How To Make Messages Easy For an Alien Race To Understand ( 177

szczys writes: The screen on that new cellphone has amazing pixel density, color vibrance, and refresh rate. The high-end headphones you just picked up do an amazing job reproducing sound. These devices interface extremely well with humans but might not be very good modes of communication for an Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Sure, we haven't made contact with alien life yet. Even if they did pick up our broadcasts or space probes the relatively narrow-range of audio (narrow and low frequency), visual (slow refresh rate), and data transmission methods are likely to make no sense to non-human entities. The Voyager Golden Record took a fascinating approach to making some data available to new civilizations; it's interesting to think of other ways we might communicate with beings of fundamentally different biology.

A Remarkable Number of People Think 'The Martian' Is Based On a True Story ( 357

MarkWhittington writes: The Martian is a smash hit movie that made $100 million worldwide during its first weekend. The science and engineering depicted was, with certain notable exceptions, near perfect. The cinematography and special effects were so well done that one could almost imagine that Ridley Scott sent Matt Damon and a film crew to Mars to shoot the movie. In fact, perhaps the film was a little too good. Buzzfeed took a stroll through social media and discovered that many people think that The Martian is based on a true story.
Hardware Hacking

Making Your Graphing Calculator a Musical Instrument 54

An anonymous reader writes: Thanks to a recently published open source music editor/sequencer, you can now create music on Texas Instruments graphing calculators. The complexity of the sound is impressive (video) for such a simple device, which does not feature any dedicated sound hardware. HoustonTracker 2 is open source, and is available for the TI-82, 83, 83Plus, and 84Plus.

What Non-Geeks Hate About the Big Bang Theory 400

v3rgEz writes: It has been said that there is a lot to dislike about the Big Bang Theory, from the typical geek's point of view: It plays in stereotypes of geekdom for cheap laughs, makes non-sensical gags, and has a laugh track in 2015. But what does the rest of America (well, the part of America not making it the number one show on television) think? FCC complaints recently released accuse the show of everything from animal cruelty to subliminal messaging, demanding that the sitcom be ripped from the airwaves lest it ruin America. The full complaints for your reading pleasure.

Review: The Martian Screenshot-sm 240

I was both pleased and disappointed, as always, when I heard that a book I enjoyed was being made into a movie. Andy Weir's The Martian was the best new book I'd read in years. It was written for nerds, by a nerd — by somebody with an obvious love for NASA, science, and spaceflight. How could it possibly be condensed into the format of a Hollywood blockbuster? Well, director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard figured out how. The Martian is an excellent film, well worth watching. Read on for my review (very minor spoilers only), and feel free to share your own in the comments.

TiVo's Latest Offering Detects and Skips Ads, Adds 4K Capability 85

As described by The Verge, the newest generation of TiVo is in some ways a step backward: it comes with fewer tuners than some earlier models, and less storage as well. However, two big features that distinguish the company's new Bolt DVR may entice users anyhow: it adds 4K recording, and (probably of use to more people, given the scarcity of 4K content, not to mention its file size) also can recognize and skip commercials, a feature that users have sorely missed as a mainstream feature in standalone DVRs for quite a while. (And it's possible that broadcasters will come up with a way to kill the commercial-skip function as they did with Dish's AutoHop.)

Inside the Spaceflight of 'The Martian' 121

benonemusic writes: Science writer Michael Greshko partnered with a team of scientists and engineers to explore the spacecraft and mission plans in The Martian (novel and movie), down to the rescue plan itself. Incorporating the help of Andy Weir, the novel's author, he comes up with a calendar of events for The Martian, explores the hazards of going back to save Mark Watney, and explains how a real world interplanetary spacecraft would pull off a rescue maneuver.
The Courts

A Broke Fan Owes $5,400 For Pokemon-Themed Party Posters 211

Jason Koebler writes: A fan has been ordered by a Washington judge to pay the Pokémon Company International $5,400 for copyright infringement after attempting to throw a Pokemon-themed party earlier this summer. Even though he canceled the free event, the Pokemon Company successfully sued Ramar Larkin Jones, for using an image of Pikachu to promote the Unofficial PAX Pokemon Kickoff Party.

EU Probes TVs Over Energy Test Scores 93

joesreviewss writes: The European Commission says it will follow up on evidence that Samsung and another TV-maker use software that alters their screens' power use during tests. The BBC reports: "One study indicates that some Samsung TVs nearly halve their power consumption when a standardised test is carried out. Another accuses a different unnamed manufacturer of adjusting the brightness of its sets when they "recognise" the test film involved. Samsung has denied any wrongdoing. It acknowledged that it used software that altered its televisions' performance during tests, but said this was the effect of a general energy efficiency feature that came into effect during normal use and had nothing to do with the testing process."

Amazon To Cease Sale of Apple TV and Chromecast 223

Mark Wilson writes: As of 29 October, shoppers will no longer be able to buy Apple TV or Chromecast devices from Amazon. Citing compatibility issues with Prime Video, Amazon emailed marketplace sellers to inform them it is not accepting new listings for the two media devices, and any existing listings will be removed at the end of October. The move indicates not only the importance Amazon places on its streaming Prime Video service, but also that it views Apple and Google as serious rivals. The two companies have yet to respond to the news, but it is unlikely to be well-received.

Targeting Tools Help Personalize TV Advertising 60

schwit1 writes: Surgical marketing messages are taken for granted on the Internet. Yet, they are just now finding their way onto television, where the audience is big though harder to target. As brands shift more of their spending to the Web where ads are more precise, the TV industry is pushing back. Using data from cable set-top boxes that track TV viewing, credit cards and other sources, media companies including Comcast's NBCUniversal, Time Warner's Turner, and Viacom are trying to compete with Web giants like Google and Facebook and help marketers target their messages to the right audience. Where can I get adblock for my FiOS?
United Kingdom

Tardis Wars: The BBC Strikes Back 72

New submitter Elixon writes: Czech trademark monitoring service IP Defender reported that The British Broadcasting Corporation applied for a figurative trademark on the "POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX" for wide range of goods and services like cinematographic and photographic films, printed publications, key chains, textile goods, toys, telecommunications and more. The Metropolitan Police was defeated by the BBC in the past while trying to monopolize the London police box; now it's the BBC's turn.

The Man Who Invents Languages For a Living 90

An anonymous reader writes: David J. Peterson is fluent in eight languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Esperanto, Arabic and American Sign Language, but it is the languages he's created that gives him notoriety. He created Dothraki, Giant, and High Valyrian for Game of Thrones, Shiväisith for Thor: The Dark World, and four different languages for the TV show Defiance. Peterson recently sat down with NPR to talk about inventing languages for a living, and offers some advice on how to make your own.

Edward SnowdenTalks Alien Communications With Neil deGrasse Tyson 142

An anonymous reader writes: Edward Snowden, the former contractor who leaked National Security Agency secrets publicly in 2013, is now getting attention for an odd subject: aliens. In a podcast interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Snowden suggested that alien communications might be encrypted so well that humans trying to eavesdrop on extraterrestrials would have no idea they were hearing anything but noise. There's only a small window in the development of communication in which unencrypted messages are the norm, Snowden said.

Dr Who Detective Philip Morris Hints At More Rediscovered Episodes 79

BigBadBus writes: In late 2013, Philip Morris announced that he had found 9 missing episodes of 1960s Dr.Who, which completed the 1968 story "Enemy of the World" and most of "The Web of Fear." He has now gone on record to talk about the only episode of these stories that he didn't find — namely part 3 of "Web of Fear" and teases of more episode finds to come. Episodes keep trickling out of the past, it seems; we've mentioned a few small finds in 2004 and 2011, too.
Hardware Hacking

Brain-Controlled (Inflatable) Shark Attack 17

the_newsbeagle writes: This is a parlor trick, not neuroscience," writes this DIY brain hacker — but it sure is a nifty trick. The hacker put electrodes on his scalp, fed the resulting EEG data into a specialized processor that makes sense of brain signals, and modified the remote control for a helium-filled shark balloon. Soon, he and his buddies were steering the shark around the room. Why did it take his buddies, too? "EEG interpretation is not easy because, to be technical, EEG signals are a crazy mess. EEG recordings are a jumble of the signatures of many brain processes. Detecting conscious thoughts like “Shark, please swim forward” is way beyond even state-of-the-art equipment. The electrical signature of a single thought is lost in the furious chatter of 100 billion neurons." So builder Chip Audette settled on the simplest control system he could, and divvied up the actual controls (left, right, forward, etc.) among several users, so each one's brain signals could be interpreted separately.

The Effort To Create an 'Iron Man' Type Exoskeleton 52

Nerval's Lobster writes: Tony Stark, as played by Robert Downey, Jr., is the epitome of suave wit—but without his metal shell, he's just another engineer who's made good. The exoskeleton is a technology platform that, while young, is gaining traction in industrial, medical and military circles. For several years, the U.S. Special Operations Command has been working on a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or "TALOS," that would provide "provide [infantry with] comprehensive ballistic protection and peerless tactical capability," in the words of Gen. Joseph Votel, SOCOM's commander. Meanwhile, several companies—including Raytheon, Ekso Bionics and US Bionics—are working on products that could help the disabled become more mobile, or allow warehouse and other workers to handle physical tasks with greater efficiency and safety. That means people who specialize in robotics, artificial intelligence, and other areas have an increasing opportunity to get involved. According to Homayoon Kazerooni, president of Berkeley-based US Bionics and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, control and software engineers are the leads in developing these next-generation products. Although he can't estimate the ultimate size of the market for these intelligent exoskeletons, Kazerooni describes the industry as "fast-growing, but infant," with "very diverse uses" for the suits. Just don't expect the aforementioned suits to allow you to fly or blow anything up anytime soon.
The Courts

Court Rules Batmobile Is Entitled To Copyright Protection 138

schwit1 writes: The Batmobile's bat-like appearance and other distinct attributes, including its high-tech weaponry, make it a character that can't be replicated without permission from DC Comics, the copyright holder, the 9th U.S. Circus Court of Appeals said. "As Batman so sagely told Robin, 'In our well-ordered society, protection of private property is essential,' " states the opinion. "Here, we conclude that the Batmobile character is the property of DC, and Towle infringed upon DC’s property rights when he produced unauthorized derivative works of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 television show and the 1989 motion picture."
Hardware Hacking

1000-key Emoji Keyboard Is As Crazy As It Sounds 146

hypnosec writes: A YouTuber named Tom Scott has built a 1,000-key keyboard with each key representing an emoji! Scott made the emoji keyboard using 14 keyboards and over 1,000 individually placed stickers. While he himself admits that it is one of the craziest things he has built, the work he has put in does warrant appreciation. On the keyboard are individually placed emojis for food items, animals, plants, transport, national flags, and time among others.

Facebook Finally Delivers On the VRML Dream With Immersive Star Wars Video 58

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has launched its 360-degree video feature, with an eye to virtual reality and next year's release of the Oculus Rift. Among the showcase videos is a specially rendered 'fly-through' of a scene from new Star Wars movie 'The Force Awakens', allowing the viewer to pan laterally and horizontally as the movie progresses. This kind of immersive video was made possible with Apple's QuickTime VR in the 1990s, but was hampered by the same technological bottlenecks of the period as VRML.