Paper Airplanes, Illuminated Manuscripts, Supply Chain Security, More: Monday Buzz, October 22, 2018


Adafruit pointed me toward a database of paper airplane designs. It looks like there are about 40 designs, from easy to expert. Each one I looked at had extensive folding instructions with pictures, a link to a YouTube video, and downloadable instructions. Now I want to fold airplanes.

McGill Reporter: Gems from the McGill collection of illuminated manuscripts come to light. “It was said that looking at illuminated manuscripts was like gazing upon heaven itself. Though largely forgotten today, connoisseurs consider them unique, high-quality works of art. The brightly-coloured pages of McGill and Quebec’s oldest written artefacts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, are now available for all to see on a new web site entitled Horae: Collection of Books of Hours, and in an exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), entitled Resplendent Illuminations: Books of Hours from the 13th to the 16th Century in Quebec Collections.”


Techdirt: Apple Demands Retraction Of Bloomberg’s Big ‘Chip Infiltration’ Story; Bloomberg Has Some Explaining To Do. “A few weeks ago, Bloomberg published a giant story claiming that Chinese spies did a somewhat daring supply chain hack on American big tech firms. The gist of the story was that servers from Super Micro had hidden chips that somehow were then used by Apple and Amazon (not to mention the US government), that allowed someone in China to access certain data. The story was a blockbuster that got everyone talking. But, almost as soon as it came out, a bunch of people started raising questions about the story. While the Bloomberg reporters claimed over a dozen sources, both Apple and Amazon came out with incredibly strong denials. Way stronger than is common in these situations.” When the story first came out several people sent it to me but I did not put it here, because it smelled funny. It still smells funny. I don’t know if it’s right, wrong, or just incomplete, but this Techdirt article looks at the problems with the Bloomberg story — and for once the comments are well worth reading.

BetaNews: Ubuntu Linux 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish is finally available for download!. “There has never been a better time to be a Linux enthusiast. There are so many great distributions from which to choose, including elementary OS 5 Juno, Linux Mint 19, and Bodhi 5.0.0. What do those aforementioned operating systems have in common? They are based on Ubuntu. To take things a step further, Canonical’s operating system is based on Debian, but I digress.”


Lifehacker: How to Use Your iPhone’s Flash for Text Notifications. “If you find yourself constantly missing text messages, you can set things up so that your phone’s flash blinks whenever one comes in. It’s a feature that’s been available on iPhones for a while now, but one that Travel and Leisure highlighted earlier this week.”


The Verge: A new kind of dark money on Facebook is influencing elections. “Of all the steps Facebook has taken in the wake of the 2016 election to improve trust in the platform, the political ads archive has been among the most effective. It allows anyone to see what ads are running, how much money is being spent on them, and who is being targeted by them. It also requires anyone who wants to buy political ads to register with a government ID, using a code mailed to their address. Collectively, the ads tell a story about how people are using Facebook to influence behavior, while taking steps to ensure advertisers are who they say they are. Facebook has said that it plans to improve the archive over time. And in the weeks before the US election, some significant flaws have appeared.”

CNET: Twitter employee may have spied on users for Saudis, says report. “Western intelligence officials notified Twitter that an employee had been co-opted by Saudi Arabia several years ago to spy on the accounts of users critical of the government, The New York Times reported on Saturday. Officials alerted Twitter to the alleged Saudi mole in late 2015, prompting the company to investigate, according to the Times report, which cited anonymous sources.”

TechCrunch: New ‘Dark Ads’ pro-Brexit Facebook campaign may have reached over 10M people, say researchers . “A major new campaign of disinformation around Brexit, designed to stir up U.K. ‘Leave’ voters, and distributed via Facebook, may have reached over 10 million people in the U.K., according to new research. The source of the campaign is so far unknown, and will be embarrassing to Facebook, which only this week claimed it was clamping down on ‘dark’ political advertising on its platform.”


Ars Technica: Hack on 8 adult websites exposes oodles of intimate user data. “A recent hack of eight poorly secured adult websites has exposed megabytes of personal data that could be damaging to the people who shared pictures and other highly intimate information on the online message boards. Included in the leaked file are (1) IP addresses that connected to the sites, (2) user passwords protected by a four-decade-old cryptographic scheme, (3) names, and (4) 1.2 million unique email addresses, although it’s not clear how many of the addresses legitimately belonged to actual users.”

Engadget: Amazon fixes security flaws allowing smart home hijacks. “Some smart home device owners may have dodged a bullet. Amazon recently patched 13 security flaws in an operating system for the Internet of Things, FreeRTOS, as well as Amazon Web Services connection modules. The holes let intruders crash devices, leak the contents of their memory and remotely run code, effectively giving attackers full control. The flaws might have been far-reaching if they’d gone unfixed — both FreeRTOS and its safety-oriented counterpart SafeRTOS are used in a wide range of devices inside and outside the home, including cars, aircraft and medical gear.”


New York Times: The World of A.I.. “Judging by the breathless coverage, it can seem as if the only countries developing A.I. are the United States and China. But while companies in those two countries are leading the way in cutting-edge research and products, it’s still early for the industry and other nations are working hard to become major A.I. players. Here are six that could challenge the two juggernauts.”

The Guardian: Almost 50% of the world is online. What about the other 50%?. “There are two kinds of people in the world: those with internet access and those without. But the decades-long drive to convert the latter into the former is beginning to falter, the Guardian reveals today, prompting hard questions about whether connecting the world is even possible.” Good morning, Internet…

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