African-American Businesses, Windows Patches, Fake News, More: Tuesday Buzz, January 9, 2018


Mercury News: A glimpse into history: African-American directory from 1942 now available online. “A rare artifact of African-American history on the West Coast that belonged to the descendant of a former slave has been digitized and is now online in searchable form for browsing or downloading. The Official California Negro Directory and Classified Buyers Guide, a 1942-43 publication by New Age Publishing, contains residential and business listings for California, Oregon and Washington.”


BetaNews: Warning: Microsoft’s Meltdown and Spectre patch is bricking some AMD PCs. “As if the Meltdown and Spectre bug affecting millions of processors was not bad enough, the patches designed to mitigate the problems are introducing issues of their own. Perhaps the most well-known effect is a much-publicized performance hit, but some users are reporting that Microsoft’s emergency patch is bricking their computers.”


First Draft News: New guide helps journalists, researchers investigate misinformation, memes and trolling. “Recent scandals about the role of social media in key political events in the US, UK and other European countries over the past couple of years have underscored the need to understand the interactions between digital platforms, misleading information and propaganda, and their influence on collective life in democracies. In response to this, the Public Data Lab and First Draft collaborated last year to develop a free, open-access guide to help students, journalists and researchers investigate misleading and viral content, memes and trolling practices online. Released today, the five chapters of the guide describe a series of research protocols or ‘recipes’ that can be used to trace trolling practices, the ways false viral news and memes circulate online, and the commercial underpinnings of problematic content.”


Rochester Institute of Technology: RIT/NTID’s Deaf Studies Archive receives grant to digitize rare videos about ASL poetry and literature. “Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf will digitize and make publicly accessible more than 60 videotapes held in the RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive that document the ASL poetry and literature movement in Rochester from 1970 through 2011. The digitized videos will be one of the largest collections of online publicly accessible rare ASL literature in the country.”

New York Times: Scanning an Ancient Biblical Text That Humans Fear to Open. “In a basement laboratory of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, an X-ray scanner is pumping invisible beams into a clump of charred parchment leaves that looks as delicate as a long dead flower. The leaves are the remains of a severely scorched early book, or codex, which was written in southern Egypt some time between 400 and 600 A.D. It contains the Acts of the Apostles, one of the books of the New Testament, possibly bound with another work. The writing is Coptic, the language of Egypt before the Arab conquest in 642 A.D.”

Reuters: India sparks outcry over press freedom by naming reporter in probe on database breach. “The Indian government named a reporter in a police complaint after she wrote an article alleging a data breach in a federal identity database, drawing criticism from a journalist group that accused officials of trying to muzzle free speech.”

The Next Web: Uganda is making its own local Facebook and Twitter clones. “In an interesting statement towards the end of 2017, Godfrey Mutabazi, Executive Director at the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) said that they are working on launching their own versions of popular social media platforms like Twitter in 2018. One report quotes Mutabazi as saying that the UCC already has an investor who will assist with bringing the social media platforms to life.” I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of this.


CRN: Western Digital takes six months to patch easily exploitable NAS backdoor. “Western Digital has resolved a number of bugs that left its NAS drives vulnerable – six months after the vendor was notified about the issue. The vulnerabilities were found by security researcher James Bercegay, who discovered that the firmware for Western Digital’s My Cloud series of NAS drives contained a hardcoded backdoor administration account, which could not be changed and allowed for pre-authorised remote root code execution.”

Wired: Facebook Bug Could Have Let Advertisers Get Your Phone Number. “Facebook tells users that giving the company their mobile phone number will help keep their account secure. Until a few weeks ago, however, the social network’s self-service ad-targeting tools could be massaged into revealing a Facebook user’s cellphone number from their email address. The same flaw made it possible to collect phone numbers for Facebook users who had visited a particular webpage.”


Denver Post: The GOP is sabotaging the census — and ignoring the Constitution. “The Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves. Not because of cavalier threats about nuclear apocalypse and attempted erosion of First Amendment rights (OK, maybe those things, too). Because our federal government is failing to execute one of its most basic constitutional duties: the decennial census.”

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