It's that time of the year when nerds start overanalyzing the latest "Star Wars" movie. But designer Isaac Botkin recently went back to the previous film, "Rogue One," and asked himself a practical question: From a structural standpoint, how would one construct a Death Star? I.e., in what sequence would which components come together in order to form the finished sphere?
Because I lack imagination, I always thought you'd build it like a house, where you get the framing lumber up first in its totality, then attach the cladding. But as we saw in "Return of the Jedi," that's not how the Empire's contractor decided to do it:
In any case, here's Botkin's take on how you'd put the thing together:
This is a personal project that I worked on with my brother. I enjoyed watching a little bit of Death Star assembly in Rogue One, but I wanted to see more. I came up with a very simple method of revealing geometry with Lightwave's instancing tool, and then started building the underlying parts of the fully armed and operational battlestation. Since there was a lot of procedural animation, I was seeing a lot of interesting shapes appear that I hadn't planned, but the thing that really pulls it together is the new score by Ben Botkin.
Based Ernie Cline’s debut novel, Ready Player One is set in a dystopian world where almost everyone spends a majority of their time in a virtual reality system known as OASIS, where players can visit any conceivable world (allowing the book to mash up an incredible number of ‘80s pop culture references). The trailer opens with Wade Watts (played by The Tree of Life / X-Men: Apocalypse star Tye Sheridan) saying that he got his name because his father thought that it sounded like a superhero name. He then talks about OASIS, which allows people to do anything, and that people stay because they can become anyone.
The trailer then shows James Halliday, the founder of OASIS, who tells gamers that he’s died, but that he left behind a massive Easter egg hunt: whoever finds the three hidden keys will get control of the entire system. Wade is one such participant, who teams up with another competitor, Art3mis (played by Bates Motel’sOlivia Cooke), to find the three clues before a major corporation does.
Even FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s heroes can’t stand him.
Ron Swanson, the ornery small-government hero of Parks and Recreation, despises public officials who abuse their power. So when Pai showed off his signed “Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness” to Vice News, Swanson put him on notice.
Here’s what Nick Offerman, the man who played Swanson’s iconic role, had to say:
Dear @AjitPaiFCC , I noticed your Pyramid of Greatness and thought it felt strange in your office, given your stance. So I went to see Ron Swanson to ask if he’d care to weigh in & he dictated the below to me pic.twitter.com/ZHFrc4Vevf
Hell, yes. One, because I would love to see an OMW movie. But also, two, Netflix is a place where a lot of fantastic entertainment is happening these days. It’s trying a lot of things and taking a lot of chances, and most people I know who are working with Netflix are thrilled about being there right now. It really seems like it could be a great place for the OMW universe.
So is this a movie or TV series?
It’s a movie. On your television!
(Or computer or phone or monitor or wherever you choose to watch Netflix, I don’t judge.)
But can a two to three hour movie truly hold the vastness and complexity of Old Man’s War?
I mean, yeah. It’s a pretty speedy story in that first book. And as to the rest of the universe of the series, if the first OMW movie works and people watch it and like it (hint, hint), we can have sequels. There are six books! We have lots to work with.
Who is going to be in the film? You should get [insert favorite filmmaker/actor here]!
Whoa, there. This is the development announcement, where we announce the studio (Netflix) and the producers (Jon Shestack Productions and Madhouse Entertainment). Now that we’re all on board with making the movie, we’ll start putting all the puzzle pieces together. Don’t worry; when we pick folks, we’ll probably do follow-up announcements.
Hey, wasn’t Old Man’s War in development as a movie, and a TV series, before?
Indeed it was. It was in development at Paramount for a while as a movie, and then at Syfy as a TV series.
It just didn’t work out. Both times, really smart folks did a really excellent job and tried to make it happen, but the entertainment industry is what it is, and the stars didn’t align.
But this time will be different!
Well, yes, I hope so. It would be nice. I think we have the studio and producers to make it happen.
How long has this been percolating?
I got the rights to OMW back in the summer. We fielded pitches and offers and then in October, while I was out in California, I had a meeting with the producers. After that it was just waiting on contracts.
Man, lawyers, am I right?
In this case, I’m a big fan of lawyers. Mine (Matt Sugarman) has done very well by me. As has my film/TV agent, Joel Gotler, and my book agent Ethan Ellenberg has been part of this particular brain trust, too. It takes a village to make a good deal.
How involved will you be in the production?
As the article linked above notes, I’m an executive producer on the movie, so I’m pretty substantially involved. Which is nice! I have opinions, you know. I’m going to share them.
So can I have a job?
You’ll have to go through official channels.
You’re an executive producer! You’re an official channel!
Yes, but not that official channel.
Okay, well, can I give you this script of something entirely unrelated?
Hollywood’s changed you, man.
It always does.
So, this is great, but what I really want is a film/TV version of [insert another book/story I wrote here].
I have a number of things in various stages of development, only one other of which (The Collapsing Empire) is currently public knowledge. When/if those other projects get to public knowledge stage, trust me, I’ll be talking about them. Just like this, in fact.
I will say that it’s an exciting time to be me, and that with the projects currently in play, I’m lucky to be working with some incredible people. I feel very fortunate that this gets to be my life. And today, I feel particularly fortunate that we’re working to get this Old Man’s War movie to you.
Facebook is testing a new preemptive revenge porn defense in Australia that may, at first blush, feel counterproductive: uploading your nude photos or videos directly to Messenger. According to the Australia Broadcasting Corporation, Facebook has partnered with the office of the Australian government’s e-Safety Commissioner, which works primarily to prevent the online abuse of minors, to develop the new system for combating the nonconsensual sharing of explicit media.
By uploading the images or videos you fear may be shared in the future in an attempt to shame or harass you online, Facebook can digitally “hash” the media, effectively giving it a digital footprint. This allows the social network to track the media using the same artificial intelligence-based technologies it uses in its photo and face matching algorithms, and then prevent it from being uploaded and shared in the future. This works only if you’re in possession of the original file, but it would seem to bypass any attempts from a malicious third party to alter the metadata by analyzing and tagging the actual content of the image or video.
Facebook first implemented a similar, although less preemptive, mechanism for preventing the proliferation of revenge porn back in April, with the implementation of a photo-matching system to prevent the spread of images that have already been reported and taken down. The company has also liberally banned accounts for revenge porn activities. But now Facebook seems to be asking users to think ahead and play it safe if they feel particularly vulnerable, which could be the case in a relationship that becomes abusive over time or only after it’s ended.
"We see many scenarios where maybe photos or videos were taken consensually at one point, but there was not any sort of consent to send the images or videos more broadly," e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant told ABC. “They're not storing the image. They're storing the link and using artificial intelligence and other photo-matching technologies. So if somebody tried to upload that same image, which would have the same digital footprint or hash value, it will be prevented from being uploaded.”
Of course, there are a few concerns here worth mentioning. It’s not clear how exactly Facebook can identify a photo or video without having the image stored somewhere on its servers. And because it’s just a test right now, there’s no telling whether the system can be easily tricked by altering aspects of the photo, sometimes in subtle and even imperceptible ways, to trick Facebook’s filters.
Successful attempts at tricking machine vision systems are well documented. Hackers and researchers alike have been known to use what are called “adversarial images” that use digital manipulations to trick AI algorithms, either by making a facial recognition system think someone looks like someone else, or by forcing a piece of image recognition software to think it’s looking at an one object that is in reality just a noisy mess of geometric shapes. It’s not farfetched to think Facebook’s automatic revenge porn filtering system could be bypassed in similar ways, by inserting enough hidden data in between the lines of an image to make it seem different enough from the source to the eyes of an algorithm.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Stop it with the annoying password complexity rules. They make passwords harder to remember. They increase errors because artificially complex passwords are harder to type in. And they don't help that much. It's better to allow people to use pass phrases.
Stop it with password expiration. That was an old idea for an old way we used computers. Today, don't make people change their passwords unless there's indication of compromise.
Let people use password managers. This is how we deal with all the passwords we need.
These password rules were failed attempts to fix the user. Better we fix the security systems.
A meeting recently: Developer Team: Our passwords require special characters, and max out at 30 characters. Me: Why on EARTH did you do any of that? Why do you have a max? Devs: Because ... it's hard to remember something long? How long do you want it to be? Me: ... Get rid of the max. Get rid of the special characters. CIO: Wait. Why do we have passwords at all? Can we link to google/linkedin/facebook and make it their problem? We are not in the security business. Devs: Yes!