What little boy or girl never wanted a hovercraft? Something loud that could travel over water, pavement, maybe even over a plowed field or through a swamp? Ben King obviously wanted one, so after he grew up and got his PhD in physics and found a good job, he founded Lone Star Hovercraft. Timothy Lord interviewed Ben at the Austin Mini Maker Faire, and we also found some video of Ben flying (is that the right word?) one of his hovercraft on a lake that we spliced into the interview to liven it up a little. Vroom!
Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!
Today at a press conference leading up to E3, Microsoft unveiled its next-gen games/entertainment console, the Xbox One. Their stated goal for the Xbox One is to have a single device provide "all of your entertainment." One of the big changes is increased support for voice and and gesture input. You can turn the console on by voice, and it will recognize you and automatically login. Swiping to the side with your hand will browse through menu pages, and saying "Watch TV" will bring up the TV app very quickly. The same with music, internet, and movies. The new console also supports multitasking — for example, while watching a movie, you can bring up your web browser in a side panel and surf the web at the same time. There is also a built-in TV listings app that responds to channel names — saying "Watch CBS" will switch to CBS without giving it an actual channel number. By this point, you're probably asking: does it play games? Yes. Hardware specs: 8-core CPU/GPU, 8GB RAM, a Blu-ray drive, a 500GB HDD, USB 3.0, and Wi-fi Direct. (They didn't provide the CPU frequency, instead saying it had 5 billion transistors.) The Kinect sensor got an upgrade: 2Gbps of data capture has finer skeletal visibility, can detect minor orientation changes in hands and fingers, and can even calculate your balance and weight distribution. The new controller looks slightly bigger, and is designed to play well with Kinect. They've also updated Smartglass, the remote control software that runs on mobile devices, but they didn't explain much about it. The new Xbox Live will have 300,000 servers powering it, up from 15,000 this year — though, of course, no details were provided about server specs. The console will have native game capture and editing tools — essentially, a game DVR. Saved games will be stored in the cloud, and they have new matchmaking capabilities that operate in the background. Update: 05/21 17:50 GMT by S : Halo is getting its own live-action TV show, for some reason. They'll be collaborating with Steven Spielberg. Microsoft is also partnering with the NFL for live broadcasts and interactive experiences, such as split-screen Skype chats and fantasy league updates. Xbox One will be out "later this year." No price information.
Writer and novelist Neil Gaiman and Amber Benson of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame have teamed up to star in a new vampire movie called, Blood Kiss. Kickstarted by ST:TNG and Emmy-winning writer Michael Reaves, Blood Kiss is a film noir vampire movie set in Golden Age Hollywood. Of his acting debut Gaiman says, "I'm willing to pretend that the prospect of acting doesn't terrify me in order to help Michael Reaves make his film." The trio have agreed to take a break from the blood and answer any questions you have about the new project or their past work. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
dcblogs writes "The Senate's immigration bill may force the large offshore outsourcing firms to reduce their use of H-1B visa-holding staff, forcing them to hire more local workers and raising their costs. But one large Indian firm, Infosys, will try to offset cost increases with software robotics. Infosys recently announced a partnership with IPsoft, a New York-based provider of autonomic IT services. With IPsoft's tools, work that is now done by human beings, mostly Level 1 support, could be done by a software machine. Infosys says that IPsoft tools can 'reduce human intervention.' More colorfully, Chandrashekar Kakal, global head of Infosys's business IT services, told the Times of India, that 'what robotics did for the auto assembly line, we are now doing for the IT engineering line.' James Slaby, a research director of HFS Research who has been following the use of autonomics closely, wrote in a recent report that the IPsoft partnership may help Infosys 'reap fatter margins by augmenting and replacing expensive, human IT support engineers with cheaper, more accurate, efficient automated processes,' and by improving service delivery."
First time accepted submitter Aaron B Lingwood writes "As reported by TorrentFreak, Viacom, Paramount, Fox and Lionsgate have all asked Google to take down links pointing to the Pirate Bay documentary 'TPB-AFK.' The film, created by Simon Klose, is available for no cost and has already been watched by millions of people. The public response to this free release model has been overwhelmingly positive, but it's now meeting resistance from Hollywood, TPB's arch rival. Pirate Party Australia opines 'Hollywood is using takedown notices to censor Pirate Bay doco, is it incompetence or malice? Always hard to tell.' Whichever the answer, the system is definitely broken."
Trailrunner7 writes "The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit has been spearheading botnet takedowns and other anti-cybercrime operations for many years, and it has had remarkable success. But the cybercrime problem isn't going away anytime soon, so the DCU is in the process of building a new cybercrime center here, and soon will roll out a new threat intelligence service to help ISPs and CERT teams get better data about ongoing attacks. Dennis Fisher sat down with TJ Campana, director of security at the DCU, to discuss the unit's work and what threats could be next on the target list."
Just a few weeks after Cody Wilson and friends successfully fired an instance of their own 3-D printed handgun design, Sparrowvsrevolution writes, "a couple of Wisconsin hobbyist gunsmiths have already managed to adapt Defense Distributed's so-called Liberator firearm and print it on a $1,725 Lulzbot 3D printer, a consumer grade machine that's far cheaper than the industrial quality Stratasys machine Defense Distributed used. They then proceeded to record their cheaper gun (dubbed the 'Lulz Liberator') firing nine .380 rounds without any signs of cracking or melting. Eight of the rounds were fired from a single plastic barrel. (Defense Distributed only fired one through its prototype.) In total, the Lulz Liberator's materials cost around $25 and were printed over just 48 hours."
walterbyrd writes "In 2012, IBM started retiring the Lotus brand. Now 1-2-3, the core product that brought Lotus its fame, takes its turn on the chopping block. IBM stated, 'Effective on the dates listed below, [June 11, 2013] IBM will withdraw from marketing part numbers from the following product release(s) licensed under the IBM International Program License Agreement:' IBM Lotus 123 Millennium Edition V9.x, IBM Lotus SmartSuite 9.x V9.8.0, and Organizer V6.1.0. Further, IBM stated, 'Customers will no longer be able to receive support for these offerings after September 30, 2014. No service extensions will be offered. There will be no replacement programs.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian government came a step closer to formalising its plans to make Asian language study compulsory for schools this week. It has released a draft curriculum for public consultation which reveals plans to include Indonesian, Korean and french language in the curriculum. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard publicly stated in September 2012 that in response to the "staggering growth" in the region, the government would be instigating 25 key measures to strengthen and exploit links with Asia. The plan includes the requirement that one third of civil servants and company directors have a "deep knowledge," thousands of scholarships for Asian students, and the opportunity for every schoolchild to learn one of four "priority" languages- Chinese, Hindi, Japanese or Indonesian."
mspohr writes with news that Apple might be in a bit of hot water over its policy of offshoring revenues to favorable tax jurisdictions. Only they take it a step further, from the article: "Apple relied on a 'complex web of offshore entities' and U.S. tax loopholes to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. taxes on $44 billion in offshore income over the past four years ... The maker of iPhones and iPads used at least three foreign subsidiaries that it claims are not 'tax resident in any nation' to help it avoid paying billions in 'otherwise taxable offshore income,' the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a statement yesterday."
judgecorp writes "German researchers from the Fraunhover and Karlsruhe institutes have achieved 40Gbps transfers over 1km using a wireless link. The new record raises the hope that point-to-point wireless could be used instead of expensive fibers in some rural broadband applications." Partially thanks to transmitting between 200GHz and 280GHz.
DavidGilbert99 writes "LulzSec's star burnt brightly in the short period it was active, but things quickly turned sour when its core members began getting arrested. Last week three of the six core members were sentenced in the UK, but this only served to highlight the fact that one member of the group, known as Avunit, has been able to remain unidentified despite the FBI having turned the group's leader Sabu into an informant. Who is Avunit? And does he hold the purse strings of the group's Bitcoin wallet which could have up to $180,000 in it?" As usual, be warned of the horrendous autoplaying video ads surrounding good content at the primary link.
richlv writes "Latvian police recently raided the home of a history teacher and confiscated his computer. The crime? Scanning a history book and making it available on his website covering various topics on history. The raid was based on a complaint from the publisher (Google Translate to English), which has a near-monopoly on educational materials in Latvia, often linked with shady connections in the Ministry of Education."
hypnosec writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has started accepting donations in the form of Bitcoins again after a two year hiatus, stating that the legal uncertainty hovering over the digital currency has all but disappeared. On their blog the EFF noted that a report from U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in addition to their own findings, 'have confirmed that, as a user of Bitcoin or any virtual currency, EFF itself is likely not subject to regulation.'"
Cbs228 writes "During last week's Google I/O conference, the company announced a replacement for its aging Talk instant messenger: Google Hangouts. Hangouts, which is only available for Android, iOS, and Chrome, offers closer integration with Google+. Unfortunately, the new product drops support for the XMPP instant messaging protocol, which has been an integral part of Talk for over ten years. XMPP delivers instant messages to desktop clients, like Pidgin, and enables communication between users on different instant messaging networks. Hangouts users attempting to communicate with contacts on non-Google servers, such as jabber.org, have found that all communications have been suddenly and inexplicably severed. A Google account is now required to communicate with Hangouts users. Google Hangouts joins the ranks of an already-crowded ecosystem of closed, incompatible chat products like Skype." Interesting, because Google Wave was based on XMPP and Google was integral to the creation of the Jingle extension that enabled video chatting over XMPP. Note that no end date has been set for Talk yet, but the end must surely be nigh given Google's recent history of axing products like Reader and CalDAV support from their calendar app without much notice.