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  • UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice?

    An anonymous reader writes Details have emerged on the new UHD Blu-ray spec and players set to start shipping this summer. UHD promises resolutions 4X greater than Blu-ray 1080p as well as much higher data rates, enhanced color space and more audio options. But, will consumers care, and will they be willing to upgrade their HDTV's, AV Receivers, and Blu-ray players to adopt a new format whose benefits may only be realized on ultra large displays or close viewing distances? The article makes the interesting point that UHD isn't synonymous with 4K, even if both handily beat the resolution of most household displays.

    328 comments | 3 days ago

  • Disney Turned Down George Lucas's Star Wars Scripts

    ageoffri writes: When Star Wars fans learned that George Lucas was making the prequels, most were filled with excitement and anticipation. When Episodes 1-3 were actually released, many found them unsatisfying, and became disillusioned with Lucas's writing. Now, it appears Disney felt the same way. Though they bought Lucasfilm and began production on Episode 7, they weren't interested in using the scripts Lucas had already worked on. In an interview, he said, "The ones that I sold to Disney, they came up to the decision that they didn't really want to do those. So they made up their own. So it's not the ones that I originally wrote [on screen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens]." After what happened with the prequels, that may be for the best — but others may worry about Episode 7's plot being entirely in the hands of Disney and JJ Abrams.

    420 comments | 4 days ago

  • Simon Pegg On Board To Co-Write Next Star Trek Film

    According to a report at The Verge, itself based on another at Deadline.com, Shaun of the Dead creator Simon Pegg is to co-write (along with Doug Jung) the next Star Trek film. Pegg is also signed on to play Scotty, as he did in both the Star Trek reboot and Into Darkness.

    138 comments | 5 days ago

  • Interviews: Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose Answer Your Questions

    samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."

    42 comments | about a week ago

  • Amazon Plans To Release 12 Movies a Year In Theaters and On Prime

    An anonymous reader writes "Amazon has announced that it will begin to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution on Amazon Prime Instant Video. From the article: "This is a big move from Amazon, as it seeks to narrow the theatrical release window to between four and eight weeks. It can often take up to a year for films to land on subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, however they do typically land on DVD/Blu-ray within around four months. Production for the aptly titled 'Amazon Original Movies' program will kick off in 2015, and plans are afoot to create around a dozen original titles for release in cinemas each year."

    92 comments | about a week ago

  • Silicon Valley Security Experts Give 'Blackhat' a Thumbs-Up; Do You?

    HughPickens.com writes Cade Metz writes that last week Parisa Tabriz, head of Google's Chrome security team, helped arrange an early screening of Michael Mann's Blackhat in San Francisco for 200-odd security specialists from Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla, Twitter, Square, Cisco, and other parts of Silicon Valley's close-knit security community, and their response to the film was shockingly positive. "Judging from the screening Q&A—and the pointed ways this audience reacted during the screening—you could certainly argue Blackhat is the best hacking movie ever made," writes Metz. "Many info-sec specialists will tell you how much they like Sneakers—the 1992 film with Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Ackroyd, Ben Kingsley, and River Phoenix—but few films have so closely hewed to info-sec reality as Mann's new movie, fashioned in his characteristic pseudo-documentary style." "Unlike others, this is a film about a real person, not a stereotype—a real guy with real problems thrust into a real situation," says Mark Abene. "The technology—and the disasters—in the film were real, or at least plausible.

    Director Michael Mann worked closely with Kevin Poulsen in researching, writing, and shooting the film. Like Hemsworth's character, Poulsen spent time in prison for his hacking exploits, and Mann says his input was invaluable. "It's the first crime-thriller to hinge so heavily on hacking without becoming silly." says Poulson. "We put a lot of work into finding plausible ways that malware and hosting arrangements and all these other things could be used to advance the plot and all of that I think turned out pretty nice."
    I'm a fan of Michael Mann, and the previews I've seen of Blackhat make it look at least like a passable thriller. For anyone who's seen the film already, what did you think?

    98 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Heinlein's 'All You Zombies' Now a Sci-Fi Movie Head Trip

    HughPickens.com writes: Sara Stewart reports at the NY Post that the new sci-fi movie Predestination, opening January 9, is "loopier than Spielberg's [Minority Report]; its plot twists and turns 'like a snake eating its tail,' one character remarks, until you're not sure whether its developments are even plausible in a fictional universe." It's based on Robert A. Heinlein's science fiction classic All You Zombies, first published in 1959. The story involves a number of paradoxes caused by time travel, further developing themes explored by Heinlein in a previous work, By His Bootstraps, published some 18 years earlier. Predestination's plot concerns the intersection of a time-traveling assassin and an androgynous young writer

    254 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Porn Companies Are Going After GitHub

    rossgneumann writes Porn production companies are currently engaged in a scorched earth copyright infringement campaign against torrenting sites with URLs containing specific keywords and Github is getting caught in the crossfire. Several Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaints filed to Google by companies representing various porn companies in the last month alone have resulted in dozens of legitimate Github URLs being removed from the search engine's results, TorrentFreak first reported."

    165 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Netflix Begins Blocking Users Who Bypass Region Locks

    An anonymous reader writes with reports that Netflix may be shutting out international VPN users. "Netflix can only stream the videos that studios make available in a given country, which has led to a booming business in workarounds (such as proxies and virtual private networks) that let you see the company's catalogs in other nations. Heck, one New Zealand internet provider practically built a service around it. However, you might not get to count on that unofficial solution for much longer. VPN operators claim to TorrentFreak that Netflix recently started blocking some users who use these technological loopholes to watch videos that would normally be verboten. The effort isn't widespread and mostly appears to focus on connections with many simultaneous Netflix sign-ins (that is, they're obviously being used for circumvention), but it's a surprise to viewers who were used to having unfettered access."

    121 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Netflix Cracks Down On VPN and Proxy "Pirates"

    An anonymous reader sends this unfortunate report from TorrentFreak: Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library. Some people bypass these content and access restrictions by using VPNs or other circumvention tools that change their geographical location. This makes it easy for people all around the world to pay for access to the U.S. version of Netflix, for example. The movie studios are not happy with these deviant subscribers as it hurts their licensing agreements. ... Over the past weeks Netflix has started to take action against people who use certain circumvention tools. The Android application started to force Google DNS which now makes it harder to use DNS based location unblockers, and several VPN IP-ranges were targeted as well.

    437 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Box Office 2014: Moviegoing Hits Two-Decade Low

    mrspoonsi writes The number of people going to the movies in 2014 in North America slipped to its lowest level in two decades. According to preliminary estimates, roughly 1.26 billion consumers purchased cinema tickets between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31. That's the lowest number since 1.21 billion in 1995. Year-over-year, attendance looks to be off 6 percent from 2013, when admissions clocked in at 1.34 billion. Admissions have fluctuated dramatically over the years, and particularly since the advent of modern-day 3D, which can skew the average ticket price. Movie going in North America hit an all-time high in 2002, when 1.57 billion consumers lined up, thanks in part to Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

    400 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015

    Jennifer Jenkins, Director of Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain, points out what could have entered public domain in 2015 but won't and why we need to use the upcoming Public Domain Day to focus on the importance of copyright reform. She writes: "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2015? Under the law that existed until 1978 -- Works from 1958. The films Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Gigi, the books Our Man in Havana, The Once and Future King, and Things Fall Apart, the songs All I Have to Do Is Dream and Yakety Yak, and more -- What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work."

    328 comments | about a month ago

  • Sony Accused of Pirating Music In "The Interview"

    the simurgh writes As the controversy surrounding Sony's handling of its hack, the movie The Interview and its aftermath continues, a singer is claiming that after failing to reach terms with Sony, the company put her music in the movie anyway. Yoon Mi-rae (real name Natasha Shanta Reid) is a U.S.-born hip hop and R&B singer who currently releases music on the Feel Ghood Music label. Sshe and her label claim that her track we learned that the track 'Pay Day' has been used without permission, legal procedure, or contracts.

    180 comments | about a month ago

  • The Interview Bombs In US, Kills In China, Threatens N. Korea

    First time accepted submitter twitnutttt (2958183) writes "While it has been broadly panned in the U.S. as not very funny, The Interview is surprisingly getting good reviews in China. And the North Korean government's fears of the threat posed by this movie are apparently merited: "It is powerful because it depicts Kim Jong-un as a vain, buffoonish despot, alternating between threats and weeping that he's been misunderstood. The people around him have all the signs of fear you might expect with a despot — they second-guess his likes and dislikes. Maybe he — and they — were right to fear the film. North Korean defectors sometimes smuggle USB sticks with films and soaps into the closed-off country, and there is a view in the south that these are a particularly powerful means of undermining the regime in Pyongyang. If that's so, The Interview might be a good candidate for inclusion." If you've seen the movie, and have your own reactions, please label any real spoilers out of courtesy.

    288 comments | about 1 month ago

  • N. Korea Blames US For Internet Outage, Compares Obama to "a Monkey"

    Reuters reports that North Korea's government has publicly blamed the U.S. for the widespread internet outages that the country has recently experienced (including today), and taken the opportunity to lambaste President Obama, as well. From the article: The National Defence Commission, the North's ruling body, chaired by state leader Kim Jong Un, said Obama was responsible for Sony's belated decision to release the action comedy "The Interview", which depicts a plot to assassinate Kim. "Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest," an unnamed spokesman for the commission said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, using a term seemingly designed to cause racial offence that North Korea has used before.

    206 comments | about 1 month ago

  • Crowds (and Pirates) Flock To 'The Interview'

    Rambo Tribble writes: Many of the 300+ theaters showing The Interview on Christmas were rewarded with sell-out crowds. While reviews of the comedy have been mixed, many movie-goers expressed solidarity with the sentiment of professor Carlos Royal: "I wanted to support the U.S." Despite sellout crowds, the movie's limited release meant it only brought in about $1 million on opening day (compared to $10M+ for the highest-grossing films). Curiosity about the film seems high, since hundreds of thousands rushed to torrent the film, and others figured out an extremely easy way to bypass Sony's DRM.

    148 comments | about a month ago

  • US Navy Sells 'Top Gun' Aircraft Carrier For One Penny

    HughPickens.com writes Kitsap Sun reports at Military.com that the USS Ranger, a 1,050-foot-long, 56,000-ton Forrestal-class aircraft carrier, is being towed from the inactive ship maintenance facility at Puget Sound for a 3,400-mile, around-Cape Horn voyage to a Texas dismantler who acquired the Vietnam-era warship for a penny for scrap metal. "Under the contract, the company will be paid $0.01. The price reflects the net price proposed by International Shipbreaking, which considered the estimated proceeds from the sale of the scrap metal to be generated from dismantling," said officials for NAVSEA. "[One cent] is the lowest price the Navy could possibly have paid the contractor for towing and dismantling the ship."

    The Ranger was commissioned Aug. 10, 1957, at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and decommissioned July 10, 1993, after more than 35 years of service. It was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on March 8, 2004, and redesignated for donation. After eight years on donation hold, the USS Ranger Foundation was unable to raise the funds to convert the ship into a museum or to overcome the physical obstacles of transporting the ship up the Columbia River to Fairview, Oregon. As a result, the Ranger was removed from the list of ships available for donation and designated for dismantling. The Navy, which can't retain inactive ships indefinitely, can't donate a vessel unless the application fully meets the Navy's minimum requirements. The Ranger had been in pristine condition, but for a week in August volunteers from other naval museums were allowed to remove items to improve their ships. The Ranger was in a slew of movies and television shows, including "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Flight of the Intruder" and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" where it stood in for the USS Enterprise carrier. But the Ranger's most famous role was in the 1980's Tom Cruise hit, "Top Gun." "We would have liked to have seen it become a museum, but it just wasn't in the cards," Navy spokesman Chris Johnson told Fox. "But unfortunately, it is a difficult proposition to raise funds. The group that was going to collect donations had a $35 million budget plan but was only able to raise $100,000."

    118 comments | about a month ago

  • DARPA Wants Help Building a Drone That Flies Like a Hawk

    DillyTonto writes DARPA has put out a call for ideas on how to build a fast, autonomous, maneuverable UAV that can fly up to 45 mph, navigate without assistance from humans or GPS into and through buildings that are a labyrinth of stairwells, small rooms, narrow hallways and terrorists. DARPA wants this drone to fly like the bird in this awesome hawk POV video that shows it shooting through gaps narrow enough it has to tuck its wings to get through. If you can watch the video without thinking of the forest moon of Endor, there may be some movies you should watch over the holidays.

    42 comments | about a month ago

  • Human Eye's Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate

    jones_supa writes: It should be safe to conclude that humans can see frame rates greater than 24 fps. The next question is: why do movies at 48 fps look "video-y," and why do movies at 24 fps look "dreamy" and "cinematic." Why are games more realistic at 60 fps than 30 fps? Simon Cooke from Microsoft (Xbox) Advanced Technology Group has an interesting theory to explain this all. Your eyes oscillate a tiny amount, ranging from 70 to 103 Hz (on average 83.68 Hz). So here's the hypothesis: The ocular microtremors wiggle the retina, allowing it to sample at approximately 2x the resolution of the sensors. Showing someone pictures that vary at less than half the rate of the oscillation means we're no longer receiving a signal that changes fast enough to allow the supersampling operation to happen. So we're throwing away a lot of perceived-motion data, and a lot of detail as well. Some of the detail can be restored with temporal antialiasing and simulating real noise, but ideally Cooke suggests going with a high enough frame rate (over 43 fps) and if possible, a high resolution.

    187 comments | about a month ago

  • Ars: Final Hobbit Movie Is 'Soulless End' To 'Flawed' Trilogy

    An anonymous reader writes: The final chapter to Peter Jackson's series of films based on The Hobbit debuted last week, and the reviews haven't been kind. Ars Technica just posted theirs, and it highlights all the problems with Battle of the Five Armies, a two-hour and twenty-four minute film based on only 72 pages of the book. Quoting: "The battles in Battle of the Five Armies are deadly boring, bereft of suspense, excessively padded, and predictable to the point of being contemptuous of the audience. Suspense is attempted mostly by a series of last-minute saves and switches. ... There are other problems. Everyone in this movie takes themselves way too seriously, which makes them even harder to sympathize with. Peter Jackson leans way too hard on voice modulation to make characters seem menacing or powerful. The movie's tone is still way out of step with the book's tone. ... There's one big thing that doomed these movies from the outset — the fiscally smart but artistically bankrupt decision to make a single, shortish children's novel into three feature-length prequel films." Other review titles: "Peter Jackson Must Be Stopped," "The Phantom Menace of Middle Earth," and "Lots of Fighting, Not Much Hobbit."

    351 comments | about a month ago

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