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Bletchley Park Finds a Saviour In Google

CmdrTaco posted about 3 years ago | from the breakin-da-code dept.

Google 59

hypnosec noted that Google has stepped up to try to help fundraising for Bletchley Park. From TFA: "The point is that all of us have heroes. At Google our heroes are Alan Turing and the people who worked on breaking the codes at Bletchley Park. It was probably the most inspiring and uplifting achievement in scientific technology over the last hundred years. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that without Alan Turing, Google as we know it wouldn't exist."

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Couldn't Google just pay for it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023520)

It's great that they started a fundraiser effort, but couldn't they just open their wallet and be done with it?

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (5, Informative)

adisakp (705706) | about 3 years ago | (#37023576)

They did donate $100K.
FTA: Google already played a crucial role at Bletchley - the company contributed an hefty amount of some $100,000, which was used to assist in securing the papers of Alan Turing- a leading seminal computer scientist and code breaker who worked at the venue.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023648)

That's far from a "hefty" amount. It's like .000341% of their yearly revenue. It's fucking peanuts.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (0)

justforgetme (1814588) | about 3 years ago | (#37023922)

Why is this comment moderated -1?

sorry, I'm new here

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (2)

adisakp (705706) | about 3 years ago | (#37024122)

Why is this comment moderated -1?

sorry, I'm new here

Probably due to the attitude coming from an Anonymous Coward. Calling $100K "fucking peanuts" is pretty ridiculous -- it's looking a gift horse in the mouth and it's insulting. Google has donate $100K more than any other company with big pockets and they're trying to make a grass roots effort to have the area sustainably supported. Knocking their efforts as "not enough" when as a private company they have ZERO OBLIGATION to do anything at all is displaying a remarkable disrespect for the nature of charity.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37024218)

lol fanboi rage. If I had said this about Microsoft or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation my comment would be at +5 Insightful. But I dared to say something bad about one of Slashdot's sacred cows so I had to be punished and censored for it.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37024302)

WHERE ARE MY MOD POINTS! Try also mocking the delusions of the manned space crowd... THOSE guys are fucking NUTS.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (1)

DaleGlass (1068434) | about 3 years ago | (#37024522)

"peanuts" is relative to what is needed, and what the donor can give, as well as the actual value of the contribution.

For instance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation intend to create social change. $100K to say, 200 schools would indeed be peanuts because it wouldn't change much of anything.

With Microsoft it's mostly that they can donate any amount they like. After all, they set the price on their software, and it's what they donate. Plus that kind of donation is mostly an investment. I've never heard of MS donating on anything that didn't imply more usage of MS tech.

As far as Bletchley Park is concerned: I've been there. It looks pretty good, and most of the restoration work seems complete and have been in a large part done by volunteers. So the main costs are that of maintenance, and for that $100K is a pretty good amount.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | about 3 years ago | (#37026026)

yeah, but he is right, from the perspective of google's accountants, it's barely a drop out of the petty cash. It depends on how you look at it. However, Benchley Park is awesome, especially in the world of cryptography.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37024504)

gee I hope when I donate less that a microprecent of my income to charity some preacher will be standing behind me touting how I had zero obligation to do anything and how you pissants should be greatful.

the AC does have a point, its like dropping a quarter and a dime in the thing at Mc Donalds

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (2)

jdgeorge (18767) | about 3 years ago | (#37024776)

The obligation of a publicly traded company like Google is to create value for its shareholders. If it is able to do some of that by contributing to philanthropic efforts, thats's great, but they should not be spending any significant amount to do that.

The Google billionaires, on the other hand, have the means and (arguably) the moral obligation to do philanthropic work. THEY should be the ones opening their wallets, not the corporation.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37027688)

That micro percent of your income probably adds up to less than bus fare. Do you not see why your donation, although likely appreciated, is hardly comparable to a hundred thousand dollars - even if the latter is an even smaller percentage of Google's assets? There's principle and then there's practical application in the real world. The AC has a point only in a navel-gazing sense.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (1)

kat_skan (5219) | about 3 years ago | (#37028462)

So if Google isn't going to make a large donation they shouldn't do anything at all? That thing at McDonald's raised twenty-five million dollars [] in quarters and dimes last year to room and board sick children, just FYI.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37025044)

I think the problem, in this case, is the summary of the article. The article is about a Bletchly Park fundraiser that mentions the $100K Google contributed to the purchase of Turing's papers and their continued support. When viewed in that light, Google comes off well since they donated when it was needed and are continuing to donate when asked.

But when you frame it as Google is helping to fundraise for Bletchly Park and is contributing such a small part of their bank account, it comes off just like those PSAs by actors who are asking people making a fraction of what they make to donate a lot larger piece of their income to the actor's pet charity. That kind of thing rubs people the wrong way because the person asking for money is in a far better position to donate money than the person being asked.

Basically, if a rich entity takes a passive part in the fundraising by simply donating something when asked, it's not as pretentious as when a rich entity takes an active part by lobbying for others with less money to donate.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | about 3 years ago | (#37026048)

You me just deduct it from the those on the board of directors yearly salary?

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#37024152)

So, what percentage of your yearly revenue did you donate?

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37024178)


Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (1)

Anonymus (2267354) | about 3 years ago | (#37026312)

A much higher percentage than Google, I'm fairly certain of that. And I have far more need for my money than they do.

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (1)

wickedskaman (1105337) | about 3 years ago | (#37028118)

What are you basing that supposition on?

Re:Couldn't Google just pay for it? (3, Interesting)

DaleGlass (1068434) | about 3 years ago | (#37023744)

Pity it went to such a pointless use, though.

It was just a set of offprints -- meaning it's not the manuscript or an unique copy of something.

I'd much rather they used the money to maintain the buildings and recreate the hardware.

Then there's the weirdness of obsessing so much about a bunch of papers left by somebody who pioneered the digital computer. I think he'd be much better honored with high resolution, digital files.

How Unabashedly +4, Defiant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023592)


Yours In Osh,
K. T.

Royal Army? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023694)

The British Army should never be referred to as the "Royal Army" - it's the only one of the three armed forces in the UK *not* to have "royal in its title. (5th paragraph)

Re:Royal Army? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37024894)

What a Royal Screw-up.

Re:Royal Army? (2)

ewanm89 (1052822) | about 3 years ago | (#37026184)

While technically correct, the recruitment posters have on them, not (which doesn't redirect to anything) or (their actual website). So if they advertising as such, I don't think they mind too much when people get it wrong. Also, a couple of individual sections are called as such, like the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.

Re:Royal Army? (1)

kuiperbelt (2427618) | about 3 years ago | (#37026606)

While technically correct, the recruitment posters have on them, not (which doesn't redirect to anything) or (their actual website). So if they advertising as such, I don't think they mind too much when people get it wrong. Also, a couple of individual sections are called as such, like the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.

Well I just pointed my browser to and it took me to the website of the Royal Artillery, which is a set of regiments in the Army, not the entire Army.

Royal Army? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023702)

England hasn't had one of those since Charles lost his head.

Royal Army? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37023708)

Royal Army? It's the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy but the British Army I'm afraid. Besides which Bletchley was actually home to the "Government Code and Cypher School" which by this time was not under armed forces but part of the Foreign Office.

Huh? I thought they were so last 5 miuntes? (1, Insightful)

kaizendojo (956951) | about 3 years ago | (#37023740)

Would that be the internet search behemoth, whose best days are behind it? []

Re:Huh? I thought they were so last 5 miuntes? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 3 years ago | (#37023920)

Those aren't necessarily incompatible. For example, lots of people think Microsoft's best days are behind it, but it still has loads of cash and publicity, so "Microsoft supports charity X" can be useful for charity X.

But probably true that the other story is a bit overplaying it.

Re:Huh? I thought they were so last 5 miuntes? (4, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | about 3 years ago | (#37024130)

There's a bit of difference though. As far as I can tell, Microsoft mainly "donates" to charity when it's their software and training that is being given to help further their brand. I may be incorrect in this, but Google isn't donating time and mandating/installing Chrome/ChromeOS on all the PCs in the place or training people how to search efficiently.

Microsoft Donates $344 Million in Software To Worldwide Initiative to Train 400,000 Teachers ( train their students in Microsoft software)
Microsoft donates cash, software to help military vets get IT skills (... to use their software to encourage businesses to buy more)
Microsoft Donates $250,000 of Software to Create IT Jobs for Youth in Kenya (... again, for Microsoft's overall benefit)

Heck, software is still a cheap donation. They can put any self-assessed value on it and print off a new copy for a dime a dozen to inflate their charitable donation amount.

Re:Huh? I thought they were so last 5 miuntes? (4, Interesting)

Branka96 (628759) | about 3 years ago | (#37024542)

Microsoft has a matching program for employee donation. It matches dollar by dollar and even donates $17 per hour if you do volunteer work. Microsoft also have the Giving Campaign (October in the US). Here different groups compete about raising the most donations (cash). There are fund raising events like breakfast with your Senior VP being your server, or auctions (dinner at home with Bill Gates is typical a top draw ~$50,000). In 2009 the Giving Campaign raised $70 million (cash) in the US. That is $35 millions from employees (about $500 per employee) and $35 millions from MS.

Re:Huh? I thought they were so last 5 miuntes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37027962)

And...where did the money go to?

So, compare that to the figures above (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37032318)

For a reality check:

$35 Million cash from Microsoft vs $344 Million in software
And to release that $35 Million in cash, their employees had to raise the money themselves to get the match.

Google is doing it because they want to honor their Heros. Microsoft does it because they want to line their pockets.

Re:Huh? I thought they were so last 5 miuntes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37026044)

Why do you think their so eager to throw money into Bletchley Park? They worried you'll start encrypting your e-mail and cut into their ad revenue. That Collosus ain't gonna be a mock-up.

Honestly... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#37023806)

There are legitimate questions to be asked about how many resources we should spend commemorating/preserving the past, vs. letting the past be past and spending forward; but to the degree that comemmoration/celebration/recognition of the past is a worthwhile enterprise, Bletchley park has always seemed mysteriously neglected.

The work done there was extraordinarily vital in terms of signals intelligence and cryptography, and not having that done would have hampered the Allied war effort significantly. The fact that that work also included some groundbreaking CS and early computing machine work is just icing on the cake. There are other WWII sites with many more casualties; but the only other WWII R&D developments that can even fall in the same order of magnitude are the Manhattan Project, Penicillin mass-production, and possibly Radar(The cavity magnetron: defeated Hitler and produces delicious popcorn in minutes!).

Letting the past keep to itself is a self-consistent position, albeit not one I endorse; but any sort of historical preservation of WWII stuff that doesn't have Bletchley park well up there seems downright ill-formed...

Re:Honestly... (3, Interesting)

kuiperbelt (2427618) | about 3 years ago | (#37023906)

It's been heartening to see the increased recognition the computing pioneers at Bletchley Park have received over the last few years, after being neglected for decades. Gordon Brown's posthumous apology to Alan Turing [] for the persecution he received for his sexuality was a great moment. Most people have never heard of Turing but he deserves recognition. They ought to put his face on a banknote or something. About three years ago when I was at university a guy visited from Bletchley Park to give a talk on the work that was done there, and he brought with him a genuine Enigma machine and demonstrated its operation. Fascinating stuff.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37024132)

Yes, and let's not forget the SIGSALY and the SAGE.

Re:Honestly... (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#37025368)

What I found interesting about the work done is how relevant it is today in security and cryptography. While Enigma had its weaknesses like a letter could never be coded to itself, the main weakness exploited were the users of the system. For example there a number of settings that the Luftwaffe left up to the operator for messages that were supposed to be random but Bletchley Park found some operators that used the same settings everyday until the end of the war. Some operators would broadcast the same propaganda messages at the same time everyday. Both of these things allowed Bletchley Park to figure out settings that they used to decode other messages.

Bletchley Park getting more attention (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 3 years ago | (#37023862)

Bletchley Park is getting more attention in recent years. I've been there, but before the restored Colossus or replica bombe was working. All we saw were static exhibits, plus a working Enigma, something I'd seen before. There were few visitors.

Now they have funding from the UK national lottery [] , "Family Fun Wednesdays", a conference center, a giant chessboard, a model railway (with a "Thomas the Tank Engine layout), a mini cinema, an auto museum, model boats, and swans in the lake.

Re:Bletchley Park getting more attention (2)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 3 years ago | (#37025470)

In that case a revisit is worthwhile. Much has changed in the past few years, with new exhibition spaces becoming available, the Colossus and bombe, and all the other stuff you mention. Try and plan your visit on a day that the National Museum of Computing (on the same grounds, but operated independently with rather limited opening hours) is also open.

Re:Bletchley Park getting more attention (1)

jeremyp (130771) | about 3 years ago | (#37026198)

You really need to go again then. Try not to do what I did which was visit on the hottest day of the year which made the temperature in the Colossus room almost unbearable. But it was worth it.

Re:Bletchley Park getting more attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37026208)

Actually when I went there I was slightly underwhelmed, I mean yes you get to see everything but there's little in the way of explanation. But the National Computer Museum is on the same site, now there's something easily worth the visit.

Glad to see it. (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 3 years ago | (#37023892)

That is great. What I feel sad about is that the US didn't perserve the most important ship of WWII which was the USS Enterprise. We kept of bunch of old battleships from that time like the Texas and Alabama but we scrapped the Enterprise.

Re:Glad to see it. (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 3 years ago | (#37024172)

Efforts to save CV-6 failed because the campaigns didn't get enough money to buy the ship from the US Navy

We didn't save the Alabama or the Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37032440)

The men that served on the ships saved them. The government had nothing to do with it. And maybe that is how it should be. We preserve the things we hold dear, the things we don't care enough about to preserve need to fall away......

It's really a hard call, I know people that keep every paper from 40 years ago, even though they haven't seen them in 40 years. When they die, it all goes away because no one else cares about it.

What? (2)

happylight (600739) | about 3 years ago | (#37023918)

Beltchy? What a horrible name for a park.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37024246)

RTFA, or at least read the name again.

!Evil (0)

ischorr (657205) | about 3 years ago | (#37023958)

I don't understand why there are so many geeks that don't like this company. A small minority, but still. How can you not?? =)

You don't interact with them enough to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37028428)

Sure, Google has some cool research projects and occasionally donates to good causes (as do all big companies) but when it comes to how the company deals with customers/clients, they suck more than most companies around. They can't be held accountable for anything at all! If they close your Google AdSense account, when you haven't withdrawn the money you've earned, say goodbye to the money and don't expect any sort of an explanation. If your website suddenly gains some unwarranted spam filter on Google Search (e.g., all ranking drop by 10 pages), don't expect any sort of explanation or help troubleshooting the problem. If you are locked out of all Google services after you violate Google+ EULA/TOS, tough luck.... etc.

In other words, Google seems like a good company until there comes a time that you encounter any sort of trouble with any of their services, in which case you're just screwed. If you don't sue them, they don't give a shit about how much trouble they cause you... That said, I still use Google products (from cellphones to e-mail to Google Charts) but after I have had to interact with them a few times, I certainly don't feel that they care about their customers in the slightest.

Bletchley Park is the beginning (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | about 3 years ago | (#37024240)

Station X at Bletchley Park is an important part of our shared history... It marks the beginning of the all electronic digital computing and also of distributed computing (they had up to 10 Collosus working across different locations, by the end of the war). Much groundwork theory was built in that era by people working at that place, including the ideas behind of packet switched data networks and routed networks.

I visited back in 2005 and I hope to go again someday (when I am in the UK).

Re:Bletchley Park is the beginning (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | about 3 years ago | (#37024942)

Unfortunately, the people in charge failed to notice a good thing when they saw it and kept a good deal of it secret, leaving others to take computing forward. Similar story with what would become known as RSA.

Re:Bletchley Park is the beginning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37027580)

"the people in charge" knew exactly what they were dealing with and had to keep it ULTRA secret. That's why 10,000 people were sworn to secrecy about their war-time activities till the mid 70s. Code breaking was the object, computing was just the method

Re:Bletchley Park is the beginning (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | about 3 years ago | (#37026222)

Don't forget about AI research, that was started by Turing himself.

more Turing fun (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 3 years ago | (#37025140)

Read Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon for some fun fictional Turing action.

Just Google? (1)

kaliann (1316559) | about 3 years ago | (#37026136)

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that without Alan Turing, Europe as we know it might not exist.

Cracking the Enigma code was a huge deal, and may have made the difference between the outcome seen in history (a terrible war, but one that Nazis eventually lost) and a horrific alternative with a crippling invasion of England and failure of many of the Allied powers' anti-Nazi offensives. Even a delay in the cracking could have been disastrous. It's possible that the Bletchley team would have cracked Enigma without Turing, but that delay might well have lost the war. Huzzah! Geeks save the world! (And then, in Turing's case, are hounded to chemical castration and suicide for being gay. Thanks, man!)

Re:Just Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37026780)

Good post.

I would put it this way:
Bletchley Park was not on its own enough to win however it was one of many near-miraculous accomplishments required not to lose.

That the allies won is to me nearly unbelievable when looking at all the crucial pieces and events without which we/they would more than likely have lost.

Modern civilizations --and more importantly: modern individuals-- need to remember these sacrifices and achievements because eventually we will need to repeat such sacrifices and achievements.

Maybe tomorrow, maybe after centuries, the core basis of "human" hasn't changed noticeably in thousands of years and pacifism is when push comes to shove neither practical nor effective against truly committed opponents.

Alan Turing's mistreatment from those he helped save makes him twice the hero: those of us still clinging onto ill-treated ideals transcending politics and also trying to avoid the rampant bigotry of "my view", are we able to make the same sacrifices in the knowledge we might well be hunted and destroyed by those we protected?

Or will we turn a deaf ear, blind our eyes, and numb our minds? Belittle those who worry and fret and dislike them? Create prejudices enough to keep real problems and issues at bay? Wallow in our own bias of bigotry? These will always be the easy options.

Re:Just Google? (1)

Unequivocal (155957) | about 3 years ago | (#37028446)

It's a good point. There's another story that makes a compelling case for a single event / group that won the war (not that the two stories are mutually exclusive). Told in the book "A Man Called Intrepid" the basic concept was that the pre-OSS crew got Hitler and the Nazi leadership all fired up about how America didn't take them seriously, via intentionally intercepted mail, so that when Japan declared war on the US, Hitler did too b/c he wanted to show the US how powerful he was (what other reason, beyond a paper treaty which Hitler often failed to honor, is there for him to declare war on the US at that moment?).

If Hitler hadn't declared war on the US right after Pearl Harbor, the book argues, the US might have turned west towards Japan solely, and UK would have been in deep trouble, possibly resulting in a solidified Nazi Europe with detente with the US and Russia.. Hmm.

Great book anyway - and a nice balance to reading up on Bletchley.

Re:Just Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37030704)

You do realize that Enigma was cracked in 1932 in Poland and that a working, reverse engineered Enigma machine was delivered to British intelligence before the war started (and before Britain showed their back to eastern Europe)?

Does this funding also cover TNMOC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37026782)

I went to Bletchley Park for the first time during the Vintage Computing Festival last year (Which was totally awesome incidentally!), but discovered that the funding for TNMOC is separate from Bletchley Park proper, despite them sharing a site.

I do recommend a visit to both places tho'; It's not a flashy show of stuff, and the fact that it's underfunded and mostly run by volunteers does show, but it has a nice understated and close knit feel to it.

I really hope they hold another VCF there tho'!

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