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AI

Siri Voice Actress Doesn't Use Siri (huffingtonpost.com) 82

An anonymous coward writes: Susan Bennett, the actress who provided the voice of Apple's Siri assistant, says she "doesn't really" use Siri herself. "It's too weird," she says in a new interview. While she uses many Apple products, "I'm used to hearing my voice on radio and TV commercials and that sort of thing, but to hear my own voice coming out of this little computer phone is too strange."

Bennett says she recorded every sound combination in the English language one fateful July in 2005, working five days a week, four hours a day, but didn't know it was for Siri until six years later, in 2011, when another voice actor e-mailed,"Hey, we're playing around with this new iPhone. Isn't this you?" Bennett says she was "kind of horrified, because I hadn't been told... On the other hand, I was extremely flattered."
In the interview she also says she felt "dissed" when Siri answered one of her first questions, "What are you doing," with a disgusted "I'm talking to you..." Although on her personal web site, Bennett shares a recording of herself being interviewed by Siri.
The Internet

RIP Kuro5hin (kuro5hin.org) 264

themusicgod1 writes: Can we please get a moment of silence? Long-time sister site to Slashdot, Kuro5hin has finally gone offline.
Idle

Online Voters Name British Vessel 'Boaty McBoatface' (telegraph.co.uk) 221

Britain's Natural Environment Research Council conducted an online poll to select the name for their new advanced polar research vessel. Though it cost more than 200 million pounds and represents their fleet's largest and most advanced research vessel, when the voting closed yesterday the clear winner, was the name 'Boaty McBoatface'. The name received over 124,000 votes, while the nearest runner-up -- Poppy-Mai -- received just 34,371, and the fourth-most popular suggestion, "RRS It's Bloody Cold Here," received just 10,679 votes. "I am grateful to everyone who has participated in the competition," Britain's science minister told The Daily Telegraph, though he added "You won't be surprised to know that we want something that fits the mission and captures the spirit of scientific endeavor." The Telegraph takes this as a signal that the ministers "were unlikely to endorse the result."
Toys

Flying Jet-Powered Hoverboard Now a Reality (theverge.com) 93

Zapata Racing has begun testing prototypes of a new jet-powered hoverboard called the "Flyboard Air". The Verge published a new interview with the company's CEO, who confirms that a backpack full of kerosene-grade fuel powers the flying hoverboard's four 250-horsepower turboengines, with two more engines used for stabilizaton. Capable of flying up to 100 miles per hour, the jet-powered hoverboard uses an internal algorithm to adjust the thrust and angle of each turboengine, so "It's like we have six systems working together plus my brain and my legs." The company hopes to ultimately interest the military and security sectors in the technology, but they're also working on a smaller version that could be piloted while sitting, which the CEO describes as "extremely small, extremely stable, and something that you can take to go and buy your bread in the morning."
Sci-Fi

Underwater Sonar Robot Discovers A Real Loch Ness Monster (Prop) (discovery.com) 62

A Norwegian oil company is finally performing a sonar scan on the bottom of Loch Ness, creating a high-resolution map of the Scottish lake that's reputed to contain a mysterious lake monster. "Operation Groundtruth" will be using a marine robot named Munin, and they've already identified a 27-foot-long shipwreck and disproved rumors of a 27-foot-long "Nessie trench" where the cryptid creature could be hiding. The Scottish tourism agency has issued a press release about the robot's discovery of a life-sized model of the Loch Ness monster used in a 1970 film, which had sunk during the filming more than 45 years ago. "The agency's statement said 'Nessie found'," reports Discovery News, "with an asterisk at the bottom reading 'replica model'."
Government

Worshipping the Flying Spaghetti Monster Isn't a Real Religion, Court Rules (arstechnica.com) 527

WheezyJoe writes: A court in Nebraska has officially ruled that Pastafarianism is not a real religion, and therefore a prison inmate with "several tattoos proclaiming his faith" will not get $5 million or privileges to order and wear religious clothing and pendants, nor meet for weekly worship services and classes and receive communion. The Federal judge ruled that The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not a "real" religion eligible for protection under the First Amendment...

In ruling against the inmate and the church of Pastafarianism, the judge wrote "there must be a line beyond which a practice is not 'religious' simply because a plaintiff labels it as such... A prisoner could just as easily read the works of Vonnegut or Heinlein and claim it as his holy book, and demand accommodation of Bokononism or the Church of All Worlds [citing Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle and Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land]. The Flying Spaghetti Monster Gospel is plainly a work of satire, meant to entertain while making a pointed political statement," and thus not a "real" religion.

Entertainment

Free Lightsaber Event Now Battling Lucasfilm's Lawyers (siliconbeat.com) 198

For eight years the arts collective Newmindspace had been staging free lightsaber battles, and in December they set a world record with 9,951 "combatants" simultaneously participating in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle. But then in January they received a letter from the copyright attorneys for the Star Wars franchise. "We immediately stopped using the words 'lightsaber,' 'Jedi,' 'Sith' and 'The Force,' " the group's co-founder told the technology blog of the San Jose Mercury News, saying they've still been "aggressively pursued" for the last three months. '''In March we received further communication stating 'The Light Battle Tour' and 'light sword' were still too close to their trademarks, and we moved to settle the dispute to avoid legal action." Their new solution involves referring to the weapons as "catblades", and they've re-branded their upcoming series of events (which begins on April 30 in San Jose) as the "Cats in Space Tour".
United Kingdom

Amateur Scientist Builds Thermite Grenade Cannon (gizmodo.com) 97

YouTube personality Colin Furze has built a homemade cannon which he's filmed launching grenades filled with thermite, "an especially nasty chemical composition made of metal power and oxide that burns as hot as 2,500 degrees Celsius." Furze once co-hosted Sky1's program Gadget Geeks, and he's since made a new career demonstrating strange science projects on YouTube. Furze's other homemade devices have included a rocket-powered go-kart and a knife that can also toast bread while it's cutting.
Microsoft

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Favorite Easter Egg? (slashdot.org) 165

One year ago, Easter Sunday was greeted with the news that many companies were increasingly cracking down on "Easter Eggs," like the harmless snippets of vanity code playfully hidden by developers. "As programming becomes more corporate, more official, one cannot appear to have code that is not officially sanctioned," the author of The Elements of Computing Style told the BBC, though other programmers they spoke to disagreed.

The Easter Egg is a tradition which dates back at least to a hidden room in a 1979 Atari game, and I still have fond memories of the Batmobile Easter Egg (video) in King's Quest II (1985) and tales of that weird musical Easter Egg in Windows 95 which scrolled the names of their entire development team.

So share your favorites in the comments. What's your favorite Easter Egg?
Politics

33,000 Sign Online Petition Promoting Guns At Republican Convention (cnet.com) 663

An anonymous reader writes: "An online petition on Change.org claims that constitutional rights are being denied to those who want to bring a gun to the fight for the Republican Party's future," reports CNET. "Though Ohio is an open carry state, which allows for the open carry of guns, the hosting venue — the Quicken Loans Arena — strictly forbids the carry of firearms on their premises." Citing a quote from the National Rifle Association that gun-free zones are "the worst and most dangerous of all lies," the petition has already attracted more than 33,000 signatures, though CNET reports that the whole petition is a satire they're attributing to the Hyperationalist blog. The petition appears to have attracted its last 8,000 signatures within the last 18 hours, shortly after its URL appeared on a web site for young conservatives.
Crime

Feds: Brink's Employee Makes Off With $196,000 In Quarters (cnn.com) 142

dfsmith writes: CNN is reporting today on the prosecution of a man who stole $196,000 worth of quarters from his employer in Alabama. Apparently the Brinks facility kept large bags of the coins for the Federal Reserve (about 1 ton each), which the accused emptied and refilled with beads (leaving some coins visible in the bag's window). Dennis faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. That's a million-quarter fine, or 216,000 more quarters than Dennis stole.
Notwithstanding the enterprise of purchasing and transporting that many beads, you've got to wonder: how would you go about this heist, and what would you do with the proceeds?
Entertainment

Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli Threatens Ghostface Killah 108

Martin Shkreli, of pharmaceutical drug price-gouging fame, threatens Ghostface Killah, whom he calls by his real name, in a recent video. The video features Shkreli threatening to destroy his rare Wu-Tang album and "erase him from the history books of rap." Shkreli, flanked by his masked associates, also demands a written apology from Ghostface Killah.

Shkreli was notoriously arrested on suspicion of fraud in December of 2015.
Censorship

Filmmaker Forces Censors To Watch 10-Hour Movie of Paint Drying (ibtimes.co.uk) 255

An anonymous reader writes: A British filmmaker has forced the people who decide how to censor films to watch a 10-hour movie of paint drying on a wall following a protest fundraising campaign. Charlie Lyne launched a Kickstarter to help raise the money needed to send his 'documentary' of a single shot of paint drying on a wall for consideration as a protest against the 'stronghold' the organisation has on the British film industry. The BBFC charge an initial fee of $144.88 to view a film and decide what certificate to give it, and then and additional $10.15 for each minute that the film lasts. The idea was the more money Lyne could raise via his fundraiser, the longer his paint-drying film could last. The campaign eventually nearly £8,500, meaning he was able to send in a 607 minute video which the examiners had to watch in its entirety.
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.
Government

New Jersey Rejects Request For Dolphin Necropsy Results, Cites "Medical Privacy" (muckrock.com) 228

v3rgEz writes: When a dolphin died in New Jersey's South River last year, Carly Sitrin wanted to know what killed it. So she filed a public record request to the NJ Department of Agriculture in order to get the necropsy results. The DOA finally responded last week with the weird decision to deny the release of the record on grounds of medical privacy. The response reads in part: "We are in receipt of your request for information (#W101407) under the auspices of the State’s Open Public Records Act (O.P.R.A.). Specifically, you requested any and all reports associated with the necropsy of the dolphin that strayed into the South River on August 5, 2015 in Middlesex County, New Jersey. This request is denied as it would release information deemed confidential under O.P.R.A., specifically information related to a medical diagnosis or evaluation. (E.O. 26, McGreevey)"

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