Hollywood Designer 6.0 Released: Now a ‘Full-Blown Multimedia Authoring System’

After nearly 20 years, Hollywood Designer 6.0 is "very stable and mature", write its developers — envisioning both hobbyist and professional users (with its support for modern graphics-editing features like filter effects and vector graphics) in its massive new evolution. Long-time Slashdot reader Mike Bouma explains: Airsoft Softwair has released Hollywood Designer 6.0, "a full-blown multimedia authoring system that runs on top of Hollywood and can be used to create all sorts of multimedia-based applications, for example presentations, slide shows, games, and applications. Thanks to Hollywood, all multimedia applications created using Hollywood Designer can be exported as stand-alone executables for the following systems: AmigaOS3, AmigaOS4, WarpOS, MorphOS, AROS, Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS." The current version of Hollywood is v9.1 with various updated add-ons. To see earlier versions of Hollywood 9.0 & Designer 5.0 in action have a look at Kas1e's short demonstration on AmigaOS4 / AmigaOne X5000.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hubble’s ‘Magnum Opus’: a 30-Year Analysis of the Universe’s Expansion

"NASA has released a huge new report that astronomers are calling Hubble's magnum opus," reports New Atlas. "Analyzing 30 years of data from the famous space telescope, the new study makes the most precise measurement yet of how fast the universe is expanding." Astronomers have known for the better part of a century that the universe is expanding, thanks to the observation that galaxies are moving away from us — and the farther away they are, the faster they're traveling. The speed at which they're moving, relative to their distance from Earth, is a figure called the Hubble constant, and measuring this value was one of the primary missions of the space telescope of the same name. To measure the Hubble constant, astronomers study distances to objects whose brightness is known well — that way, the dimmer it appears, the farther away it is. For relatively close objects within our galaxy or in nearby ones, this role is filled by Cepheids, a class of stars that pulse in a predictable pattern. For greater distances, astronomers use what are called Type Ia supernovae — cosmic explosions with a well-defined peak brightness.... For the new study, a team of scientists has now gathered and analyzed the most comprehensive catalog of these objects so far, to make the most precise measurement of the Hubble constant yet. This was done by studying 42 galaxies that contained both Cepheids and Type Ia supernovae, as imaged by the Hubble telescope over the last 30 years. "This is what the Hubble Space Telescope was built to do, using the best techniques we know to do it," said Adam Riess, lead scientist of the team. "This is likely Hubble's magnum opus, because it would take another 30 years of Hubble's life to even double this sample size." The article points out that these detailed real-world observations of the Hubble "constant" now show a small discrepancy, which suggests "new physics could be at work." And it's the new James Webb Space Telescope that will now be studying these same phenomena at an even higher resolution.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

More cops died last year than in any year since 1930

And criminals didn’t do it

A whole lot of the dead weren’t vaccinated:

For the second year in a row, Covid-19 was the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in the United States, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

A total of 458 officers died in the line of duty in the country last year, making it the deadliest year in more than 90 years and a 55 percent increase from 2020, according to preliminary data compiled by the organization. Of those, it found that 301 federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers had died because of Covid-19.

“It has been reported to NLEOMF that these officers have died due to direct exposure to the virus during the commission of their official duties,” the report said.

In the three decades before the pandemic, the organization’s annual tally of officers killed in the line of duty surpassed 200 only twice, in 2001 and 2007. The last time it went above 300 was in 1930.

In recent months, as local governments began implementing vaccine mandates for workers, some police officers and law enforcement unions have pushed back, threatening resignations and legal action.

In October, New York City’s largest police union sued over the city’s vaccine mandate. The Police Benevolent Association of New York said it opposed a vaccine mandate for officers that does not allow an option of being tested weekly instead of being vaccinated. A federal judge this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by several Los Angeles police officers who had sued over the city’s vaccine mandate.

I will just point out that police unions insist that their members be given immunity from the law in many cases because their job is inherently dangerous and they need special dispensation to kill when they feel endangered. And yet they allowed their members to refuse vaccines which killed far more of them than gunfire. I guess it makes sense if you believe that a big part of their job is killing innocent members of the public, whether with guns or a deadly virus. But I don’t think that’s really in the job description. Or it shouldn’t be.

Wonkette Weekend Live Chat Is Still Counting Pennsylvania GOP Primary Ballots

Robyn and I are back with a primary week wrap-up! We know you’re excited. Pennsylvania Democrats have a head start on the Senate election in November while Republicans are still mired in a contentious outcome with a razor-thin margin that’s headed for a recount. Hurrah!

Progressive primary challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner also gave the boot to Oregon’s Kirkland Signature Joe Manchin Kurt Schrader (I almost typed Paul Schrader, who I greatly prefer as a filmmaker and human). Senator Kyrsten Sinema shouldn’t count on a second term.

Our weekly chat kicks off at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET. You can watch on YouTube or right here, but don’t forget to like, subscribe, share and all the interactive goodness.


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Navy Ships Swarmed By Drones, Not UFOs, Defense Officials Confirm

The Drive's Adam Kehoe noticed something during this week's UFO hearings in the U.S. Congress. "After intense public speculation, stacks of official documents obtained via the Freedom Of Information Act, ambiguous statements from top officials, and an avalanche of media attention, it has now been made clear that the mysterious swarming of U.S. Navy ships off the Southern California coast in 2019 was caused by drones, not otherworldly UFOs or other mysterious craft. "Raising even more questions, a similar drone swarm event has occurred off another coast, as well." These revelations came from top Department of Defense officials during a recent and much-anticipated house hearing on UFOs, which you can read all about here. The strange series of events in question unfolded around California's Channel Islands in July of 2019. On multiple evenings, swarms of unidentified drones were spotted operating around U.S. Navy vessels. In numerous instances, the drones flew within close proximity to ships, even crossing directly over their decks. The behavior provoked defensive reactions from the ships, including the deployment of emergency security teams... Deck logs demonstrate that the Navy appears to have drilled and implemented a variety of counter-drone techniques in response to these incidents. This eventually included the deployment of Northrop Grumman's Drone Restricted Access Using Known EW (DRAKE) platform. The DRAKE system is a man-portable backpack that allows sailors to use radio frequency signals to interrupt the control links of drones. The DRAKE system appears to have been actually deployed in one of the incidents.... It is entirely unclear where the drones were operating from, how they were controlled, or who was controlling them. Still, the Navy could identify the objects as drones without those questions being fully answered at this time.... The Department of Defense's open acknowledgment of these drone swarm events just off U.S. shores shows that the threat is not theoretical. It is also not a future threat. Significant drone swarm events have occurred in the last three years, unknown to the public, and evidently unresolved by defense authorities. Judging by what is known to date about the 2019 incident, it is clear that the United States is not well-positioned to detect, identify and neutralize such threats. It remains to be seen what level of priority these issues will receive by lawmakers in relation to more speculative questions surrounding UAP. If anything else, top confirmation that adversaries are operating swarms among America's most powerful weapons in training areas where their most sensitive capabilities are put to use should make national headlines, but because it was buried in sensationalism around UFOs, it clearly did not.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Virginia County Considers Making Schools Celebrate Slavery, Confederate Generals Again

Two years ago, in response to the murder of George Floyd, the Shenandoah County School Board in Virginia voted to change the name of two schools named to honor Confederate generals. You know, because they realized that perhaps celebrating people who fought to keep Black people enslaved perhaps sent the wrong message. Stonewall Jackson High School was changed to Mountain View High School, while Ashby-Lee Elementary School to Honey Run Elementary School.

This was the right move, but it upset a lot of very racist people who now want the names changed back to honor the losers of the Civil War, and the new Vice Chair of the board agrees with them. Because apparently it is very "elitist" to believe that it is bad to honor people who fought to own Black people by naming schools after them. .

Via NBC:

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition to change the names back, Vice Chair Dennis Barlow said at a board meeting, where the issue was discussed at length last week.

Some new board members say they feel the decision to change the names was rushed and that it did not consider the opinion of the community.

Barlow — who characterized those who were in favor of changing the names as outsiders who are "creepy," "elitist" and from "the dark side" — said the school board's decision was "undemocratic and unfair."

He added that he regards Jackson as a "gallant commander."

He was also a traitor who killed people defending the "right" of some other people to own people. I don't know what to call that but it does seem like the kind of thing that would get you sent to prison these days, rather than having a school named after you.

During the board meeting, community members got three minutes each to say why they supported or opposed bringing the names back. S. John Massoud, a member of the Town Council of Strasburg and Chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party of Virginia got up in front of the board and talked about how his great-grand-daddy was a union soldier killed by Stonewall Jackson but he supported reverting back to the name because you can't talk about his great-grand-daddy and people like him without talking about Stonewall Jackson. Because the only way to do that is to name a school after him.

Massoud was followed by several women and a young man from the high school — all of whom supported the change. And then those people were followed by two older white guys, one talking about how men from Shenandoah County were with Stonewall Jackson when he got his nickname "Stonewall" and another with whining about how changing the name in the first place was a "dirty underhanded trick."

Then, a female minister talked about tolerance, a lady with Can I Speak To Your Manager hair talked about how she went to Stonewall Jackson high and had a good time there and if you change the name her memories will be murdered, followed by another grey-haired white dude who opposed the name change and wanted everyone to vote on it. And the next old guy talked about how his family served in "The War of Northern Aggression" and you can imagine how that went.

It continued for over an hour.

Unsurprisingly, Marjorie Taylor Greene was very excited about the idea of changing the name back. She tweeted the Daily Mail's story on the issue with "Wonderful news. We should always preserve our history," because of how she loves history, so long as it is never discussed more deeply than "Hey, look at that statue of a guy/school named after a guy who fought to own slaves! Wasn't he great?"

Given the arguments we've been having over education lately, none of this is particularly shocking. This isn't about actually caring about children, it's not about school names, it's about these people "wanting their country back." Trump failed to give it back to them, seeing as how the rest of us all still exist, so now they're going after the kids. To do that, they need to be sure that kids are being raised the same way they were — scared of LGBTQ folks and very sure that the "War of Northern Aggression" was about "states rights" and had nothing to do with slavery.


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How AI Brought Back Val Kilmer’s Voice For ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

"62-year-old Val Kilmer was just 26 when he played Iceman in the 1986 movie Top Gun," remembers long-time Slashdot reader destinyland. But in 2015 Kilmer lost his voice to throat cancer, remembers Parade: In his 2020 memoir I'm Your Huckleberry, Kilmer joked that he has less of a frog in his throat and more of a "buffalo." He said, "Speaking, once my joy and lifeblood, has become an hourly struggle." Kilmer has teamed up with Sonantic, a U.K.-based software firm that uses artificial intelligence to copy voices for actors and production studios, to replicate his speech, using old recordings of his voice and existing footage. Kilmer elaborates on the process of finding his voice again through AI in a video posted to YouTube in August 2021. In his new AI-enhanced voice, which does indeed emulate the speech audiences are familiar with, Kilmer says: "People around me struggle to understand me when I'm talking, but despite all that, I still feel I'm the exact same person, still the same creative soul. A soul that dreams ideas and stories constantly. "But now I can express myself again, I can bring these dreams to you, and show you this part of myself once more. A part that was never truly gone, just hiding away." Kilmer's health struggles, his childhood tragedies and his ambitious career were recently documented in the acclaimed 2021 feature-length doc Val, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Top Gun: Maverick screened at the Cannes Film Festival to rapturous reviews, with thunderous fanfare including an air show. Though reports say audiences gave the action picture (currently sitting at a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes) a five-minute standing ovation, with audible responses throughout the picture, mainly at the groundbreaking stunt work, it's also been reported an audience-favorite scene is the "overwhelming" emotional response to the reunion of Tom Cruise and Kilmer.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

No, the system didn’t work

And it will be even worse next time

I’ve been working my way through former SecDef Mark Esper’s memoirs, “A Sacred Oath.” You’ve probably heard about its one or two re-reveals of previously reported information. But the real interest of the book arises from a metaphor Esper uses a couple of times.

Esper compares the Pentagon to a soccer ball. There are rules about how it is to be handled. Break the rules – grip the ball with the fingers – and the ball will be briefly indented. But the rule-breaker cannot grip forever. Once released, the ball rapidly recovers its shape.

Esper details instances that support his soccer-ball analogy. EG in a spasm of irritation in December 2019 then-President Trump issued an order that all US forces be removed from Germany. Trump was egged on by his hot-tempered then-ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell.

Esper quotes Grenell about the troop withdrawal: “That will get their [Germany’s] attention.”

He then quotes himself: “Of course it will, and many other countries too, including Russia, but for all the wrong reasons.”

But an order is an order. So Esper agreed to a “comprehensive review … to look at our troop presence around the world,” including European Command. Obviously such a review would take a long time – and as it happened, Trump had left office before the review was completed.

Similar slow-dragging methods were used against Trump’s demand for a big military parade through the center of Washington.

On the evidence of his book, Esper is satisfied that his methods more or less worked. “Despite the friction in my relationship with Trump, I felt I was still able to manage the president and his worst instincts.” (369)

And here really is the crux of the book and its argument. Esper seems to have been a competent manager, moderately conservative, a loyal American. Trump offended him in many ways, but those offenses are presented as distractions from more important work.

As Esper writes: “[A]lthough many things he suggested ranged from appropriate to outlandish, none ever rose to a level that warranted consideration of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment.” Esper situates this estimate before the “shoot them in the legs” comment of June 2020, but the estimate remains clearly his view throughout his service. As he writs on p. 5: “There was another major concern I had to factor in to the equation: ‘Who would replace me?'”

The book is intended to reassure: Yes, some excesses occurred, but they were managed and contained. Trump had some good instincts, Esper writes in more than one place, and they could be appealed to – and if not, the worst orders could be mitigated or delayed.

But here are the haunting questions left behind:

1) As I’ve written before, if Trump is returned to office, this time the velociraptors will know how the door handles work. He will bring with him more committed followers, who may defeat the methods of evasion and delay.

2) Passive resistance tactics only go so far. If Trump signs the paper exiting NATO – NATO is kaput, no matter how much DoD may wish to evade and delay. As Esper acknowledges, he could not protect the Vindman brothers from Trump’s retaliateion.

3) Esper describes himself as a man of “conventional” views. Except for the very, very rare Henry Kissinger, the senior levels of government are not staffed by highly imaginative people. Nor probably should they be. Keep the system working, that’s the job. But that natural bureaucratic propensity leaves the system vulnerable when it confronts a novel threat outside its expectation: like a corrupt, anti-constitutional president at the top of the machinery of state. Aside from delay, top managers didn’t know how to cope. So in their memoirs after the fact, they console themselves: the system worked on my watch, more or less. Or if it didn’t work, it can now be fixed, because surely after January 6, Trump and Trumpism must be finished. Americans would never stand for a repeat, would they?

All of which reminds me of something else I said often in the first weeks of the Trump presidency: “The sunny American confidence that everything will turn out all right it itself the greatest threat to everything turning out all right.”

Originally tweeted by David Frum (@davidfrum) on May 22, 2022.

Palm OS Developer Releases Source To Classic Games, 20+ Years After Release

Munich-based developer Aaron Ardiri is Slashdot reader #245,358, with a profile that still identifies him as a Palm OS developer. Which surprised me, because Palm OS's last update was in 2007. (Then again, ardiri's Slashdot profile also still includes his screen name on AOL Instant Messenger.) So, a long-time Slashdot reader. And this week he stopped by to share a little history — in more ways than one. ardiri writes: Before the iOS and Android entered the scene — heck, even before the smartphone concept — was the handheld personal digital assistant, with the likes of Newton, Palm OS, Windows Mobile and Symbian. Palm OS had a thriving gaming scene; with the likes of emulators and implementations/clones of classics such as LodeRunner, Lemmings, and the classic Game and Watch. But the real news of ardiri's original submission is hidden in its headline. "Palm OS developer releases source to classic games, 20+ years after release." Written mainly in C and optimizations in assembler — maybe these games will make their way to the various Arduino like micro-controllers out there; designed for low memory, low processing power environments they would port perfectly.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Can We Generate Renewable Energy by Burning Trash?

CNBC visited a company that burns trash from a California landfill, and then "harnesses steam to make enough electricity to power 18,000 homes in the area" — which turns out to be part of a surprisingly large industry: A portion of the waste comes from companies including American Airlines, Quest Diagnostics, Sunny Delight and Subaru.... Major retailers like Amazon also use this combustion method to dispose of returns they deem unfit to recycle, resell, or donate.... The U.S. is one of the most wasteful developed countries in the world. Of the record 292 million tons of waste generated by Americans each year, more than half is landfilled, about a third is recycled, and 12% is incinerated at waste-to-energy facilities, according to the World Bank. Online commerce poses a particular problem. Not only are internet purchases breaking records in terms of volume, but roughly 20% of items get returned, which is a higher number than for in-store purchases. Returns solutions provider Optoro says U.S. returns generate an estimated 5.8 billion pounds of landfill waste each year. But the article also points out that more than half of U.S. states define waste-to-energy as a renewable energy source." Unlike landfills, many governments and non-governmental organizations consider it a source of greenhouse gas mitigation. That includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where Susan Thorneloe leads research on materials management. U.S. climate experts say these are the three reasons the burning process produces a net reduction of greenhouse gasses. First, it keeps waste out of landfills, which emit methane that the EPA estimates is 86 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. Second, waste-to-energy facilities reduce the need for mining because they recover 700,000 tons of metal each year. And finally, they produce energy, reducing the need to burn fossil fuels.... The steam can also be captured and piped up to a mile away to heat or cool entire buildings, like Target Field in Minneapolis.... The EPA estimates that for every megawatt-hour of electricity generated, waste-to-energy emits an average of just over half a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent gasses. Landfills emit six times that, and coal plants emit nearly double. At least some scientists CNBC spoke to said that air pollution technology has advanced so much in the last two decades that most common toxins have largely been eliminated.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.