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Christmas Cheer

Goodbye, Alek's Internet-Controlled Christmas Lights for Celiac Research 11

Posted by timothy
from the ho-ho-ho-and-a-merry-old-hoax-except-it's-real-these-days dept.
Alek Komarnitsky, Colorado (and the Internet's) own Clark Griswold, has decided to retire as his own props master, programmer, best boy, and effects specialist. After 10 years of increasingly elaborate set-ups, Alek's decided to go out with a bang, with his largest-yet rooftop display of open-source powered, remotely controllable, internet-connected Christmas lights. (This year, he even matches the fictional Griswold's 25,000 lights, but truth tops fiction, with live webcams, animated props, and more.) We talked with Alek last year, too; but now he's got a full decade's worth of reminiscing about his jest-made-real hobby as That Guy With the Lights, and some advice for anyone who'd like to take on a project like this.

Alek has managed to stay on good terms with his neighbors, despite the car and foot traffic that his display has drawn, and kept himself from serious harm despite a complex of minor, overlapping risks including ladders, squirrels, a fair amount of electricity and (the most dangerous, he says) wind. The lights are what the world sees, but the video capture and distribution to the vast online audience is an equal part of the work. Alek has learned a lot along the way about automation, logistics, wireless networking, and the importance of load balancing. It's always possible the lights will return in some form, or that someone will take up the mantle as Blinkenlights master, but this tail end of 2014 (and the first day of 2015) is your last good chance to tune in and help toggle some of those lights. (The display operates from 1700-2200 Mountain time.) Alternate Video Link Update: 12/22 22:50 GMT by T : Note: Alek talks about the last year here.
Youtube

Viacom's Messy Relationship With YouTube and The Rise of Stephen Colbert 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the birth-of-the-nation dept.
Presto Vivace writes with this story about how Stephen Colbert became a YouTube Megastar. "Clips from The Colbert Report soon became a staple at YouTube, a startup that was making it easier for anyone and everyone to upload and watch home movies, video blogs, and technically-illicit-but-increasingly-vanilla clips of TV shows from the day before. And Colbert’s show was about to find itself at the center of a conflict between entertainment media and the web over online video that’s shaped the last decade. In fact, The Colbert Report has been defined as much by this back-and-forth between Hollywood and the web as by the cable news pundits it satirizes....A year after The Colbert Report premiere, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. Five months later, Viacom sued YouTube and Google for copyright infringement, asking for $1 billion in damages. The value of these videos and their audiences were clear. The Colbert Report and “Stephen Colbert” are mentioned three times in Viacom’s complaint against YouTube, as much or more than any other show or artist."
Sony

Anonymous Claims They Will Release "The Interview" Themselves 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the If-you-cancel-my-release-I-shall-become-more-popular-than-you-can-possibly-imagine dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a series of tweets the hacker collective Anonymous says they will release "The Interview" to the masses if Sony won't. A few of the tweets read: "Seriously @Sony we warned you. We infiltrated your systems long before North Korea. We thought you'd take it as a warning and fix your s@#t." and "We're not with either side, we just want to watch the movie too and soon you too will be joining us. Sorry, @SonyPictures."
Television

Dish Pulls Fox News, Fox Business Network As Talks Break Down 258

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-fox-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes Fox News and Fox Business were pulled by Dish Network over the weekend, as both continue to argue over a fee agreement. From the article: "Dish said in a statement early Sunday morning that 21st Century Fox had blocked access to the two networks after Dish balked when rates for other networks owned by the media conglomerate were made a part of the negotiations. Tim Carry, executive vice president of distribution at Fox News Channel, countered in a statement that "Dish prematurely ceased distribution of Fox News in an attempt to intimidate and sway our negotiations. It is unfortunate that the millions of Fox News viewers on Dish were used as pawns by their provider. Hopefully they will vote with their hard earned money and seek another one of our other valued distributors immediately."
Media

Behind the Scenes With the Star Trek Fan Reboot 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the excellent-work dept.
SternisheFan writes: The original Starship Enterprise was on a 5-year mission, but the original series was canceled after the third year. A continuation of Star Trek:TOS is being created by a dedicated cast and crew intent on keeping true to the spirit of Gene Roddenberry's television show. From recreating the original sets with incredible accuracy and attention to details, staying faithful to original storylines has been a true labor of love for all involved. Here are a series of videos showing the progress being made on recreating the iconic series. (And if you missed it last time, here's the first episode they produced.)
Music

The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the 50-Year Copyright Itch 151

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-get-by-with-a-little-help-from-their-lobbyists dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Victoria Shannon reports in the NY Times that fifty years ago was a good year for music, with the Beatles appearing on Billboard's charts for the first time, the Rolling Stones releasing their first album, the Supremes with five No. 1 hits, and Simon and Garfunkel releasing their debut album. The 50-year milestone is significant, because music published within the first half-century of its recording gets another 20 years of copyright protection under changes in European law. So every year since 2012, studios go through their tape vaults to find unpublished music to get it on the market before the deadline.

The first year, Motown released a series of albums packed with outtakes by some of its major acts, and Sony released a limited-edition collection of 1962 outtakes by Bob Dylan, with the surprisingly frank title, "The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. I." In 2013, Sony released a second Dylan set, devoted to previously unreleased 1963 recordings. Similar recordings by the Beatles and the Beach Boys followed. This year, Sony is releasing a limited-edition nine-LP set of 1964 recordings by Dylan, including a 46-second try at "Mr. Tambourine Man," which he would not complete until 1965. The Beach Boys released two copyright-extension sets of outtakes last week. And while there's no official word on a Beatles release, last year around this time, "The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963" turned up unannounced on iTunes.
Censorship

"Team America" Gets Post-Hack Yanking At Alamo Drafthouse, Too 230

Posted by timothy
from the meet-your-new-program-director dept.
Slate reports that even old movies are enough to trigger a pretty strong knee jerk: Team America, World Police, selected as a tongue-in-cheek replacement by Dallas's Alamo Drafthouse Theater for the Sony-yanked The Interview after that film drew too much heat following the recent Sony hack, has also been pulled. The theater's tweet, as reprinted by Slate: "due to circumstances beyond our control,” their Dec. 27 Team America screening has also been canceled." If only I had a copy, I'd like to host a viewing party here in Austin for The Interview, which I want to see now more than ever. (And it would be a fitting venue.)
Toys

Ask Slashdot: What Can I Really Do With a Smart Watch? 229

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-measure-the-battery-drain dept.
kwelch007 writes I commonly work in a clean-room (CR.) As such, I commonly need access to my smart-phone for various reasons while inside the CR...but, I commonly keep it in my front pocket INSIDE my clean-suit. Therefore, to get my phone out of my pocket, I have to leave the room, get my phone out of my pocket, and because I have a one track mind, commonly leave it sitting on a table or something in the CR, so I then have to either have someone bring it to me, or suit back up and go get it myself...a real pain. I have been looking in to getting a 'Smart Watch' (I'm preferential to Android, but I know Apple has similar smart-watches.) I would use a smart-watch as a convenient, easy to transport and access method to access basic communications (email alerts, text, weather maps, etc.) The problem I'm finding while researching these devices is, I'm not finding many apps. Sure, they can look like a nice digital watch, but I can spend $10 for that...not the several hundred or whatever to buy a smart-watch. What are some apps I can get? (don't care about platform, don't care if they're free) I just want to know what's the best out there, and what it can do? I couldn't care less about it being a watch...we have these things called clocks all over the place. I need various sorts of data access. I don't care if it has to pair with my smart-phone using Bluetooth or whatever, and it won't have to be a 100% solution...it would be more of a convenience that is worth the several hundred dollars to me. My phone will never be more than 5 feet away, it's just inconvenient to physically access it. Further, I am also a developer...what is the best platform to develop for these wearable devices on, and why? Maybe I could make my own apps? Is it worth waiting for the next generation of smart-watches?
Censorship

Reaction To the Sony Hack Is 'Beyond the Realm of Stupid' 575

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-jaw-dropping dept.
rossgneumann writes North Korea may really be behind the Sony hack, but we're still acting like idiots. Peter W. Singer, one of the nations foremost experts on cybersecurity, says Sony's reaction has been abysmal. "Here, we need to distinguish between threat and capability—the ability to steal gossipy emails from a not-so-great protected computer network is not the same thing as being able to carry out physical, 9/11-style attacks in 18,000 locations simultaneously. I can't believe I'm saying this. I can't believe I have to say this."
Movies

Top Five Theaters Won't Show "The Interview" Sony Cancels Release 582

Posted by samzenpus
from the nothing-to-see-here dept.
tobiasly writes The country's top five theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — have decided not to play Sony's The Interview. This comes after the group which carried off a massive breach of its networks threatened to carry out "9/11-style attacks" on theaters that showed the film. Update: Sony has announced that it has cancelled the planned December 25 theatrical release.
Biotech

Brain Stimulation For Entertainment? 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the volunteer-your-neighbors-as-guinea-pigs dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been used for years to diagnose and treat neural disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer's, and depression. Soon the medical technique could be applied to virtual reality and entertainment. Neuroscientist Jeffrey Zacks writes, "it's quite likely that some kind of electromagnetic brain stimulation for entertainment will become practical in the not-too-distant future." Imagine an interactive movie where special effects are enhanced by zapping parts of the brain from outside to make the action more vivid. Before brain stimulation makes it to the masses, however, it has plenty of technical and safety hurdles to overcome.
It's funny.  Laugh.

The Joker Behind the Signetics 25120 Write-Only Memory Chip Hoax 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the things-the-USPTO-would-totally-issue-a-patent-for dept.
New submitter st1lett0 writes: Now and in years past, electronic engineers and hobbyists alike have enjoyed the classic 1972 April Fool's joke by Signetics of the Signetics 25120 Write-Only Memory chip. Now it seems that the previously anonymous practical joker has identified himself and stepped forward with new information to correct and complete the story.
Media

Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand 433

Posted by timothy
from the excuse-for-owning-a-linn-sondek dept.
An anonymous reader writes The WSJ reports that the revival of vinyl records, a several-year trend that many figured was a passing fad, has accelerated during 2014 with an astounding 49 percent sales increase over 2013 (line chart here). Some listeners think that vinyl reproduces sound better than digital, and some youngsters like the social experience of gathering around a turntable. The records are pressed at a handful of decades-old, labor-intensive factories that can't keep up with the demand; but since the increased sales still represent only about 2 percent of US music sales, there hasn't been a rush of capital investment to open new plants. Raw vinyl must now be imported to America from countries such as Thailand, since the last US supplier closed shop years ago. Meanwhile, an industry pro offers his take on the endless debate of audio differences between analog records and digital formats; it turns out there were reasons for limiting playing time on each side back in the day, apart from bands not having enough decent material.
Television

Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display 80

Posted by timothy
from the holy-grail-and-life-of-brian-sections-would-suffice dept.
According to the Guardian, a "developing deal" for a theme park located in Kent could transform various BBC shows into Disney-style in-person experiences. Says the article: BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has struck a deal with a Kuwait-backed property developer to allow a range of its programmes and characters to be “brought to life” at a new £2bn theme park and holiday resort to be built by the Thames estuary in north Kent, in partnership with Paramount Pictures. London Resort Company Holdings has signed a development agreement with BBC Worldwide to feature the corporation’s intellectual property at the London Paramount Entertainment Resort, which promises to “combine the glamour of Hollywood with the best of British culture." Shows named include Top Gear, Sherlock, and Dr. Who; I think I'd rather visit a theme park that was entirely based on Monty Python's Flying Circus, but a Top Gear racetrack or simulator would be fun.
Movies

Blade Runner 2 Script Done, Harrison Ford Says "the Best Ever" 299

Posted by timothy
from the you're-in-a-desert-walking-along-in-the-sand dept.
BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes "It's been more than 30 years, but finally the script for Blade Runner 2 is done. Original interview with Ridley Scott on MTV. Links for those who don't want to watch the interview. If you're worried that the upcoming Blade Runner sequel won't measure up to the 1982 sci-fi cult classic, rest assured. Harrison Ford apparently thinks the script is "the best thing (he's) ever read." Although Scott is debating whether or not he'll direct the sequel, it looks like Ford will most certainly be reprising his role as Rick Deckard."
Handhelds

Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die 269

Posted by timothy
from the mine-died-fast dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes A funny thing happened to the iPod Classic on its way to the dustbin of history: people seemed unwilling to actually give it up. Apple quietly removed the iPod Classic from its online storefront in early September, on the same day CEO Tim Cook revealed the latest iPhones and the upcoming Apple Watch. At 12 years old, the device was ancient by technology-industry standards, but its design was iconic, and a subset of diehard music fans seemed to appreciate its considerable storage capacity. At least some of those diehard fans are now paying four times the iPod Classic's original selling price for units still in the box. The blog 9to5Mac mentions Amazon selling some last-generation iPod Classics for $500 and above. Clearly, some people haven't gotten the memo that touch-screens and streaming music were supposed to be the way of the future.
Google

Hollywood's Secret War With Google 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-war-they'll-fight-aggressively-to-lose dept.
cpt kangarooski writes: Information has come to light (thanks to the recent Sony hack) that the MPAA and six major studios are pondering the legal actions available to them to compel an entity referred to as 'Goliath,' most likely Google, into taking aggressive anti-piracy action on behalf of the entertainment industry. The MPAA and member studios Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney have had lengthy email discussions concerning how to block pirate sites at the ISP level, and how to take action at the state level to work around the failure of SOPA in 2012. Emails also indicate that they are working with Comcast (which owns Universal) on some form of traffic inspection to find copyright infringements as they happen.
Education

2014 Geek Gift Guide 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the watch-out-for-robot-santa dept.
With the holidays coming up, Bennett Haselton has updated his geek-oriented gift guide for 2014. He says: Some of my favorite gifts to give are still the ones that were listed in several different previously written posts, while a few new cool gift ideas emerged in 2014. Here are all my current best recommendations, listed in one place. Read on for the list, or to share any suggestions of your own.
Music

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy: The Science of Misheard Song Lyrics 244

Posted by samzenpus
from the dirty-dean-and-the-dunder-cheese dept.
HughPickens.com writes Maria Konnikova writes in The New Yorker that mondegreens are funny but they also give us insight into the underlying nature of linguistic processing, how our minds make meaning out of sound, and how in fractions of seconds, we translate a boundless blur of sound into sense. One of the reasons we often mishear song lyrics is that there's a lot of noise to get through, and we usually can't see the musicians' faces. Other times, the misperceptions come from the nature of the speech itself, for example when someone speaks in an unfamiliar accent or when the usual structure of stresses and inflections changes, as it does in a poem or a song. Another common cause of mondegreens is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Steven Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O'Neill won a Pullet Surprise. The string of phonetic sounds can be plausibly broken up in multiple ways—and if you're not familiar with the requisite proper noun, you may find yourself making an error.

Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. "There's a bathroom on the right" standing in for "there's a bad moon on the rise" is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives.

Finally along with knowledge, we're governed by familiarity: we are more likely to select a word or phrase that we're familiar with, a phenomenon known as Zipf's law. One of the reasons that "Excuse me while I kiss this guy" substituted for Jimi Hendrix's "Excuse me while I kiss the sky" remains one of the most widely reported mondegreens of all time can be explained in part by frequency. It's much more common to hear of people kissing guys than skies.
It's funny.  Laugh.

A Paper By Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel Was Accepted By Two Journals 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the simpsons-already-did-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals. Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations." Rather, it's a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology."

Line Printer paper is strongest at the perforations.

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