GamesRead : Watch live: SpaceX attempts to land a Falcon 9 rocket aboard a drone ship [UPDATE: Launch aborted]

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is getting ready to launch its sixth of 12 contracted NASA resupply runs to the International Space Station, but that’s not the big story for today’s launch. When The Falcon 9 rocket lifts off shortly, SpaceX will make a second attempt to land the expended first stage vertically on a drone ship in the ocean.

You can watch the launch live on NASA’s Ustream channel and keep your fingers crossed. The last attempt didn’t go well, but SpaceX is very close to a new era in reusable launch technology. If perfected, it could reduce the cost of reaching orbit dramatically. After all, it’s cheaper to refuel and relaunch a rocket rather than let it crash into the ocean and build a new one.

SpaceX has been working on vertical takeoff and landing systems for a few years now, but the first complete test of the system during a mission took place in January. The Falcon 9 detached from the payload when most of its fuel was expended, but it crashed into the drone ship instead of landing gently on the surface. In a previous test, SpaceX accomplished a “soft” landing in open water without a ship there to catch the rocket.

According to Musk, the last failure was because the rocket’s guidance fins ran out of hydraulic fluid and couldn’t steer the rocket on its final descent. That has supposedly been rectified for today’s launch. The initial lift off is currently scheduled for 4:33 PM EDT. The rocket landing should take place several minutes later. Either way, the dragon capsule should continue on its way to the space station to deliver supplies before returning to Earth in a few weeks.

Update: The launch was aborted with 2m 39s left due to dangerous weather. They’ll give it a shot again tomorrow (4/14) at 4:10PM EDT.

GamesRead : Grand Theft Auto V PC players can make their own movies

Rockstar Games is offering PC players of Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online the ability to use the games’ massive cast of characters and settings to create their own films.

The Rockstar Editor allows you to record segments from the game, edit them together, and add music to create customized clips. Various camera types and angles can be combined with a plethora of filters to create whatever look you like. Another function called Director Mode allows the user to choose from the game’s human and animal characters, locations, times of day, weather and other modifications to make unique videos. Once complete, you can upload to the Rockstar Games Social Club and YouTube to show off your creations.

The ability to play with all of these visual elements debuts tomorrow along with the release of the PC version of GTA V. Even more details about Rockstar Editor are available for members of the Rockstar Games Social Club.

Grand Theft Auto V might just be hitting PC this week, but the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions debuted in 2013 followed by upgraded takes for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One the next year. The open-world game features three main characters — Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Philips — that the player can switch between as they move through the game. As usual, the latest entry received favorable reviews, sold millions of copies and created some controversy.

Though Rockstar Editor is launching in conjunction with Grand Theft Auto V for the PC, it seems possible that other franchises like Manhunt, Red Dead, and Max Payne might eventually offer more in the way of characters, locales, and even eras to create an even wider variety of videos to post online.

GamesRead : Ant-Man trailer is packed with humor, action, ants

Marvel likes to keep its universe rolling with movies and TV shows interlocking like no one’s business (well, literally Disney’s business, but get colloquial with me here). Currently, you can jump over to Netflix and binge 13 hours of Daredevil, tune into Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD on ABC, and buy your tickets for May’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Marvel seems pretty sure that Age of Ultron is going to be a big hit and it’s tracking to set some box office records, so the PR job on the Avengers front seems to be subsiding. That doesn’t mean that the company has forgotten that it has one of its biggest cinematic hurdles left to clear this August with a Peyton Reed-directed and Paul Rudd-starring Ant-Man.

You may remember that Edgar Wright originally wrote a script for Ant-Man before the Marvel Cinematic Universe shot out of the gate with Iron Man in 2008 (now I’m rhyming, I guess). That script got flipped right quick when Wright said Marvel was wrong about fitting Hank Pym’s swan song into a line of movies (that was long). Sorry, it’s tough to stop rhyming sometimes.

Edgar Wright left the Ant-Man directing job because he didn’t like the script tweaks that were made by Marvel Studios to fit Ant-Man into the long, giant road to Captain America: Civil War. Disney responded by getting Adam McKay to do a rewrite of the script and hiring Peyton Reed (Bring it On, yeah, the cheerleading one) to direct the movie.

The first teaser for Ant-Man gave us a look at the costume and what Ant-Man’s power to shrink would look like on film, but didn’t do much to describe the movie’s plot, tone, or villain. Those of us that spend our spare time trawling the internet for details about Ant-Man began to wonder just how much of Edgar Wright’s original script’s tone had made it through the reconceptualizing process.

Luckily, with this first full trailer, our fears can be partially assuaged: Ant-Man is going to be funny. Maybe not Guardians of the Galaxy funny, but funny nonetheless.

Also getting fleshed out here: Corey Stoll’s Yellowjacket and Evangeline Lilly’s Janet. It looks like Janet will train Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to fight while he wears the Ant-Man suit. She also seems to know a lot about Pym-suits, so who wants some Wasp, right?

The Wasp, or who comic-book readers expect  Evangeline Lilly to end up being.

The Wasp, or who comic book readers expect Evangeline Lilly to end up being.

I have to give bonus points to the Yellowjacket design, because this is what actor Corey Stoll looks like when he’s naked in a bathtub:

Not threatening.

Not threatening.

And here is what he looks like fighting Ant-Man:

Threatening.

Threatening.

Way to make Corey Stoll look like a villain. Now, let’s just hope he’s fleshed out more than previous Marvel ones (sorry, Ronan).

The idea that Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym is seeking out Scott Lang to break into Corey Stoll’s operation to prevent things like the Yellowjacket suit from going public sounds like a plot I can get on board with, especially if the entire movie has the tone of this trailer.

yellow

So far, it seems that this is a good and confident first step for a movie that Marvel hasn’t shown a lot of love for yet. Then again, they’ve been busy with Daredevil and Age of Ultron.

GamesRead : Banned Aqua Teen Hunger Force Boston episode leaks online

In April of 2007, the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters came out. The show about anthropomorphized snack food that used to fight crime but now mostly hangs out was the first Adult Swim cartoon property to get a movie, and despite middling reviews and seemingly low box office ended up being a hit.

When you make a movie for $750,000 and it grosses over $5 million, that qualifies as a hit. Even if you end up giving about half of it away.

The film got some unexpected publicity in January of that year when guerrilla ad campaign involving light-up LED Mooninites (characters in the series) caused a bomb scare in Boston.

Most accurate middle finger of 2007.

Middle finger is an understatement

The black boards were magnetic with colored LED lights in the shape of a Mooninite. The lights were powered by a strip of D batteries at the bottom of the sign that would be covered with electrical tape after installation.

A group of locals were given $300 each to place these Aqua Teen Hunger Force signs in visible and popular places around Boston.

On January 31st, 2007 a commuter noticed one of the Mooninites outside the Sullivan Square Orange line stop and brought it to the attention of a police officer…who notified the bomb squad. According to authorities, these signs had many things in common with improvised explosive devices, like electrical tape, an exposed circuit board, an external power source, and magnets.

The Boston Police Department got other reports of these devices around town and soon were wondering if they were in the middle of some coordinated bombing attack.

Supposedly it was a younger member of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s staff that first identified the signs as characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

As soon as people started noticing what was going on, new organizations, local Boston papers, and everyone who owned a bong within the city limits thought that the Boston Police Department and Mayor Menino were out of touch with the general populace at best or had drastically over reacted at worst. The internet started mocking Menino’s evocations of 9/11 with “Never Forget 1-31-07″ memes.

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Needless to say, Boston was not happy. They claimed they had spent $1 million in taxpayer dollars protecting their citizens.

Turner Media who owns Cartoon Network ended up paying the City of Boston about $2 million dollars for all the trouble they caused ($1 million just in goodwill for Homeland Security purposes), but there wasn’t any sign of remorse from Aqua Teen Hunger Force creators Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro. They produced an episode called “Boston” that made fun of the whole incident.

Is this pro Boston?

Is this pro Boston?

“Boston” was slated to air during Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s fifth season, but was pulled before it aired. When asked about it, Dave Willis suggested the episode could air after Mayor Menino left office, but even after Menino died in 2014, the episode still remained unaired. Sometimes, Willis was more demanding:

There was an Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode titled “Boston” for this season. Assuming it is about what I think it is about, was it finished and then cut?

There are actually three versions of “Boston” now, all mastered to VHS and sealed in a time-release vault to be opened in the year 2098, twenty-five years after our death. Hopefully by then, enough time will have passed – so that we can find some distance and maybe discover the lighter side of the tragedy that befell New England on that day, when a Lite-Brite Moon Alien could have ended it all.

If so, will it ever be released?

Yes, as soon as Boston gives us back our money.

Then, yesterday – 8 years after the bomb scare – a YouTube user named “ATHF Never Forget” uploaded a cut of “Boston.” It was the full episode but a “bootleg cut” where parts of the episode are not animated and certain characters remain clip-art place holders.

It was rumored around the time that “Boston” was originally removed from the airing schedule that executives at Turner Media had threatened to fire the Aqua Teen Hunger Force staff if the episode ever got to air, so it’s no surprise that the episode was up for less than a full day before Cartoon Network got it pulled down.

However, this is the internet, and the toothpaste is out of the tube. “Boston” has been popping up like whack-a-mole moles and Turner is doing the whacking.

Mooninites as Taliban from "Boston"

Mooninites as Taliban from “Boston”

Should you want to read a description of what the episode entails and a more detailed description of how this episode almost made it to air, you can read those things at the ATHF Wiki.

Should you want to see “Boston” for yourself, you’ll have to use your Googling and Reddit skills.

Go forth, web ninja.

You thought we'd embed it?

You thought we’d embed it?

GamesRead : Quadcopter becomes autonomous by using your smartphone as a brain

Your smartphone is a lot of things — a phone, a camera, a media player, a portable gaming console. It’s capable of plenty of other cool tricks, too, like becoming the eyes and brain of a fully autonomous aerial drone.

At the University of Pennsylvania’s Vijay Kumar Lab, Dr. Kumar and his students have been developing advanced, autonomous drones that are assembled from off-the-shelf parts. The drone itself is bare bones: a frame, battery, four motors and props, and a motor controller. As for the phone they’re using, it’s not a special prototype or a developer-only device like Google’s Project Tango. It’s an ordinary Samsung Galaxy phone, just like the ones your wireless carrier sells.

The only real difference is that Kumar’s team has installed a special app they’ve created in cooperation with Qualcomm. The app makes use of the phone’s built-in cameras and other sensors to determine its own flight path. Images from the camera can be analyzed at a very rapid pace — around 200 times every second — and that information is converted into control signals that are pushed to the drone’s four motors.

What’s amazing here isn’t so much that a quad-core Snapdragon chip is powerful enough to function as the brain of a flying drone. Plenty of drones run on chips that are no more powerful than what you’d find on a cheap Arduino board. Dr. Kumar says this is the first time that a consumer device has been used to bring this level of self-control to a drone.

Who knows where this might lead? Maybe in a couple of years you’ll be able to pop your old, disused Android phone into a new barebones vacuum dock and and turn it into a cheap, autonomous Roomba alternative. Or pop it onto a drone like the Kumar Labs one to use as an auto-follow drone that can film your everyday adventures.

GamesRead : Self-driving cars offer a choice between boredom or motion sickness

Self-driving cars are on the horizon whether you like it or not. Multiple car manufacturers and an increasing number of tech companies are developing solutions to remove control away from a human driver. There are many benefits to doing this once it’s perfected, including lower fuel consumption, less accidents, and greatly improved traffic flow.

From a driver’s perspective there also seems to be another advantage: because you no longer need to drive, you can focus on other things while in the car. Why not watch a movie, surf the web, read a book, or play a game? All those things may keep you entertained, but you probably won’t be able to do them, at least, not for very long.

Google-Self-Driving-Car

A survey carried out by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute asked 3,200 adults from across the US, UK, Australia, China, Japan, and India, what they expected to do instead of driving when traveling in a self-driving car. A large percentage stated the activities mentioned above.

Motion sickness happens when there is a conflict between vision and balance. The inner ear tells your brain that motion is occurring, but if your eyes are focused on an activity like reading a book or watching a movie, the movement isn’t registered and the conflict is created. The brain reacts to this in the same way as it reacts to detecting poisons–it makes you want to vomit, and in some cases dizzy and tired as well.

So what does this mean for a future where self-driving cars are the norm? Lots of motion sickness or boredom as far as I can tell. Sure, you can do these interesting activities to stop being bored, but a lot of people are going to feel sick if they do. However, such a situation just presents another opportunity. There are already devices to stave off motion sickness, if they can be adapted for self driving cars while at the same time allowing you to enjoy entertainment activities, someone is going to make a lot of money.

The cars can be designed to help, including ensuring everyone faces forward, there are large windows, and any displays are semi-transparent allowing you to see past them while looking at content, be that video, images, or text.

nasa_goggles

Interestingly, NASA has a solution for astronauts suffering from motion sickness: they wear LCD shutter glasses to create stroboscopic vision. Maybe that’s the solution? We all end up wearing glasses to be driven around…

GamesRead : Doctors planning the first human head transplant

A team of elite surgeons from around the world will soon be attempting a medical first — a full human head transplant. No, this is not a movie, sci-fi novel, or tragically late April Fools’ prank. This is actually happening, and no one knows if it will work or what it could mean if it does.

The patient (read: guinea pig) is a 30-year-old Russian man named Valery Spiridonov. He’s not just doing this for fun, though. Spiridonov has a terminal form of spinal atrophy called Werdnig-Hoffman disease. There’s no known medical treatment that will save his life, except maybe taking his head off and placing it on a different, healthier body.

Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero will be in charge of decapitating and re-capitating Spiridonov, following a procedure laid out in a paper published in the journal Surgical Neurology International. The operation is expected to take 36 hours and require 150 medical staff.

First, Spiridonov’s head and new body will be cooled to slow the rate of cell decomposition. Then, doctors will hook up all the major blood vessels in the neck to machines that will keep things flowing during the transfer. The spinal cord will then be severed and the head will be moved to the new body for attachment. Canavero plans to use polyethylene glycol injections to get the cells and connective tissues to stick together, binding the head to the new body. After that, it’s simply a matter of connecting blood vessels, muscles, and nerves.

Doctors expect it will take up to a year for Spiridonov’s spinal cord to completely fuse with the new body, but that’s far from the only potential complication. No one really knows what switching bodies will do to the brain. The exposure to completely different chemical and electrical signals could drive a man mad. There’s also the possibility the new body will reject Spiridonov’s head, even with powerful anti-rejection drugs.

The project will officially launch in June as Canavero begins recruiting staff for the procedure. It could take place as early as next year. If this doesn’t work, there’s always the Futurama-style head in a jar.

GamesRead : You can now buy the first Ubuntu smartphone

About a year-and-a-half ago, Canonical left the Ubuntu Edge behind and refocused on other ways to bring an Ubuntu smartphone to the masses. Today, the first phone to ship with Ubuntu has finally gone up for sale.

Those of you who have been waiting to get your hands on hardware running Canonical’s mobile OS can now order the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition. It’s priced at €169.90, and manufacturer BQ is currently only shipping phones to customers in the European Union.

What kind of phone is the Aquaris E4.5? It’s a fairly low-end affair. As you may have guessed from the numbers in its name, it features a 4.5-inch display with a resolution of 960 x 540. The phone is built around a quad-core MediaTek processor with a maximum clock speed of 1.3GHz and an ARM Mali-400 GPU provides the graphical muscle. There’s a gig of RAM on board and just 8GB of internal storage.

ub-phone

On the connectivity front, the phone has Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11bgn WiFi, and GSM/HSPA+(dual SIM slots are provided). Unfortunately, there’s no LTE support like on Motorola’s updated Moto E.

This is all pretty standard stuff for a phone with this kind of price tag. What sets the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition apart is, of course, the OS. While users won’t find the abundance of apps in the store that they would with an iPhone, Android, or Windows phone, they will be able to run loads of web-based apps (and presumably everyone who’s already bought a phone running Firefox OS thinks that’s just fine).

Ubuntu phones also have those clever “scopes,” which Canonical says give users “a new way to access content and apps without having to download individual apps.” The NearBy scope, for example, can show you things like good places to eat or grab a beer, concerts that are coming up, or where to catch the next bus downtown.

One thing you won’t be able to do with the E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is to use it as a full-blown desktop computer. That was one of the killer features of the Edge, but Canonical hasn’t decided to flip it on yet. With enough tinkering, though, you can probably make it work yourself – the OS is about as open as they come.

GamesRead : Guillermo del Toro teaming with Ryan Gosling for Disney’s Haunted Mansion

Guillermo del Toro and Ryan Gosling are both changing gears a bit with their next project: Haunted Mansion. Based on the beloved Disney ride, the film will be aimed at family audiences unlike the former’s Crimson Peak or the latter’s beautifully violent collaborations with Nicolas Winding Refn. The project is not completely outside of Gosling’s experience, though, considering he got his start on the Mickey Mouse Club along with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and other future stars.

The project has been in del Toro’s massive to-do pile for a while now, but Gosling’s involvement was just announced by TheWrap. The director and star have been getting friendly lately, with del Toro moderating a panel at SXSW featuring Gosling talking about his directorial debut Lost River. They even went to Disneyland together where they rode Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and, of course, the Haunted Mansion.

Developed by Imagineers under the partial guidance of Walt Disney himself, Haunted Mansion debuted in Disneyland back in 1969. Since then the ride has popped up in Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. It also inspired an Eddie Murphy-starring family film in 2003 and an anthology comic book from Slave Labor Graphics that launched in 2005.

This new film was first announced in 2010. High Fidelity and Grosse Pointe Blank screenwriter DV DeVincentis is currently working on the script which will somehow integrate the basic concept of a ghost-filled Victorian house, a setting del Toro is quite familiar with after making Crimson Peak.

Gosling will next appear in Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, a Terrence Malick movie, and Adam McKay’s The Big Short. Del Toro also has Pinocchio, Pacific Rim 2, another season of The Strain, and Justice League Dark in the works as well.

GamesRead : New Star Wars special features examine history of Millennium Falcon and lightsabers

As of today, Star Wars fans can now watch all six films on legitimate HD digital formats for the first time ever! Announced earlier this week, the films — which can be purchased individually or all together — each come with their own batch of new special features as well as legacy ones that carry over from one of the many previous home video offerings.

Lucasfilm and Disney released scenes from many of those new special features on the official Star Wars YouTube page. Three of the videos that caught our attention told the secret design history of the Millennium Falcon, the lightsabers and the groundbreaking sound effects.

First up, as part of the “Discoveries From The Inside: Models & Miniatures” special feature included with Phantom Menace, we learn that the original design for the Millennium Falcon was pushed aside because it looked too much like a vessel from Space: 1999. However, the ship didn’t get trashed, instead it was tweaked and used as Princess Leia’s ship!

Want more behind-the-scenes historical goodness? A New Hope features a video called “Discoveries From The Inside: Weapons & The First Lightsaber,” which not only includes Roger Christian talking about how an old piece of camera equipment inspired the Jedi’s signature weapon, but also a look at the very first prototype.

Finally, Empire Strikes Back comes with “Discoveries From The Inside: The Sounds of Ben Burtt” explains how the sound designer’s love of the old Frankenstein movies helped bring Star Wars fully to life on the big screen.

These are just tastes of the full special features, but they offer a pretty solid glimpse at what viewers can expect. Plus, all of these digital offerings will give us plenty of entertainment while we camp out waiting for the debut of JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 18.