TheSilentNumber writes "Bassam Kurdali's free culture 3D animation, Tube, is nearing the final stages of production. Tube is a collaborative effort between 56 artists from 22 countries — some of which are at war. After directing the first of the Blender Institute's 'Open Movie Projects,' Elephants Dream, Bassam wanted to prove the viability of free cultural works and usability of free software like Blender and PiTiVi for independent filmmakers. Just a few days after launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project, the goal has been met, which means we should see the final release in seven months!"
Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!
dumuzi writes "A team including Larry Page, Ram Shriram and Eric Schmidt of Google, director James Cameron, Charles Simonyi (Microsoft executive and astronaut), Ross Perot Jr. (son of Ross Perot), Chris Lewicki (NASA Mars mission manager), and Peter Diamandis (X-Prize) have formed a new company called Planetary Resources, and are expected to announce plans on April 24th to mine asteroids. A study by NASA released April 2nd claims a robotic mission could capture a 500 ton asteroid and bring it to orbit the moon for $2.6 billion. The additional cost to mine the asteroid and return the ores to Earth would make profit unlikely even if the asteriod was 20% gold."
bobwyman writes "It seems counter-intuitive but a RAND full lifecycle analysis (PDF) shows that reading news electronically produces fewer GHG emissions than reading news on paper: 'Adopting e-readers could reduce GHG emissions from publishing and distributing newspapers by 74 percent; using tablet computers could result in a 63 percent reduction, assuming that all the GHG emissions associated with producing and operating e-readers or tablet computers are ascribed to reading newspapers. If a more realistic assumption is adopted, that the emissions associated with these devices should be spread across other activities pursued on these devices, the difference would be on the order of 84 to 89 percent less, respectively.'"
suraj.sun writes "Ilya Segalovich, co-founder of Russia's leading search engine, Yandex, has accused Google of abusing its dominance to shut out competitors in cyberspace. Responding to comments made to the Guardian by Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder, about threats to the open internet, Ilya Segalovich described the U.S. search giant's popular smartphone platform, Android, as a 'strange combination of openness and not openness,' and its Chrome web browser as anti-competitive. Segalovich said that Brin should explain Google's 'semi-open' approach to search competitors before accusing others of endangering the unfettered internet, and suggested Google was guilty of foul play with its Chrome browser, which picks the company's own search engine as default for users, rather than offering a choice between rivals including Yahoo, Bing and Yandex."
wytcld writes "Sending an individually-written e-mail to my state senator resulted in an automated response saying that since she receives hundreds of e-mails a day, there might be no personal response, but please don't take that to mean she hasn't read my e-mail. So I contacted her again suggesting that was a pretty poor answer. Most of the e-mails she receives are mass mailings coordinated by various interest group websites. Why doesn't she put those to the side, I asked, and prioritize response to individual e-mails from constituents who've taken the time to actually write? Her response? She often can't tell the difference at first, so spends time drafting responses to the first instances of group e-mail spam, and gets diverted from responding to those who really write her. Are there tools out there which a politician can use to identify the incoming group-think blasts and put them to to side? It's easy enough to imagine sorting by repeated content or headers, if I ran the mail server, but I'm looking for packages already out there that a state-level representative, with no staff to speak of, might use to cut through the mess and prioritize communication with constituents who care enough about an issue to draft their own thoughts."
vik writes "As Megaupload's Kim Dotcom's megafarce trial continues, the New Zealand Herald reports that his alleged offense not only falls below the threshold for extradition, but also that the warrant may not be properly served. 'My understanding as to why they haven't done that is because they can't. We don't believe Megaupload can be served in a criminal matter because it is not located within the jurisdiction of the United States,' says Megaupload's lawyer Ira Rothken. Not surprisingly, Kim Dotcom has a few choice words to say about having his business trashed this way, with 220 jobs lost, and millions left without access to their legitimate data."
mikejuk writes "You probably know that the traveling salesman problem is one of the classics of computer science theory. Now we have a new challenge — the Physical Travelling Salesman Problem and anyone can join in. All you have to do is visit each city once using an optimal route. The new element is that you now have to drive between the cities using a 'car' that has inertia and friction — see the video. You can submit an AI bot to solve the problem or drive the course yourself."
mspohr writes with this excerpt from Democracy Now!: "National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion 'transactions' — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander's assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens." The parts about National Security Letters in particular are chilling, even though the issue is not new.
sweetpea86 writes with a snippet from this story at TechWorld:"The UK government's proposal to separate communications data from content, as part of new plans to allow intelligence services to monitor all internet activity, is infeasible according to a panel of technology experts. Speaking at the 'Scrambling for Safety' conference in London, Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, said that the distinction between traffic data as being harmless and content as being sensitive is becoming less and less relevant. 'Now that people are living more and more of their lives online, the pattern of who you communicate with and in what order gives away pretty well everything,' he said. 'This means that, in data protection terms, traffic data is now very often going to be specially sensitive data.'"
Saint Aardvark writes "It seemed like a pretty simple question about a pretty cool topic: an Ottawa newspaper wanted to ask Canada's National Research Council about a joint study with NASA on tracking falling snow in Canada. Conventional radar can see where it's falling, but not the amount — so NASA, in collaboration with the NRC, Environment Canada and a few universities, arranged flights through falling snow to analyse readings with different instruments. But when they contacted the NRC to get the Canadian angle, "it took a small army of staffers— 11 of them by our count — to decide how to answer, and dozens of emails back and forth to circulate the Citizen's request, discuss its motivation, develop their response, and "massage" its text." No interview was given: "I am not convinced we need an interview. A few lines are fine. Please let me see them first," says one civil servant in the NRC emails obtained by the newspaper under the Access to Information act. By the time the NRC finally sorted out a boring, technical response, the newspaper had already called up a NASA scientist and got all the info they asked for; it took about 15 minutes."
pigrabbitbear writes "Those who continue to inflate the tech bubble will be quick to remind us all of how they've learned from the past. That this time, it's simply different. They do have a point. Silicon Valley (and Alley) have matured. Startups these days are focused, driven, and efficient, creating products that people actually use. In a period of less than a year after its launch, Instagram was used by 5 million users, who by August of 2011 had uploaded 150 million photos. But even with these impressive results, it's impossible to ignore the fact that many of the fundamental economic factors that led the first bubble remain." A couple other readers contributed similar articles — Instagram's sale seems to have solidified the idea for many that we're in the midst of another tech bubble, though some are more certain about it than others.
Canazza writes "In a podcast interview with Seven Day Cooldown, summarized by Develop, Valve Boss Gabe Newell discusses the payment model for upcoming strategy game DOTA 2. 'The issue that we're struggling with quite a bit is something I've kind of talked about before, which is: how do you properly value people's contributions to a community? ... An example is – and this is something as an industry we should be doing better – is charging customers based on how much fun they are to play with. ... “So, in practice, a really likable person in our community should get DOTA 2 for free, because of past behavior in Team Fortress 2. Now, a real jerk that annoys everyone, they can still play, but a game is full price and they have to pay an extra hundred dollars if they want voice.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "LiveScience reports that a survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs reveals that while more than half of U.S. adults believe technology has made it easier to spend money, just three percent think it has made it easier to save. The research found that Americans who subscribe to digital services spend an average of $166 each month for cable TV, home Internet access, mobile phone service and digital subscriptions, such as satellite radio and streaming video — the equivalent of 17 percent of their monthly rent or mortgage payment. Those who download songs, apps and other products spend an additional $38 per month. 'Our gadgets and connections can bring benefits like mobility and efficiency,' says Jordan Amin. 'But they can also bring financial challenges, like taking money that could go to savings, for instance, or contributing to credit card debt.' If facing a financial crunch, Americans would rather change what they eat than give up their cell phones, downloads or digital TV services. Asked to choose the one action they would most likely take in tight time, 41 percent said they would cut back on eating out, 20 percent said they would cut off cable TV, 8 percent said they would end cell phone service and 8 percent said they would stop downloading songs and digital products."
Titus Andronicus writes "Professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng of Stanford University announced a major expansion in the catalog of free, massive, open online courses being offered by the company they founded, Coursera. The subject areas include computer science, mathematics, and business. The providers include Stanford, Princeton, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania. Even more courses are expected to be announced by competitors such as Udacity, MITx, Minerva, and Udemy — perhaps soon. Is this the future of education?"
suraj.sun sends this excerpt from Deutsche Welle: "YouTube was told by a regional court in Hamburg on Friday not to display seven out of 12 contested clips without permission from the German copyright fee collecting society Gema. Gema claimed that its members were losing money every time their music was being displayed on YouTube. A proper licensing fee between the two sides expired in 2009. The Hamburg State Court ruled YouTube would in future have to install an efficient mechanism to filter out such content uploaded by users or face a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($330,000) for each case, or up to six months imprisonment. Knowing that a foolproof filter system looks next to impossible, Gema is now hoping that Google will finally agree to a new bilateral licensing treaty whereby the collecting society would not get an annual lump sum for the contested videos, but a fixed fee each time copyright-protected videos are watched."