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Open Source

How Open Film Project "Cosmos Laundromat" Made Blender Better 25

An anonymous reader writes: At the beginning of August the Blender Institute released Cosmos Laundromat: First Cycle, its seventh open project. More than just a 10-minute short film, Cosmos Laundromat is the Blender Institute's most ambitious project, a pilot for the first fully free and open animated feature film. In his article on Opensource.com animator and open source advocate Jason van Gumster highlights the film project and takes a look at some of its most significant contributions to the Blender open source project.
Cellphones

Sony Unveils Smartphone With 4K Screen 98

An anonymous reader writes: Sony has taken the wraps off its new Xperia Z5 Premium smartphone, which has a 5.5" display that operates at 4k resolution. "The company acknowledged that there was still a limited amount of professional content available in 4K — which provides about four times the number of pixels as 1080p high definition video. But it said the Z5 Premium would upscale videos streamed from YouTube and Netflix to take advantage of the display." Sony's answer to the obvious battery concerns raised by such a pixel-dense (808 ppi) screen was to use a 3,430 mAh battery and memory-on-display technology. The video upscaling can also be turned off to decrease battery drain.
Transportation

Self-Driving Golf Carts May Pave the Way For Autonomous Cars 58

itwbennett writes: Researchers from MIT and Singaporean universities are experimenting with self-driving golf carts that use less (and relatively cheap) gear than self-driving vehicles while relying on computation-efficient algorithms. In addition to a webcam, each cart is equipped with four single-beam LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors from German maker Sick that have a field of view of about 270 degrees. Two of the sensors were mounted in the cart's front and used for determining its position and obstacle detection. The other two were cheaper, shorter-range sensors and were mounted on the back corners of the cart to scan for obstacles behind and on either side of it. The cost of the sensors was still high (on the order of $30,000) but that's less than solutions used in more sophisticated robotic vehicles. (Google has used $80,000 Velodyne LIDARs on its earlier self-driving cars.) A YouTube video shows the carts traveling the winding paths of a public garden in Singapore at a leisurely 24 kilometers per hour — slow enough for the computers to process all the obstacles (mainly pedestrians and animals). The researchers envision the self-driving vehicles being used in a shared transportation system, as rental bicycles are used in many cities.
Movies

Brain Cancer Claims Horror Maestro Wes Craven At 76 35

New submitter JamesA writes: Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76. Though he's far less known as a novelist than for his various horror film jobs (writer, director, producer, actor ...), Craven also wrote a few books; I can't vouch for "Coming of Rage," but "Fountain Society" is pretty solid speculative fiction. Wikipedia notes that Craven also "designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google, and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween."
Crime

The Coming Terrorist Threat From Autonomous Vehicles 214

HughPickens.com writes: Alex Rubalcava writes that autonomous vehicles are the greatest force multiplier to emerge in decades for criminals and terrorists and open the door for new types of crime not possible today. According to Rubalcava, the biggest barrier to carrying out terrorist plans until now has been the risk of getting caught or killed by law enforcement so that only depraved hatred, or religious fervor has been able to motivate someone to take on those risks as part of a plan to harm other people. "A future Timothy McVeigh will not need to drive a truck full of fertilizer to the place he intends to detonate it," writes Rubalcava. "A burner email account, a prepaid debit card purchased with cash, and an account, tied to that burner email, with an AV car service will get him a long way to being able to place explosives near crowds, without ever being there himself." A recent example is instructive. Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were identified by an examination of footage from numerous private security cameras that were recording the crowd in downtown Boston during the Marathon. Imagine if they could have dispatched their bombs in the trunk of a car that they were never in themselves? Catching them might have been an order of magnitude more difficult than it was.

According to Rubalcava the reaction to the first car bombing using an AV is going to be massive, and it's going to be stupid. There will be calls for the government to issue a stop to all AV operations, much in the same way that the FAA made the unprecedented order to ground 4,000-plus planes across the nation after 9/11. "But unlike 9/11, which involved a decades-old transportation infrastructure, the first AV bombing will use an infrastructure in its infancy, one that will be much easier to shut down" says Rubalcava. "That shutdown could stretch from temporary to quasi-permanent with ease, as security professionals grapple with the technical challenge of distinguishing between safe, legitimate payloads and payloads that are intended to harm."
(And don't forget The Dead Pool.)
Media

Lights, Camera, Experiment! 14

theodp writes: The New Yorker's Jamie Holmes takes a look at How Methods Videos Are Making Science Smarter, helping scientists replicate elaborate experiments in a way that the text format of traditional journals simply can't. The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE), for instance, is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that now has a database of more than four thousand videos that are usually between ten and fifteen minutes long, ranging in subject from biology and chemistry to neuroscience and medicine. "Complexity was always an issue," JOVE co-founder, Moshe Pritsker explains. "Even when biology was a much smaller enterprise, it relied on a degree of specialized craft in the laboratory. But, since the end of the nineties, we've seen a huge influx of new technologies into biology: genomics, proteomics, technologies like microarrays, complex genetic methods, and sophisticated microscopy and imaging techniques." And, as the popularity of the decidedly non-peer reviewed Crazy Russian Hacker's YouTube videos shows, methods videos aren't just for research scientists.
OS X

A FreeBSD "Spork" With Touches of NeXT and OS X: NeXTBSD 160

There are a lot of open source operating systems out there; being open source, they lend themselves to forks, clones or near clones, and friendly offshoots. There are even services to let you customize, download, and (if you choose) bulk-install your own OS based on common components. Phoronix notes a new project called NeXTBSD that might turn more heads than most new open source OSes, in part because of the developers behind it, and in part because of the positive thoughts many people have toward the aesthetics of NeXTSTEP and Mac OS X. (And while it might be a fork of FreeBSD, the developers would rather call it a spork, instead.) NeXTBSD was announced last week by Jordan Hubbard and Kip Macy at the Bay Area FreeBSD Users Group (BAFUG). NeXTBSD / FreeBSD X is based on the FreeBSD-CURRENT kernel while adding in Mach IPC, Libdispatch, notifyd, asld, launchd, and other components derived from Apple's open-source code for OS X. The basic launchd/notifyd/asld/libdispatch stack atop their "fork" of FreeBSD is working along with other basic components of their new design. You can watch a recording of the announcement as well as a longer introduction linked from Phoronix's story.
Google

Meet YouTube Gaming, Twitch's Archenemy 94

An anonymous reader writes: As expected Google has launched its answer to Twitch, YouTube Gaming available on the web, Android and iOS. Techcrunch reports: "We played with the Android app before the launch, and here's how it works. When you open the app, you are presented with a search bar at the top, a few featured channels at the top and then a feed of the most popular channels. The current featured channels don't focus on esports like most Twitch channels. Right now, you can find a 12-hour stream of NBA 2K15, and official stream of Metal Gear Solid V, a speed run of Until Dawn and an Eve Online live show."
Robotics

Robots Are Coming For Our Jobs, Just Not All of Them 319

szczys writes: There was a video published on YouTube about a year ago called Humans Need Not Apply which compared human labor now to horse labor just before industrialization. It's a great thought-exercise, but there are a ton of tasks where it's still science-fiction to think robots are taking over anytime soon. Kristina Panos makes a great argument for which jobs we all want to see taken by robots, others that would be very difficult to make happen, and some that would just creep everyone out.
Censorship

Judge Rules That Inglewood, California Cannot Copyright Public Videos 67

UnknowingFool writes: Recently a judge ruled in California that the city of Inglewood cannot hold copyrights of videos of public city council meetings which they published on their YouTube account and thus cannot sue individuals for copyright infringement for using them. In several YouTube videos, Joseph Teixeira, a resident of Inglewood, California, criticized the mayor, James Butts. Under the account name Dehol Truth, Teixeira took city council meetings posted on their YouTube account and edited them to make pointed criticisms about the mayor.

The city responded by registering the videos with copyrights and then suing Teixeira for copyright infringement. Many would say it was a thinly veiled attempt to silence a critic. Teixeira filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that (1) the city cannot claim copyright over public records (videos of public city council meetings) and (2) even if they could, his videos fell under Fair Use.

Unsurprisingly, a judge dismissed the city's case, citing California law which bars the city from holding copyrights on most public records. (This case may not be over as Teixeira's pro bono lawyer has not filed for attorney's fees. The ruling can be found here.) What is notable is that the judge dismissed the case with prejudice, so the city cannot refile. Normally judges do not do this unless they feel that the plaintiff's case was so weak that he feels no judge should hear the case ever again. Since the judge agreed with the defendant on the first point, he would not normally need to address Teixeira's Fair Use defense, but he did anyway. Anticipating that the city may appeal his decision, judge ruled that Teixeira's videos substantially met all four factors for Fair Use:
  1. There is no evidence Teixeira used the videos for commercial gain and was transformative
  2. His work was creative by adding music and commentary to the normally boring council videos
  3. Despite the city's claim he used their "entire work", it clear that he only used portions of meetings that lasted as long as four hours editing them down to a max of 15 minutes.
  4. Teixeira did not harm the city's market for the videos because the city is barred by state law from recouping more than direct costs of duplication. Even if the city could sell the videos (which they published themselves for free on YouTube), his short videos are not a substitute.
Windows

Underground Piracy Sites Want To Block Windows 10 Users 394

An anonymous reader writes: Some smaller pirate sites have become concerned about Windows 10 system phoning home too many hints regarding that the users are accessing their site. Therefore, the pirate administrators have started blocking Windows 10 users from accessing the BitTorrent trackers that the sites host. The first ones to hit the alarm button were iTS, which have posted a statement and started redirecting Windows 10 users to a YouTube video called Windows 10 is a Tool to Spy on Everything You Do. Additionally, according to TorrentFreak, two other similar dark web torrent trackers are also considering following suit. "As we all know, Microsoft recently released Windows 10. You as a member should know, that we as a site are thinking about banning the OS from FSC," said one of the FSC staff. Likewise, in a message to their users, a BB admin said something similar: "We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users' P2P use to be shared with anti piracy group."
Advertising

Amazon To Stop Accepting Flash Ads 221

An anonymous reader writes: Starting on September 1, Amazon will no longer support Flash across its advertising platform. The online retailer sites changes to browser support and a desire for customers to have a better experience as their reasons for blocking it. Google has been quite active recently in efforts to kill Flash; the Chrome beta channel has begun automatically pausing Flash, Google has converted ads from Flash to HTML5, and YouTube uses HTML5 by default now as well. Safari and Firefox also place limits on Flash content. Is Flash finally on its way out?
Mars

The Real NASA Technologies In 'The Martian' 60

An anonymous reader writes: On October 2, movie audiences will get to see Ridley Scott's adaptation of Andy Weir's brilliant sci-fi novel The Martian, about a near-future astronaut who gets left for dead on the planet Mars. (Official trailer.) Both book and film are rooted in actual science, and NASA has now posted a list of technologies featured in the movie that either already exist, or are in development. For example, the Mars rover: "On Earth today, NASA is working to prepare for every encounter with the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV). The MMSEV has been used in NASA's analog mission projects to help solve problems that the agency is aware of and to reveal some that may be hidden. The technologies are developed to be versatile enough to support missions to an asteroid, Mars, its moons and other missions in the future." They also show off their efforts to develop water reclamation, gardens in space, and oxygen recovery.
Robotics

Video HooperFly is an Open Source, Modular Drone (Video) 24

Tricopters, quadcopters, hexicopters. A HooperFly can be any of these, or an octocopter or possibly even a larger number than that. The HooperFly is a modular creation, and spokesman Rich Burton says the design is open source (and was showing off the HooperFly at OSCON), so the flier's configuration is limited only by your imagination. The main construction material is plastic tubing available from most building supply and hardware stores. The electronics? We didn't see schematics or code, but presumably they're out there. One thing for sure is that the HooperFly is good for making music videos like M.I.A. & The Partysquad's Double Bubble Trouble (NSFP; i.e. NotSafeForPrudes; has images of 3-D printed guns, flying copters, etc.) and the lyrical Peace Drone at Twilight. It looks like HooperFly lives at the intersection of technology and art, which is a good place to be -- not that there aren't plenty of HooperFly skateboard videos, too, because one of the first things it seems most skateboarders do when they get a camera-equipped drone is shoot a skateboard video and post it to YouTube. But beyond that, intrepid drone pilots can work with the HooperFly's autopilot features to do many beautiful (and hopefully legal) things.
Advertising

New Rules Say UK Video Bloggers Must Be Clearer About Paid Endorsements 36

AmiMoJo writes: New guidelines for video bloggers who enter marketing relationships with brands have been published. Earlier this year the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that paid endorsements for Oreo biscuits on YouTube were not marked clearly enough. The new rules outline several scenarios where content must be clearly marked as an advertisement. One note from the linked article: However, the guidelines noted that when free items are sent to vloggers without any editorial or content control over videos exerted by the brand in question, there is no need for them to follow the Cap code.
Power

Interviews: Ask Engineer and L5 Society Cofounder Keith Henson a Question 111

Keith Henson is an electrical engineer and writer on space engineering, space law, cryonics, and evolutionary psychology. He co-founded the L5 society in 1975, which sought to promote space colonization. In addition to being an outspoken critic and target of the Church of Scientology, Keith has recently been working on the design of an orbiting power satellite (video here). The proposed satellite would collect solar energy, send it to Earth via microwaves, and Henson has a plan on how to launch it cheaply. Keith has agreed to give us some of his time and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How To "Prove" a Work Is Public Domain? 213

New submitter eporue writes: YouTube claims that I haven't been able to prove that I have commercial rights to this video of Superman. They are asking me to submit documentation saying "We need to verify that you are authorized to commercially use all of the visual and audio elements in your video. Please confirm your material is in the public domain." I submitted a link to the Wikipedia page of the Superman cartoons from the 40s where it explains that the copyright expired, and to the Archive page from where I got it. And still is not enough to "prove" that I have the commercial rights. So, how do you "prove" public domain status ?
Television

HBO, Netflix, and Amazon Targeting Kids 46

An anonymous reader writes: The latest high-profile show to join one of the major streaming services probably isn't one you watch: Sesame Street. However, it's a clear signal for a growing trend: these services desperately want to corner the market on kid's shows. Netflix has gotten tons of praise for its original series, and it's been quietly putting that production power behind new shows aimed at children. They've also made deals with Disney and Dreamworks to get movies onto the service as quickly as possible. Amazon has been debuting series after series as well, with six pilots for new children's shows landing last month alone. "The battle for kids, at bottom, is about keeping their parents around even when a favorite show about a murderous politician is on hiatus. Streaming services are far easier to cancel and resubscribe than cable-TV ... so the goal is to make that decision harder." Now that HBO is starting to commit to streaming, it's faced with the same problems. By deriving their funding through subscriptions, these companies can avoid the flak YouTube and Hulu are getting for targeting kids with advertisements.
Television

CNN and CBC Sued For Pirating YouTube Video 222

vivaoporto sends word that in a rare case of an individual taking on large corporations for copyright infrigement, a New York man has sued news networks CNN and CBC after they took a video of his from YouTube and broadcast it on the air without licensing it. His video shows a winter storm in Buffalo generating huge amounts of lake effect snow. The man, Alfonzo Cutaia, decided to enable monetization on his video, selecting the "Standard YouTube License," "a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of [the video]. All other rights are reserved to the copyright owner and standard copyright laws and exceptions apply." Cutaia says the CBC used his video with their logo on it. The CBC confirmed this, and said they received a 10-day license from CNN, who had no legal right to do so. His lawsuit now accuses them both of "intentional and willful" copyright infringement.
Handhelds

Hands On Samsung's New Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 At Unpacked New York 77

MojoKid writes: Samsung held their Unpacked 2015 event in New York City today and the company unveiled its latest flagship, big-screen smartphones, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note5. Immediately following the on-stage presentations and reveals, Samsung opened up a demo area featuring the new devices for direct hands-on time. Both of these phones feature a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a QHD screen resolution (2560x1440), though the sides of the S6 Edge+'s display are curved. Powering the both devices is the the same octal-core Samsung Exynos 7420 processor that's at the heart of the previously-released Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. These new phones, however, are packing 4GB of RAM—not just 3GB, like the older models and also have LTE Cat9 support and high-speed wireless charging built-in. Samsung has also beefed up the cameras; these new devices pack the same 16MP sensor from the Galaxy S6 with OIS, but an additional digital image stabilization algo which complements the optical solution to further smooth out video is included as well. Built-in software on the new devices also allows for live-streaming to YouTube.