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New Actress Joins Line-Up at ‘A Celebration of Harry Potter’

A beloved Harry Potter character known for her bubble-gum pink hair and quirky sense of humour is joining this year’s “A Celebration of Harry Potter” event at Universal Orlando Resort.

Natalia Tena, who plays Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films, will be joining a star-studded line-up of Harry Potter actors and actresses, including Stanislav Yanevski (Viktor Krum), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley).

Tena joined the Harry Potter cast in 2007 when she appeared in the fifth movie, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” She also appeared in “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2.”

According to a press release, “A Celebration of Harry Potter” is the “ultimate fan event” that allows guests to attend Q&A sessions with selected Harry Potter film stars, participate in interactive events and activities and experience special panels and demonstrations.

For more information about “A Celebration of Harry Potter,” click here.

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Off-the-wall Harry Potter chapter created using predictive text

The Harry Potter series has an unusual new chapter and J.K. Rowling didn’t write it, machines did.

Botnick Studios, a “human-machine creative collective” which describes itself as “a community of writers, artists and developers collaborating with machines to create strange new things,” created a predictive keyboard that later penned the unauthorized chapter. By “training” the keyboard on all seven Harry Potter titles, machines were able to write this humorous new work.

Harry Potter and the Portrait of what Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash is the fabricated book’s title and the faux chapter is called, “The Handsome One.”

Here’s a few quotes from its ghostwritten pages:

“Magic: it was something that Harry Potter thought was very good.”

“Ron’s shirt was just as bad as Ron himself.”

“The pig of Hufflepuff pulsed like a large bullfrog. Dumbledore smiled at it, and placed his hand on its head: ‘You are Hagrid now.'”

“‘The password was BEEF WOMEN,’ Hermione cried.”

Read the entire chapter here. Be sure to take a look at Botnick’s other work, like this predictive text Thanksgiving dinner video.

(“BEEF WOMEN” will now be my new password.)

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Fashion brand BlackMilk launch Harry Potter activewear line

Australian fashion label BlackMilk has launched an entire activewear line inspired by Harry Potter, and you’re going to want it all.

Ever since J.K. Rowling published the first instalment of the fantasy novel back in 1997, it has found critical acclaim and won the allegiance of millions of self-confessed Potterheads.

But, while it might have been ten years since fans slammed their books shut on the final chapter of the wizard epic, its magic lives on with the launch of a Hogwarts-inspired activewear line. 

That’s right, you can now quite literally wear your favourite Hogwarts house on your sleeve.

Available from BlackMilk at 7am (AET) from 19th December – that’s 9pm (GMT) 18th December here in the UK – the 16-piece range promises to inject a little magic into your boring Muggle lives.

From Hufflepuff and Raveclaw to Gryffindor and Slytherin, each Hogwarts house is represented in the line-up with pieces proudly displaying the signature crests and yellow, red, blue and green that have come to define each one.

You can sort yourself into your Hogwarts house of choice by picking up everything from stylish tunics, checkered jerseys, sports bras, sweatshirts and leggings that even come with a nifty wand pocket – perfect for your next Quidditch try-out. 

Even better, the range promises not to completely empty your Gringotts vault with prices ranging from A$70-120 (£40-68).

While this might be the first lot of activewear from the Australia-based clothing brand, they’ve actually dabbled in Harry Potter-themed get-up before.

Earlier this year, BlackMilk released another collection featuring maxi skirts, skater dresses, and even leggings emblazoned with prints of the Marauder’s Map. 

They’ve also released lines for Star Wars, Batman, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones in the past. 

You can preview the entire collection here.

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Look out for Harry Potter, Usain Bolt in the night sky

British astronomers have come up with a new set of such as Harry Potter and Usain Bolt in an attempt to teach children about the layout of the universe.

The eight new constellations in the “Look Up to The Stars” project are the brainchild of The Big Bang Fair, a science education event for young people and astronomers at the University of Birmingham.

The proposals include Harry Potter’s glasses, a tennis racket for Serena Williams, a spaceship for astronaut Tim Peak, a blue whale for naturalist David Attenborough and a book in honour of Nobel-winner Malala Yousafzai.

Making space exciting

The eight constellations invented are a bid “to get more young people interested in the universe,” The Big Bang Fair said in a statement.

Existing constellations are based on the zodiac and figures from ancient Greek and Roman mythology which “aren’t necessarily proving successful in enticing children today to look up at the stars,” it said.

A survey quoted by The Big Bang Fair found 29% of seven to 19-year-olds admitted they would not be able to recognise a single classical constellation. The survey also found 72% of children admitted they had never looked for a constellation at night.

“We really hope these new creations will help people of all ages develop their interest in space and astronomy,” said Emma Willett, who led the University of Birmingham research team.

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Absurd New ‘Harry Potter’ Book Written By Predictive Text Already Has Fan Art

It’s every Muggle’s dream come true: The arrival of a new Harry Potter adventure! Well, sort of. 

Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash is a new short story starring our favorite Boy Who Lived and his fellow wielders of magic. But here’s the catch: It’s written entirely by predictive keyboard. While not exactly as compelling (or rational) as J.K. Rowling’s original text, these four new pages have the best-selling author beat when it comes to absurdist humor. 

Here’s how it works: Botnik Studios, a company that teams up creative people with machines, fed all seven Harry Potter books into a predictive text keyboard. The tool analyzes the text, then “predicts” words based on the grammar and vocabulary patterns. 

Using the suggestions from that keyboard, a team of 12 Botnik contributors put together a downright bonkers but ultimately narratively satisfying new Harry Potter story.

There’s just one chapter—”The Handsome One”— and in it Harry, Ron and Hermione once again save the day from Voldemort and the Death Eaters. And a surprising amount of hot sauce is involved.

Stand-out lines include:

  • “Magic: it was something that Harry Potter thought was very good.”
  • “[Ron] saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione’s family.”
  • “Ron’s Ron shirt was just as bad as Ron himself.”
  • “To Harry, Ron was a loud, slow, and soft bird. Harry did not like to think about birds.”
  • “‘If you two can’t clump happily, I’m going to get aggressive,’ confessed the reasonable Hermione.”
  • “‘Not so handsome now,’ thought Harry as he dipped Hermione in hot sauce.”
  • “‘I’m Harry Potter,’ Harry began yelling. “The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!”
  • “They looked at the door, screaming about how closed it was and asking it to be replaced with a small orb. The password was ‘BEEF WOMEN,’ Hermione cried.”

The Harry Potter fandom quickly adopted this new story. The original tweet went viral with more than 42,000 retweets in two days. In fact, fans love the new story so much they’re already making art inspired by the text. 

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Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery mobile RPG announced

We already told you about developer Niantic’s upcoming Harry Potter AR game, but it seems that’s not the only mobile return to Hogwarts in the works.

Developer Jam City has announced that they are working on a new Harry Potter mobile game called Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. Unlike Niantic’s app, this mobile game will play out like an RPG. 

Specifically, it will ask you to create a character, embark upon a journey that spans several years at Hogwarts, and “participate in all of the magical classes and activities they have come to love like Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Duelling Club, and more.” The game will also reportedly feature many of the professors from the books, but there’s no word on whether Harry and the gang are going to make an appearance at this time. 

There’s also a great deal of mystery surrounding how the game will actually play. We fill safe in saying that isn’t going to be an incredibly deep RPG experience, but there are some questions concerning whether or not this game will be a collection of class-based minigames or a fully-fledged story complete with combat, character building, and all that good stuff.

If we had to guess, we’d say that this game is going to be a simplified experience designed to appeal to the various age brackets that make up Harry Potter’s global fanbase. However, there is always hope this might be…well, that it might an actual game. 

There’s no release date for this mobile app available at this time.

We’d be lying if we said that there’s been a definitive Harry Potter game released to date. The closest that we’ve come is Quidditch World Cup and the Lego Harry Potter series. The EA games based on the series have ranged from “pretty good” (Chamber of Secrets) to “burn it with fire” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1). 

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A Bot Wrote a New Harry Potter Chapter, and It Is Utterly Crazy

“Harry could tell Voldemort was standing right behind him. He felt a great overreaction. Harry tore his eyes from his head and threw them into the forest. Voldemort raised his eyebrows at Harry, who could not see anything at the moment.”

Thus transpires the confrontation between Harry Potter and He Who Must Not Be Named in a just-published new chapter, ‘The Handsome One’, from Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. This new tome—of which only the one chapter so far exists—is so not from the mind of J.K. Rowling. It’s not quite from anyone’s, actually. It’s the result of an experiment by the Botnik organization, and it’s hilariously stupid. Naturally, it’s going viral.

Botnik describes itself as “a community of writers, artists and developers collaborating with machines to create strange new things.” Mission accomplished. Botnik’s core members include computer scientist Elle O’Brien, creative developer Joseph Parker, Jamie Brew, former head writer at Clickhole, and Bob Mankoff, who for years was the cartoons editor at The New Yorker, and as such was the main subject of the HBO documentary Very Semi-Serious. Anyone is welcome to join the Botnik community.

‘The Handsome One’ is the product of a predictive keyboard app Botnik developed. Predictive keyboard apps attempt to guess the word or phrase a user is typing so the user can simply tap the displayed word or phrase for entry, instead of typing it out.

Brew has been playing with predictive keyboard creations for a while, with his Batman Loves Him a Criminal posted to Tumblr a while back. Others have created poetry with such apps.

The predictive algorithm in Botnik’s app is based on the language in the actual Harry Potter books. Botnik distributed the app to members for them to experiment with, and their favorite results were submitted for compilation as the insane Harry Potter chapter.

The Handsome One, page 1

(BOTNIK)

Everyone who reads ‘The Handsome One’ will have their favorite passages. Here are some of ours:

  • Leathery sheets of rain lashed at Harry’s ghost as he walked across the grounds toward the castle. Ron was standing there doing a kind of frenzied tap dance. He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione’s family.
  • To Harry, Ron was a loud, slow and soft bird.
  • Locked,” said Mr. Staircase, the shabby-robed ghost. They looked at the door, screaming about how closed it was and asking it to be replaced with a small orb. The password is “BEEF WOMEN,” Hermione cried.
  • Mountains of mice exploded. Several long pumpkins fell out of McGonagall.
  • “I’m Harry Potter,” Harry began yelling. “The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!”

In any event, it looks like carbon-based authors and poets are safe from obsolescence for now. Not so much Voldemort, though, who is a “very bad and mean wizard,” according to The Handsome One’s best friend.

Read the full chapter over at Botnik.

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A New Harry Potter Chapter Was Just Written By Predictive Software And It’s Wild

The company Botnik Studios – which identifies itself on Twitter as a “Human-machine creative force” – has provided some rather interesting reading material for the holiday season, none of it written by an actual human. Instead, the text, titled Harry Potter And the Portrait Of What Looked Like A Large Pile Of Ash, was written by a computer with knowledge of all seven of J.K. Rowling’s Potter books. The result features characters like Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but is considerably more ridiculous than anything from the real novels. Here is a passage as an example:

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‘Harry Potter’ activewear is here to help you win the Triwizard Tournament

Someone give us a Triwizard Tournament to win, as we need an excuse to hand over our galleons for this new Harry Potter-inspired activewear.

A new range from Australian label Black Milk, “Team Hogwarts,” is something we’d actually wear — and maybe exercise in (or just rewatch the Prisoner of Azkaban).

Choose your house, whether Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin, then pick from tank tops, leggings, tunic dresses and sweatshirts emblazoned with your colours. Each piece ranges from A$70-120 ($53-91), so it won’t empty your entire Gringott’s vault.

The range will be released online at 7  a.m. AEST on Dec. 19 (that’s Dec. 18 for the northern hemisphere, 4 p.m. ET). 

Image: black milk

Just look at this fierce group of Gryffindors. They’ll obliterate you in a quidditch match faster than a bludger smashed by a Weasley twin.

Image: black milk

We’re super keen on the Slytherin range to be honest, and would wear it to a game any day — or cuddle up on the couch in it, rewatching Tom Riddle do his thang. Either way.

Image: black milk

This isn’t the first Harry Potter collection for Black Milk — not even the first this year. The label released a Hogwarts-themed line in July 2017, featuring sweaters, tights and skater dresses inspired by your favourite school of witchcraft and wizardry. Shoutout to the Ron and Harry Christmas sweaters.

It’s all much more PG than this Harry Potter-inspired lingerie. Gulpin’ gargoyles.

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AI reads the Harry Potter series, then writes some absurd fan fiction

Have you ever tried using the predictive keyboard on your smartphone to generate completely nonsensical messages, based on the words it considers to have the highest probability of following each other? A mischievous member of Botnik Studios, an online artist collaboration, just used a similar technique to write part of a new Harry Potter novel — with hilarious effect.

The predictive text generator used to write the story was trained on the seven previous Potter books. From this, it analyzed frequent recurrent word pairings and sentences to come up with text that is a weird mix of algorithmic randomness and something that, frankly, still reads a bit like J.K. Rowling may have penned it.

Titled Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash, the story is every bit as weird as you might imagine. A Death Eater wears a shirt reading, “Hermione Has Forgotten How To Dance,” Harry falls down a spiral staircase for an entire summer, and Ron does a tap dance and then tries to eat Hermione’s family. None of it makes a lick of sense, but it’s a whole lot of fun — and genuinely creative in a way that mixes human smarts with artificial intelligence.

This isn’t the first time computer scientists have used artificial intelligence to try and generate new Harry Potter stories. Last year, we reported on one attempt to generate new Hogwarts-related stories using a long short-term memory recurrent neural network trained on the series’ first four books.

Even more significantly, when Rowling was outed as the author of the detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling a few years ago — writing under the pen name Robert Galbraith — computer scientists cracked the mystery in a very similar way to Botnik’s story generator: by analyzing the text based on frequent word pairings and the like. In the aftermath, Rowling admitted that she was the author.

If you are interested in finding out a bit more about Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash and the predictive text program used to generate it, check out this page on GitHub, where it is freely available to inspect.

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