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That U2 Apple Stunt Wasn't the Disaster You Might Think It Was 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity dept.
journovampire writes with this interesting bit about the fallout of U2's partnership with Apple. "Remember U2's album giveway with Apple at the end of last summer? And how the world seemed to become very annoyed that its contents had been "pushed" to their devices without permission? Well, the naysayers might have been loud – but that hasn't stopped the stunt having a lasting effect on the band's popularity. That’s according to new research from retail insight experts Kantar in the US, which shows that nearly a quarter (24%) of all US music users on iOS devices in January listened to U2, nearly five months after Songs Of Innocence was released for free onto 500m iPhones across the world. In a survey of iOS users, Kantar found that more than twice the percentage of people listened to U2 in January than listened to the second-placed artist, Taylor Swift (11%)."
Movies

Spock and the Legacy of Star Trek 218

Posted by samzenpus
from the memories-of-the-many dept.
StartsWithABang writes While the nerd/geek world mourns the death of Leonard Nimoy in its own way, it's important to remember the legacy that Star Trek — and that Spock and alien characters like him — left on our world. Unlike any other series, Star Trek used a futuristic, nearly utopian world to explore our own moral battles and failings, and yet somehow always managed to weave in an optimism about humanity and our future. This is something, the author argues, that is sorely missing from the new J.J. Abrams movies.
Music

Ultra-Low Power Radio Transceiver Enables Truly Wireless Earbuds 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-hear-you-with dept.
First time accepted submitter irl_4795 writes At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona NXP Semiconductors will demonstrate Near Field Magnetic Induction technology in a truly wireless earbud including wireless audio streaming from ear to ear. From the article: "The wireless technology being used to enable truly wireless earbuds is based on Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI). NFMI features important properties such as ultra-low power consumption and the ability to create a very reliable network in and around the human body, with both high-quality audio and data streaming supported over small distances. An additional integration advantage is also that it requires few external components. NFMI is a short range technology and as such also creates a private network, making it is much less susceptible to interference than 2.4 GHz transceivers.
Music

Genetic Data Analysis Tools Reveal How US Pop Music Evolved 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the anatomy-of-a-train-wreck dept.
KentuckyFC writes: The history of pop music is rich in anecdotes, folklore and controversy. But despite the keen interest, there is little in the form of hard evidence to back up most claims about the evolution of music. Now a group of researchers have used data analysis tools developed for genomic number crunching to study the evolution of U.S. pop music. The team studied 30-second segments of more than 17,000 songs that appeared on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 between 1960 and 2010. Their tools categorized the songs according to harmonic features such as chord changes as well as the quality of timbre such as whether guitar-based, piano-based orchestra-based and so on. They then used a standard algorithm for discovering clusters within networks of data to group the songs into 13 different types, which turned out to correspond with well known genres such as rap, rock, country and so on. Finally, they plotted the change in popularity of these musical types over time.

The results show a clear decline in the popularity of jazz and blues since 1960. During the same period, rock-related music has ebbed and flowed in popularity. By contrast, rap was rare before 1980 before becoming the dominant musical style for 30 years until declining in the late 2000s. The work answers several important question about the evolution of pop music, such as whether music industry practices have led to a decline in the cultural variety of new music, and whether British bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones triggered the 1964 American music revolution [spoiler: no in both cases].
Music

Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected? 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the axe-to-grind dept.
donniebaseball23 writes: Thanks to a glut of titles, hardware and precious little innovation, the Guitar Hero and Rock Band craze all but died out by 2010. Now, however, strong rumors are swirling that one if not both franchises will be making a return on the new consoles. But will players care? And will the market once again support these games? Charles Huang, co-creator of Guitar Hero, weighed in, outlining some of the challenges. "First, the music genre attracts a more casual and female audience versus other genres. But the casual gamer has moved from console to mobile," he warned. "Second, the high price point of a big peripheral bundle might be challenging. Casual gamers have a lot of free-to-play options." That said, there could be room for a much smaller guitar games market now, analyst Michael Pachter noted: "It was a $2 billion market in 2008, so probably a $200 million market now. The games are old enough that they might be ready for a re-fresh, and I would imagine there is room for both to succeed if they don't oversaturate the way they did last time."
Sci-Fi

Harrison Ford To Return In Blade Runner Sequel 222

Posted by Soulskill
from the geriaction-heroes dept.
An anonymous reader sends news that Harrison Ford is now confirmed to be returning as Rick Deckard in the upcoming sequel to Blade Runner. Ridley Scott is now officially an executive producer for the film as well, and Denis Villeneuve will direct. It's set to begin production in the summer of 2016.
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars-Style "Bionic Hand' Fitted To First Patients 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-quite-a-grip dept.
schwit1 writes "Three Austrians have replaced injured hands with bionic ones that they can control using nerves and muscles transplanted into their arms from their legs. The three men are the first to undergo what doctors refer to as "bionic reconstruction," which includes a voluntary amputation, the transplantation of nerves and muscles and learning to use faint signals from them to command the hand. Previously, people with bionic hands have primarily controlled them with manual settings."
United Kingdom

Use Astrology To Save Britain's Health System, Says MP 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the gullible-like-a-capricorn dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An MP from the governing Conservative Party has said that using astrology could radically improve the performance of Britain's National Health Service and that its opponents are "racially prejudiced" and driven by "superstition, ignorance and prejudice." David Treddinick even claims he has "helped" fellow legislators through astrology.
Businesses

Pandora Pays Artists $0.001 Per Stream, Thinks This Is "Very Fair" 304

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-your-cut dept.
journovampire writes with this story about how much artists make on Spotify. "Pandora founder Tim Westergren has claimed that the company is paying out 'very fair' sums to artists, despite its per-stream royalty weighing in at just one sixth of Spotify's. The digital personalized radio platform has previously gone on-record as saying that it pays music rights-holders approximately $0.0014 for each play of their tracks: Westergren blogged in 2013 that Pandora pays ‘around $1,370 for a million spins’. That’s around 80% smaller than Spotify’s per-stream payout, which officially stands somewhere between $0.006 and $0.0084."
Mars

Mars One Does Not Renew Contracts For Robotic Missions 110

Posted by timothy
from the first-one-was-good-enough dept.
braindrainbahrain writes Mars One is, of course, the highly speculative, low credibility project to land humans on Mars after a one-way trip. In 2013 they had announced that two contracts had been awarded to the aerospace industry to develop a Mars orbiter and a Mars lander to carry a science experiment payload to the surface. Both contracts have been completed, but so far, Mars One has no immediate plans to renew the contracts and pursue further development of the crafts.
Movies

The Imitation Game Fails Test of Inspiring the Next Turings 194

Posted by timothy
from the thought-he-was-great-in-wargames-though dept.
reifman writes In 'The Imitation Game': Can This Big Fat Cliche Win Best Picture?, reviewer Monica Guzman blasts the film for distorting history and missing the opportunity to inspire today's tech savvy, highly surveilled generation to follow in Turing's path: Instead of an inventor, it shows a stereotype. Instead of inspiring us to follow in the footsteps of a person who shaped technology, the film inspires us only to get out of the way of the next genius who can. The Imitation Game changed aspects of the real Alan Turing's personality to conform more closely to our idea of the solitary nerd. It falls in line with the tired idea that only outcasts could love computers...As for explaining the science behind Turing's code-breaking machine, the movie doesn't bother. if invention doesn't deserve top billing in this story, where the technology at its heart is not only historically significant but hugely resonant in our lives today, then I don't know where it would. The message of the movie is that the uncommon man can do amazing things, but the message we need is that the common man, woman, anybody can and should tinker with the technology that manages our whole world.
Movies

Why Hollywood Fudged the Relativity-Based Wormhole Scenes In Interstellar 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the that's-what-they-do dept.
KentuckyFC writes: When Christopher Nolan teamed up with physicist Kip Thorne of Caltech to discuss the science behind his movie Interstellar, the idea was that Thorne would bring some much-needed scientific gravitas to the all-important scenes involving travel through a wormhole. Indeed, Thorne used the equations of general relativity to calculate the various possible shapes of wormhole and how they would distort the view through it. A London-based special effects team then created footage of a far away galaxy as seen through such a wormhole. It showed the galaxy fantastically distorted as a result, just as relativity predicts. But when it came to travelling through a wormhole, Nolan was disappointed with the footage.

The problem was that the view of the other side when travelling through a wormhole turns out to be visually indistinguishable from a conventional camera zoom and utterly unlike the impression Nolan wanted to portray, which was the sense of travelling through a shortcut from one part of the universe to another. So for the final cut, special effects artists had to add various animations to convey that impression. "The end result was a sequence of shots that told a story comprehensible by a general audience while resembling the wormhole's interior," admit Thorne and colleagues in a paper they have published about wormhole science in the film. In other words, they had to fudge it. Nevertheless, Thorne is adamant that the visualisations should help to inspire a new generation of students of film-making and of relativity.
Sci-Fi

Ask Slashdot: How Could We Actually Detect an Alien Invasion From Outer Space? 576

Posted by samzenpus
from the blowing-up-the-mothership dept.
First time accepted submitter defiant.challenged writes As I was watching another sci-fi blockbuster about aliens wanting to harvest the life stock population on earth for their energy since we are such a robust species, I was wondering how likely and easy/difficult it would be currently to actually detect an outer space invasion (fleet). I am a firm believer that if we would be invaded, we would not stand a chance and would probably not even hit a single ship when it comes to fighting them. The aliens in the movie had the capability to space-jump right into our solar system and even very close to earth. My question is how good are we at the moment in detecting an alien ship/fleet that jumps into our solar system. Do we have radio dishes around the globe such that we can detect objects in space in all longitude and latitude degrees? I know we have dishes pointing to the skies but how far can they reach? Do we have blindspots perhaps on the poles? I also wonder if our current means, ie radio signals, are relatively easy to be compromised with our current stealth technology? To formulate it in more sci-fi terms, how large is our outer space detection grid, and what kind of time window can they give us?
Encryption

Samsung Smart TVs Don't Encrypt the Voice Data They Collect 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the even-worse dept.
itwbennett writes A week ago, the revelation that Samsung collects words spoken by consumers when they use the voice recognition feature in their smart TVs enraged privacy advocates, since according to Samsung's own privacy policy those words can in some cases include personal or sensitive information. Following the incident, David Lodge, a researcher with a U.K.-based security firm called Pen Test Partners, intercepted and analyzed the Internet traffic generated by a Samsung smart TV and found that Samsung does send captured voice data to a remote server using a connection on port 443, a port typically associated with encrypted HTTPS, but that the data was not encrypted. "It's not even HTTP data, it's a mix of XML and some custom binary data packet," said Lodge in a blog post.
Toys

1950s Toy That Included Actual Uranium Ore Goes On Display At Museum 286

Posted by Soulskill
from the potassium-iodide-sold-separately dept.
hypnosec writes: The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab — dubbed the world's most dangerous toy — has gone on display at the Ulster Museum in Northern Ireland. The toy earned the title because it includes four types of uranium ore, three sources of radiation, and a Geiger counter that enables parents to measure just how contaminated their child have become. The Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab was only available between 1951 and 1952 and was the most elaborate atomic energy educational kit ever produced. The toy was one of the most costly toys of the time, retailing at $50 — equivalent to around $400 today.