertisers', signaling the possibility that more Americans will cut the cord after realizing that their cable bill has increased in the last few years but their consumption of content hasn't."
malachiorion writes: "On the occasion of Almost Human's cancellation (and the box office flopping of Transcendence), I tried to suss out what makes for a great, and timeless Hollywood robot story. The common thread seems to be slavery, or stories that use robots and AI as completely blatant allegories for the discrimination and dehumanization that's allowed slavery to happen, and might again. 'In the broadest sense, the value of these stories is the same as any discussion of slavery. They confront human ugliness, however obliquely. They're also a hell of a lot more interesting than movies and TV shows that present machine threats as empty vessels, or vague symbols of unchecked technological progress.' The article includes a defense (up to a point!) of HAL 9000's murder spree."
DavidGilbert99 writes: "According to Eyjólfur Guðmundsson, the lead economist of CCP Games, developer of EVE Online, the total amount of ISK (InterStellar Kredits) in the system at the moment is 600 trillion, which equates to about $18 million in real world money — and the economist believes we could learn a lot from how the economy works in the game. There was a massive battle within the game earlier this year, which CCP estimated destroyed between $300,000 and $330,000 worth of game materials. Guðmundsson said, 'In economics there is a big difference between consumption and loss. In EVE, the war is the consumption of the economy. Even though they are giving money away they are not losing value, they are gaining something instead. People were willing to spend that money [in the Battle of B-R5RB] to get this thrill of participating in this battle.'"
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Science sat down with Breaking Bad science consultant Donna Nelson, an organic chemist at the University of Oklahoma. Nelson was one of several expert advisers for the show who began consulting several episodes in on multiple topics, including how to make Walt a realistic chemist. She discusses the accuracy of the show, whether making meth is as straightforward as it seems on the series, and her favorite scene."
jfruh (300774) writes "The Video Privacy Protection Act, a 1988 law that made it illegal for a video store to share your rental history, has thrown up roadblocks for modern-day streaming video sites. Last year Congress amended the law to make it possible for you to share your Netflix viewing history with your social media friends, as long as you opt in. But what does "opting in" entail? Hulu is now on the receiving end of a lawsuit over the fact that clicking the Facebook "like" button on a viewing page shares that viewing activity on Facebook."
An anonymous reader writes "Reuters is reporting that Electronic Arts and Comcast are working on a partnership that would stream video games to consumer televisions through Comcast's cable boxes. It will start with the FIFA and Madden sports game franchises. 'Comcast and EA's aim is to make buying games as easy as ordering a pay-per-view movie, sources said. This could create a new distribution model that circumvents console and video-streaming device makers.' The report says consumers will also be able to use tablets as controllers for the games."
mpicpp (3454017) writes in with good news for everyone worrying about the strength of their shields. "If you have often imagined yourself piloting your X-Wing fighter on an attack run on the Death Star, you'll be reassured that University of Leicester students have demonstrated that your shields could take whatever the Imperial fleet can throw at you. The only drawback is that you won't be able to see a thing outside of your starfighter. In anticipation of Star Wars Day on 4 May, three fourth-year Physics students at the University have proven that shields, such as those seen protecting spaceships in the Star Wars film series, would not only be scientifically feasible, they have also shown that the science behind the principle is already used here on Earth."
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "It's a weird time to be Spider-Man. Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man,' which made its debut in 2002, proved (along with Brian Singer's 'X-Men,' released in 2000) that superhero movies could appeal to the mass market, provided they were done right. With or without his Spider-Man mask, Peter Parker (played in Raimi's movie and its two sequels by Tobey Maguire) made for an appealing presence, earnest and kind-hearted even as he punched and trash-talked villains.
A few years after the debut of 'Spider-Man,' Christopher Nolan began his 'Dark Knight' trilogy, and everything changed for the current iteration of superhero movies. Now Spider-Man's earnestness seemed a bit passé, overshadowed by Christian Bale-as-Batman's moral ambiguities and dour growl. With subsequent movies such as 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' and the 'Iron Man' trilogy, the genre deepened still further, more willing to reflect—as Raimi's Spider-Man never had—real-world issues such as terrorism, surveillance, and drones." Read on for the rest of Nerval's Lobster's review.
New submitter rcht148 (2872453) writes with this excerpt from The Verge:"If the idea of Comcast buying out Time Warner Cable to become the largest cable company in America wasn't enough to make you worry about media consolidation, news [Wednesday] from the Wall Street Journal just might. Reportedly, AT&T has approached DirecTV to begin 'possible acquisition' talks, a deal that the WSJ says could be worth over $40 billion. If it were to happen, it would give the combined company something on the order of 26 million TV subscribers, making it second only to the hypothetical Comcast/TWC combination of 30 million."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Science sits down with David Saltzberg, who's been The Big Bang Theory's one and only science consultant since it premiered. Saltzberg is an astrophysicist at the University of California, Los Angeles. He chats about how the portrayal of science on the show has changed over the years, whether it turns kids away from science, and how you can get your own job as a scientific consultant in Hollywood."
eldavojohn writes: "Word was leaking this week of some familiar faces in London hanging out together. Finally today an official cast listing for Star Wars Episode VII was handed down from on high to us mere mortals (Google Cache and Onion AV recap available). From the short release, 'Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.' Let's not bicker and argue about who shot first but instead come to an agreement on expected levels of almost certain disappointment. No, this will not feature the Expanded Universe (EU) — you can now refer to those tales as 'Legends' which are not part of Star Wars canon. Instead prepare yourself for what will likely be the mother of all retcon films."
jfruh (300774) writes "As the heydays of Internet portals recede into the mists of history and Yahoo tries to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, the company has decided to dip its toes into the incredibly expensive and unpredictable world of producing full-length television shows to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and HBO. One of the two may intrigue Slashdot readers: Paul Feig, co-creator of the cult '90s hit 'Freaks and Geeks' (and more recently the director of 'Bridesmaids') will product "Other Space," a comedy-adventure about a misfit group of space travelers who stumble onto an alternate universe. The second show, about a fictional Las Vegas NBA team, will appeal to Yahoo's sports audience." I wonder how long it will be until Google, Microsoft, and Apple are also all producing TV shows.
An anonymous reader writes "Netflix [on Monday] confirmed that it has reached a deal to gain itself access to Verizon's network. This deal is similar to the one that Netflix already made with Comcast and should improve streaming video quality for Verizon customers. Readers should note that Netflix is paying Verizon and Comcast only to gain access to its networks by by-passing third-party transit providers like Cogent and Level 3. If the FCC's new proposal passes, ISPs like Verizon and Comcast could also charge Netflix for faster direct connections to its customers over the last mile."
An anonymous reader writes "If you were a kid in the late 70's or 80's chances are you owned a Rubik's cube. BBC News takes a look at the people who never lost the passion for the puzzle toy and those just learning. 'The speed world record for a single attempt is 5.55 seconds, set by Dutchman Mats Valk last year. The world championship is determined by averaging three attempts. The current champion is 18-year-old Australian Feliks Zemdeg who averaged 8.18 seconds last year. To ensure fairness, a computer generates a randomised cube which all the competitors are given. The record for most Rubik's cubes solved in 24 hours is 4,786, set by Milán Baticz of Hungary.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In a bid to win regulatory approval for its proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable, Comcast has offered to sell 1.4 million pay TV subscribers to Charter Communications for $7.3 billion. From the article: 'Comcast also said it would divest another 2.5 million subscribers into a new publicly traded company, dubbed SpinCo for now, to be one-third owned by Charter and two-thirds owned by Comcast shareholders. The deal will make Charter — whose own bid for Time Warner Cable was thwarted by Comcast's higher offer — the second-biggest U.S. pay TV company with 5.7 million customers, overtaking Cox Communications Inc.'"
dryriver (1010635) writes in with news that the Chinese government has had enough of the antics of doctor Sheldon Lee Cooper. "Chinese authorities have ordered video streaming websites in the country to stop showing four popular American TV shows, including The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife, senior staff from two sites said Sunday. The move suggests government attention is intensifying on the online streaming industry, which is freer than state television and China's cinemas to show foreign productions and other content and has stretched the boundaries of what can be seen in the country. A spokeswoman for a leading online video site, Youku, said it had received notification on Saturday not to show sitcom The Big Bang Theory, political and legal drama The Good Wife, crime drama NCIS and legal drama The Practice."
whisper_jeff writes: "Under the bold assumption that, since they were able to do it with books, they must be able to do it with comics, Amazon has decided to avoid Apple's 30% cut of in app purchases by removing the option from digital comic book platform Comixology for iOS users. It will be interesting to see if digital comic readers leap through the extra hoops to read digital comics on their iOS device or if Amazon has just signed the death knell for their new purchase. Readers may decide that buying a book and buying a comic aren't the same thing — that the extra hoops they're being forced to leap through simply aren't worth it for a comic that takes five minutes to read."
An anonymous reader writes "The folks at Ars Technica have discovered evidence that Netflix is actively researching the possibility of using peer-to-peer technology to stream its videos to its customers. The evidence: a one-month old job listing seeking a software engineer with extensive experience developing and testing large-scale peer-to-peer systems. In addition: Netflix's admission of wanting to 'look at all kinds of routes.' A recent blog post by BitTorrent's CEO explains how, in a peer-to-peer architecture, 'Netflix traffic would no longer be coming from one or two places that are easy to block. Instead, it would be coming from everywhere, all at once; from addresses that were not easily identified as Netflix addresses — from addresses all across the Internet.'" In other Netflix news, the company has "reached an agreement with three smaller cable companies that, for the first time, will let U.S. subscribers watch the streaming video service’s content as though it were an ordinary cable channel."
RogueyWon writes: "A recent blog post from Lucasarts had confirmed that the new Star Wars movies planned for release by Disney will formally break continuity with the Expanded Universe novels, comics and video games. They say, 'In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.' The news is unlikely to be a surprise, given George Lucas's previous pronouncements on the issue."
dacarr writes "The five remaining members of Monty Python will be performing in the O2 Arena, and their last show as a comedy troupe will be simulcast across hundreds of theaters in the UK, and roughly 1,500 more across the world, according to the Guardian. Michael Palin says this is really going to be the last time before the Pythons cease to be. Well, at least, before Monty Python, as a comedy troupe, runs down the curtain and joins the bleedin' choir invisible."
netbuzz (955038) writes "A band called netcat is generating buzz in software circles by releasing its debut album as a Linux kernel module (among other more typical formats.) 'Are you ever listening to an album, and thinking "man, this sounds good, but I wish it crossed from user-space to kernel-space more often!" We got you covered,' the band says on its Facebook page. 'Our album is now fully playable as a loadable Linux kernel module.'"
jfruh (300774) writes "Aereo is currently fighting for its life before the Supreme Court, and has issued a warning: if you take us down, you could take the entire cloud storage industry down with us. The company argues that they only provide customers with access to shows picked up by an individual antenna that they've rented. If the constitutes a 'public performance,' then so does the act of downloading a copyrighted document stored in a cloud storage service — even if the customer has purchased the right to use that document." v3rgEz sent in a link to the transcript of the first day of arguments.
An anonymous reader writes "AT&T officially announced on Tuesday their intention to launch a Netflix-like service in collaboration with an investment group run by a former Fox president. AT&T is following in the footsteps of Verizon, which partnered with Redbox in 2012 to offer the same type of service, and like Verizon, is also still negotiating with Netflix on payments to not throttle Netflix traffic."
An anonymous reader writes "Andrew Kelley was a big fan of the Amarok open source music player. But a few years ago, its shortcomings were becoming more annoying and the software's development path no longer matched with the new features he wanted. So he did what any enterprising hacker would do: he started work on a replacement. Three and a half years later, his project, Groove Basin, has evolved into a solid music player, and it's still under active development. Kelley has now posted a write-up of his development process, talking about what problems he encountered, how he solved them, and how he ended up contributing code to libav."
New submitter Burphytez (3625571) writes with this excerpt of a Reuters story, as carried by the Chicago Tribune: "Video streaming service Netflix Inc said it intends to raise the monthly subscription price for new customers by $1 or $2 a month to help the company buy more movies and TV shows and improve service for its 48 million global subscribers. Investors welcomed the announcement by Netflix, which had suffered from a consumer exodus and stock plunge after it announced an unpopular price increase in July 2011. The company's shares jumped 6.7 percent in after-hours trading to $371.97, after the company released plans for a price hike and posted a rise in first-quarter profit that beat Wall Street expectations."
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Popular director Joss Whedon has taken the film world by surprise by releasing his latest offering, 'In Your Eyes', available for download on the same day it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The new release comes from Whedon's own "micro studio", Bellwether Pictures, and is featured on Vimeo as a $5 rental, (free trailer). Whedon mused, 'It's exciting for us because we get to explore yet another new form of distribution — and we get $5.' Mr. Whedon has a history of pushing the delivery envelope, as with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, in 2008."
An anonymous reader writes "South Africa's first prosecution for online piracy was concluded this morning, with a five-year, wholly suspended sentence handed down to a filesharer who uploaded local movie Four Corners to The Pirate Bay. The man — who lost his job recently — said he's relieved by the verdict, which was the result of a plea bargain. Director Ian Gabriel, who made the film, recently said he was 'philosophical' about piracy."
jfruh (300774) writes "Back in February, after a lengthy dispute, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for network access after being dogged by complaints of slow speeds from Comcast subscribers. Two months later, it appears that Comcast has delivered on its promises, jumping up six places in Netflix's ISP speed rankings. The question of whether this is good news for anyone but Comcast is still open."
An anonymous reader writes "Neil Gaiman has confirmed that things are finally coming together for a Sandman movie adaptation. Fresh on the release of a new issue of Sandman, the popular graphic novel that he first started back in 1988, Gaiman told CNN that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has agreed to produce the Sandman movie, and that both his knowledge and commitment 'impressed the hell out of me.' Gaiman also confirmed new progress on adapting American Gods into a TV series. 'People are being talked to, exciting things are going on,' Gaiman tells CNN, teasing that its current status is still 'wait and see.'"
An anonymous reader writes: "Young people, when choosing a profession, are often told to 'do what you love.' That's why we have experts in such abstruse fields as medieval gymel. But let's talk hypotheticals: if there's a worldwide catastrophe in which civilization is interrupted, somebody specializing in gymel wouldn't provide much use to fellow survivors. In a post-apocalypse world, medical doctors would be useful, as would most scientists and engineers. The bad news for Slashdotters is that decades without computers would render computer science and related professions useless. What do you consider to be the most useful and mostly useless post-apocalypse professions? How long would it take for society to rebuild enough for your profession to be useful?"
ralphart (70342) writes "CBS has announced Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman on The Late Show, after Letterman retires in 2015. 'Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,' Colbert said in a press release from CBS. 'I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.'"
EwanPalmer (2536690) writes "Three scientists and Star Trek actress Kate Mulgrew say they were duped into appearing in a controversial documentary which claims the Earth is the center of the Universe. The Principle, a film which describes itself as 'destined to become one of the most controversial films of our time', argues the long-debunked theory of geocentrism – where the earth is the center of the Universe and the Sun resolves around it – is true and Nasa has tried to cover it up. The film features the narration of actress Mulgrew, who played the part of captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek Voyager, as well as three prominent scientists."
We recently had the chance to talk with internet rock star and former code monkey Jonathan Coulton. We asked him a number of your questions and a few of our own about music, technology, and copyright issues. Read below to see what he had to say.
smaxp writes: "If the cable and satellite live television providers were to comment on the latest Amazon Fire TV or reports of the new Google Android and Apple TVs, it would likely be in the voice and character of Charlton Heston: 'We will give up our remotes when they are pried from our cold dead hands.' Amazon's Fire TV and the rumored Google Android and Apple TVs excite and then disappoint. At first glance, it looks like cable and satellite television are about to be outflanked and the eternal struggle with the TV remote and set-top box will be solved with an intuitive interface to search both live television and archival content from streamed online video companies such as Netflix. Sadly, it isn't so. The cable and satellite companies that provide live television have made sure this won’t happen, because putting Amazon in the forefront would make live television providers’ brands less relevant. Amazon would then also have a wedge to pry its way into the live television ecosystem."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If you know only one thing about violins, it is probably this: A 300-year-old Stradivarius supposedly possesses mysterious tonal qualities unmatched by modern instruments. However, even elite violinists cannot tell a Stradivarius from a top-quality modern violin, a new double-blind study suggests. Like the sound of coughing during the delicate second movement of Beethoven's violin concerto, the finding seems sure to annoy some people, especially dealers who broker the million-dollar sales of rare old Italian fiddles. But it may come as a relief to the many violinists who cannot afford such prices."
Amazon may have a slight lead in the world of Android-based TV-centric mini-boxes with its Amazon Fire TV, but according to this story, Google is getting set to release just such a box itself. "According to documents obtained exclusively by The Verge, Google is about to launch a renewed assault on your television set called Android TV. Major video app providers are building for the platform right now. Android TV may sound like a semantic difference — after all, Google TV was based on Android — but it’s something very different. Android TV is no longer a crazy attempt to turn your TV into a bigger, more powerful smartphone. "Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform," writes Google. "It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction." It will be "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast." ... What does that all mean? It means that Android TV will look and feel a lot more like the rest of the set top boxes on the market, including Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Roku."
redletterdave writes: "At the Fire TV unveiling, Amazon officials sounded like they perfectly understood how frustrating TV streaming devices are for their owners. Amazon focused on three main problems: Search is hard, especially for anything not on a bestseller list; streaming devices often provide slow or laggy performance; and TV set-top boxes tend to be closed ecosystems. The Fire TV is Amazon's attempt to solve these three problems—the key word here being 'attempt.' Perhaps Amazon's homegrown solution was a bit premature and its ambitions too lofty, because while Fire TV can do almost everything, little of it is done right." An example given by the review is how the touted Voice Search works — it doesn't interact at all with supported apps, instead bringing up Amazon search results. Thus, even if you have access to a movie for free through Netflix, using the Voice Search for that movie will only bring up Amazon's paid options.
An anonymous reader writes "Wil Wheaton just announced a new TV show he's hosting and producing. It'll air on SyFy this summer, starting May 27th. Here's how he describes it: 'The Wil Wheaton Project is a weekly roundup of the things I love on television and on the Internet, with commentary and jokes, and the occasional visit from interesting people who make those things happen. It's sort of like Talk Soup for geeks, with a heavy focus on those hilariously bad paranormal reality shows (in fact, that's where the whole thing started a year ago, but as we worked on the show more and more, we discovered that there were lots of scripted paranormal shows that provided a ton of comedic material. When we expanded to cover the scripted shows, we discovered that nobody was doing a show like this that was just focused on the genre shows that nerds like us love, and we decided that we'd make that show because of reasons.)' He adds, '... if I read correctly between the lines during our meetings with the Syfy executives, this is just the beginning of the network formerly known as Sci-Fi returning to its science fiction roots, which is awesome.'"
Recently you had a chance to ask the writer and creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, about the state of sci-fi, his body of work, and collaborating with Netflix. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.