A Remarkable Number of People Think 'The Martian' Is Based On a True Story ( 359

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.

How Someone Acquired the Domain Name For a Single Minute 70

An anonymous reader writes with the story of how Sanmay Ved bought "" even though it only lasted a minute. BGR reports:We've all been there: It's nearly 2 in the morning and you're cruising around the Internet looking for new domain names to purchase. I mean, talk about a cliched night, right? Now imagine that during the course of your domain browsing, you unexpectedly discover that the holy grail of domain names — — is available for purchase for the low, low price of just $12. Testing fate, you attempt to initiate a transaction. Dare I say, you're feeling a little bit lucky. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, the transaction goes through and the vaunted and the highly valuable Google domain is in your possession. While this might read like a ridiculous plot summary from some horrible piece of nerd fiction, this series of events above, believe it or not, actually happened to former Googler Sanmay Ved earlier this week.

Australian Workplace Tribunal Rules Facebook Unfriending Constitutes "Bullying" 208

An anonymous reader writes: Unfriending employees on Facebook and not saying good morning could constitute workplace bullying, an Australian workplace tribunal has ruled. Australia's Fair Work Commission decided that administrator Lisa Bird had bullied real estate agent Rachael Roberts after unfriending her from Facebook. The commission's deputy president Nicole Wells said the act showed a "lack of emotional maturity" and was "indicative of unreasonable behavior."
Star Wars Prequels

The Force Awakens With Devon's $28,500 Star Wars Limited Edition Watch 112

MojoKid writes: If the Force is strong in your bank account and you're looking for a new timepiece, luxury design firm Devon Works has come up with a limited edition watch that's perhaps more advanced than the Death Star. It's the new "Star Wars by Devon" co-branded watch with a patented system of interwoven "Time Belts" and hybrid electro-mechanical power. The watch is a celebration of Devon's fifth anniversary. It combines glass-reinforced nylon belts (same as used in the gauges on the original 747 aircraft) with multiple high-tech optical recognition cells, micro-step motors, and no less than 313 electrical contacts. Materials used in the construction of the Star Wars timepiece are sourced from an aerospace company located in California. Keeping true to the Star Wars franchise now owned by Disney, the watch incorporates elements of Darth Vader and the TIE Fighter. Only 500 of these watches are being made. If you want one of these timepieces, you'll need a $2,500 down payment towards its $28,500 retail price.

Plug In an Ethernet Cable, Take Your Datacenter Offline 150

New submitter jddj writes: The Next Web reports on a hilarious design failure built into Cisco's 3650 and 3850 Series switches, which TNW terms "A Network Engineer's Worst Nightmare". By plugging in a hooded Ethernet cable, you...well, you'll just have to see the picture and laugh. They write: "The cables, which are sometimes accidentally used in datacenters, feature a protective boot that sticks out over the top to ensure the release tab isn’t accidentally pressed or broken off, rendering the cable useless. That boot would hit the reset button which happened to be positioned directly above port one of the Cisco switch, which causes the device to quietly reset to factory settings."

How Calvin Klein's Obsession Is Helping Big Cat Conservation 48

StartsWithABang writes: It's no secret that cats of all sizes rub their mouths and faces on many surfaces they come in contact with, both to deposit and pick up scents. But a combination of ingredients in an unusual source — Calvin Klein's Obsession for men — seems to be irresistible to tigers, cheetahs, jaguars and more. The civetone and vanilla, in particular, not only drive captive animals wild, but have been used with great effectiveness in taking a census of and tracking jaguars in protected forests.

You Can Now Be "Buried" On the Moon 72

Dave Knott writes: Space burials are longer the stuff of science fiction (and wealthy science fiction TV show creators.) The cremated remains of more than 450 people have been shot into orbit. Yet, despite the promise of space being a unique "resting place," almost every tiny vial of remains ever sent there has come back down to Earth or burned up upon re-entry. This wouldn't have happened had the ashes landed on Earth's moon — a fact that hasn't been lost on the companies pioneering this futuristic funeral technology. The San Francisco-based company Elysium Space officially launched its 'lunar memorial' service earlier this month, and will soon be sending the remains of a U.S. Army Infantry Soldier's mother upwards as part of its first ever moon burial.

The company's website further explains how the lunar burials will work: "You receive a kit containing a custom ash capsule to collect a cremated remains sample. After we receive the ash capsule back from you, we place your capsule in the Elysium memorial spacecraft. The latter is eventually integrated to the Astrobotic lander during the designated integration event. From here, the lander is integrated onto the launch vehicle. On launch day, the remains are carried to the moon where the lander will be deployed to its dedicated location, preserving our memorial spacecraft for eternity." Because Elysium can only send a small portion of cremated remains to the moon (less than a gram), participants aren't actually paying to have their loved ones literally buried on the moon. However, this has not deterred the company from launching the service, charging $11,950 per "burial".

More Cities Use DNA To Catch Dog Owners Who Don't Pick Up Waste 177

dkatana writes: For many cities one of the biggest cleaning expenses is dealing with dog poop. While it is impossible to ask the birds to refrain from splattering the city, dogs have owners and those owners are responsible for disposing of their companion's waste. The few who shirk their duty create serious problems for the rest. Poop is not just a smelly inconvenience. It's unsanitary, extra work for cleaning crews, and in the words of one Spanish mayor, on a par with vandalism. Cities have tried everything from awareness campaigns with motorized poo videos, to publishing offenders names to mailing the waste back to the dog owner. In one case, after a 147 deliveries, dog waste incidents in the town dropped 70 percent. Those campaigns have had limited effect and after an initial decline in incidents, people go back to their old ways. Which has left many cities resorting to science and DNA identification of waste. Several European cities, including Naples and one borough in London, are building DNA registries of pets. Offending waste will then be tested and the cost of the analysis charged to the dog owner, along with a fine.
The Courts

Germany Says Taking Photos Of Food Infringes The Chef's Copyright 280

xPertCodert writes: According to this article in Der Welt (Google translate from German), in Germany if you take a picture of a dish in a restaurant without prior permission, you are violating chef's copyright for his creation and can be liable to pay a hefty fine. If this approach to foodporn will become universal, what will we put in our Instagrams? Techdirt reports: "Apparently, this situation goes back to a German court judgment from 2013, which widened copyright law to include the applied arts too. As a result, the threshold for copyrightability was lowered considerably, with the practical consequence that it was easier for chefs to sue those who posted photographs of their creations without permission. The Die Welt article notes that this ban can apply even to manifestly unartistic piles of food dumped unceremoniously on a plate if a restaurant owner puts up a notice refusing permission for photos to be taken of its food."

Microsoft Creates an AI That Can Spot a Joke In a New Yorker Cartoon 66

An anonymous reader writes: For over a decade Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor at the New Yorker, and his assistants have gone through 5,000 cartoon entries for the magazine's caption contest each week. Needless to say, the burnout rate of his assistants is quite high, "The process of looking at 5,000 caption entries a week usually destroys their mind in about two years, and then I get a new one," Mankoff says. But now thanks to a collaboration with Microsoft, Bob may finally have found the perfect helper. Researchers have been working on an artificial intelligence project to teach a computer what's funny. Fortune reports: "Dafna Shahaf, a researcher at Microsoft, used the database of cartoons to train the program to understand commonalities and differences in the millions of cartoons, which lets the AI run through the entries the New Yorker receives each week for its back-of-magazine cartoon caption contest. About 55.8% of the time the humans agree with the captions the AI selects, which is a pretty good percentage."

North Korea Is Switching To a New Time Zone 236

jones_supa writes: North Korea has announced that it is winding its clocks back by half a hour to create a new "Pyongyang Time" — breaking from a time standard imposed by what it called "wicked Japanese imperialists" more than a century ago. The change will put the standard time in North Korea at UTC +8:30. North Korea said that the time change, approved on Wednesday by its rubber-stamp parliament and officially announced on Friday, would come into effect from August 15, which this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

Buzz Aldrin Publishes Moon Expenses Form 100

An anonymous reader writes: Proving once again that the government has a form for everything, Buzz Aldrin has unveiled his Apollo 11 documentation on social media over the past few days, including a travel voucher detailing his expenses on his trip to the moon. The papers listed him as having been on a "work trip" from his home in Houston, Texas that had taken him to the moon and then back again with a total expenses claim of just $33.31. The report notes : "Government meals and quarters [were] furnished for all of the above dates."
Social Networks

Girls Catfish ISIS On Social Media For Travel Money 238

MarkWhittington writes: Yahoo Travel reported that three women in Chechnya took ISIS for $3,300 before getting caught. They are now under investigation for Internet fraud, which seems to be illegal even when committed against the most fearsome terrorist army in modern times. The scam seems to be a combination of the Nigerian Prince con, in which a mark is fooled into giving the con artist large sums of money and catfishing, in which the mark strikes up an online romance with someone he thinks is an attractive woman (or man depending on the gender and preference of the mark.)

San Francisco's Public Works Agency Tests Paint That Repels Urine 210

monkeyzoo writes: San Francisco is testing an ultra-water-repellant paint on wallls in areas fraught with public urination problems. The paint is designed to repel the urine and soil the offender's pants. "It's supposed to, when people urinate, bounce back and hit them on the pants and get them wet. Hopefully that will discourage them. We will put a sign to give them a heads up," said Mohammad Nuru, director of the San Francisco public works. A Florida company named Ultra-Tech produces the super-hydrophobic oleophobic nano-coating that was also recently used with success on walls in Hamburg, Germany [video] to discourage public urination. Signs posted there warn, "Do not pee here! We pee back!"

The French Scrabble Champ Does Not Speak French 113 writes: On July 20, Nigel Richards won the French-language world Scrabble championship. Richards does not speak a word of French. "He doesn't speak French at all, he just learnt the words," says Liz Fagerlund. "He won't know what they mean, wouldn't be able to carry out a conversation in French I wouldn't think." Richards reportedly memorized an entire French dictionary in the two months leading up to the competition. For living-room players, Scrabble is a test of vocabularies but for world-class players, it's about cold memorization and mathematical probabilities which is why top player are often computer programmers or mathematicians, not poets or novelists. Think of the dictionary as a giant rulebook of valid text strings not as a compendium of the beauty and complexity of the English language. A good competitive player will have memorized a sizeable chunk of the 83,667 words that are two letters to eight letters long. Great players will know a lot of the 29,150 nine-letter words as well.

To the uninitiated, a scrabble game played by top players looks like they had played in Martian. Here's a taste: In a single game in last year's Nationals, Richards played the following words: zarf (a metal holder for a coffee cup), waddy (to strike with a thick club), hulloed (to hallo, to shout), sajous (a capuchin, a monkey), qi (the vital force in Chinese thought), flyboats (a small, fast boat), trigo (wheat) and threaper (one that threaps, disputes). Richards has a photographic memory and is known for his uncanny gift for constructing impossible words by stringing his letters through tiles already on the board. "He is probably the best Scrabble player in the world at this point," says John D. Williams, Jr.. "He's got the entire dictionary memorized. He's pretty much a Scrabble machine, if such a thing exists." So, really, how does he do it? As Richards said in an interview posted on YouTube, "I'm not sure there is a secret. It's just a matter of learning the words." All 178,691 of them.

Skype Translate Reportedly Has a Swearing Problem In Chinese 82

An anonymous reader writes: Skype Translate was supposed to be Microsoft's attempt at the "Star Trek" universal translator, offering real-time voice and text translation. It launched with one of the most challenging of languages, Chinese. And apparently, thanks to the Great Firewall, it has its problems. An American expat using it in China reports: "A glitch in the beta software misinterpreted the words I spoke. 'It's nice to talk to you' was translated as 'It's f*cking nice to f*ck you,' and other synthesized profanity, like the icebox robot in 1970's sci-fi flick Logan's Run, but with Tourette Syndrome. It was quite funny to me - I couldn't help but laugh during repeated takes, to Yan's exasperation - but the tech team were none too happy about it as they worked late into the night."

Techies Hire Witch To Protect Computers From Viruses and Offices From Spirits 232

schwit1 writes: It may seem like your computer or smartphone is possessed by an evil spirit sometimes when a mysterious bug keeps causing an app to crash, but if you truly think your machine has been invaded by an evil spirit, there's someone who will take your call — Reverend Joey Talley. A Wiccan witch from the San Francisco Bay Area, Talley claims to solve supernatural issues for techies. Business Insider reports: "Talley’s website says she welcomes issues too unusual or dangerous to take the the straight world of Western helpers. But she also says no problem is too big or small, even, perhaps, your printer malfunctioning. However before you jump on the phone, you should be aware that Talley’s services do not come cheap. She charges $200 an hour (though a phone consultation is free)."

'Pluto Truthers' Are Pretty Sure That the NASA New Horizons Mission Was Faked Screenshot-sm 321

MarkWhittington writes: Forget about Apollo moon landing hoax theories. That is so 20th Century. Gizmodo reported that the "Pluto Truthers" have followed the astonishing images being sent back by NASA's New Horizons probe and have come to the conclusion that they are faked. After all, if the space agency could fake the entire moon landing, it would be child's play to fake a robotic probe to the edge of the Solar System.

Researchers Study "Harbingers of Failure," Consumers Who Habitually Pick Losers 300

AmiMoJo writes: Is your favorite TV show always getting cancelled? Did you love Crystal Pepsi? Were you an early adopter of the Zune? If you answered yes to these questions, researchers say you might be a "Harbinger of Failure." In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, researchers identified a group of consumers whose preferences can predict products that will fail. “Certain customers systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful,” wrote the study authors. “Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail.”

Students Win Prize For Color-Changing Condoms That Detect STDs 171

New submitter PJ6 writes: Three students attending the Isaac Newton Academy in the UK won the Healthcare Category of the Teen Tech Awards, for their idea to use antibodies to create color-changing condoms to recognize STDs. They say the material, which is still in the concept stage, will turn green for chlamydia, yellow for herpes, purple for HPV, and blue for syphilis. The BBC reports: "The boys said they still have to test the science and feasibility of their idea. They want to work with a university on the science and say they've already been contacted by a condom company which is interested in working with them on developing the concept further."