Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Sci-Fi

The Physics of Space Battles 418

Posted by samzenpus
from the dodging-the-laser dept.
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."
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set 138

Posted by timothy
from the from-here-they-look-like-ants dept.
Jason Koebler writes Over the last couple of weeks, people have been flying drones over Pinewood Studios, where Star Wars Episode VII is being filmed. That made waves last week, but, perhaps most interestingly, the studio ordered a "DroneShield" back in June anticipating the drone problem. According to the company, a DroneShield can provide email and SMS warnings if it detects a helicopters or drone. In any case, the folks over at DroneShield say that Pinewood Studios never actually got the product: The State Department keeps close tabs on products like these that are shipped overseas, and the company's export application still hasn't gone through.
Television

Interviews: David Saltzberg Answers Your Questions About The Big Bang Theory 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-they-are dept.
As the science consultant for The Big Bang Theory for the past seven seasons, Dr. David Saltzberg makes sure the show gets its science right. A few weeks ago, you had the chance to ask him about his work on the show and his personal scientific endeavors. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.
Media

Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes? 268

Posted by samzenpus
from the now-what? dept.
An anonymous reader writes Now that I've spent close to a month digitizing a desk drawer's worth of VHS tapes, deinterlacing and postprocessing the originals to minimize years of tape decay, and compressing everything down to H.264, I've found myself with a hard drive full of loosely organized videos. They'll get picked up by my existing monthly backup, but I feel like I haven't gained much in the way of redundancy, as I thought I would. Instead of having tapes slowly degrade, I'm now open to losing entire movies at once, should both of my drives go bad. Does anyone maintain a library, and if so, what would they recommend? Is having them duplicated on two drives (one of which is spun down for all but one day of the month) a good-enough long term strategy? Should I look into additionally backing up to optical discs or flash drives, building out a better (RAIDed) backup machine, or even keeping the original tapes around despite them having been digitized?
Microsoft

Microsoft Paid NFL $400 Million To Use Surface, But Announcers Call Them iPads 405

Posted by Soulskill
from the free-advertising dept.
mpicpp sends this news from Business Insider: Prior to the season, Microsoft and the NFL struck a 5-year, $400 million deal with one of the major components being that the Microsoft Surface would become "the official tablet of the NFL," with coaches and players using the Surface on the sidelines during games. But Microsoft and the league ran into a problem during week one of the season when at least two television announcers mistakenly referred to the tablets as iPads, giving a huge rival some unexpected exposure. The biggest blunder for the league came during the nationally televised Monday Night Football game when ESPN's Trent Dilfer joked about how long it took Cardinals assistant head coach Tom Moore to "learn how to use the iPad to scroll through the pictures." In a separate incident, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints was spotted by Fox commentator John Lynch using a Surface on the sideline. Lynch remarked that Brees was "not watching movies on his iPad.
Media

Ask Slashdot: Best Service To Digitize VHS Home Movies? 130

Posted by timothy
from the nod-is-as-good-as-a-wink dept.
An anonymous reader writes Could someone recommend a service to convert old VHS home movies to a lossless archival format such as FFV1? The file format needs to be lossless so I can edit and convert the files with less generation loss, it needs 4:1:1 or better chroma subsampling in order to get the full color resolution from the source tapes, and preferably it should have more than 8 bits per channel of color in order to avoid banding while correcting things like color, brightness, and contrast.

So far, the best VHS archival services I've found use either the DV codec or QuickTime Pro-Res, both of which are lossy.
Businesses

GOG Introduces DRM-Free Movie Store 126

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the am-I-dreaming? dept.
Via Engadget comes news that GOG, the DRM-free game store platform, has launched a DRM-free movie store. The initial set of movies are gamer oriented, and you won't find major studio releases (yet, and not for a lack of trying on the part of GOG). From GOG: Our goal is to offer you cinema classics as well as some all-time favorite TV series with no DRM whatsoever, for you to download and keep on your hard drive or stream online whenever you feel like it. We talked to most of the big players in the movie industry and we often got a similar answer: "We love your ideas, but we do not want to be the first ones. We will gladly follow, but until somebody else does it first, we do not want to take the risk". DRM-Free distribution is not a concept their lawyers would accept without hesitation.

We kind of felt that would be the case and that it's gonna take patience and time to do it, to do it, to do it right. That's quite a journey ahead of us, but every gamer knows very well that great adventures start with one small step. So why not start with something that feels very familiar? We offer you a number of gaming and Internet culture documentaries - all of them DRM-Free, very reasonably priced, and presenting some fascinating insight into topics close to a gamer's heart.
Videos are mostly 1080p (~8GB for a 90 minute film) and can be acquired for about $6. They're using h.264/mp4 and not VP9/Matroska, but you can't have everything ;). If you don't want to download that much data, it looks like all of the videos are also available in 720p and 576p.
Piracy

33 Months In Prison For Recording a Movie In a Theater 465

Posted by Soulskill
from the know-when-to-fold-'em dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Philip Danks used a camcorder to record Fast & Furious 6 in a U.K. cinema. Later, he shared it via bittorrent and allegedly sold physical copies. Now, he's been sentenced to 33 months in prison for his actions. "In Court it was claimed that Danks' uploading of Fast 6 resulted in more than 700,000 downloads, costing Universal Pictures and the wider industry millions of pounds in losses." Danks was originally told police weren't going to take any action against him, but he unwisely continued to share the movie files after his initial detainment with authorities.
Australia

Transparent Fish Lead to Stem Cell Research Breakthrough 33

Posted by timothy
from the we-see-what-you-did-there dept.
brindafella (702231) writes Australian scientists have accidentally made one of the most significant discoveries in stem cell research, by studying the transparent embryos of Zebrafish (Danio rerio). The fish can be photographed and their development studied over time, and the movies can be played backwards, to track back from key developmental stages to find the stem cell basis for various traits of the fish. This fundamental research started by studying muscles, but the blood stem cell breakthrough was a bonus. They've found out how hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), among the most important stem cells found in blood and bone marrow, is formed. The scientists are based at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University. The research has been published in the Nature medical journal. This discovery could lead to the production of self-renewing stem cells in the lab to treat multiple blood disorders and diseases.
Television

Babylon 5 May Finally Get a Big-Screen Debut 252

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-tried-turning-it-off-and-back-on? dept.
Ars Technica reports that "J. Michael Straczynski will shortly begin work on a rebooted big-screen version of his 1990s sci-fi TV series [ Babylon 5]." From the article: According to JMS's latest announcement, the new script will be targeted at a 2016 theatrical release and will be a reboot of the series rather than a continuation. This is necessary for both dramatic and practical purposes—the series was in regular production from 1994-1998, and the cast has simply aged too far to credibly play themselves again during the series’ main timeline. Additionally, several of the foundational cast members — Michael O'Hare, Andreas Katsulas, Richard Biggs, and Jeff Conaway — have passed away. ... The movie rights to the Babylon 5 property remain in JMS's hands, but the creator is hopeful that this time around, Warner Bros. will choose to finance the film instead of passing on it. Nonetheless (at least according to TV Wise), JMS is prepared to fund the movie through his own production company if necessary — something that wasn't a possibility ten years ago — suggesting that B5 will in fact come to the big screen at last.
Movies

Old School Sci-fi Short Starring Keir Dullea Utilizes Classic Effects 91

Posted by timothy
from the we-call-them-godzilla-strings dept.
New submitter Wierzbowski85 (2852925) writes Indie Kickstarter-funded sci-fi short HENRi features classic visual effects and storytelling – with a twist. As detailed in Cinefex magazine (issue 134), the film itself utilizes a mixture of the old and the new — combining live-action sequences with puppetry, quarter-scale miniatures, and modern CGI. Speaking with Wired, the film's director said: "The goal was to seamlessly integrate these different techniques to create the world. My philosophy is that effects are merely a tool to help the story, and that in mind, we used pretty much every trick in the book." The film also stars genre legend Keir Dullea, of 2001: A Space Odyssey. In a making-of video for the film, Dullea says, "Having done 2001, [HENRi] was a wonderful homage to Stanley Kubrick and that film." The short is now available for free viewing online at Hulu.
Chrome

Netflix Now Works On Linux With HTML5 DRM Video Support In Chrome 201

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-impossible dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Beginning with the Chrome 38 Beta it's now possible to watch Netflix without any Wine/Silverlight plug-ins but will work natively using Chrome's DRM-HTML5 video capabilities with Netflix. The steps just involve using the latest beta of Chrome and an HTTP user-agent switcher to tell Netflix you're a Windows Chrome user, due to Netflix arbitrarily blocking the Linux build."
Movies

Interviews: Ask James Cameron About The Deepsea Challenge 3D Movie 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Starting at 5:15 am local time on March 26, 2012, James Cameron piloted the Deepsea Challenger to the east depression of the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Mariana Trench. He spent three hours exploring the sea floor. Later analysis of the specimens Cameron collected during this and other dives in the submersible revealed many life forms, with at least 100 of them identified as new species. One shrimp-like amphipod was found to produce a compound that was already in clinical trials to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The Deepsea Challenger submersible and science platform was donated to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on March 26, 2013, the one-year anniversary of the historic dive. A new National Geographic film chronicling the project from the beginning called, Deepsea Challenge 3D, is coming out August 8th in select theaters. Here's your chance to ask James Cameron and director John Bruno about the film, the dive, and the submersible. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Movies

Lionsgate Sues Limetorrents, Played.to, and Others Over Expendables 3 Leak 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the barn-doors-and-horses dept.
hypnosec writes Lionsgate, the film company in charge of distribution for Expendables 3, has filed a lawsuit against unknown individuals who shared a DVD-level copy of the movie and six file-sharing sites known to have the links through which copies of the movies are being downloaded illegally. An advance copy of Expendables 3 was leaked online in July, and it was downloaded as many as 180,000 times in just 24 hours. The movie, which is releasing on August 15, is said to have crossed two million downloads already. In addition to the lawsuit, the Dept. of Homeland Security is on the case.
Transportation

The Great Taxi Upheaval 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the point-A-to-point-B dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Uber, Lyft, and a variety of competitors are becoming ubiquitous. Their presence is jarring not because of how different they are from conventional taxis, but simply because they're different at all. Taxis really haven't changed much over the years. Watch a movie from the '90s and you can't help but chuckle at the giant, clunky mobile phones they use. But you can go all the way back to movies from '30s and scenes with taxis won't be unfamiliar. New York Magazine has a series of articles about the taxi revolution currently underway. "So far, Uber appears to be pinching traditional car services—Carmel, Dial 7, and the like—hardest. (They have apps, too, but Uber's is the one you've heard of.) The big question is about the prices for medallions, because so much of the yellow-cab business depends on their future value. ... [I]t's hard to see how those prices won't slip. Medallions, after all, are part of a top-down system formed to fight the abuses and dangers of the old crooked New York: rattletrap cars, overclocked meters, bribed inspectors. Its heavy regulation in turn empowered the taxi lobby and (somewhat) the drivers union. That system may be a pain to deal with, but in its defense, it provided predictability and security. The loosey-goosey libertarian alternative, conceived in the clean Northern California air, calls upon the market to provide checks and balances. A poorly served passenger can, instead of turning to a city agency for recourse, switch allegiances or sue."
Movies

Unesco Probing Star Wars Filming In Ireland 181

Posted by timothy
from the but-midichlorians-are-totally-safe dept.
First time accepted submitter wijnands (874114) writes Star Wars crews have started filming on the small Irish Island of Skellig Michael. This island, listed as a Unesco world heritage site, features the remains of a 6th century monastery as well as breeding populations of puffins, manx shearwaters, storm petrels, guillemots and kittiwakes. Currently the Irish navy has deployed one vessel to maintain a two-mile exclusion zone around the island. Unesco is now concerned about what is going on the island, which is only visited 13 times a year by tourist groups, and has asked the Irish government for an explanation.
Lord of the Rings

The Hobbit: the Battle of Five Armies Trailer Released 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the defining-chapter-in-a-very-literal-sense dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The first teaser trailer for the final installment of the Middle Earth saga, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, debuted at Comic-Con, and now Warner Bros have made it available online. While the trailer contains some nice shots on a visual level, very much in keeping with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, about 80% of the trailer's awesomeness is provided by the background music. Pippin's mournful song from Return of the King plays intercut with the doomed mission that Faramir leads on his father Denethor's orders.
Sci-Fi

Ridley Scott to Produce Philip K Dick's The Man In the High Castle 144

Posted by timothy
from the it's-all-in-your-head dept.
hawkinspeter (831501) writes Amazon has given the green light to produce the Hugo award-winning "The Man in the High Castle". This is after the four-hour mini-series was rejected by Syfy and afterwards by the BBC. Philip K Dick's novel takes place in an alternate universe where the Axis Powers won the Second World War. It's one of his most successful works, probably due to him actually spending the time to do some editing on it (most of his fiction was produced rapidly in order to get some money). Ridley Scott has previously adapted PKD's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" as the film Blade Runner, so it will be interesting to see how close he keeps to the source material this time. This news has been picked up by a few sites: International Business Times; The Register and Deadline.
Businesses

Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs 200

Posted by timothy
from the who-pays-whom-for-what dept.
Dega704 (1454673) writes While the network neutrality debate has focused primarily on whether ISPs should be able to charge companies like Netflix for faster access to consumers, cable companies are now arguing that it's really Netflix who holds the market power to charge them. This argument popped up in comments submitted to the FCC by Time Warner Cable and industry groups that represent cable companies. (National Journal writer Brendan Sasso pointed this out.) The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), which represents many companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Charter wrote to the FCC:

"Even if broadband providers had an incentive to degrade their customers' online experience in some circumstances, they have no practical ability to act on such an incentive. Today's Internet ecosystem is dominated by a number of "hyper-giants" with growing power over key aspects of the Internet experience—including Google in search, Netflix and Google (YouTube) in online video, Amazon and eBay in e-commerce, and Facebook in social media. If a broadband provider were to approach one of these hyper-giants and threaten to block or degrade access to its site if it refused to pay a significant fee, such a strategy almost certainly would be self-defeating, in light of the immediately hostile reaction of consumers to such conduct. Indeed, it is more likely that these large edge providers would seek to extract payment from ISPs for delivery of video over last-mile networks."
Related: an article at Gizmodo explains that it takes surprisingly little hardware to replicate (at least most of) Netflix's current online catalog in a local data center.
Movies

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same 354

Posted by timothy
from the rising-overhead dept.
Nom du Keyboard writes: After seeing a drop in my DVD service from Netflix I got a customer service representative tonight to confirm that Netflix has ceased processing DVD returns on Saturdays nationwide. And that they did this without notifying their customers, or reducing prices to compensate for the reduced service. Given that the DVD selection still far outstrips their streaming selection, this may be news to others like myself who don't find streaming an adequate replacement for plastic discs. My experience up until recently, unlike Netflix's promise of a 1-3 day turnaround at their end which gives them lots of wiggle room to degrade service even further, had been of mailing in a DVD on day one, having them receive it and mail out my next selection on day two, and receiving it on day three. Now with them only working 5 days and many U.S. Post Office holidays, they're still getting the same money for significantly less. The Netflix shipping FAQ confirms the change, and a spokesperson said, "Saturdays have been low volume ship days for us."

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

Working...