Geek Stuff

Now you can get Microsoft Office for $70 per year (or $7 per month)

Liliputing -

As promised, Microsoft is now offering a cheaper option for Office 365 subscribers. Don’t want to pay $10 per month to use Office on up to 5 computers? Now for less than the cost of a Netflix subscription, you can get an Office 365 Personal account which lets you run Office on one PC or […]

Now you can get Microsoft Office for $70 per year (or $7 per month) is a post from: Liliputing

Tea Party, Taxes and Why the Original Patriots Would’ve Revolted Against the Surveillance State

EFF's Deeplinks -

Let’s just imagine we could transport an Internet-connected laptop back to the 1790s, when the United States was in its infancy. The technology would no doubt knock the founders out of their buckle-top boots, but once the original patriots got over the initial shock and novelty (and clearing up Wikipedia controversies, hosting an AMA and boggling over Dogecoin), the sense of marvel would give way to alarm as they realized how electronic communications could be exploited by a tyrant, such as the one from which they just freed themselves.

As America’s first unofficial chief technologist, Benjamin Franklin would be the first to recognize the danger and take to trolling the message boards with his famous sentiment: Those who would trade liberty for safety deserve neither. (And he’d probably troll under a fake handle, using Tor, since the patriots understood that some truths are best told with anonymity.)

Today the Tea Party movement continues the legacy of the founders, championing the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Never afraid of controversy, Tea Party activists and elected leaders are fighting against mass surveillance in the courts and in the halls of state legislatures and Congress.

Each year on April 15th, Americans pay taxes that keep the government running. It’s a time for reflecting upon whether that money is funding a government for the people, or a government that is undermining the people, supposedly for their own good. After a watershed year of newly disclosed information about the National Security Agency, the Tea Party has plenty to protest about.

How the Founders Fought Mass Surveillance

Mass surveillance was not part of the original social contract—the terms of service, if you will—between Americans and their government. Untargeted surveillance is one reason we have an independent country today.

Under the Crown’s rule, English officials used writs of assistance to indiscriminately “enter and go into any house, shop cellar, warehouse, or room or other place and, in case of resistance, to break open doors, chests, trunks, and other package there” in order to find tax evaders. Early patriot writers, such as James Otis Jr. and John Dickinson, railed against these general warrants, and it was this issue, among other oppressive conditions, that inspired the Declaration of Independence and the Fourth Amendment.

James Madison drafted clear language guaranteeing the rights of Americans, and it bears reading again in full:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Centuries later, the principle still applies, whether we’re talking about emails or your mobile phone. As the Tea Party activists at FreedomWorks told us when we consulted them for this post: the Fourth Amendment does not stop at technology’s door.

(For a more in-depth historical review, check out former EFF legal intern David Snyder's essay, "The NSA's 'General Warrants': How the Founding Fathers Fought an 18th Century Version of the President's Illegal Domestic Spying.")

Tea Party vs. Big Brother

The Tea Party movement is closely associated with the right to bear arms, religious rights, and tax freedom. But, as Brian Brady, a prolific Tea Party activist in San Diego County we also consulted, said: the movement must embrace the Constitution as a whole. Threats to privacy, he says, are also threats to freedom of speech, religion and association. Property rights mean nothing if the government can search your home or computer without probable cause.

In other words, mass surveillance is a manifestation of big government.

Tea Party activists don’t shy away from confrontations that may put them at odds with other groups (particularly on the left), but no one can deny that on the subject of mass surveillance, the movement is on the frontlines protecting every American’s rights.

TechFreedom and gun-rights groups, such as the CalGuns Foundation and the Franklin Armory (named after Ben), have joined unlikely allies such as Greenpeace and People for the American Way to sue the NSA. Represented by EFF, the plaintiffs argue that collecting phone metadata (your number, who you called, when and for how long you spoke), chills the ability for these groups to associate freely, as guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as the Fourth Amendment. FreedomWorks and Sen. Rand Paul have also filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA on similar grounds

Conservative attorney and founder of Judicial Watch Larry Klayman was the first plaintiff to challenge the program's unconstitutionality. So far, his lawsuit in Washington, D.C. has been successful. In December, the federal judge in the case wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval.” 

Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers have also been pushing back against mass surveillance with a variety of bipartisan legislative reforms; Rep. Justin Amash, for example, came within a few votes of cutting the NSA’s telephone metadata program funding with a budget amendment last July. State legislators who align with the Tea Party have also sponsored bills across the country condemning the NSA, from California State Sen. Joel Anderson’s successful resolution calling for an end to the call records program to Michigan Rep. Tom McMillin’s call for the Department of Justice to prosecute Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for misleading Congress.

Tax, Spend and Surveil

Reason magazine has an excellent essay about IRS and privacy, outlining how the IRS obtains, scours and fails to secure personal data collected from taxpayers, while tax-reform advocate Grover Norquist wrote a worthwhile op-ed in The Daily Caller today about how the IRS exploits the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act.  But it’s also important to consider that the taxes the government collects ultimately fund the surveillance state. “No taxation without representation” was the rallying cry of the American revolution, and yet here we are today, with the NSA conducting surveillance without adequate checks and balances. Members of Congress complain that they haven’t been properly briefed on the NSA’s programs and judicial approval of these programs is conducted by a secret court that only hears the government’s side of the story. On the local level, law enforcement agencies are adopting new surveillance technologies such as automatic license plate readers, facial recognition and Stingrays with little public input or other oversight.  

On the whole, maintaining the mass surveillance state is expensive. There are 17 (that’s right, 17) different federal agencies that are part of the “intelligence community,” each of them involved in various, interconnected forms of surveillance. There’s no concrete evidence of how it has made us safer, but there’s plenty of concrete evidence of how much it has cost. The bottom line? We’re paying the government to unreasonably intrude on our lives. The budget for intelligence in 2013 was $52.6 billion. Of that, $10.8 billion went to the NSA. That’s approximately $167 per person in the United States

For a prime example of the wasteful spending, one only need to read  Sen. Tom Coburn’s report, “Safety at Any Price” that outlined the inappropriate spending done under the Department of Homeland Security’s grant program (such as paying for “first responders to attend a HALO Counterterrorism Summit at a California island spa resort featuring a simulated zombie apocalypse.”) This followed on the heels of a harsh bipartisan Senate report criticizing the extreme waste at fusion centers around the country. Federal funds were used to purchase big screen TVs, decked out SUVS, and miniature cameras. To make matters worse, the report found that fusion centers violated civil liberties and produced little information of any use.

Mass surveillance is a symptom of uncontrolled government overreach. The question is what’s the cure?

Defending Privacy is a Patriotic Duty

While every single person has cause to be alarmed by surveillance, those who criticize government policies have particular reason to be concerned. Those who have new, or not yet popular ideas (or, in the case of the Tea Party, old and popular ideas in resurgence) are often targets of overreaching surveillance. It’s not a partisan issue; it’s a constitutional issue.

Activism is most effective when is happens at the personal, local and national levels and the Tea Party has proven it knows how make a ruckus, whether it’s on a personal blog or outside the White House. America needs the Tea Party to keep applying that patriotic passion to NSA reform.

We have also just created a new collection of resources for grassroots activists, including tips on how to organize public events and use the media to spread the word about your issues, as well as a collection of one-page informational sheets that make it easy to explain these issues. And above all, speak out. Help us stop bills that attempt to legalize mass surveillance and join us in demanding real reform.

Stopping mass surveillance—it’s what the first patriots did, and it’s what today’s patriots are doing right now.

 

Related Issues: PrivacyNSA Spying
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Paper Microscope Magnifies Objects 2100 Times and Costs Less Than $1

Slashdot -

ananyo writes: "If ever a technology were ripe for disruption, it is the microscope. Microscopes are expensive and need to be serviced and maintained. Unfortunately, one important use of them is in poor-world laboratories and clinics, for identifying pathogens, and such places often have small budgets and lack suitably trained technicians. Now Manu Prakash, a bioengineer at Stanford University, has designed a microscope made almost entirely of paper, which is so cheap that the question of servicing it goes out of the window. Individual Foldscopes are printed on A4 sheets of paper (ideally polymer-coated for durability). A pattern of perforations on the sheet marks out the 'scope's components, which are colour-coded in a way intended to assist the user in the task of assembly. The Foldscope's non-paper components, a poppy-seed-sized spherical lens made of borosilicate or corundum, a light-emitting diode (LED), a watch battery, a switch and some copper tape to complete the electrical circuit, are pressed into or bonded onto the paper. (The lenses are actually bits of abrasive grit intended to roll around in tumblers that smooth-off metal parts.) A high-resolution version of this costs less than a dollar, and offers a magnification of up to 2,100 times and a resolving power of less than a micron. A lower-spec version (up to 400x magnification) costs less than 60 cents."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Is the SEC Obtaining Emails Without a Warrant?

EFF's Deeplinks -

Updates to the email privacy law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) are long overdue. It's common sense that emails and other online private messages (like Twitter direct messages) are protected by the Fourth Amendment. But for a long time, the Department of Justice (DOJ) argued ECPA allowed it to circumvent the Fourth Amendment and access much of your email without a warrant. Thankfully, last year it finally gave up on that stance.

But now it appears that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the civil agency in charge of protecting investors and ensuring orderly markets, may be doing the same exact thing: it is trying to use ECPA to force service providers to hand over email without a warrant, in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment.

EFF and the Digital Due Process Coalition, a diverse coalition of privacy advocates and major companies, are fighting hard to push a common sense reform to ECPA. The law, passed in the 1980s before the existence of webmail, has been used to argue that emails older than 180 days may be accessed without a warrant based on probable cause. Instead, the agencies send a mere subpoena, which means that the agency does not have to involve a judge or show that the emails will provide evidence of a crime.

Contrary to the position taken by the DOJ, the courts, the public at-large, and EFF, the SEC asserted last week that it can obtain emails with simple subpoenas, issued under ECPA. The Chair of the SEC, Mary Jo White, tried to reassure Rep. Kevin Yoder that the SEC's "built-in privacy protections" make it ok. Unfortunately, Chair White wouldn't explain what are the exact "privacy protections." Rep. Yoder, the sponsor of HR 1852, The Email Privacy Act—a bill with over 200 cosponsors that updates ECPA—was rightfully dubious and tried to no avail to get the Chair to explain why the SEC thinks it can use ECPA to get around the Fourth Amendment.

Just because your emails are on your computer, must not mean they have any less protection than if they were printed on your desk. Many other agencies disagree with the SEC's approach and recognize the Fourth Amendment covers all private communications—whether paper or electronic. It's time for the SEC to update its practices so that it's inline with the courts, public opinion, and with other agencies.  

It's also time for the White House to send a clear message to all of its executive agencies. Remember, the SEC consists of five presidentially appointed commissioners. Since November, the White House has failed to respond to a White House Petition demanding ECPA reform. The White House must pronounce loud and clear that it supports HR 1852, The Email Privacy Act, and that government agencies like the SEC should not be using ECPA as a run-around to the Fourth Amendment. 

Many courts, including the Sixth Circuit in United States v. Warshak, have already ruled that emails and other private communications are protected by the Fourth Amendment. Congress, through members such as Senators Patrick Leahy and Ron Wyden; and Representatives Kevin Yoder, Tom Graves, and Jared Polis, are pushing common sense reforms to ECPA like HR 1852 The Email Privacy Act. The bills are slowly making its way through Congress, but we can speed them up. Tell your Representative now to support HR 1852 so that we don't leave email privacy laws stuck in the 1980s.

 

Related Issues: Privacy
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Deals of the Day (4-15-2014)

Liliputing -

Amazon is running a sale on Kindle Fire tablets, knocking about $20 to $40 off the price of a 7 or 8.9 inch tablet. But if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber you can save even more. While the Prime perk isn’t mentioned on the sales page, if you’re a Prime member and you add a […]

Deals of the Day (4-15-2014) is a post from: Liliputing

Intuit, Maker of Turbotax, Lobbies Against Simplified Tax Filings

Slashdot -

McGruber (1417641) writes "Return-free filing might allow tens of millions of Americans to file their taxes for free and in minutes. Under proposals authored by several federal lawmakers, it would be voluntary, using information the government already receives from banks and employers and that taxpayers could adjust. The concept has been endorsed by Presidents Obama and Reagan and is already a reality in some parts of Europe. Sounds great, except to Intuit, maker of Turbotax: last year, Intuit spent more than $2.6 million on lobbying, some of it to lobby on four bills related to the issue, federal lobbying records show."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








This is how Google’s Project Ara smartphones will look

Liliputing -

Google’s Project Ara is an effort to build a modular smartphone platform. The company has developed a hardware design that involves a smartphone skeleton which can use a series of modules for everything from the processor to the display. If all goes according to plan, Google could begin shipping smartphone skeletons next year, and the […]

This is how Google’s Project Ara smartphones will look is a post from: Liliputing

OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL

Slashdot -

First time accepted submitter Iarwain Ben-adar (2393286) writes "The OpenBSD has started a cleanup of their in-tree OpenSSL library. Improvements include removing "exploit mitigation countermeasures", fixing bugs, removal of questionable entropy additions, and many more. If you support the effort of these guys who are responsible for the venerable OpenSSH library, consider a donation to the OpenBSD Foundation. Maybe someday we'll see a 'portable' version of this new OpenSSL fork. Or not."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Netflix Gets What It Pays For: Comcast Streaming Speeds Skyrocket

Slashdot -

jfruh (300774) writes "Back in February, after a lengthy dispute, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for network access after being dogged by complaints of slow speeds from Comcast subscribers. Two months later, it appears that Comcast has delivered on its promises, jumping up six places in Netflix's ISP speed rankings. The question of whether this is good news for anyone but Comcast is still open."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Toshiba P55t 4K Ultra HD ultrabook launches April 22nd for $1500

Liliputing -

One of the first laptops to feature a 3840 x 2160 pixel display is about to hit the streets. The Toshiba Satellite P55t features a 15.6 inch, 4K Ultra HD display and a starting price of $1500. It’ll be available in the United States starting April 22nd, 2014. The laptop has a 1TB hard drive, […]

Toshiba P55t 4K Ultra HD ultrabook launches April 22nd for $1500 is a post from: Liliputing

Is this Amazon’s smartphone (prototype)?

Liliputing -

Amazon is reportedly planning to launch its first smartphone this summer. Now the folks at BGR have posted a few photos of what may be a prototype of Amazon’s phone. The most noticeable difference between this phone and other touchscreen smartphones are the little circles above and below the display. The Amazon phone is said to […]

Is this Amazon’s smartphone (prototype)? is a post from: Liliputing

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

Slashdot -

April 15, 2014 isn't just a full moon: it's Tax Day in the U.S. That means most American adults have already submitted a tax return, or an extension request, to the IRS and -- except for a few lucky states -- to their state governments as well. I filed my (very simple) tax return online. After scanning the free options, since I live in a state -- Texas -- that does not collect personal income tax, I chose Tax Act's free services. That meant enduring a series of annoying upgrade plugs throughout the process, but I could live with that; I have no reason to think it was better or worse than TurboTax or any of the other e-Filing companies, but I liked Tax Act’s interface, and it seemed less skeevy in all those upgrade plugs than the others I glanced at. The actual process took an hour and 19 minutes once I sat down with the papers I needed. My financial life is pretty simple, though: I didn't buy or sell a house, didn't buy or sell stocks outside of a retirement account mutual fund, and didn't move from one state to another. How do you do your taxes? Do you have an argument for one or another of the online services, or any cautionary tales? Do you prefer to send in forms on paper? Do you hire an accountant? (And for readers outside the U.S., it's always interesting to hear how taxes work in other countries, too. Are there elements of the U.S. system you'd prefer, or that you're glad you don't need to deal with?)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








EFF Supports CafePress Safe Harbor Claim

EFF's Deeplinks -

After seven years of litigation, the basic contours of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbors should be pretty well established. Unfortunately, a new front may have opened up in a case called Gardner v. CafePress, thanks to a mistaken and dangerous misreading of Section 512.

With the invaluable assistance of Venkat Balasubramani, EFF, joined by the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, and Public Knowledge, has filed an amicus brief in that case. In our brief, we explain our deep concerns about how that recent ruling could have profound consequences for user-generated content sites.

CafePress is a platform that allows users to set up online shops to sell custom physical goods like clothing and stationery. The lawsuit was filed by photographer Steven Gardner, whose wildlife images were included on a user's sales page. CafePress had asked the court to resolve the case as a matter of law (also called summary judgment) because it believed it was clearly protected by the DMCA's safe harbors. The court denied that request, concluding that it could not be sure that CafePress was protected by the DMCA.

Our brief explains why that was a dangerous decision for online speech and innovation.  We focus on two issues in particular: (1) the court’s interpretation of the term “service provider”; and (2) the court’s suggestion that image metadata might qualify as a “standard technical measure” under the DMCA—which would mean CafePress's automated stripping of metadata from photos would jeopardize the availability of safe harbor protections. The court could have resolved these arguments in CafePress’s favor as a matter of law. By forcing the parties to go trial on these issues, the court may undermine the purpose of the DMCA safe harbors.

On the first point, it appears that the court conflated CafePress’s online and offline activities as a website and as a producer of physical goods, and adopted a cramped definition of “service provider” that has long since been rejected by numerous courts.

On the second point, the court clearly misunderstood the definition of a “standard technical measure.” This point is pretty technical, but it has serious implications because service providers are required to comply with “standard technical measures” in order to enjoy the legal protections of the DMCA safe harbors.

A standard technical measure, in the sense of DMCA § 512(i) is one that is “used by copyright owners to identify or protect copyrighted works” and “has been developed pursuant to a broad consensus of copyright owners and service providers in an open, fair, voluntary, multi-industry standards process;” is “available to any person on reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms;” and does not “impose substantial costs on service providers or substantial burdens on their systems or networks.”

However, no broad consensus has ever emerged as to any such measure, with respect to metadata or any other technical artifact. In fact, with respect to metadata, industry practices show there is no such consensus: service providers commonly strip metadata from uploaded images. Without a consensus standard, there can be no "technical measure" that a website is required to honor.

And a good thing too. From our brief:

Casting doubt on the practice of removing metadata may also put users at risk. ... Stripping metadata from uploaded images helps protect users’ privacy and security, and should not be discouraged.

But even though there is no broad industry consensus to treat image metadata as a "standard technical measure" for copyright enforcement, the court seems to have made metadata removal a ticket to trial. That's bad news.

Heads up: this case has flown under the radar, but a wrong decision on these points could end up shrinking the effective contours of DMCA safe harbors. Online service providers have a very strong incentive to stay inside those boundaries: the staggering quantity of user-generated content uploaded combined with ridiculously large statutory damages and litigation costs mean any risk of ambiguity is serious.

Service providers need well-established legal safe harbors, because those safe harbors create the space within which new platforms can develop and thrive. That’s good for user speech, and good for online innovation. We hope the court agrees.

Files:  cafepress_amicus_curiae_brief.pdfRelated Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceDMCA
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Books, the digitising and text-to-speechifying thereof

Raspberry Pi -

A couple of books projects for you today. One is simple, practical and of great use to the visually-impaired. The other is over-complicated, and a little bit nuts; nonetheless, we think it’s rather wonderful; and actually kind of useful if you’ve got a lot of patience.

We’ll start with the simple and practical one first: Kolibre is a Finnish non-profit making open-source audiobook software so you can build a reader with very simple controls. This is Vadelma, an internet-enabled audio e-reader. It’s very easy to put together at home with a Raspberry Pi: you can find full instructions and discussion of the project at Kolibre’s website.

The overriding problem with automated audio e-readers is always the quality of the text-to-speech voice, and it’s the reason that books recorded with real, live actors reading them are currently so much more popular; but those are expensive, and it’s likely we’ll see innovations in text-to-speech as natural language processing research progresses (its challenging: people have been hammering away at this problem for half a century), and as this stuff becomes easier to automate and more widespread.

How easy is automation? Well, the good people at Dexter Industries decided that what the Pi community (which, you’ll have noticed, has a distinct crossover with the LEGO community) really needed was a  robot that could use optical character recognition (OCR) to digitise the text of a book, Google Books style. They got that up and running with a Pi and a camera module, using the text on a Kindle as proof of concept pretty quickly.

But if you’re that far along, why stop there? The Dexter team went on to add Lego features, until they ended up with a robot capable of wrangling real paper books, down to turning pages with one of those rubber wheels when the device has finished scanning the current text.

So there you have it: a Google Books project you can make at home, and a machine you can make to read the books to you when you’re done. If you want to read more about what Dexter Industries did, they’ve made a comprehensive writeup available at Makezine. Let us know how you get on if you decide to reduce your own library to bits.

3 new Asus budget tablets with Android 4.4 on the way

Liliputing -

Asus is working on at least three new Android tablets with low-end specs. Details about the unannounced 7, 8, and 10 inch tablets popped up recently at the Bluetooth and WiFi certification websites, painting a picture of several new affordable tablets which could be part of the company’s MeMo Pad lineup. Prices, pictures, and launch […]

3 new Asus budget tablets with Android 4.4 on the way is a post from: Liliputing

How Amazon Keeps Cutting AWS Prices: Cheapskate Culture

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes "Amazon Web Services has cut its prices on 40-plus consecutive occasions, at times leading the charge, at other times countering similar moves by Microsoft and Google. This article at CRN includes some interesting behind-the-scenes trivia about how Amazon keeps costs down, including some interesting speculation — for example, that perhaps the reason Amazon's Glacier storage is so cheap is that maybe it might be based at least partly on tape, not disk (Amazon would not comment). The article also explains that the company will only pay for its employees to fly Economy, and that includes its senior executives. If they feel the need to upgrade to Business or First Class, they must do so from their own pocket. And instead of buying hardware from an OEM vendor, AWS sources its own components – everything from processors to disk drives to memory and network cards — and uses contract manufacturing to put together its machines."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers

Slashdot -

judgecorp (778838) writes "Three weeks after Russia asserted that Crimea is part of its territory, the social networks have a problem: how to categories their users from the region? Facebook and the largest Russian social network Vkontakte still Say Crimeans are located in Ukraine, while other Russian social networks say they are Russians. Meanwhile, on Wikipedia, an edit war has resulted in Crimea being part of Russia, but shaded a different colour to signify the territory is disputed. Search engine Yandex is trying to cover both angles: its maps service gives a different answer, depending on which location you send your query from."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Hisense launches Sero 8 budget Android tablet

Liliputing -

Chinese tablet maker Hisense made a little splash by launching the Sero 7 line of low-cost tablets with Nexus 7-like specs in 2013. Now the company’s tackling the 8 inch tablet space with the Hisense Sero 8. The new tablet’s already available for pre-order in the UK for about £90, which is $150 US… although the […]

Hisense launches Sero 8 budget Android tablet is a post from: Liliputing

Humans Are Taking Jobs From Robots In Japan

Slashdot -

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Bloomberg reports that humans are taking the place of machines in plants across Japan so workers can develop new skills and figure out ways to improve production lines and the car-building process. "We need to become more solid and get back to basics, to sharpen our manual skills and further develop them," says Mitsuru Kawai, a half century-long company veteran tapped by President Akio Toyoda to promote craftsmanship at Toyota's plants. "When I was a novice, experienced masters used to be called gods (Kami-sama in Japanese), and they could make anything." According to Kawai, learning how to make car parts from scratch gives younger workers insights they otherwise wouldn't get from picking parts from bins and conveyor belts, or pressing buttons on machines. At about 100 manual-intensive workspaces introduced over the last three years across Toyota's factories in Japan, these lessons can then be applied to reprogram machines to cut down on waste and improve processes. In an area Kawai directly supervises at the forging division of Toyota's Honsha plant, workers twist, turn and hammer metal into crankshafts instead of using the typically automated process. Experiences there have led to innovations in reducing levels of scrap and shortening the production line and Kawai also credits manual labor for helping workers improve production of axle beams and cut the costs of making chassis parts. "We cannot simply depend on the machines that only repeat the same task over and over again," says Kawai. "To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine.""

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Guardian</em> and WaPo</em> Receive Pulitzers For Snowden Coverage

Slashdot -

Late Yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize board announced (PDF) the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners. The public service prize was awarded to the Guardian and the Washington Post. The Washington Post was given the award for its role in revealing widespread surveillance by the NSA, "...marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security," and the Guardian for sparking "...a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy." Snowden released a statement praising the Pulitzer board: "Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance. This decision reminds us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. "

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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