Hawking and other scientists petition for Turing’s posthumous pardon

Stephen Hawking and a number of other notable scientists and humanitarians in the UK are petitioning David Cameron to pardon Alan Turing, one of computing’s forefathers, for the crime of being gay.

Now, several of the nation’s top scientists, including Stephen Hawking, and other leaders have penned a letter to the Telegraph, throwing their support behind the bill.

They write:

SIR – We write in support of a posthumous pardon for Alan Turing, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the modern era. He lead the team of Enigma codebreakers at Bletchley Park, which most historians agree shortened the Second World War. Yet successive governments seem incapable of forgiving his conviction for the then crime of being a homosexual, which led to his suicide, aged 41.

We urge the Prime Minister formally to forgive this British hero, to whom we owe so much as a nation, and whose pioneering contribution to computer sciences remains relevant even today. To those who seek to block attempts to secure a pardon with the argument that this would set a precedent, we would answer that Turing’s achievements are sui generis. It is time his reputation was unblemished.

Lord Currie of Marylebone
Lord Grade of Yarmouth
Lord Faulkner or Worcester
Lord Rees of Ludlow

Astronomer Royal
Lord Sharkey
Lord Smith of Finsbury
Baroness Trumpington

Sir Timothy Gowers
Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics, Cambridge University
Dr Douglas Gurr
Chairman, Science Museum Group
Professor Stephen Hawking
Sir Paul Nurse
President, the Royal Society

I absolutely agree that Turing should be pardoned — with one reservation.
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Hackbright Academy trains women to be pro developers in ten weeks

This is, frankly, a shocking pace — taking you from complete newbie to a capable professional programmer in just ten weeks is nothing short of breakneck. And the best part about this initiative? It’s for women, to give them a place to learn without stereotype threat or brogrammer culture stifling them.

Amidst all the arguments about “brogrammer” culture and the presence of women in Silicon Valley, here’s a company that’s actively working to change things, albeit on a small scale (for now) — Hackbright Academy, which describes itself as “a 10 week training program designed to help women become awesome programmers.”

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Using Netflix on Linux through WINE

Apparently some Linux devs managed to get Silverlight working under WINE, then went on to make a dead-simple install that configures a separate Firefox install to run the app. It’s very slightly lower framerate than running it natively under Windows, but if it weren’t for that damned Silverlight dependency (for the DRM, naturally), we’d have had Netflix working on Linux a long time ago.

The commands, via Nixie Pixel:

To install on Ubuntu / Mint -
Start terminal

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ehoover/compholio
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install netflix-desktop

——

For Fedora (only 32 bit systems)
You need wget first:

su -c ‘yum -y install wget’

Installing Netflix:

wget -c http://sourceforge.net/projects/postinstaller/files/data/Netflixplayer.tar.gz

tar -xvzf Netflixplayer.tar.gz

su -c ‘sh Netflixplayer.sh’

Running Netflix from cmd line:

sh /usr/bin/Netflix.sh

Ohio’s election results will be suspect, thanks to an untested last-second voting machine patch — UPDATED, TABULATION MACHINES ARE APPARENTLY ISOLATED

UPDATE:
Evidently, there are some fundamental errors made by the original reporter that change the timbre of this story altogether. This report has Joseph Lorenzo Hall of the Centre for Democracy and Technology in DC, asserting very strongly that the tabulation machines are “air-gapped” — the tabulation results from the original voting system are in actuality walked over manually (via a data export to, say, a thumb drive or flash card) to the tabulation machines. Apparently, no code run on those machines can access the primary system because they’re isolated. So what the code has write access to, then, is apparently the export of the database, not the originals in any way.

It still means that processes should be followed to ensure the integrity of the data, to ensure that the exported data matches the CSV conversion. But I suspect these folks are more “with it” than I’d originally thought.

See below the fold for my original story.

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Hard drive recovery 301

Let’s say you have a hard drive whose media is failing but whose controller card is still functional. Let’s further say you have a desire to pull a partition off that drive and see what’s still salvageable. And let’s further say you have a computer you’re okay with leaving on for a month or so to do it. All of these things were true about a hard drive that Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite, sent along to me to try to recover — there were some family photos and tax returns that he hadn’t had backed up anyplace when the drive started failing. Being the samaritan that I am, I took the project on as a way to hone my own skills. I also had a feeling I could write a blog post afterward so others might benefit.

This isn’t a 101 level course. Hell, it’s not even a 201, as it assumes you know enough to use Linux’s terminal (no GUIs in this post!), and how to connect your hard drive through a USB adapter or directly. It also assumes the hard drive is in a specific state that it might still be readable even if Windows itself can’t get at the data. This last one is a fairly big assumption, and I trust you’re going to be able to identify when that’s the case.
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Linus Torvalds on Mitt Romney and Mormonism

You folks are going to LOVE this one.

On Mitt’s “joke” that he doesn’t know why airplane windows don’t open and how that’s a big problem when there’s an electrical fire in the cabin, Linus Torvalds — Linux’s progenitor and Grand Poobah — had a few words to say on Google+.

He really seems to be a f*cking moron.

I suspect he’d crate his dog on top of the aircraft too. Because what could possibly go wrong?

He followed up:

Ok, since I publicly called the guy a f*cking moron, I guess I should also publicly follow up: it does seem Romney was joking.

Whew.

I dunno. I have my doubts it was really a joke — sure, give him the benefit of the doubt, but the way he said it was patently ridiculous and, even if intentional, terribly formed and terribly premised. Granted, I’m horrid at jokes off-the-cuff myself most days. But this depends on making yourself look way too uneducated, illogical and simple-minded to be leader of the free world. So I can’t buy it, unless Mitt — the self-aggrandizing fucker that he is — goes for self-deprecating humour in a deadpan.

But regardless of that incident’s joke status, Torvalds also said the following about Mormonism:
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Pinkification of The Internet, For Dummies

The For Dummies series is arguably the best known computer self-help manual series in the world. It’s diversified into other fields, of course, with Sex For Dummies and Fishing For Dummies, but its bread and butter is still the computer industry.

But it turns out that they evidently haven’t been capturing one all-important market with their Internet For Dummies books, at least in France. How else could you explain this bit of blatant pinkification?

“Internet pour Les Nulles”, or “Internet For [Female] Dummies” cover

What’s amazing to me is Alexander Brown’s translation of the publisher’s blurb (thanks for saving me the time in translating myself!):

Perhaps you will ask yourself why there is a book about Macs specifically for women. After all, a Mac is a computer – there aren’t a million different ways of going about it, regardless of whether the user is a man or a woman. Free of boring, technical considerations, this book focusses on the practical and fun sides of Macs. Of course, you will have to learn to use the operating system and domesticate it [it's not clear if this referes to the operating system or the Mac]. But we promise to give you only the minimum tools necessary to survive in “this hostile environment”. In the chapter about the Internet, we give you all the tips to start surfing with peace of mind,  communicate with your friends via messaging services [the original uses "amis", which thankfully acknowledges that women can have male friends], go shopping safely. For the more audacious [feminine form used] amongst you, why not even create your own blog to put your views on show on the web?! [emphasis added]

And from a retailer’s synopsis:

Mac for Dummettes will become your best [female] friend! In this book, there is a strict ban on computer-scientist-with-spots-and-glasses’ jargon! We’re amongst girls, aren’t we?

(By spots the original French means pimples. Thanks, fuckers, for also stereotyping computer nerds.)

Subjects covered include “finding your Mac’s place in the house” and “shopping safely”. Of course, it’s not like those topics weren’t covered in the gender-neutral Internet for Dummies. It’s just that it’s far more important that we ease these women into the “man’s world” that is the internet.

Except, that last part is kind of true. If only so many self-entitled men weren’t so invested in making women so damn unwelcome around these parts, the newbie women could use the same damned book as the men. And it wouldn’t even have to contain special tips on how to email and instant message while protecting yourself from assholery.

Mock The Movie: Hercules, plus VLC live tweet stream!

Oh hey guess what time it is? Almost? In a few days?

*crickets*

That’s right, it’s time to MOCK THE MOVIE! YAY! *Kermit flail* Stephanie has the details, and our upcoming schedule:

This Thursday, September 13, at 9 p.m. EDT, the mocking crew will subject ourselves to the Lou Ferrigno version of Hercules (currently available on Netflix and Amazon streaming video). This version promises that it’s “updated” for the 1980s. That apparently means bad hair, bad special effects, and… space aliens.

As he labors, so shall we. We probably won’t feather our hair, though.

I wish I had enough hair to feather.

Here’s how we do these things:

  1. Start following @MockTM on Twitter.
  2. Start watching the movie on the appropriate Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT.
  3. Once you’ve got the movie going, tweet your snarky comments to @MockTM.  Directing our tweets to @MockTM will keep our followers from being overwhelmed with our snark!
  4. Set up a search for @MockTM on Twitter for the duration so you can follow along with everyone else sharing your pain.

If you have suggestions for other movies that can and should be mocked, send them to @MockTM. Preference will be given to movies that are free or stream on the major media delivery services. Watch the feed, and we’ll set up the calendar for more terrible, mockable movies.

In other related news, CompulsoryAccount7746 had a brilliant plan, and implemented it. That plan involved building a plugin for VLC that streams a Twitter search directly to your player as subtitles. That plan is brilliant because it means you could be watching Hercules in all its glory on a media center or computer with VLC installed, and could stream the mockery directly into to the video feed so you never miss a snark, all in realtime. WE’RE LIVING IN THE FUTURE, BABY.

It’s ready for public beta, so go check out the project page and download your copy now. If you plan on watching on a different screen from your Twitter, or if you’re not technically inclined, this might not be the best option. However, for geeks like us, it’s a great idea and a sound implementation. Couldn’t ask for anything better.

Four Megaman games played with one controller

This is either a work of art or a work of madness. Apparently, via heavy use of speedrun tools that allow a person to frame-by-frame step through an emulated version of a console game, someone’s built a speedrun that uses one controller input on Megaman 3, 4, 5 and 6 simultaneously.

Advice: play this on Fullscreen, with the volume down. Chiptune music is grating enough to some folks that having four simultaneous tracks playing might just be too much to handle.

Tool-assisted speedruns are fascinating in that they often do some things that a human player could never pull off. This is probably only possible via manipulation of the synchronization in subtle ways — passing input to one game while another is in a screen transition or on the “weapon get” screen, or having one game walk into a wall while another is proceeding through the level, for instance.

This run found its genesis in someone joking that Capcom had basically produced the same game for every Megaman sequel. While they are certainly formulaic, the challenges all build off one another, and the Megaman games are traditionally grossly unforgiving which makes the speedrun all the more impressive.

What Thunderf00t did, and how.

By now, I’m certain you’ve read Phil Mason’s, AKA Thunderf00t’s, confession about how he’s done exactly what people have accused him of: accessing the back channel after being kicked off the blog.

He spins himself as a whistleblower about vast conspiracies within Freethought Blogs, how we’re looking to destroy people’s careers every time we commiserate with one another about someone who’s aggrieved us. How this back channel operates like a “clique” where achievements are lauded, messages amplified, and disagreements mocked mercilessly. In other words, it’s a social club for people who choose to participate, to help spread collegiality amongst our bloggers and support one another when under attack. As such, considering that many of these private thoughts are not fights we wish to pick publicly and how Thunderf00t now controls what fights we have with whom because of misplaced trust in what happened to be a compromised listserv, Thunderf00t now gets to control much of the dialog of this blog network.

How very conspiratorial.
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