An anonymous reader writes "When we last checked in with Tim Armstrong, the AOL CEO was demonstrating 'Leadership with a Capital L' to employees of the company's Patch local news subsidiary by summarily firing an employee in the middle of a conference call for taking photos. Armstrong continued to serve up tasty material for tech bloggers this past week, blaming $7.1 million in extra expenses from Obamacare, and for $2 million in expenses for 'two AOLers that had distressed babies', for a decision to hold all matching funds for employee 401K programs until the end of each calendar year. After a small firestorm in the press, and a petition from AOL employees unhappy with both the policy change and the way it was presented, Armstrong reversed course, reinstating the per-period match and apologizing for mentioning the individual employee cases (TechCrunch is an AOL subsidiary). Incidentally, Armstrong was originally following in the footsteps of IBM, which made similar changes to its 401K program that went into effect last year."
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Major Blud writes "TechCrunch is reporting that Radionomy has purchased both Winamp and Shoutcast from AOL for $5-10 million and a 12% stake in the company. Radionomy CEO Alexandre Saboundjian said, 'We want to rebuild the story for Winamp. We think the future can be great because the strategy is not just desktop but mobile and cars and so much more.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Guardian reports that while President Obama tried to portray a meeting with tech leaders as a wide-ranging discussion of broader priorities including ways of improving the functionality of the troubled health insurance website Healthcare.gov, senior executives from Apple, Yahoo, Google, Comcast, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Netflix said they were determined to keep the discussion focused on the NSA. 'We are there to talk about the NSA,' said one executive who was briefed on the company's agenda before the event. After meeting Obama and vice president Joe Biden for two-and-a-half hours, the companies issued a one-line statement. 'We appreciated the opportunity to share directly with the president our principles on government surveillance that we released last week and we urge him to move aggressively on reform.' Many of the senior tech leaders had already made public their demand for sweeping surveillance reforms in an open letter that specifically called for a ban on the kind of bulk data collection that a federal judge ruled on Monday was probably unlawful. Obama seemed sympathetic to the idea of allowing more disclosure of government surveillance requests by technology companies, according to a tech industry official who was briefed on the meeting. Marissa Mayer brought up concerns about the potentially negative impact that could be caused if countries, such as Brazil, move forward with legislation that would require service providers to ensure that data belonging to a citizen of a certain country remain in the country it originates, the official said. That would require technology companies to build data centers in each country — a costly problem for American Internet companies. The decision by the tech giants to press their case in such a public and unified way poses a problem for the White House. The industry is an increasingly influential voice in Washington, a vital part of the US economy and many of its most successful leaders are prominent Democratic political donors."
mrspoonsi writes "BBC reports: Leading global technology firms have called for 'wide-scale changes' to US government surveillance. Eight firms, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Yahoo, have formed an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance group. The group has written a letter to the US President and Congress arguing that current surveillance practice 'undermines the freedom' of people. It comes after recent leaks detailed the extent of surveillance programs. 'We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide,' the group said in an open letter published on its website."
New submitter Cid Highwind writes "If you want to download the latest version of Winamp, you'd better do it soon. According to a new banner on the download page, AOL will be pulling the plug on the iconic llama-whipping music player in a month. 'Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date. See release notes for latest improvements to this last release. Thanks for supporting the Winamp community for over 15 years.' Ars Technica ran an article last year detailing how the music player lost its dominance."
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes "A recent webinar for newsletter publishers suggested that if you want your emails not to be blocked as 'spam,' you paradoxically have to engage in some practices that contribute to the erosion of users' privacy, including some tactics similar to what many spammers are doing. The consequences aren't disastrous, but besides being a loss for privacy, it's another piece of evidence that free-market forces do not necessarily lead to spam filters that are optimal for end users." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
An anonymous reader writes "AOL is closing or plans to sell nearly half of the 900 'hyperlocal' news websites operated by its money-losing Patch Media subsidiary (TechCrunch is also owned by AOL). Hundreds of staff layoffs are believed to be imminent. AOL acquired Patch in 2009, soon after ex-Googler Tim Armstrong took over as CEO; Armstrong was also a co-founder of Patch. During a tough conference call last Thursday Armstrong told Patch editors: 'Something at Patch has been missing for some time and that's leadership – leadership with a capital L'. Armstrong then demonstrated his grasp of Donald Trump's management style by firing an employee during the meeting for taking a picture. At 1:18 of the NY Post's sound clip from Jim Romensko: 'Leaking information Patch isn't going to bother me. I'm not changing direction'. At 2:00: 'Abel [Creative Director Lenz], put that camera down. Abel, you're fired. Out.' Armstrong later explained that 'The reason I fired Abel is I don't want anyone taking pictures of this meeting' and that, much like a sports team, AOL couldn't afford to have people 'giving the game plan away'."
Bennett Haselton writes "How did a $400-billion company ship millions of units of a phone with a calendar app that displays the wrong date, a texting app that can't reply to group texts, a screen capture function that doesn't work, and a phone app that won't let me use the keypad unless the speakerphone is on? The answer, perhaps, suggests deeper questions about why market forces fix certain problems but not others, and what to do about it." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
dcblogs writes "The founder of the UpTime Institute, Kenneth G. Brill, 69, died Tuesday, the institute's parent company announced. Brill, an electrical engineer by training, is credited with playing an enormous role in shaping the modern data center industry. 'He singled-handedly crafted an industry out of nothing,' said Mike Manos, the chief technology officer at AOL, who had known Brill since the late 1990s. Until Brill's efforts, enterprises had been defining and measuring data centers in their own way, said Manos. 'There was no commonality.' Today, 'you can't go anywhere in the world without people talking about tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 data centers — it's that fundamental,' he said. In 2011, following Amazon's prolong outage, Brill warned that the perceived reliability of large cloud providers was going to lead to problems. 'There will always be an advocate for how it can be done cheaper, [but] if you haven't had a failure for five years — who is the advocate for reliability?' said Brill. 'My prediction is that in the years ahead, we will see more failures than we have been seeing, because people have forgotten what we had to do to get to where we are.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "James R. Clapper, the nation's Director of National Intelligence, claimed that recent reports about the NSA monitoring Americans' Internet and phone communications are inaccurate. 'The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,' he wrote in a June 6 statement. 'They contain numerous inaccuracies.' While the statement didn't detail the supposed inaccuracies, it explained why the monitoring described in those articles would, at least in theory, violate the law. 'Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States,' it read. 'It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.' Those newspaper articles describe an NSA project codenamed Prism, which allegedly taps into the internal databases of nine major technology companies: Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. Both publications drew their information from an internal PowerPoint presentation used to train intelligence operatives. Speaking to Slashdot, Google, Microsoft and Facebook all again denied knowledge of Prism; the Google spokesperson suggested he didn't 'have any insight' into why Google would have appeared in the NSA's alleged PowerPoint presentation. But many, many questions remain."
1sockchuck writes "Robotics are beginning to be integrated into data center management, creating the potential for a fully automated, robot-driven data center. What might a robot-controlled 'lights-out' data center look like? The racks will be taller, as robotics systems can reach higher to manage servers. Robotic equipment would be mounted on rails that allow them to find and move hardware. Early examples of this are seen in tape libraries, but the concepts could be applied to other data center equipment. Amazon and Google are said to be among those looking at ways to create a fully automated data center. AOL says it has already built an unmanned data center. Data Center Knowledge looks at the challenges and opportunities in robot-controlled data centers, including how staff roles would evolve."
theodp writes "Steinar Skipsnes came up with a unique way to get more women into tech. Make them up. Posing as 'Sarah Hanson,' a 19-year-old woman who claimed to have auctioned off 10% of her future income in return for $125,000 to fund her Senior Living Map startup, Skipsnes pitched the story via email to generate press coverage. It worked — VentureBeat, HuffPo, Yahoo!, AOL, GeekWire, and others took the bait. But after doubts were aired about the story, Skipsnes fessed up to concocting the too-good-to-be-true hoax about the female teen entrepreneur to appeal to the interests of the tech press. 'I started to think "what if I took the elements of what the press loves and created a story?"' Skipsnes explained. "So I did.'"
CodingHero writes "My mother uses a recent enough PC running Windows XP and has a broadband connection, but her primary method of interacting with the online world remains the AOL software. She also likes to download and use various seasonal wallpapers, screensavers, etc. Usually all this works fine and I don't get family tech support calls, but occasionally something big goes wrong. Since she lives 400 miles away, that means I get to provide phone tech support. While I can usually get something fixed through simple instructions, sometimes it's just too complicated to properly diagnose and explain over the phone (e.g., a trojan infection that anti-virus won't get rid of on its own). I'd like to set up the system so that her account is not an Administrator and that I can easily (and securely) remotely connect to fix problems, install stuff she really wants to use (after proper vetting of course), and so on. Moving to Linux or a Mac is not an option. Upgrading the system to Windows 7 and breaking the AOL habit, while seemingly the best course of action, is going to mean a lot of my time up front to explain how to do things all over again, time that I don't have a lot of right now. Has anyone else had a similar experience? If so, what did you find was the best way to re-educate a parent and/or set up a method to securely and remotely manage a system, or at least lock it down to better protect it?"
New submitter rHBa sends this article about another high-profile email account breach: "The apparent hack of several e-mail accounts has exposed personal photos and sensitive correspondence from members of the Bush family, including both former U.S. presidents. The posted photos and e-mails contain a watermark with the hacker's online alias, 'Guccifer.' ... Included in the hacked material is a confidential October 2012 list of home addresses, cell phone numbers, and e-mails for dozens of Bush family members, including both former presidents, their siblings, and their children. ... Correspondence obtained by the hacker indicates that at least six separate e-mail accounts have been compromised, including the AOL account of Dorothy Bush Koch, daughter of George H.W. Bush and sister of George W. Bush. Other breached accounts belong to Willard Heminway, 79, an old friend of the 41st president who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut; CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, a longtime Bush family friend; former first lady Barbara Bush’s brother; and George H.W. Bush’s sister-in-law. "
CowboyRobot writes with news about a federal initiative to support federated authentication for government services. From the article: "The U.S. Postal Service will be the guinea pig for a White House-led effort to accelerate government adoption of technologies that allow federal agencies to accept third-party identity credentials for online services. The program involves using services ... through standards like OpenID rather than requiring users to create government usernames and passwords. ... The federated identity effort, known as the Federal Cloud Credential Exchange, is just one piece of a broader Obama administration online identity initiative: the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which aims to catalyze private sector-led development of a secure, digital 'identity ecosystem' to better protect identities online. ... The Postal Service pilot is but one of several different pilots that are part of NSTIC. There are also three cryptography pilots and two non-cryptographic privacy pilots in the works. Each of those pilots is being carried out by multiple private sector organizations ranging from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to AOL to AARP to Aetna."
First time accepted submitter veganboyjosh writes "I got an instant message from an uncle the other day, asking me what was in the link I sent him. I hadn't sent him a link so I figured that his account had been hacked and he'd received a malicious link from some bot address with my name in the 'From' box. This was confirmed when he told me the address the link had come from. When I tried explaining what the link was, that his account had been hacked, and that he should change the password to his @aol.com email account, his response was 'No, I think your account was hacked, since the email came from you.' I went over it again, with a real-life analog of someone calling him on the phone and pretending to be me, but I'm not sure if that sunk in or not. This uncle is far from tech savvy. He's in his 60s, and uses Facebook several times a week. He knows I'm online much more and kind of know my way around. After his initial response, I didn't have it in me to get into the whole 'Never click a link from an unfamiliar email address' bit; to him, this wasn't an unfamiliar email address, it was mine. How do I explain this to him, and what else should I feel responsible for telling him?"
pigrabbitbear writes "AOL, still looking to reboot itself from the dialup days, is shooting to actually change the way we deal with email. The company's new service, called Alto, isn't a new email client. You don't have to sign up for yet another email address, because as David Temkin, AOL's senior VP of mail said, 'We need another email address like we need a hole in the head.' Instead, Alto, which is in limited release starting today, is designed to be an intelligent aggregator of the email accounts you already have."
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: After I sent 10 new proxy sites to my (confirmed-opt-in) mailing list, two of them ended up on one of Spamhaus's blacklists, and as a result, all 10 domains were disabled by the domain registrar, so the sites disappeared from the Web. Did you even know this could happen?"
theodp writes "It's not that Chunka Mui isn't impressed by the smarts of Instagram CEO and Forbes cover boy Kevin Systrom. Still, Mui can't help but ask, 'How Long Before Facebook Writes Off Its $1B Purchase of Instagram?' While pundits and analysts have almost universally praised Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, Mui is less-than-impressed by Instagram's 80 million unmonetized mobile users. 'My prediction,' writes Mui, 'is that we'll look back on the acquisition as a bust — much in the same way we now view News Corp.'s purchase of Myspace, AOL's purchase of Bebo, and Excite@Home's purchase of Blue Mountain Arts.' Ouch. Mui notes that according to a recent SEC filing, Facebook could ditch the deal by paying a $200 million fee if regulators block the merger or if Facebook terminates the agreement after Dec. 10, 2012."
An anonymous reader writes "Some 450,000 email addresses and associated unencrypted passwords have been dumped online by the hacking collective 'D33Ds Company' following the compromise of a Yahoo subdomain. The attackers said that they managed to access the subdomain by leveraging a union-based SQL injection attack, which made the site return more information that it should have. According to Ars Technica, the dump also includes over 2,700 database table or column names and 298 MySQL variables retrieved during the attack." Update: 07/12 20:03 GMT by T :Reader techfun89 adds this update: "Yahoo has confirmed that the usernames and passwords of more than 400,000 accounts were stolen from their servers earlier this week and that data was briefly posted online. The information has since been removed but it wasn't just credentials for Yahoo, but also Gmail, AOL, Comcast, Hotmail, MSN, SBC Global, BellSouth, Verizon and Live.com as well."