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An artist's conception of Kepler-34b which orbits a double-star system

The elegant, strange and fascinating world of Three Body comes to English readers

Page File Three Body, as it’s known in China, is prominent sci-fi author Liu Cixin’s trilogy of an alien invasion of Earth, one of the most enduring sci-fi tales since the birth of the genre. With The Three Body Problem, the English translation of the first book, Liu’s wildly popular trilogy comes to the English-speaking world for the …
Photo of the Starship Enterprise's sick bay

Doctor Zuck, I'm so poorly right now! Facebook examines healthcare biz: report

Facebook is reportedly mulling over plans to step into the healthcare business – a move that would hardly be surprising given Google and Apple's interest in that market. According to Reuters, which cited three unnamed people familiar with the matter, the Mark Zuckerberg-run free content ad network is looking at setting up " …
Kelly Fiveash, 4 Oct 2014
Regina Egbert, El Reg's virtual news anchor

Windows! Icahn! Taxes! It's all on Vulture Central's news round-up

Vid Youtube Video Get the week's top tech news delivered in eggspert-style by Vulture's news anchor Regina Eggbert. You can get more on the stories, including the lowdown on Windows 10, the EU's Apple tax probe and Carl Icahn's eBay victory, here, here and here. ® Regina Egbert, El Reg's virtual news anchor
Spoiling for a fight

The Maze Runner – a merry teenage dystopian adventure that doesn't make you cringe

Film Review Well it’s another teen dystopia novel turned into a film – which is fast turning into a reason not to see a movie instead of a reason to see a movie as studio heads hope – but what’s this? No love triangle? No whining? Teenagers with a modicum of self-respect? A decent storyline? It’s all gone strangely right for the makers of …
Gee Vaucher artwork – Feeding of the 5000 by Crass

Weekend reads: Consumed, The Graphic Art of the Underground and The Skeleton Road

Page File El Reg bookworm Mark Diston reviews the latest literary lures. Movie mogul David Cronenberg goes for the novel experience but does it play as well as his films? Ian Lowey and Suzy Prince explore 60 years of underground art in its myriad forms but, how is the genre looking today? And has revered thriller writer Val McDermid …
Mark Diston, 4 Oct 2014
Deep Breath episode Doctor Who

Our Vultures peck at new Doctor Who: Exterminate or, er ... carrion?

TV review Brid-Aine says: Ever since Doctor Who arrived back on Auntie Beeb screens, there has been a great divide in this country. The Caretaker episode Doctor Who Who you gonna call? Clara and Doctor Who in The Caretaker On the one hand, those who knew and loved the old Doctors, their serious and gentlemanly deportment when faced …

Facebook: Ha! Like we'd STOP trickcyclists messing with your MIND

Facebook has attempted to reassure users upset by the fact that it allows organisations to experiment on them by promising stricter guidelines for researchers. The social network will still let organisations experiment on its users – it’s just going to make them go through an “enhanced review process” to do so. Facebook CTO …
H.264 image scaling

HEVC patent prices are out. Look who's NOT at the codec party: Microsoft and Google

Analysis The MPEG Licensing Authority (MPEG LA) has released pricing for High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) that is almost certainly low enough to claim the market overnight. HEVC is the successor to the tech used to encode video stored on Blu-ray Discs and streamed in high-definition digital TV transmissions the world over. The …
Faultline, 3 Oct 2014
Beats Music The Sentence

Apple pitches record labels on cheaper music service

Apple is reportedly asking record labels to agree on a deal that will allow the iGiant to sell a cheaper streaming music service. According to a report by Re/Code citing company sources, the Cupertino iFlinger wants to lower the US$10/month price of the Beats Music service. To do so, and still turn a profit, Apple reportedly …
Shaun Nichols, 3 Oct 2014

NAKED CELEBRITY PICS LAW BOMB dropped on ad giant Google

A Los Angeles attorney is threatening to sue Google's top execs, after accusing them of failing to remove stolen naked photos of female celebrities from its search results. But Mountain View has insisted it tore down "tens of thousands of pictures within hours." Lawyer Martin Singer, writing in a letter to Google cofounders …
Shaun Nichols, 2 Oct 2014
Ayn Rand

Atlas snubbed! Ad blocker says it can kill Facebook's stalker tech

Facebook's new Atlas people-tracking system isn't popular, at least according to some of our readers, and now Adblock says it has found a way to block it. "While Adblock Plus applauds innovation that improves the advertising experience for the user, we firmly believe that the user should have the choice whether or not they want …
Iain Thomson, 2 Oct 2014
LP stylus

Music-mad Brits drive up hardware sales too – claims BPI

Amazingly, 12 per cent of British people watching TV are listening to music from another source as they watch. Or maybe that isn’t so amazing. Maybe you need to play Napalm Death while watching The X Factor - and who could blame you? Tech-mad Brits also spend more on music per head than the G7 average - but which drives which? …
Ofcom chief Ed Richards

Ofcom chief exec Ed Richards to step down in December

Ofcom’s board has announced that Ed Richards is standing down as chief executive from the end of December this year. Richards gave no reason in the official statement for his decision, saying only that the time had come. "It has been a privilege to lead Ofcom during such an exciting and dynamic period in the evolution of the UK …
Tetris on all platforms? It must be true as there's even a version for BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone

Coming to a theater near you: the TETRIS MOVIE

A US film studio has confirmed it is planning to make a movie based on the video game Tetris. Threshold Entertainment has been named as the developer for the feature length film, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The company said that the film would not actually be about arranging blocks to form lines, but rather would …
Shaun Nichols, 1 Oct 2014

Cable guy, Games of Thrones chap team up to make Reg 'best sci-fi film never made' reject

It wasn't quite good enough for you lot, but it looks like Kim Stanley Robinson's award-winning Mars Trilogy is set for TV adaptation. Fans of Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars (insert RGB joke here...) can look forward to a forthcoming adaptation of the series, after the announcement by cable TV channel Spike TV that it's …

Icahn and I DID: eBay volte-faces, spins PayPal into separate biz

eBay has spun off its PayPal subsidiary after months of telling “noisy” activist investor Carl Icahn to shut up about it because it would never happen. With absolutely no sense of irony or tip of the hat to Icahn whatsoever, the online tat bazaar’s chief John Donahoe said in a statement today that a strategic review of the board …
Monster Beats Pro

Apple sues Steven Lamar over Beats co-founder claims

Apple is suing Steven Lamar, the man who is currently suing Beats for allegedly cutting him out of its Apple deal, alleging that he had falsely claimed to be a co-founder of the electronics firm. Lamar and his earlier firm, Jibe Audio, filed a claim against Beats, and by extension new owner Apple, earlier this year, alleging …
Facebook logo

Atlas plugged: Facebook hooks ads to profiles, smears 'em over the web

Facebook has relaunched its Atlas advertising network to take on ad-slinger-in-chief Google. The social network said its revamped platform will allow companies to monitor how their ads are turning – or not turning – into actual sales across devices. Normally, Facebook tracks logged-in people across the web by detecting when and …
Shaun Nichols, 30 Sep 2014

WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?

Too cheap or perhaps simply not bothered enough to manufacture its own selfies, the Sunday Mirror newspaper stole photos to entrap a Tory MP on Twitter. Now the owners of the photos might get the last laugh. The tabloid had spent the summer fishing for a Tory scalp – sending flattering tweets to several MPs from a fake account …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Sep 2014
netflix

Netflix bullish after six-country European INVASION

By any measure, Netflix’s European expansion – adding six more countries – could not have gone better, although this still does not mean the operator will achieve its bullish forecast of penetrating one-third of all homes within seven years of launching in every market. That almost hubristic forecast will depend on factors yet …
Faultline, 29 Sep 2014
Michael Pitt and Brit Marling in I Origins

Hollywood's made an INTELLIGENT science vs religion film?!

Film Review There’s nothing like the power of love to screw up a good movie about science. Whether it’s miracle medical cures for the mentally ill who just needed to find “the one” (Silver Linings Playbook) or the old chestnut that feelings about people and nature are just better than science and progress (Avatar), there’s nothing Hollywood …
HGTTG Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

Weekend reads: Douglas Adams' bio in The Frood, The Bone Clocks and Harry Partch, Hobo Composer

Page File El Reg bookworm Mark Diston reviews the latest rivetting reads. David Mitchell, no not that one, beguiles with yet another world of magic and mystery, while Jem Roberts tries not to panic as he explores the life and works of Douglas Adams. Ever wondered where the stranger ideas of American music came from? S. Andrew Granade says …
Mark Diston, 27 Sep 2014

CURSE YOU, 'streaming' music services! I want a bloody CD

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Oh bloody hell, grandma, what have you done this time? “I thought that was obvious. It’s your birthday. I bought you a CD.” A CD? That’s so uncool. So unhip. Are you, like, square? “I remembered you used to like music when you were a student. Have you gone off it?” You no’ down wit’ da word, daddio. Grannio. CD is old. Is all …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 Sep 2014
ello

Ello, 'ello, what's all this then? We take a spin on the new social network driving everyone loopy

Pics The history of social networks is littered with failures. Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, all have fallen by the wayside. Now Ello wants to add Facebook to that list: the invitation-only network has been growing by leaps and bounds of late. Google Play redesign Invitation-only at present and Ello warns there's a line ahead ( …
Iain Thomson, 27 Sep 2014

How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?

Can people hear the difference between lossy MP3 digital music files and lossless ones? Opinions differ strongly, with much obfuscation around audio cables, mastering and hi-fi componentry muddying the waters. This article was prompted by commentard critiques of Sonos streaming Wi-Fi speaker/player reviews and audiophiles saying …
Chris Mellor, 26 Sep 2014
Collmotdrones

FAA clears SWARM of MOVIE DRONES for take-off

The US aviation authority has taken the first step on the road to the (potential) over-run of the skies with commercial drones – granting six video and photo production firms an exemption to fly drones for movie-making and picture snapping. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also said that it was considering 40 other …
Rupert Murdoch @ Davos 2009 credit: World Economic Forum

Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims

Google has penned a response to News Corp’s accusations that the web firm is a “platform for piracy” and its exhortation to Europe to crack down on on the search firm even further. In a post on the Choc Factory’s official blog, Rachel Whetstone, head of global comms, rebutted News Corp’s points one by one while taking a few …
Google UK office logos

Stanford Uni: Google cash leaves us entirely impartial and unbiased

A court document drafted by a recipient of Google's generosity appears to show that the latter comes with strings attached, prohibiting university researchers from investigating its controversial data slurping practices. The donation went to the Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, which drafted the filing. The part that …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Sep 2014

Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS

Comcast has branded Netflix, Discovery and others extortionists after they opposed the ISP's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable In a dossier to US watchdog the FCC [PDF], Comcast claimed companies lobbying against its merger are hoping to force it into making concessions that benefit them. Specifically, Comcast alleges …
Shaun Nichols, 24 Sep 2014
emma watson

4chan outraged by Emma Watson nudie photo leak SCAM

The Emma Watson nude photo leak scandal has been exposed as a spoof - by a gang of spoofers. A mysterious "marketing firm" calling itself Rantic has been fingered as the architect of a fake threat to leak nude images of the Harry Potter starlet. The internet was set alight this week by rumours that 4chan nutjobs were planning …
Jasper Hamill, 24 Sep 2014

EU dangles $6bn threat over Google in endless search abuse probe

Formal charges will be meted out to Google if its latest offer to tweak its search engine in Europe fails to satisfy regulators, Brussels stressed today. The American web giant is accused of abusing its dominance position in search – for example, allegedly unfairly burying its rivals way down in its web search results. The …
Kelly Fiveash, 23 Sep 2014
Slide from Tim Cook's presentation at the Apple product roll-out event of October 22, 2013, indicating the competition's confusion

Ab phab: Apple is Britain's coolest brand YET AGAIN

It might be news to anyone who watched queues of rabid fanbois queue for days to buy the iPhone 6, but apparently Apple is still Britain's coolest brand. In spite of its association with the heinously unhip U2, Apple's own trendiness is "untouchable", an organisation called CoolBrands has claimed. It has put Apple on the top of …
Jasper Hamill, 23 Sep 2014
Credit: Kelly Reeves https://www.flickr.com/photos/misskelly/5291975972/ CC-by-nd

Apple: Beats Music is safe with us. Just like your selfies in iCloud

Apple has denied rumors it is shutting down radio streaming service Beats Music, which it acquired with Dr Dre's Beat Electronics brand this year. The iThing giant told reporters on Monday that blog posts alleging the service will be discontinued are "not true". Apple didn't reply to our request for comment. It was rumored Beats …
Shaun Nichols, 23 Sep 2014
warehouse interior - wide aisle, big shelves

Germany strikes again over Amazon warehouse pay

German union Verdi has not given up on the hopes that striking at Amazon warehouses will change the mega-etailer’s mind about pay. Verdi wants workers at distribution centres in Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Graben, and Rheinberg to walk out as it continues its agitation over pay and working conditions. "Amazon still refuses to …

Joseph Gordon-Levitt to play Edward Snowden in Oliver Stone movie: report

Batman and Inception star Joseph Gordon-Levitt is reportedly set to play Edward Snowden in director Oliver Stone's latest film. Variety reported that Gordon-Levitt, 33 – who shot to fame as a kid in US sitcoms 3rd Rock from the Sun and Roseanne in the '90s – was asked by Stone to play the NSA master blabbermouth and the actor …
Kelly Fiveash, 22 Sep 2014

Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone

Earlier this week we discovered that not only are London's Metropolitan Police rampantly abusing data-snooping laws to hunt down and punish employees who talk to journalists, we also learned that they don't even bother counting how often they do this. Police abuse of these powers came to light, after police sources who talked to …
Gareth Corfield, 21 Sep 2014
Apple iPhone 6

'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'

QuoTW This was the week when IBM told a bunch of staffers that their skills weren’t up to scratch. To sort the problem out, Big Blue says it’s going to force them into mandatory training and make them give up ten per cent of their salaries for the privilege. In an email to workers, IBM said: A recent assessment revealed that some …
ipod u2 edition

Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed

U2 singer Paul Hewson (aka Bono) has hinted that Apple is working on a new music format that will make buying music “irresistible” all over again. With Bono – who is a director of a VC fund with an interest in interactive media - it’s hard to tell to what extent he may be hyping his own interests, or how much he’s hyping Apple’s …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Sep 2014

eBay promises to refund seller fees after latest MASSIVE OUTAGE

eBay is telling some of its sellers that their fees will be refunded, following Sunday's seven-hour-long outage - which was the latest in a series of technical blunders hitting the online tat bazaar. The company wrote to customers on Monday, informing them that they were "protected" by eBay, despite the latest service sitdown …
Kelly Fiveash, 17 Sep 2014
ipod u2 edition

Apple gives fanbois The Sweetest Thing: A delete button for that U2 album

It's a Beautiful Day: Apple has created a utility to remove U2's Songs of Innocence album that was force-fed into people's iCloud libraries overnight. The delete tool, available from itunes.com/soi-remove, ejects the Irish boy band's free album from devices and iTunes accounts once and for all. "Once the album has been removed …
Shaun Nichols, 15 Sep 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook in 1979, during his freshman year at Auburn University

Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s

Some may fondly remember the era that bought us The Clangers, Fawlty Towers and The Sweeney. But not Apple boss Tim Cook, who reckons the goggle box is stuck in a time warp so intense that watching it is like being sucked back back into the 1970s. In an interview with American talk show host Charlie Rose, Cook dropped a clanging …
Jasper Hamill, 15 Sep 2014
ipod u2 edition

Not pro Bono: Apple's audio junk mail made spammers' lives easier

Comment Apple's decision to push a new album by Irish boy band U2 into the iCloud libraries of millions isn't just egregious. It arguably plays into the hands of scammers. Without warning, the iPhone maker emitted Songs of Innocence with all the haste of a critical security update after the group's appearance at its Apple Watch and …
John Leyden, 13 Sep 2014