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.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
wabrandsma writes with this excerpt from Torrentfreak: Disney has just obtained a patent for a search engine that ranks sites based on various "authenticity" factors. One of the goals of the technology is to filter pirated material from search results while boosting the profile of copyright and trademark holders' websites. A new patent awarded to Disney Enterprises this week describes a search engine through which pirated content is hard to find. Titled "Online content ranking system based on authenticity metric values for web elements," one of the patent's main goals is to prevent pirated movies and other illicit content from ranking well in the search results. According to Disney their patent makes it possible to "enable the filtering of undesirable search results, such as results referencing piracy websites." Disney believes that current search engines are using the wrong approach as they rely on a website's "popularity." This allows site owners to game the system in order to rank higher. "For example, a manipulated page for unauthorized sales of drugs, movies, etc. might be able to obtain a high popularity rating, but what the typical user will want to see is a more authentic page," they explain. Probably not a good place to look for a grey-market copy of Song of the South.
New submitter RobertJ1729 writes The Rhode Island Comic Con (RICC) is in the middle of a complete meltdown as hundreds are turned away at the door or denied reentry due to the event organizers selling far more tickets than the venue can accomodate. The Providence Journal reports that "According to Providence Fire Chief David Soscia, too many people were being let in at a time and the organizers were not correctly counting them. That led to over-congested areas in the building which has a maximum capacity of 17,000 people." Meanwhile the Rhode Island Comic Con Facebook page is being flooded with comments from angry attendees describing chaos both inside and out of the convention center. RICC initially posted, "Hello RICC fans! WE ARE NOT OVERSOLD!," and promised to honor tomorrow tickets sold for today. That post generated several hundred angry comments before eventually being deleted (though it survives in part on RICC's twitter feed). Commenters are alleging that RICC is deleting negative Facebook comments. Users are tweeting at #ricomicconfail2014 to vent their frustration.
An anonymous reader writes: The Motion Picture Association of America, along with the National Association of Theater Owners, have banned Google Glass and similar devices from being in movie theaters. They said, "As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown. As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time. Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave." This is a change from the MPAA's stance earlier this year that Glass was "no threat" in terms of copyright infringement. A spokesman said the ban is geared toward combating more sophisticated wearables in the future.
A friend of mine who buys and sells used books, movies, etc. recently purchased a box full of software on CD, including quite a few old Linux distributions, and asked me if I'd like them. The truth is, I would like them, but I've already collected over the last two decades more than I should in the way of Linux distributions, on at least four kinds of media (starting with floppies made from a CD that accompanied a fat book on how to install some distribution or other -- very useful in the days of dialup). I've got some boxes (Debian Potato, and a few versions of Red Hat and Mandrake Linux), and an assortment of marketing knickknacks, T-shirts, posters, and books. I like these physical artifacts, and they're not dominating my life, but I'd prefer to actually give many of them to someplace where they'll be curated. (Or, if they should be tossed, tossed intelligently.) Can anyone point to a public collection of some kind that gathers physical objects associated with Free software and Open Source, and makes them available for others to examine? (I plan to give some hardware, like a pair of OLPC XO laptops, to the same Goodwill computer museum highlighted in this video, but they probably don't want an IBM-branded radio in the shape of a penguin.)
gollum123 writes: Back in the day, computer science was as legitimate a career path for women as medicine, law, or science. But in 1984, the number of women majoring in computing-related subjects began to fall, and the percentage of women is now significantly lower in CS than in those other fields. NPR's Planet Money sought to answer a simple question: Why? According to the show's experts, computers were advertised as a "boy's toy." This, combined with early '80s geek culture staples like the book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, as well as movies like War Games and Weird Science, conspired to instill the perception that computers were primarily for men.
wired_parrot writes After being criticized for being slow to respond to Marvel's string of blockbuster superhero movies, Warner Brothers finally announced their plan for DC comic universe movie franchise. Yesterday at their annual shareholder meeting, WB announced 10 DC comics movies. The studio has unveiled an ambitious schedule that features two Justice League films, plus standalone titles for Wonder Woman, Flash, Shazam (Captain Marvel), Green Lantern, Cyborg and even Aquaman. Also announced were plans for 3 Lego movies and a three-part Harry Potter spinoff.
Mr D from 63 points out that watching Netflix in Ultra high-definition is going to cost you a little extra per month. A higher-resolution, 4K stream from Netflix will cost more. The company has boosted its monthly price for streaming ultrahigh-definition television and movies to $11.99 per month, citing the higher expenses associated with that content. In May, Netflix announced that its original series, such as House of Cards, would be available to stream in the 4K format, which offers roughly four times the resolution of current high-def TVs.
Two and a half years ago, we posted news of the completion of the Star Wars Uncut project. Now, reader kdataman writes that another fan-made Star Wars movie remake is ready to watch; this time it's Empire: 480 fan-created 15-second clips have been assembled to remake the entire movie, scene for scene (but not always word for word). The variations swing from professional production values to cardboard cutouts, but they are all creative and many are hilarious. Hard to pick a favorite scene but the guys at MTV selected a few highlights.
An anonymous reader writes The internet is full of interesting nuggets of info about Nikola Tesla's life and scientific exploits: The time a young Tesla improved an electric motor for Edison, and Edison simply would not pay Tesla the monetary reward he had promised him earlier. The friction between Tesla and wealthy industrialist J.P. Morgan, and Tesla's friendship with (kinder) industrialist George Westinghouse. The 2 different times Tesla's main laboratory burned to the ground. The time a Tesla lab experiment reportedly caused a small earthquake to trigger in lower Manhattan. Tesla's (never quite fulfilled) dream of transmitting electricity across great distances without using wires or cables, etc. All this fascinating stuff, and more, about Tesla's life is out there, mostly in shortish snippets — and sometimes woven into outright conspiracy theories — on the internet for anyone to examine. Now to my question: What are the best books to read to get a fuller picture of Nikola Tesla's life and work? Preferably something well researched and factually accurate. Are there any good documentaries or movies (apart from David Bowie playing a wizard-like Tesla in "The Prestige")? Why is Thomas Edison so well known and covered in education/popular culture, and the equally prolific and ingenious Tesla a "mysterious and ghostly figure" by comparison?
wabrandsma writes with this excerpt from The State Hornet, the student newspaper at Sacramento State On Monday, Sacramento State's Career Center welcomed the FBI for an informational on its paid internship program where applications are now being accepted. One of the highly discussed topics in the presentation was the list of potential traits that disqualify applicants. This list included failure to register with selective services, illegal drug use including steroids, criminal activity, default on student loans, falsifying information on an application and illegal downloading music, movies and books. FBI employee Steve Dupre explained how the FBI will ask people during interviews how many songs, movies and books they have downloaded because the FBI considers it to be stealing. During the first two phases of interviews, everything is recorded and then turned into a report. This report is then passed along to a polygraph technician to be used during the applicant's exam, which consists of a 55-page questionnaire. If an applicant is caught lying, they can no longer apply for an FBI agent position. (Left un-explored is whether polygraph testing is an effective way to catch lies.)
dcblogs writes Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, billionaire investor and author, says "we live in a financial, capitalistic age, we do not live in a scientific or technological age. We live in a period where people generally dislike science and technology. Our culture dislikes it, our government dislikes it. The easiest way to see "how hostile our society is to technology" is to look at Hollywood. Movies "all show technology that doesn't work, that ... kills people, that it is bad for the world," said Thiel. He argues that corporations and the U.S. government are failing at complex planning.
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."
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."