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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Star Wars Prequels

First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-saw-lens-flare dept.
Midnight Thunder writes: The first trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has been released. (YouTube link.) This is the first real opportunity to get a feeling for whether childhood dreams will be crushed or Disney, with the help of JJ Abrams, will be able to breath new life into the story without making it feel like a merchandising excuse.
Piracy

Kim Dotcom Says Legal Fight Has Left Him Broke 107

Posted by timothy
from the broke-the-bench dept.
mrspoonsi writes Kim Dotcom, the founder of the seized file-sharing site Megaupload, has declared himself "broke". The entrepreneur said he had spent $10m (£6.4m) on legal costs since being arrested in New Zealand in 2012 and accused of internet piracy. Mr Dotcom had employed a local law firm to fight the US's attempt to extradite him, but his defence team stepped down a fortnight ago without explaining why. Mr Dotcom said he would now represent himself at a bail hearing on Thursday. He denies charges of racketeering, conspiring to commit copyright infringement and money laundering. He told a conference in London, via a video link, that his lawyers had resigned because he had run out of money. "The [US authorities] have certainly managed to drain my resources and dehydrate me, and without lawyers I am defenceless," he said. "They used that opportunity to try and get my bail revoked and that's what I'm facing."
United Kingdom

Edsac Goes Live, At UK's National Museum of Computing 37

Posted by timothy
from the sometimes-things-get-lost-in-the-mail dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Britain's National Museum of Computing has flipped the switch on the venerable Edsac computer. The arduous task of reconstructing the 1949 behemoth, fraught with little in terms of the original hardware or documentation, was brought to fruition on Wednesday. As project lead Andrew Herbert is quoted as saying, "We face the same challenges as those remarkable pioneers who succeeded in building a machine that transformed computing." A remarkably shaky video of the event, replete with excellent views of the floor at the videographer's feet, can be found here."
Build

Real Steampunk Computer Brought Back To Life 81

Posted by timothy
from the malware-free dept.
New submitter engineerguy writes We discovered a 100 year old 19th century computer that does Fourier analysis with just gears spring and levers. It was locked in a glass case at the University of Illinois Department of Mathematics. We rebuilt a small part of the machine and then for two years thoroughly photographed and filmed every part part of the machine and its operation. The results of this labor of love are in the video series (short documentary), which is 22 minutes long and contains stunning footage of the machine in action — including detailed descriptions of how it operates. The photos are collected in a free book (PDF). The computer was designed by Albert Michelson, who was famous for the Michelson-Morley experiment; he was also the first American to win a Nobel Prize in physics.
Education

Education Chief Should Know About PLATO and the History of Online CS Education 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
theodp writes Writing in Vanity Fair, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan marvels that his kids can learn to code online at their own pace thanks to "free" lessons from Khan Academy, which Duncan credits for "changing the way my kids learn" (Duncan calls out his kids' grade school for not offering coding). The 50-year-old Duncan, who complained last December that he "didn't have the opportunity to learn computer skills" while growing up attending the Univ. of Chicago Lab Schools and Yale, may be surprised to learn that the University of Illinois was teaching kids how to program online in the '70s with its PLATO system, and it didn't look all that different from what Khan Academy came up with for his kids 40 years later (Roger Ebert remarked in his 2011 TED Talk that seeing Khan Academy gave him a flashback to the PLATO system he reported on in the '60s). So, does it matter if the nation's education chief — who presides over a budget that includes $69 billion in discretionary spending — is clueless about The Hidden History of Ed-Tech? Some think so. "We can't move forward," Hack Education's Audrey Watters writes, "til we reconcile where we've been before." So, if Duncan doesn't want to shell out $200 to read a 40-year-old academic paper on the subject (that's a different problem!) to bring himself up to speed, he presumably can check out the free offerings at Ed.gov. A 1975 paper on Interactive Systems for Education, for instance, notes that 650 students were learning programming on PLATO during the Spring '75 semester, not bad considering that Khan Academy is boasting that it "helped over 2000 girls learn to code" in 2014 (after luring their teachers with funding from a $1,000,000 Google Award). Even young techies might be impressed by the extent of PLATO's circa-1975 online CS offerings, from lessons on data structures and numerical analysis to compilers, including BASIC, PL/I, SNOBOL, APL, and even good-old COBOL.
Youtube

How YouTube Music Key Will Redefine What We Consider Music 105

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-more-ads dept.
First time accepted submitter Biswa writes YouTube launched its ad-free subscription music service called MusicKey. today. From the TechCrunch article: "YouTube finally unveiled its subscription music service today, and in some ways it’s very much like existing streaming music services, especially since it comes bundled with Google Play Music All Access. But YouTube Music Key also very much not like other streaming music services, because of the ways in which music is (or rather isn’t) defined on YouTube. One of the first questions I had about Google Music Key was how the company would define what kind of content from YouTube gets included: Would a home-shot cover of a Black Keys song with 253 views be as ad-free as the official music video for the original? Or was this a private club, designed for the traditionally defined music industry? Turns out, the nature of what Music Key encompasses is somewhat of a moving target, and the limited beta access that will initially gate entry to the service is in part due to that variability."
Privacy

Police Body Cam Privacy Exploitation 301

Posted by Soulskill
from the always-that-one-bad-apple dept.
blindbat writes: A new YouTube account is pushing local police agencies to reconsider their use of body-mounted cameras. Poulsbo Police have been wearing body cameras for about a year, and the department says the results have been good. But last month reality hit, in the form of a new YouTube user website, set up by someone under the name, "Police Video Requests." The profile says it posts dash and body cam videos received after public records requests to Washington state police departments. "They're just using it to post on the internet," said Chief Townsend, "and I suspect it's for commercial purposes." In September, "Police Video Requests" anonymously asked Poulsbo PD for every second of body cam video it has ever recorded. The department figures it will take three years to fill that request. And Chief Townsend believes it is a huge privacy concern, as officers often see people on their worst days. "People with mental illness, people in domestic violence situations; do we really want to have to put that video out on YouTube for people? I think that's pushing it a little bit," he said.
Transportation

333 Km/h Rocket-Powered Bicycle Sets New Speed Record 51

Posted by timothy
from the hope-they-used-a-good-zamboni dept.
Dave Knott writes François Gissy of France has claimed a new bicycle speed record. As you might guess, he was not pedalling – he was seated atop a hydrogen peroxide-powered rocket with three thrusters fastened to the frame of an elongated, but otherwise ordinary-looking bicycle. In a video posted on YouTube that announces the record, a Ferrari racing the bike is left far behind within seconds of leaving the starting line. The bike, designed by Gissy's friend, Arnold Neracher, reached its top speed of 333 km/h (207mph) in just 4.8 seconds and 250 metres. According to Guinness World Records, the fastest speed ever for a bicycle that wasn't rocket powered was 268.831 km/h by Fred Rompelberg of the Netherlands, riding behind a wind-shield fitted dragster in 1995 and assisted by the slipstream of the car. The current unassisted bicycle speed record is 133.8 km/h — a record that a team in Toronto is trying to break.
Supercomputing

Researchers Simulate Monster EF5 Tornado 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the any-way-the-wind-blows dept.
New submitter Orp writes: I am the member of a research team that created a supercell thunderstorm simulation that is getting a lot of attention. Presented at the 27th Annual Severe Local Storms Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, Leigh Orf's talk was produced entirely as high def video and put on YouTube shortly after the presentation. In the simulation, the storm's updraft is so strong that it essentially peels rain-cooled air near the surface upward and into the storm's updraft, which appears to play a key role in maintaining the tornado. The simulation was based upon the environment that produced the May 24, 2011 outbreak which included a long-track EF5 tornado near El Reno Oklahoma (not to be confused with the May 31, 2013 EF5 tornado that killed three storm researchers).
First Person Shooters (Games)

Blizzard Announces Overwatch, a First-Person Shooter 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the gorillas-with-guns dept.
Today at Blizzcon, Blizzard announced its first new franchise in 17 years: Overwatch. It's a first-person shooter, a type of game Blizzard hasn't made before. It seems to be based on team deathmatch combat, with a number of characters/classes that all have different abilities. The beta test will start sometime in 2015 (you can sign-up here at the official site, unless it gets crushed by traffic). Game director Jeffrey Kaplan (a.k.a. Tigole) said one of their big goals is to make it an approachable game in a way shooters often aren't. A cinematic trailer is available, as is a gameplay trailer. Blizzard has set up stations for players at Blizzcon to play Overwatch this weekend, so more details will be coming soon.
Image

Discovery Claims It Will Show a Man Being "Eaten Alive" By an Anaconda 164 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the ratings-war-has-begun dept.
An anonymous reader writes Have you ever wished that you could watch a man be eaten alive by an anaconda from the comfort of your own home? The Discovery Channel is betting that the answer is yes with their upcoming special, Eaten Alive. The channel says wildlife filmmaker Paul Rosolie will don a custom-built snake-proof suit, and go inside a live anaconda. They've even released a teaser. It's unclear what scientific conundrum will be solved in the process of feeding Paul to the snake, or how he plans to get out.
Privacy

Terrorists Used False DMCA Claims To Get Personal Data of Anti-Islamic Youtuber 389

Posted by samzenpus
from the names-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes German newspaper FAZ reports (google translated version) that, after facing false DMCA claims by "FirstCrist, Copyright" and threatened by YouTube with takedown, a youtuber running the German version of Islam-critic Al Hayat TV had to disclose their identity in order to get the channel back online. Later, the channel staff got a mail containing a death threat by "FirstCrist, Copyright", containing: "thank you for your personal data. [...] take care your house gets police protection!" Employee names are now on Al Qaeda black lists.
Youtube

YouTube Opens Up 60fps To Everyone 152

Posted by timothy
from the bottlenecks-shift dept.
jones_supa writes Four months ago YouTube promised support for 60 frames per second videos. Back then, the feature was limited to some selected demonstration clips. Now the capability to upload 60fps videos has been opened to everyone. By searching YouTube, a lot of interesting high-FPS material can already be found. For now, some caveats apply though. To watch the clips at 60fps you currently need to use Chrome (further browser support is on the way) and be sure to select 720p60 or 1080p60 from the settings menu of the video player. A fair amount of decoding power is also required, so you will need good hardware. In addition, YouTube says that the content format will be only available on "motion-intense" videos, and the average cat video may not be detected as such. Of course gaming will be the most obvious genre that can take advantage of the higher frame rate.
Programming

Tao3D: a New Open-Source Programming Language For Real-Time 3D Animations 158

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-minecraft dept.
descubes (35093) writes "Tao3D is a new open-source programming language designed for real-time 3D animations. With it, you can quickly create interactive, data-rich presentations, small applications, proofs of concept, user interface prototypes, and more. The interactivity of the language, combined with its simplicity and graphical aspects, make it ideal to teach programming.

Tao3D also demonstrates a lot of innovation in programming language design. It makes it very easy to create new control structures. Defining if-then-else is literally a couple of lines of code. The syntax to pass pass blocks of code to functions is completely transparent. And it is fully reactive, meaning that it automatically reacts as necessary to external events such as mouse movements or the passage of time.

The source code was just made available under the GNU General Public License v3 on SourceForge [as linked above], GitHub and Gitorious."
Education

Mark Zuckerberg And John Doerr Donate $1M To Expand The Hour Of Code Campaign 24

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
theodp writes Techcrunch reports that Mark Zuckerberg has donated $500K to expand the Hour of Code campaign, which aims to reach 100 million students this year with its learn-to-code tutorials, including its top-featured tutorial starring Zuckerberg (video). Techcrunch adds that Zuckerberg's donation will be matched by fellow tutorial team teacher Bill Gates (video), Microsoft, Reid Hoffman, Salesforce, Google, and others. Zuck and Gates appear to have a sizable captive audience — a Code.org District Partnership Model brochure on the code-or-no-HS-diploma-for-you Chicago Public Schools' website calls for partner districts to "hold a district-wide Hour of Code event each year" for three years.
Networking

First Detailed Data Analysis Shows Exactly How Comcast Jammed Netflix 243

Posted by timothy
from the is-there-a-market-for-non-discrimination? dept.
An anonymous reader writes John Oliver calls it "cable company f*ckery" and we've all suspected it happens. Now on Steven Levy's new Backchannel publication on Medium, Susan Crawford delivers decisive proof, expertly dissecting the Comcast-Netflix network congestion controversy. Her source material is a detailed traffic measurement report (.pdf) released this week by Google-backed M-Lab — the first of its kind — showing severe degradation of service at interconnection points between Comcast, Verizon and other monopoly "eyeball networks" and "transit networks" such as Cogent, which was contracted by Netflix to deliver its bits. The report shows that interconnection points give monopoly ISPs all the leverage they need to discriminate against companies like Netflix, which compete with them in video services, simply by refusing to relieve network congestion caused by external traffic requested by their very own ISP customers. And the effects victimize not only companies targeted but ALL incoming traffic from the affected transit network. The report proves the problem is not technical, but rather a result of business decisions. This is not technically a Net neutrality problem, but it creates the very same headaches for consumers, and unfair business advantages for ISPs. In an accompanying article, Crawford makes a compelling case for FCC intervention.
Youtube

YouTube Considering an Ad-Free, Subscription-Based Version 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the premium-pay dept.
Walking The Walk writes YouTube is looking at creating a paid-subscription model that would allow users to skip the ads on their videos. (A more condensed summary from CBC.) No firm date has been announced, and it sounds like tentative steps right now, but YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki did mention that ad-enabled music videos would still be offered.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Rates Which Service Providers Side With Users 16

Posted by Soulskill
from the harvesting-goodwill dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has issued a report grading online service providers for how well they side with users over intellectual property disputes. They looked at sites like YouTube, Imgur, tumblr, and Twitter. "The services could receive a maximum of five stars, based on criteria including publicly documented procedures for responses to DMCA takedown notices and counter-notices, how the services handle trademark disputes, and if the company issued detailed transparency reports." Only two sites got a perfect rating: WordPress and Namecheap. tumblr got the worst score, and Imgur was not far behind. The rest of the sites were in between, though the EFF did give a bit of extra credit to Etsy for its educational guides and Twitter for its transparency reports.
Technology

A Library For Survival Knowledge 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-the-apocalypse-will-be-fun dept.
TheRealHocusLocus writes: The Survivor Library is gathering essential knowledge that would be necessary to jump-start modern civilization, should it fail past the point where a simple 'reboot' is possible (video). Much of it (but not all) dates to the late 1800s and early 1900s: quaint, but we know these things work because they did work. In 1978, James Burke said our modern world has become a trap (video), and whether it springs shut or not, all survival starts with the plow. Could you make one, use one? Sure, even a steam engine to pull it. I rescued my copy of Henley's Formulas from a dumpster outside a library.

Think of the Survivor Library as a trove of survival skills, a "100-year civilization checkpoint backup" that fits on a hard drive. If one individual from every family becomes a Librarian, gathering precious things with the means to read them, there may be many candles in the darkness. Browse at will, but if acquisition is the goal, someone has kindly made a torrent snapshot as of 14-Oct-2014 available.
EU

EU Court Rules Embedding YouTube Videos Is Not Copyright Infringement 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the fair-share dept.
Maurits van der Schee writes "The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that embedding a copyrighted YouTube video in your site is not copyright infringement. From the article: "The case in question was referred to EU’s Court of Justice by a German court. It deals with a dispute between the water filtering company BestWater International and two men who work as independent commercial agents for a competitor. Bestwater accused the men of embedding one of their promotional videos, which was available on YouTube without the company’s permission. The video was embedded on the personal website of the two through a frame, as is usual with YouTube videos. While EU law is clear on most piracy issues, the copyright directive says very little about embedding copyrighted works. The Court of Justice, however, now argues that embedding is not copyright infringement."

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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