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Alan Turing gets royal pardon on homosexuality ‘crime’

Alan Turing.


(Credit:
The Telegraph/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

What does it say about your life when you get a Google doodle before you get a royal pardon?

In the case of Alan Turing, many will believe that a small sliver of honor was expressed when on Monday, the British government announced that the brilliant codebreaker and pioneer of computing had been pardoned. Or, as it’s officially — and quaintly — described: “a pardon under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy by the Queen.”

Some mercy.

He was convicted in 1952 of the crime of homosexuality. Actually, in those days it was called gross indecency. Despite his supposedly heinous transgression, he was given a choice: jail or experimental chemical castration.

He plumped for the latter, though he still lost his security clearance, which meant he couldn’t work on government projects. And this was the man who’d helped crack the Enigma Code.

Two years later, he ate an apple laced with cyanide. Some say it was suicide, other disagree.

A royal pardon in 2013 is merely posturing. Post-Turing.

In 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown managed to utter the word “sorry” for the way that Turing had been treated by the very country he’d so intelligently served. A campaign launched by computer scientist John Graham-Cumming had forced Brown’s mouth.

That it took another four years for a pardon to be granted shows that officialdom moves slowly. It also leaves hanging the matter of another 100,000 British men who were treated just as Turing was.

The royal pardon has generally been met with resigned sighs of approval. However, Dr. Andrew Hodges, author of “Alan Turing: The Enigma”, told the Guardian:

I cannot feel that such a ‘pardon’ embodies any good legal principle. If anything, it suggests that a sufficiently valuable individual should be above the law which applies to everyone else. It’s far more important that in the 30 years since I brought the story to public attention, LGBT rights movements have succeeded with a complete change in the law – for all. So, for me, this symbolic action adds nothing.

In 2011, efforts to get his conviction overturned failed. The government at the time declared that what happened to Turing had been legal. However, an exception had been made in 2006 for 300 World War I deserters.

To commemorate his 100th birthday last year, Google offered a very clever doodle and an exhibition was held in London celebrating his life and legacy.

The Turing Test that measured the intelligence of a machine and his Pilot Ace computer, which worked out the cause of a mid-air explosion aboard a Comet jet were just two of the creations he left behind.

Still, once he was convicted, Turing remained paranoid that he was being followed and this may have contributed to his death.

If his experiences prove anything, it is that you can do nothing wrong, you can help save millions of lives — even be national hero for a while — yet the twisted mores of a society can still condemn you without reason or purpose.

It doesn’t really do that much good when they pardon you 61 years later.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/pPe-SNZrfrQ/

Cydia update courts iOS 7 jailbreakers with a new interface (video)

Cydia on iOS 7

The availability of an iOS 7 jailbreak may have caught the Cydia team off-guard, but not for long. Jay Freeman and fellow developers have just updated their unofficial app platform to match Apple’s minimalist look. It’s more than just a cosmetic upgrade, too, as it includes iOS 7’s swipe-based navigation and appears to run faster. Individual app writers will still have to update their code for everything to run smoothly, but jailbreak users who’ve just been waiting for an OS-native Cydia will want to check for the update today.

[Image credit: iOS Hacker]

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/24/cydia-update-courts-ios-7-jailbreakers-with-a-new-interface/?ncid=rss_truncated

Sherlock returns! Mini-episode grants fans early Xmas wish

A haggard and unemployed Sgt. Anderson (Jonathan Aris) has become the biggest believer that Sherlock is alive.

In this seven-minute mini-episode “Many Happy Returns” of the hit TV show “Sherlock,” written by the show’s creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, we see Benedict Cumberbatch at it again as the great detective, Sherlock Holmes, as he makes his journey back to his roommate, colleague, and best friend Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman).

Warning: Spoilers ahead, so if you’ve never watched “Sherlock” or are catching up, stop reading now.

After Sherlock disappears after faking his own death in “The Final Problem” to fool his archenemy Jim Moriarty’s henchmen — who vowed to kill those closest to Sherlock if he did not die — fans shared endless conspiracy theories on how clever the detective would have to be to convince even Watson (who sees Sherlock jump off the roof of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital) of his own demise.

We know Sherlock is indeed alive thanks to the last scene in “The Final Problem” where he lurks in behind trees hiding from Watson and his beloved landlady Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) as they lament over his grave.

So what has Sherlock been up to since he’s been presumed dead and how have his friends and colleagues been coping this entire time? “Many Happy Returns” gives glimpses of Sherlock solving mysteries around the globe, starting in Tibet — which ironically mirrors Cumberbatch’s real-life adventures when he taught English in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in his youth.

A very sad Watson (Martin Freeman) watching a DVD of an uncut message Sherlock made for his birthday during happier times.

The mini-episode hints that Sherlock (posing as a Buddhist warrior monk) ferrets out a blonde female drug smuggler who is hiding out amongst them. In New Delhi, we see a police press conference where it’s revealed the killer was discovered from the minutest of details – the depth of a chocolate flake had sunk into the victim’s ice cream cone. Not to mention the mysterious juror in Germany, who taps his fingers impatiently like you-know-who.

One of the most shocking transformations of a character belongs to Sgt. Anderson (Jonathan Aris) of the New Scotland Yard forensics team who was once insulted by Sherlock who accused him of “lowering the IQ of the whole street.” He’s no longer the defensive adversary of Sherlock, but has become the biggest believer that Sherlock is alive. Anderson, now haggard and unemployed, meets with DI Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) in a pub to discuss the unusual crimes he’s been tracking to try to convince him that Sherlock must still be alive to solve them all. It’s heartbreaking to see Anderson so desperately passionate to prove of Sherlock’s continued existence. But he may have just ingratiated himself into the hearts of Sherlock fans who have been tweeting #SherlockLives since his aired “death” on January 2012.

Lestrade leaves Anderson in the pub to deliver a few odds and ends of Sherlock’s to Watson in his new flat. He hands Watson an old DVD of an uncut message Sherlock made for Watson’s birthday during happier times. Later, alone with a drink in his hand, Watson pops in the DVD, to see that familiar wallpaper of their shared flat at 221B Baker Street. Sherlock talks to Lestrade, who is off camera, about why he’s missing Watson’s birthday party. When Lestrade urges him to elaborate, Sherlock replies “Only lies have detail.” Sherlock’s message to John might as well be a prelude to what is to come. “I’m sorry I’m not there at the moment,” Sherlock says. “I’m very busy. However, many happy returns. Oh don’t worry, I’m going to be with you again very soon.” Then cue doorbell, and a wink and a nod from Sherlock on the video.

A wink and a nod from Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) on the video.


(Credit:
Screenshot by CNET)

Be sure to check out Watson’s blog, now updated about his feelings regarding Sherlock’s message on the DVD.

With only three episodes per season, this mere seven-minute mini-episode of “Sherlock” is just want fans need to keep us going until the third season premieres with “The Empty Hearse,” written by Mark Gatiss, on January 1, 2014 on BBC One in the UK and on January 19 on PBS in the United States.

The only thing better than this mini-episode, and the anticipation of a third season, is knowing that a fourth season is possibly also in the works, thanks to Cumberbatch letting the secret slip in a Radio Times interview: “All I know at the moment is we’re doing these three [episodes of the upcoming series] and another three,” Cumberbatch said. “I just don’t know what there is beyond that.”

All we can say is, “Welcome back, Sherlock. We missed you.”

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/_Kj039Xs4Go/

US Energy Department outlines efficiency standards for set-top boxes, Verizon already on board

The US government, the CEA (you know, the group that runs CES) and pay-TV providers want to save consumers $1 billion annually with a new voluntary standard for set-top box (STB) energy-efficiency. By curtailing phantom power usage and implementing a pair of sleep modes for periods of device inactivity, these non-regulatory guidelines could save enough energy each year to power some 700,000 homes. According to the industry announcement, many cable and satellite providers are already on-board, with Verizon implementing a light-sleep option in certain FiOS boxes sold starting January 1st, 2014. Still, the group expressed some concern that scaling back an STB’s power might negatively impact the user experience. What good is a lower electric bill when your DVR takes forever to resume from standby?

[Image credit: quinn.anya/Flickr]

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/24/set-top-box-power-regulations/?ncid=rss_truncated

Internet cat Lil BUB about to make your holiday purrfect


(Credit:

Lil BUB/Twitter
)

Sure Grumpy Cat gets to hang out with other cat celebrities like Colonel Meow, Oskar the Blind Cat, Nala Cat, and Hamilton the Hipster Cat to make a cool Christmas music video, but wouldn’t you rather spend the holidays with a cat who enjoys the simpler things, like a soft carpet and a cozy fireplace to sleep in front of?

Lil BUB, the cute cat with the tongue sticking out, has her own festive video of her relaxing in front of a roaring fireplace. The soothing sounds of Lil BUB purring and the crackling of the burning wood are the perfect backdrop for any Christmas activities.

Lil BUB is a rather special cat due to a myriad of genetic anomalies that include an extreme case of dwarfism that gives her a “perma-kitten” appearance; short, stubby legs; and a long body.

According to her site, “her lower jaw is significantly shorter than her upper jaw, and her teeth never grew in which is why her tongue is always hanging around.”

But it’s those differences that have turned Lil BUB from the runt of the litter into an Internet sensation thanks to her popularity on Tumblr and Reddit. She’s even the star of her own documentary, “Lil BUB Friendz,” which won the Tribeca Online Festival Best Feature Film this year.

So sit back and enjoy this adorable cat purr, snort, wheeze, sigh and murmur like a “Star Wars” Tauntaun in “Lil BUB’s Magical Yule Log” video.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/bcDNO0F2sSU/

BlackBerry’s latest casualty: Two unreleased phones

2013 continues to be a downer year for the company formerly known as Research In Motion. The Wall Street Journal has just uncovered a tidbit in BlackBerry’s latest earnings report that states two unreleased phones had to be cancelled due to poor sales of its existing handsets. Apparently code-named Cafe and Kopi, they were slated to be sold as budget phones for emerging markets but had to be nixed to “mitigate the identified inventory risk.” This comes on the heels of BlackBerry’s announcement that it’s partnering up with FoxConn for device manufacturing and canceling its annual conference in order to save costs. It all seems rather dire, but the Wall Street Journal also reports that the company is still working on a couple of higher-end handsets internally code-named Ontario and Windermere. Whether or not those phones will see the light of day, however, remains to be seen.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/23/blackberrys-latest-casualty-two-unreleased-phones/?ncid=rss_truncated