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Top 10 technology heroes of 2012

31 Dec 2012

The year is nearly at an end, and as 2012 winds down we look back at the big events which helped to shape the industry. When looking at those events, we are also reminded of individuals who went above and beyond the call of duty to accomplish amazing feats and make life better for all of us.

This week, we reognise 10 of those technology heroes.

Judge's gavel10. Judges Alsup and Koh
Being a US District Judge is a tough job. It requires a person who can listen to two sides of a complex argument and find a way to bring justice to an issue. It gets even harder when the case involves two multi-billion dollar corporations who hate each other.

Judges Alsup and Koh have overseen two of the biggest court cases of 2012. Alsup handled judging duties in the Oracle vs Google case. The lengthy trial saw two technology superpowers battling it out in one of the most highly publicised cases of the year.

Judge Koh, meanwhile, had to make sense of the incessant feuding of smartphone heavyweights Samsung and Apple. Her charge focused on patents owned by the two most successful smartphone-makers in the world.

Together both judges had to deal with press leaks, public back-talking and inane patent battles. No matter how you felt about the rulings in their cases, you have to give it to the judges for doing a job that few would relish.

TVShack's Richard O'Dwyer9. Julia O'Dwyer
UK University student Richard O'Dwyer and his mother Julia O'Dwyer have had a harrowing year.

O'Dwyer started the year as a Sheffield University student who ran a website called The site offered links that sent users to other URLs where they could watch copyrighted content like movies and TV programmes.

The site and O'Dwyer received the ire of the US government in January. US officials began calling on the UK to extradite the student to the states where he would be tried for copyright infringement.

O'Dwyer's case made worldwide headlines, with many arguing that he should not be extradited for his involvement with the site. Big-name tech figures like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales even lobbied for the UK citizen.

Despite the widespread calls against extradition, US authorities still pushed. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) even began cooking up ways to discredit the people fighting on behalf of O'Dwyer.

Julia O'Dwyer called out the MPAA for "vindictive" tactics against her son. She accused the association of purposefully smearing O'Dwyer in an attempt to further their extradition goals.

Eventually the calls for extradition subsided with a plea bargain. However, the whole ordeal still remained a trying experience for O'Dwyer and his mother. Through it all, the two showed poise and courage in the face of mounting pressure from regulatory officials.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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