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Television

Netflix Is Becoming Just Another TV Channel 32

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix revealed in a blog post that it will not renew its contract with Epix, meaning you won't be able to watch movies like The Hunger Games and World War Z through the service anymore. With the increase in cord-cutters and more original content, Netflix is positioning itself to be like any other TV channel (one that owns its own distribution model) and is betting that customers won't miss the Epix content. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says, "While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods."
Movies

Brain Cancer Claims Horror Maestro Wes Craven At 76 33

New submitter JamesA writes: Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76. Though he's far less known as a novelist than for his various horror film jobs (writer, director, producer, actor ...), Craven also wrote a few books; I can't vouch for "Coming of Rage," but "Fountain Society" is pretty solid speculative fiction. Wikipedia notes that Craven also "designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google, and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween."
Television

Amazon Developing TV Series Based On Galaxy Quest 84

An anonymous reader writes: Entertainment Weekly reports that Amazon Studios is developing a TV show based on Galaxy Quest, the 1999 film that parodied classic sci-fi shows like Star Trek. In the movie, actors for a Trek-like show were conscripted by real aliens to help run a starship and negotiate peace with a mortal enemy. The actors had no idea what to do, of course, and ended up getting help from the most rabid fans of their show. The new TV show is still in early stages of development. It's unlikely that the original Galaxy Quest cast will return — it starred Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, and Sam Rockwell, to name a few. However, several important members of the production crew will return: "The film's co-writer Robert Gordon will pen the script and executive produce the pilot. The film's director Dean Parisot will direct and executive produce. And executive producers Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein are on board as well." The show is a ways off, yet — they haven't even been greenlit for a pilot episode — but it'd be a welcome addition to today's sci-fi TV offerings
Censorship

"Sensationalized Cruelty": FCC Complaints Regarding Game of Thrones 194

v3rgEz writes: As a cable channel, the FCC has little to no jurisdiction over HBO's content. That doesn't stop people from complaining to them about them, however, and after a FOIA request, the FCC released numerous complaints regarding the network's Game of Thrones. While there were the usual and expected lamentations about 'open homosexual sex acts,' other users saw Game of Thrones as a flashpoint in the war of Net Neutrality.
Sci-Fi

FBI Informant: Ray Bradbury's Sci-fi Written To Induce Communistic Mass Hysteria 282

v3rgEz writes: The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare. "The general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria," the informant warned. "Which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would believe could not be won since their morale had seriously been destroyed."
Sci-Fi

Hugos Refuse To Award Anyone Rather Than Submit To Fans' Votes 1034

An anonymous reader writes: You may remember way back in April there was a bit of a kerfuffle over the nominees for the Hugo Awards being "too conservative" based on a voting campaign organized by a group of science fiction fans who wanted to promote hard science fiction over more recent nominees. This was spun as conservatives "ruining" a "progressive" award. The question was left: would the final voters of the Hugo awards accept these nominees, or just take their ball home and refuse to give out anyway awards at all? The votes are in and we know the answer now: they'd rather just not give out any awards. (Wired has a slightly different slant on the process as well as the outcome of this year's awards.)
Toys

Ask Slashdot: Tips For Getting Into Model Railroading? 149

An anonymous reader writes: A relative of mine has been hinting that he'd like me to take over his model railroad collection in the event of his death (or even before that, to make this a bit less morbid-sounding). I'm intrigued by the idea, because I've been interested in model railroads for years, but too commitment shy and too transient to actually start a collection. That's changed enough that I'd like to start planning a train system, and am looking for advice from people who have been at it for a while. A couple of parameters: 1) I'm only interested for now in HO-scale stuff, so I am not all that interested in the relative merits of the other kinds, cool as they might be. 2) Related, I am somewhat less interested in the rolling stock than I am in the construction and control of the track and surrounding landscape. Interested in learning from experienced model railroad enthusiasts what lessons you've learned over the years that would be useful for a newbie, especially if you've made some cool automation for your system, or have built extensive support structures. This includes negative lessons, too, if you've overloaded circuits or floorboards. I'd *like* to integrate some interesting sensors and control systems, and I see some interesting open source software for this. So: What advice would you give to a late-start railroader? For reference: this set-up may end up living in an unfinished suburban basement.
Software

Ask Slashdot: Maintaining Continuity In Your Creative Works? 95

imac.usr writes: I recently rewatched the Stonecutters episode of The Simpsons and laughed as always at the scene where Homer pulls into his parking space — right next to his house. It's such a great little comic moment. This time, though, it occurred to me that someone probably wrote in to complain that the power plant was normally in a completely different part of town, no doubt adding "I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder." And that got me to wondering: how do creators of serial media — books, web comics, TV shows, even movie serials — record their various continuities? Is there a story bible with the information, or a database of people/places/things, or even something scribbled on a 3x5 card. I know Slashdot is full of artists who must deal with this issue on a regular basis, so I'd be interested in hearing any perspectives on how (or even if) you manage it.
Mars

The Real NASA Technologies In 'The Martian' 60

An anonymous reader writes: On October 2, movie audiences will get to see Ridley Scott's adaptation of Andy Weir's brilliant sci-fi novel The Martian, about a near-future astronaut who gets left for dead on the planet Mars. (Official trailer.) Both book and film are rooted in actual science, and NASA has now posted a list of technologies featured in the movie that either already exist, or are in development. For example, the Mars rover: "On Earth today, NASA is working to prepare for every encounter with the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV). The MMSEV has been used in NASA's analog mission projects to help solve problems that the agency is aware of and to reveal some that may be hidden. The technologies are developed to be versatile enough to support missions to an asteroid, Mars, its moons and other missions in the future." They also show off their efforts to develop water reclamation, gardens in space, and oxygen recovery.
Movies

Bozza Wants To Be Africa's Answer To iTunes, Spotify and Netflix 42

Mickeycaskill writes: South African startup Bozza has grand ambitions of becoming a trusted platform for pan-African music, video and poetry, with artists keeping 70 percent of revenues. Whereas Netflix and Spotify can deliver high quality streams to users in North America and Europe with superfast fixed and 4G connections, 50 percent of Bozza's traffic comes from feature phones. Data compression technology and transcoding techniques try and keep costs down, while Africa's mobile market is much less app-centric. Bozza founder Emma Kaye explains how she plans to help turn Bozza into a major medium platform.
Movies

Movie Studio Sues Individual Popcorn Time Users For Infringement 144

An anonymous reader writes with another story about Popcorn Time, after yesterday's report that two Danes were arrested for sharing information about how to use it. From the article at BGR: Often described as 'Netflix for pirates,' Popcorn Time users are now being targeted for infringement. The makers of a film called The Cobbler recently initiated a lawsuit against 11 Popcorn Time users in Oregon for copying and distributing the aforementioned film without authorization. The Cobbler, in case you're unfamiliar, stars Adam Sandler and was released in early 2015 to tepid reviews. "Tepid" is putting it nicely.
Toys

The Tech Problems Inside Nintendo's Amiibo Toys 70

An anonymous reader writes: Nintendo's line of amiibo figurines are coveted by fans and collectors, even scalpers and robbers, with some harder to come by models fetching high sums on auction sites. But as a new article points out, every model suffers from similar technical drawbacks when it comes to interacting with the Japanese games giant's Wii U and 3DS consoles: there is currently only one game for instance that uses the write function of each figure's NFC chip, rather than simply reading it. But if there were more, Nintendo would be faced with another problem: where to store the data for each, since amiibo can currently only store one title's data at a time. The company may be looking to solve some of these issues with its upcoming NX system, but will it be too little too late?
Star Wars Prequels

Death Star Science: The Physics Of Destroying An Earth-Sized Planet 173

StartsWithABang writes: The ability to destroy an Alderaan-like (or, ahem, Earth-like) planet has long been the dream of slashdotters everywhere. But generating the power necessary to unbind a planet — some 2.24 x 10^32 Joules — is simply impossible on board an object only the size of a small moon. But if, instead, you could house a 1-2 trillion ton asteroid (about 5-7 km across) made of antimatter and deliver it to the planet's core, Einstein's E=mc^2 ensures that the planet will be destroyed in seconds.
Television

HBO, Netflix, and Amazon Targeting Kids 46

An anonymous reader writes: The latest high-profile show to join one of the major streaming services probably isn't one you watch: Sesame Street. However, it's a clear signal for a growing trend: these services desperately want to corner the market on kid's shows. Netflix has gotten tons of praise for its original series, and it's been quietly putting that production power behind new shows aimed at children. They've also made deals with Disney and Dreamworks to get movies onto the service as quickly as possible. Amazon has been debuting series after series as well, with six pilots for new children's shows landing last month alone. "The battle for kids, at bottom, is about keeping their parents around even when a favorite show about a murderous politician is on hiatus. Streaming services are far easier to cancel and resubscribe than cable-TV ... so the goal is to make that decision harder." Now that HBO is starting to commit to streaming, it's faced with the same problems. By deriving their funding through subscriptions, these companies can avoid the flak YouTube and Hulu are getting for targeting kids with advertisements.
Television

CNN and CBC Sued For Pirating YouTube Video 222

vivaoporto sends word that in a rare case of an individual taking on large corporations for copyright infrigement, a New York man has sued news networks CNN and CBC after they took a video of his from YouTube and broadcast it on the air without licensing it. His video shows a winter storm in Buffalo generating huge amounts of lake effect snow. The man, Alfonzo Cutaia, decided to enable monetization on his video, selecting the "Standard YouTube License," "a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of [the video]. All other rights are reserved to the copyright owner and standard copyright laws and exceptions apply." Cutaia says the CBC used his video with their logo on it. The CBC confirmed this, and said they received a 10-day license from CNN, who had no legal right to do so. His lawsuit now accuses them both of "intentional and willful" copyright infringement.
Australia

Australian Courts Make Life Hard For Dallas Buyers Club Copyright Owner 25

New submitter Harlequin80 writes: There has been a significant update in the landmark case between the Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) and iiNet, an ISP in Australia, where DBC has been trying to blaze new trails in obtaining downloaders' personal details. DBC had previously won the right to access subscribers' contact details, for the purposes of sending a letter, subject to the judge reviewing the form letter. El Reg is now reporting that the case Judge has reviewed the form letters proposed by DBC, and felt that they were too close to speculative invoicing. As a result, he has struck down two of their four claims and, because he feels they are not likely to operate in good faith, mandated a $600,000 bond from DBC if they want to send any letters at all. The price has been set so high so that DBC can't expect to make any money on the claims if they break the court's rules. While not an end to the matter it will make life very hard for DBC going forward.
GUI

Redefining Security Visualization With Hollywood UI Design 55

An anonymous reader writes: Most security interfaces today leave a lot to be desired, and many security pros are gaming enthusiasts, accustomed to a sharp and engaging virtual world. ProtectWise CEO Scott Chasin and CTO Gene Stevens wanted to give them a helpful security tool with an interactive visual dashboard that looks straight out of Call of Duty. The UI is called ProtectWise Visualizer, and its creator is Jake Sargeant, FX pro and a visual designer at MN8 Studio. If his name sounds familiar, it's because he was the Lead Animated Graphics Artist for the movie TRON: Legacy. There's plenty of inspiration available for movie-style UIs; the problem with much of it is that not everyone likes an interface that looks like an especially busy video game.
AI

Microsoft Creates an AI That Can Spot a Joke In a New Yorker Cartoon 66

An anonymous reader writes: For over a decade Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor at the New Yorker, and his assistants have gone through 5,000 cartoon entries for the magazine's caption contest each week. Needless to say, the burnout rate of his assistants is quite high, "The process of looking at 5,000 caption entries a week usually destroys their mind in about two years, and then I get a new one," Mankoff says. But now thanks to a collaboration with Microsoft, Bob may finally have found the perfect helper. Researchers have been working on an artificial intelligence project to teach a computer what's funny. Fortune reports: "Dafna Shahaf, a researcher at Microsoft, used the database of cartoons to train the program to understand commonalities and differences in the millions of cartoons, which lets the AI run through the entries the New Yorker receives each week for its back-of-magazine cartoon caption contest. About 55.8% of the time the humans agree with the captions the AI selects, which is a pretty good percentage."
Movies

"Pixels" DMCA Takedown Even Worse Than We Thought 272

ForgedArtificer writes: So we all know about the Pixels takedown on Vimeo, and that it was pretty bad in a lot of ways. But did you know that they took down the short film that inspired the movie? Turns out, the 2010 Pixels, which was taken off Vimeo due to copyright notice, was responsible for inspiring the entire Adam Sandler flick. Unlike Sandler's film, it's critically-acclaimed and has won awards. Talk about kicking someone when they're already down. First Patrick Jean gets to watch them violate his work and now they're claiming that his work violates theirs.
Piracy

Anti-Piracy Firm Sends Out Wave of Takedown Notices For Using the Word 'Pixels' 224

An anonymous reader writes: Columbia Pictures recently released a movie called Pixels to widespread ambivalence. As part of the movie industry's standard intellectual property defense strategy, it hired anti-piracy firm Entura International to try to police infringing downloads. The firm went at the task with vigor, hitting Vimeo with DMCA takedown notices for anything with the word "Pixels" in it. As you might expect, this disrupted a number of independent filmmakers and organizations who did nothing wrong, and in most cases picked a name for their video long before the new movie came out. Even worse, it's incumbent upon the owners of the targeted videos to prove that their content does not infringe upon Columbia's. Even if they get it restored, simply being targeted counts against them in Vimeo's eyes. And of course, Entura is unwilling to help.