Tag: award

Top Microsoft researcher wins Turing prize

Top Vole Leslie Lamport has been named the winner of the 2013 ACM A.M. Turing Award for working out how to impose clear, well-defined coherence on the seemingly chaotic behaviour of distributed computing systems.

Lamport’s algorithms, models and verification systems have enabled distributed computer systems to play the key roles they’re used in throughout the data centre, security and cloud computing landscapes.

He wins a $250,000 prize, with funding support by Intel and Google.

The award was presented by ACM President Vint Cerf who said that as an applied mathematician, Lamport had an extraordinary sense of how to apply mathematical tools to important practical problems.

“By finding useful ways to write specifications and prove correctness of realistic algorithms, assuring a strong foundation for complex computing operations, he helped to move verification from an academic discipline to a practical tool,” Cerf said.

Lamport came up with the idea of Byzantine failure, temporal logic language (TLA+) and LaTex, a document preparation system used in computer science and other fields. We always thought that the Byzantine failure was due to the Battle of Manzikert and underestimating the Turkish empire.

But want Lamport describes makes the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes battle plans seem straight forward. In 1978 Lamport’s wrote a paper called “Time, Clocks, and the Ordering of Events in a Distributed System” which is one of computer science’s most highly cited. Before joining Microsoft in 2001, Lamport worked for SRI International and DEC (later Compaq).

He earned a B.S. degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics from Brandeis University.

Winner of NSA award disses NSA

The winner of this year’s security award, sponsored by US spooks at the NSA, is a little embarrassed.

Joseph Bonneau, of the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge would normally have been over the moon at winning such a prestigious award. After all, his paper “The science of guessing” was chosen by top academics in the security world as the year’s best scientific cybersecurity paper.

Writing in his blog, Bonneau said that he was honoured to have been recognised by the distinguished academic panel assembled by the NSA.

Yet Bonneau feels some conflict about the award, particularly after the news broke that the NSA, with the backing of sockpuppets on both sides of the political spectrum in the US, were spying on private communications on an unprecedented scale.

“Like many in the community of cryptographers and security engineers, I’m sad that we haven’t better informed the public about the inherent dangers and questionable utility of mass surveillance, ” he wrote.

He said that he was ashamed we’ve let politicians sneak the country down this path.

Bonneau wanted to make it clear that in accepting the award he did not condone the NSA’s surveillance.

“I don’t think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form,” he said.

At the same time he was glad he got the opportunity to visit with the NSA and was grateful for his hosts’ genuine hospitality.

A large group of engineers turned up to hear his presentation, asked sharp questions, understood and cared about the privacy implications of studying password data. We guess they also brought out the chocolate biscuits.

Bonneau feels that America’s core problems are in Washington and not in Fort Meade. 

EA cuts ties to gun makers

For years there has been a weird relationship between gun makers and the creators of computer games. 

Strapped with imagination problems, it seems that the game makers have been using  mages of real guns in their games as a sort of in-game advertising.

However, as the gun industry takes a hit after its products ended up in the hands of school kids in various mass shootings over the pond, the game makers are starting to wake up to the relationship being a PR nightmare.

Electronic Arts licensed the images of weapons from companies like McMillan Group International as part of a marketing collaboration for Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Activision Blizzard gives “special thanks” to Colt, Barrett and Remington in the credits for the Call of Duty franchise.

Rifles by Bushmaster, which was the brand used in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting last December, have also appeared in the hugely popular Call of Duty, according to Reuters.

As the world tried to look for who to blame for the shootings, the National Rifle Association, of all groups, tried to blame the games industry. NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre called the videogame industry “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people”.

While most of the sane world would say that was an obvious case of the pot calling the kettle black, it seems that EA is taking such comments seriously.

This week EA said that it is severing its licensing ties to gun manufacturers. At the same time it is saying that it has the right to continue to feature branded guns without a licence.

For those who have never played these sorts of games, the marketing of the guns is fairly full on. Some, like the Colt M1911 pistol in Call of Duty, are turned sideways to face the screen during reloading so you can see the brand name.

EA felt that this gave the games “enhanced authenticity”.  But the games industry was worried that the gun makers would sue them. After all, they were associating their product with violence, something that gun makers always try to avoid. In the end, licensing was seen as a good way to avoid such legal hiccups. It seems that money did not change hands between the gun makers and the games outfits.

Last year, games fans started to object to EA putting links to weapons companies like the McMillan Group and gun magazine maker Magpul, where gamers could check out real versions of weapons featured in the game, on its Medal of Honor: Warfighter website.

As a result EA pulled the links and dropped the marketing tie-up.

EA’s move does come with some risks. Aircraft maker Bell Helicopter is cross that it used its helicopters in the game Battlefield was beyond fair use and amounted to a trademark infringement. EA is hoping to win that case and put this licensing problem to bed for good.

What is strange about the situation is that gamers should notice no difference to the status quo. The only difference will be that the game makers will not be in a cosy relationship with the gun makers. Products will still be advertised and kids will still be able to spot the difference between a Colt and a Glock before they can identify the capital of South Africa. 

EA in battle over "worst company" award

EA Games is likely to be named the worst company in the US by the Consumerist magazine, beating off some stiff competition from the telephone companies, and seems to want to compound the issue by blaming homophobes.

As news that EA was likely to win the award for the second time, EA’s COO Peter Moore did his level best to show the world why his outfit was such a clear winner.

Writing in his blog, Moore admitted mistakes and promised to “do better” but decided to wade into Consumerist magazine and its readers for saying such nasty things about EA.

“This is the same poll that last year judged us as worse than companies responsible for the biggest oil spill in history,” writes Moore.

Well, not quite, BP won the award in 2011 when it managed the biggest oil spill in history. Last year, however, when EA won it, BP had not done anything so publicly evil.

Moore claimed that the complaints against EA last year were because of its support of SOPA and that they didn’t like the ending to Mass Effect 3. The only problem with that argument is that the analysis of the reasons for EA’s inclusion in last year’s finale makes no mention of Mass Effect 3 or SOPA.

But writing in its own blog, Consumerist said that what seemed to have won the award for EA is its habit of buying up smaller, successful developers with the intention of milking the intellectual properties that made these acquired companies so attractive. EA has exclusivity on popular sports games that keeps retail prices up for the rest of the gaming industry.

Customers do not like EA’s use of microtransactions or in-game purchases. Many customers believe that EA’s view of microtransactions is to put out broken or deliberately incomplete games with the ultimate goal of selling add-on content that should have been included in the first place.

Mass Effect 3, while not the cause of EA’s award, did show why the company won its award. Wanting to make a buck out of a successful franchise, EA rushed out the third and final instalment of the series in 2012. It wrecked the plot, and was so bad that the company had to release an “extended cut” ending before it was lynched by some highly cross gamers who had been fans of the series for years.

Moore lit out against the SimCity DRM claims. “Many continue to claim the Always-On function in SimCity is a DRM scheme,” writes Moore. “It’s not. People still want to argue about it. We can’t be any clearer – it’s not. Period.”

But his silliest reason for EA likely to win the award was because the people who complained were homophobes. Moore claimed that EA’s decision to allow users to create lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) characters in some of its games has resulted in a voting campaign orchestrated by conservatives.

Moore said that in the past year, EA had received thousands of emails and postcards protesting against its policy of allowing players to create LGBT characters in its games. There are posts on conservative websites urging people to protest its LGBT policy by voting EA the worst company in America, he claimed.

Consumerist, however, said that if there is any such campaign, it is odd that no one had mentioned it before. While any number of tech and video game sites and forums have been writing the WCIA polls, its analytics show absolutely no incoming traffic from any political, let alone conservative, sites.

So far in all the nominations against EA no one mentioned anything about sexual orientation. 

HP pouts over T3 awards snub

Hewlett Packard has been caught trying to wing its way back into the good favour of the T3 Awards panel, after being left off this year’s shortlist.

An internal email from PR agency Edelman – accidentally emailed to journalists – revealed HP is a tad put out about not being included on the list of nominees at the gadget awards bash.

It seems that HP thought it would get an award for the mantlepiece but was removed from the running for some reason.

Edelman is now asking event organisers for a couple of quid off their table booking fee – that or getting HP’s name back on the roll call.  

The email said about the awards: “Following HP’s removal from shortlist at T3 Awards, Edelman to speak to T3 about reducing the price of HP’s table or enquiring into the possibility of re entering HP onto the shortlist for the Awards.”

Edelman was also concerned about Sky 1 TV show Project Runway, which Hewlett Packard has sponsored in the past. The email read: “Edelman to confirm if and what channel/date Project Runway will air in the UK so that a press release can be distributed”.

A fashion journalist commented, to TechEye, on Project Runway: “In blunt terms, it’s s***. It’s just another TV show which aims to make money seemingly promoting the fashion industry. Once the “recruits” have gone through their paces and embarrassed on air, the likelyhood that they’ll get anywhere after the show is small.”

EyeSpy – We notice HP is holding an event at Shoreditch house. We presume we are on the guestlist.

IMEC to fund technology research centre in Taiwan

The Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC) is to co-fund a technology research centre in Taiwan.

The deal, announced today, will see IMEC join forces with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Institute for Information Industry to develop the IMEC Taiwan Innovation Centre (ITIC), which will focus research on electronic designs, components and technology solutions relating to bioelectronics, MEMS, and green technology.

IMEC plans to hire over 40 research staff for the Centre over the next three years, building a highly-qualified workforce in the region.

The deal was encouraged as part of the Project of Encouraging Foreign Enterprise Establishing Research and Development Center in Taiwan and Taiwan’s Innovation Plan which the Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs operate.

“The creation of ITIC, two years after having established a representation office in Hsinchu, Taiwan, is essential in our continued efforts to create value for our current and future partners in Taiwan, to leverage our global partnerships, and to actively interact with the Taiwanese ecosystem,” said Luc Van den hove, President and CEO of IMEC. “An R&D initiative such as ITIC will intensify imec’s interaction with the local semiconductor and system-level companies and academia.”

IMEC also helped launch the TSMC Europratice Innovation Award today, which will encourage developments in the area of mixed signal or radio frequency design among European universities.

The Award will be available for over 600 universities and research institutes and will be awarded after two rounds are evaluated: a research paper and an oral presentation.

The prize will be a trip for two design team members to TSMC’s headquarters in Taiwan, where they will be given a tour of one of TSMC’s GigaFabs. The award will be announced in May 2011.

Wikipedia founder gets cash award for democratizing knowledge

The founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, has been given a monetary award for developing the online user-based encyclopedia.

The Im Grueene Foundation awarded Wales the Gottlieb Duttweiler Award, which comes with 100,000 Swiss Francs ($104,000), saying that he deserved the prize for “democratising the access to knowledge,” which it said was “man’s most important resource.”

The Swiss organisation was established by Duttweiler, after which the award is named, in 1946, with the aim of providing independent research, focusing on people and not on capital, according to one of Duttweiler’s mottos.

The award is given out sporadically, the last time being to UN Secrety-General Kofi Annan in 2008. The fact that there has been a two year gap before another award has been given out suggests how highly the Foundation holds Wales and his achievements.

Wikipedia was launched in 2001, presenting an online collaborative medium for people to provide accurate information about people, products, companies, events, and anything else that others needed to know about. 

It has become one of the most used websites, despite the validity and credulity of the information contained within it being open to question at times, given the open nature of contribution. Despite these flaws it has grown to over 16 million articles, providing a database of knowledge for everyone to use.