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Short Topix: Julian Assange To Remain Jailed Pending Extradition To U.S.

by Paul Arnote (parnote)

Over 400 Million Facebook Users' Phone Numbers Exposed

According to a TechCrunch article, over 419 million phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts were found on an unsecured, exposed server. This included 133 million U.S. Facebook users, 18 million U.K. Facebook users, and another 50 million Facebook users from Vietnam. The server wasn't even password protected, allowing basically anyone unfettered access to the data.

The exposed records linked a user's unique Facebook ID number to their phone number. In some of the records, the data included the the user's name, gender and country of residence. Ironically, user phone numbers have not been publicly available for the past year since Facebook restricted access to them. And yet here they sit, unprotected on an exposed server. The database has since been taken offline.

Facebook has maintained that the data exposed was "old data," scraped at a time from before Facebook restricted access to user phone numbers and may have been placed on the server by others looking to store it for later retrieval. Still, many persons' phone information does not change all that often.

Sanyam Jain, a security researcher and member of the GDI Foundation, discovered the database. He contacted TechCrunch after he was unable to find its owner. In his examination of the database, he was even able to find profiles -- with their associated phone numbers -- of several celebrities.

Just in case you ever needed yet another reason to NOT have a Facebook account ... here it is.

Library of Congress: Nearly 12,000 Public Domain Photos of Roadside Americana

The U.S. Library of Congress has released nearly 12,000 images from John Margolies into the public domain. The library purchased the rights of the photos from the architectural critic and photographer, who spent forty years documenting his travels along U.S. highways. The photographs include billboards, drive-in theaters, banks, city halls, movie theaters, diners, novelty buildings, miniature golf courses and other roadside attractions.

Most (if not all) of the images are released as either JPG or TIFF file copies of image transparencies. The original transparencies have subsequently been placed into controlled-climate storage to help insure preservation. Each image is offered in a high and low resolution JPG, and a high and low resolution TIFF file.

Many unique buildings, structures and attractions still exist along the roads and highways of America. These buildings, like the one pictured above of the old Teepee Junction gas station in Lawrence, Kansas at the junction of U.S. Highway 40 and U.S. Highway 59, have a lot of character.

What's even better is that the images were released into the public domain, so you can use the images as you see fit, even for commercial applications.

Julian Assange To Remain Jailed Pending Extradition To U.S.

Julian Assange's 50 week jail sentence for jumping bail by hiding out in the Ecuadorian Embassy for seven years was scheduled to end September 22, 2019. However, U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed an order this past June allowing Assange's extradition to the U.S. over hacking allegations.

The 48 year old Australian appeared before the court via a video link, wearing a loose fitting t-shirt. During the proceedings, district judge Vanessa Baraitser told Assange:

"You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end. When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.

"Therefore I have given your lawyer an opportunity to make an application for bail on your behalf and she has declined to do so, perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings.

"In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again."

When Assange was asked if he understood what was happening, he replied "Not really. I'm sure the lawyers will explain it."

An administrative hearing on the case is expected on October 11, and a case management hearing on October 21. The final extradition case isn't expected to happen until February, 2020.

Windows 11 Running Linux Kernel?

Say what? Microsoft Windows 11 running a Linux kernel? What'chu smokin'? Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote such a speculative article for ComputerWorld.

And actually, it makes perfect sense. Look at the unmitigated disaster that the Windows 10 updates have been. Week after week after week, we hear about how the Windows 10 updates have wrecked users computers or have otherwise gone seriously awry. Most (if not all) Linux users are Windows refugees, usually fleeing from the lack of desktop choice under Windows, the never-ending assault of virii and virus scanners, the endless battle with malware, etc., etc., etc. The list is nearly as long as the number of Linux users.

Replacing the NT kernel, which is basically rotten, with the Linux kernel is certainly doable. Vaughan-Nichols makes the argument that using the Linux kernel that is passionately and enthusiastically upkept by an army of programmers from around the world makes perfect sense. He goes on to argue that many Windows users won't even have to be aware that Windows is running on a Linux kernel, as Windows can still be made to look like Windows. But the insides, the very core, will get an upgrade in stability and security.

Sure, it sounds crazy. But who could have predicted that Microsoft would go from wanting to bury Linux and calling it a cancer under Steve Ballmer, to expressing love for Linux under Satya Nadella? Who could have predicted that Microsoft would open its extensive patent library to Linux and the FOSS community -- for free?

Vaughan-Nichols goes on to point out that Microsoft could release its own version of Linux today, if it chose to. There's nothing to stop them. But Microsoft developers have been busy laying the groundwork with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), mapping Linux API calls to Windows, and vice versa.

It would be perfectly understandable that Linux users might want to approach this topic cautiously. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that Ballmer and friends were looking to torch, hang, stab, shoot, and otherwise kill and bury Linux. According to Ballmer, Linux and FOSS were a "cancer." Many Linux users view Microsoft in that context. They are wary to invite the wolf into the lamb's enclosure.

Microsoft Wants You To Learn Python ... For FREE!

The PCLinuxOS Magazine has been running an article series by critter (Pete Kelly) for much of the past year to teach you the basics of Python programming. Now, Microsoft is also wanting to teach you Python programming. They have launched a 44 part series on YouTube, called Python for Beginners. Each "episode" lasts for three or four minutes, hosted by two self-described Microsoft geeks who love programming and teaching.

While the course focuses on Python 3.x, users of Python 2.x should also find value. Microsoft has also published additional resources for the course on GitHub, including slides and code samples. The Microsoft course focuses on AI machine learning.

Some of the latest polls have placed Python programmers among those most in demand in the IT world. Recently, the Python programming language was rated the most popular, followed by C++, Java, then C.

So, if you're looking for something to supplement critter's excellent and informative tutorial articles, this video series may just be what you are looking for.

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