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Slashback: Drivers, Bodycomputing, Farscape 305

Slashback with news on ATI drivers for non-ATI branded cards, the viewer-led movement to save Farscape, wearable computing from MIT, text-to-facial-expression software, and more. Read on for the details

Maybe customer service isn't dead. On November 28th, we posted a report that OEM cards using ATI chips had trouble with the official drivers from ATI. Terry Makedon (Senior Product Manager, Software for ATI Technologies) writes "Last week we posted a set of unified Linux drivers. These drivers were only loading up on 'Built by ATI' cards. Through our various feedback mechanisms we have determined that there is a large community of 'Powered by ATI' Linux users that did not benefit from our Linux drivers. At this point we are happy to announce an update to our Linux driver (ver. 2.5.1) which will work on both 'Powered by' and 'Built by.' ATI's driver and software strategy is firmly based on responsiveness and we greatly appreciate the feedback our Linux users have provided. Please use for a direct feedback line to ATI.

Thanks again for the feedback."

But what if we put the show into this Interdimensional Fungubulon, and then jumped through this here "wormhole"? xagon7 writes "David Kemper, the producer/writer of Farscape, mentioned that it would be theoretically and legally possible for a group to set up a non-profit organization for fans to donate money to, in order to finance an episode and make Farscape all that much tastier to Sci-Fi for the 5th season. They have done just that. They have $200,000 worth of pledges and only need $800,000 total....I hope this gets Slashdotted. Read the story here and you can pledge here."

You're getting less happy to see me? man_of_mr_e writes "Check out MIThril, the next generation research platform for context aware wearable computing. It's been about 18 months since this was last talked about here on Slashdot, and it's kind of cool to see how far the technology has come since then. For those that aren't aware of what it is, it's essentially a project to prototype human wearable computers, complete with schematics, pictures, and a cvs repository for software. Now you too can be like that guy in the IBM commercials trading stock while feeding the pigeons."

Flattening the slope to entry. Catskul writes "You don't need the libwine hack, mentioned in the previous news entry. Just follow the New QT Howto, download the codecs and start MPlayer."

Don't look at me in that tone of voice! 1010011010 writes "On Nov. 26, you ran a story on SpeechView, 'software that translates the voice on the other side of the line into a three dimensional animated face on the computer.' The North Carolina State University Department of Computer Science's 'Voice IO Group' is also working on that problem. Their software looks like it might be better. Read about it here. Includes quicktime movies of the results."

Victory, or a reprieve? A non moose cow writes "Just noticed that a couple of my favorite "Killed by the RIAA" webcast stations are back... like Soma-FM and Monkey Radio (get the streams at Shoutcast). The saving grace came via the recent passage of HR5469 [PDF] by the US Legislature. Thank you to all that sent letters and/or money to fix this problem. If you have been yearning for the resurrection of your favorite stream, go check, it might be back. If you would like to trace the chronology of this mess, check out the Soma-FM news page."

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Slashback: Drivers, Bodycomputing, Farscape

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  • by Freston Youseff ( 628628 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:06PM (#4797667) Homepage Journal
    Save Farscape [] was created for the explicit effort of saving Farscape. I sure hope it is saved, since it's probably one of the best sci-fi shows in existence. Pretty much all I watch for TV shows are Junkyard Wars, Farscape and Enterprise.
    • by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:26PM (#4797799) Homepage
      I don't know about y'all, but for me "only" and "$800,000" don't come in the same sentence. (Except maybe "If I only had $800,000...") And I thought pay-per-view was steep!

      I had heard the episode price was closer to $1.7 million ... maybe that was not USD. For our non-American audience, $800,000 is real money. I think you can buy a cruise missile for that much -- which I note might be much more persuasive to those SciFi twits. You know, call a meeting, then appear on the videophone with your demands....

      Ambitious project! Damn! Farscapers are making us Mac zealots look pretty tame -- at least when we send Cupertino a couple thousand we get back a computer and a couple window stickers.
      • Re:$$$ money $$$ (Score:5, Interesting)

        by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @10:00PM (#4798334)
        $1.7 mil USD is likely the production budget per episode, but $800,000 USD per episode is the ammount of money Sci-Fi network gave the production company at the start, with the theory being that the remaining half of the money would come in from other sources such as the infinite future of rerun rights (which Sci-Fi is apparently still buying) and other intellectual property licensing rights. Remember, all this money would buy them just one episode to wrap things up, they'd need to multiply it all by 10-20 if they want a full season.

        As for this TVC entity, it should be very interesting to see what this builds into. If it were to be able to build up enough of warchest, it could finance the production of borderline shows that it knows there are enough fans to make viable, then collect a share of the revenues and use that income to finance future show-saving efforts. Of course, the whole point of this organization would be to finance shows that are good TV but are being canceled because they lose money, so TVC should seek non-profit status and always be soliciting donations.

        As for distributing the show to maximize profits, I would suggest that TVC first sell the new episodes via DVD and pay-per-view at about $10-20 per episode in order to capture the outright hardcore fans who are willing to pay big to see the show continued. Then, about six months later enter into a prime-time time exchange with a TV network where TVC provides the show for free to a cable network in exchange for TVC being allowed to sell all but 2 minutes or so of the ad time. (Of course, if there is a network willing to pay for the show, that is the safer bet...) The idea of putting the show on free TV would be to attract new fans, and hopefully enough new fans would be brought in to make the show once again viable, at which point TVC could begin to pull its financial involvement out and find another show to rescue.
        • I think you're right about the cost, at least I have heard that networks have expected studios to underwrite more and more of the expenses. So there is all the more pressure to deliver instant hit shows, rather than wait for a sleeper to simmer. Really, though, Farscape had passed the sleeper stage.

          The pitfall I see here is that the show really needs the strength of a fully committed network behind it. Farscape is still pretty obscure and needs to expand its audience share. To do that, it needs promotion and an intelligent time slot. I don't know about elsewhere, but here in DC Farscape was airing late Friday night. That is not primetime, and yes people can tape it but the ones who do already like the show.

          So ... the money-raising may be symbolic at best, and maybe the ideal outcome is to outbluff the network. However, we would not want a repeat of the Star Trek experience, where the show was renewed under fan pressure, but only for one year and in bizarre moving time slots without promotion. The network guaranteed its demise for "declining ratings."

          I don't know the business, and I hope whoever's involved in this white knight plan does. It is rumored that whoever is in charge at SciFi (I forget his name) simply "doesn't like space shows" which is certainly ironic [] and probably insurmountable. More [].

          I'm still leaning towards my cruise missile idea. Is there a downside?
          • The problem is, being a hit, of any kind, is irrelevent.

            It has to be a major hit with a SPECIFIC target group that actually spends money.

            Oh, and if it is the wrong target group (even if they spend money) they will still junk it and try something new.

            This is why fox hit it big, and now mostly sucks. They spent a lot of money with shows that 'might' be hits. Most of them bombed, but a few hit with an audience and bingo. You had Married with Children, Simpsons, etc.

            But, now they go for target markets like everybody else.

            Wish I knew what market I was in (of any channel) cuz damnit, I don't seem to get the channel.

      • $800,000 is real money.

        As opposed to what?

      • Re:clarifications (Score:2, Informative)

        by robobor ( 600173 )
        There is no goal set for the campaign. Those numbers on the ipetitions page are only examples. The goal is to get as much as possible. The best bet for this to work is for "The Viewer Consortium" to act as an additional investor in the series.

        For example, the cost of the series averages to $1.5M per episode. Sci-Fi was picking up half of that, 750k. That's $16.5M for a 22 episode season. Assuming all the funding that was there still is, that is the only deficit to make up. (As an aside - Sci-Fi is paying up to 3 TIMES that much for "Taken")

        Take 1M as the average weekly viewership in the US. If 10% of the people who watch Farscape in the US gave an average of $25 each, the cost per episode could be reduced by over $100k. That could go a long way to helping Henson and Sci-Fi, or any other network for that matter, reach an agreement. Money from all the viewers worldwide only makes the deal better.

        Also, the number quoted as already donated is suspect. That ipetitions page is, I think, the original one from when the news first broke. It asked only hypothetically, "what would you give if you could save Farscape?". It needs to be restarted, asking "What WILL you give?", and a more definite payment system instead of "pledges" needs to be established.

        They are also looking into direct sales to viewers - perhaps DVD sales, or even pay-per-view. The numbers for this are even more daunting, but not, in my opinion, completely impossible. With advertising getting more and more difficult to sell and the impact of tivo-like devices rendering ads useless, this may be a distribution model considered more often in the future. Instead of paying $50 a month to your cable Co. for a collection networks, in the future you might pay $50 a month only for the shows you want to watch. The cable companies have alot of installed bandwidth and are itching to find more uses for it, like video on demand. Farscape could be offered as a test case to see how well the idea is accepted.
      • window stickers?!?! I didn't get any window stickers with my tibook!!!
    • Well, if it does get financed this way, it better not have ANY adds in there, seeing as it's already been payed for.
    • During "Taken", SciFi was running "SciFi 2003" commercials that included Farscape.

  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jdkincad ( 576359 ) <> on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:06PM (#4797674)
    I hope this gets Slashdotted.

    Are you some kind of computer sadist?
  • Donate.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Forkenhoppen ( 16574 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:07PM (#4797684)
    And while you're donating $800,000 so a bunch of guys 'n gals can run around in rubber and vinyl while stuff blows up around them, why not donate a few bucks to charity so a few kids can eat for a year?

    No, seriously.. you'll feel better about yourself. :)
    • Re:Donate.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:09PM (#4797689)
      Or at least get it released on Spice rather than SciFi :P
    • Re:Donate.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shiffman ( 118484 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:18PM (#4797744) Homepage
      And what makes you think we don't already donate a few bucks, or more than a few, to deserving charities?

      Or do you think museums and symphonies should be plowed under to make way for soup kitchens? Supporting the arts, and I do consider Farscape to be art, shouldn't have to apologize for not being about subsistance.
      • Re:Donate.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Forkenhoppen ( 16574 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:31PM (#4797827)
        If you do, then I commend you for it. It's people like you who make this world a better place.

        I respect the arts. I just felt obligated to put it into perspective, that's all. $1,000,000 is an awful lot of money, and the first thing that came to mind is that an amount like that could feed a fair number of mouths. (It may have had something to do with my just having listened to the evening news.)

        I apologize if I came across as heavy-handed.
        • $1,000,000 is an awful lot of money, and the first thing that came to mind is that an amount like that could feed a fair number of mouths

          Until the money ran out and the mouths got hungry again, the needy wouldn't need as much. You're completely correct. You premise that we'd be helping people by feeding them, however, is completely flawed. That money would buy a lot of food, but when I thought of how much that million was, I thought it would buy a lot of tools and education and basic agricultural reform.

          I won't dontate money to "needy" charities unless I know the money goes towards things which help build a less needy future, not non-sustainable, stopgap measures. For exmple, I'd give to "Feed the African Children", or whatever, only if I knew the money was going towards improving farming methods, animal husbandry skills, education, water supply improvement, birth control and reproductive education, etc. rather than just plain food (which is usually just stolen and sold anyway). I all I continue to give is just food, when will I be able to stop? When will the people I feed get to the point where they no longer need my help and can provide for themselves?

          Yeah, there are grey areas here (it's a shame the US destroys perfectly good crops to keep prices balanced, for example), but by and large terminally hungry people could use the ability to make food as opposed to merely food. Has Sally Struthers helped anyone get out of poverty and become self-sustaining? Have those "adopt a kid" programs gotten to the point where they've run out of kids? I'm not being cynical or contrary; I just can't help but think of it as the orgnic system it is. Energy is constantly flowing into it, but energy demand only increases as more flows in (probably due to unsustainable growth). Rather than building any sort of foundation, all the food does is create a positive feedback loop of needing more food. The hungriest nations are not going to get less hungry if we continue to feed them. They need to know how to help themselves. Looked at one way, one caould say that we're almost doing them a disservice by helping them. Metaphorically speaking, we're putting phosphates in the pond and complaining that all the algae don't have enough to eat. We're not part of the solution.

          I know you need to have the basics first, and that there will always be the itinerant and/or temporarily hungry, but the handout mentality really needs to shift towards helping people help themselves or the needy will be forever needful. IM(H)O.


          • I won't dontate money to "needy" charities unless I know the money goes towards things which help build a less needy future, not non-sustainable, stopgap measures.

            Are we still talking about Farscape, or starving africans? I agree, farscape is needy because there aren't enough fans to justify the expense of production, and africans are starving because there are so many of them living in a desert. neither is going to change by giving them $1Mil.

            Sometimes it's better to just let it go. It's not politically correct to point out but starvation is natural. population is balanced against available resources and equilibrium is reached. Should we drop protein reseqeuencers on a hungry primitive planet? no, even though it's hard to watch people suffer, it's still the wrong thing to do.

            should we fund a sick show that's been earmarked for extinction? sorry, I like farscape but it's time to say goodbye.
            • Are we still talking about Farscape, or starving africans?

              What is the difference? One is a metaphor for the other. Have you ever heard that saying "don't feed a stray cat?" It's sad that the pitiful, starving creature is mewling at your door, but if you feed it, you will always have to feed it. It's the same with the current popular welfare mentality. Continue to just give food to starving people and you'll just keep otherwise starving people alive -- as long as you feed them. Pay for an "extinct" show to stay on the air and you'll have an extinct show on the air -- as long as you pay for it. Better is to find a way for the object of your sympathy to be able to exist on its own (in fact, I would argue that it's cruel and lazy to do otherwise). That is actually helping the situation.

              Blindly contirbuting money to Farscape is nice and heartfelt and gives the sometimes necessary short term feelgoods, but it won't help keep the show on the air. Giving money to this cause won't keep Farscape on the air any more than giving rice to Africa will teach Africans learn how to farm rice paddies.

              Figure out how to keep Farscape alive and viable on it's own merits. Or let it die and something else take its place. Surprisingly, some people just fail to understand this reality.


          • Yeah, it could feed a lot of mouths. Like the film crew & their families. The actors and their families. The support staff, etc, etc.

            It isn't like the $1,000,000 goes up in SMOKE.

            Although, a few big explosions would be cool...
        • FWIW I for one didn't think you were seriously going preachy on us. It's tough to communicate tone online without hundreds of those infernal smileys.

          There is one distinction here -- Farscape is an *investment* -- I don't know how they plan to work it but I damn well wouldn't give a significant amount without knowing where revenues and royalties were going to go. I think the show is more than good enough to pay for itself and then some, and the SciFi Channel is not my idea of charity (more like war criminal at the moment). Once that's done, donate the principal+earnings and everyone's happy! Heck, maybe I'll give Tiny Tim an advance.

          For a stunningly efficient and humane charity, please check out Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres). They go to all the tough spots that even Red Cross fears to tread, indeed they were originally a splinter from RC. [/plug] :)
    • Re:Donate.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ottffssent ( 18387 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:23PM (#4797784)

      Farscape and well-fed children are not substitutes, in an economic sense. Each satisfy a unique need on the part of the donator.

      Thus, while you may be correct that donating to a feed-the-children charity will make one feel better about one's self, that does not imply that donating to a feed-the-children charity INSTEAD of donating to a save-the-Farscape charity will make one feel MORE good. The law of diminishing utility implies that donating some money to save Farscape and some to save children will make a person MOST happy overall.
      • Boy did that go over my head!

        I'll translate: Do both doofus.

        We are all selfish at some point, choosing our comfort over that of someone less fortunate. I've just slotted this quandary into the general principle of all things in moderation.
      • That's only half the analysis. With only two goods (Farscape and well-fed children) they must be substitutes, so we need at least three goods (Farscape, well-fed children, and a composite everything else). Now add a budget constraint and you may find that optimal purchases of either well-fed children or Farscape are zero while the other is positive. Otherwise you would observe every consumer buying some miniscule amount of every good produced.
    • but starving children aren't entertaining, the performances of said children on World Vision adverts isn't anywhere near as good as the Farscape team's.
    • Re:Donate.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:37PM (#4797871) Homepage Journal
      why not donate a few bucks to charity so a few kids can eat for a year?
      Dress the kids up in rubber costumes, and we can kill two birds with one stone.
    • Re:Donate.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by failrate ( 583914 )
      Charities have become rather parasitic entities. I worked in a Muscular Dystrophy Association call center... for a day. I was summarily released because I didn't get enough donations. Charitable work.

      I'm not the only one who's been exposed to this kind of charitable dirty business... look here, please []

    • So we do donate our $800,000 to see the rubber suits and the Muppets. This is just for 1 episode, right? So if we want to see what happens next, we get to pay another $800,000?
  • by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <> on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:11PM (#4797706) Homepage
    I think it's very cool that there are people out there who feel passionately enough about a goot TV program to fork over money and keep it running.

    However, if this actually takes off, I believe it will not set a good precedent (AFAIK this is not being done anywhere else, unless I'm mistaken, please feel free to correct me).

    Think about it - the SciFi channel is not free. I already pay ~$50 for cable... and in order to enjoy a show I like I have to pay even more??? What's next? Viewer-supported Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Does anyone think low-life TV execs (which are no better than record company ones) are not going to see this and go oooohh! Let's threaten to cut Zim The Invader and start raking up the dough!!!

    It's a noble cause, assuming I can pick it up using an antenna. Otherwise it's a bad idea.

    Rant off.

    • by susano_otter ( 123650 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:33PM (#4797848) Homepage
      Well, the cable system has some obvious flaws...

      With network TV, you pay for shampoo, and the shampoo manufacturer pays for your TV programs.

      With "perfect" cable TV, you pay for shampoo, and you also pay for your TV programs, but at least you don't have to watch shampoo commercials.

      With "typical" cable TV, you pay for shampoo, and programs, and you still get shampoo commercials.

      You can't expect to fix the whole problem at once, but viewer-supported cable programming is a step in the right direction.

      If this works, and becomes widely adopted, it could shift the whole paradigm for television programming. In time, viewers and cable stations would renegotiate the arrangement to be more efficient and profitable for all parties concerned.

      In the mean time, threatening to cancel a show would be a great market metric. If nobody offers to save it, you probably weren't picking up any viewers for it to begin with. And that, of course, is bad business in the first place.
      • Umm, it might be optimistic to assume that large media companies are going to come to an equitable arrangement with consumers. Look at the RIAA and MPAA's antics.

        As for cancellation-threat-as-metric, the metric would indicate how fanatical fans were, not how many there were. Shows that go for the lowest-common-denominator aren't likely to receive the Farscape treatment, no matter how big the audience is.

        On the other hand, "My so-called life" was dearly loved by the few who watched it.
      • by PeteEMT ( 92003 )
        Isn't viewer supported TV programming called PBS?
        • Public broadcasting (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @09:17PM (#4798086) Homepage
          Yes, good point, and their begathon comes every year! Meanwhile the number and wordiness of thank-yous to corporate sponsors has been growing. (I mostly listen to NPR -- same problem.) Yet membership accounts for only 25% of revenue, so "viewer supported" is true but misleading. One-fourth supporting.

          I went to the trouble of looking this up on the CPB site [], so feast your eyes. Their financing is complex to say the least. The item "CPB Appropriation" appears to represent the federal government's $300 million share -- a pittance if you compare it to the $800,000 they want here for one episode of one show.

          The point is probably just to get the pledges, to make an impression on SciFi whose bottomline motivation is money.
    • No, it's a damned good idea. This is the first step toward the viewer-direct-funded model replacing user-funds-product-that-buys-advertising model.

      If this works, then TV becomes a little closer to being irrelevant.

      Too bad I don't like Farscape.

    • by gladed ( 451363 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:43PM (#4797904) Journal
      In summary,
      1. SciFi creates show for geeks...
      2. ...who buy DVRs so they can skip the ads...
      3. the advertisers pull their funding [] and SciFi cancels the show...
      4. ...and the geeks start whining.
      Here's the solution: to watch a TV show you "subscribe" to it for a small fee, but you get a small credit back every time you sit through a commercial. Kinda like a metered sewer system, but in reverse.
      • Actually, I was just discussing an idea like this with friends over the weekend. It's sad that the RIAA and the MPAA are so resistant to change, because the technology is out there to make a much better system for the consumers, which equates to more profit for the buisnesses. It is sad that the cable networks, the music industry, etc, are so frozen by fear of piracy, that they are unwilling to work with the consumers to make a better service (like TV on demand, buying subscriptions to just the shows you want to see, etc).

        The really strange part is that these industries are really fairly new, you would think they would be much less resistant to change. I could understand an industry that had been operating the same way for hundreds of years trying to stay static, but these are new industries built on relatively new technologies, and they are trying hard to keep themselves way to static to be effective.
        • It's pretty simple the reasons why paying only for the shows you want to watch will never come in to play - the providers will make less money.

          As it is now, you're paying for all your fave shows, and for some you don't like. If you only pay for the ones you don't like, they get less money. Not the best way to keep the shareholders happy.
          • > As it is now, you're paying for all your fave
            > shows, and for some you don't like. If you
            > only pay for the ones you don't like,
            > they get less money. Not the best way to keep
            > the shareholders happy.
            (emphasis added)

            Not the best way to keep the viewer happy either. (chuckle)

      • Here's the solution: to watch a TV show you "subscribe" to it for a small fee, but you get a small credit back every time you sit through a commercial

        Interesting idea, but how do you tell when someone sits through a commercial?

        If I'm using a Tivo, the Tivo's recorded the commercial -- the cable company can't tell whether or not, on a subsequent viewing of the show, I fast forward through the commercial. The cable company can't even tell if my TV set is on or not at any given time.

        Don't get me wrong -- I like the idea -- but if you thought Valenti calling people who go to the bathroom during commercial breaks thieves was bad before...
        • Well the whole system of paying for shows, and being credited for watching the commercials will require a slightly more interactive system than what we have today.

          Perhaps to get credit for the commercial, you'd have to answer a question about it. I wouldn't care anyway, I'd just pay for the shows that I want to see and forget about the commercials at all.
        • by shayne321 ( 106803 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @11:22PM (#4798752) Homepage Journal

          If I'm using a Tivo, the Tivo's recorded the commercial -- the cable company can't tell whether or not, on a subsequent viewing of the show, I fast forward through the commercial.

          Actually, they (Tivo) can. Tivo has always stated they collect anonymous viewing statistics, and I've read that commercial skipping is among the statistics they collect. Assuming that's one of the statistics Tivo would be willing to sell, it would be trivial for them to say "of 58,000 tivo owners that recorded last week's farscape, 96% of them skipped or fast-forwarded through the commercials". Of course, it's probably in Tivo's best interest NOT to release those numbers.. It would only reinforce what network execs already suspect: tivo owners (generally) don't watch commercials. This is why Tivo is starting to test other methods of getting ads in front of you, such as pushing them down to your box in nightly updates and displaying them prominently on your Tivo Central menu. *For now* you still have the option of whether you want to watch or not, but how long before Tivo forces you to sit through at least one ad before watching something you've recorded? Not trying to sound conspiratorial, just food for thought.


      • by cant_get_a_good_nick ( 172131 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @09:24PM (#4798137)
        Kinda like a ... sewer system, but in reverse.

        Thats an image I'd want to keep in mind, a reversed sewer system. Mmm, good.
    • Actually, I think the opposite. In theory I buy products because of advertising, which pays for shows so I'll watch the ads. If instead I'm the one paying for a show, there better not be any ads. I hear there are something like 2 million regular Farscape viewers. For less than a buck apiece we can completely fund the show - it costs more than that to rent the DVDs, let alone get a brand new show made!

      Now, the real trick would be to get something like this setup with enough support behind it to buy copyrights and such to the shows they're funding so there's a lasting benefit to the viewers.
    • if this actually takes off, I believe it will not set a good precedent

      The entire theory behind copyright law is that without it, we wouldn't get quality projects like big movies and TV shows because they cost so much money to create. If a large group of fans can get together and finance it on their own, with a desire to create quality content rather than profits, that kinda defeats the purpose of copyright, doesn't it?

      I agree that in this example the fans are collecting funds to continue a copyright that is privately owned. But in a sense the fans are attempting to take control of something they've never been able to impact directly before. If this does work, I think the precedent will be that fans are willing to pool together and pay a LOT of money to get the quality content they want. Groups could form to fund their own content, which they could release into the public domain. P2P could distribute them. No need to edit out commercials because there isn't any.

      I'm not a major fan of Farscape, but I'm donating because I DO want to set this precedent.

      • > If this does work, I think the precedent will
        > be that fans are willing to pool together and
        > pay a LOT of money to get the quality content
        > they want. Groups could form to fund their own
        > content, which they could release into the
        > public domain. P2P could distribute them.

        I think that you may have a bit too much experience with the hacker open-source community. From a sociological perspective, I don't think your hypothetical model could ever take off. The problem is that even if all these people were willing to go into this project with no thought of profit, simply to make something wonderful, once it was done, you would see a lot more resistance than you might expect to releasing it into the public domain.

        In the end, things that cost resources to produce end up belonging to someone because of the "Why should they get it for free when I had to pay for it" mentality.

        Just some return food for thought.
    • Viewer-supported TV exists. It's called Public Television.

      Nova or Frontline would not survive on a typical broadcast network, it simply wouldn't get the ratings in demographics that sponsors would pay for. Those shows exist because donors from individuals to corperations fund the show. (Your PBS station knows what show your pledge can be attributed to... they know what time you called, and specifically if they're sending you the Nova totebag or videotape of John Tesh in Concert and fund programs accordingly.)

      I think the clear rule that TVC needs to set from the outset is that when they put money into a show, they want that money to either be lost in a losing-money effort, or if the show rights itself and becomes profitable, they want their share of the profits so they can go save another show. The money they spend goes pay the actors and crew of the show, not into the production company or network's hands.
  • by Frederique Coq-Bloqu ( 628621 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:16PM (#4797725) Journal
    The final eleven episodes [] of Farscape begin in January of next year.
  • Lip Synching... (Score:3, Informative)

    by manly_15 ( 447559 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:16PM (#4797732)
    Very cool examples. Except, none of them show a tounge! There were portions of the speech where the lips weren't moving, and the tounge would have been.

    Once a tounge is added to the render, this tech will be sweet for games. Imagine playing someone in UT and seeing their mouth move properly as they talk to you. Cool for sure.
    • This might be nice for slower games, ala half life or adventure games....

      But this tech is all but useless on a game like UT or Quake. In fact, I would be rather pissed to have to waste more money on hardware so I can see a guy's mouth move right before I get gibbed to bits with a rocket. :)
  • MPlayer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jfedor ( 27894 ) <> on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:17PM (#4797736) Homepage
    Glad to see it plays Sorenson movies now, but I always wondered how the MPlayer folks are distributing various binary-only win32 dlls without saying where they took them from. Where are those QT5/QT6 dlls from? Are they from the freely available Quicktime Player I can download from I assume so, but they should try to make such things clear.

    • Re:MPlayer (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 02, 2002 @09:02PM (#4798023)
      Because MPlayer is in Hungary (a lawless, anarchistic nation), MPlayer does what MPlayer wants to do. Including packaging copyrighted quicktime software. Mplayer does not take shit from anyone. For example, MPlayer uses the trademark "Mplayer" (originally an internet gaming company from America) just to piss of American lawyers. Also, MPlayer likes to violate the DMCA by being able to play video streams never meant to be playable (like Sorenson and MPEG). This also violates international treaties which say you must pay royalties to the patent office to use its "codecs" (stands for coder-decoder, for all you non-multimedia nerds). Fortuantely, Hungary is land-locked and mountainous, making it not easily succeptible to missiles targeted at its web servers.
  • Is television really THAT important? I mean, farscape is entertaining and all, but that's all it is. Entertainment. Aren't their more important things to worry about? I'm not saying it's impossible to care about a tv show, just that there's things out there that matter a lot more. You know, like that group of people that lives in your house and pays all your internet and cable bills and feeds you coffee and pixie stix all day? That's your family, give them money, they deserve it more than hollywood.
    • You, um, seem to be under the misapprehension that everyone here is 15 and lives at home. Lay off the "coffee and pixie sticks" diet.

      Anyway, the group of people that lives in my house is a bunch of leeches. Especially the kids. And I'm not too impressed with the cat, either. ;-)
      • I don't have a family. I don't have a life. I program computers by day and get my entertainment from cable TV.

        I spend $35 on cable TV to watch Farscape, Stargate, Law and Order, Junkyard Wars, Simpsons, and Star Trek. $15 of that is just for expanded cable so I can watch it so hard to understand that I might be willing to fork over another $20 per month for a show that I really like instead of walking down to the video store to rent something decent once a week?
  • by El ( 94934 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:25PM (#4797796)
    And how does this fund help those of us that are too cheap to buy cable?
    • It doesn't. In fact, if another season does get made it'll likely be distributed either by DVD or Pay Per View to make sure that everybody who watches is paying at least part of their share to the project.
  • by FrenZon ( 65408 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:30PM (#4797820) Homepage
    If you feel like making your own non-instrusive wearable, one that DOESN'T make you look like a dork, and doesn't require specialist hardware, please check out []

    Disclaimer: this is one of my projects.

  • by WPIDalamar ( 122110 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:30PM (#4797821) Homepage
    So... how many of those pledges are going to fall through when it comes time to pay up? Yeah...

    On second thought, never mind. I love that show. I'll pledge the other $600,000!

    • I'll pledge the other $600,000!

      Unfortunately, our caller hung up before we could get his address! But thanks to InstaTrace, we know he is mhughes of Our Pledge Enforcement Van is on the way to the address listed for that domain.
  • Anthropics (Score:4, Informative)

    by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:53PM (#4797958) Homepage
    These guys [] are doing speech to animation. It is being used [] in phones. No, I don't work there, though I used to work with one of the people there (a long time ago).
  • text to face (Score:5, Informative)

    by sarcast ( 515179 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:56PM (#4797981)
    The Bud Light site has had a similar feature to this for a while. They call it "making faces" and you can look at it here: []

    You can upload your own picture and make it say anything you want, it will animate your face for you and looks pretty passable if you use a good picture.

    The company that makes this technology is Pulse Entertainment and they are located at in case you wanted to check them out too.
    • by nurightshu ( 517038 ) <> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @03:42AM (#4799700) Homepage Journal

      Unfortunately, Anheuser-Busch gave Pulse Entertainment a whole lot of money to add that feature to their website -- money that could have been spent on research and development of a Budweiser-brand domestic beer that doesn't taste like month-old horse urine. The advertising for that sort of breakthrough would practically write itself:

      Want a great-tasting beer, but don't want to send your money over to Fritz and his Nazi pals? Buy new Budweiser Good(TM), the revolutionary new brew from Anheuser-Busch! This is the first domestic beer that won't leave an aftertaste like the floor of a stable -- and because it's made in America by Americans, you know you're getting a quality product. Bud Good(TM): it's your new brew.

      And all the while they could have the vaguely homoerotic American working-man images that seem to be so popular these days (which is bizarre because they always remind me of those old Soviet labor propaganda posters). But at least the lip-synching thing is pretty cool.

  • ATI Fruit Baskets. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @08:57PM (#4797987) Homepage
    Where do we send thank-you cards or fruitbaskets? Emails, too, of course, but it's important to let the folks at ATI know that we appreciate their support of the Linux community, and somehow fruitbaskets seem to speak louder than electrons.

    --grendel drago
  • Ransom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Myco ( 473173 ) on Monday December 02, 2002 @09:07PM (#4798041) Homepage
    It seems that the recent innovation of ransoming software into the public domain may have applications in other media. And why not? If the audience for something like Farscape is a devoted corps of fans who are willing to pay up to make it happen, who needs the network after all? Sick of network execs telling you what to watch and calling you a thief if you don't watch every commercial with rapt complicity? Then organize and buy your entertainment direct from its makers. You cut out the middlemen and you get what you want, period.

    That's the dream, anyway. I'd love to see it happen, but I'm sure you've all got a thing or two to say about blind idealism right about now.

  • Bootiful (Score:2, Funny)

    by bayankaran ( 446245 )
    Just installed the ATI drivers for the 8500LE on Redhat8 and it worked just which are some of the good open GL games in Linux?
  • As I do not yet own anything better than a Radeon 7500 these driver updates do not directly benefit me. Nonetheless, a big thank you to ATi for listening to those of us in the linux community and acting accordingly.

    Whatever the equivalant of 'kudos' is to those who don't believe in karma, that to the people of ATi for their support of us linux users.

    It would be great to see other hardware manufacturers showing this level of support.

  • It can play it if you can download the whole .mov file (two towers trailers - WOOOHOOO) but it doesn't seem to handle those stupid mov files most of the new trailers are using, which seem to be some kind of reference file to other files which make no sense. Anyone gotten that to work?

    Anyway, I can confirm that this compiles, runs and rocks, including audio. Thanks Mplayer Team!
  • I do like Farscape, but it was starting to drag a bit recently, IMO. I've been thinking about it, and if the SciFi channel only has a limited amount of funds for original productions, I'd rather see them work on a few *really* good movies or miniseries, rather than dragging Farscape out even further.

    They did an excellent job with Dune (much better than that David Lynch abomination with -- gah -- Sting). And the recent miniseries version of Mists of Avalon was excellent, too. (Ok, it was done by another network -- but it proves that there are people out there who can do good screen adaptations of good SF/Fantasy works. If only they had the money.)

    Granted, most of the recent SciFi channel original production movies have sucked -- but then, they've been pouring money into Farscape.... :)

    There's a lot of good F&SF out there that could be adapted. I'd love to see a miniseries based on Amber or Ringworld or the Vorkosigan series. If it was even halfway decently done, I'd much prefer it to yet another recycled plot in yet another episode of Farscape.
    • You're kidding, right? You thought that misbegotten piece of 4-hour long crap was Dune? I feel sorry for you, I really do.

      For the record, SciFi has been pouring plenty of money into stuff like Taken (which I will not watch; Spielberg's CE3K crossed with X-Files but without the big-budget mothership or John Williams' score? Why bother?) and "rescuing" old shows like Stargate. It's clear that they are more interested in wooing the crystal-power crowd (John Edwards, that's SciFi?) with Egyptian-gods-as-aliens (I b et that's how they sold Stargate to the network) than in anything having more than a remote connection to space.

      I won't watch them anymore; I may actually wait until season 4 of Farscape comes out on DVD rather than give SciFi the ratings.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 02, 2002 @11:21PM (#4798751)
    "ATI's driver and software strategy is firmly based on responsiveness"

    Oh really? So when thousands of older-ATI-card Macintosh owners(basically, any Macintosh released from about 1998 to about 2000) BEGGED Apple and ATI for drivers(even signing a massive petition), I suppose ATI listened intently, and then released drivers for MacOS X? Hahahaahaha.

    For those who don't know, Apple and ATI passed the issue back and forth like a hot potato, and eventually, Apple released rather half-assed(read: you could finally bear using the system in more than 16bit color) drivers for older systems like the iMacs and Powerbook Lombard/Pismo, rolled into a system update; you had to edit a config file buried in the system to even get the driver to load!

    I have a Powerbook Lombard, G3/400mhz, and I can't watch movie previews under MacOS X because the thing can't push a frame rate higher than maybe 10-15fps. Text scrolling is slow as molassis and 3D is -completely- unaccelerated. Apple's advice, for taking me back +5 years in graphics performance, is to take me back +10 years in graphics technology: "set it to 16 bit color for better performance."

    Folks, this is pure marketing BS/backpedalling(ie, "oops, oh shit, we just screwed a large customer base. Quick, someone do something!") I believe the expression is "knowing which side your bread is buttered on." It has NOTHING to do with warm fuzzy feelings for penguins. I cannot STAND companies that tout how they "listen to the customer"...
  • by lobos ( 88359 )
    Since we're always complaining about copyright, if we donate a ton of the money needed to keep farscape going, do those few people own part of it? Do they get any revenue off of it? It's not like they're the exclusive people who are seeing it. If they were, they would be paying to see it. But to me it seems like they're paying to make it so they and others can see it. Therefore, shouldn't they own part of it?
  • I always found wearable computing really interesting, but I always thought it was weird that like every wearable computing scheme always has a bunch of shit hanging off of a vest. If they put it in a backpack they could go around and not look like a complete geekazoid robot. Wearable computing doesn't really have any practical future until it can be used without making you look like a huge dork, and I don't think that will happen for some time. I mean, right now there isn't really any full featured display that isn't blazingly conspicuous (some of the glasses they have are ridiculous. I'd really love to have wearable computing stuff on me, but not until it's not much more conspicuous to use than a palm pilot or a laptop would be. I think I need to design my own wearable because some of this stuff is just stupid.

    It makes me feel like Hiro in Snow Crash, I like the idea of wearing a computer around, but all the guys that do it (gargoyles) are big fucking dorks about it with ridiculously bulky gear hanging all over. I would use something slim though.
  • They have $200,000 worth of pledges and only need $800,000 total [...]

    They already have $200,000. How long did it take the blender fund to reach half that? What does this say about geek priorities?
    • Re:Blender? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by glwtta ( 532858 )
      I would think that a few more people know about Farscape than about Blender. Oh, and that's $200,000 in pledges... It took about 4 weeks to come up with $100,000 in pledges, if I remember correctly.

      Anyway, I love Farscape, but this whole thing just seems a bit weird. If the money went to the writers/actors/etc. of the show I would understand, but giving money to a cable network to keep a show going so they can charge us money for it and air commercials... just seems kinda odd.

      Of course I'm not one to talk, since I got the first 77 episodes strictly off of #farscape-central. (hell, I'm not buying a tv and starting to pay for cable just for one show)

  • ...instead of begware, why don't they and their fans just "open source" the entire project. Put out the call for volunteers instead of cash. Even if it means getting new "free" actors into it for the experience and exposure, get the screenplay written for free so some writers can garner screen credits and a boost to their resume/portfolio. Free lance video people, etc, using their own or donated for the shoot equipment. And etc, etc. computers for special effects? Has to be quite a few people or already established shops who like to donate some or all the expertise needed, good for at least bragging rights. The whole project could be chunked up, certain scenes go there for editing and tweaking, others go over yonder, share the workload. Seems like it would be doable that way.
    • by nurightshu ( 517038 ) <> on Tuesday December 03, 2002 @04:22AM (#4799783) Homepage Journal

      Why wouldn't they do this? Because then it would be shit, just like most of the programs on SourceForge. (Back off that hair trigger there, all you zealots; I said most of the programs. Yours is the one work of glittering gold in the mounds of crap.)

      I don't want some guy who played Chorus Member #2 in the Bumblefuck, South Dakota Community Playhouse's bastardization of Guys and Dolls ham-fisting his way through his performance as John Crichton. I want Benjamin Browder ham-fisting his way through his performance as John Crichton.

      If you use volunteer screenwriters, you'll just end up with a bunch of D'Argo/Scorpius gay slash fiction adapted into screenplays. Nobody wants to see tentacle sex on television (except you hentai freaks; don't get me started on you people).

      Freelance videographers don't do their work for free, despite the misleading name. And as for donated television-production equipment, I'm sure that there's just huge piles of it lying around the Hollywood hills right now, rusting because nobody's using it.

      I can't think of a single render shop that I've ever heard of that would be willing to work unpaid on a 40-minute TV episode, mostly because "bragging rights" don't taste very good and aren't all that warm.

      Finally, if you "chunk up" an episode and send it to, for argument's sake, eight editing facilities who are all working on five minutes of the episode for free, you'll have the first five minutes of average quality, the next five great, the five after that completely screwed up, and then twenty-five minutes of static because the other five editing departments couldn't get their portions finished in time for air. Without the fiscal incentive to do quality work, you can't control the quality of the output.

      So no, it really doesn't seem as if it were "doable" this way at all, when you actually think about it and don't just reflexively post the standard, "They should open-source x because then it would be magically good and wonderful."

  • Sheesh, if they're going to be asking for my pledge, why can't they do me a favor and switch to PBS instead of SCI-FI? At least then I can kill two birds with one stone by pledging to PBS (thereby supporting Farscape) and I can also grab that nifty Farscape totebag that they would offer! Now that's TV worth watching!

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"