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Television

The Mojave Desert: Home of the New Machine Movement (bloomberg.com) 47

pacopico writes: Most people think of the Mojave Desert as a wasteland located somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. For decades, though, Mojave has served as something of an engineering playground for people in the automotive and aerospace industries. Bloomberg has produced a documentary that looks at what's taking place with these engineers in 2016. There's a dude trying to make a flying car, Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic, a group called Hackrod using artificial intelligence software to make a car chassis, and the hacker George Hotz taking his self-driving car along the Las Vegas strip for the first time. One of the cooler parts of the show has a team of students from UCSD sending up a rocket with a 3D printed engine -- the first time any university team had pulled something like this off. Overall, it's a cool look at the strange desert rat tinkerers.
Television

Apple's Rigid Negotiating Tactics Cost Us 'Skinny Bundles' For Apple TV, Says Report (thenextweb.com) 108

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the reason we don't have actual TV channels on the Apple TV is because the company tried to strong-arm networks -- and failed. Apple's Senior Vice President Eddy Cue is said to have taken the wrong approach. In one meeting, he reportedly told TV executives that "time is on my side." Cue is also accused of bluffing executives by claiming other networks -- specifically Disney and Fox -- were already signed up. The company also refused to show off the Apple TV interface, or "sketch it on the back of a napkin," as one media executive requested. Cue also tried to strike hard bargains, says WSJ. He reportedly asked that Disney put off the royalties Apple would have to pay for several years. Those 'skinny bundles' we heard so much about were what Apple was planning to build its TV experience around, too. In 2015, a bundle consisting of Fox, ESPN and Disney content was conceptualized (and priced at $30), but no agreements were ever signed. In an effort to create more original programming, Apple is scheduled to release its 'Planet of the Apps' TV show about app developers next year.
The Almighty Buck

Amazon Debuts a Dedicated Shop For Kickstarter Products (techcrunch.com) 18

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Today, Amazon announced it's teaming up with Kickstarter to offer those successful Kickstarter products a way to reach more customers through a dedicated section on Amazon's website. Via www.amazon.com/launchpad/kickstarter, the online retailer is now featuring a group of over 300 Kickstarter products across a variety of categories, like electronics, books, home and kitchen, movies and tv, and more. The products can also be browsed by theme, like STEM products, "Always be Learning," "Exquisite Objects," "Inventing the Future," and "Public Benefit," for example. The new Kickstarter section is actually an expansion on Amazon's Launchpad platform, launched a year ago. In July 2015, the retailer debuted a dedicated portal that offered both marketing and sales for hardware and physical goods from younger tech companies. Today, Amazon says it has now worked with over 100 VCs, accelerators and crowdfunders and has helped more than 1,000 launch products across the U.S., the U.K., China, Germany, and France. All startups who participate in Launchpad receive custom product pages, a comprehensive marketing package, and access to Amazon's global fulfillment network, the retailer notes.
Piracy

James Cameron: Theater Experience Key To Containing Piracy (torrentfreak.com) 328

Director James Cameron says that the key to containing movie piracy is preserving the theater experience as something special. He made the remarks when reporters asked him about his views on Sean Parker's upcoming streaming service Screening Room which will reportedly allow users to watch a new movie on the same day as its theatre release. From a TorrentFreak article: Cameron believes that having first-run movies in the home will stop people heading off to the cinema, the place where filmmakers can really showcase their art and take the fight to piracy. "The biggest hedge against piracy is still the sanctity of the viewing experience in a movie theater -- when it comes to movies," he says. "With The Walking Dead or something like that, that's not what you're selling, but if we're talking about movies and theatrical exhibition, keeping it great, making it a special experience, is still the biggest hedge against [piracy]." Interestingly, Cameron also says that even if piracy somehow became legal and download speeds were drastically improved, viewing content outside the theatrical setting would still come up short. "You're still watching [movies] on a small platform, and it's not that social experience," he explains.
Google

Google Play Rolls Out Family Sharing (usatoday.com) 41

Google on Wednesday announced a new Google Play feature dubbed Family Library that allows up to 6 people to share apps, movies, books purchases. It will roll out to people in the next 48 hours in 12 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the United States) and requires people to sign up and add family members (you can add your friends as family member). The announcement is mostly in line with a CNET report from earlier this month. USA Today reports: The feature will allow users to share apps, games, movies, TV shows or books from Google Play on Android devices. Movies, TV shows and books can be shared on iOS platforms and the Web. After a user signs up for the Family Library, the person adds up to five family members and decides on the credit card that will be used for the families purchases. Eunice Kim, head of families for Google Play said a unique feature of Google Play compared to other family sharing initiatives is that family members can also choose to pay with their personal credit card or with gift cards. The same user who organized the family can control who below the age of 18 needs permission to purchase content.The feature is strikingly similar to an option in Apple's App Store that does the same thing.
Television

Subscribers Pay 61 Cents Per Hour of Cable, But Only 20 Cents Per Hour of Netflix (allflicks.net) 174

An anonymous reader writes from a math-heavy report via AllFlicks: The folks at AllFlicks decided to crunch some numbers to determine just how much more expensive cable is than Netflix. They answered the question: how much does Netflix cost per hour of content viewed, and how does that compare with cable's figures? AllFlicks reports: "We know from Netflix's own numbers that Netflix's more than 75 million users stream 125 million hours of content every day. So that's (roughly) 100 minutes per user, per day. Using the price of Netflix's most popular plan ($9.99) and a 30-day month, we can say that the average user is paying about 0.33 cents per minute of content, or 20 cents an hour. Not bad! But what about cable? Well, Nielsen tells us that the average American adult cable subscriber watches 2,260 minutes of TV per week (including timeshifted TV). That's equivalent to 5.38 hours per day, or 161.43 hours per 30-day month. Thanks to Leichtman Research, we know that the average American pays $99.10 per month for cable TV. That means that subscribers are paying a whopping 61.4 cents per hour to watch cable TV -- more than three times as much as users pay per hour of Netflix!"
Star Wars Prequels

Harrison Ford Could Have Died In Star Wars Set Incident, Court Hears (theguardian.com) 153

An anonymous reader writes: While filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Harrison Ford almost died when he was crushed by a hydraulic door on the set of the Millennium Falcon. He was reportedly knocked to the ground and crushed beneath the heavy door when he walked on to the set not believing it to be live. The 71-year-old actor suffered a broken left leg. Prosecutor Andrew Marshall said the door "could have killed somebody. The fact that it didn't was because an emergency stop was activated," he said. The company responsible, Foodles Production, pleaded guilty to two breaches under health and safety legislation, one count under section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which related to a breach of duty in relation to employees, and a second under section three, a breach over people not employed by the company. The lawyer for Foodles Production, which is owned by Disney, said the company would contest the level of risk involved on August 22nd at Aylesbury crown court.
Movies

Slashdot Asks: What's Next For Netflix? (500ish.com) 192

What does the future hold for Netflix? The company first earned a name for itself over a decade ago renting DVDs via mails in an era when Blockbuster used to laugh at the mere idea of DVDs-by-mail. It then moved to offering online streaming service way before most of the companies. As VC and former journalist MG Siegler writes, Netflix was always ahead of the curve. But the market -- and the demand from the market is changing, again. To address that, the on-demand streaming service has over the past three-four years started to invest heavily in getting exclusive rights for movies and TV shows, as well as make its own original content. But this time, Netflix is facing immense competition from its rivals -- and its moves aren't that unpredictable. It's also worth pointing out just recently, the company's decision to hike prices led its stocks to tank. Siegler writes: The streaming content game is now hyper competitive. And even the streaming original content game has gotten extremely competitive. And this means it has gotten extremely expensive. The result has been great for us, the users, as we do seem to be in a golden age of television-like content, even if it's being delivered via streaming "channels" like Netflix. With 54 Emmy nominations this year, second to only HBO, Netflix is seemingly closing in on what they set out to do once again. They've become HBO faster than HBO has been able to become Netflix. Of course, HBO still has the warm blanket of cable operator fees to keep them cozy; Netflix's model has them a bit out in the cold in that regard. So, again, what's next? Is it VR? Something else? Don't tell me it's 4k. Worldwide expansion is huge, but that's really just growing into the last business. What's the next business pivot?What you, Slashdot readers, think Netflix's next move will be? Or do you think the company will soon become just another name in its respective category?
Movies

MIT Developed A Movie Screen That Brings Glasses-Free 3D To All Seats (techcrunch.com) 99

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechCrunch: MIT has developed a glasses-less 3D display for movie theaters. The Nintendo 3DS is one of a handful of devices to feature glasses-less 3D, but it is designed for a single users where the user is looking at the display head-on at a relatively specific angle. It's not something made for a movie theater with hundreds of seats, each of which would have a different viewing angle. What's neat about MIT's 3D display is that it doesn't require glasses and it lets anyone see the 3D effect in a movie theater, no matter where they are sitting. The MIT Computers Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) created the prototype display called 'Cinema 3D' that uses a complex arrangement of lenses and mirrors to create a set number of parallax barriers that can address every viewing angle in the theater based on seat locations. It works in a movie theater because the seats are in fixed locations, and people don't tend to move around, change seats or alter their viewing angle too much. What's also neat about the Cinema 3D is that is preserves resolution, whereas other glasses-less 3D displays carry cots in terms of image resolution. The prototype is about the size of a letter-sized notepad, and it needs 50 sets of mirrors and lenses. It should be ready for market once researchers scale it up to a commercially viable product.
Sci-Fi

Star Trek's 50th Anniversary Celebrated at Comic-Con (deadline.com) 106

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Leonard Nimoy's 59-year-old son released a trailer for his upcoming documentary, For The Love Of Spock. CBS released a video teaser for their upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series. And Schmaltz brewery released a "Trouble With Tribbles" beer.

It was all part of the festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of CBS's original Star Trek series at this year's Comic-Con festival in San Diego, which culminated with an all-star panel of actors from previous Star Trek TV series. William Shatner, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, and Scott Bakula all reminisced on the phenomenon of the show's fan culture, with Dorn telling the audience that Apple's iPad was inspired by Star Trek technology. And Brent Spiner told the audience, "We're in a time now where identity is under attack... Politicians could learn from Star Trek."

Businesses

Comcast To Offer Pay-As-You-Go TV, Broadband Service (dslreports.com) 43

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Comcast plans to roll-out prepaid cable TV and internet services later this year in portions of Illinois and four other states. According to a company announcement, Comcast's Xfinity Prepaid Services lets users sign up for TV or internet services and renew service for seven or 30 days at a time -- instead of paying by the month. A one-time setup fee of $80 includes equipment and 30 days of service, with users paying $15 for an additional seven days and $45 for an additional 30 days. "We want to create an easy, pay-as-you-go option for people who want more flexibility and predictability when buying our services," said Marcien Jenckes, Executive Vice President, Consumer Services, Comcast Cable. "And our partnership with Boost Mobile will give Xfinity Prepaid customers even more places where they can conveniently sign-up and pay-as-they-go."
Government

Edward Snowden At Comic-Con: 'I Live a Surprisingly Free Life' (theguardian.com) 52

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: Director Oliver Stone talked to whistleblower Edward Snowden in front of an audience at a question and answer session on Thursday evening. He compared Snowden's anxiety over his own appearance in his Snowden biopic film "Snowden" to that of Donald Trump, who was cut from one of his films six years before. Snowden replied: "I'd like to avoid that association." At the event, Snowden did also shed some light on his personal life, years after his revelation of the NSA's secret surveillance of the American public's internet activity resulted in criminal charges under the Espionage Act that led to his exile in Russia. "I can confirm that I am not living in a box," Snowden said. "I actually live a surprisingly free life. This was not the most likely outcome. I didn't actually expect to make it out of Hawaii. I thought it was incredibly risky. I had a lot of advantages in doing what I did; I worked for the CIA on the human intelligence side, I worked for the NSA on the signals intelligence side, and I taught counterintelligence. This is not something that's covered that well in the media. I was about as well placed as anybody could be, and I still thought I was going to get rolled up at the airport and that there were going to be knocks on the doors of the journalists." When asked what he thought about Gordon-Levitt's performance in the film where he plays Edward Snowden, Snowden responded: "This is one of the things that's kind of crazy and surreal about this kind of experience: I don't think anybody looks forward to having a movie made about themselves, especially someone who is a privacy advocate. Some of my family members have said, 'He sounds just like you!' I can't hear it myself but if he can pass the family test he's doing all right." Snowden agreed to participate on the film because he thought it could raise awareness in ways his own advocacy could not. Snowden was also in the news recently for developing a way for potentially imperiled smartphone users to monitor whether their devices are making any potentially compromising radio transmissions.
Movies

Man Builds $1.5 Million Star Trek-Themed Home Theater (cepro.com) 161

CIStud writes: This $1.5 million "Star Trek" home theater is the envy of every geek on the planet. The theater is a reconstruction of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from "Star Trek: Next Generation" and also includes $1 million worth of memorabilia from the classic sci-fi TV show. The home theater was created by financier Marc Bell with the help from Jay Miller of Boca Raton-based Acoustic Innovations. The two started working on the home cinema in 2002 -- before construction of Bell's house even began -- and it took them four years to complete. CEPro reports: "A D-Box controller manipulates hydraulics installed beneath the floorboards, meaning the entire room shakes when anything loud happens on screen. The room also includes a JBL Synthesis sound system, which at the time of installation was only used in commercial theaters. The audio system is currently being upgraded to Dolby Atmos specifications and Bell plans to install a 4K projector. A big movie fan, Bell has had over 3,500 films digitized, which are stored and streamed through a Kaleidescape server. He also spent approximately $35,000 on a Prima Cinema system, allowing him and his family to watch films at home the day they are released in commercial cinemas. A wraparound control center surrounds the 11 custom leather chairs in the theater, eight of which recline into beds, while the doors that open into the theater are exact replicas of the Turbolift doors as seen on the TV show. When someone steps on the circular "transporter," the doors open with that familiar "whoosh" sound." Bell apparently likes to spend his money on others too. He has rented a local movie theater for every Star Trek film released in the past 25 years and has taken all of his employees, friends and their children along on opening night. The Wall Street Journal posted a video on YouTube of the home theater.
Movies

'The Wolf of Wall Street' Movie Was Financed With Stolen Money, Says DOJ (nydailynews.com) 160

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NY Daily News: Federal officials charged a $3.5 billion Malaysian money-laundering scheme helped finance the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "Wolf of Wall Street" -- the Hollywood tale that parallels the corruption charges. U.S. officials seek to recover $1.3 billion of the missing funds, including profits from the Martin Scorsese-directed movie that earned five Oscar nominations. The conspirators used some of their illicit cash to fund Scorsese's tale of "a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven," said U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. DiCaprio famously played the lead role of convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort, who was ordered to repay $110 million to 1,500 victims of his scam. The identified conspirators included movie producer Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, the prime minister's stepson, and businessman Low Taek John, a friend of Najib's family. A third scammer identified only as "Malaysian Official 1" was widely believed to be Najib. Court papers indicated that $681 million from a 2013 bond sale went directly into the official's private account. The nation's attorney-general, Mohamed Apandi, came to Najib's defense Thursday, expressing his "strong concerns at the insinuations and allegations" brought against the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Apandi's office, after investigating the $681 million bank deposit, announced in January that the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family. The prime minister wound up returning most of the cash. Federal officials, in their California court filing, indicated they were hoping to seize proceeds from the 2013 movie, along with luxury properties in New York and California, artwork by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and a $35 million private jet. Investigations of 1MDB are already underway in Switzerland and Singapore, with officials in the latter announcing Thursday that they had seized assets worth $176 million. This is shaping up to be the largest U.S. Justice Department asset recovery action in history.
Crime

Feds Seize KickassTorrents Domains and Arrest Owner In Poland (arstechnica.com) 300

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Federal authorities announced on Wednesday the arrest of the alleged mastermind of KickassTorrents (KAT), the world's largest BitTorrent distribution site. As of this writing, the site is still up. Prosecutors have formally charged Artem Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine, with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. Like The Pirate Bay, KAT does not host individual infringing files but rather provides links to .torrent and .magnet files so that users can download unauthorized copies of TV shows, movies, and more from various BitTorrent users. According to a Department of Justice press release sent to Ars Technica, Vaulin was arrested on Wednesday in Poland. The DOJ will shortly seek his extradition to the United States. "Vaulin is charged with running today's most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials," Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in the statement. "In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice." KickassTorrents added a dark web address last month to make it easier for users to bypass blockades installed by ISPs.
Japan

Japan Will Make Its Last-Ever VCR This Month (mentalfloss.com) 131

An anonymous reader writes: Most of us stopped using video cassette recorders a very, very long time ago. By 2008, DVD had officially replaced VHS as the preferred home media format, and the glory days of the 1980s -- when VHS and Betamax battled it out to be the number-one choice for watching and recording movies and television at home -- were very much in the rear-view mirror. So it might surprise you to learn that VCRs are still being manufactured -- at least they were until this month. Funai Electric, the last remaining Japanese company to make the units, has announced that the company will cease production on its VCR units, due to declining sales and difficulty acquiring parts. Their VCRs are made in China and sold in many territories, including North America, under brand names like Sanyo, but last year's figures reported just 750,000 sales worldwide.
Movies

Pixels Are Driving Out Reality (vice.com) 304

An article on Motherboard today investigates the reasons why people didn't go "oh-my-god, that was awesome" looking at the CGI-based scenes in the recent movies such as Independence Day: Resurgence, Batman v Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse. Though the article acknowledges that this could be the result of some poor-acting, spotty storyline, or bad editing, it also underscores the possibility that this could be the aftermath of a "deeper mechanism that is draining all substance from our cinematic imaginary worlds?" The author of the article, Riccardo Manzotti to make his case stronger adds that the original Alien movie was able to impress us because what we saw was strongly linked to actual life. From the article: The humongous spaceship Nostromo -- a miniature model -- provoked awe and respect. When the creature erupted from Kane's abdomen -- a plaster model encased in fake blood and animal entrails -- people were horrified. The shock was registered on the faces of the actors, who, per Ridley Scott's direction, weren't told ahead of time that the moment would include a giant splatter of blood. "That's why their looks of disgust and horror are so real," producer and co-writer David Giler said. Manzotti further argues that some of the modern movies haven't left us awe-inspired because there is just too much CGI content. Compared to 430 computerized shots in the original Independence Day movie, for instance, the new one has 1,750 digitized shots. "People have been looking at pixels for much too long," the author argues, adding: Our imaginary world has been diluted and diluted to the point that, so to speak, there is no longer even a stain of real blood, love, and pain. Nowadays, when spectators see blood, they see pixels. [...] VR and augmented reality and the steady pace of CGI have pushed the process of substitution of reality to a higher level. At least, movies were once made using real stunts and real objects. Now, the actual world is no longer needed. The actual world, which is the good money, is no longer required. The virtual world, the bad money, is taking over. Yet, it lacks substance. The author makes several more compelling arguments, that are worth mulling.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Begin Reducing Your Free OneDrive Cloud Storage Starting Today (betanews.com) 212

For those of you who forgot -- or didn't bother -- to keep the 15GB worth of OneDrive storage, starting today you will see a big change in your account. On Thursday, Microsoft will begin shrinking your 15GB OneDrive free storage to 5GB, and also cancel the 15GB storage it gave you as part of camera roll backup bonus. For its part, Microsoft did warn about the changes to people a couple of times over the past few months. It all started when Microsoft gave Office 365 subscribers unlimited OneDrive storage space. Many people abused this, uploading over 75TB worth of movies and other files in some cases. BetaNews reports: If you log into your OneDrive account and find that you still have the full storage quota available, don't be lulled into a false sense of security. The cuts are actually being spread out between July 13 and July 27. Unless you opted out of the change, you're out of luck.
Android

Google Will Let You Share Movies, Apps, and Music You Buy With Up To Six People (cnet.com) 57

Google reportedly plans to introduce Google Play Family Library plan later this month which will enable users to share their Android apps, games, and media purchases with five different people. The feature, which is similar to Apple's Family Sharing plan, is something that many will find super useful. If nothing, you can split the cost of an app or a music album with your friends. CNET reports:It works like this. Everyone in the group will be able to access every single app, video and book that's available to the [primary] account holder. If you decide to let the kids run wild on your media collection, you can even remove specific titles from the library to keep it more kid-friendly, or hide certain artists you might not want to share with others. You don't have to pay extra to sign up for the Google Play Family Library, but you will need a credit card saved to the account for future purchases. To avoid any financial snafus that might come with multiple account users, Google will send a receipt so there aren't any unpleasant (or expensive) surprises.

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