President Obama Nominates New Librarian of Congress Who Supports Open Access

Dr. Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and a former president of the American Library Association, is President Obama’s nominee for Librarian of Congress. What a contrast to long-time LoC Librarian James Billington, a stuffy old academic who hated e-books and was so far out of touch that he liked faxing more than e-mail. According to President Obama, “Dr. Hayden has devoted her career to modernizing libraries so that everyone can participate in today’s digital culture.” Dr. Hayden was a fierce opponent of the Patriot Act and believes strongly in speaking out against surveillance. What’s more, she would be the 14th Librarian of Congress, in charge of the Copyright Office, and the first woman and first African-American to hold the position.

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First Lady Michelle Obama talks up OpenEbooks initiative for K-12

Disadvantaged K-12 students across the country will enjoy access to thousands of e-books made available by major publishers such as Random House and National Geographic, with encouragement from the White House.

Targeted age group is 4-12, and according to the Washington office of the American Library Association, the related Apple app up is “up and running.” That’s the real news of the day. The basic idea was unveiled last year, following news reports of under-stocked K-12 school libraries.

Here’s a video of First Lady Michelle Obama talking up the OpenEbooks initiative to make “popular and award-winning titles” available to young people who qualify under the program. Funders are the Alfred P. Sloan Foundatin and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. EdSurge has more details.

Nice start! The more efforts like this, the better! I’m highly supportive. But I would like to know the total number of books involved—especially how many can be access at one time and how many are commercial vs. public domain. Value of the books is $250 million, according to the publicity. So maybe it’s a lot of commercial titles. But a librarian has cautioned me to watch out for the technicalities, including DRM-related ones that could influence the extent of access. I’m just being cautious.

Beyond that, we need to look beyond children in high-poverty schools or those in special-ed classes or on military bases. “Mainstream” middle- and upper-class students outside bases, too, could stand to do more recreational reading. What’s more, even though school libraries are the area of greatest need, how about more library spending for people beyond K-12? Annual public library spending in the U.S. is only about $4 per capita. Hence the need for a national digital library endowment. Books, as important as they are, shouldn’t be the only thing funded.

Here’s a link to the related iPhone, iPad and iTouch app for students participating in the program. Just Apple right now?

Meanwhile here are more details from EdSurge:

To access the app, educators can sign up on the site and receive codes for their students. Using those codes, students can download the free Open eBooks app to mobile devices and access a library of eBooks.

White House partnerships on the app are twofold. First, ten major publishers, including Penguin Random House and National Geographic, provided the texts. Second, to create the app and curate the eBook collection, the White House partnered with the Digital Public Library of America, First Book, and The New York Public Library, as well as digital books distributor Baker & Taylor and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The post First Lady Michelle Obama talks up OpenEbooks initiative for K-12 appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.

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Drupal 8.0.4, 7.43, and 6.38 released, and Drupal 6 reaches its end of life (EOL)

Drupal 8.0.4, Drupal 7.43, and Drupal 6.38, maintenance releases which contain fixes for security vulnerabilities, are now available for download.

See the Drupal 8.0.4, Drupal 7.43, and Drupal 6.38 release notes for further information.

Upgrading your existing Drupal 8, 7, and 6 sites is strongly recommended. There are no new features nor non-security-related bug fixes in these releases. For more information about the Drupal 8.0.x release series, consult the Drupal 8 overview. More information on the Drupal 7.x release series can be found in the Drupal 7.0 release announcement, and more information on the Drupal 6.x release series can be found in the Drupal 6.0 release announcement.

Security information

We have a security announcement mailing list and a history of all security advisories, as well as an RSS feed with the most recent security advisories. We strongly advise Drupal administrators to sign up for the list.

Drupal 8 and 7 include the built-in Update Manager module, which informs you about important updates to your modules and themes. Drupal 6 has reached its end of life (EOL) and will not get further updates.

Bug reports

Both Drupal 8.0.x and 7.x are being maintained, so given enough bug fixes (not just bug reports) more maintenance releases will be made available, according to our monthly release cycle.

Drupal 6 has reached its end of life (EOL), so it will not receive further bug fixes or official releases.

Change log

Drupal 8.0.4 is a security release only. For more details, see the 8.0.4 release notes. A complete list of all changes in the stable 8.0.x branch can be found in the git commit log.

Drupal 7.43 is a security release only. For more details, see the 7.43 release notes. A complete list of all changes in the stable 7.x branch can be found in the git commit log.

Drupal 6.38 is a security release only. For more details, see the 6.38 release notes. A complete list of all changes in the end-of-life 6.x branch can be found in the git commit log.

Security vulnerabilities

Drupal 8.0.4, 7.43, and 6.38 were released in response to the discovery of security vulnerabilities. Details can be found in the official security advisories:

To fix the security problem, please upgrade to either Drupal 8.0.4, Drupal 7.43, or Drupal 6.38.

Update notes

See the 8.0.4, 7.43, or 6.38 release notes for details on important changes in this release.

Known issues

See the 8.0.4, 7.43, or 6.38 release notes for a list of known issues affecting each release.

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Using AWS lambda for cheap S3 content processing

TL/DR: If you use Amazon S3 to store user generated content, their new service, AWS Lambda, can be easily setup to intellingently post-process objects by calling out third party services and even handle callbacks (using API gateway) – all for a price point that it’s really hard to beat.

In this example we’re going to:

  • Setup a AWS lambda function that runs every time a S3 object is created/updated
  • Wire a sample function that submits the S3 content to safely (using signed URLs) for asynchronous processing with a callback hook *
  • Wire an API gateway endpoint to process the callback and take action (in this case delete the content) if malware is found

*Albeit the example above uses content processing service you could easily swap that service out for anything with a sane API, for example, you could use AWS lambda to automatically OCR your S3 objects using Google’s cloud vision API.

In a nutshell, here’s how things will look:


Protip: If you are familiar with AWS Lambda and S3, feel free to skip this section.

If you know me, you know that I believe S3 is probably one of the most impactful pieces of technology infrastructure of the last decade and no, its not due to its price point and novelty factor (netapp built an entire business around storing blobs of data in the 90’s), but because of how ubiquitious it is, having something effectively omnipresent that you can use to store your files is just too convenient, that’s why just about every company use it and I would venture to say that, if AWS were to publish these numbers, we would see that S3 is probably their biggest product in terms of penetration.

Inevitably, once all your files are being stored in S3, you are going to want to do something with them and, until recently, you had to write/deploy/manage your own application to do so, but not anymore, the clever folks at Amazon have a better solution for us, lambda functions.

Lambda functions are snippets of code that run based upon event triggers, these triggers can be an API call flowing through AWS API gateway, changes to an object in S3 or many others. Under normal circustances, AWS lambda can also be extremely cost effective since, instead of paying per cpu/hours like a regular virtual server, you pay for the number of times your function is called and the amount of CPU time it consumes rounded up to the nearst 100ms.

More importantly, as of this writing, AWS lambda comes in with a very generous free tier covering 1M requests and 400k GB-seconds of compute time per month that should be more than enough for most users (details here).

Setting things up

For the lambda function code we will utilize scanii’s lambda sample code ( that automatically deletes the content from S3 if malware is found and can be easily extended to do perform other operations. For this example you will also need a free API key from, if you don’t have and API key yet, you can quickly create one here.

IAM Role

First we need to create a IAM role that grants our lambda function access to S3. We’ll start with read only access only for now.

  1. Login to the AWS console Identity and access management page
  2. Click Roles
  3. Select “Create New Role”
  4. Give your role a name, from this example we’ll use “scanii-lambda-role” and click “next step”
  5. Under Select Role Type choose “AWS Lambda” and click “next step”
  6. Under Attach Policy choose “AmazonS3ReadOnlyAccess” and click “next step”
  7. Finally select “Create Role”

Lambda function

Now we need to actually setup the lambda function and its events sources.

  1. Login to the AWS console lambda page and click “Get Started Now”
  2. Under Step 1 “Select Blueprint”, just hit skip – no blueprints needed
  3. Under Configure Function
    1. Fill in the name, description and select node.js for the runtime, for this example, we’re calling our function scanii-process-content
    2. Copy and paste the contents of the sample function into the code window
    3. Update the credentials in the sample code with your own API key and secret created above, under SCANII_CREDS in the format KEY:SECRET – leave CALLBACK_URL as is for now, we’ll come back to it later
  4. Under Lambda function handler and role
    1. Leave index.handler for the handler function
    2. Under Role select “scanii-lambda-role” (the role we created earlier)
  5. Under Advanced settings bump up the timeout to 30 seconds
  6. Click Next, review that everything checks out and hit “Create function”
  7. Now hang tight on that page, all we have left to do is configure event sources.

Configuring event sources

Now that we have a lambda function with a IAM role ready to go, we need to configure when and how that function should run.

  1. Under the Event sources tab
    1. Click “Add event source”
    2. For Event source type select “S3”
    3. Under Bucket select the bucket you would like to have objects processed
    4. Under Event type select “Object Created (All)”
    5. Leave prefix and suffix empty unless you have specfic need to restrain processing
    6. Under Enable event source leave “Enabled now”
    7. Click “Submit”
  2. Under the API endpoints tab
    1. Click “Add API endpoint”
    2. Under API endpoint type select “API Gateway”
    3. Under API name enter “ScaniiLambda” so we can easily reference it later
    4. Under Method select “POST”
    5. Under Securty select “Open” (but our code will enforce authorization)
    6. Click “Submit” and take note of the API endpoint URL
  3. Under the Code tab
    1. Edit the CALLBACK_URL to point to the API endpoint URL from the previous step
  4. Click “Save” and your are done!

Processing content

Now that you have your lambda function and API geteway callback setup you can start adding content to the bucket you chose as the event source and you should see content being submitted for processing. Keep in mind:

  • Lambda functions send logs to Cloudwatch, you should be able to go there for troubleshooting
  • You should see the processing requests showing up in your dashboard

Enabling S3 object deletion

You might remember that when we set up the IAM role for our lambda function we only gave it read access to s3. Albeit that’s a good (and safe) place to start, once you are confortable with your lambda setup you can modify the role to grant it delete rights to the bucket you’ve setup for processing, that way, our sample code will automatically delete objects with malware findings (details here).

  1. Login to the AWS console Identity and access management page
  2. Click Roles
  3. Click on the role you created above
  4. Under Permissions click on “Inline Policies” and create a new one
  5. Under Set Permissions select “Custom Policy” and “Select”
  6. Under Review Policy paste the sample policy below adjusting the bucket name accordingly and click “Validate Policy”
  7. Once the policy is validated click on “Apply Policy”

Sample policy granting object delete rights on bucket “scanii-test”

  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Action": [
      "Resource": [

Now, for a final and glorious test, copy a known malicious file to your s3 bucket and watch it automatically disappear after a few seconds. Don’t have a known malicious file handy? You can download our sample EICAR file here

That’s all folks, I hope you enjoy everything you see here and if you have any questions/comments please reach out to us at


Last updated on 02/20/2016.

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WordPress Sites Now Support Google’s AMP To Make Mobile Pages Load Much Faster

AMP-WPcom-Screenshots Google has some big plans when it comes to making the web faster on your mobile phone. The company just added AMP-enabled pages in its mobile search results. And one of the first companies supporting the new Instant Article-like format is an important one — Automattic, the company behind Read More

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How to Block Email from certain TLDs (Top Level Domains) in ISPConfig

Spam is an annoyance and there’s a multitude of ways to counteract it. However spammers also get smarter and try to bypass filters and stuff. In addition, ICANN has lately approved a great mean gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains), like .biz, .info etc. Some of those gTLDs are, in my opinion, exclusive used by spammers. Lately, I have gotten a lot of spam from the .xyz gTLD. So the question was, how to block email coming from such domains using that gTLD.

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Run a virtual Chromebook on your PC desktop

CloudReady-300x254CloudReady is a custom version of Chromium OS which can transform your old PC into a sort-of Chromebook.

You can run CloudReady standalone, dual boot with Windows in some situations, or use VirtualBox to run it in a window on your desktop.

The initial download gets you the ChromeOS image only. If you’d like to install it on a PC, use the Chromebook Recovery Utility to write it to an empty 8 or 16GB USB key (beware, this wipes any other data on the device).

Boot your target PC from the USB key and the installation program walks you through the setup process.

If you’d rather use VirtualBox, the easiest approach is to convert the CloudReady image to a VDI disk file.

VirtualBox’s VBoxManage.exe can handle this. It’s a console-based tool so you’ll need to open a command window, and enter something like the following, changing the paths as appropriate for your system:

“c:program filesoraclevirtualboxVBoxManage.exe” convertfromraw “C:UsersMyNameDownloadscloudready-free-45.3.39.binchromiumos_image.bin” cloudready.vdi

Create a new virtual machine, using the type “Other” and the version “Other/ Unknown”.

Assign 2GB RAM to the VM, more if you can spare it.

At the “Hard Disk” screen select “Use an existing virtual hard disk file” and choose the disk you created earlier.

Open the VM Settings dialog, click System > Motherboard and check “Enable I/O APIC” and “Enable EFI”.

Click the Processor tab and check “Enable PAE/NX”. Increasing the number of processors is a good idea, too.

For another performance boost, select Display > Screen, gave the system the full 128MB Video Memory and check “Enable 3D Acceleration”.

Boot the VM, a text line displaying the results of the memory test should appear immediately, with the installer popping up next. Follow its instructions and you’ll be ready to go in a couple of minutes.

The end results have a few issues, like our time being wrong because location services don’t work and the system couldn’t assign our time zone automatically (we just set it manually instead).

But for the most part CloudReady worked exactly as advertised, using our existing network, logging into Google, syncing our settings, and generally giving us the Chromebook-ish experience we were looking for.

CloudReady is a free-for-personal-use product. An educator’s edition with Google Management Console enrollment and full technical support costs from $59 per device for a perpetual license.

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