The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Dictators, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)


Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)
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Monday, April 21, 2014

Internet shaping China for the better: Xinhua

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-04-21

People log on to the internet with smartphones at a store in Taiyuan,
Shanxi province. (Photo/CNS)

Twenty years after the world's most populous country gained access to the internet, China has been fundamentally and irreversibly changed, but not in the way some observers in the West had expected.

Instead of bringing collapse, the internet in China is becoming more commercially robust and innovative despite the unique Chinese way of management.

As the internet reshapes China, the country is also changing the online landscape through its rising internet firms, brand-new products and the world's largest web population of 618 million.

CHINA REMOLDED

On April 20, 1994, a pilot network to serve education and scientific research was linked to the internet via a special line in Beijing's Zhongguancun, now China's technology hub, marking the country's first fully functional internet access.

At the time, the only way for most Chinese to learn of South Africa's newly elected black president and the construction of China's massive Three Gorges hydraulic project was by reading the next day's state-run newspaper.

Recalling his first days online, Liu Ren, a Beijing-based journalist, said few Chinese were in cyberspace in the late 1990s.

"I would be overjoyed to receive an email, even if it was a spam mail at that time," said the reporter renowned for his keen observation of China's IT industry. "But today, the internet has been changing everyone's lives, sometimes even against their will."

Meanwhile, cab drivers are now consulting their children to learn how to use taxi apps for additional tips from potential customers.

"Never did I think that one day my work would have anything to do with the internet," said Lao Liu, a 54-year-old taxi driver in central China's Wuhan city. "The apps bring me an additional income of 50 yuan (US$8) every day."

Mobile Internet is changing the entrenched habits of Chinese people like Lao Liu, including how they read, buy things, and manage money.

Yu'ebao, a popular online wealth management product, has raised around 500 billion yuan (US$80.2 billion) in less than a year, helping boost the funds available for China's real economy, instead of raising financing costs.

In March, Beijing vowed to promote the healthy development of the burgeoning internet finance, giving products like Yu'ebao promising prospects.

The growing population of internet users has also made online opinions too important to be ignored by officials.

The transformative power of the internet has challenged top-down communication patterns in China by supporting multi-level and multi-directional flows of communication, changing the country's political landscape.

Several Chinese officials have been probed after online whistleblowers accused them of corruption, the latest being Song Lin, chairman of state corporation China Resources (Holdings).

The country's internet has become an accessible yet decentralized platform for the public to discuss public affairs and breaking events, said Wang Sixin, professor of law with the Communication University of China in Beijing.

INNOVATION

The rising prominence of China is one of the most important developments shaping the internet.

Behind the internet boom is Beijing's unique way of management. China has long been dedicated to developing the internet, but it has also underscored the rule of law to ensure internet security, which President Xi Jinping said is a concern for the country's security and development.

Xi became head of China's central internet security and informatization leading group in February, revealing the country's resolve to build itself into a strong cyber power.

This way of internet management, itself a Chinese innovation, has not stifled the creativity of the internet as some had predicted. Innovative products and services are significantly changing the landscape of the internet.

At least six of the world's 10 largest social networks in 2013 were developed by Chinese internet firms, according to a report from US business and technology news website Business Insider. China-based social networking apps such as WeChat and Sina Weibo have also achieved significant scale.

Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, debuted this month on the Nasdaq exchange with a 19.1% jump, bringing the company US$287 million.

The success of the microblogging service, which official figures say over 500 million are using, highlighted the innovation-driven development of China's internet companies.

Sina Weibo may have imitated Twitter at first, but it adapted and improved by constantly introducing new functions to maintain a high number of active users.

"More Chinese internet companies will be going abroad like Sina Weibo did," said Fang Xingdong, founder of Blogchina.com and an IT columnist. "The year of 2014 will mark the beginning of the global strategy of China's internet."

Last year, China's online retail market expanded to over 1.8 trillion yuan (US$288.8 billion), almost the size of Malaysia's GDP that year.

"We have built up the Chinese people's trust in online transactions," said Jack Ma, founder of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba.

China will become "more open, more transparent, more willing to share" in the next two decades because of the internet, he said.

Zappos is going holacratic: no job titles, no managers, no hierarchy

Quartz, Aimee Groth, December 30, 2013

In September, Zappos got a new home, now the company is about to
get an internal makeover. Aimee Groth

Zappos is known for its zany corporate culture. The company’s Q4 “All Hands” meeting in November was aptly-themed “Gone Wild”: one female employee voluntarily climbed into a case filled with tarantulas to win a $250 gift card. The event opened with a Lion King performance put on by employees at the Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas and closed with an after party at the museum next door. Focusing on company culture and customer service is how CEO Tony Hsieh built Zappos into a billion-dollar online retailer. While he’s not getting rid of those priorities, Hsieh is laying the groundwork for a major reorganization. 

During the 4-hour meeting, Hsieh talked about how Zappos’ traditional organizational structure is being replaced with Holacracy, a radical “self-governing” operating system where there are no job titles and no managers. The term Holacracy is derived from the Greek word holon, which means a whole that’s part of a greater whole. Instead of a top-down hierarchy, there’s a flatter “holarchy” that distributes power more evenly. The company will be made up of different circles—there will be around 400 circles at Zappos once the rollout is complete in December 2014—and employees can have any number of roles within those circles. This way, there’s no hiding under titles; radical transparency is the goal.

Hsieh told the crowd on that rainy November afternoon, “Darwin said that it’s not the fastest or strongest that survive. It’s the ones most adaptive to change.”

Last fall, while exploring ways to scale Zappos without letting bureaucracy set in, Hsieh met Brian Robertson, the founder of the management consultancy HolacracyOne.

“Zappos’ focus on core values and culture has done a remarkably good job of getting around the limits of a conventional corporate structure,” says Robertson, who created the company in 2007 after using Holacracy to run a software company that he founded. “Leaders that already understand the limits of conventional structures are the ones that are attracted to Holacracy.”

CEOs who sign on to Holacracy agree to cede some level of power. The advantage is that they get to view their company through an entirely different lens. But it’s an adjustment for both leaders and employees. Zappos, which has 1,500 employees, will be the largest company to date to implement Holacracy.

“We’re classically trained to think of ‘work’ in the traditional paradigm,” says John Bunch, who, along with Alexis Gonzales-Black, is leading the transition to Holacracy at Zappos. “One of the core principles is people taking personal accountability for their work. It’s not leaderless. There are certainly people who hold a bigger scope of purpose for the organization than others. What it does do is distribute leadership into each role. Everybody is expected to lead and be an entrepreneur in their own roles, and Holacracy empowers them to do so.”

In its highest-functioning form, he says, the system is “politics-free, quickly evolving to define and operate the purpose of the organization, responding to market and real-world conditions in real time. It’s creating a structure in which people have flexibility to pursue what they’re passionate about.”

Twitter Co-Founder Ev Williams is one of the system’s early adopters; he uses Holacracy to run his publishing platform Medium, which has around 50 employees. Jason Stirman, whose roles include head of people operations and product designer at Medium, says that one of the best things about Holacracy is that it facilitates autonomy. “Ev isn’t the CEO of Medium to have another title for his Twitter bio. He wants the company to operate at the highest level possible, and he recognizes that all the power consolidated at top is great for people who are hungry but it can be a total bottleneck. There are decisions he wants to make and the rest can be absorbed in other areas of the organization.”

Still, Holacracy can feel unnatural, especially at first. Meetings are designed to rapidly process tensions. The focus is on the work, not the people. “It’s not a very human-centric model for things,” says Stirman. “For example, if you’re a junior designer, Holacracy says that you should bring up everything in this forum, but it can be difficult to ask for feedback or mentorship, especially when you’re new.”

Robertson says that Holacracy is meant to address structural issues, and that leaders will respond to the human element in different ways. Medium has created mentorship circles, and Zappos has similar plans. Williams and Hsieh both “have a high capacity to see the complex systems at play in their organizations,” says Robertson. “It’s not linear or a matter of just following the logical argument; it’s seeing the cloud of interconnections and influences, beyond just cause and effect thinking.”

At the Zappos “All Hands” meeting Hsieh said that at most companies, “there’s the org chart on paper, and then the one that is exactly how the company operates for real, and then there’s the org chart that it would like to have in order to operate more efficiently. … [With Holacracy] the idea is to process tensions so that the three org charts are pretty close together.”

Hsieh’s plans for Zappos are part of an even more ambitious undertaking. He’s currently investing $350 million of his own fortune to transform downtown Las Vegas, where  Zappos’ is now headquartered, into an improved holarchical system. For Hsieh, work, play and everything else are already a series of overlapping circles.


Software developer Valve Corp in Bellevue, WA, has
300 employees and not one manager or boss. (Value Corp)

Related Articles:



"The New Paradigm of Reality" Part I/II – Feb 12, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Asus Eyeing Mass Market in Indonesia for Its Smartphones

Jakarta Globe, Muhamad Al Azhari, Apr 18, 2014

ASUSTeK Computer chairman Jonney Shih holds a ZenFone smartphone
to reporters in Jakarta on April 16, 2014 .(GA Photo/Suhadi)

Jakarta. Taipei-based ASUSTeK Computer, one of the biggest producers of notebooks and motherboards, has released its Intel-based ZenFone smartphones to Indonesia, betting that consumers will seek alternatives to popular brands such as Samsung and Sony.

“We are pleased to bring this device into Southeast Asia. We believe the best technology is the one used by the masses. When we began our journey ‘in search of incredible’ [products] we came up with this handset with the hopes it can be enjoyed by many,” company chairman Jonney Shih said in a press gathering on Tuesday.

Shih was accompanied by Asus chief executive Jerry Shen as he explained the company’s plan to focus more on smartphones over laptops and desktops starting this year. Shih said the Indonesian market is full of potential for products aimed at targeting the mass market segment.

“Indonesia is a great market. The population is huge. Our products have performed quite well,” said Shih, who is often dubbed as one of the most influential people in technology.

ZenFone, powered by the Intel Atom processor, comes in three series for Indonesian consumers: the 10-centimeter, ZenFone 4 tagged at Rp 1 million ($87); the 12.7-centimeter ZenFone 5 for Rp 2 million; and the 15-centimeter ZenFone 6 for Rp 3 million.

The company, commonly referred to its computer brand Asus, experienced a financial downturn in its third-quarter 2013 financial results when profit dropped 26 percent to NT$4.94 billion ($164 million) from the year before.

Meanwhile, revenue declined by 4 percent to NT$107.1 billion. The profit slump was mainly attributed to taxes, of which Asus was required to pay NT$1.52 billion.

Despite its staggering tax bill the company, which was also responsible for the hardware behind Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, is keen to roll out a line of smartphone products into markets worldwide and boost its smartphone shipments.

Based on third-quarter financial results, notebooks and laptops represented 57 percent of Asus’s product portfolio, with tablets making up 20 percent, while 13 percent was made up by motherboards and cards (including video and sound cards).

“We introduced the Eee PC for the mainstream US market, which was a success. We aim to achieve the same for ZenFone,” Shih said.
Shih was the executive behind the Eee PC’s positive reception. Asus was the first PC maker to bring the lightweight netbook, the Eee PC, into the United States in 2007.

Asia-Pacific region made up 43 percent of Asus’s business, with 30 percent in Europe and 20 percent in the United States.

According to data from the International Data Corporation, a total of 11 million smartphones were shipped to Indonesia last year, a bulk of which used the Android operating system. In its latest venture into the smartphone sector, Asus will face a slew of Android-based competitors, including Samsung, Sony and Lenovo.

Related Article:


Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Yahoo - AFP, 19 April 2014

An Indian Sikh devotee takes a photograph on her mobile phone in the front
 of the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar
on the April 18,2014

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped smartphone market.

Inflexionpoint, an information technology supply company co-founded by Sculley, will start selling the smartphones next month in India under the new Obi Mobiles brand, the Singapore-based firm said in a statement emailed to AFP Saturday.

"The smartphone share in India is only 20 percent, leaving the larger part of the ground with opportunities yet to be tapped," said Sculley, 75.

John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple, 
attends the Allen & Company Media
 and Technology Conference on July 9,
2011 in Sun Valley, Idaho
Sculley, who served as chief executive of Apple from 1983 to 1993, famously clashed with technical visionary Steve Jobs over strategy, leading to the Apple co-founder's exit from the company.

Jobs, who returned to head up Apple in 1997 and turned out a string of blockbuster products, died in 2011 after battling cancer.

Inflexionpoint plans to invest $20 million this year to set up a supply chain, design centre and offices in India, producing "affordable smartphones with superior technology", Sculley said in the statement.

Smartphone shipments in India tripled from 16.2 million in 2012 to 44 million in 2013, International Data Corporation says, and analysts expect similar growth this year.

Sculley said he hopes Obi's phones will lure premium phone buyers away from players like Samsung and Apple. Samsung dominates India's smartphone market by sales, followed by Sony and Apple.

"We feel there is an opportunity to build another brand in India that would combine global branding skills... (and) go into price points that are more like the local brands -- in the 5,000 to 8,000 rupee ($83 to $133) range," he said.

Obi's devices will be sourced from China and after setting up in India, the company aims to expand to other growing markets in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Latin American regions.

Sculley said that his old company, Apple, now has a dilemma over whether to lower the prices of its products.

"Either they miss the (emerging) market where 70 percent of the industry is, or risk the falling of their stock price dramatically if they go after the market," he told the Economic Times newspaper in an article on its website Saturday.

"But one company's dilemma is another company's opportunity," Sculley said.

Related Article:


Friday, April 18, 2014

Honda's new ASIMO robot, more human-like than ever

Yahoo – AFP, 17 April 2014

Honda North America makes their North American debut of their new Asimo
 Robot as it demonstrates its ability to pour a liquid at a news conference on
April 16, 2014 in New York (AFP Photo/Don Emmert)

Honda North America makes their North American debut of their new Asimo Robot as it demonstrates its ability to pour a liquid at a news conference on April 16, 2014 in New York

New York (AFP) - It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot.

"Hello New York! Thank you for coming today!" the little guy chirped in English, the recorded voice of a teenaged boy, at his US debut Wednesday in a Manhattan hotel.

Resembling a tiny astronaut, ASIMO -- decked out in a white suit and helmet -- stands 4 feet three inches (1.3 meters) tall and weighs in at 110 lbs (50 kg).

ASIMO -- short for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility -- was designed to help people, potentially in cases of reduced mobility. The first model was unveiled in 2000 after 14 years of research during which scientists studied human movements in an effort to replicate them.

The latest demonstration highlighted the robot's increased flexibility and balance -- ASIMO can now jump -- as well as sign language abilities. It can now also run at a speed of 5.6 miles per hour (9 km/h).

Researchers think that one day it could help the elderly -- say by getting a snack or turning the lights off -- when their ability to get around is reduced.

"ASIMO was designed to help those in society who need assistance, and Honda believes that these improvements in ASIMO bring us another step closer to our ultimate goal of being able to help all kinds of people in need," said Satoshi Shigemi, senior chief engineer at Honda R&D Co., Ltd. Japan responsible for humanoid robotics.

"We need to understand what people expect from ASIMO and what people want ASIMO to do."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sanctions-hit Iran triumphs in football's RoboCup

Yahoo – AFP, Cyril Julien, 16 April 2014

A robot of Iran's Parand Azad University prepares to kick the ball during
 a match against 'Mechatronics Research Laboratory; from Iran's Azad 
University of Qazvin, during the RoboCup Iran Open 2014, in Tehran, 
on April 10 (AFP Photo/Behrouz Mehri)

A robot of Iran's Parand Azad University prepares to kick the ball during a match against 'Mechatronics Research Laboratory; from Iran's Azad University of Qazvin, during the RoboCup Iran Open 2014, in Tehran, on April 10

Tehran (AFP) - Iran may be lumbered with economic sanctions but that did not stop a local team of robotics experts from sweeping aside German and Dutch rivals in football's RoboCup.

In an event that could be considered just a fun distraction if it weren't for all the hard work involved, the annual tournament drew an international field of competitors last weekend.

Bahareh Forough of 'Mechatronics Research
 Laboratory' from Iran's Azad University of 
Qazvin adjusts a goalkeeper robot during
 the RoboCup Iran Open 2014, in Tehran, 
on April 10 (AFP Photo/Behrouz Mehri)
On a green felt carpet, five teams -- three German, one Dutch and the other Iranian -- contested RoboCup's 9th edition in Tehran, with the robots trying to prod a red ball into the back of their opponent's net over two 10-minute halves.

Standing just 60 centimetres (24 inches) tall, the key factor in the match -- unlike in everyday electronic games -- the robots are pre-programmed by their human masters ahead of kick-off.

"The robots are completely autonomous -- we don't have any control on the game and they make their own decisions," said Novin Sharhoudi, 20, a student of software and computer engineering at Qasvin Azad University, northwest of Tehran.

And unlike professional sport in which money can buy the best players, the RoboCup teams used identical machines designed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French company that also provided raw technical data for the programmers.

"We process the data to improve locomotion, perception of the infrastructure and behaviour," said Sharhoudi, referring to how and when the robots move, kick the ball and interact with team mates across a playing surface six metres (yards) long and three metres wide.

Without upgrades, components

Each robot is equipped with two cameras -- one on its head and the other on its chin -- to see the ball and communicate with team mates via wireless networking.

Local MRL (Mechatronics Research Laboratories) team came out on top, even though all aspects of life in Iran are clouded by international sanctions imposed as punishment for its disputed nuclear programme.

"We don't get all the upgrades, we can't buy robots or some components and the company was not in Tehran during the event so we can't repair the robots," said Sharhoudi.

And just as in the beautiful game itself, no plan survives the opening whistle.

Jonas Mende of team HTWK from Leipzig, Germany saw his robots bump into each other and their opponents, fall over and require "time out" on the sidelines before returning to action.

Robots from German Nao-Team HTWK of the Leipzig University of Applied
 Sciences take part in a football game against 'Dutch Nao Team' from the Van
 Amsterdam University, during the RoboCup Iran Open 2014, in Tehran, on
April 10 (AFP Photo/Behrouz Mehri)

Mende was impressed by the improvements achieved by the MRL team.

"Iranians have made good progress since last year. We are now on the same level and they are our main opponents," he said.

The MRL team's victory came after a third place finish behind world champions Bremen and Leipzig at a recent tournament in Germany.

But for professionals taking part in RoboCup, the aim is to advance their research and to improve design and movement in new software programmes.

"They develop lots of skills that can be used in other areas," said Patrick de Kok of the NAO Dutch team who took part in Tehran.

"Finding a ball is not only for soccer but can help find a specific target during rescue operations," he added, referring to searches in contaminated and dangerous places.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Google buys drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace

Deutsche Welle, 15 April 2014

Google has purchased the company Titan Aerospace, a manufacturer of solar-powered drones. The Silicon Valley tech giant wants to harness drones to bring Internet access to people living in remote locations.


Google announced on Monday that it had acquired Titan Aerospace, placing it in competition with Facebook to expand global Internet access using drone technology.

Google did not say how much the acquisition cost.

Titan Aerospace, based in the US state of New Mexico, is developing solar-powered drones that can run for five years at an altitude of 19,812 meters (65,000 feet). The drones look like gliders and have a wingspan of 50 meters (164 feet). The technology is expected to be ready for commercial operations by 2015.

"It's still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring Internet access to millions of people and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation," a Google spokesman said in a press release.

Facebook was also reportedly interested in acquiring Titan, but opted instead to buy Ascenta, a British company that specializes in solar-powered drones. The acquisition cost $20 million (14 million euros).

Google is also developing Project Loon, which aims to transmit the Internet to remote locations via large, high-altitude balloons. Titan Aerospace will also work on Project Loon, according to Google.

slk/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)
Related Article:


Guardian and Washington Post win Pulitzer prize for NSA revelations

Pair awarded highest accolade in US journalism, winning Pulitzer prize for public service for stories on NSA surveillance 

theguardian.com, Ed Pilkington in New York, Monday 14 April 2014

The Guardian revealed the NSA's bulk collection of phone records 10 months
ago based on Edward Snowden's leaks. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the highest accolade in US journalism, winning the Pulitzer prize for public service for their groundbreaking articles on the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities based on the leaks of Edward Snowden.

The award, announced in New York on Monday, comes 10 months after the Guardian published the first report based on the leaks from Snowden, revealing the agency’s bulk collection of US citizens’ phone records.

In the series of articles that ensued, teams of journalists at the Guardian and the Washington Post published the most substantial disclosures of US government secrets since the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war in 1971.

The Pulitzer committee praised the Guardian for its "revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy".

Snowden, in a statement, said: "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 recognises was work of vital public importance."

He said that his actions in leaking the documents that formed the basis of the reporting "would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers".

At the Guardian, the reporting was led by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and film-maker Laura Poitras, and at the Washington Post by Barton Gellman, who also co-operated with Poitras. All four journalists were honoured with a George Polk journalism award last week for their work on the NSA story.

Investigative reporter Laura Poitras accepts the George Polk Award alongside
 Barton Gellman, far left, and Ewen MacAskill. Photograph: Andrew Burton/
Getty Images

The NSA revelations have reverberated around the world and sparked a debate in the US over the balance between national security and personal privacy. On the back of the disclosures, President Obama ordered a White House review into data surveillance, a number of congressional reform bills have been introduced, and protections have begun to be put in place to safeguard privacy for foreign leaders and to increase scrutiny over the NSA’s mass data collection.

"We are truly honoured that our journalism has been recognised with the Pulitzer Prize," said Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian. "This was a complex story, written, edited and produced by a team of wonderful journalists. We are particularly grateful for our colleagues across the world who supported the Guardian in circumstances which threatened to stifle our reporting. And we share this honour, not only with our colleagues at the Washington Post, but also with Edward Snowden, who risked so much in the cause of the public service which has today been acknowledged by the award of this prestigious prize."

Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of Guardian US, said: "We're extremely proud and gratified to have been honoured by the Pulitzer board. It's been an intense, exhaustive and sometimes chilling year working on this story and we're grateful for the acknowledgement by our peers that the revelations made by Edward Snowden and the work by the journalists involved represent a high achievement in public service."

Among the disclosures were:


• the program codenamed Prism used by the NSA and its UK counterpart GCHQ to gain back-door entry into the data of nine giant internet companies including Google and Facebook

• the cracking of internet encryption by the NSA and GCHQ that undermined personal security for web users ;


The coverage of the Snowden leaks presented a particularly thorny issue for the 19-strong panel of journalists, academics and writers who recommend the winners. The stream of disclosures invoked strong and polarised reactions in the US and around the world.

In January, Obama said that the debate on the acceptable limits of government surveillance prompted by the articles “will make us stronger”. But other prominent US politicians such as Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, have suggested journalism based on Snowden’s leaks was tantamount to dealing in stolen property.

Snowden has been charged with three offences in the US. He is the eighth person to be charged with breaking the 1917 Espionage Act by the Obama administration – more than all the prosecutions brought under previous presidents combined.

The Guardian's US operation, headquartered in New York, was incorporated as an American company in 2011 and recognised last year by the Pulitzer board as a US news outlet eligible to be considered for its prizes.

Last month editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger was given a special award at the European press awards; earlier this month the Guardian was named newspaper of the year in the UK; and there it has been awarded other prizes for online and investigative journalism in Germany, Spain and the US.

The Snowden stories were edited from New York by Guardian US editor-in-chief Janine Gibson and deputy editor Stuart Millar. The UK end of the reporting was led by deputy editor Paul Johnson and investigations editor Nick Hopkins.

Others on the team of journalists included Spencer Ackerman, James Ball, David Blishen, Gabriel Dance, Julian Borger, Nick Davies, David Leigh and Dominic Rushe. In Australia the editor was Katharine Viner and the reporter Lenore Taylor.

The Pulitzers have been bestowed since 1917, at the bequest of the legendary newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer who established the honour in his will as a means of encouraging publicly-spirited journalism. The awards have shifted and grown over the years to reflect the modern publishing landscape and today stands at 22 categories, including 14 journalism awards and seven gongs for books, drama and music. All the awards are administered by Columbia University.

A German Company Is Printing Food For The Elderly

Techcrunch, John Biggs, Apr 9, 2014

A German company, Biozoon, is working on a 3D-printed food extruder that creates food that literally melts in your mouth, allowing elderly patients with dysphagia – the inability to swallow – to eat without choking.

Biozoon uses molecular gastronomy to create food that can be “printed” using a standard extruder-based printer. The food solidifies and is completely edible but when it’s eaten it quickly dissolves in the mouth. Over 60% of older patients have problems swallowing. This could save lives by ensuring they don’t aspirate food crumbs into their lungs.

The product itself can be molded and extruded in different ways and you can add colorants and texturizers to make things look and taste almost like the real thing.


According to the website:
The powder mixtures of seneoPro series enable universal implementation so that both family caregivers and professional cooks and nurses can easily make the new diets. Appetizers, main dishes, desserts and snacks can now custom fit, balanced and also be made ​​visually appealing above all things. A food with all your senses, pleasure and enjoyment is possible again, a structured daily functioning can be restored.
The product, called seneoPro, will be available for use in 3D printers this year. It is true “customized” food and it’s a fascinating use of the technology.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Health regulator failed to secure IT system, ignored whistleblower

DutchNews.nl, Thursday 10 April 2014

(NOS/ANP)
Confidential medical files and sensitive information about health insurance companies and care providers is not being properly secured by the Dutch health authority NZa, according to a whistleblower.

Arthur Gotlieb compiled a 600-page report listing problems with the organisation's internet security. But when he reported issues to his superiors, they tried to force him out, the NRC, which has the report, says on Thursday.

Gotlieb committed suicide in January at the age of 50, shortly after submitting his report to NZa bosses.

Leaks

In his document, Gotlieb warns about numerous leaks and problems with the NZa's IT security. The NZa is the government's health service regulator.

The NZa did not raise the issues contained in the report with health minister Edith Schippers until Tuesday this week, four days after being questioned directly by NRC reporters.

Schippers has now set up an independent inquiry into potential security breaches.

Gotlieb's report makes it clear the NZa was involved in 'structural and major' security breaches, the paper says. The organisation's entire personnel, including temporary staff, had access to highly sensitive information, the digital post system and online diaries.

Confidential information

Among the information Gotlieb was able to retrieve were copies of bank cards with pincodes, complete patient files, 150 recordings of meetings, files about medical disputes, 10,000 photographs, over 800 powerpoint presentations and 14,000 legal documents.

The NZa's internal network also included illegally downloaded films and music plus e-books that were not rights free.

The organisation says it has now taken steps to improve security. 'Things have not been done well and cannot be excused,' said IT chief Eitel Homan in the NRC. 'I deeply regret this.'
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