Han Solo Movie Kicks Off

The Han Solo, er, solo movie has started filming. Obviously (for those who saw Episode VII), it's a prequel, spinning tales of a young, dashing and roguish space smuggler and his "big walking carpet" Wookiie co-pilot.. The cast features Alden Ehrenreich as Han and Donald Glover as Lando (who I am almost more interested to see as a younger guy, to be honest).

Not generally a fan of prequels, but Rogue One was pretty good, so you never know. The movie has been kept pretty tightly under wraps as far as plot, etc. (particularly this early on) but it is filming under the working title of  - wait for it -  "Red Cup". 

Solo, red cup, get it??

The expected release date is May 2018. Gosh that seems a long time away.

image courtesy Twitter and director Chris Miller


Apple Touch ID Moving Aside

According to Apple Insider, the company plans to replace their existing Touch ID system with optical fingerprint readers - apparently to make accommodation for new "full face" hardware designs.
A capacitive solution, Touch ID sends a small electrical charge through a user's finger by way of a stainless steel metal ring. While the fingerprint sensing module is an "under glass" design, the ring must be accessible to the user at all times, making the solution unsuitable for inclusion in devices with full-face screens.

Moving forward, [
KGI analyst Ming-Chi] Kuo predicts Apple will turn to optical type fingerprint sensing technology capable of accepting readings through OLED panels without need for capacitive charge components.
Apple Insider


Oracle America Has Some 'Splainin' To Do

The US Department Of Labor is not happy with Oracle America's hiring practices, and has actually sued the company over some pretty specific issues resulting from an investigation that started in 2014.
In the complaint, the department says Oracle paid white male employees at its Redwood Shores, California headquarters more than female and non-white workers with the same job titles, even when taking into account for experience and seniority.
At the same time, according to the complaint, Oracle was far more likely to hire Asian applicants - particularly Indian people - for product development and technical roles than black, white or Hispanic job seekers.


Windows 7 Comes To The Rescue

Notwithstanding that Microsoft appears to be launching a "Windows 7 is crap" campaign at the moment, I just ended up - oddly - with a Windows 7 laptop as my main computer at home. I say "oddly" as I have been a pretty staunch desktop Linux user for the past few years - putting aside a couple of abortive stints with Windows 8 and 10.

I did not fall off the Linux wagon, but rather a series of hardware glitches led me to ravage my otherwise trusty 5-year-old AMD-powered Samsung laptop and end up with a formerly wonky "spare" older model ThinkPad as my working hardware.

To shorten an otherwise even-longer-than-usual anecdote from yours truly, the device hereinafter referred to as "StinkPad" was not playing particularly nice with a couple of new Linux distros I threw at it (Zorin OS 12 and Linux Mint 18.1 Cinnamon), and I thought I might try Windows 7 - which has been working fine for the past 72 hours or so.

Not entirely clear what the issue was in Linux, although I am guessing it had something to do with the Intel graphics in the StinkPad, as both distros seemed to exhibit uncharacteristic (to my experience) graphical glitches. Regardless, Windows 7 seems happy, although it took quite a few hours to get it reasonably secure and useful - requiring interminable Windows updates, and several pieces of security and other software.

I use Windows 7 at work and am quite comfortable with it, but I suspect I will drift back to Linux at some point. Our main computer at home is also a Windows 7 desktop, as Mrs Oldgoat must be able to play her Flash games, so it's an "all Windows" environment in our home at least for a while.


US Marine Recruiting Cyber Warriors

The US Marine Corp is looking to recruit some 3,000 cyber warriors to help deal with the current global mess of state-sponsored hackers and the like.
On Thursday, General Robert Neller told the Surface Navy Association's annual convention that he was looking to raise his numbers from 182,000 to 185,000 in the next Defense Appropriations Bill – and wants to use the extra heads to beef up online and electronic warfare capabilities.
The Marine Forces Cyber Command has about 1,000 military and civilian staff; this needs to be drastically increased, he said. That may mean withdrawing frontline troops that have the right aptitude, training them in online warfare, and deploying them in the world's cyber-trenches, for want of a better word.


"Lily" is An Ex-Drone

Poor Lily, the drone-to-be, is dead; gone to join the choir invisible, pushing up daises - an ex-drone, with apologies to Monty Python. Despite amassing over $30 million and 60,000 orders, the Lily Robotics company finally realized that they just could not pull off the heavy lifting of actually getting their proposed flagship device into production and into the hands of the waiting public.

The device looked great in their promotional video, but if you look around at the quadcopter scene today, a lot of the features such as "follow me" are already available in other devices. True, Lily looked super slick in the video, but it was not to be.

The San Francisco DA's office had also brought a lawsuit against the company, accusing them of false advertising and unlawful business practices. The promotional video below appeared to show a prototype Lily drone in action, but the aerial footage was actually shot by a completely different professional camera drone.


Lily said in the email that it would offer refunds to pre-order customers in the next 60 days. It is unclear, how much money the company still has in the bank or if it will return any of it to its investors, which include SV Angel and Spark Capital.


White Rabbit Project - New Heights Of "Meh"

The White Rabbit Project is a new series available on Netflix featuring three Mythbusters alums - Kari, Tory and Grant - and has them investigating kinda science-y type stuff.

I don't know if my tastes are rapidly changing as I get older or what, but even though I enjoyed Mythbusters until those three were "let go", I found White Rabbit Project so far to be quite lame. 
While the hosts are still likable, there is not a lot of actual information or investigation in evidence here, and about a third of the shows running time seem to be filled with "recreations" of varying quality (and cheesiness).

I have watched four of the available 10 episodes in season one, and although I am still hoping to be convinced otherwise, my overall impression is that more actual content and less tomfoolery would be better. Or maybe just go really silly and make a kind of pastiche of Mythbusters or other science shows; right now it seems to be in a kind of no man's land of "meh".


Self Drive Cars - A Dangerous Passage

The main promise of autonomous, self-driving vehicles is an increase in road safety. We lowly humans are prone to distraction, emotional/erratic behavior and drunkeness - none of which typically afflict the computer systems being tasked with controlling our vehicles.

A look at current and recent automobiles reveals quite a bit of "driving assistance", in the form of crash avoidance, lane change warnings and so on. Quite a few vehicles will already allow "hands free" driving under some circumstances - Tesla's "autopilot" being a well-known example.

Even though these additions should tend to make things safer, the real promise may not show itself until the vast majority of vehicles are "fully autonomous" (level 4 or 5), as defined by the NHTSA in October 2016

Currently, most available automated systems are level 1 or 2 with some level 3, and it may be that some drivers over estimate the abilities of some of these current system - as possibly seen in the recent tragic Tesla autopilot accident (the driver may have been watching a movie when the vehicle struck a semi).

Only at level 4 autonomy is a human driver theoretically "not needed" to drive from A to B, but even then that is under what might be considered "normal" driving conditions, on regular roads.

Ultimately, level 5 systems would be expected to be able to drive autonomously on dirt roads (for example) and in adverse conditions where an experienced human driver might typically be expected to operate.


Disney Ponders The Void Left By Carrie Fisher's Passing

Most of us knew Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa in the latter episodes of the Star Wars saga. Of course she was also a successful writer, script doctor, a Mom and a mental health advocate, among other things.

After the shock of her sudden passing, the folks at Disney are now facing a serious problem in how to handle her death in terms of the very lucrative Star Wars franchise. 

Principal photography is reportedly completed for Episode VIII, the follow-up to The Force Wakens, and Leia was also due to be a (possibly major) part of Episode IX (which is still being written).
Disney is trying to figure out how to handle scenes that were planned for her in the upcoming Episode 8 and Episode 9.
The Hollywood Reporter says filmmakers and high-level execs are currently weighing their options with regards to how Fisher will or won't be portrayed on-screen, with Episode 9 director Colin Trevorrow set to meet with Lucasfilm on January 10.
Games Radar