Space

Could Giant Alien Structures Be Dimming a Far Away Star? (sciencemag.org) 364

sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: Astronomers and alien life enthusiasts alike are buzzing over the sudden dimming of an otherwise unremarkable star 1300 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. KIC 8462852 or "Tabby's star" has dimmed like this several times before, prompting some researchers to suggest that the megastructures of an advanced alien civilization might be blocking its light. And now -- based on new data from numerous telescopes -- it's doing it again. "This is the first clear dip we have seen since [2013], and the first we have ever caught in real time," says Jason Wright, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University in State College. If they can rope in more telescopes, astronomers hope to gather enough data to finally figure out what's going on. "This could be the first of several dips about to come," says astronomer David Kipping of Columbia University. "Many observers will be closely watching." KIC 8462852 was first noticed to be dipping in brightness at seemingly random intervals between 2011 and 2013 by NASA's Kepler telescope. Kepler, launched to observe the stellar dimmings caused when an exoplanet passes in front of its star, revealed that the dimming of Tabby's star was much more erratic than a typical planetary transit. It was also more extreme, with its brightness sometimes dropping by as much as 20%. This was not the passage of a small circular planet, but of something much larger and more irregular.
Movies

Resident Evil Getting Rebooted Into a Six-Film Franchise (variety.com) 190

Martin Moszkowicz, chairman of the board at Constantin Film, confirmed to Variety at the Cannes Film Festival that the "Resident Evil" movie franchise is getting rebooted into a six-film franchise. From the report: The franchise was set to end with this year's "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter," which grossed $312 million worldwide after its January release, including an eye-popping $160 million in China alone. Sony helped sow the seeds of success by securing a release for "Resident Evil: Afterlife" and "Resident Evil: Extinction" in China. Based on the Capcom video game, the series launched in 2002 with Paul W.S. Anderson directing, and Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Bernd Eichinger, and Samuel Hadida producing the first of a six-movie series. The "Resident Evil" movie franchise has earned $1.2 billion worldwide to date, making it Europe's most successful independent horror-genre movie franchise in history and the highest-grossing film series to be based on a video game.
Movies

Movie Piracy Blackmail Plot Fails In India, Six Arrested (torrentfreak.com) 47

An anonymous reader quote's TorrentFreak's report about "a plot against Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, a record-breaking movie taking India by storm." Someone posing as a "film anti-piracy activist" told the company that a pirated copy of the movie had been obtained and if a ransom wasn't paid, a leak onto the Internet would be inevitable... Following the call Arka Mediaworks immediately involved the police, who advised the company to engage the 'kidnappers' in dialog to obtain proof that they had the movie in question. That was delivered in the form of a high-definition sample of the movie, a move that was to mark the beginning of the end for those attempting to extort Arka Mediaworks. It's unclear whether those who sent the sample were aware, but the movie was forensically or otherwise marked, something which allowed police and investigators to track the copy back to a specific theater... shortly after the owner of the theater was arrested by police. This was followed by the arrest of the person who allegedly called Arka Mediaworks with the ransom demand. From there, police were led to other co-conspirators. In total, six arrests were made, with two of the men already known to police.
TorrentFreak calls the ransoming of movies "a worrying trend in 2017" that's "damaging the image of piracy further, if that was even possible."
EU

EU Passes 'Content Portability' Rules Banning Geofencing (torrentfreak.com) 119

Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo writes: The European Parliament has passed draft rules mandating 'content portability', i.e. the ability to take your purchased content and services across borders within the EU. Freedom of movement rules, which allow EU citizens to live and work anywhere in the EU, require that the individual is able to take their life with them -- family, property, and services. Under the new rules, someone who pays for Netflix or BBC iPlayer and then moves to another EU country will retain access to those services and the same content they had previously. Separately, rules to prevent geofencing of content within the EU entirely are also moving forward.
Space

Scientists Claim 'Cold Spot' In Space Could Offer Evidence of a Parallel Universe (inhabitat.com) 124

New submitter LCooke writes: A international research team led by the University of Durham thinks a mysterious cold spot in the universe could offer evidence of a parallel universe. The cold spot could have resulted after our universe collided with another. Physicist Tom Shanks said, [...] "the cold spot might be taken as the first evidence for the multiverse -- and billions of other universes may exist like our own." From the report via Inhabitat: "NASA first discovered the baffling cold spot in 2004. The cold spot is 1.8 billion light years across and, as you may have guessed, colder than what surrounds it in the universe. Scientists thought perhaps it was colder because it had 10,000 less galaxies than other regions of similar size. They even thought perhaps the cold spot was just a trick of the light. But now an international team of researchers think perhaps the cold spot could actually offer evidence for the concept of a multiverse. The Guardian explains an infinite number of universes make up a multiverse; each having its own reality different from ours. These scientists say they've ruled out the last-ditch optical illusion idea. Instead, they think our universe may have collided with another in what News.com.au described as something like a car crash; the impact could have pushed energy away from an area of space to result in the cold spot." The study has been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Television

Families Will Spend More Than a Third of Summer Staring At Screens (betanews.com) 103

Reader BrianFagioli writes: A new survey reveals that families will spend more than a third of the 2017 summer season with their eyes glued to some sort of screen. To make matters worse, parents say that while they would prefer to do more activities away from devices, outings are far too expensive. A typical weekend family getaway with all things factored in, could average $2,328. Sadly, the overuse of "screens" are negatively impacting the health and behavior of children too. "With warmer weather finally arriving in most parts of the country and the school year winding down to a close, Groupon asked 1,000 U.S. parents how much time their families plan to spend on their electronic devices this summer -- and the results were staggering. The average American family will spend an average of 35 days of their summer, which is the equivalent of more than one-third, using their electronic devices. The survey, which was conducted for Groupon's Funtacular Fun Fest, found that the average child will watch an estimated 60 movies and play 150 hours of video games over the summer months," says Groupon.
Sci-Fi

Star Trek Discovery's First Trailer Brings a New Ship, New Characters, and Old Conflicts (cbs.com) 507

nyquil superstar writes: Hey all, the Star Trek: Discovery trailer is out. Looks entertaining! From a report via Vox: "The trailer features Sonequa Martin-Green, fresh from The Walking Dead, as Michael Burnham, a first officer promoted unexpectedly to the position of captain by her mentor, Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). Set 10 years before the original Star Trek series (and 90 years after the franchise's only other prequel, Star Trek: Enterprise), the new series follows the starship Discovery as Burnham learns to become a captain. But she soon finds her abilities tested by a host of challenges that will be familiar to all lovers of the classic sci-fi universe: new worlds to explore and alliances to forge, hostile Klingons, and the difficulty of adhering to the Federation's peacekeeping mission."
Google

Google Home Gets Notifications, Hands-Free Calling, a TV Interface and More (theverge.com) 37

Google has announced several news features for Google Home to help it better compete against the Amazon Echo. The six new features coming to Google Home include: notifications, free calling to phones in the U.S. and Canada, calendar and reminders, more streaming services, a TV interface, and new locations. The Verge details each feature in its report: Notifications: Google calls this feature "proactive assistance." Essentially, Google Home will do its best to alert owners to things they need to know, like reminders, traffic alerts, or flight delays.
Free Calling To Phones In U.S. and Canada: Google is one-upping Amazon by letting the Home dial out to actual landline and mobile phones. Whenever this feature rolls out, you'll be able to ask the Home to call anyone on your contacts list, and it'll dial out to them on a private number.
Calendar and Reminders: You can finally set reminders and calendar entries. Finally.
More Streaming Services: Google Home has already been able to control a handful of music and video services, but it's about to get a bunch of major missing names. For music, that includes Spotify's free tier, Deezer, and SoundCloud. For video, it includes HBO Now and Hulu. On top of that, Home is also getting the ability to stream anything over Bluetooth.
A TV Interface: Sometimes you actually want to see what's going on, so Google's making a TV interface for the Google Home. You'll soon be able to ask the Home to send information to your TV, from basics like the weather and your calendar, to information it's looking up like nearby restaurants or YouTube videos you might want to watch.
New Locations: The Home is going to expand to five new countries this summer: Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan.

Piracy

Popular Torrent Site ExtraTorrent Permanently Shuts Down (torrentfreak.com) 169

ExtraTorrent, the world's second largest torrent index, on Wednesday said it is permanently shutting its doors. The site, which launched in 2006, had steadily climbed the ranks in the piracy world to become the second most popular torrent site, observing millions of daily views. TorrentFreak adds: "ExtraTorrent with all mirrors goes offline.. We permanently erase all data. Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones. Thx to all ET supporters and torrent community. ET was a place to beâ¦." TorrentFreak reached out to ExtraTorrent operator SaM who confirmed that this is indeed the end of the road for the site. "It's time we say goodbye," he said, without providing more details. [...] ExtraTorrent is the latest in a series of BitTorrent giants to fall in recent months. Previously, sites including KickassTorrents, Torrentz.eu, TorrentHound and What.cd went offline.
AI

Amazon Targets Cord Cutters With First-Ever Integrated Fire TV Sets (variety.com) 80

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon is going to start shipping TV sets powered by the company's own smart TV operating system soon: The company began listing Element's Fire TV Edition TV sets for pre-order Tuesday, and is expected to start shipping them next month, when the devices will also reach other retailers. Amazon and Element as well as Element's sister company Westinghouse first announced Fire TV-based TV sets at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year. Now, the companies shared a number of additional details, including pricing. Element's 43-inch Fire TV Edition will retail for $449. A 50-inch model and a 55-inch model will cost $549 and $649, respectively, and a $65-inch model will retail for $899. Each of these devices support 4K video, and pack a quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage for apps -- beefed-up specs that won't just guarantee smooth app performance and streaming, according to Amazon's VP of Smart TVs Sandeep Gupta, but are also meant to future-proof the device. "It will have a longer life cycle than a regular smart TV," he told Variety during a recent interview. The interface of the TV is virtually identical to that of a Fire TV box or stick, save for a few differences. There are extra tiles that let users switch their input devices to access game consoles, Blu-ray players and cable boxes.
Movies

Our Obsession With Trailers Is Making Movies Worse (cnet.com) 206

An anonymous reader shares an article: Our increasing obsession with trailers is changing how we watch movies. We're becoming audiences afraid of surprise, audiences that would rather watch movies we're certain we'll like than risk watching films that surprise us into love. In some cases, this fixation is even lowering the quality of movies themselves by encouraging bad filmmaking habits. The most extreme example happened when Warner Bros released such a successful trailer for 'Suicide Squad' it brought on the company that cut it to edit the whole film -- dropping the director's original cut altogether. [...] Thanks to trailers' easy accessibility on YouTube and those shot-by-shot breakdowns that quickly appear online once trailers drop, anyone interested in a given flick can pore over all the available footage for hours -- even if that leads to major spoilers for them and everyone they share it with.
Music

MP3 Is Not Dead, It's Finally Free (marco.org) 415

The commentary around IIS Fraunhofer and Technicolor terminating their MP3 licensing program for certain MP3 related patents and software has been amusing. While some are interpreting this development as the demise of the MP3 format, others are cheering about MP3s finally being free. Developer and commentator Marco Arment tries to prevail sense: MP3 is no less alive now than it was last month or will be next year -- the last known MP3 patents have simply expired. So while there's a debate to be had -- in a moment -- about whether MP3 should still be used today, Fraunhofer's announcement has nothing to do with that, and is simply the ending of its patent-licensing program (because the patents have all expired) and a suggestion that we move to a newer, still-patented format. MP3 is supported by everything, everywhere, and is now patent-free. There has never been another audio format as widely supported as MP3, it's good enough for almost anything, and now, over twenty years since it took the world by storm, it's finally free.
Movies

Disney Chief Bob Iger Says Hackers Claim To Have Stolen Upcoming Movie (hollywoodreporter.com) 121

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Hollywood Reporter: Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed Monday that hackers claiming to have access to a Disney movie threatened to release it unless the studio paid a ransom. Iger didn't disclose the name of the film, but said Disney is refusing to pay. The studio is working with federal investigators. Iger's comments came during a town hall meeting with ABC employees in New York City, according to multiple sources. The Disney chief said the hackers demanded that a huge sum be paid in Bitcoin. They said they would release five minutes of the film at first, and then in 20-minute chunks until their financial demands are met. While movie piracy has long been a scourge, ransoms appear to be a new twist. UPDATE: According to Deadline, the movie in question appears to be the upcoming film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Disney appears to be working with the FBI and will not pay the ransom.
Microsoft

Microsoft Job Posting Hints At VR MMO (roadtovr.com) 18

sqorbit writes: Microsoft has posted a job opening for a Senior Design Manager for a mixed-reality team. The posting states they are "looking to build a massively social gaming and entertainment experience for both the PC and the console." It looks like they are targeting both PC and Xbox Platforms for a VR socially geared development project. The requirements: "The Xbox Mixed Reality team is looking for an experienced senior design manager with deep expertise and passion around crafting immersive social systems and experiences. [...] Here is an opportunity to join a fun and collaborative team that experiments with the latest toys, works with state of the art tech, and crafts the future of entertainment." Road to VR notes that the company says they're looking for someone who has "Shipped at least 3 AAA consumer entertainment products" and has 7+ years using design tools; bonus points if they've got experience in "NUI, VR, AR, game design, art direction, and video storytelling."
Android

Netflix Says No To Unlocked Android Smartphones (androidpolice.com) 255

An anonymous reader writes: Last week Netflix app started showing up as "incompatible" on the Play Store for rooted and unlocked Android devices. However, the app itself continued to work fine, leading some to think it could have been an accident. However, Netflix has now confirmed to blog AndroidPolice that blocking modified devices from downloading the app was intentional. This is the full statement: "With our latest 5.0 release, we now fully rely on the Widevine DRM provided by Google; therefore, many devices that are not Google-certified or have been altered will no longer work with our latest app and those users will no longer see the Netflix app in the Play Store."
Communications

Our Obsession With Trailers Is Making Movies Worse (cnet.com) 28

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via CNET: Our increasing obsession with trailers is changing how we watch movies. We're becoming audiences afraid of surprise, audiences that would rather watch movies we're certain we'll like than risk watching films that surprise us into love. In some cases, this fixation is even lowering the quality of movies themselves by encouraging bad filmmaking habits. The most extreme example happened when Warner Bros. released such a successful trailer for 'Suicide Squad' it brought on the company that cut it to edit the whole film -- dropping the director's original cut altogether. [...] Thanks to trailers' easy accessibility on YouTube and those shot-by-shot breakdowns that quickly appear online once trailers drop, anyone interested in a given flick can pore over all the available footage for hours -- even if that leads to major spoilers for them and everyone they share it with.
Television

Streaming Services Will Pay Writers More Under New Writers Guild Pact (deadline.com) 64

An anonymous reader quotes Deadline: Netflix, Amazon and Hulu will be paying a lot more in writers' residuals under the new WGA film and TV contract. New details, outlined by WGA West, reveal that high-budget shows they run will generate anywhere between $3,448-$34,637 more residuals per episode over the life of the three-year contract than they did under the old contract, depending on the platform and the length of the show. Essentially, it's the same deal the Director's Guild of America got in their negotiations last December. The WGA contract, which has been unanimously approved by the WGA West board and the WGA East council, now goes to the guilds' members for final ratification. Voting begins Friday and concludes May 24.
For every half-hour of a high-budget show, Netflix will be paying $19,058 more in residuals than it did under the old contract.
Music

Why Amanda Palmer Left the Music 'Industry' For Crowdfunding (digitaltrends.com) 105

Amanda Palmer says abandoning the commercial music industry for a subscription model made it possible to take more chances, like a new album with psychedelia artist Edward Ka-Spel. An anonymous reader quotes Digital Trends: I spent my whole life in this music industry trying to figure out how to sell what I'm making. But I don't "sell" anymore -- I just have this magical net of supporters who are supporting me whether I choose to make a record with Edward or make a record with my dad, which I did last year... [S]ometimes, you absolutely want to do ridiculous, noncommercial stuff. The Patreon patrons have been a godsend in that sense. I've had to continually re-educate myself that this isn't about selling music. It's about making music. I got so used to those two being inseparable that it took a lot of psychological work to divorce the processes.
She says her supporters "haven't just promised; they've put down their credit card." And Neil Gaiman, her husband, also strongly endorses the freedom to experiment. "If, as an artist, you ever listen to your fans' demands, and their demands are always insisting you make the last thing they liked again, you would go nowhere."
Television

HBO's 'Silicon Valley' Joins The Push For A Decentralized Web (ieee.org) 115

Tekla Perry writes: HBO's fictional Silicon Valley character Richard Hendricks sets out to reinvent the Internet into something decentralized. ["What if we used all those phones to build a massive network...we could build a completely decentralized version of our current Internet with no firewalls, no tolls, no government regulation, no spying. Information would be totally free in every sense of the word."] That sound a lot like what Brewster Kahle, Tim Berners-Lee, and Vint Cerf have been calling the decentralized web. Kahle tells IEEE Spectrum about how closely HBO's vision matches his own, and why he's happy to have this light shined on the movement.
In 2015 Kahle pointed out the current web isn't private. "People, corporations, countries can spy on what you are reading. And they do." But in a decentralized web, "the bits will be distributed -- across the net -- so no one can track the readers of a site from a single point or connection."

He tells IEEE Spectrum that though the idea is hard to execute, a lot of people are already working on it. "I recently talked to a couple of engineers working for Mozilla, and brought up the idea of decentralizing the web. They said, 'Oh, we have a group working on that, are you thinking about that as well?'"
Movies

Going After Netflix, Cannes Bans Streaming-Only Movies From Competition Slots (slate.com) 136

An anonymous reader writes: The Cannes Film Festival is taking a stand against Netflix. Responding to a rumor that the streaming service's Okja, directed by Bong Joon Ho, and The Meyerowitz Stories, directed by Noah Baumbach, would be excluded from awards consideration after being included in the Competition lineup, the festival released a statement clarifying and adjusting its positioning going forward. The short version: From now on, if you want to compete at Cannes, your movie had better be released in French movie theaters -- not just online. There has long been a point of tension between Cannes and Netflix, to the extent where the inclusion of Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories came as a bit of a surprise. Netflix films had previously been snubbed and festival officials had advocated for "discouraging" the streaming service's online-first approach to release. The two movies included in Cannes' lineup this year are slated for theatrical bows stateside, but according to the festival's official statement, "no agreement has been reached" to get the moves into French cinemas and the effort to reach one was made "in vain." However, the statement does clarify that this rule goes into effect next year, so Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories will remain in competition and eligible for the Palme d'Or.

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