Tag Archives: movie

PTJ 119: Giving Thanks For Star Wars Trailers And Keyboard Shortcuts

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us here in the United States the team at PTJ HQ can’t thank you all enough for supporting us so passionately over these last few years. Both J.D. and I don’t have plans of stopping any time soon since we continue to have a wonderful time doing the show. We promise to keep serving up our special brand of insight and shenanigans—along with the occasional surprise—if you promise to keep coming back for more.

A very special thanks to the BROS!

When we say we wouldn’t be here without them that is a 100% accurate statement. They convinced us to make the leap to doing the show on our own and have supported us every step of the way.  A heartfelt bushel of gratitude from all of us at HeadStepper Media and Pop Tech Jam!

This week on the show, J.D. is thinking of linking and shares a slew of helpful keyboard shortcuts with us. In the news the FCC reaches an agreement with T-Mobile about their throttling practices; the Federal Aviation Administration is prepares a set of new rules for commercial drones; the European Union is expected to vote on breaking up Google’s business; Apple sees (RED); the United States and the United Kingdom are suspects behind a sophisticated series of cyber attacks against the European Union; Barbie (and Mattel) **** it up again; and the first teaser trailer of  Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters this weekend.

PTJ 119 News: Feminist Hacker Barbie Needs That Wireless Spectrum For Her Robot Army

The Federal Communications Commission is certainly keeping itself  busy when it’s not mulling Net Neutrality. The agency reached an agreement with T-Mobile on Monday that makes Big Pink accurately show consumers when their connections are being throttled. The FCC’s first wireless spectrum auction since 2008 has some ready customers. The auction has already generated $30 billion, which is about three times more than anticipated.

And yes, there’s still no decision on net neutrality at the moment, but Chairman Tom Wheeler is already facing reality. “Look, the big dogs are going to sue, regardless of what comes out,” said Mr. Wheeler. “We need to make sure we have sustainable rules. That starts with making sure we have addressed the multiplicity of issues that come along and are likely to be raised.” (Just think of it as CYA for the FCC here in the USA.)

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Federal Aviation Administration is preparing a set of new rules for commercial drones that could give them their corner of the sky at last. More worrisome at the moment, however, are those increasing reports of non-commercial drones flying too close to airplanes and helicopters, so expect that issue to get addressed before too long.

robotK5We’ve got robot butlers and vacuum cleaners and now Microsoft is testing out robot security guards in its Silicon Valley campus. The Knightscope K5 autonomous robots will be on the market next year, are equipped with thermal imaging, chemical sensors, license-plate and facial-recognition software. It can patrol a perimeter much like a human security guard. The K5s are about five-feet tall and look a little bit like while plastic Daleks, so really, what could go wrong?

Meanwhile, the European Union is expected to vote this week to break up Google’s business. Also in business news: Aereo has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Samsung is reportedly considering changes to its executive leadership team after sales of its Galaxy S5 smartphone fell short of expectations by 40 percent.

If you visit Apple’s online store within the next week or so, you’ll be seeing red. No, not over the premium prices, but (RED), the world organization to fight AIDS in Africa. Over the next two weeks, Apple will be donating the proceeds from certain products to the global fund. On Monday, World AIDS Day, the company will donate a portion of every item sold.

applered

The antivirus company Symantec was the first to discover a lurking piece of malware called Regin that’s a suspect in sophisticated cyber attacks against the European Union and a Belgian telecom company for the past several years. Agencies from United States and the United Kingdom are the main suspects behind Regin, according to some security experts.

The computer networks at Sony Pictures were reportedly hacked and rendered so unusable that employees were warned not to connect to the company’s corporate network or to check their work email. The group Guardians of Peace is claiming responsibility, saying it will leak confidential documents unless its undisclosed demands are met.

If you need to kill some time this long holiday weekend, check out the new Pew Research Internet Project study called What Internet Users Know About Technology and the Web and take a quiz that tests your Web IQ. Go on, you know you love those online quizzes.

babsA book published in 2010 called Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer recently caught the eye of author and screenwriter Pamela Ribon. However, the book’s plot turned out to be so demeaning to not only women in technology — but women in general — that it quickly became a viral virtual skeet target. Ms. Ribon kicked things off with a post on her own blog called “Barbie [Bad Word] It Up Again” and the story revved up. Mattel yanked the title and even issued an apology on Facebook saying the book was four years old and didn’t reflect the Barbie brand’s vision.

But then something great happened. Casey Fiesler, a PhD student in Human-Centered Computing at Georgia Tech, (who also happens to be writing her dissertation on copyright and online remix communities), rewrote the book with a positive, empowering message and posted her version online. Kathleen Tuite, a computer science PhD student at the University of Washington, stepped it up and and built the Feminist Hacker Barbie, a text editor that allows people to add in their own delightfully profane new captions for the illustrations in the original book and post them online under the hashtag #FeministHackerBarbie. As Ms. Fiesler noted, a major theme of the remix community is “If you don’t like the narrative, change it!” And that’s exactly what they did.

forceAnd finally, StarWars.com has confirmed that 30 theaters around the country will be showing an 88-second teaser trailer of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens starting this Friday, November 28th. This is not the first time word of a way-advance trailer has been announced, as Star Wars fans also lined up to see a trailer for The Phantom Menace back in November 1998. Don’t fret if you can’t get to the movies this weekend or don’t live in a trailer-worthy city, as the teaser will go wide and hit theaters everywhere in December. And how much you wanna bet that thing will be online somewhere by lunchtime Friday?

(UPDATE: It was. And the fans have already begun to dissect it.)

PTJ 116: No Need to Put a Quarter Up

It’s that time of year when the weather gets chillier but the Oscar race heats up in Hollywood. The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch is an early award season favorite but if you just can’t wait for the biopic of cryptanalyst,  computer pioneer, and super-boffin Alan Turing, J.D. tells us where we can get a biographical fix of the WWII hero.

In the news,  Google’s Nexus 9 tablet is now available, as is the latest iteration of their mobile OS; the Apple Pay roll-out gathers momentum;  researchers identify a costly glitch in Visa’s contactless credit cards; Microsoft joins the wearable fitness tracker game; Amazon unveils their Prime Photos cloud service; lots and lots of corporate hookups; and The Internet Archive debuts their Internet Arcade with 900 classic games.

The Turing Test

Fall has kicked into overdrive and the serious movies are all heading for the theaters in time for the Oscar nominations. Most geeks already know The Hunger Games, Mockingjay Part 1 is landing in theaters on November 21st . But there’s a smaller, much more low-budget British film scheduled to open on November 28th that gets even more serious nerd cred. It’s called The Imitation Game.

IGstill

The movie tells the story of how Alan Turing — the Cambridge mathematician, creator of the Turing Test and pioneer of modern-day computing — used his genius to help crack encrypted Nazi messages with a huge team of cryptographers at Britain’s top-secret Bletchley Park code-breaking facility. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower has even estimated that the work done at Bletchley Park shortened the war by two years. Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, it stars English actor and modern Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing (above).

bookIf you’re interested Turing’s life and want to do a little background research before seeing the film, one definitive place to start is with the extensive biography, Alan Turing: The Engima, written by Andrew Hodges. The book was originally published in 1983, but has been updated a few times since then, including in 2012 for the centenary of Turing’s birth. It’s not one of those short biographies — 600 to 770 pages depending on the edition. Upon its arrival, the book was well-reviewed and Jim Holt of The New Yorker even called it “One of the finest scientific biographies ever written.” Here in the States, Alan Turing: The Enigma is currently out now from Princeton University Press, which has posted a PDF of the first chapter if you want to try before you buy; it’s also available as an ebook from the usual suspects.

jacobiThe Imitation Game film was actually based on the Hodges biography, as was an earlier adaptation from 1996 called Breaking the Code, which starred Derek Jacobi (left) as Turing. The 90-minute BBC film is available to watch for free online on YouTube. For a more academic approach, the Turing Digital Archive, hosted by King’s College at Cambridge, has about 3,000 images of letters, photos, papers and other material related to Alan Turing.

Once you’ve tackled Turing, you can also find plenty of online resources on the science of cryptography, including a fact sheet on World War II cryptology from the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the Google Cultural Institute site devoted to Bletchley Park and the BBC’s guide to code-breaking. For a more modern-day look, there’s also a free online Coursera course in cryptography from Stanford University.

So geeks, get ready. This could be the film for you this season — and something to tide us all over until next year’s The Avengers:  Age of Ultron and of course, Star Wars VII.

P.S. Want to smarten up your wardrobe with the same Turing t-shirt the Pop Tech Bunny is modeling at the top of this post? Order it here. (Rabbit not included.)