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Television

3D TV Is Dead (cnet.com) 399

While Samsung dropped 3D support in 2016, LG and Sony -- the last two major TV makers to support the 3D feature in their TVs -- will stop doing so in 2017. None of their TVs, including the high-end OLED TV models, will be able to show 3D movies and TV shows. As a result, 3D TV is dead. The question is no longer when (or even why) 3D TVs will become obsolete, it's will 3D TVs ever rise again? CNET reports: The 3D feature has been offered on select televisions since 2010, when the theatrical success of "Avatar" in 3D helped encourage renewed interest in the technology. In addition to a 3D-capable TV, it requires specialized glasses for each viewer and the 3D version of a TV show or movie -- although some TVs also offer a simulated 3D effect mode. Despite enthusiasm at the box office and years of 3D TVs being available at affordable prices, the technology never really caught on at home. DirecTV canceled its 24/7 3D channel in 2012 and ESPN followed suit a year later. There are plenty of 3D Blu-ray discs still being released, such as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," but if you want to watch them at home you'll need a TV from 2016 or earlier -- or a home theater projector. Those market trends are clear: Sales of 3D home video gear have declined every year since 2012. According to data from the NPD Group, 3D TV represents just 8 percent of total TV sales dollars for the full year of 2016, down from 16 percent in 2015 and 23 percent in 2012. Native 3D-capable Blu-ray players fell to just 11 percent of the market in 2016, compared to 25 percent in 2015 and 40 percent in 2012. As for whether or not 3D TVs will ever become popular again, David Katzmaier writes via CNET, based on his own "anecdotal experience as a TV reviewer": Over the years, the one thing most people told me about the 3D feature on their televisions was that they never used it. Sure, some people occasionally enjoyed a 3D movie on Blu-ray, but the majority of people I talked to tried it once or twice, maybe, then never picked up the glasses again. I don't think most viewers will miss 3D. I have never awarded points in my reviews for the feature, and 3D performance (which I stopped testing in 2016) has never figured into my ratings. I've had a 3D TV at home since 2011 and I've only used the feature a couple of times, mainly in brief demos to friends and family. Over the 2016 holiday break I offered my family the choice to watch "The Force Awakens" in 2D or 3D, and (after I reminded everyone they had to wear the glasses) 2D was the unanimous choice. But some viewers will be sad to see the feature go. There's even a change.org petition for LG to bring back the feature, which currently stands at 3,981 supporters. Of course 3D TV could come back to life, but I'd be surprised if it happened before TV makers perfect a way to watch it without glasses.
Movies

Despite Piracy Claims, North American Box Office Hits Record $11.4 Billion In 2016 (variety.com) 142

Slashdot reader rudy_wayne writes: Despite constant claims of losing billions of dollars to "piracy", the North American box office closed out 2016 with $11.4 billion in ticket sales. That marks a new record for the industry, bypassing the previous record of $11.1 billion that was established in 2015.

Disney had four of the top five highest-grossing films, including "Finding Dory," the year's top film with $486.3 million. "When holdovers are taken into account, Disney had six of the year's ten highest-grossing releases, a group that includes Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which debuted in 2015," reports Variety. Other top films include Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ($408.2 million), Captain America: Civil War ($408.1 million), The Secret Life of Pets ($368.4 million), and The Jungle Book ($364 million).

Disney "controlled more than a quarter of the domestic market share despite releasing fewer films than any of the major studios," according to the article, which notes that the record was achieved despite the absence of big releases in several major movie franchises partly through higher ticket prices (and possibly also inflation).
Star Wars Prequels

Lucasfilm Creates A 4K Ultra-HD Restoration of the Original 'Star Wars' (4k.com) 304

An anonymous reader quotes 4K.com: When the first ever of the Star Wars films, "A New Hope" turns 40 in 2017, millions of dedicated fans of the immensely popular franchise might get a very unique treat in the form of a limited theater screening in beautifully restored form with theatrical 4K resolution of the first movie released in the series. According to recent comments made by Rogue One director Gareth Edwards, a 4K restoration of Star Wars Episode IV "A New Hope" does indeed exist and now the only real question is whether or not the cleaned up and sharpened version of the movie will be hitting the big screen once again.
White it's release status is unknown, the ultra-high definition footage is said to be spectacular. In the interview, Edwards says "You can't watch it without getting carried away... It just turns you into a child."
Star Wars Prequels

Iconic Star Wars Actress Carrie Fisher Dies at 60 (people.com) 456

Carrie Fisher, the actress, author and screenwriter who brought a rare combination of nerve, grit and hopefulness to her most indelible role, as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" film franchise, died on Tuesday morning at the age of 60. From a report: "It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning," reads the statement. Fisher was flying from London to Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 23, when she went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics removed her from the flight and rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for a heart attack. She later died in the hospital. The daughter of renowned entertainers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Fisher was brought up in the sometimes tumultuous world of film, theater and television. Escaping Hollywood in 1973, the star enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where she spent over a year studying acting. Just two years later, though, the bright lights of Hollywood drew her back, and Fisher made her film debut in the Warren Beatty-led Shampoo. Her role in Star Wars would follow in 1977 -- and she detailed the experience, including her on-set affair with costar Harrison Ford, in her latest memoir, The Princess Diarist. She was only 19 when the first installment of the beloved sci-fi franchise was filmed. Fisher's fans, family, and colleagues have paid their tribute to the actress The Guardian has published an intense tribute to Fisher in an article titled "The loss of Carrie Fisher is felt by all who love Hollywood, warmth and wit".

From BBC's obituary of Fisher: She was a self-confessed bookworm as a child reading poetry and classical literature. Her high school education was disrupted by the lure of the stage when she appeared in the musical Irene alongside her mother, and she never graduated. She moved to London where she enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama before returning to the US and attending the Sarah Lawrence arts college near New York. Having managed to kick drugs and alcohol, she was rushed to hospital in 1985 after accidentally taking an overdose of sleeping pills and prescription drugs. The episode formed the basis for her first novel, the semi-autobiographical Postcards from the Edge, in which she satirised her own dependence on drugs and the sometimes difficult relationship she had with her mother. Three years later Fisher adapted it into a screenplay, and it was made into a film starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, and Dennis Quaid. Fisher -- who had bipolar disorder -- also wrote and frequently talked in public about her years of drug addiction and mental illness. Carrie Fisher's fame as an actress rested on just one role, but it was a role in one of the best known and most successful film franchises in cinema history. She was remarkably frank about the personal difficulties she had fought and overcome. "There's a part of me that gets surprised when people think I am brave to talk about what I've gone through," she once said. "I was brave to last through it." The world is poorer without you, Fisher. Rest in peace.
Sci-Fi

'Star Wars' Actress Carrie Fisher 'Stable' After In-Flight Heart Attack (abc7news.com) 120

Best-known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy and The Force Awakens, actress Carrie Fisher is recovering from a "cardiac event" Friday. An anonymous reader quotes ABC: Her brother, Todd Fisher, told The Associated Press that she was "out of emergency" and stabilized at a Los Angeles hospital Friday afternoon... The 60-year-old "Star Wars" star experienced medical trouble during a flight from London and was treated by paramedics immediately upon landing in Los Angeles around noon Friday, according to reports citing unnamed sources.
Fisher reportedly remains in the intensive care unit while lots of celebrities are now wishing her a speedy recovery for Christmas, including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels, Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, and Billy Dee Williams, as well as Star Trek actors William Shatner and George Takei. Many fans are using the hashtag #MayTheForceBeWithHer, and she's even receiving messages of support from the Twitter account set up for her therapy dog, Gary.
Star Wars Prequels

Thanks To the Princess, Han Wasn't Always Solo (cnn.com) 143

rmdingler writes: It seems the chemistry was strong with these two. It is interesting to note how long it took this to emerge, as by today's standards, it doesn't rise to nearly the same level of scuttlebutt. Almost 40 years later, Carrie Fisher told People magazine that she and Harrison Ford had an affair on the set of the 1977 film 'Star Wars.' "It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend," she said. "After stumbling on often angst-ridden journals she kept while filming on location in London, she felt the time had come to open up about the formative experience," reports People magazine. "'It's been 40 years,' explains Fisher, who went on to write The Princess Diarist, excerpted exclusively in this week's issue."
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars Production Company Fined Almost $2 Million For Harrison Ford's Injury (bbc.co.uk) 81

New submitter Shimbo writes: Foodles Production (UK) Ltd was fined 1.6 million British pounds (almost $2 million) at Aylesbury Crown Court today after pleading guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act at an earlier hearing. Judge Francis Sheridan said, "The greatest failing of all on behalf of the company is a lack of communication, a lack because, if you have a risk assessment and you do not communicate it, what is the point of having one?" The fine is a result of an unfortunate incident while filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Harrison Ford was reportedly knocked to the ground and crushed beneath a heavy hydraulic door when he walked on to the set of the Millennium Falcon -- not believing it to be live. The 71-year-old actor suffered a broken left leg. Prosecutor Andrew Marshall said, according to Britain's Press Association, the door acted like a "blunt guillotine," coming down "millimeters from his face." The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that Ford was hit with a force similar to the weight of a small car.
Sci-Fi

Star Wars Actor Kenny Baker Dies at Age 81 (theguardian.com) 51

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Guardian: The British actor who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars films has died at the age of 81 after a long illness. Kenny Baker, who was 3-feet 8-inches tall, shot to fame in 1977 when he first played the robot character.

He went on to play the character in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as the three Star Wars prequels from 1999 to 2005. He also appeared in a number of other much loved films in the 1980s, including The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.

Baker's niece told the newspaper that "He brought lots of happiness to people and we'll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world..."
Security

A Bored Hacker Easily Stole And Defaced More Than 70 Subreddits (vice.com) 74

An anonymous reader writes: Hacker, BVM, said he's "lost count" of the number of subreddits he's stolen and defaced, but estimates that the number is more than 70. Subreddits like r/pics, r/starwars, and r/gameofthrones, and many others, have been defaced just in the last few days. He claims Reddit's crummy security, and lack of two-factor authentication are what has made his exploits possible. "Reddit's security is shit," he says. "If Reddit would simply add 2FA it would be a lot harder to get in." Why is BVM hacking these subreddits? "No reason really. Just boredom. It's not like it's really a challenge or anything so I just do it to pass time," the hacker told Motherboard in an online chat. BVM didn't comment on how exactly he is taking over subreddits. However, he did admit he's been hacking into moderators' accounts and then changing the CSS style of the pages, replacing it with a note taking responsibility. Reddit appears to be responding to these incidents quickly, restoring the subreddits.
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars Buttons And Lights You May Have Missed (vice.com) 125

tedlistens writes: At Motherboard, Alex Pasternack writes: "Star Wars is set in a world of wildly advanced technology. But take a good look at the machinery of Star Wars, and you may be surprised to see how wonderfully analog it all is -- buttons! levers! vector graphics! Yes, there are hyperdrives and lightsabers and hologram Princess Leias and droids that know six million languages (including the language of moisture vaporators, along with various etiquette and diplomatic protocols useful across the galaxy). But it's also a world where sometimes you have to hit a robot to get it to work, like an old dashboard radio, a place where the supercomputers are operated manually and where buttons and control panels and screens seem far removed from our own galaxy: tactile, lo-fi, and elegantly simple." May the 4th be with you.
The Military

Ted Cruz Proposes Reviving SDI To Counter N. Korean Nuclear Threat (blastingnews.com) 349

MarkWhittington writes: One of the more substantive issues that was discussed during the Republican presidential debate in Detroit concerned the latest threat to come out of North Korea. That country's mad, bad, and dangerous to know leader Kim Jong-Un has ordered his nuclear arsenal prepared and is firing missiles in the vicinity of Japan. The United States and South Korea have started military maneuvers, partly as a result of North Korea's actions. Discussions on deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea have also become urgent. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas would go one step further. He proposed reviving the idea of space-based missile defenses that were part of the Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative.
Star Wars Prequels

Original 1977 Star Wars 35mm Print Has Been Restored and Released Online (arstechnica.com) 272

AmiMoJo writes: A restored HD version of the original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 35mm print has appeared online. While this isn't the first time that attempts have been made to restore Star Wars to its original theatrical version—that's the one without the much-maligned CGI effects and edits of later 'special' editions—it is the first to have been based entirely on a single 35mm print of the film, rather than cut together from various sources. The group behind the release, dubbed Team Negative 1, is made up of Star Wars fans and enthusiasts who spent thousands of dollars of their own cash to restore the film without the blessing of creator George Lucus, or franchise owner Disney.
Space

Scientists Propose Using Cold War Era Weapons To Deflect Asteroids (blastingnews.com) 114

MarkWhittington writes: Many people are considering what to do if an asteroid was headed for a collision with Earth. One such collision wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Now, films such as "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact" depict what might happen if Earth were threatened with a similar event in modern times. As a result, some people are repurposing weapons that were built or envisioned during the Cold War to confront the celestial threat, from old ICBMs to space-based laser systems.
Businesses

The Most Popular Bad Passwords of 2015 (dice.com) 165

Nerval's Lobster writes: For years, security experts have told people they need better passwords protecting their online accounts: no more '123456' or 'qwerty' or 'password.' Based on SplashData's fifth annual list of the 25 most common passwords, however, it's clear that relatively few people are listening to that advice. The firm based its list on more than 2 million leaked passwords during the year. The most popular, as in 2014, was '123456,' followed by 'password' and the ingenious, uncrackable '12345678.' One new entry on this ignoble list: 'starwars' in 25th place, no doubt thanks in part to the popularity of 'The Force Awakens' and the accompanying marketing campaign. Seems like a lot of people have forgotten (or never learned) that, while it's a pain to create (much less remember) a complicated password with lots of numbers and special characters, it's nothing compared to the pain of having your online accounts compromised. Maybe, as some have proposed, we could someday kill passwords for most services.
Star Wars Prequels

'Star Wars: Episode VIII' Delayed By Seven Months (hollywoodreporter.com) 203

Mr.Intel writes with bad news for those of you champing at the bit to see the next Star Wars movie. Engadget reports: "You'll have to wait a bit longer to see what the heck is up with Luke Skywalker. Disney announced this afternoon that it's delaying Star Wars: Episode VIII from May 26, 2017 by seven months to December 15, 2017. Disney didn't give any reason for the delay, but sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that it'll allow the studio to give the film a Christmas release treatment, which worked pretty well for The Force Awakens. Additionally, it'll give director/writer Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) more time to work on the film. THR's Borys Kit notes that may include rewrites to focus more on the new class of Star Wars characters."
Star Wars Prequels

Quantifying How Much the Force Is Used In Star Wars (bloomberg.com) 188

An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg has posted a data visualization for a very important subject: how much, how often, and to what effect The Force is used in Star Wars movies. As you may expect, we see the light side of the Force used much more often than the dark side. Luke Skywalker spends about 11 minutes using the Force, but pre-Vader Anakin clocks in at under 3 minutes of Force time — less, even, than Palpatine. It also turns out that Jedi really love Force Leaping, while the dark side has a monopoly on making lightning and choking people. It's kind of silly, but also kind of cool. Bloomberg even posted their methodology: "To arrive at a figure for total on-screen Force time, we decided to measure cumulatively, by scene. That means when multiple people use the Force simultaneously, we counted the time only once. Light-side and dark-side times are the cumulative durations that characters associated with each side are depicted using the Force. When multiple characters associated with the same side at the same time use the Force, that time is also counted only once. When light-side and dark-side characters use the Force at the same time, the durations are scored separately. Each recorded duration is rounded to the nearest second, and no use of the Force was assigned less than one second in duration." (That's just a fraction of it.)
Star Wars Prequels

George Lucas Criticizes the Force Awakens (theguardian.com) 562

RogueyWon writes: While many critics have responded positively to JJ Abrams's take on Star Wars, one particular industry figure seems rather less impressed. George Lucas has criticized the "retro" tone of The Force Awakens and lamented his own lack of involvement in it. Speaking to television talk-show host and journalist Charlie Rose, Lucas quipped that he had sold his "kids to the white slavers that take these things". "They wanted to do a retro movie. I don’t like that,” he said. “They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway, but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that any more, and all I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, ‘OK, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.’”
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars Pulls In $1 Billion At Record Speed (reuters.com) 467

New submitter henrydan798 writes to note that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has set a new record for ticket sales, becoming the fastest movie ever to earn a billion dollars at the till. As the L.A. Times reports, The latest installment in the "Star Wars" franchise grossed an estimated $153.5 million in the U.S. and Canada in its second weekend, beating the lower end of analyst expectations of $140 million. This drives the J.J. Abrams-directed picture to a to-date domestic gross of $544.5 million. "The Force Awakens," which cost an estimated $200 million to produce, debuted last weekend to record domestic ticket sales of $248 million. It also grossed $281 million overseas for a global total of $529 million, topping the previous worldwide debut benchmark set in June by "Jurassic World" ($525 million). This week, with an international estimated gross of $546 million to date, the film became the fastest to surpass $1 billion globally. Were any of those dollars yours? If so, do you think they were well spent?
Medicine

Star Wars Fans and Video Game Geeks 'More Likely To Be Narcissists,' Study Finds (independent.co.uk) 182

schwit1 writes: Those who take part in "geeky events" are more likely to have an "elevated grandiose" level of narcissism, according to a study conducted by the University of Georgia. Psychologists examined the personality traits of those who turn to "geek culture," developing a Geek Culture Engagement Scale and a Geek Identity Scale to help quantify the figures. It was found that those who scored highly on both scales were more likely to narcissists. Subjects are scored on a scale of one to five, depending on how often they take part in activities such as live action role playing games, Dungeons and Dragons, cosplaying, puppetry, robotics — and enjoying things such as video games and Star Wars.
Businesses

Disney Is Making a Fortune and Safeguarding Its Future By Buying Childhood (economist.com) 207

An anonymous reader writes: Disney has been successful for the better part of a century. But they haven't always had to work as hard to do it. Over the past couple of decades, they've been facing more and better competition than ever before, and they've had to change their business strategy in response. An article at The Economist details this strategy, which seems to have a central theme: buy up things people loved as kids, and commercialize the hell out of them. The recent Star Wars film is the latest example — the marketing blitz around it (and its related merchandise) was a sight to behold. Disney is hoping that focusing investment on great content will protect them from the massive transitions underway in the content delivery part of the entertainment industry. "The biggest doubt is the durability of the model. It is not clear for how long such franchises can be stretched. And introducing new ones is a risk. John Carter, a film based on one of a series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, flopped. Cinema-goers will also have far more choice as other firms try to establish or add to their franchises."

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