FDA, EFF, SFPD, More: Saturday Buzz, August 8th, 2015


The FDA has launched a new search tool for its guidance documents. “Guidance documents represent FDA’s current thinking on a particular subject. Currently, there are about 3,100 of them – and the list is growing. FDA’s Web & Digital Media team and the Office of Information Management and Technology have created a dynamic search list on one site so you can go to just one page and find the guidance documents you need, no matter where they are on This search tool is powerful and easy to use. Now you can go to just one search box to find what you need in moments, instead of the 10 different pages on FDA’s website where guidance documents are posted.”

The EFF has officially released its Privacy Badger extension. “Privacy Badger 1.0 works in tandem with the new Do Not Track (DNT) policy, announced earlier this week by EFF and a coalition of Internet companies. Users can set the DNT flag—in their browser settings or by installing Privacy Badger—to signal that they want to opt-out of online tracking. Privacy Badger won’t block third-party services that promise to honor all DNT requests.”


LibreOffice 5.0 has been released. “LibreOffice 5.0 sports a significantly improved user interface, with a better management of the screen space and a cleaner look. In addition, it offers better interoperability with office suites such as Microsoft Office and Apple iWork, thanks to new and improved filters to handle non standard formats. Other improvements have been added to every module of the suite, and Windows 64bit builds (Vista and later) have been added.”


Nostalgia from Gizmodo: How Lycos Almost Won the Search Engine Wars. It’s a book excerpt, and the take-home is that text ads ate the lunch of the banner ads. Thing is, if you had two eyes, were actually trying to use the Internet, and saw how horribly greedy search engines became about stuffing banner ads everywhere (AltaVista was the absolute worst) this became self evident. I wrote an article about it in 2002.

Instagram is getting important to the art market. “Anyone in the art market who was not already paying attention to the social media platform Instagram had to sit up and take notice in late April after the actor Pierce Brosnan visited the showroom of Phillips auction house in London. Mr. Brosnan snapped a selfie in front of a work he admired: the ‘Lockheed Lounge’ a space-age aluminum chaise longue by the industrial designer Marc Newson. Then he added the words ‘let the bidding commence,’ and posted it to the 164,000 followers of his Instagram feed. And commence it did. Later that week, Phillips broke the world auction record for a design object, selling ‘Lockheed Lounge’ for £2.4 million, or about $3.7 million.”

Facebook is apparently working on a virtual assistant. “Known internally as ‘Moneypenny,’ after the assistant to James Bond’s boss, the virtual helper would work inside the company’s Messenger app and connect users to real people who could help them order products, or book services.”

Bloomberg takes a deepish look at Reddit. If you were ever wondering about how the company has evolved in the last ten years, this is a great primer. ”

Speaking of Reddit, it will now “quarantine” offensive content. “The policy update introduces a new concept, ‘quarantining,’ that will make some offensive content viewable only to those who explicitly opt in. In an AMA with Reddit users last month, Huffman defined this type of content as ‘you know it when you see it. [It] violates a common sense of decency.'”

Microsoft has increased payouts on its bug bounty program. “Let’s say an exploit has been discovered in the wild, and Microsoft has mitigated (or patched) that exploit. If you can get around that mitigation, you have a submission for the company’s Mitigation Bypass program, which could net you up to $100,000. Ideas for defending against further hacking efforts are eligible for the Bounty for Defense program, which has its own $100,000 maximum payout. Submissions that offer both a mitigation bypass and a defensive idea would receive both bounties. These bounties are only good for attacks on the latest version of Windows, so those of you interested in submitting your brilliant ideas need to cover Windows 10.”


A nasty Firefox exploit has been found. Update! “Yesterday morning, August 5, a Firefox user informed us that an advertisement on a news site in Russia was serving a Firefox exploit that searched for sensitive files and uploaded them to a server that appears to be in Ukraine. This morning Mozilla released security updates that fix the vulnerability. All Firefox users are urged to update to Firefox 39.0.3. The fix has also been shipped in Firefox ESR 38.1.1.”

The San Francisco Police Department has an Instagram officer. And it’s apparently useful. “The Instagram photos showed the minor, who was already on probation and prohibited from possessing any type of firearm, with a gun tucked into the waistband of his pants. Based on the Instagram photographs that showed the two suspects brandishing firearms, the officers decided to perform a probation search, where the suspects were detained — still wearing the same clothes they had been wearing in the Instagram photographs that Ochoa had seen earlier that evening.”

Samsung and Google will release Android security patches every month. “Alongside the new frequent security updates, Google has finally released a patch for Stagefright for its own Nexus line of phones, which it sells directly to customers. The company argues that the majority of users weren’t at risk, however, with application sandboxing limiting the amount of damage an attacker could do.” Good morning, Internet…

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