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Warning: These Films May Contain the Next Big Thing Redstone Film Festival comes to campus Wednesday

The 28th annual Redstone Film Festival takes place on Wednesday, February 13, and includes six films on topics ranging from the solemn — the aftermath of an immigration raid in a New Bedford, Mass., factory — to the silly: a comedian who performs his stand-up routine entirely in the nude.

The festival, which showcases work by graduate and undergraduate Boston University students, is sponsored by Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), CEO of Viacom. It begins at 7 p.m. at the Tsai Performance Center and is free and open to the public. Tickets are first-come, first-served, and are available at the Tsai Center box office starting at noon on Wednesday. Festival winners are chosen by a panel of prominent film industry professionals; cash prizes go to the first, second, and third place finishers.

At the time, Alexander was following undocumented immigrant high school students who were trying to find a way to go to college; she planned to report on their struggle for her thesis project. In the ensuing weeks, however, these students turned their attention to a more pressing cause — locating the missing people arrested in the raid and their children left behind at day-care centers and school. “It became clear that these families’ stories needed to be told,” says Alexander.

New Bedford Stories tells those tales using several interviews that focus exclusively on the subjects’ eyes to preserve their anonymity. “Many of those who testified about the treatment they received were afraid Immigration would further punish them for testifying,” Alexander says. “It is amazing how expressive the eye and eyebrow can be.”

The film has already been featured at the Boston Latino International Film Festival, and Alexander hopes it can continue to be used by educational institutions and community organizations to make people aware of the impact of immigration raids on children and families.

Beers-Altman, who received an honorable mention at last year’s Redstone Festival in the Fleder-Rosenberg screenwriting contest, literally grew up surrounded by violins, and her mother, a Suzuki violin teacher, provided the film’s inspiration. “Last winter, I tagged along with my mom as she brought some of her instruments to a violin repair shop,” she says. “I was so awed by the beauty of the shop, I started asking a lot of questions about it.” Beers-Altman’s documentary takes place in the Boston shop, Reuning & Son Violins. “Most documentaries are shot on video,” Beers-Altman says. “But the dimly lit violin shop, with instruments from the 1700s, sort of lent itself to the medium of film. The footage was beautiful, and I was very pleased.”

Boedeker used this inspiration to create Being Dead, a film about a dying man who scans his own memories in an attempt to have his last one be about a woman.

The film production had challenges, including the location and timeline: a frozen bay in Boston, over a single weekend. “I got very little sleep,” he says, “but the film would not have been as successful if it weren’t for the conceptual mania I experienced.”

The Redstone is not Boedeker’s first festival. Last year, his film The Kite Club received a slot in Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film festival. His films have also appeared at festivals from Atlanta to Moscow. Recently, the Being Dead cast was reunited for Boedeker’s thesis film project, traveling to the Arctic Circle in Russia to shoot Silver Sunset, which will debut this summer.

More information about Boedeker’s projects is on his Web site.

An international student from Barranquilla, Colombia, Muvdi says she is most influenced by images around her — the spark of inspiration for Auscultare emerged when she saw a friend playfully swinging from a tree branch. “It was a simple and innocent image,” she says, “yet it sparked a whole set of ideas.”

She attributes the film’s experimental nature to Robert Arnold, a College of Communication associate professor of film and television, who taught her film production class. “The images are visual metaphors, from the pendulum-like quality of the swing set to the contrast between dark and bright images,” Muvdi says. “Every frame means something, and I hope the audience will experience the film in a way that they can respond to, even after the credits roll.”

Auscultare means “to listen” in Latin. “Latin is the root of everything,” Muvdi says, “just as a baby in a womb is the root of everything.”

“One Sunday,” Scigliano says, “my Dad pulled a U-turn on the way and took us to a bar to teach us how to play pool.”

That back-room chalkdust education forms the core of Scigliano’s submission, Fratelli Breaks. The premise: two brothers reunite each year to play nine-ball for $10,000, in memory of their murdered father. Scigliano made the film with his older brother, Marcus. The siblings began tinkering with the project while Alex was still in high school. In Alex’s junior year at COM, he and Marcus started writing the script in earnest. Production began last February and took the brothers, their film equipment, and pool cues to East Boston, Logan Airport, Winthrop, Mass., and Allston, as well as Hoboken and Weehawken, N.J.

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Floating Solar Panels Could Be The Next Big Thing In Clean Energy

Solar panels can be placed on your roof, on a plot of land, or basically anywhere else where they  are anchored to something solid. That said, there are only so many solid spaces available to install them. To beat climate change, our electricity mix is going to need a lot more renewable energy systems to take over fossil fuels.  Many in the solar industry are looking for a new home for solar panels—possibly even floating on water.

Floating solar farms have been around for over a decade, but water-bound panels became much more prominent in the last few years. The basic idea is to attach solar panels to plastic floats which then drift on a body of water. These floating solar arrays are typically placed on man-made bodies of water—a town’s water reservoir, an irrigation reservoir, a water treatment facility—as to avoid interfering with plant and animal species that live in natural bodies of water. For instance, the United States’ largest floating solar farm sits on a wastewater pond in California and has a nearly five megawatt capacity.

The floating solar industry is expected to grow dramatically over the next decade, but only about two percent of this year’s new solar installations are water-bound.  

[Related: Solar panels and water canals could form a real power couple in California.]

Rebecca Hernandez, an associate professor of earth system science and ecology at the University of California, Davis, has been studying the benefits of floating solar and its potential environmental impacts.  “It’s land-sparing in many cases,” Hernandez tells Popular Science. “We found that three of the sites we were looking at, they had intentionally sited floating solar on water because they ran out of room for land [solar].” 

Another benefit to floating solar, Hernandez says, is the natural cooling effect of water. Solar panels work more efficiently in colder temperatures because of water’s evaporative cooling effect, Hernandez says. Liquid zaps heat away from surface water when it escapes as vapor, which chills the water down even more. Floating solar is estimated to be up to 15 percent more efficient than land-based solar. 

The environmental impacts of floating solar are still a bit of a mystery, Hernandez says. There’s potential for the plastic floats the panels sit on to degrade over time and possibly negatively impact a body of water, she adds, but more research will be needed.

“What we’re looking at is how floating solar impacts water quality,” Hernandez says. “We’re looking at things like water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, total algae and we’re trying to see how the floating array impacts those important parameters.”

Some floating solar arrays are placed on bodies of water where animals live, such as stormwater runoff ponds. However, Hernandez has seen animals who now share their home with floating solar adapt rather quickly according to these solar arrays. She says she’s seen birds stand on the floats while they hunt for fish and otters use the floats to hide.

“We get to watch birds swoop right over the array,” Hernandez says. “I was afraid birds would be flying into the panels because they think they look so much like water, but the remarkable thing is that the birds are really adapting this stuff.”

[Related: Solar power got cheap. So why aren’t we using it more?]

There are many other places where floating solar could be deployed. Ideally, floating solar could be placed near existing hydroelectric plants, which would allow the facility to produce electricity from two sources. A project in South Korea started testing a 41 megawatt floating solar project near a hydroelectric dam last year. 

Floating solar can also exist on the ocean. The Singapore-based solar energy provider Sunseap deployed this technology last year in bays where the panels will be relatively protected from large waves and other harsh weather conditions. The conditions on the open ocean would likely be too tumultuous for such a solar array. So far, the plan seems to be working quite well. 

Floating solar is still a new way of approaching solar power compared to the land-based panels we’re used to, but it appears to have a lot of potential in areas where land for solar farms is scarce or there is simply an abundance of water. The more solar we install, on the ground, on rooftops or even on the seas, the less we’ll be reliant on fossil fuels. 

How To Find Music And Videos With Zero Plays—And Discover The Next Big Thing

There’s a lot of content out there on the web—and not all of it can be a Stranger Things– or Taylor Swift-level smash hit. In fact, there are plenty of videos and songs online that no one has ever seen or heard.

A warning, though: you’re likely to come across a lot of garbage in your travels. After all, there might be a reason a lot of these videos and songs have zero plays. Still, there’s always the chance of discovering something truly special, because who wants to follow the crowd when it comes to finding videos and music? 

It’s far better to be a pioneer—at least for a little while. Then you can go back to watching and listening to the same stuff as everyone else.


The tool you need to find songs with zero plays on Spotify is called Forgotify, which promises access to millions of tracks that no one has ever heard before. Uploading tunes to the Spotify library is not particularly difficult or expensive, so there’s a long tail of unheard material.

[Related: Where to find new Spotify playlists when you don’t want to make your own]

During our time experimenting with Forgotify, we came across all kinds of styles and genres of music, from folk to dance. There was a lot of foreign music, many remixes, a lot of live stuff, and what seemed to be an a capella song recorded live at a wedding. You might not always be blown away, but you certainly won’t be bored.

Sadly, as far as we can tell, this is only something you can do on Spotify, and there aren’t any equivalent tools for the likes of Apple Music and Tidal. That’s perhaps down to the extra access Spotify gives developers to build on top of its platform, which includes metadata such as the number of plays a song has.


When it comes to YouTube, there are a couple of tools that you can turn to to find videos with very low play counts—either zero or not much more than that. The first is PetitTube, which couldn’t be any easier to use. Simply open up the site in your web browser, and a video will start playing.

Once the first video has finished, another one will automatically be queued up—and then another, and another. If you want to, you can sit back and spend hours watching videos that haven’t been seen by anyone else. Underneath each clip, you’ll see options that allow you to like or dislike the video on YouTube.

[Related: How to only watch the best bits and other tricks to upgrade your YouTube experience]

The quality here varies even more than it does on Spotify. Anyone can upload anything to YouTube for free, so expect to see a lot of badly shot and plain confusing material, a lot of music, and a lot of home videos. It’s oddly fascinating, as you switch from forests to parties to lecture halls to dining rooms to golf courses to churches from all across the world.

Enterprise Search, The Next Big Battleground?

SAN FRANCISCO – To hear Google tell it, the person doing a search on a home PC is “the same guy” who uses search in the enterprise. Microsoft says that may be true, but that doesn’t mean they have the same needs.

In a panel discussion here at the Gilbane content management conference, officials from Google and Microsoft had a cordial debate over how the two companies address the enterprise search market. Jared Spatraro, group product manager for enterprise search at Microsoft, said there were three main areas of search: commodity, high end specialized services and mid-market “true enterprise” services. He said Microsoft plays in and continues to invest in all three areas.

Spatraro acknowledged the broad reach of Google  as a consumer brand and said the search giant’s ambition to organize all the world’s information was “a fantastic goal.”

However, he then went on to say that Microsoft  thinks organization is just a starting point. “We’re focused on what people are going to do with that information,” said Spatraro. He compared Google’s approach to applying search as a solution to using nails to solve every problem because the only tool you have is a hammer.

Nitin Mangtani, a lead product manager for Google Search Appliance, was quick to respond. “We understand enterprise search is different,” said Mangtani. He noted that most of the people working in his group previously worked at enterprise software companies. Mangtani said Google has over 7,000 customers (including such blue chips as Boeing, Honeywell and Intel) for its Google Mini Search Appliance, a $1,995 hardware software combination.

For enterprise customers, Mangtani stressed Google’s ability to handle both structured and unstructured information.

“Whether the information is in an Oracle database, a wiki or an SAP server, we give you one unified search interface to all your information,” said Mangtani. “We’re a neutral vendor and we build a security structure …. that gives you fine grain control. If a user doesn’t have access, we don’t even show the link because we think that’s a violation.” He said some competitive products will allow unauthorized users to see a link.

Both Oracle and SAP offer their own solutions for enterprise customers. SAP plans to release an as yet unnamed enterprise search service for its customers later this year.

One distinctive aspect of what SAP has planned is that the service ties into a user’s security and profile settings and provides different results depending on the user. For example, a search on a manager’s name will show results that include the people he reports to and those that report to him with quick access to items such as performance reviews.

“There will always be a market for niche applications,” Mangtani told chúng tôi in an interview after his session.

Spatraro said enterprise IT buyers will become more interested in search “but not as a standalone, but as part of a whole infrastructure.” Noting Microsoft has over 400 million users of its Office products and more for Windows, Spatraro said Microsoft can appeal to those customers in a different way than Google with it’s well-known Internet brand.

The Big Problem With Big

Thankfully, three years on, most manufacturers seem to have gotten over the hurdle of foldable smartphone durability. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4, for example, survived an impressive amount of damage in JerryRigEverything’s durability test including forcefully bending the phone backwards and putting dust and debris directly onto the display and inside the intricate hinge system. Naturally, you’re not going to do this intentionally to your own phone but it’s nice to know that it’s more robust than it looks.

Samsung’s foldables are some of the few to have IPX8 water resistance, allowing you to text in the pouring rain without a worry in the world (aside from getting wet, that is!).

It’s not just Samsung either. The foldable phone market has come along leaps and bounds over the past few years, with excellent models including the Huawei Mate X2, Xiaomi’s China-only Mix Fold 2 and the Oppo Find N, which I had the pleasure of using earlier this year.   

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

These devices still aren’t perfect – you can see the crease along the hinge in most foldable screens – but the hardware is now at a level where many buyers will be comfortable investing in a foldable smartphone – particularly the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

When I first used the Oppo Find N back in April, I noticed that a few of my favourite apps didn’t display properly on the 7.1in main display. That’s almost certainly down to the boxy 8.4:9 aspect ratio, which most developers won’t have optimised their apps for. After all, how many devices have a screen of this shape? Not many.

Oppo Find N

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

That’s fine, I thought, considering the Oppo Find N hasn’t officially launched in the West and, therefore, developers won’t be in a rush to develop for the form factor.

Samsung, on the other hand, has been selling these phones in the West for the past few years, and the company has specifically worked with developers to add support for the unusual form factor. Essentially, if there’s any foldable manufacturer that could provide a top-tier foldable experience, I assumed it would be Samsung.

But, dear reader, I was wrong.

To Samsung’s credit, it does have a growing list of apps that make good use of the Fold 4’s large display including the likes of Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Microsoft Office, YouTube and Google Meet. And they work well. The issue is that, outside of that relatively small list of apps, others simply do not work on this boxy aspect ratio.

Most apps run well but since they’re not optimised for the aspect ratio they don’t offer the big-screen experience you might expect. Instead, just as with so many Android tablets, apps stick to a user interface that’s designed for the tall, slim aspect ratio that the vast majority of phones now have.

However, there are a few apps that simply don’t work – including some of the most popular ones.

For example, take Instagram. The app’s inability to adapt to the boxy aspect ratio of the Find N and Fold 4 meant as much as 2/3 of video content was cropped from view – and that’s hardly the premium experience buyers are going to expect after shelling out the big bucks for a folding phone.

Instagram on the Huawei Mate Xs 2

Dominic Preston / Foundry

It was a similar story with TikTok on the Find N, but Samsung worked with the developer so the app works properly with its foldable phone.

The bottom line is that app developers aren’t adding support for these devices fast enough.

In fact, Oppo’s president of overseas sales and services, Billy Zhang, cited a lack of app support as one of the main reasons we’re yet to see an Oppo foldable outside of China (though that could be changing soon).

It seems we’re still in a catch-22 situation in the foldable market: developers are waiting for more manufacturers to produce foldables before investing time and money into developing specifically for the form factor, while manufacturers are waiting for app support before going all-in on the foldable form factor. Who’s going to give in first?

It’s not hard to see where the developers are coming from either; while Samsung claims there were 10 million foldables sold across the industry in 2023, that’s a drop in the ocean of the predicted 1.38 billion overall smartphone sales in the same year.

I should probably clarify at this point that this problem doesn’t really apply to clamshell-style foldable smartphones like the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Huawei P50 Pocket. The fact that these models fold out to something resembling a traditional candy-bar smartphone means developers don’t need to optimise apps for a new aspect ratio.

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 4 clamshell

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Clamshells, then, could be the best option for manufacturers to introduce more foldable smartphones in the near future, rather than working on the other style of foldable that requires considerably more work from developers. Could we see the big-screen foldable fade out in favour of clamshell-type phones in the next few years, or can the combined might of Xiaomi, Oppo, Samsung and co. bring big-screen foldable support to most apps? We’ll have to wait and see.

Microsoft’s Next Surface May Be A Chromebook Competitor For Schools

If a low-cost Microsoft Surface with a cloud-based Windows operating system sounds a lot like a Chromebook, that’s probably no coincidence. Windows PCs have lost ground in the U.S. education market to Google’s browser-based laptops. As Microsoft sends out invitations for a May 2 event in New York, rumors suggest the company will announce a Surface for schools—among other things.

Why this matters: Microsoft has repeatedly struggled to compete with Chromebooks. Little more than a year ago, for example, Acer, chúng tôi Lenovo all launched rugged clamshell PCs featuring spillproof keyboards, with prices beginning at $199. Microsoft launched Intune for Education, a version of its Intune management application that was supposed to make managing 30 or so PCs per classroom a snap. Apparently, it didn’t help: Chromebook momentum is still climbing, according to Jay Chou, who tracks PC sales for IDC. 


Lenovo’s ThinkPad 11e Chromebook. Microsoft wants to get hardware makers to start thinking of Windows instead.

The target: Classroom Chromebooks

First, though, Microsoft has to convince technology purchasers at individual school districts that Windows machines are a stronger value. It could be a tough assignment.

“Chromebooks are successful in education for three key reasons,” Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder said in an email. “First, a great deal of educational software is now delivered over the web, which satisfies the precondition for using a web-based OS. Second, price—from a total cost of ownership perspective, which includes the device but also the manageability—has tended to come in lower for most schools. Third (and related), they are secure and manageable: As nearly zero-state devices, it’s easy to pass a Chromebook from student to student without security issues. And they are far easier to manage and deploy than existing Windows PC management tools.”


Microsoft’s Intune for Education attempted to overcome the limitations of Windows and attack Chromebooks. 

The solution: a cheap, managed Surface?

Rob Schultz

It’s unlikely this Surface 3 could survive with kids in a classroom.

Here’s a quick rundown of other rumors around this event:

A Surface Pro refresh built around Intel’s Kaby Lake chip is still expected at some point, but the scuttlebutt seems to be turning away from a launch at the May event. A more likely venue for a Surface Pro announcement might be Microsoft’s Build developer conference, starting just days later in Seattle.

Though Microsoft’s Windows Mobile champion Joe Belfiore recently resurfaced from a nine-month sabbatical, there’s no buzz on a Surface Phone.

Windows Mobile is apparently alive, if not well. “We continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile and support Lumia phones such as the Lumia 650, Lumia 950, and Lumia 950 XL, and phones from OEM partners like Acer, Alcatel, HP, Trinity and VAIO,” a Microsoft spokesman said recently.

Could Windows Cloud replace Windows 10 Mobile? Probably not, but it’s an enticing thought if the rumored Surface Phone ends up being a foldable device.

Windows Central also brings word that Windows is revealing more about the Cortana-powered speaker that was announced last year. Device setup features are being baked into Windows. Could Microsoft show off the first Cortana-powered devices in May?

Whatever happens, we’ll be onsite at both events to bring you the full report. 

This story was updated at 10:36 AM with additional details. This story was corrected on April 24 with the correct date. 

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