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The Movie Studios' Big 3D Scam
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's say-it-ain't-so-joe deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "There's a lot of things wrong with 3D movies. Avatar's 3D was well executed, but Alice's 3D was really bad, like all 2D-to-3D conversions. And yet, studios are reconverting 2D movies—including classics—into 3D to milk this fad. On top of that, the theaters are not prepared for 3D, with bad eyeglasses optics and dark projections. In this article, a top CG supervisor in a prominent visual effects studio in Los Angeles calls it as it is: it's all a big scam by the movie studios."

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Aussie Gamers Dress As Zombies To Raise R18+ Awareness
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's know-we'll-get-to-common-ground-somehow deptartment:
swandives writes "Australian gamers will dress as zombies to raise awareness about the lack of an R18+ rating for video games in the country. The protest will begin at Hyde Park Fountain on March 27 and lumber through Sydney, raising awareness of the need for a higher classification rating and hopefully causing a bit of havoc at the same time! Computerworld Australia has pictures of previous zombie protests in the lead-up to the event. Australia has a long history of lobbying for an R18+ games classification but, even after a decade, video games are banned from sale if they exceed the maximum M15+ classification. So far, the list of banned titles includes 7 Sins, Risen, Left 4 Dead 2 and Dark Sector. Others, like Alien vs. Predator, were initially banned but appealed the rating and are now MA15+."

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Cisco's New Router — Trouble For Hollywood
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's giving-pirates-a-bigger-pipe deptartment:
Shakrai writes "Time Magazine has published an article about the impact of Cisco's new CRS-3 router on the business practices of the MAFIAA. This new router was previously mentioned here on Slashdot and is expected to alleviate internet bottlenecks that currently impede steaming video-on-demand services. Some of the highlights from the article: 'The ability to download albums and films in a matter of seconds is a harbinger of deep trouble for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which would prefer to turn the clock back, way back. ... The hard fact is that the latest developments at Cisco, Google and elsewhere may do more than kill the DVD and CD and further upset entertainment-business models that have changed little since the Mesozoic Era. With superfast streaming and downloading, indie filmmakers will soon be able to effectively distribute feature films online and promote them using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. ... Meanwhile, both the MPAA and the RIAA continue to fight emerging technologies like peer-to-peer file sharing with costly court battles rather than figuring out how to appeal to the next generation of movie enthusiasts and still make a buck."

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Planck Mission Releases Images of Galactic Dust
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's break-out-the-galactic-pledge deptartment:
davecl writes "The Planck satellite has released its first new science images, showing the large scale filamentary structure of cold dust in our own galaxy. This release coincides with the completion of its first survey of the entire sky a couple of weeks ago. There's lots more work to be done, and more observations to be made, before results are ready on the Big Bang, but these images demonstrate Planck's performance and capability. More information is available on the Planck mission blog (which I maintain)."

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The Death of the US-Mexico Virtual Fence
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's virtual-fences-make-virtual-neighbors deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "A couple of years ago it was announced that the Boeing-built virtual fence at the US-Mexico border didn't work. Started in 2006, SBInet has been labeled a miserable failure and finally halted. A soon-to-be-released GAO report is expected to be overwhelmingly critical of SBInet, causing DHS Chief Janet Napolitano to announce yesterday that funding for the project has been frozen. It's sad that $1.4 billion had to be spent on the project before the discovery that this poorly conceived idea would not work."

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ACLU Sues Over Legality of "Targeted Killing" By Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's skynet-jokes-are-allowed-and-encouraged deptartment:
MacAndrew writes "The ACLU has sued the United States Government to enforce a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for 'the release of records relating to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles — commonly known as "drones" — for the purpose of targeting and killing individuals since September 11, 2001." (Complaint.) The information sought includes the legal basis for use of the drones, how the program is managed, and the number of civilian deaths in areas of operation such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. The ACLU further claims that 'Recent reports, including public statements from the director of national intelligence, indicate that US citizens have been placed on the list of targets who can be hunted and killed with drones.' Aside from one's view of the wisdom, effectiveness, and morality of these military operations, the inclusion of US citizens suggests that summary remote-control executions are becoming routine. Especially given the difficulty in locating and targeting individuals from aircraft, risks of human and machine error are obvious, and these likely increase as the robots become increasingly autonomous (please no Skynet jokes). This must give pause to anyone who's ever spent time coding or debugging or even driving certain willful late model automobiles, and the US government evidently doesn't want to discuss it."

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Scientists Demonstrate Mammalian Tissue Regeneration
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's wolverine-explained deptartment:
telomerewhythere writes "A quest that began over a decade ago with a chance observation has reached a milestone: the identification of a gene that may regulate regeneration in mammals. The absence of this single gene, called p21, confers a healing potential in mice long thought to have been lost through evolution and reserved for creatures like flatworms, sponges, and some species of salamander. 'Unlike typical mammals, which heal wounds by forming a scar, these mice begin by forming a blastema, a structure associated with rapid cell growth and de-differentiation as seen in amphibians. According to the Wistar researchers, the loss of p21 causes the cells of these mice to behave more like embryonic stem cells than adult mammalian cells, and their findings provide solid evidence to link tissue regeneration to the control of cell division. "Much like a newt that has lost a limb, these mice will replace missing or damaged tissue with healthy tissue that lacks any sign of scarring," said the project's lead scientist.' Here is the academic paper for those with PNAS access."

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Is Microsoft About To Declare Patent War On Linux?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's looking-for-an-excuse deptartment:
Glyn Moody writes "Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, has just published a piece called 'Apple v. HTC: A Step Along the Path of Addressing IP Rights in Smartphones.' In it, he notes that today's smartphones are all about the 'software stack,' not the 'radio stack,' and that 'as the IP situation settles in this space and licensing takes off, we will see the patent royalties applicable to the smartphone software stack settle at a level that reflects the increasing importance software has as a portion of the overall value of the device. In the interim, though, we should expect continued activity.' That 'activity' obviously means lawsuits against those producing those software stacks, and Gutierrez seems to be hinting strongly that Microsoft intends to join in. So where does that leave all the Linux-based stacks such as the increasingly-popular Android? Is this just a clever way for Microsoft to start a patent war on Linux without appearing to do so?"

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Toshiba Ends Incandescent Bulb Production After 120 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bright-ideas deptartment:
angry tapir writes "Toshiba has stopped production of mass-market incandescent light bulbs, putting an end to a 120-year manufacturing history of the products. The company, which is one of Japan's largest makers of lighting products, had planned to halt production next year but brought up the date by a year. It will now focus on more energy efficient products, including LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which contain a handful of white LEDs and draw a fraction of the power of incandescent bulbs."

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Facebook Attracting More Visitors Than Google.com
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 05:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bigger-they-are deptartment:
vikingpower writes "Internet research firm Hitwise just broke the news: last week, Facebook attracted 7.07 percent of the internet traffic in the USA, compared to 7.03 percent for Google. This is the first time google.com has been out of the top spot since it surpassed MySpace in 2007, and reflects a change in the way people use internet. They tend to privilege social interaction sites above 'passive' search engines." Facebook still has a ways to go if you include Google's non-search properties, which bring the total up to 11.03% of traffic.

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How Students Use Wikipedia
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 04:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's must-be-true deptartment:
crazybilly writes "First Monday recently released a study about how college students actually use Wikipedia. Not surprisingly, they found, 'Overall, college students use Wikipedia. But, they do so knowing its limitation. They use Wikipedia just as most of us do — because it is a quick way to get started and it has some, but not deep, credibility.' The study offers some initial data to help settle the often heated controversy over Wikipedia's usefulness as a research tool and how it affects students' research."

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The Problems With Video Game Voice Acting
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 03:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's who-called-in-de-fleet deptartment:
The Guardian's Games blog explores the tendency of modern video games to suffer from poor voice acting, a flaw made all the more glaring by increasingly precise and impressive graphics. Quoting: "Due to the interactive nature of games, actors can't be given a standard film script from which they're able to gauge the throughline of their character and a feel for the dramatic development of the narrative. Instead, lines of dialogue need to be isolated into chunks so they can be accessed and triggered within the game in line with the actions of each individual player. Consequently, the performer will usually be presented with a spreadsheet jammed with hundreds of single lines of dialogue, with little sense of context or interaction. ... But according to David Sobolov, one of the most experienced videogame voice actors in the world (just check out his website), the significant time pressures mean that close, in-depth direction is not always possible. 'Often, there's a need to record a great number of lines, so to keep the session moving, once we've established the tone of the character we're performing, the director will silently direct us using the spreadsheet on the screen by simply moving the cursor down the page to indicate if he/she liked what we did. Or they'll make up a code, like typing an 'x' to ask us to give them another take.' It sounds, in effect, like a sort of acting battery farm, a grinding, dehumanizing production line of disembodied phrases, delivered for hours on end. Hardly conducive to Oscar-winning performances."

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The Bloodhound Will Stay On the Ground At 1,000 mph
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 01:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's oscillation-overthruster deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that engineers designing the world's fastest car, the Bloodhound SSC, built to smash the world land speed record of 763 mph set by the Thrust SuperSonic Car in 1997, believe they have a solution to keep the vehicle flat on the ground at 1,000 mph after initial iterations of the car's aerodynamic shape produced dangerous amounts of lift at the vehicle's rear. John Piper, Bloodhound's technical director, said: 'We've had lift as high as 12 tonnes, and when you consider the car is six-and-a-half tonnes at its heaviest — that amount of lift is enough to make the car fly.' The design effort has been aided by project sponsor Intel, who brought immense computing power to bear on the lift problem. Before Intel's intervention, the design team had worked through 11 different 'architectures' in 18 months. The latest modelling work run on Intel's network investigated 55 configurations in eight weeks. By playing with the position and shape of key elements of the car's rear end, the design team found the best way to manage the shockwave passing around and under the vehicle as it goes supersonic. 'At Mach 1.3, we've close to zero lift, which is where we wanted to be,' says Piper. In late 2011, the Bloodhound, powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, will mount an assault on the land speed record, driving across a dried up lakebed known as Hakskeen Pan, in the Northern Cape of South Africa."

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Study Finds That Video Games Hinder Learning In Young Boys
Posted by News Fetcher on March 17 '10 at 12:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fun-activities-distract-from-studies,-film-at-11 deptartment:
dcollins writes "Researchers at Denison University in Ohio have shown that giving PlayStations to young boys leads to slower progress in reading and writing skills. Quoting: 'The study is the first controlled trial to look at the effects of playing video games on learning in young boys. That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' game habits, but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to receive a PlayStation or not ... Those with PlayStations also spent less time engaged in educational activities after school and showed less advancement in their reading and writing skills over time than the control group, according to tests taken by the kids. While the game-system owners didn't show significant behavioral problems, their teachers did report delays in learning academic skills, including writing and spelling.'"

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The State of Robotic Surgery
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '10 at 10:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's cut-on-dotted-line deptartment:
kkleiner writes "Robotic surgery is experiencing explosive growth in America's operating rooms, and the unquestioned industry leader in this field is the DaVinci robot, made by Intuitive Surgical. Only 14% of prostate surgeries in the US last year took place not using the DaVinci. Installations have grown from 210 systems seven years ago to 1,395 today. Although typically used for smaller surgeries like prostate removal and hysterectomies, the system was recently used for a kidney transplant, and more complicated procedures are expected in the future. The DaVinci is really just the first wave of robotic surgery as technology continues to push clumsy human hands out of the operating room." The article mentions some of the downsides, or perhaps the growing pains, of DaVinci robotic surgery: "According to a large study of Medicare patients, robotic prostate surgery led to fewer in-hospital complications, but had worse results for impotence and incontinence ..." Another company makes a simulator to train surgeons on the DaVinci. Embedded in the article is a 2009 TED talk on DaVinci by a surgeon.

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Scottish Wave Energy Plans Move Forward
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '10 at 07:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's brittania-waives-the-rules deptartment:
It's been a long time coming (2007, 2005, and 2002 respectively), but the <a>project to harness wave energy off the Scots coast</a> is finally coming together. Reader krou writes: "The BBC is reporting that ten sites on the seabed off Scotland in Pentland Firth and and around Orkney have been leased to energy companies with the hopes of generating wave and tidal energy. 'Six sites have been allocated for wave energy developments potentially generating 600 megawatts of power and four for tidal projects, also generating 600 MW.' The leases were awarded to SSE Renewables Developments, Aquamarine Power, ScottishPower Renewables, E.ON, Pelamis Wave Power, OpenHydro Site Developments, and Marine Current Turbines. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said that 'These waters have been described as the Saudi Arabia of marine power and the wave and tidal projects unveiled today — exceeding the initial 700MW target capacity — underline the rich natural resources of the waters off Scotland.'"

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Simpler "Hello World" Demonstrated In C
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '10 at 06:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's non-obfuscated deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Wondering where all that bloat comes from, causing even the classic 'Hello world' to weigh in at 11 KB? An MIT programmer decided to make a Linux C program so simple, she could explain every byte of the assembly. She found that gcc was including libc even when you don't ask for it. The blog shows how to compile a much simpler 'Hello world,' using no libraries at all. This takes me back to the days of programming bare-metal on DOS!"

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Jobcentre Apologizes For Anti-Jedi Discrimination
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '10 at 05:45 PM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's these-are-not-the-benefits-you-are-looking-for deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Chris Jarvis, 31, is described as a Star Wars fan and member of the International Church of Jediism. Said church's intergalactic hoodie uniform is at odds with the strict doctrine of the Department for Work and Pensions, which may require Jobcentre 'customers' to remove crash helmets or hoods for 'security reasons.' Following his ejection, Jarvis filled out a complaint form and within three days got a written apology from branch boss Wendy Flewers. She said: 'We are committed to provide a customer service which embraces diversity and respects customers' religion.'"

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Blind Soldier Uses Tongue To "See"
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '10 at 05:45 PM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's in-the-future-we'll-all-be-robots deptartment:
Zen found this story about a blind soldier using a lollypop-sized tongue sensor to 'see.' The system actually enables him to walk and read unaided. The guy says, "It feels like licking a nine-volt battery or like popping candy. The camera sends signals down onto the lollypop and onto your tongue, you can then determine what they mean and transfer it to shapes."

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C-Span Posts Full Archives Online
Posted by News Fetcher on March 16 '10 at 05:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's but-no-perl-libraries deptartment:
An anonymous reader sends word that C-Span has completed its project of making all of its footage available online. "The archives, at C-SpanVideo.org, cover 23 years of history and five presidential administrations and are sure to provide new fodder for pundits and politicians alike. The network will formally announce the completion of the C-Span Video Library on Wednesday. Having free online access to the more than 160,000 hours of C-Span footage is like being able to Google political history using the "I Feel Lucky" button every time,' said Rachel Maddow, the liberal MSNBC host."

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