February 28, 2019

Brexit plan to increase vet inspectors

Vets are being recruited to carry out animal inspections in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
February 28, 2019

The key to the DC universe’s success was giving up on copying Marvel

When DC decided to follow Marvel with an interconnected cinematic universe of its own, there seemed to be equal parts trepidation and anticipation from movie fans. Financially, the DC Extended Universe has been a success from the jump, but the critical reaction to the first several movies Warner Bros. and DC put out was less than effusive, to say the least. And yet, after taking its lumps, the DCEU seems to have made a nice recovery. So how did that happen? After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad got roasted by critics, how did the upstart movie universe get back on the right track? According to Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of Warner Bros., it was all about bringing in the right people, and moving away from what has made Marvel so successful. Speaking with the LA Times in a wide-ranging interview, Tsujihara was asked how the strategy surrounding the DC movie slate has changed for Warner Bros. following what was a rough few years for the DCEU:
The upcoming slate, with “Shazam,” “Joker,” “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Birds of Prey,” feels like we’re on the right track. We have the right people in the right jobs working on it. The universe isn’t as connected as we thought it was going to be five years ago. You’re seeing much more focus on individual experiences around individual characters. That’s not to say we won’t at some point come back to that notion of a more connected universe. But it feels like that’s the right strategy for us right now.
In other words, while Marvel's cinematic universe continues to overlap and collapse into itself as all its characters and story lines converge, Warner Bros. is finding more success letting the DC characters exist on their own. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, this revelation seemed to dawn on the studio when Wonder Woman blew up at the box office:
What Patty Jenkins did on “Wonder Woman” illustrated to us what you could do with these characters who are not Batman and Superman. Obviously, we want to get those two in the right place, and we want strong movies around Batman and Superman. But “Aquaman” is a perfect example of what we can do. They’re each unique and the tone’s different in each movie.
The biggest mistake that Warner Bros. made was trying to rush straight into the big superhero team-up before we actually got to know any of these characters. Now that Justice League has come and gone, Warner Bros. has been able to get back to individual stories, and the DCEU has finally started to strike a chord with general audiences.
February 28, 2019

5G raises serious privacy concerns, according to computer science professor

With carriers pretty much tripping over themselves to rush out 5G smartphones, with some even saying the devices support 5G when they actually don't, it's important to keep in mind the unfortunate reality that we've still got a long way to go before carriers expand 5G coverage enough that most people will be able to take advantage of it. Yes, plenty of 5G phone are being prepped for launch, but according to one computer science professor, all that hype around the blazing fast speeds these devices will provide has actually obscured two important privacy concerns raised by the new technology. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, professor and former researcher at Bells Labs and AT&T Labs Research Steve Bellovin raises two concerns he doesn't think enough people are talking about. The effect of 5G technology on location data, and Huawei's capabilities in this area. First, his concern about location data. 5G signals will have a pretty short range in the US and won't easily go through buildings, he tells the paper. Obviously, that will mean more cell towers are needed -- cell towers, of course, being the main thing that helps your smartphone figure out where you physically are. You can probably see where this is going. "Today’s towers have a radius of about a mile," according to Bellovin. "If the new towers cover a much smaller area, it means that they know much more precisely where you are." The advent of 5G, he continues, means we're also going to see a lot more towers in new places -- like indoors, in everything from shopping malls to office buildings. All of which will mean "far more precise" location targeting of users, or at least the capability to do so. As far as Bellovin is concerned, meanwhile, Huawei is another pressing concern here. The US is relentlessly squeezing the Chinese smartphone giant at the moment every which way it can, but what a lot of the coverage of the company's most recent troubles with the US doesn't always mention is that Huawei is also at the vanguard of manufacturing 5G equipment. Equipment that they, of course, sell cheaply. "You’ve seen all the stories about whether Huawei is an agent of the Chinese government," Bellovin told the paper. "If the Huawei gear is backdoored then they can collect metadata and relay unencrypted traffic." Which, again, is another side to the location data coin. The real test of whether these concerns are well-founded will arguably come based on the applications that this new 5G technology enables, according to the professor. And it's anybody's guess, he says, what those new applications will be, though we can surmise that things like autonomous cars will certainly be helped by this. "Very high-speed wireless will enable the development and deployment of new services that will carry their own privacy implications," Bellovin says, which is why he and others are sounding the alarm now.
February 28, 2019

The white-collar crimes Cohen says Trump committed wouldn’t necessarily produce serious penalties

Michael Cohen’s testimony that President Donald Trump routinely falsified his net worth in legal documents to gain tax advantages or defraud business partners set commentators buzzing about the serious penalties baked into U.S. fraud laws. But anyone daydreaming of multiple criminal counts that each carry 30-year potential prison terms should slow down. Even if Cohen’s […]
February 28, 2019

NASA shows off the inside of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft

We're rapidly approaching the launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, and NASA seems to be just as excited as the rest of us. The test launch, which is scheduled to take place early Saturday morning, will be a big deal for NASA and SpaceX regardless of the outcome, but it goes without saying that both groups have their fingers crossed for success. Now, as the hours continue to tick down, NASA has published a lovely little video showing off what the interior of the Crew Dragon looks like. The video, which is less than a minute long, shows exactly where astronauts will eventually be sitting as they head into space. Crew Dragon is one of two crew-capable spacecraft NASA is currently eagerly awaiting, with the other being Boeing's Starliner. Most assessments previously put Boeing ahead of SpaceX in the race to deliver their vehicle to NASA, but SpaceX will be the first to head to the International Space Station in a full showcase of what the spacecraft will have to do while being used by NASA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE_hCTfMdng The spacecraft will launch on Saturday morning and hopefully perform a successful docking maneuver with the ISS the following day. It will remain attached to the space station for a few days before being released and then heading back down for a water landing in the ocean. This new video shows us the interior of the Crew Dragon, but that's something we've actually already seen in the past. The insides of the spacecraft, while roomy, will look a bit different once NASA outfits it with whatever a crewed mission will require, but it's not hard to be impressed with the futuristic look sparkling clean aesthetic of Crew Dragon's cabin. NASA offers a brief description of some of Crew Dragon's features:
The Crew Dragon features solar arrays affixed to the side of the spacecraft’s trunk, a launch escape system that will allow crew members to escape an anomaly at any point during flight, a large hatch and windows and a redesigned outer mold line to enhance crew comfort. The first uncrewed flight is an important step in returning human launches on American rockets and spacecraft to the space station from U.S. soil since 2011.
February 28, 2019

Tesla announces $35,000 Model 3 and switch to online-only sales

Low-priced model finally available.
February 28, 2019

Tesla announces that the $35,000 Model 3 is finally on the way

Say what you will about Tesla, but the company certainly knows how to generate some buzz. In a somewhat peculiar move lifted straight out of Apple's playbook, Tesla earlier today took the order pages on its website offline. Instead, users looking to buy either a Model S, Model X, or Model 3 were shown a cryptic message that read: "The wait is almost over. Great things are launching at 2pm." Naturally, speculation as to what Tesla had in store quickly ran wild. Could it be the big reveal of the rumored Model Y, or even the intriguing Tesla pickup truck? Others, meanwhile, assumed that Tesla would finally announce the arrival of its long-promised $35,000 Model 3 or, perhaps, some wild new Autopilot-related announcement. Okay, we'll just cut to the chase at this point. Just a few moments ago, Tesla updated its website and revealed that the $35,00 Model 3 -- which was always part of Tesla's master plan -- is coming soon. If you go to the Model 3 order page, this is what you now see. Specifically, the page notes that the more affordable Model 3 will be available in just 2-4 weeks. The base model, as evidenced below, has 220 miles of range. Not surprisingly, you'll have to pay quite a bit extra if you want a Model 3 with faster 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds. Developing...
February 28, 2019

The Jussie Smollett Story Doesn’t Change The Dangerous Reality Of Being Black and LGBTQ+

In this op-ed, writer Preston Mitchum explains why he doesn't believe that Smollett made life harder for Black LGBTQ+ people — life is already hard for them.
February 28, 2019

Donald isn’t the only Trump that should be worried about criminal indictments

On Wednesday, former Donald Trump attorney and self-styled “fixer” Michael Cohen spent the entire day testifying before the House Oversight Committee about the various crimes and misdeeds perpetrated by the president of the United States. Bank fraud, tax fraud, and blatant campaign finance violations were among the allegations leveled by Cohen, who came prepared with […]
February 28, 2019

Oops: Someone at Disney thought ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ would win an Oscar

Disney was really hoping to snag a 'Best Animated Film' Oscar for its ridiculously enjoyable animated feature Ralph Breaks the Internet, the very worthy follow-up to 2012's Wreck-It Ralph. Disney apparently wanted that golden statuette so badly that someone inside the House of Mouse seems to have preemptively printed up some marketing material announcing, er, the Oscar that went instead to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Screenwriter C. Robert Cargill, whose credits include work for films like Doctor Strange, found some official-looking signage inside a Best Buy that touted Ralph Breaks the Internet as a "2018 Academy Award Winner" as part of the film's Blu-Ray release. "Ooops," he noted in a Twitter post sharing the mistake: https://twitter.com/Massawyrm/status/1100922500974813184?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1100922500974813184&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fastcompany.com%2F90313613%2Fdisney-was-a-little-too-confident-ralph-breaks-the-internet-would-break-the-oscars To be fair, it was no doubt an inadvertent typo and not some Disney version of the famous "Dewey defeats Truman" newspaper headline that declared President Truman's opponent the winner before that year's election had even concluded. Indeed, a Twitter user jumped into Cargill's mentions and shared an image apparently taken at another Best Buy which showed two different versions of that same signage -- one, again, erroneously calling the film an Academy Award "winner" while another correctly tags it as a "nominee." Mistakes happen, and this of course shouldn't take away from Ralph's success. Indeed, a Forbes piece this week ahead of the movie's release on 4K, Blu-Ray and video on demand noted that its nearly $200 million domestic gross bested its predecessor's by about $1 million. The sequel also introduced a slew of fun new characters -- voiced by a diverse set of actors -- including Yess, voiced by Taraji P. Henson and Shank, voiced by Gal Gadot, in addition to playing around with tropes covering everything from modern Internet consumers and social media apps to stereotypes about Disney princesses.