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Drone Racing Poised To Go Mainstream 98

New submitter Strepto writes: Using video cameras and special goggles or screens, First Person View has been a thing in the RC world for a while. In the last couple of years though, mini quadcopters have taken things to a whole new level, and the inevitable racing has begun to happen with these incredibly quick and agile little machines.

A recent event in Melbourne, Australia, was covered by various media including the ABC, Gizmag and Mashable. Our little media race (first and last place videos here) went down well, but there are still a number of regulatory barriers to jump in Australia and overseas. It's hard to judge public perception though. I was just wondering what the Slashdot crew thinks about this; does it look dangerous, irresponsible or just plain cool? What do you think the future holds?

Actor Christopher Lee Has Died at 93 96

Christopher Lee (or Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee) has played his last on-screen villain. The actor and singer died Sunday at the age of 93, reports The Guardian, after a career in which he played very few positive role models, but an astounding number of antagonists in fantasy, Sci-Fi, and horror films; as a young man, Lee played a career-launching Dracula, as well as a James Bond villain, the perfectly unsettling Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man, and dozens of other characters (not all of them evil). Into his 80s, still in demand for the creepiness he was so good at projecting, Lee portrayed the fallen-from-grace wizard Saruman in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptations, and the evil Count Dooku in George Lucas's Star Wars follow-ons. He was also perhaps the only Knight Bachelor to have released an album of symphonic metal. Even at the time of his death, Lee was involved in film projects, so his legacy will always be immense but incomplete.

American Pharoah Overcomes Biology To Win Triple Crown 212 writes: There are good reasons it's been 37 years since the last triple-crown winner. As Lexi Pandell writes, post-race recovery is no joke for a thousand-pound animal that can run more than 40 miles per hour. There are two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness, and three weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont. That tight schedule—and the super-specific needs of racehorses—means horses competing in the grueling back-to-back-to-back Triple Crown races have a big disadvantage against fresh horses. First, as a horse races, its muscles produce lactic acid. In humans, glycogen recoup takes about 24 hours. But horses take several days to process lactic acid and restore glycogen reserves. Trainers make sure their charges drink plenty of water and sometimes even use intravenous fluids to aid that repair process. Secondly, in addition to being the last race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is also the longest. When a horse runs a tough race (or has a new workout at a longer distance), its muscles break down. Then, during rest, they reknit and adapt. A horse that has skipped the Preakness, however, has the luxury of time. Mubtaahij, who some picked to win the Belmont, had plenty of rest so he could be pushed for hard workouts two weeks prior to the Belmont.

Finally, at different points in its stride, a galloping horse puts all its weight on a single leg. That limb bears three times more weight than usual when galloping on a straightaway and, thanks to centrifugal force, a load five to 10 times greater on turns. This translates to skeletal microdamage. Race a horse during that critical period and you increase the risk of serious injuries mid-race. Two weeks ago, vets were forced to euthanize the promising gray thoroughbred filly, Eight Belles, when she collapsed on the track after completing the race at Churchill Downs, suffering from two shattered ankles in her front legs. A fresh horse won't face any of those problems. Even a horse that ran in the Derby but skipped the Preakness will have five weeks to rest, and plenty of time for normal skeletal damage to repair, before the Belmont. "So, American Pharoah, it'd be awesome if you win the Triple Crown, but you probably won't," concluded Pandell. "It's not your fault. It's science and those pesky fresh horses." Science was wrong.
Hardware Hacking

Video Glowforge is a CNC Laser Cutter, not a 3D Printer (Video) 45

Co-Founder and CEO Dan Shapiro says, right at the beginning of the interview, that the Glowforge machine is a CNC laser cutter and engraver, not a 3-D Printer. He says they've "simplified the heck" out of the hardware and software, and are making an easy-to-use, non-costly ($2500 has been bandied about as the unit's likely price) device that can fit on a kitchen table -- or, more likely, a workbench at a maker facility. Although Dan did very well on Kickstarter (and afterwards) with his previous venture, Robot Turtles, this time he seems to have raised his first $9 million in the venture capital market, with participation from several MakerBot executives.

Glowforge is not the only CNC laser cutter/etcher device out there (or about to be). In Australia, Darkly Labs appears to have raised $569,397 (AUD) on Kickstarter to bring their LazerBlade to life, and already makes a small laser device called the Emblaser. There are others, too, including Boxzy, which did the Kickstarter thing and will now sell you a device that "rapidly transforms into 3 kinds of machines: CNC Mill, 3D Printer & Laser Engraver while enhancing precision & power with ballscrews." All this, and their top-of-the-line "does everything" machine sells for a mere $3500. Obviously, devices to give makers and prototypers the ability to make ever more complex and accurate shapes are coming to market like crazy. We'll continue to keep an eye on all this activity, including a second video interview with Glowforge's Dan Shapiro tomorrow.

Jeremy Clarkson Dismissed From Top Gear 662

An anonymous reader writes According to BBC News, Jeremy Clarkson, longstanding main host for the automobile television show Top Gear, will not have his contract renewed. This decision came about two weeks after he was suspended due to an altercation with a Top Gear producer involving catering during filming for the show. Admittedly not the nerdiest news of the day, but it can be said that his thirteen-year run on the new format of Top Gear has interested many Slashdot users who love their cars and the entertainment that the show has brought to them.

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 93

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "It's a weird time to be Spider-Man. Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man,' which made its debut in 2002, proved (along with Brian Singer's 'X-Men,' released in 2000) that superhero movies could appeal to the mass market, provided they were done right. With or without his Spider-Man mask, Peter Parker (played in Raimi's movie and its two sequels by Tobey Maguire) made for an appealing presence, earnest and kind-hearted even as he punched and trash-talked villains.

A few years after the debut of 'Spider-Man,' Christopher Nolan began his 'Dark Knight' trilogy, and everything changed for the current iteration of superhero movies. Now Spider-Man's earnestness seemed a bit passé, overshadowed by Christian Bale-as-Batman's moral ambiguities and dour growl. With subsequent movies such as 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' and the 'Iron Man' trilogy, the genre deepened still further, more willing to reflect—as Raimi's Spider-Man never had—real-world issues such as terrorism, surveillance, and drones."
Read on for the rest of Nerval's Lobster's review.
The Courts

Redditors (and Popehat) Versus a Bus Company 153

Techdirt explains the strange story of a lawsuit-happy bus company in Illinois which managed to tick off a cadre of determined redditors by calling them uncomplimentary names in the reddit forums. This all started when a bus passenger, Jeremy Leval, reported unsavory behavior by a company employee (telling an exchange student "If you don't understand English, you don't belong at the University of Illinois or any 'American' University.") and said so online. Besides the name calling on reddit, the bus company threatened the forum moderator with libel charges, and over insults posted by the bus company employees which the moderator had deleted. Further, company owner "[Dennis] Toeppen threatened to sue Leval, saying, 'The attorneys for Suburban Express are reviewing this incident with a view towards filing the appropriate legal action against this meddlesome MBA student.'" Attorney Ken White of Popehat got involved, though, and asked with good effect whether the company had fully considered the Streisand Effect. The strangest part? Toeppen's former involvement as a domain squatter.

Jeff Bezos Wants To Put an Airbag In Your iPhone 102

theodp writes "Don't want to pay Apple $199 to repair the cracked screen of the $199 iPhone you dropped? Neither, apparently, does Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. A patent application made public Thursday lists Bezos as an inventor of 'a system and method for protecting devices from impact damage,' which proposes using airbags, springs, and even a jet propulsion system to keep your iPhones, iPads, and other portable devices safe and out of the clutches of the Genius Bar. Let's hope there's an API — those gas cartridges could be a game-changer for fart apps!"

Oracle's Java Policies Are Destroying the Community 314

snydeq writes "Neil McAllister sees Oracle's buggy Java SE 7 release as only the latest misstep in a mounting litany of bad behavior. 'Who was the first to alert the Java community? The Apache Foundation. Oh, the irony. This is the same Apache Foundation that resigned from the Java Community Process executive committee in protest after Oracle repeatedly refused to give it access to the Java Technology Compatibility Kit,' McAllister writes. 'It seems as if Oracle would like nothing better than to stomp Apache and its open source Java efforts clean out of existence.'"

CmdrTaco Watches Atlantis Liftoff 130

When someone offers you the once in a lifetime chance to see something as historic as the final Space Shuttle Flight: You go. As a child I assembled a puzzle of the Challenger illuminated by those bright xenon lights, and dreamt of space flight. And last week I went to see the last launch the world will ever see of a Space Shuttle. Atlantis. STS-135. What follows is the story of my brief stay at the Kennedy Space Center.

Amazon Denies Skynet's Involvement In AWS Outage 99

An anonymous reader writes "Amazon has officially denied that the recent outage of its EC2 and Elastic Block Storage cloud platforms was the result of an attack from Cyberdyne Systems' Skynet sentient computer system, declaring humanity safe after all. 'From the information I have and to answer your questions,' a spokesperson explained, 'Skynet did not have anything to do with the service event at this time.'"
Lord of the Rings

Peter Jackson Hospitalized w/ Stomach Ulcer 84

An anonymous reader writes "The Hobbit author JRR Tolkien suffered from a perforated ulcer before dying in 1973. Now today, New Zealander Sir Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and soon-to-be-director of the two Hobbit movies, was hospitalized with a perforated stomach ulcer, and underwent surgery. This is only expected to slightly delay the filming of The Hobbit, and he's expected to make a full recovery."

Laptop Heat May Cause 'Toasted Skin Syndrome' 195

mrvook submitted an item that might affect a lot of you "Working with a laptop on one's lap for extended periods of time has been found to cause heat damage and skin discoloration in a handful of cases, prompting researchers examining the phenomenon to recommend thermal protection for laptop users and warnings labels on laptop device packaging." Only 10 cases have actually been reported, so this might just be a case of media hyping something, or it could be the end of the world with a generation of nerds doomed to sterility and crunchy crotches.

To downgrade the human mind is bad theology. - C. K. Chesterton