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Current Affairs Posts - Page 32

Alan Turing's breakthrough machine gets a loving Lego tribute

Alan Turing, a man you've probably never heard of and you probably couldn't live without his work, would have celebrated his 100th birthday tomorrow. Mr. Turing was the man who basically invented modern computing. He was also significantly important during World War Two due to his work in cryptography and code breaking.

 

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Now, one of his inventions has been rendered in Lego form as a cerebration of his brithday, which, for inventors, is like an actor being parodied on The Simpsons. It's a sign that you have really made it. The machine is really simple and the heart of the machine is a Lego Mindstorms NXT set, but the soul is Alan Turing's genius.

 

The use of Legos demonstrates just how simple his machine was:

 

It's very simplr, but describes the fundamental capabilities of practically all computers in use today. This means that if something can be done on a computer, it can also be done on a Turing machine. This makes it a great model for scientists to use to discover the limits of computers (e.g. complexity theory) and also to show to a broad audience how a computer fundamentally operates.

 

The Lego model is on display at Asterdam's Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica's Turings Erfenis exhibit. The only difference in the Lego version is the lack of an infinite tape. The Lego Turing Machine only has 32 positions. If you aren't in Amsterdam and are unable to see it, you can check out the video in the source link.

Oracle chief Larry Ellison buys Hawaiian island, price between $500-600m

If you're wondering what to do when you're worth $36 billion, take a look at Larry Ellison for ideas. The co-founder of Oracle is listed as the sixth richest man on Forbe's list of global billionaires and seems as though he knows how to live life to the fullest. Err, at least spend money to the fullest.

 

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The Hawaiian governor has announced that Larry Ellison is buying 98% of Lanai, one of the Hawaiian islands. The final price is not known, but the asking price is said to have been somewhere between $500 and $600 million. The island is 141 square miles and is currently owned by David Murdock. Lanai is also known as "Pineapple Island" as it was formerly a pineapple plantation.

 

It's not exactly clear why Mr. Ellison wants the island as it currently has 3,200 residents and several luxury resorts. The current company running the resorts and power, water, and other utilities is losing somewhere around $40 million a year. The remaining 2% is not owned by the same company who sold the other 98%.

 

Confiming the successful bid, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said on Wednesday: "It is my understanding that Mr Ellison has had a long standing interest in Lanai. He is also a businessman whose record of community involvement in medical research and education causes is equally notable. We look forward to welcoming Mr Ellison in the near future."

Google launches Endangered Languages to save 3,000 at-risk languages

Google has announced a new project to save endangered languages in order to prevent them from becoming extinct. The idea is to make sure that there is a record to keep languages able to be spoken so that they can be taught to future generations. Languages have many aspects which result from the culture they are spoken in, so this is important for people who study these cultures.

 

 

Google has an endearing story about one such language thought to be extinct, but revived through historical manuscripts:

 

The Miami-Illinois language was considered by some to be extinct. Once spoken by Native American communities throughout what's now the American Midwest, its last fluent speakers died in the 1960s. Decades later, Daryl Baldwin, a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, began teaching himself the language from historical manuscripts and now works with the Miami University in Ohio to continue the work of revitalizing the language, publishing stories, audio files and other educational materials. Miami children are once again learning the language and-even more inspiring-teaching it to each other.

 

The new project by Google gives people working on learning and teaching these languages a place to collaborate research and share advice. This could include uploading audio files of spoken words so people can hear how they are pronounced, to other information about the language such as knowledge-sharing articles.

Continue reading 'Google launches Endangered Languages to save 3,000 at-risk languages' (full post)

Apple 1 computer and Steve Jobs Atari memo sold at auction

A rare, functioning Apple 1 computer was put up for auction by Sotheby's and set a new record for the price of the item. Only about 200 of these Apple 1 computers were hand-built by Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak, and only 6 are believed to still function. The original selling price of the Apple 1 was $666.66.

 

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The final selling price blew Sotheby's high estimate away. Sotheby's had said they expected the high to be up to $180,000 and the product more than doubled that. The hand-built, still functioning Apple 1 computer ended up selling for an incredible $374,500, partly due to it coming with the original manuals.

 

The other item auctioned off was a four-page memo handwritten by Steve Jobs. The memo detailed how the Atari World Cup football game could be made more fun to play and included circuit drawings and diagrams. It also included his Los Altos home address stamped onto the pages along with a Buddhist mantra - "gate gate paragate parasangate bodhi svahdl". The item was expected to sell for $15,000 but managed to pull in an incredible $27,500.

Nook version of War and Peace has an LOL moment, replaced "kindle" with "nook" throughout book

Occasionally some funky stuff happens with technology. Usually the cause can be traced down. This time, it's not exactly clear what happened, but the story is hilarious nevertheless. It would appear that the Nook eBook version wanted to remove all references to Kindle in the book War and Peace.

 

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In the translated book, all references to the word "kindled" have been replaced by "nookd." The only explanation I can think of is someone got lazy in the conversion from Kindle eBook to Nook eBook. It would appear that someone CTRL +F'd to change the title reference of Kindle to Nook and didn't realize the word was used elsewhere in the text.

 

It's highly unlikely that it was done on purpose, but it is hilarious even if it wasn't. Another example of why people should take the extra time to do a job right. If it was done on purpose, I can't see the reason for it. I'm sure a fixed version will be released shortly, if it hasn't already.

BBC has a LOL moment, uses the Halo UNSC logo instead of the real one

BBC aired a report last week, in reference to the UN's Security Council, and the screens behind presenter Sophie Raworth showed a large graphic. This graphic was the UNSC icon, but had nothing to do with the Security Council, because it was the badge of the United Nations Space Command, the military agency featured in Halo.

 

 

You can see, a quick Google image search would be mistaken for Halo's UNSC. UNSC can mean United Nations Security Council, or alternatively in the Halo world, the United Nations Space Command. Viewers spotted the error quickly, and the icon was replaced in later editions of the bulletin.

 

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A spokesperson said:

 

BBC News makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all images broadcast. However, very occasionally mistakes do happen. Unfortunately an incorrect logo was used during a segment on last week's News at Once bulletin and we apologise to viewers for the mistake.

 

Master Chief would be proud.

RandomTT: Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, make surprise cameo on a Chinese police video

Bit of a random post this morning, with rumors of Facebook entering China finally, and in the spirit of China, Mark Zuckerberg with wife in tow, have made a surprise appearance in a documentary about China's Police force, which aired on broadcast channel CCTV.

 

 

The video shows Zuckerberg and his wife as bystanders for just a second (at 0:29) and is ironic considering Facebook is blocked in China. The couple visited the country in March, which is probably when this clip was filmed.

 

Personally, I don't think it's an 'appearance', or 'features' Zuckerberg, but it almost looks like they accidentally caught him on camera. He seems like he's in mid-power walk mode, or he just has a very energetic walk. It doesn't seem pre-scripted, or as though he's on a set, or aware he's being recorded.

Continue reading 'RandomTT: Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, make surprise cameo on a Chinese police video' (full post)

Romney uses targeted Google ads to counter Obama's Barnard commencement speech

President Obama has used technology to his advantage. Technology most likely won him the election in 2008 as he was able to reach out to the young, hip crowd through this new medium. His opponents, apparently, aren't as far behind as everyone thought as Romney's campaign has bought targeted ads to counter Obama's Barnard Collage commencement address.

 

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People who search Google for "barnard commencement" will end up seeing an ad like above if they live in the New York City. The ad links to Romney's website and is entitled "Obama's Wasteful Spending." The ads are targeted to the zip code where the college is located. This zip code happens to be 10027.

 

The 2012 presidential campaign has seen targeted advertising before, so this is just another example. Previous advertisements have been as narrowly focused as this in that they focused on a single zip code. While I'm not sure just how many people are going to see it, it seems like it could be a good way to take a bit of press away from Obama and the event.

Counting Crows releases album through BitTorrent in advance of a concert tour

In a move quite contrary to current trends, Counting Crows has released an album using the BitTorrent protocol to spread the music for free. Both the band and label have approved this new move, which comes in advance of a new concert tour the band is about to embark on. "I don't know why everybody's not doing it," said Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz.

 

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Torrents allow musicians to get more exposure. Sure they don't sell as many albums, at least not right away, but they get more exposure and people talking about them. This conversation, in turn, yields higher ticket sales to concerts and events. Once a band starts selling out where they are playing, they often get to move to a bigger arena or charge more for tickets. Either way, they make more money.

 

Of course, it is important to note that P2P BitTorrent traffic is usually illegal as it consists of copyrighted files. As such TweakTown does not condone or encourage this. However, in this instance, it is legal to download Counting Crows' release as they have released it to be free to share. Duritz said: "We're trying to create a business model for a business that hasn't existed yet: Independent bands doing well. For a new band, I highly recommend giving away the whole record."

11-year-old boy urinates all over $36,000 worth of MacBooks

While this isn't the best-flavored news, it's something worth covering. Have you ever asked yourself, if you were to pee all over your MacBook, would Apple's AppleCare warranty cover it? Could one even pay Apple to service the machines once they had been marked as your territory?

 

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No. Definitely not. Apple sees peed-on MacBooks as a biohazard. Well, it has happened. An 11-year-old has unleashed the power of his bladder upon a Pennsylvanian school's cart full of MacBooks worth over $36,000. PennLive reports:

 

An 11-year-old boy urinated on several MacBook computers on a cart in the Upper Allen Elementary School Wednesday, damaging them beyond repair, according to Upper Allen Twp. police.

 

The loss came to more than $36,000, police said.

 

Police charged the boy with institutional vandalism and criminal mischief and are turning him over to the Cumberland County Juvenile Probation Department.

 

The reason it's considered a full loss, is because they can't just be wiped down and turned on. AppleCare won't touch them because they deem them a biohazard. Animal or human, the pee is considered pee and pee is considered a biohazard.

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