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Bitcoin

'SingularDTV' Will Use Ethereum For DRM On A Sci-Fi TV Show (rocknerd.co.uk) 77

It's "an epic sci-fi adventure about the human race's journey into a theoretical technological Singularity." Or is it an "entertainment industry boondoggle...part DRM snake oil marketing, part pseudo-Bitcoin scam and part sincere Singularitarian weirdness?" Long-term Slashdot reader David Gerard writes: SingularDTV is an exciting new blockchain-based entertainment industry startup. Their plan is to adapt the DRM that made $121.54 for Imogen Heap, make their own completely pre-mined altcoin and use that to somehow sell two million views of a sci-fi TV show about the Singularity. Using CODE, which is explicitly modeled on The DAO ... which spectacularly imploded days after its launch. There's a white paper [PDF], but here's an analysis of why these schemes are a terrible idea for musicians.
'Singular' will be a one-hour adventure/drama "that explores the impact technology will have on the future of our planet and how it will shape the evolution of our human race," set in the years 2021 to 2045, "as an unprecedented technological revolution sweeps over the world..."
First Person Shooters (Games)

100 Unofficial Mods Released for 'No Man's Sky' (vice.com) 72

Eleven days after its release, No Man's Sky already has over 100 unofficial mods by fans intent on improving the game. "We don't have time to wait for official dev tools to fix what can be fixed by us," one modder told Motherboard. "We definitely want the official tools ASAP but honestly, the players need a game that actually launches and plays at decent FPS first." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the article: In an email to one customer, Hello Games revealed that it will be releasing patches this week and next which will "help to improve the experience further for players" but it is unlikely that the promised official modding tools will be released in the near future...

Among the [unofficial] mods available for anyone to download are ones to...replace the system font with one from Star Trek, disable annoying audio warnings, and replace a "Units Received" alert with "the Rick 'Wubba Lubba Dub Dub' sound bite from Rick and Morty"... The Instagram Filter Remover mod is among the most popular on the No Man's Sky Mods website promising to remove "the stupid Instagram filter from the game"...making everything sharper and clearer.

That last mod has been downloaded 17,655 times so far, and by Friday the site had almost 800,000 views and 60,000 downloads. There's two other mods that add Dr. Who sound clips into the game, and the article notes fans are clamoring for more, "including one request to replace all the voice lines in the game with William Shatner quotes."
Sci-Fi

Star Wars Actor Kenny Baker Dies at Age 81 (theguardian.com) 51

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Guardian: The British actor who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars films has died at the age of 81 after a long illness. Kenny Baker, who was 3-feet 8-inches tall, shot to fame in 1977 when he first played the robot character.

He went on to play the character in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as the three Star Wars prequels from 1999 to 2005. He also appeared in a number of other much loved films in the 1980s, including The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.

Baker's niece told the newspaper that "He brought lots of happiness to people and we'll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world..."
Space

Maybe There's No Life in Space Because We're Too Early 250

Long-time Slashdot reader sehlat shares "a highly accessible summary" of a new theory about why we haven't yet find life on other planets -- that "we're not latecomers, but very, very early." From Lab News: The universe is 13.8 billion years old, with Earth forming less than five billion years ago. One school of thought among scientists is that there is life billions of years older than us in space. But this recent study in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics argues otherwise... "We find that the chance of life grows much higher in the distant future..."

Stars larger than approximately three times the Sun's mass will perish before life has a chance to evolve... The smallest stars weigh less than a tenth as much as the sun and will glow for 10 trillion years, meaning life has lot of time to begin on those planets orbiting them in the 'habitable zone'. The probability of life increases over time so the chance of life is many times higher in the distant future than now.

The paper ultimately concludes that life "is most likely to exist near 0.1 solar-mass stars ten trillion years from now."
Sci-Fi

Star Trek Convention Celebrates The Show's 50th Anniversary (cnet.com) 25

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: CNET has a photo gallery with highlights from this year's Star Trek convention, celebrating the show's 50th anniversary. Highlights include a replica of the time portal from Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever episode, as well as a weird model of the Enterprise made entirely out of balloons. Special guests included former Star Trek actors Jonathan Frakes, Kirstie Alley, Levar Burton, and Whoopi Goldberg. And William Shatner reportedly made "the Captain Kirkiest stage entrance ever made," then talked about everything from Star Wars and The Twilight Zone to Pokemon Go.
Sci-Fi

Babylon 5 Actor Jerry Doyle Dies (dailymail.co.uk) 156

Slashdot reader tiqui writes: Jerry Doyle, best known for playing Security Chief Michael Garibaldi on Babylon 5 has passed away in Las Vegas at only 60 years of age. His B5 character was often paired-up with G'Kar (played by Andreas Katsulas who died in 2006 at age 59) and with Jeffrey Sinclair (played by Michael O'Hare who died in 2012, also at age 60) He seems to have lead an interesting life. Cause of death not yet known.
Slashdot reader The Grim Reefer quotes the BBC: Fellow Babylon 5 actor Bruce Boxleitner tweeted that he was "so devastated at the news of the untimely death of my good friend", while astronaut Scott Kelly said the news was "very sad to hear".
Transportation

Star Trek Actor's Death Inspires Class Action Against Car Manufacturer (cnn.com) 365

Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed Sunday when his own vehicle rolled backwards. Now Slashdot reader ripvlan writes: It has recently emerged that his vehicle was a Jeep. As discussed on Slashdot previously consumers are having a hard time knowing if the vehicle is in "Park." A new class action lawsuit is gaining momentum... Also Maserati has a similar system and can join the class action.
In fact, Maserati "is recalling about 13,000 sedans that have the same sort of gear shifter that was used in the Jeep that killed Yelchin," according to CNN Money, and Chrysler Fiat had in fact already filed a recall notice with federal regulators in April for Yelchin's band of Jeep, "but owners had only received a warning and not an official recall notice at the time of Yelchin's death". The lawsuit claims Chrysler "fraudulently concealed and failed to remedy a gear shifter design defect affecting 811,000 vehicles and linked to driverless rollaway incidents," including 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2012-2014 Chrysler 300s, and 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers.
Sci-Fi

J.J. Abrams Reacts To Death of Star Trek Actor Anton 'Chekov' Yelchin (hollywoodreporter.com) 221

On Sunday morning 27-year-old actor Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed in a freak accident with his own car in the driveway of his home in Studio City. "It appears he momentarily exited his car and it rolled backward, causing trauma that led to his death," a police spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter. This afternoon J. J. Abrams tweeted a picture of a handwritten eulogy addressed to Anton. "You were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren't here nearly long enough. Missing you..." Zachary Quinto, who plays Mr. Spock, also tweeted a link to a picture posted in memorial on Instagram, where he called Yelchin "one of the most open and intellectually curious people I have ever had the pleasure to know... wise beyond his years, and gone before his time..."

Stephen King called him a "crazily talented actor gone too soon," remembering Yelchin from one of his last roles in a 10-episode adaptation of King's "Mr. Mercedes". Yelchin will play a mentally deranged ice cream truck driver who's also an IT worker for a Geek Squad-like company named "Cyber Patrol".
Books

What Star Trek Owes To Robert Heinlein 180

HughPickens.com writes: As we come up on the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek, Manu Saudia, author of Trekonomics, has an interesting article on BoingBoing about how according to Gene Roddenberry himself, no author had more influence on The Original Star Trek than Robert Heinlein, and more specifically his juvenile novel Space Cadet. That book, published in 1948, is considered a classic. It is a bildungsroman, retelling the education of young Matt Dodson from Iowa, who joins the Space Patrol and becomes a man. (In a homage from Roddenberry, Star Trek's Captain James Tiberius Kirk is also from Iowa.) The Space Patrol is a prototype of Starfleet: it is a multiracial, multinational institution, entrusted with keeping the peace in the solar system. In Space Cadet, Heinlein portrayed a society where racism had been overcome. Not unlike Starfleet, the Space Patrol was supposed to be a force for good. According to Saudia, the hierarchical structure and naval ranks of the first Star Trek series (a reflection of Heinlein's Annapolis days) were geared to appeal to Heinlein's readers and demographics, all these starry-eyed kids who, like Roddenberry himself, had read Space Cadet and Have Spacesuit -- Will Travel. Nobody cared about your sex or the color of your skin as long as you were willing to sign up for the Space Patrol or Starship Troopers' Federal service. Where it gets a little weird is that Heinlein's Space Patrol controls nuclear warheads in orbit around Earth, and its mission is to nuke any country that has been tempted to go to war with its neighbors. This supranational body in charge of deterrence, enforcing peace and democracy on the home planet by the threat of annihilation, was an extrapolation of what could potentially be achieved if you combined the UN charter with mutually assured destruction. "The fat finger on the nuclear trigger makes it a very doubtful proposition," concludes Saudia. "The Space Patrol, autonomous and unaccountable, is the opposite of the kind democratic and open society championed by Star Trek."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Movie Written By Algorithm Turns Out To Be Hilarious and Intense (arstechnica.com) 160

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Ars is excited to be hosting this online debut of Sunspring, a short science fiction film that's not entirely what it seems. It's about three people living in a weird future, possibly on a space station, probably in a love triangle. You know it's the future because H (played with neurotic gravity by Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch) is wearing a shiny gold jacket, H2 (Elisabeth Gray) is playing with computers, and C (Humphrey Ker) announces that he has to "go to the skull" before sticking his face into a bunch of green lights. It sounds like your typical sci-fi B-movie, complete with an incoherent plot. Except Sunspring isn't the product of Hollywood hacks -- it was written entirely by an AI. To be specific, it was authored by a recurrent neural network called long short-term memory, or LSTM for short. At least, that's what we'd call it. The AI named itself Benjamin. The report goes on to mention that the movie was made by Oscar Sharp for the annual film festival Sci-Fi London. You can watch the short film (~10 min) on The Scene here.
Sci-Fi

William Gibson Announces New Sci-Fi Comic Book (arstechnica.com) 32

68-year-old science fiction author William Gibson just released a complicated new science fiction comic book, and this weekend Ars Technica proclaimed that "the results are grand". An anonymous reader shares their report: A father and son occupy the new White House as President and Vice President. We never meet dad, but his son -- an evil jerk by the name of Junior Henderson -- has been surgically altered to resemble his grandfather, because Junior is about travel to an alternate Earth in 1945 to take grandpa's place, with the intent of remaking that world more to his liking (and, presumably, to prevent whatever it was that laid waste to the one we start off in)...The world is in ruins. The White House relocated to the ominous-sounding National Emergency Federal District in Montana. They have technology that far outstrips our own...

"It's an alternate-history/cross-worlds story," Gibson writes... "And I wouldn't want to spoil too much of the frame, because that's an inherent part of our narrative. But I will say that one of the first verbal tags we had for the material was 'Band Of Brothers vs. Blackwater.'"

On his Twitter feed, Gibson is also applauding the news that Marvel and DC comics abandoned a two and a half year legal battle to enforce their trademark on the word "superhero" against a publisher in the U.K.
Books

Ask Slashdot: What Books Should An Aspiring Coder Read? 178

Earlier this month Bill Gates released his summer reading list, which included Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson and mathematician Jordan Ellenberg's book How Not to be Wrong. Now an anonymous Slashdot reader asks for your book recommendations. I've been trying to learn more about coding, but I need a break sometimes from technical documentation and O'Reilly books. Are there any good books that can provide some good general context and maybe teach me about our place in the history of technology or the state of the programming profession today?
In the U.S., Memorial Day is considered the "unofficial" first weekend of summer -- so what should be on this geek's summer reading list? Cracking the Coding Interview? Godel, Escher, Bach? This year's Nebula award winners? George Takei's The Internet Strikes Back? Leave your suggestions in the comments. What books should an aspiring coder be reading?
Hardware

LG's New Fingerprint Sensor Doesn't Need A Button (mashable.com) 65

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: LG Innotek has developed a fingerprint sensor that's placed under a glass surface instead of in a physical button, the company announced Sunday. The new sensor could lead to smartphones that you can unlock by placing your finger on the phone screen. The LG-owned electronics parts manufacturer achieved this by cutting out a 0.01-inch thick slot in the lower part of a smartphone's cover glass, and then inserting a very thin fingerprint sensor into it. In other words, the sensor is still under the cover glass, but the slot moves the sensor close enough to the surface to read a fingerprint. That way, the sensor is protected from water and scratches, and can be installed anywhere under the phone's glass surface.
Books

2016 Hugo Awards Shortlist Dominated By Rightwing Campaign (theguardian.com) 702

Dave Knott quotes a report from The Guardian: The annual Hugo awards for the best science fiction of the year have once again been riven by controversy, as a concerted campaign by a conservative lobby has dominated the ballot. The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies movements, which both separately campaign against a perceived bias towards liberal and leftwing science-fiction and fantasy authors, have managed to get the majority of their preferred nominations on to the final ballot, announced today. Since 2013, the Puppies factions have posted recommendations of works to combat the Hugo tendency to reward works that leaders of the movement deem "niche, academic, overtly to the left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun." The Rabid Puppies has been successful in getting its nominations on the shortlist again this year; out of 80 recommendations, 62 have received sufficient votes to make the ballot. At MidAmeriCon II this year, it was announced that more than 4,000 nominating ballots were cast for the 2016 Hugo awards, almost double the previous record of 2,122 ballots. This news was initially greeted with cautious optimism, but the shortlist shows that the Puppies and their supporters have redoubled their efforts to "game" the awards. The shortlist will be voted upon and the winners revealed at the forthcoming Worldcon in Kansas in August.
Sci-Fi

CIA: 10 Tips When Investigating a Flying Saucer (cia.gov) 54

coondoggie writes: You may not associate the Central Intelligence Agency with historical UFO investigations, but the agency did have a big role in such investigations many years ago. This week the agency posted an article called 'How to investigate a flying saucer." The release is part of a series of old documents dredged up as a nod to the return of The X-Files to TV this weekend.
Data Storage

Gene Roddenberry's Floppy Disks Recovered (pcworld.com) 277

Press2ToContinue writes: When Gene Roddenberry's computer died, it took with it the only method of accessing some 200 floppy disks of his unpublished work. To make matters worse, about 30 of the disks were damaged, with deep gouges in the magnetic surface. "Cobb said a few of the disks were formatted in DOS, but most of them were from an older operating system called CP/M. CP/M, or Control Program for Microcomputers, was a popular operating system of the 1970s and early 1980s that ultimately lost out to Microsoft's DOS. In the 1970s and 1980s it was the wild west of disk formats and track layouts, Cobb said. The DOS recoveries were easy once a drive was located, but the CP/M disks were far more work. " So what was actually on the disks? Lost episodes of Star Trek? The secret script for a new show? Or as Popular Science once speculated, a patent for a transporter?

Unfortunately, we still don't know. The Roddenberry estate hasn't commented yet, and the data recovery agency is bound by a confidentiality agreement.

Sci-Fi

What the Future Fiction of 2015 Revealed About Humans Today (vice.com) 179

An anonymous reader writes: There were a lot of stories told about the future in 2015. More than usual, maybe. Big budget blockbusters, hefty, idea-rich novels, and epic, dystopian video games—there was complex, stirring speculative fiction dripping from every media faucet we've got. And it spoke volumes about our anxieties about the present. In 2015, those anxieties are, apparently, concern the rise of science denial, climate change, total collapse.
Sci-Fi

Paramount and CBS File Lawsuit Against Crowdfunded, Indie Star Trek Movie (hollywoodreporter.com) 228

An anonymous reader writes: Back in August, an Indiegogo campaign raised $566,023 to produce Axanar, a Star Trek movie in development by an independent group of fans, who also happen to be film professionals. Now, unfortunately but predictably, Paramount and CBS have filed a lawsuit in California federal court claiming their intellectual property is being infringed upon. They are "demanding an injunction as well as damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement." The guy running the crowdfunded film is a lawyer, and he said, "We've certainly been prepared for this and we certainly will defend this lawsuit. There are a lot of issues surrounding a fan film. These fan films have been around for 30 years, and others have raised a lot of money." He said CBS/Paramount weren't willing to provide guidelines on what types of fan productions would be tolerated (unlike Lucasfilm with Star Wars), because they worry about setting precedent.
Movies

Sci-Fi Screenwriter and Author George Clayton Johnson Dead At 86 21

George Clayton Johnson, writer of the first-aired episode of Star Trek, and co-author of Logan's Run, died on Christmas Day of cancer, at the age of 86. Johnson was a prolific television writer, penning several episodes of The Twilight Zone, and writing for several series as well; he was also a nominee for both the Nebula and Hugo awards. His first-published story, Oceans 11, was turned into a movie, and then revived as a the kernel for a film franchise. Johnson wrote comics as well as screenplays, short stories, and novels; he was originally slated to appear at the upcoming San Diego Comic Fest.
Books

Andy Weir, Author of 'The Martian,' Is Writing a Novel Set On the Moon (huffingtonpost.com) 73

MarkWhittington writes: Readers wondering where Andy Weir, whose book The Martian featured a NASA astronaut stranded on Mars, will take us next need wonder no longer. According to a story in the Huffington Post, Weir's next novel will feature a woman living in a city on the moon. The novel is due to be out in late 2016 or early 2017.

Weir, naturally, is cagey about plot details. But it's likely he will pay as strict attention to the science in his new story as he did in The Martian. There's no word yet about possible movie deal, but considering the success of The Martian, it's a safe bet someone will want to bring Weir's lunar adventure to the big screen.

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