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Censorship

Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid' 303

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-jaw-dropping dept.
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."
Movies

Top Five Theaters Won't Show "The Interview" Sony Cancels Release 522

Posted by samzenpus
from the nothing-to-see-here dept.
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.
Biotech

Brain Stimulation For Entertainment? 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the volunteer-your-neighbors-as-guinea-pigs dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been used for years to diagnose and treat neural disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer's, and depression. Soon the medical technique could be applied to virtual reality and entertainment. Neuroscientist Jeffrey Zacks writes, "it's quite likely that some kind of electromagnetic brain stimulation for entertainment will become practical in the not-too-distant future." Imagine an interactive movie where special effects are enhanced by zapping parts of the brain from outside to make the action more vivid. Before brain stimulation makes it to the masses, however, it has plenty of technical and safety hurdles to overcome.
It's funny.  Laugh.

The Joker Behind the Signetics 25120 Write-Only Memory Chip Hoax 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the things-the-USPTO-would-totally-issue-a-patent-for dept.
New submitter st1lett0 writes: Now and in years past, electronic engineers and hobbyists alike have enjoyed the classic 1972 April Fool's joke by Signetics of the Signetics 25120 Write-Only Memory chip. Now it seems that the previously anonymous practical joker has identified himself and stepped forward with new information to correct and complete the story.
Media

Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand 431

Posted by timothy
from the excuse-for-owning-a-linn-sondek dept.
An anonymous reader writes The WSJ reports that the revival of vinyl records, a several-year trend that many figured was a passing fad, has accelerated during 2014 with an astounding 49 percent sales increase over 2013 (line chart here). Some listeners think that vinyl reproduces sound better than digital, and some youngsters like the social experience of gathering around a turntable. The records are pressed at a handful of decades-old, labor-intensive factories that can't keep up with the demand; but since the increased sales still represent only about 2 percent of US music sales, there hasn't been a rush of capital investment to open new plants. Raw vinyl must now be imported to America from countries such as Thailand, since the last US supplier closed shop years ago. Meanwhile, an industry pro offers his take on the endless debate of audio differences between analog records and digital formats; it turns out there were reasons for limiting playing time on each side back in the day, apart from bands not having enough decent material.
Television

Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display 78

Posted by timothy
from the holy-grail-and-life-of-brian-sections-would-suffice dept.
According to the Guardian, a "developing deal" for a theme park located in Kent could transform various BBC shows into Disney-style in-person experiences. Says the article: BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has struck a deal with a Kuwait-backed property developer to allow a range of its programmes and characters to be “brought to life” at a new £2bn theme park and holiday resort to be built by the Thames estuary in north Kent, in partnership with Paramount Pictures. London Resort Company Holdings has signed a development agreement with BBC Worldwide to feature the corporation’s intellectual property at the London Paramount Entertainment Resort, which promises to “combine the glamour of Hollywood with the best of British culture." Shows named include Top Gear, Sherlock, and Dr. Who; I think I'd rather visit a theme park that was entirely based on Monty Python's Flying Circus, but a Top Gear racetrack or simulator would be fun.
Movies

Blade Runner 2 Script Done, Harrison Ford Says "the Best Ever" 294

Posted by timothy
from the you're-in-a-desert-walking-along-in-the-sand dept.
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."
Handhelds

Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die 268

Posted by timothy
from the mine-died-fast dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes A funny thing happened to the iPod Classic on its way to the dustbin of history: people seemed unwilling to actually give it up. Apple quietly removed the iPod Classic from its online storefront in early September, on the same day CEO Tim Cook revealed the latest iPhones and the upcoming Apple Watch. At 12 years old, the device was ancient by technology-industry standards, but its design was iconic, and a subset of diehard music fans seemed to appreciate its considerable storage capacity. At least some of those diehard fans are now paying four times the iPod Classic's original selling price for units still in the box. The blog 9to5Mac mentions Amazon selling some last-generation iPod Classics for $500 and above. Clearly, some people haven't gotten the memo that touch-screens and streaming music were supposed to be the way of the future.
Google

Hollywood's Secret War With Google 175

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-war-they'll-fight-aggressively-to-lose dept.
cpt kangarooski writes: Information has come to light (thanks to the recent Sony hack) that the MPAA and six major studios are pondering the legal actions available to them to compel an entity referred to as 'Goliath,' most likely Google, into taking aggressive anti-piracy action on behalf of the entertainment industry. The MPAA and member studios Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney have had lengthy email discussions concerning how to block pirate sites at the ISP level, and how to take action at the state level to work around the failure of SOPA in 2012. Emails also indicate that they are working with Comcast (which owns Universal) on some form of traffic inspection to find copyright infringements as they happen.
Education

2014 Geek Gift Guide 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the watch-out-for-robot-santa dept.
With the holidays coming up, Bennett Haselton has updated his geek-oriented gift guide for 2014. He says: Some of my favorite gifts to give are still the ones that were listed in several different previously written posts, while a few new cool gift ideas emerged in 2014. Here are all my current best recommendations, listed in one place. Read on for the list, or to share any suggestions of your own.
Music

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: The Science of Misheard Song Lyrics 243

Posted by samzenpus
from the dirty-dean-and-the-dunder-cheese dept.
HughPickens.com writes Maria Konnikova writes in The New Yorker that mondegreens are funny but they also give us insight into the underlying nature of linguistic processing, how our minds make meaning out of sound, and how in fractions of seconds, we translate a boundless blur of sound into sense. One of the reasons we often mishear song lyrics is that there's a lot of noise to get through, and we usually can't see the musicians' faces. Other times, the misperceptions come from the nature of the speech itself, for example when someone speaks in an unfamiliar accent or when the usual structure of stresses and inflections changes, as it does in a poem or a song. Another common cause of mondegreens is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Steven Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O'Neill won a Pullet Surprise. The string of phonetic sounds can be plausibly broken up in multiple ways—and if you're not familiar with the requisite proper noun, you may find yourself making an error.

Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. "There's a bathroom on the right" standing in for "there's a bad moon on the rise" is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives.

Finally along with knowledge, we're governed by familiarity: we are more likely to select a word or phrase that we're familiar with, a phenomenon known as Zipf's law. One of the reasons that "Excuse me while I kiss this guy" substituted for Jimi Hendrix's "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" remains one of the most widely reported mondegreens of all time can be explained in part by frequency. It's much more common to hear of people kissing guys than skies.
It's funny.  Laugh.

A Paper By Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel Was Accepted By Two Journals 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the simpsons-already-did-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals. Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations." Rather, it's a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology."
Sci-Fi

Overly Familiar Sci-Fi 367

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-a-world-where-pants-are-optional dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Science fiction author Charlie Stross has a thoughtful post about an awkward aspect of the genre: too often, books set in the distant future seem far too familiar to us. Our culture evolves quickly — even going back 100 years would be a difficult transition to get used to. But when we're immersed in a culture 500 years ahead of us, everything's pretty much the same, but with spaceships. He says, "You can make an argument for writing SF in this mode in that it allows the lazy reader to ignore the enculturation issue and dive straight into the adventure yarn for which the SFnal trappings are just a brightly-colored wrapper. But I still find it really weird to read a far-future SF story that doesn't deliver a massive sense of cultural estrangement, because in the context of our own history, we are aliens." Some authors put more effort into this than others, but Stross points out that most just use it as a backdrop to tell a particular story. He concludes, "if you're not doing it to the cultural norms as well as the setting and technology, you're doing it wrong."
Music

Gangnam Style Surpasses YouTube's 32-bit View Counter 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the winning-the-internet dept.
First time accepted submitter neoritter writes "The Korean pop star PSY's viral music video "Gangnam Style" has reached the limit of YouTube's view counter. According to YouTube's Google+ account, "We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (=2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY. 'Gangnam Style' has been viewed so many times we had to upgrade to a 64-bit integer (9,223,372,036,854,775,808)!"
Christmas Cheer

Black Friday '14: E-commerce Pages Far Slower Than They Were in 2013 143

Posted by timothy
from the scarce-resources dept.
An anonymous reader writes Black Friday news kicked off this weekend quite early when Best Buy was hit with a massive outage, but it turns out that was only half the story. The top 50 e-commerce websites were slower overall this year compared to last, suggesting customers were frustrated even if they could get to their favorite shopping site. Web performance monitoring company Catchpoint Systems looked at aggregate performance this weekend and compared it to the same timeframe in 2013. The results are notable: desktop web pages were 19.85 percent slower, while mobile web pages were a whopping 57.21 percent slower.
Movies

Physicist Kip Thorne On the Physics of "Interstellar" 289

Posted by timothy
from the it's-a-movie-get-through-it dept.
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.
Upgrades

Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC? 720

Posted by timothy
from the or-any-spouse-reallly dept.
shadeshope writes Having just gotten married, I find that for some inexplicable reason my wife doesn't like my huge, noisy, 'ugly' gaming PC being in the living room. I have tried hiding it in a TV cabinet: still too noisy. I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games. Have any other slashdotters encountered this problem? I don't want to buy a console (Steam sales let me game so cheaply), or mess with water cooling. Ideally I would just hide it in the attic, is there some wireless technology that would be fast enough for gaming use? I have become quite attached to 'behemoth.' I have been upgrading him for years and he is the centre of my digital life. I run plex home theatre, media centre, steam, iTunes and air server. Will I have to do my gaming in the spare room? Once I have sorted this small problem going to try and make a case for the efficacy of a projector to replace the television..... it takes up less space, motorized screen could be hidden when not in use, etc.
Star Wars Prequels

First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released 390

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-saw-lens-flare dept.
Midnight Thunder writes: The first trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has been released. (YouTube link.) This is the first real opportunity to get a feeling for whether childhood dreams will be crushed or Disney, with the help of JJ Abrams, will be able to breath new life into the story without making it feel like a merchandising excuse.
Entertainment

DreamWorks Reveals Glimpse of "Super Cinema" Format For VR Films 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-it-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes Warren Mayoss, Head of Technology Product Development at DreamWorks Animation, spoke at the 2014 Samsung Developer Conference last week about the company's forays into the young medium of virtual reality. In addition to real-time experiences, DreamWorks is exploring ways to enabled their bread and butter in VR: high-fidelity pre-rendered CGI. One method the company is exploring is a "Super Cinema" format: pre-rendered 360 degree 3D frames to be projected around the user in virtual reality. On stage, Mayoss showed a video glimpse of the format using assets from the company's "How to Train Your Dragon" franchise.
Television

Aereo Files For Bankruptcy 137

Posted by Soulskill
from the prosecution-is-easier-than-innovation dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After losing its Supreme Court case in June and briefly attempting to transform itself into a cable company, Aereo is now filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Their service worked by letting people stream over-the-air television to their internet-connected devices. The content industry pushed back, and though Aereo argued its way through several lower courts, they say, "The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo's technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty. And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome."

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