By msmash from Slashdot's times,-they-are-changin' department
As Walt Disney, AT&T's WarnerMedia and Apple prepare to enter the crowded streaming-entertainment market, they are racing to stand out with eye-catching shows that cost as much for a season as a big-budget movie [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From a report: These new services are hoping their planned television epics will capture the cultural conversation, like "Game of Thrones" did. They are also hoping to convince subscribers that their offerings are worth paying for in a market dominated by Netflix, HBO and Hulu. The competition is prompting newcomers to shell out between $8 million and $15 million an episode, significantly more than what the average TV show used to cost. For a single season, after including marketing and other expenses, the total can easily exceed $150 million -- or roughly what it costs to put a new "Spider-Man" movie in theaters nationwide.
When Netflix began making "House of Cards" in 2013 at $4.5 million an episode, it looked like a costly bet. Now, Disney has built intergalactic-desert landscapes for the "Star Wars" spinoff "The Mandalorian," whose cost for an episode approaches $15 million, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon.com spent $250 million just for the rights to develop a "Lord of the Rings" series. Apple signed up "Aquaman" star Jason Momoa for its fantasy series "See," while Showtime has the videogame adaptation "Halo" and Warner Bros. prepares Frank Herbert's "Dune." With massive casts, exotic filming locations and copious special effects, budgets have ballooned to amounts once considered unfathomable for a TV show. One driving factor, executives say, is that high-profile TV shows are offered up next to theatrical films available to stream on the same service, so original programming can't risk looking like B-material next to the movies.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's food-for-thoughts department
An anonymous reader shares a report: In America, the freedom of movement comes with an asterisk: the obligation to drive. This truism has been echoed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has pronounced car ownership a "virtual necessity." The Court's pronouncement is telling. Yes, in a sense, America is car-dependent by choice -- but it is also car-dependent by law. As I detail in a forthcoming journal article, over the course of several generations lawmakers rewrote the rules of American life to conform to the interests of Big Oil, the auto barons, and the car-loving 1 percenters of the Roaring Twenties. They gave legal force to a mind-set -- let's call it automobile supremacy -- that kills 40,000 Americans a year and seriously injures more than 4 million more. Include all those harmed by emissions and climate change, and the damage is even greater. As a teenager growing up in the shadow of Detroit, I had no reason to feel this was unjust, much less encouraged by law. It is both.
It's no secret that American public policy throughout the 20th century endorsed the car -- for instance, by building a massive network of urban and interstate highways at public expense. Less well understood is how the legal framework governing American life enforces dependency on the automobile. To begin with, mundane road regulations embed automobile supremacy into federal, state, and local law. But inequities in traffic regulation are only the beginning. Land-use law, criminal law, torts, insurance, vehicle safety regulations, even the tax code -- all these sources of law provide rewards to cooperate with what has become the dominant transport mode, and punishment for those who defy it.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Natural historian, English broadcaster and 93-year-old national treasure David Attenborough has spoken. Whether you like his chosen topic of climate change or not, the naturalist has an effortless and coercive way with words. From a report: Speaking to a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee meeting in London on Tuesday morning, local time, Attenborough gave evidence on the radical action required to tackle the climate crisis. "We cannot be radical enough in dealing with the issues that face us at the moment," he said, the full talk detailed by The Guardian. "The question is: what is practically possible? How can we take the electorate with us in dealing with these things?" The UK has committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But that target, according to Attenborough, "is not the way of focusing on the problem." Attenborough did acknowledge the lively efforts young people had put in to "recognising that their world is the future."
"The most encouraging thing that I see, of course, is that the electors of tomorrow are already making themselves and their voices very, very clear," he said. "And that is a source of great comfort in a way, but also the justification, the reality, that these young people are recognising that their world is the future." Attenborough compared our attitudes toward climate change with the transformation of slavery. "There was a time in the 19th century when it was perfectly acceptable for civilised human beings to think that it was morally acceptable to actually own another human being for a slave. And somehow or other, in the space of 20 or 30 years, the public perception of that totally transformed."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department
Nintendo has confirmed the much-rumored Nintendo Switch Lite, revealing that the new slimmed down console -- available in gray, yellow, and turquoise -- will launch on September 20 for $199.99. From a report: The device, which first came to light last year, is $100 less expensive than its predecessor and, as such, it does lack a number of key features compared to its bigger brother. For example, the Nintendo Switch Lite only offers a single "handheld" game-play mode, compared to the additional "TV" and "tabletop" modes of the Nintendo Switch. While this raises questions about the use of "switch" in the device's name given that it doesn't actually switch between modes, it also means that compatible games are limited to those that support handheld mode in the Nintendo Switch Library. However, gamers will be able to buy separate Joy-Con controllers (and a device to charge them) to use wirelessly with other games that don't support handheld mode.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's medical-benefits department
nightcats writes: A German capitalist wants to promote everything from psychological research, applied clinical uses of psychedelics, and even peace in the Mideast, with the help of lab-grown magic mushrooms. "Today, with a net worth of roughly $400 million accrued through various enterprises, [Christian] Angermayer is one of the driving forces behind the movement to turn long-shunned psychoactive substances, like the psilocybin derived from so-called magic mushrooms, into approved medications for depression and other mental illnesses," reports Scientific American.
The strangest and most daring idea mentioned in the Scientific American piece by Meghana Keshavan relates to a bizarre project for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Angermayer, interested in expanding his web of psychedelics holdings, recently asked [Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a nonprofit focused on research and education around the substances] if he might invest in his nonprofit, MAPS -- particularly its efforts to legalize therapeutic use of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy," reports Scientific American. "Doblin demurred. MAPS is purely donation-based, and unlike Compass, intends to stay that way."
"But their talk shifted to one of the highest priority projects at the nonprofit: An exploration of psychedelics in conflict remediation. Along with researchers at Imperial College London, MAPS plans on bringing Israelis and Palestinians together to take ayahuasca and, working with negotiation experts, sift through their respective traumas. The idea is that finding common ground in their spiritual and mystical experiences might help coax political reconciliation between the warring factions."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: In a study published in Nature on July 3, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used an algorithm called Word2Vec sift through scientific papers for connections humans had missed. Their algorithm then spit out predictions for possible thermoelectric materials, which convert heat to energy and are used in many heating and cooling applications. The algorithm didn't know the definition of thermoelectric, though. It received no training in materials science. Using only word associations, the algorithm was able to provide candidates for future thermoelectric materials, some of which may be better than those we currently use.
To train the algorithm, the researchers assessed the language in 3.3 million abstracts related to material science, ending up with a vocabulary of about 500,000 words. They fed the abstracts to Word2vec, which used machine learning to analyze relationships between words. Using just the words found in scientific abstracts, the algorithm was able to understand concepts such as the periodic table and the chemical structure of molecules. The algorithm linked words that were found close together, creating vectors of related words that helped define concepts. In some cases, words were linked to thermoelectric concepts but had never been written about as thermoelectric in any abstract they surveyed. This gap in knowledge is hard to catch with a human eye, but easy for an algorithm to spot. After showing its capacity to predict future materials, researchers took their work back in time, virtually. They scrapped recent data and tested the algorithm on old papers, seeing if it could predict scientific discoveries before they happened. Once again, the algorithm worked. "In one experiment, researchers analyzed only papers published before 2009 and were able to predict one of the best modern-day thermoelectric materials four years before it was discovered in 2012," the report adds.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's read-the-fine-print department
T-Mobile U.S. is trying to force customers into arbitration in order to avoid a class-action lawsuit that accuses the phone carrier of violating federal law by selling its customers' real-time location data to third parties. Ars Technica reports: T-Mobile yesterday filed a motion to compel arbitration in U.S. District Court in Maryland, saying that customers agreed to terms and conditions that require disputes to be handled in arbitration instead of courts. The two plaintiffs named in the lawsuit did not opt out of the arbitration agreement, T-Mobile wrote. "As T-Mobile customers, each Plaintiff accepted T-Mobile's Terms and Conditions ('T&Cs')," T-Mobile wrote in a memorandum of law. "In so doing, they agreed to arbitrate on an individual basis any dispute related to T-Mobile's services and to waive their right to participate in a class action unless they timely opted out of the arbitration procedure outlined in the T&Cs. Neither Plaintiff elected to opt out. Accordingly, Plaintiffs have brought their grievances to the wrong forum and their claims should be dismissed in favor of arbitration." T-Mobile's terms and conditions say, "Thanks for choosing T-Mobile. Please read these Terms & Conditions ('T&Cs'), which contain important information about your relationship with T-Mobile, including mandatory arbitration of disputes between us, instead of class actions or jury trials. You will become bound by these provisions once you accept these T&Cs." Customers can opt out of arbitration by calling 1-866-323-4405 or online at www.T-Mobiledisputeresolution.com, but action must be taken within 30 days of activating a new phone line. The customers who opted out of T-Mobile arbitration could file a similar lawsuit, but that would result in a much smaller pool of customers who could seek damages.
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By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Lab-grown meat, first introduced to the world six years ago in the form of a $280,000 hamburger, could hit supermarket shelves at $10 a patty within two years, European start-ups told Reuters. From a report: Consumers concerned about climate change, animal welfare and their own health are fueling interest in so-called clean meat, with the number of associated business start-ups climbing from four at the end of 2016 to more than two dozen two years later, according to the Good Food Institute market researcher. Plant-based meat alternatives are also booming. Shares in Beyond Meat have more than tripled in price since its initial public offering in May. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods each sell 100% plant-based meat alternatives to retailers and fast food chains across the United States.
And cultured meat grown from animal cells could be next on the mainstream menu, with producers eyeing regulatory approval as they improve the technology and reduce costs. It was Dutch start-up Mosa Meat's co-founder Mark Post who created the first "cultured" beef hamburger in 2013 at a cost of 250,000 euros ($280,400), funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, but Mosa Meat and Spain's Biotech Meats say that production costs have fallen dramatically since then. "The burger was this expensive in 2013 because back then it was novel science and we were producing at very small scale. Once production is scaled up, we project the cost of producing a hamburger will be around 9 euros," a Mosa Meat spokeswoman told Reuters, adding that it could ultimately become even cheaper than a conventional hamburger.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-browser-updates department
Mozilla today launched Firefox 68 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. Firefox 68 includes a darker reader view, recommended extensions, IT Pro customizations, and more. From a report: As part of this release, Mozilla has curated a list of recommended extensions "that have been thoroughly reviewed for security, usability, and usefulness." You can find the list on the Get Add-ons page in the Firefox Add-ons Manager (about:addons). While Firefox has had dark mode for months, the Reader View's dark contrast only covered the text area. Now, when you change the contrast to dark, all sections of the site (including sidebars and toolbars) will be immersed in dark mode.
With Firefox 60, Mozilla introduced an enterprise version of the browser that employers can customize. This let IT professionals configure Firefox for their organization, either using Group Policy on Windows or a JSON file that works across Windows, Mac, and Linux. With Firefox 68, Mozilla has added more enterprise policies -- to configure or remove the new tab page, turn off search suggestions, and so on.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department
Ross Perot, a self-made billionaire, independent presidential candidate, and philanthropist, has died at the age of 89 after a five-month battle with leukemia. Perot rose to fame after founding his first company, Electronic Data Systems, in 1962 with just $1,000 in savings. More than two decades later, he launched information technology services provider Perot Systems, which was acquired in 2009 by Dell for $3.9 billion. CNBC reports on his political accomplishments: As a disruptive third-party candidate for president, Perot ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility and protectionism. He won nearly 19% of the vote in the 1992 race -- by far the biggest slice of the electorate for a third-party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party in the 1912 election. Perot stood out from the political crowd for his quirks as much as his business credentials and lack of experience in establishment politics. "I don't have any experience in running up a $4 trillion debt. I don't have any experience in gridlock government, where nobody takes responsibility for anything and everybody blames everybody else," he said in a 1992 presidential debate. The shifting of U.S. jobs to Mexico created a "giant sucking sound," he famously said during the campaign. Perot was also a bit of a pack rat, collecting everything from whimsical toys to priceless artifacts. Perot owned the only Magna Carta ever allowed to leave Great Britain, which he loaned to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and in 2007, sold it for $20 million.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's more-is-better,-right? department
There's HBO Go, HBO Now, and soon, there will be HBO Max. For WarnerMedia and parent company AT&T, the latter is most important, as it will become the subscription video service that they position against Netflix, Hulu, the upcoming Disney+, Apple's upcoming TV+, and a range of other paid video offerings. From a report: "Anchored with and inspired by the legacy of HBO's excellence and award-winning storytelling, the new service will be 'Maximized' with an extensive collection of exclusive original programming (Max Originals) and the best-of-the-best from WarnerMedia's enormous portfolio of beloved brands and libraries," the company wrote in a press release today. (The emphasis there is from WarnerMedia, of course.) So you'll get all the stuff you'd expect from having HBO -- TV series, on-demand movies, watching some primetime HBO shows live -- plus a huge serving of content from basically every other WarnerMedia property. More relevant to you is that WarnerMedia also confirmed that HBO Max will have exclusive streaming rights to every episode of Friends when it launches in spring 2020; that'll be after the hugely popular sitcom departs Netflix. Friends is set to leave in 2019, so there might be a gap where the show disappears from streaming altogether until HBO Max's debut.Read Replies (0)