Review: The Martian Screenshot-sm 218

I was both pleased and disappointed, as always, when I heard that a book I enjoyed was being made into a movie. Andy Weir's The Martian was the best new book I'd read in years. It was written for nerds, by a nerd — by somebody with an obvious love for NASA, science, and spaceflight. How could it possibly be condensed into the format of a Hollywood blockbuster? Well, director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard figured out how. The Martian is an excellent film, well worth watching. Read on for my review (very minor spoilers only), and feel free to share your own in the comments.

Inside the Spaceflight of 'The Martian' 109

benonemusic writes: Science writer Michael Greshko partnered with a team of scientists and engineers to explore the spacecraft and mission plans in The Martian (novel and movie), down to the rescue plan itself. Incorporating the help of Andy Weir, the novel's author, he comes up with a calendar of events for The Martian, explores the hazards of going back to save Mark Watney, and explains how a real world interplanetary spacecraft would pull off a rescue maneuver.

What Ridley Scott Has To Say About the Science In "The Martian" 163

An anonymous reader writes: Sciencemag has an interview with the people behind the movie The Martian. Director Ridley Scott, author Andy Weir, and Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science and an adviser on the film talk about the technology and the science in the movie. Scott says: "Almost immediately [after] I decided to do it, we started to have conversations with NASA about process, the habitats, the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), the suits and everything. And they sent us pictures, almost like photographs, of what they hoped it would all be. If there had been anything in [the screenplay] that actually was suspect—they are not shy—they would have said so."

British Movie Theater Staff To Wear Night-Vision Goggles To Combat Movie Piracy 278

Ewan Palmer writes: Movie theater across the UK will be required to don military-style night vision goggles in order to help crack down on movie piracy ahead of the release of potential box office smashes such as Spectre and Hunger Games. The initiative is part new measures to combat piracy as in recent years, pirates have found new and inventive ways to illegally record movies while using a smartphone to film through a popcorn box. Kieron Sharp, director general of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), said: "The bigger the film and the more anticipated it is, the higher-risk it is. We have staff on extra alert for that. James Bond is a big risk and we will be working with cinema operators and the distributors making sure we will keep that as tight as possible. We really don't want to see that recorded. They [cinema staff] are on alert to really drill down on who is in the auditorium and who might possibly be recording. They still do the sweeps around the auditoriums with the night vision glasses regardless of the film. But sometimes extra security is put in place for things like Bond."

This Is What a Real Bomb Looks Like 361

szczys writes: You see them all the time in movies and TV shows, but is that what an actual bomb looks like? Probably not... here's what a real bomb looks like. This story stems from a millionaire gone bust from gambling addiction who decided to extort riches back from the casino. He built a bomb and got it into the building, then ransomed the organization for $3 million. The FBI documented the mechanisms in great detail — including the 8 independent trigger systems that made it impossible for them to disarm the thing. The design was so nefarious it's still used today as a training tool.

The Forgotten Tale of Cartrivision's 1972 VCR 92

harrymcc writes: In 1972 -- years before Betamax and VHS -- a Silicon Valley startup called Cartrivision started selling VCRs built into color TVs. They offered movies for sale and rent -- everything from blockbusters to porn -- using an analog form of DRM, and also let you record broadcast TV. There was also an optional video camera. And it was a spectacular flop. Over at Fast Company, Ross Rubin tells the fascinating story of this ambitious failure.

Former NASA Mission Controller James Oberg Lauds 'The Martian' 55

At IEEE Spectrum, James Oberg gives high praise to the upcoming film The Martian (release date: October 2). Oberg doesn't have much to say about the acting; he concentrates on the physics and plausibility of the plot and the technology portrayed, which beat those of most Hollywood space epics, and notes in particular "There’s no cheating on even highly-technical spaceflight topics, as shown in the treatment of the so-called “Rich Purnell maneuver,” wherein the Hermes slingshots past Earth back to Mars for a desperate pickup attempt. ... The basic strategy of the Rich Purnell maneuver is not fictional—a crippled Japanese Mars probe named Nozomi actually used a similar Earth-flyby scheme to set up a second chance for its own faltering unmanned Mars mission a dozen years ago." Oberg's background gives his appraisal some weight -- he's a former NASA mission controller who specialized in orbital rendezvous maneuvers. He has some quibbles, too, with the way mission personnel are depicted, and notes one excursion into "fantasy mode" near the fim's close, but concludes that it's a fair trade for the overwhelming sense of realism.

One Day After iOS 9's Launch, Ad Blockers Top Apple's App Store 241 writes: Sarah Perez reports at TechCrunch that only one day after the release of Apple's newly released version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 9, ad blockers are topping the charts in the App Store and it seems that new iOS 9 users are thrilled to have access to this added functionality. The Top Paid iOS app is the new ad-blocker Peace, a $2.99 download from Instapaper founder Marco Arment. Peace currently supports a number of exclusive features that aren't found in other blockers yet. Most notably, it uses Ghostery's more robust blocklist, which Arment licensed from the larger company by offering them a percentage of the app's revenue. "I can't believe how many trackers are on popular sites," says Arment. "I can't believe how fast the web is without them." Other ad blockers are also topping the paid app chart as of today, including the Purify Blocker (#3), Crystal (#6), Blockr (#12). (Ranks as of the time of writing.) With the arrival of these apps, publishers and advertisers are fretting about the immediate impact to their bottom lines and business, which means they'll likely soon try to find ways to sneak around the blockers. In that case, it should be interesting to see which of the apps will be able to maintain their high degree of ad blocking over time.

It's no surprise that advertisers and publishers who make their money from advertising aren't exactly fans of blockers. What is surprising is that no one seemed to disagree with the argument that online ads have gotten out of control. "I think if we don't acknowledge that, we'd be fools," says Scott Cunningham, "So does that mean ad blockers are good or right? Absolutely not. Do we have an accountability and responsibility to address these things? Absolutely — and there's a lot that we're doing now." Harry Kargman agrees that in many cases, online ads have created "a bad consumer experience — from an annoyance perspective, a privacy perspective, a usability perspective." At the same time, Kargman says that as the industry works to solve these problems, it also needs to convince people that when you use an ad blocker, "That's stealing. It's no different than ripping music. It's no different than pirating movies."

Can We Trust Apple To Make a Good Games Console? 174

An anonymous reader writes: The Apple TV took center stage at the company's recent press event. It's getting its own operating system, better support for watching movies and listening to music, and full integration with Siri. All to be expected. But Apple is also pushing for the device to become a hub connecting mobile gaming with your TV. This article questions whether Apple has the chops to become a serious contender in living room gaming. Quoting: "[T]he subtext was clear: Apple thinks it can take on Nintendo for third place in the console market. The problem is, even while it's parading game developers on stage, it's still not clear if Apple actually wants to take on the console market. The inconsistency within the company when it comes to games is painful to see, and shows no sign of abating any time soon. ... The iPhone is the largest games store on the planet, and it's managed by a company whose attitude to the medium is 'go write a book.' That hasn't stopped magnificent art being made for Apple's platforms, but it has stopped some, such as Sweatshop HD, which was pulled from the app store in 2013."

Can The Martian Give NASA's Mars Efforts a Hollywood Bump? 131

Flash Modin writes: NASA has poured considerable time and resources into Ridley Scott's The Martian — perhaps more than any other movie in history — going so far as to time a Mars human landing site selection workshop to coincide with the film. Jim Green, NASA's head of planetary sciences, was one of the consultants, with other astronomers fact checking every aspect of the set and script. The rockets, modules, and space suits were built — and 3-D printed — with heavy guidance from NASA. The filmmakers even hired Rudi Schmidt, former project manager of the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft, to test the experiments done in the movie, including turning water into rocket fuel — which works. And, on the eve of The Martian's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend, some of those scientists believe that this obsessive adherence to science fact will be enough to make NASA's Journey to Mars real for Americans. The space agency needs a Hail Mary because, in truth, the real program is nowhere near ready for prime time.

TSR's Lost 1980s Dungeons and Dragons Movie Script, Reviewed 167

An anonymous reader writes: Over at the Escapist, games historian Jon Peterson (of Playing at the World) reviews a recently-unearthed copy of James Goldman's 1982 script for a Dungeons & Dragons movie. The synopsis sounds even worse than the Jeremy Irons Dungeons & Dragons film from 2000, if such a thing is possible. Given the resolution of recent legal problems paving the way for a new D&D cinematic universe, will we have better luck with the franchise today? How can you translate the interactive experience of D&D into a compelling movie?

Four Year Sentence For Running Piracy Streaming Site 235

An anonymous reader writes: A 29-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been sentenced to two years in jail and another two "on license" for running a website from his bedroom that streamed pirated content. (Being on license is similar to a strict parole in the U.S.) Police say the man made over £280,000 from ads on the site . Law enforcement was put on the case by an anti-piracy group in the UK. Between 2008 and 2013, users of the site streamed approximately 12 million movies, which prosecutors say caused £12 million in damages. The judge in the case said time in jail was necessary "to show that behavior of this nature does not go unpunished."

US Government's Pirate Movie Bootlegger Gets 24 Months Probation 83

Solandri writes: Ricardo Taylor, a former supervisor at the U.S. Department of Labor, ran a bootleg DVD operation for seven years, copying DVDs and selling them to other employees via the Department's internal email system. You know — exactly the sort of thing our draconian copyright fines were meant to prevent. He made more than $19,000 from these pirated movie sales in 2013 alone. His punishment? 24 months probation. Apparently, using the Internet to share Copyrighted materials at no personal profit is a more serious crime than selling copyrighted works for profit on physical media. More details on this local NBC site with auto-playing video.

Apple TV To Be Revamped 132

An anonymous reader writes: This Wednesday, Apple is hosting an event in San Francisco to announce updated versions of some of its products. One device getting a lot of the attention will be the Apple TV, which has languished for several years without significant changes. Apple is making a renewed push for the living room. The company has expanded its partnerships with TV studios over the past few years, launched its own streaming music service, and also made inroads on gaming. The new Apple TV will try to do all these things, including support for apps. It will also reportedly feature universal search: "Essentially, you'll be able to search for a show or movie once, and see results from all sorts of different sources." A side effect of this ambitious goal is that the device will more than double in cost, going from $70 to $150.
Open Source

How Open Film Project "Cosmos Laundromat" Made Blender Better 31

An anonymous reader writes: At the beginning of August the Blender Institute released Cosmos Laundromat: First Cycle, its seventh open project. More than just a 10-minute short film, Cosmos Laundromat is the Blender Institute's most ambitious project, a pilot for the first fully free and open animated feature film. In his article on animator and open source advocate Jason van Gumster highlights the film project and takes a look at some of its most significant contributions to the Blender open source project.

More Popcorn Time Users Sued 147

An anonymous reader writes: The torrent-based video streaming software Popcorn Time has been in the news lately as multiple entities have initiated legal action over its use. Now, 16 Oregon-based Comcast subscribers have been targeted for their torrenting of the movie Survivor. The attorney who filed the lawsuit (PDF) says his client, Survivor Productions Inc., doesn't plan to seek any more than the minimum $750 fine, and that their goal is to "deter infringement." The lawsuit against these Popcorn Time users was accompanied by 12 other lawsuits targeting individuals who acquired copies of the movie using more typical torrenting practices.

World's Most Powerful Digital Camera Sees Construction Green Light 89

An anonymous reader writes: The Department of Energy has approved the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telecscope's 3.2-gigapixel digital camera, which will be the most advanced in the world. When complete the camera will weigh more than three tons and take such high resolution pictures that it would take 1,500 high-definition televisions to display one of them. According to SLAC: "Starting in 2022, LSST will take digital images of the entire visible southern sky every few nights from atop a mountain called Cerro Pachón in Chile. It will produce a wide, deep and fast survey of the night sky, cataloging by far the largest number of stars and galaxies ever observed. During a 10-year time frame, LSST will detect tens of billions of objects—the first time a telescope will observe more galaxies than there are people on Earth – and will create movies of the sky with unprecedented details. Funding for the camera comes from the DOE, while financial support for the telescope and site facilities, the data management system, and the education and public outreach infrastructure of LSST comes primarily from the National Science Foundation (NSF)."

Netflix Is Becoming Just Another TV Channel 294

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix revealed in a blog post that it will not renew its contract with Epix, meaning you won't be able to watch movies like The Hunger Games and World War Z through the service anymore. With the increase in cord-cutters and more original content, Netflix is positioning itself to be like any other TV channel (one that owns its own distribution model) and is betting that customers won't miss the Epix content. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says, "While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods."

Brain Cancer Claims Horror Maestro Wes Craven At 76 35

New submitter JamesA writes: Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76. Though he's far less known as a novelist than for his various horror film jobs (writer, director, producer, actor ...), Craven also wrote a few books; I can't vouch for "Coming of Rage," but "Fountain Society" is pretty solid speculative fiction. Wikipedia notes that Craven also "designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google, and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween."

Bozza Wants To Be Africa's Answer To iTunes, Spotify and Netflix 42

Mickeycaskill writes: South African startup Bozza has grand ambitions of becoming a trusted platform for pan-African music, video and poetry, with artists keeping 70 percent of revenues. Whereas Netflix and Spotify can deliver high quality streams to users in North America and Europe with superfast fixed and 4G connections, 50 percent of Bozza's traffic comes from feature phones. Data compression technology and transcoding techniques try and keep costs down, while Africa's mobile market is much less app-centric. Bozza founder Emma Kaye explains how she plans to help turn Bozza into a major medium platform.