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Movies

Spock and the Legacy of Star Trek 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the memories-of-the-many dept.
StartsWithABang writes While the nerd/geek world mourns the death of Leonard Nimoy in its own way, it's important to remember the legacy that Star Trek — and that Spock and alien characters like him — left on our world. Unlike any other series, Star Trek used a futuristic, nearly utopian world to explore our own moral battles and failings, and yet somehow always managed to weave in an optimism about humanity and our future. This is something, the author argues, that is sorely missing from the new J.J. Abrams movies.
Media

VLC Gets First Major Cross-Platform Release 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-available-on-palm-pilots-and-apple-newtons dept.
An anonymous reader writes VideoLAN today launched what is arguably the biggest release of VLC to date: an update for the desktop coordinated with new versions across all major mobile platforms. The world's most-used media player just got a massive cross-platform push. The organization says the releases are the result of more than a year of volunteer work on the VLC engine and the libVLC library. As a result, VLC has gained numerous new features, has seen more than 1,000 bugs fixed, and has significantly increased its scope of supported formats.
Programming

How One Developer Got the Internet To Watch People Code 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the next-year-we'll-all-be-crowdcoding dept.
blottsie writes: While Twitch TV is generally used for livestreaming gameplay, Alexander Putilin has other plans for the platform. Putilin and his girlfriend are using Twitch to build a community of software developers and students who broadcast complex floating point operations and algorithm design to the rest of the world. The community is responding and growing alongside its newfound popularity. WatchPeopleCode is now facilitating live hackathons (there was one this weekend), enabling programmers to meet and collaborate with people that they'd otherwise never be able to.
Mars

Mars One Does Not Renew Contracts For Robotic Missions 110

Posted by timothy
from the first-one-was-good-enough dept.
braindrainbahrain writes Mars One is, of course, the highly speculative, low credibility project to land humans on Mars after a one-way trip. In 2013 they had announced that two contracts had been awarded to the aerospace industry to develop a Mars orbiter and a Mars lander to carry a science experiment payload to the surface. Both contracts have been completed, but so far, Mars One has no immediate plans to renew the contracts and pursue further development of the crafts.
Sony

Why Sony Should Ditch Everything But the PlayStation 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the quit-your-day-job dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A couple weeks ago, we were surprised by news that Sony was spinning off its game development studio. More recently, the company has been thinking about exiting both the mobile phone market and the TV market. An opinion piece suggests Sony shouldn't stop there, focusing more on the its PlayStation division and a few other areas — and giving up on the rest. "Continuing to concentrate on phones and other products actually makes the PlayStation experience worse for most people. Take the PS4's ability to stream games to mobile devices — a killer feature needlessly limited to the PS Vita and Sony's Xperia Android line. Why can't I play Destiny on my iPad when the TV's occupied? The iOS PlayStation app, meanwhile, is a confusing mess that hasn't even been updated for the iPhone 6. These sound like minor points, but imagine what Sony could do if everyone at the company were focused on making its most important product as good as possible. As Microsoft is learning with its recent iOS and Android experiments, you have to serve the customers where they already are."
Privacy

Gadgets That Spy On Us: Way More Than TVs 129

Posted by timothy
from the it-looks-like-you're-writing-a-letter dept.
Presto Vivace writes with a reminder that it's not just Samsung TVslots of other gadgets are spying on you "But Samsung's televisions are far from the only seeing-and-listening devices coming into our lives. If we're going to freak out about a Samsung TV that listens in on our living rooms, we should also be panicking about a number of other emergent gadgets that capture voice and visual data in many of the same ways. .... Samsung's competitor, the LG Smart TV, has basically the same phrase about voice capture in its privacy policy: "Please be aware that if your spoken word includes personal or other sensitive information, such information will be among the Voice Information captured through your use of voice recognition features." It isn't just TVs, Microsoft's xBox Kinect, Amazon Echo, GM's Onstar, Chevrolet's MyLink and PDRs, Google's Waze, and Hello's Sense all have snooping capabilities. Welcome to the world of Stasi Tech.
Encryption

Samsung Smart TVs Don't Encrypt the Voice Data They Collect 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the even-worse dept.
itwbennett writes A week ago, the revelation that Samsung collects words spoken by consumers when they use the voice recognition feature in their smart TVs enraged privacy advocates, since according to Samsung's own privacy policy those words can in some cases include personal or sensitive information. Following the incident, David Lodge, a researcher with a U.K.-based security firm called Pen Test Partners, intercepted and analyzed the Internet traffic generated by a Samsung smart TV and found that Samsung does send captured voice data to a remote server using a connection on port 443, a port typically associated with encrypted HTTPS, but that the data was not encrypted. "It's not even HTTP data, it's a mix of XML and some custom binary data packet," said Lodge in a blog post.
Books

Wheel of Time TV Pilot Producers Sue Robert Jordan's Widow For Defamation 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the plot-thickens dept.
An anonymous reader writes The tale of the late-night Wheel of Time pilot that aired in a paid infomercial slot on FXX has taken another odd turn. Producers Red Eagle Entertainment LLC and Manetheren LLC have filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for central California against Harriet McDougal (widow of James Rigney, who wrote the Wheel of Time novels under the pen name Robert Jordan), her company, Bandersnatch Group Inc., and twenty unnamed other persons ('Does 1-20'). The suit alleges that McDougal's statements about her lack of involvement in the pilot's production constitute breach of contract, slander, and interference with contractual relations and prospective economic relations; the suit demands declaratory relief and a jury trial.
Crime

Kim Dotcom's Lawyer Plays Down Megaupload Worker's Guilty Plea 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-biug-deal dept.
mrspoonsi writes with the latest from Kim Dotcom. "Kim Dotcom's US lawyer has denied that a guilty plea by one of the Megaupload's former employees has major implications for his client's case. Andrus Nomm was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty on Friday to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement while working for the now defunct file-sharing site. The US is currently trying to extradite Mr Dotcom, who founded Megaupload, from New Zealand to stand trial. Mr Dotcom denies wrongdoing. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has alleged that Megaupload's staff had "operated websites that wilfully reproduced and distributed infringing copies of copyrighted works" over a period of five years, causing more than $400m (£260m) of harm to copyright owners. Nomm — a 36-year-old Estonian citizen — agreed to this damages estimate as part of his plea, according to a press release from the DoJ. He had been living in the Netherlands before he travelled to Virginia to make the deal with the US authorities. The DoJ added that Nomm had acknowledged that through his work as a computer programmer for Megaupload, he had become aware of copyright-infringing material being stored on its sites, including films and TV shows that had contained FBI anti-piracy warnings. It said he had also admitted to having downloaded copyright-infringing files himself. "This conviction is a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history," said assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell."
Sci-Fi

Star Trek Continues Meets Kickstarter Goal, Aims For Stretch Goals 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the boldly-going-as-far-as-the-budget-takes-them dept.
jdavidb writes: A couple of months ago on Slashdot, I learned about Star Trek Continues, a faithful continuation of the Star Trek original series five-year mission, lovingly recreated by Vic Mignogna and a dedicated cast and crew. The original Enterprise set from Desilu has been recreated, great scripts have been written, fantastic guest stars have been enlisted, including stars from the original series and other Star Trek voyages, and the three episodes filmed so far look like they genuinely came from the era that produced the original series. Continues has now turned my children on to original series Star Trek, and we eagerly await more episodes.

Continues has two more days to go in their Kickstarter campaign. They have already raised enough money to produce two more episodes and meet their first stretch goal: creating a set for Engineering. They're also bumping up against their next stretch goal: creating a planet set so the Continues Enterprise team can visit strange new worlds and experience the tragic loss of nameless redshirts.
Youtube

The Revolution Wasn't Televised: the Early Days of YouTube 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-web-videos-were-awful dept.
mrflash818 sends this report from Mashable: A decade ago, Netflix meant DVDs by mail, video referred to TV and the Internet meant simple text and pictures. All that changed in about 20 months. ... It was hard to get a handle on what YouTube was, exactly. The founders didn't know how to describe the project, so they called it a dating site. But since there weren't many videos on the site, Karim populated it with videos of 747s taking off and landing. Desperate to get people on the site, YouTube ran ads on Craigslist in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, offering women $20 for every video they uploaded. Not a single woman replied. Another vision for YouTube was a sort of video messaging service. “We thought it was going to be more of a closer circle relationship,” Chen said in a 2007 interview. “It was going to be me uploading a video and sharing it with eight people and I knew exactly who was going to be watching these videos — sharing with my family and my friends.” What actually happened was a “completely different use case” in which people uploaded videos and shared them with the world.
Google

Peak Google: The Company's Time At the Top May Be Nearing Its End 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-aint-what-is-used-to-be dept.
HughPickens.com writes Farhad Manjoo writes at the NYT that at first glance Google looks plenty healthy, but growth in Google's primary business, search advertising, has flattened out at about 20 percent a year for the last few years. Although Google has spent considerable resources inventing technologies for the future, it has failed to turn many of its innovations into new moneymakers. According to Manjoo, as smartphones eclipse laptop and desktop computers to become the planet's most important computing devices, the digital ad business is rapidly changing and Facebook, Google's archrival for advertising dollars, has been quick to profit from the shift. Here's why: The advertising business is split, roughly, into two. On one side are direct-response ads meant to induce an immediate purchase: Think classifieds, the Yellow Pages, catalogs or Google's own text-based ads running alongside its search results. But the bulk of the ad industry is devoted to something called brand ads, the ads you see on television and print magazines that work on your emotions in the belief that, in time, your dollars will follow. "Google doesn't create immersive experiences that you get lost in," says Ben Thompson. "Google creates transactional services. You go to Google to search, or for maps, or with something else in mind. And those are the types of ads they have. But brand advertising isn't about that kind of destination. It's about an experience." According to Thompson the future of online advertising looks increasingly like the business of television and is likely to be dominated by services like Facebook, Snapchat or Pinterest that keep people engaged for long periods of time and whose ads are proving to be massively more effective and engaging than banner advertisements.

In less than five years, Facebook has also built an enviable ad-technology infrastructure, a huge sales team that aims to persuade marketers of the benefits of Facebook ads over TV ads, and new ways for brands to measure how well their ads are doing. These efforts have paid off quickly: In 2014 Facebook sold $11.5 billion in ads, up 65 percent over 2013. Google will still make a lot of money if it doesn't dominate online ads the way it does now. But it will need to find other businesses to keep growing. This is why Google is spending on projects like a self-driving car, Google Glass, fiber-optic lines in American cities, space exploration, and other audacious innovations that have a slim chance of succeeding but might revolutionize the world if they do. But the far-out projects remind Thompson of Microsoft, which has also invested heavily in research and development, and has seen little return on its investments. "To me the Microsoft comparison can't be more clear. This is the price of being so successful — what you're seeing is that when a company becomes dominant, its dominance precludes it from dominating the next thing. It's almost like a natural law of business."
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Affordable Large HD/UHD/4K "Stupid" Screens? 330

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-dave-can't-let-you-do-that dept.
New submitter LOGINS SUC (713291) writes Truly in the first-world problems category, I've been looking for large format (>55") HD/UHD screens for home entertainment. In light of the recent Samsung big-brother monitoring and advertisement injection concerns, does any reputable manufacturer still make "stupid" TVs? I don't want to pay for all the WiFi, apps, cameras, or microphones. I don't need it to have speakers. And at this point, I don't even care if it has the TV receiver functionality. All this stuff leads to vendor lock-in or is well on the path to obsolescence by the time I purchase the device. I prefer all of this non-visual functionality be handled by devices better suited to the purpose and I don't want to pay for screens including these widgets I have no intention of ever using, at all.

I've searched all the normal retail outlets. If I find anything, they are wildly expensive. "Computer monitors" fit the bill but are almost all 55") LCDs in the sub-$3,000 range anymore? Are projectors the last bastion of visual purity for home entertainment?
Movies

BitTorrent Announces Exclusive TV Shows 25

Posted by samzenpus
from the torrent-theater dept.
An anonymous reader writes BitTorrent today announced an exclusive partnership with Rapid Eye Studios to launch BitTorrent Originals. In short, the two will identify, produce, and distribute original video content for the BitTorrent Bundle platform, the company's direct-to-fan publishing platform. BitTorrent Originals will be timed exclusives, meaning they will debut on the BitTorrent Bundle platform and only be available there for 30 to 60 days. After the BitTorrent exclusive window closes, each project will be available through other distribution channels.
Television

Samsung Smart TVs Injected Ads Into Streamed Video 370

Posted by Soulskill
from the reasons-to-vote-your-TV-off-the-island dept.
mpicpp sends this news from CNET: Reports are emerging that Samsung smart TVs have begun inserting short advertisements directly into video streaming apps, with no influence from the third-party app providers. The news comes just days after Samsung made headlines for another incursion into users' lounge rooms, when it was revealed that its TV voice recognition software is capable of capturing personal information and transmitting it to third parties. ... The issue has been reported on the Plex streaming service — a brand of media player that allows users to stream their own video from a personal library or hard drive and push it to a smart TV. Samsung says this was not intentional, and that they've fixed it so the ads should no longer show up.
Television

Something Resembling 'The Wheel of Time' Aired Last Night On FXX 54

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-sherlock-but-trying-to-solve-asmodean's-murder dept.
eldavojohn writes: If you didn't partake in the DDOS attack on Dragonmount as fans tried to figure out just what the %&#% was going on last night, you should probably prepare yourself for Billy Zane filled disappointment and watch a curious pilot covering the prologue of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan that apparently aired around 01:30 AM Eastern time on FXX. The reviews of said pilot are unkind and appear to contain question marks all the way down starting with Jordan's Widow disavowing its authorization.

The world of film and TV development is a confusing one, but it appears that NBC initially bought options to turn it into a mini series which were then optioned by Universal/Red Eagle Entertainment in conjunction with Red Eagle Games to do a coordinated release. Red Eagle games announced a combined effort with Jet Set games and around 2012 began releasing information on an "Aiel War" project to target mobile gaming platforms. But that appeared to die with its failed kickstarter attempt. It is suspected that Red Eagle Entertainment is behind the odd FXX airing last night. Was this an eleventh hour "use it or lose it" move by Red Eagle Entertainment without Universal's knowledge? In any case, it was a secretive, odd, low-budget, disappointing start to The Wheel of Time in film.
Businesses

Netflix Now Available In Cuba 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the binge-away dept.
aBaldrich writes Streaming video service Netflix will be available to Cuban customers starting today, at the $7.99 U.S. per month rate that it offers in the U.S., the company announced today. It'll still require an international payment method for now, as well as Internet access (which still isn't ubiquitous in [Cuba]), but it's an early start that Netflix says it wanted to offer in order to have it available as Cuban Internet access expands, and debit and credit cards become more available to Cuban citizens. Until now, Cubans have had little access to this kind of American entertainment. The U.S. government maintains a floating balloon tethered to an island in the Florida Keys that broadcasts the pro-democracy TV Marti network. The Cuban government constantly jams the signal. "Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture, and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience," Reed Hastings, the company's co-founder and chief executive officer, said in the statement.
Privacy

Samsung SmartTV Customers Warned Personal Conversations May Be Recorded 309

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-front-of-the-television dept.
An anonymous reader writes Samsung's privacy policy includes details that its Smart TV voice recognition feature may pick up on personal conversations and transmit private communications to third parties. Buried in the privacy policy related to the smart television, Samsung advises users to be aware that any snippets of conversation might be captured by the software which allows them to control their television sets with a series of commands. Questions have been raised about who these third parties could be, what the information is used for, and how the data is being transmitted – with potentially unencrypted voice clips left exposed to hackers.
AI

Replacing the Turing Test 129

Posted by timothy
from the thinking-is-hard-to-pin-down dept.
mikejuk writes A plan is afoot to replace the Turing test as a measure of a computer's ability to think. The idea is for an annual or bi-annual Turing Championship consisting of three to five different challenging tasks. A recent workshop at the 2015 AAAI Conference of Artificial Intelligence was chaired by Gary Marcus, a professor of psychology at New York University. His opinion is that the Turing Test had reached its expiry date and has become "an exercise in deception and evasion." Marcus points out: the real value of the Turing Test comes from the sense of competition it sparks amongst programmers and engineers which has motivated the new initiative for a multi-task competition. The one of the tasks is based on Winograd Schemas. This requires participants to grasp the meaning of sentences that are easy for humans to understand through their knowledge of the world. One simple example is: "The trophy would not fit in the brown suitcase because it was too big. What was too big?" Another suggestion is for the program to answer questions about a TV program: No existing program — not Watson, not Goostman, not Siri — can currently come close to doing what any bright, real teenager can do: watch an episode of "The Simpsons," and tell us when to laugh. Another is called the "Ikea" challenge and asks for robots to co-operate with humans to build flat-pack furniture. This involves interpreting written instructions, choosing the right piece, and holding it in just the right position for a human teammate. This at least is a useful skill that might encourage us to welcome machines into our homes.
Programming

Google-Advised Disney Cartoon Aims To Convince Preschool Girls Coding's Cool 254

Posted by Soulskill
from the chocolate-frosted-logic-bombs dept.
theodp writes: Cereal and fast food companies found cartoons an effective way to market to children. Google is apparently hoping to find the same, as it teams with Disney Junior on a cartoon to help solve its computer science "pipeline" problem. The LA Times reports the tech giant worked with the children's channel on the new animated preschool series Miles From Tomorrowland, in an effort to get kids — particularly girls — interested in computer science. The program, which premieres Friday, introduces the preschool crowd to Miles Callisto, a young space adventurer, and his family — big sister (and coder extraordinaire) Loretta and their scientist parents Phoebe and Leo. Google engineers served as consultants (YouTube video) on the show. "When we did our computer science research, we found the No. 2 reason why girls in particular are not pursuing it as a career is because their perception was fairly negative and they associated it as a field for boys," said Julie Ann Crommett, Google's program manager for computer science in media. Can't wait for the episode where Google and Disney conspire to suppress Loretta's wages!