The Media

How a Scientist Fooled Millions With Bizarre Chocolate Diet Claims 241

Posted by timothy
from the tongue-in-cheek-sandwich-diet-works-too dept.
__roo writes: Did you know chocolate helps you lose weight? You can read all about this great news for chocoholics in the Daily Star, Daily Express, Irish Examiner, and TV shows in Texas and Australia, and even the front page of Bild, Europe's largest daily newspaper. The problem is that it's not true. A researcher who previously worked with Science to do a sting operation on fee-charging open access journals ran a real—but obviously flawed—study rigged to generate false positives, paid €600 to get it published in a fee-charging open access journal, set up a website for a fake institute, and issued press releases to feed the ever-hungry pool of nutrition journalists. The doctor who ran the trial had the idea to use chocolate, because it's a favorite of the "whole food" fanatics. "Bitter chocolate tastes bad, therefore it must be good for you. It's like a religion."
Businesses

Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable 187

Posted by timothy
from the shaky-nervous-laughter dept.
mpicpp writes with word that Charter Communications has struck a $56 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable; if the deal goes through (which the article says is likely, according to Macquarie Research analyst Amy Yong -- at least more likely than the recently scotched Comcast-Time Warner deal), it would mean that the second- and third-largest U.S. cable companies would share a letterhead, and more than 20 percent of the country's ISP market. From the linked Reuters article: The Federal Communications Commission immediately served notice that it would closely scrutinize the deal, focusing not only on absence of harm but benefits to the public. Charter, in which Malone-chaired Liberty Broadband Corp owns about 26 percent, is offering about $195.71 in cash-and-stock for each Time Warner Cable share, based on Charter's closing price on May 20. Including debt, the deal values Time Warner Cable at $78.7 billion. A key area of regulatory concern would be competition in broadband Internet.
EU

Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment 742

Posted by samzenpus
from the broker-than-broke dept.
jones_supa writes: Greece, the country which has been in extreme financial trouble and high debt for years, cannot make debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month, unless it achieves a deal with creditors. 'The four installments for the IMF in June are €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion). This money will not be given and is not there to be given,' Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told Greek Mega TV's weekend show. Shut out of bond markets and with bailout aid locked, cash-strapped Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions. With its future as a member of the 19-nation eurozone potentially at stake, a second government minister accused its international lenders of subjecting it to slow and calculated torture.
Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 102

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Television

Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television 243

Posted by Soulskill
from the team-shifted-to-smellovision-development dept.
Apple has been rumored to be developing their own line of HDTVs for years, but a new report from the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) says while those plans did exist, they've been abandoned. Apple began pondering the idea of jumping into the television market roughly a decade ago, as iTunes started hosting video content. The AppleTV made a foray into living rooms in 2007, and other devices reached the prototype stage. The company continued to do research and work on their ideas, but eventually gave up more than a year ago. Apple had searched for breakthrough features to justify building an Apple-branded television set, those people said. In addition to an ultra-high-definition display, Apple considered adding sensor-equipped cameras so viewers could make video calls through the set, they said. Ultimately, though, Apple executives didn't consider any of those features compelling enough to enter the highly competitive television market, led by Samsung Electronics Co. Apple typically likes to enter a new product area with innovative technology and easier-to-use software.
Firefox

First Smart TVs Powered By Firefox OS On Sale In Europe, Worldwide Soon 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The first smart TVs powered by Firefox OS have gone on sale in Europe. Panasonic's line of Viera smart TVs includes six that are powered by Firefox OS — CR850, CR730, CX800, CX750, CX700 and CX680 — including their first curved LED LCD TV. The full global launch of the TVs is expected “in the coming months.” From the Mozilla blog: "We’re happy to partner with Panasonic to bring the first Smart TVs powered by Firefox OS to the world,” said Andreas Gal, Mozilla CTO. “With Firefox and Firefox OS powered devices, users can enjoy a custom and connected Web experience and take their favorite content (apps, videos, photos, websites) across devices without being locked into one proprietary ecosystem or brand.”
Television

Harry Shearer Walks Away From "The Simpsons," and $14 Million 214

Posted by timothy
from the folding-up-money dept.
Actor Harry Shearer, perhaps best known as the voice of several characters on The Simpsons, including that of Montgomery Burns, will be leaving the show's cast, according to CNN. Showrunner Al Jean said Shearer was "offered the same deal as the rest of the cast, but turned it down." ... Shearer is not just walking away from Springfield, but also a large sum of money. The actor was offered a guaranteed $14 million for two years of work, according to someone with direct knowledge of the matter. The proposed deal also allowed for him to do other projects if he wished." That last part, though, seems to be in dispute, and central to Shearer's decision to leave; Shearer tweeted that it's because he "wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work."
Piracy

Film Consortium Urges ISPs To Dump Ineffective "Six Strikes" Policy For Pirates 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the pluggin-the-sieve dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Internet Security Task Force, a group of businesses working to protect content creators and consumers from the negative effects of piracy, has called for an end to the Copyright Alert System, saying the anti-piracy initiative is not only ineffective but actually makes things worse. The group suggest that it be replaced with a new system based on Canada's Copyright Modernization Act. Mark Gill, ISTF chairman and President of member company Millennium films, says "We've always known the Copyright Alert System was ineffective, as it allows people to steal six movies from us before they get an educational leaflet. But now we have the data to prove that it's a sham." The Copyright Alert System (CAS) is set to expire early July.
Security

'Breaking Bad' Crypto Ransomware Targets Australian Users 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-am-the-one-who-hacks dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new strain of the Trojan.Cryptolocker.S targeting Australia is using the branding of popular TV crime drama 'Breaking Bad' to theme its extortion demands. After encrypting all the files on the victim's computer, the ransomware presents a message that uses a logo and character quotes from the show, in addition to a YouTube video from the game Grand Theft Auto V, thought to be a tribute to Breaking Bad.
Businesses

Internet Customers Surpass Cable Subscribers At Comcast 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the binge-watching dept.
mpicpp notes that for the first time, the country's largest cable provider has more internet subscribers than cable subscribers. The Internet is taking over television. That shift is occurring at Comcast, where the number of people who subscribe to the company's Internet service surpassed its total video subscribers for the first time during the second quarter this year. Announced in an earnings call on Monday, the development signals a major turning point in the technological evolution sweeping across the media business, as the Internet becomes the gateway for information and entertainment. Comcast, the country's largest cable operator, abandoned its $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable last month after the deal drew regulatory scrutiny regarding concerns that the combined company would have too much control over the Internet. Comcast is already the country's largest broadband provider, with more than 22 million high-speed Internet customers. Brian L. Roberts, Comcast's chief executive, said in the call that the company was disappointed about the collapse of the deal but had moved on. He said that Comcast's top priorities now were to advance its existing business and improve its poorly rated customer service.
Sci-Fi

Actress Grace Lee Whitney, Star Trek's Yeoman Janice Rand, Has Died 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
SternisheFan writes: Grace Lee Whitney, the actress who played Yeoman Janice Rand on "Star Trek: The Original Series," reportedly died Friday in her home in Coarsegold, California. No cause of death has been reported. She was 85. The versatile actress and vocalist was born Mary Ann Chase in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1930. She was adopted by the Whitney family, and as a teenager, began her career in entertainment as a singer and dancer. She eventually became interested in acting and in 1966, clinched a role as Yeoman Janice Rand, a personal assistant to William Shatner's Captain James T. Kirk in the first season of the original "Star Trek" TV series.
The Internet

Comcast Brings Fiber To City That It Sued 7 Years Ago To Stop Fiber Rollout 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the latest update in Comcast's "if you can't beat them, join them" fiber plan. In April 2008, Comcast sued the Chattanooga Electric Power Board (EPB) to prevent it from building a fiber network to serve residents who were getting slow speeds from the incumbent cable provider. Comcast claimed that EPB illegally subsidized the buildout with ratepayer funds, but it quickly lost in court, and EPB built its fiber network and began offering Internet, TV, and phone service. After EPB launched in 2009, incumbents Comcast and AT&T finally started upgrading their services, EPB officials told Ars when we interviewed them in 2013. But not until this year has Comcast had an Internet offering that can match or beat EPB's $70 gigabit service. Comcast announced its 2Gbps fiber-to-the-home service on April 2, launching first in Atlanta, then in cities in Florida and California, and now in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Displays

Half-Life 2 Writer on VR Games: We're At Pong Level, Only Scratching the Surface 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-wait-until-we-get-to-pitfall-level-VR dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Valve's Chet Faliszek has been in the video game industry for a long time, and his writing has been instrumental for games like Half-life 2, Portal, and Left 4 Dead. Valve is now developing a virtual reality headset, and Faliszek was on hand at a VR-centric conference where he spoke about how the technology is coming along. He said, "None of us know what the hell we are doing. We're still just scratching the surface of VR. We still haven't found out what VR is, and that's fine. We've been making movies in pretty much the same way for 100 years, TV for 60 years and videogames for 40. VR has only really been [in development] for about a year, so we're at Pong level." One of the obstacles holding VR devices back right now is getting the hardware up to snuff. Faliszek says, "There's one thing you can't do and that's make people sick. It has to run at 90 frames per second. Any lower and people feel sick. Telling people they will be ok 'Once you get your VR legs' is a wholly wrong idea. If people need to get used to it then that's failure."
Businesses

ATT, DirecTV Mega-Merger May Go Through 82

Posted by timothy
from the so-long-as-the-destruction-is-creative dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Hot on the heels of Comcast's failed attempt to swallow up Time Warner Cable, AT&T's pursuit of satellite provider DirecTV is plowing forward. What would be the result of a wireline and cellular mega-monopoly buying one of only two subscription satellite TV providers? Has to be worse than a Comcast/TWC marriage ... at least there, the territories and services offered didn't overlap at all, but AT&T offers voice, data, and television in many markets already. Adding satellite would stifle competition for television services (and to a lesser extent, because satellite is only best suited for rural installations, data).
Television

ESPN Sues Verizon To Stop New Sports-Free TV Bundles 329

Posted by samzenpus
from the sports-or-nothing dept.
Mr D from 63 writes: ESPN isn't a fan of Verizon's new way of offering cable channels under its Fios TV service — they're now suing Verizon for it. The lawsuit comes after Verizon unveiled new bundles that allow customers to choose specific packages of channels that can be swapped every 30 days. ESPN claims this offer is not in compliance with their agreements with Verizon. In the U.S., ESPN depends heavily on viewership during the football season, then basketball. "ESPN is at the forefront of embracing innovative ways to deliver high-quality content and value to consumers on multiple platforms, but that must be done in compliance with our agreements," said an ESPN spokeswoman in a statement. "We simply ask that Verizon abide by the terms of our contracts."
Television

Conde Nast To Announce VR Series 12

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-real-than-real dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Lifestyle and fashion publishing giant Conde Nast is planning to move into virtual reality in an effort to trial new marketing and advertising streams to attract digital consumers. The privately-owned company is expected to announce two new virtual reality series hosted by its TV and film division, Conde Nast Entertainment (CNE), at the Newfronts advertising and digital content showcase in New York tomorrow. The entertainment firm is not revealing much information on the shows that it is producing alongside virtual reality group Jaunt VR. However, it is thought that the series will follow a storytelling narrative – Conde Nast becoming one of the first publishing houses to use the technology in this format. The series will be aired on CNE's The Scene, a digital platform launched in 2014 to showcase video content from Conde Nast publications as well as media partners including BuzzFeed, Forbes, Variety and ABC News.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: What Are the Most Stable Smartphones These Days? 484

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-dad's-flip-phone-is-pretty-stable dept.
janimal writes: The iPhone used to be the smartphone that "just works." Ever since the 4S days, this has been true less and less with each generation. My wife's iPhone 6 needs to be restarted several times per week for things like internet search or making calls to work. An older 5S I'm using also doesn't consistently stream to Apple TV, doesn't display song names correctly on Apple TV and third party peripherals. In short, as features increase, the iPhone's stability is decreasing. In your opinion, which smartphone brand these days is taking up the slack and delivering a fully featured smartphone that "just works"?
Patents

Vizio, Destroyer of Patent Trolls 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-defense-is-a-strong-offense dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We read about a lot of patent troll cases. Some are successful and some are not, but many such cases are decided before ever going to court. It's how the patent troll operates — they know exactly how high litigation costs are. Even without a legal leg to stand on, they can ask for settlements that make better financial sense for the target to accept, rather than dumping just as much money into attorney's fees for an uncertain outcome. Fortunately, some companies fight back. TV-maker Vizio is one of these, and they've successfully defended against 16 different patent trolls, some with multiple claims. In addition, they're going on the offensive, trying to wrest legal fees from the plaintiffs for their spurious claims. "For the first time, it stands a real chance, in a case where it spent more than $1 million to win. Two recent Supreme Court decisions make it easier for victorious defendants to collect fees in patent cases. The TV maker is up against a storied patent plaintiffs' firm, Chicago-based Niro, Haller & Niro, that has fought for Oplus tooth and nail. ... For Vizio, the company feels that it's on the verge of getting vindication for a long-standing policy of not backing down to patent trolls."
Windows

iTunes Stops Working For Windows XP Users 368

Posted by timothy
from the why-it-seems-like-only-yesterday dept.
An anonymous reader writes: iTunes users who still run Windows XP started to experience connectivity issues this week. As documented in an Apple Support Communities thread, they can't log into the iTunes store, meaning functions like buying content, watching already purchased movies and TV shows, playing DRM-protected content, backing up, updating, and syncing all do not work.
Youtube

YouTube Going Dark On Older Devices 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-your-smart-TV-a-bit-dumber dept.
PC Mag reports on changes to the YouTube API, which have rendered YouTube apps inoperable on older consoles, smart TVs, and other video streaming devices. They're doing this because the old version of the API doesn't support some of YouTube's newer features. Newer devices might be able to upgrade — Apple handhelds that can run iOS 7 or later will have no problem, nor will 3rd-gen Apple TVs and devices running Google TV 3 or 4. But earlier Apple TVs and Google TVs running version 2 or earlier will be out of luck.