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Slate reports that even old movies are enough to trigger a pretty strong knee jerk: Team America, World Police, selected as a tongue-in-cheek replacement by Dallas's Alamo Drafthouse Theater for the Sony-yanked The Interview after that film drew too much heat following the recent Sony hack, has also been pulled. The theater's tweet, as reprinted by Slate: "due to circumstances beyond our control,” their Dec. 27 Team America screening has also been canceled." If only I had a copy, I'd like to host a viewing party here in Austin for The Interview, which I want to see now more than ever. (And it would be a fitting venue.)
228 comments | 2 days ago
rossgneumann writes North Korea may really be behind the Sony hack, but we're still acting like idiots. Peter W. Singer, one of the nations foremost experts on cybersecurity, says Sony's reaction has been abysmal. "Here, we need to distinguish between threat and capability—the ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously. I can't believe I'm saying this. I can't believe I have to say this."
573 comments | 2 days ago
tobiasly writes The country's top five theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — have decided not to play Sony's The Interview. This comes after the group which carried off a massive breach of its networks threatened to carry out "9/11-style attacks" on theaters that showed the film. Update: Sony has announced that it has cancelled the planned December 25 theatrical release.
580 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader sends word that Apple's iTunes DRM case has already been decided. The 8-person jury took only a few hours to decide that the features introduced in iTunes 7.0 were good for consumers and did not violate antitrust laws. Following the decision, the plaintiff's head attorney Patrick Coughlin said an appeal is already planned. He also expressed frustrations over getting two of the security features — one that checks the iTunes database, and another that checks each song on the iPod itself — lumped together with the other user-facing features in the iTunes 7.0 update, like support for movies and games. "At least we got a chance to get it in front of the jury," he told reporters. ... All along, Apple's made the case that its music store, jukebox software, and hardware was simply an integrated system similar to video game consoles from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. It built all those pieces to work together, and thus it would be unusual to expect any one piece from another company to work without issues, Apple's attorneys said. But more importantly, Apple offered, any the evolution of its DRM that ended up locking out competitors was absolutely necessary given deals it had with the major record companies to patch security holes.
191 comments | 4 days ago
BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes "It's been more than 30 years, but finally the script for Blade Runner 2 is done. Original interview with Ridley Scott on MTV. Links for those who don't want to watch the interview. If you're worried that the upcoming Blade Runner sequel won't measure up to the 1982 sci-fi cult classic, rest assured. Harrison Ford apparently thinks the script is "the best thing (he's) ever read." Although Scott is debating whether or not he'll direct the sequel, it looks like Ford will most certainly be reprising his role as Rick Deckard."
298 comments | about a week ago
HughPickens.com writes Lily Hay Newman reports at Slate that Sony is counterhacking to keep its leaked files from spreading across torrent sites. According to Recode, Sony is using hundreds of computers in Asia to execute a denial of service attack on sites where its pilfered data is available, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. Sony used a similar approach in the early 2000s working with an anti-piracy firm called MediaDefender, when illegal file sharing exploded. The firm populated file-sharing networks with decoy files labeled with the names of such popular movies as "Spider-Man," to entice users to spend hours downloading an empty file. "Using counterattacks to contain leaks and deal with malicious hackers has been gaining legitimacy," writes Newman. "Some cybersecurity experts even feel that the Second Amendment can be interpreted as applying to 'cyber arms'."
190 comments | about two weeks ago
Trailrunner7 writes: Researchers have discovered a new version of the Destover malware that was used in the recent Sony Pictures Entertainment breaches, and in an ironic twist, the sample is signed by a legitimate certificate stolen from Sony. The new sample is essentially identical to an earlier version of Destover that was not signed. Destover has been used in a variety of attacks in recent years and it's representative of the genre of malware that doesn't just compromise machines and steal data, but can destroy information as well. The attackers who have claimed credit for the attack on Sony have spent the last couple of weeks gradually releasing large amounts of information stolen in the breach, including unreleased movies, personal data of Sony employees and sensitive security information such as digital certificates and passwords. The new, signed version of Destover appears to have been compiled in July and was signed on Dec. 5, the day after Kaspersky Lab published an analysis of the known samples of the malware.
80 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes Hacker group Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility for shutting down the PlayStation Network, the second large scale cyber-attack on the Sony system in recent weeks. Although apparently unrelated, the outage comes just weeks after the much larger cyber-attack to the tech giant's film studios, Sony Pictures, which leaked confidential corporate information and unreleased movies.The group claiming to have taken down PSN today, Lizard Squad, first appeared earlier this year with another high-profile distributed denial of service attack on Xbox Live and World of Warcraft in August. The hacker collective claimed that this attack was just a 'small dose' of what was to come over the Christmas period.
170 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes that the recent IP advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron has laid some of the blame for the recent Sony hack at the feet of ISPs. Meanwhile, it's reported that Sony is close to officially blaming North Korea. As the fallout from the Sony hack continues, who is to blame for the leak of movies including Fury, which has been downloaded a million times? According to the UK Prime Minister's former IP advisor, as 'facilitators' web-hosts and ISPs must step up and take some blame. Mike Weatherley MP, the recent IP advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron, has published several piracy reports including one earlier in the year examining the advertising revenue on pirate sites. He believes that companies with no direct connection to the hack or subsequent leaks should shoulder some blame. 'Piracy is a huge international problem. The recent cyber-attack on Sony and subsequent release of films to illegal websites is just one high-profile example of how criminals exploit others' Intellectual Property,' Weatherley writes in an email to TF. 'Unfortunately, the theft of these films – and their subsequent downloads – has been facilitated by web-hosting companies and, ultimately, ISPs who do have to step-up and take some responsibility.' Weatherley doesn't provide detail on precisely why web-hosts and ISPs should take responsibility for the work of malicious hackers (possibly state-sponsored) and all subsequent fall out from attacks. The theory is that 'something' should be done, but precisely what remains elusive."
216 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: VKontakte is a Russian social network, more popular there than even Facebook. Its founder, Pavel Durov, was a celebrity for his entrepreneurial skills, much like Mark Zuckerberg elsewhere. But as Russia has cracked down on internet freedoms, 30-year-old Durov had to relinquish control of the social network. He eventually fled the country when the government pressured him to release data on Ukrainian protest leaders. He's now a sort of roving hacker, showing up where he's welcome and not staying too long. "Mr. Durov, known for his subversive wit and an all-black wardrobe that evokes Neo from the Matrix movies, is now a little-seen nomad, moving from country to country every few weeks with a small band of computer programmers. One day he is in Paris, another in Singapore." Durov said, "I'm very happy right now without any property anywhere. I consider myself a legal citizen of the world."
130 comments | about three weeks ago
chicksdaddy sends news that the FBI has issued a warning to U.S. businesses over a "destructive" malware campaign using advanced tools. They don't name specific targets, but the information fits with the details from last week's attack on Sony Pictures, which led to the leak of several unreleased movies. A copy of the FBI's recent five-page FLASH alert reveals that the malware alleged to have wiped out systems at Sony Pictures Entertainment deployed a number of malicious modules, including a version of a commercial disk wiping tool on target systems. Samples of the malware obtained by the FBI were also found to contain configuration files created on systems configured with Korean language packs. The use of Korean could strengthen theories that the destructive cyber attacks have links to North Korea, though it is hardly conclusive. It does appear that the attack was targeted at a specific organization. The malware analyzed by the FBI contained a hard coded list of IP addresses and computer host names.
81 comments | about three weeks ago
A review of Interstellar at Scientific American that was not entirely flattering of the film's scientific aspects caught the eye of Cal Tech physicist Kip Thorne, who served as a consultant on the movie, and has actually written a book on the physics depicted. He and SciAm writer Lee Billings ended up having a conversation about how the film deals with time travel, black holes, and more. A slice: I think the laws of physics very probably forbid warp drives and traversable wormholes. The research that has gone on over the past 25 years trying to determine whether its possible all point in negative directions, but it’s not a firmly closed door. So there are two issues here. One is that the laws of physics probably forbid it, but, gee, if they don’t, it would be great to have! The other is that the technology required to make a warp drive or a traversable wormhole is so far, far, far beyond the technology needed for a laser sail or a nuclear-pulse rocket that I would not be in favor of putting any significant resources into trying to develop it. Now, you may have small amounts of money—tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars—spent on this, but nothing is wrong with that. Peer-review, at least in the United States and in Europe, is too strong for there to be any danger of millions or billions of dollars being spent on these things. The technology required for wormholes is so far removed from our current and plausible near-future capabilities that to throw lots of money at it would almost certainly be a total boondoggle.
289 comments | about three weeks ago
KentuckyFC writes Single pixel cameras are currently turning photography on its head. They work by recording lots of exposures of a scene through a randomising media such as frosted glass. Although seemingly random, these exposures are correlated because the light all comes from the same scene. So its possible to number crunch the image data looking for this correlation and then use it to reassemble the original image. Physicists have been using this technique, called ghost imaging, for several years to make high resolution images, 3D photos and even 3D movies. Now one group has replaced the randomising medium with breast tissue from a chicken. They've then used the single pixel technique to take clear pictures of an object hidden inside the breast tissue. The potential for medical imaging is clear. Curiously, this technique has a long history dating back to the 19th century when Victorian doctors would look for testicular cancer by holding a candle behind the scrotum and looking for suspicious shadows. The new technique should be more comfortable.
81 comments | about three weeks ago
Nerval's Lobster writes: If you took your cubicle, four wheels, powerful AI, and brought them all together in unholy matrimony, their offspring might look something like the self-driving future car created by design consultants IDEO. That's not to say that every car on the road in 2030 will look like a mobile office, but technology could take driving to a place where a car's convenience and onboard software (not to mention smaller size) matter more than, say, speed or handling, especially as urban areas become denser and people potentially look at "driving time" as a time to get things done or relax as the car handles the majority of driving tasks. Then again, if old science-fiction movies have proven anything, it's that visions of automobile design thirty or fifty years down the road (pun intended) tend to be far, far different than the eventual reality. (Blade Runner, for example, posited that the skies above Los Angeles would swarm with flying cars by 2019.) So it's anyone's guess what you'll be driving a couple decades from now.
144 comments | about a month ago
Jagungal (36053) writes The SMH reports that The University of NSW says it has issued 238 fines — estimated to total around $100,000 - to students illicitly downloading copyright infringing material such as movies and TV shows on its Wi-Fi network since 2008. The main issues are that the University is not returning any money to the copyright holders but is instead using the money raised for campus facilities and that it is essentially enforcing a commonwealth law.
98 comments | about 1 month ago
Recently you had a chance to ask acclaimed author of comics, novels, and television, Warren Ellis, about his work and sci-fi in general. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.
15 comments | about a month ago
SternisheFan sends news that a study has been completed on the long-term effects of violence in movies and video games on violence in real life. A researcher at Stetson University found no link between the consumption of violent media and an increase in societal violence. The study was published in the Journal of Communication. From the article: "Entertainment Software Ratings Board ratings were used to estimate the violent content of the most popular video games for the years 1996-2011. These estimates of societal video game violence consumption were correlated against federal data on youth violence rates during the same years. Violent video game consumption was strongly correlated with declines in youth violence. However, it was concluded that such a correlation is most likely due to chance and does not indicate video games caused the decline in youth violence. ... Previous studies have focused on laboratory experiments and aggression as a response to movie and videogame violence, but this does not match well with real-life exposure.
250 comments | about a month and a half ago
HughPickens.com writes Quentin Hardy reports at the NYT that a leading maker of cloud-based software for running corporate human resources and financial operations has announced new products that provide the kind of data analysis that Netflix uses to recommend movies, LinkedIn has to suggest people you might know, or Facebook needs to put a likely ad in front of you. One version of the software, called Insight Applications, predicts which high-performing employees are likely to leave a company in the next year; it then offers possible actions (more money, new job) that might make them stay. In another instance, expense reporting software can predict which employee populations are most likely to exceed their budgets. "We've applied machine learning to affect consumer tastes," says Mohammad Sabah, director of data science at Workday. "Putting it to career choices, to pay and employment, have a huge upside if we do it right." Already, Sabah says, "we're surprised how accurately we can predict someone will leave a job." The goal is to predict future business outcomes to take advantage of opportunities and cut risk levels. One future product may be the ability to predict who will and won't make their sales quotas, and suggest who should be hired to improve the outcome. "Making an employee happy, improving the efficiency of a company these are hard problems that affect corporations."
185 comments | about a month and a half ago
schwit1 writes If you feel a disturbance in the Force, it's millions of voices suddenly crying out the new title of Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens. The reveal comes as the movie finishes its final day of shooting (with many more months of post-production to come.) Although there were still a few days left of shooting, the cast of the J.J. Abrams film already celebrated their wrap party last weekend, following a bumpy few months of principal photography thrown into crisis when Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, broke his leg on set in an accident involving a falling door on the Millennium Falcon.
267 comments | about a month and a half ago
samzenpus writes "Warren Ellis is an acclaimed British author of comics, novels, and television who is well known for his sociocultural commentary. The movies Red and Iron Man 3 are based on his graphic novels. In addition to numerous other comic titles, he started a personal favorite, Transmetropolitan. Ellis has written for Vice, Wired UK, and Reuters on technological and cultural matters, and is co-writing a video project called Wastelanders with Joss Whedon. Warren has agreed to give us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post."
58 comments | about a month and a half ago