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America Online

AOL To Cut 500 Workers To Narrow Focus On Mobile, Video (bloomberg.com) 60

According to a report from Bloomberg, AOL is firing as many as 500 employees as part of a restructuring plan to focus on mobile, video and data. The move comes a year after Verizon acquired the company for $4.4 billion. Bloomberg reports: The layoffs are occurring in all of AOL's business units, said the person, who asked not to be identified disclosing the scope of the cuts. AOL employs about 6,400 people worldwide, the person said. In addition to the job cuts, the company will split into two parts, according to the memo. One will be dedicated to media properties, which include Huffington Post and TechCrunch, and the other will focus on platforms, like AOL's advertising technology. "Mobile, video, and data are the key growth drivers of that strategy and the company will be putting resources into each of these areas," [Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong wrote in a memo to employees Thursday.] With the wireless industry maturing, AOL parent Verizon has been buying up media and advertising-technology companies and working to refine go90, its free video-streaming service aimed at phone-toting teens.
Government

NSA Chief: Nation-State Made 'Conscious Effort' To Sway US Presidential Election (aol.com) 667

The head of the US National Security Agency has said that a "nation-state" consciously targeted presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, in order to affect the US election. From an AOL article:Adm. Michael Rogers, who leads both the NSA and US Cyber Command, made the comments in response to a question about Wikileaks' release of nearly 20,000 internal DNC emails during a conference presented by The Wall Street Journal. "There shouldn't be any doubt in anybody's minds," Rogers said. "This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect." Rogers did not specify the nation-state or the specific effect, though US intelligence officials suspect Russia provided the emails to Wikileaks, after hackers stole them from inside DNC servers and the personal email account of Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta. At least two different hacker groups associated with the Russian government were found inside the networks of the DNC over the past year, reading emails, chats, and downloading private documents. Many of those files were later released by Wikileaks.Further reading: Quartz and MotherJones.
Yahoo!

Verizon Says Yahoo Name Isn't Going Away (cnet.com) 27

Verizon is treading carefully with Yahoo, but still wants to seal the deal. From a CNET report: "The deal makes strategic sense," said Marni Walden, the executive vice president of business innovation for Verizon and the person who pushed for the acquisition. "We won't jump off of a cliff blindly." She continues to believe there's value in the Yahoo name, noting that it won't go away if Verizon completes its acquisition. Brands like Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Finance still draw plenty of eyeballs, and offer the kind of audience that Verizon and AOL lack, she said during a keynote session at The Wall Street Journal Digital conference on Wednesday. Her comments come just weeks after Yahoo disclosed a 2014 breach exposed at least 500 million accounts, making it the worst hack in history. Shortly after, reports found that Yahoo had participated in a government program to sniff user emails, further eroding trust. Verizon said this all had the potential to cause a "material impact" to the deal, which could mean Yahoo takes a reduced price or the deal falls through altogether.
Verizon

Verizon Wants $1 Billion Discount On Yahoo Deal After Reports of Hacking, Email Scanning (nypost.com) 77

As if Yahoo's reputation couldn't get any worse after the company revealed a massive data breach that occurred in 2014, compromising at least 500 million accounts, Reuters issued a report claiming the company secretly scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence agencies. These reports certainly don't look good to the companies looking to acquire Yahoo, like Verizon, which has been nearing a deal since late July. Now, it appears that Verizon wants a $1 billion discount off its $4.83 billion deal to buy Yahoo. New York Post reports: Verizon is pushing for a $1 billion discount off its pending $4.8 billion agreement to buy Yahoo, several sources told The Post exclusively. "In the last day we've heard that Tim [Armstong] is getting cold feet. He's pretty upset about the lack of disclosure and he's saying can we get out of this or can we reduce the price?" said a source familiar with Verizon's thinking. That might just be tough talk to get Yahoo to roll back the price. Verizon had been planning to couple Yahoo with its AOL unit to give it enough scale to be a third force to compete with Google and Facebook for digital ad dollars. The discount is being pushed because it feels Yahoo's value has been diminished, sources said. AOL/Yahoo will reach about 1 billion consumers if the deal closes in the first quarter, with a stated goal to reach 2 billion by 2020. AOL boss Tim Armstrong flew to the West Coast in the past few days to meet with Yahoo executives to hammer out a case for a price reduction, a source said. "Tim was out there this week laying the law down and Marissa is trying to protect shareholders," said a source close to talks. "Tim knows how to be fair, while Verizon is pushing him, he can bridge the gap." At the same time, the Yahoo deal team is pushing back hard against any attempts to negotiate the price down, sources said. Yahoo is telling Verizon that a deal is a deal and that telecom giant has no legal recourse to change the terms.
Facebook

Facebook Is Talking To the White House About Giving You 'Free' Internet (washingtonpost.com) 164

Facebook is in talks with the government and wireless carriers to bring its 'Free Basics' internet service to the United States, reports Washington Post, citing sources. If everything goes as planned for Facebook, it would target "low-income and rural Americans who cannot afford reliable, high-speed internet at home or on smartphones," (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source) the paper adds. From the report: Exactly what specific services would be offered in the U.S. app has not been determined. But the idea to bring Free Basics to the United States is likely to rekindle a long-running debate about the future of the Internet. On one side are those who view services such as Facebook's as a critical tool in connecting underserved populations to the Internet, in some cases for the first time. On the other side are those who argue that exempting services from data caps creates a multitiered playing field that favors businesses with the expertise and budgets to participate in such programs. The fight over this tactic, known as "zero-rating," has largely taken place overseas where local start-ups are mixing with globally established firms in still-nascent Internet economies. But a launch of Free Basics would bring the discussion to U.S. shores in a major way.India banned Free Basics program in the country earlier this year, stating that Facebook's initiative violates net neutrality. The government told Facebook to open Free Basics so that underserved Indians could access any website that would like -- as opposed to select websites handpicked by Facebook. The government added that if it is not feasible for Facebook to offer unlimited access to every website, it could look into introducing limited monthly data plans (like 500MB or 1GB for users). India was not open to the idea of Facebook offering users access to select websites.
America Online

AOL's Innovative Card-Based Email Service, Alto, Comes To iOS And Android (fastcompany.com) 42

Remember AOL? The company best known for its email service? Three years ago, it released a Pinterest-like platform for desktop email called Alto. Today AOL announced the release of Alto for iOS and Android -- nearly a year after it began beta testing it. FastCompany writes: The app's design is based on the idea that email has shifted from a communication tool to more of a transactional system -- today's inboxes are filled with receipts, order confirmations, and reservations, rather than personal messages. To combat this flood of data, Alto automatically sorts email into stacks, such as "travel," "photos," "files," "shopping," and "personal."
Crime

Arrests Made After Group Hacks CIA Director's AOL Account (washingtonpost.com) 107

Slashdot reader FullBandwidth writes: U.S. authorities have arrested two North Carolina men accused of hacking into the private email accounts of high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials. [The men] will be extradited next week to Alexandria, where federal prosecutors for the Eastern District of Virginia have spent months building a case against a group that calls itself Crackas With Attitude... Authorities say the group included three teenage boys being investigated in the United Kingdom.
The group used social engineering to access the email accounts of John Brennan, the director of the CIA, as well as the Director of National Intelligence, and former FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano, according to the article. One exploit involved "posing as a Verizon technician and tricking the company's tech-support unit into revealing the CIA director's account number, password and other details." An FBI affidavit alleges that a British teenager named "Cracka" also began forwarding the calls of a former FBI deputy director "to a number associated with the Free Palestine Movement," while "D3F4ULT" paid for a campaign of harassing phone calls. In addition, "According to the affidavit, Cracka appears to have gotten into the law enforcement database simply by calling an FBI help desk and asking for Giuliano's password to be reset..."

"One member told CNN [In a video interview] that he smoked marijuana 'all day every day' and was 'probably' high when gaining access to high-level accounts."
Music

Samsung Reminds Us That You Can't Make People Use an App They Don't Want (recode.net) 70

Samsung has announced that it will be discontinuing Milk Music on September 22. The announcement comes a year after the South Korean technology conglomerate shuttered Milk Video, another service that didn't receive the traction Samsung was hoping. Peter Kafka, writing for Recode: It's true that you can't get media/apps/services to customers without access to a platform. But control of the platform doesn't mean customers are going to use your media/apps/services: They've got plenty of choices and they'll choose the ones they want. Ask Verizon and Comcast, which both launched video apps on their networks last year and have nothing to show for it. (You've heard of Verizon's Go90 only because Verizon keeps talking about it when people ask why it spent $10 billion on AOL and Yahoo; you have completely forgotten about Comcast's Watchable.) Soon you'll be able to ask AT&T, which is launching its own video app this fall, which will also feature lots of content people either don't want or can get elsewhere.
Yahoo!

Once Valued at $125B, Yahoo's Web Assets To Be Sold To Verizon For $4.83B, Companies Confirm 206

The reports were spot on. Verizon Communications on Monday announced that it plans to purchase Yahoo's Web assets for a sum of $4.83 billion in cash. The multi-billion dollars deal will get Verizon Yahoo's core internet business and some real estate. The announcement also marks a remarkable fall for the Silicon Valley web pioneer, which once had a market capitalization of more than $125 billion. For Verizon, the deal adds another piece to the mammoth digital media and advertising empire it owns. The deal is expected to close early 2017. CNBC reports: The transaction is seen boosting Verizon's AOL internet business, which the company acquired last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo's advertising technology tools, as well as other assets such as search, mail, messenger and real estate. It also marks the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it only as the owner of a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, as well as its 15 percent interest in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. In December, Yahoo scrapped plans to spin off its Alibaba stake after investors worried about whether that transaction could have been carried out on a tax-free basis. It instead decided to explore a sale of its core assets, spurred on by activist hedge fund Starboard Value. Forbes has called it one of the "saddest $5B deals in tech history."Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was expected to leave -- or get fired -- said she intends to stay. "For me personally, I'm planning to stay," Mayer said in a note on Yahoo's Tumblr page. "I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter."
Crime

Hacker Guccifer Claims He Easily and Repeatedly Broke Into Hillary Clinton's Email Server (foxnews.com) 416

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fox News: The infamous Romanian hacker known as "Guccifer," speaking exclusively with Fox News, claimed he easily -- and repeatedly -- breached former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal email server in early 2013. In the process of mining data from the Blumenthal account, Lazar said he came across evidence that others were on the Clinton server. "As far as I remember, yes, there were up to 10, like, IPs from other parts of the world," he said. From the report: "'For me, it was easy ... easy for me, for everybody,' Marcel Lehel Lazar, who goes by the moniker 'Guccifer,' told Fox News from a Virginia jail where he is being held. Fox News could not independently confirm Lazar's claims. The 44-year-old Lazar said he first compromised Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal's AOL account, in March 2013, and used that as a stepping stone to the Clinton server. He said he accessed Clintonâ(TM)s server 'like twice,' though he described the contents as 'not interest[ing]' to him at the time." Guccifer was sent to prison last month, which is when his potential role in the Clinton email investigation became apparent.
Security

Malvertising Campaign Hits MSN, NY Times, BBC, AOL 159

An anonymous reader quotes an article on Help Net Security: In the last couple of days, visitors of a number of highly popular media outlets including the NY Times, the BBC, and Newsweek have been targeted with malicious adverts that attempted to install malware (mostly ransomware, but also various Trojans) on their systems. The websites themselves weren't compromised as the problem was with the ad networks these sites use -- Google, AppNexus, AOL, Rubicon. The ad networks were tricked into serving malicious ads to the visitors.
Data Storage

Service Provider Builds National Network of Unmanned Data Centers (datacenterfrontier.com) 33

1sockchuck writes: Colocation and content delivery specialist EdgeConneX is operating unmanned "lights out" data centers in 20 markets across the United States, marking the most ambitious use to date of automation to streamline data center operations. While some companies have operated prototypes of "lights out" unmanned facilities (including AOL) or deployed unmanned containers with server gear, EdgeConneX built its broader deployment strategy around a lean operations model. The company uses software to remotely control the generators and UPS systems at each data center, and can dispatch techs when on-site maintenance is needed.
Businesses

Vivendi Takes Over Radionomy, Winamp Relaunch Now Possible (windowsreport.com) 117

SmartAboutThings writes: Winamp could once again be brought back to life after Vivendi Group took over the majority stake in Radionomy, the previous owner of the app who purchased it from AOL in early 2014. AOL originally planned to discontinue both Winamp and Shoutcast, but instead the company decided to sell the software to Belgian online radio service, Radionomy. The new owners initially promised that they'll keep Winamp alive, but no updates have been released since the takeover, which made most people think that Winamp era has ended for good. Vivendi Group, which owns or is involved in famous companies such as Dailymotion, Ubisoft, and Deezer, could help relaunch Winamp, although the press release announcing the acquisition offers no suggestion in this regard. The company, however, does mention Winamp and Shoutcast as two of the most important assets that will join its portfolio following the takeover.
The Internet

Internet Archive Hosts 24-Hour Fund-Raising Telethon (archive.org) 32

martiniturbide writes: The Internet Archive, the online non-profit library that stores almost everything that is digital, the same one that hosts a lot of classic games , hosts a massive collection of MAME ROMs and runs the WayBackMachine to preserve the internet web pages.... started running an old fashioned, 24-hour fundraising telethon earlier today, 19 December, at 12:00 PM PST (20:00 UTC). This live event is being hosted by Michelle Krasowski and Jason Scott (the guy from Textfiles.com that Wants Your AOL & Shovelware CDs) with the support of several guests. You can visit the telethon live video and donate to support this library.
Verizon

Verizon Is Merging Its Cellphone Tracking Supercookie with AOL's Ad Tracking Network 100

schwit1 writes: ProPublica reports that Verizon is giving a new mission to its controversial hidden identifier that tracks users of mobile devices. Verizon said in a little-noticed announcement that it will soon begin sharing the profiles with AOL's ad network, which in turn monitors users across a large swath of the Internet. That means AOL's ad network will be able to match millions of Internet users to their real-world details gathered by Verizon, including — "your gender, age range and interests." AOL's network is on 40 percent of websites, including on ProPublica.
Books

Jason Scott of Textfiles.com Is Trying To Save a Huge Storage Room of Manuals 48

martiniturbide writes: Remember Jason Scott of Textfiles.com, who wanted your AOL & Shovelware CDs earlier this year? Right now -- at this moment! -- he trying to save the manuals in a huge storage room that was going to be dumped. It is a big storage room and some of these manuals date back to the thirties. On Monday a team of volunteers helped him to pack some manuals to save them. Today he needs more volunteers at "2002 Bethel Road, Finksburg, MD, USA" to try to save them all. He is also accepting Paypal donations for the package material, transportation and storage room payment. You can also check his progress on his twitter account.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Sell Bing Maps, Advertising Sections 61

UnknowingFool writes: Microsoft has announced that they will sell some Bing Maps technology to Uber and their advertising business to AOL. About 1,300 employees are expected to be offered positions in their new companies. CEO Nadella said previously that there would be "tough choices" to be made. Some outside analysts have said neither venture was very profitable for Microsoft and may have been unprofitable at times.
America Online

Jason Scott of Textfiles.com Wants Your AOL & Shovelware CDs 123

eldavojohn writes: You've probably got a spindle in your closet, or a drawer layered with them: the CD-ROM discs that were mailed to you or delivered with some hardware that you put away "just in case." Now, of course, the case for actually using them is laughable. Well, a certain eccentric individual named Jason Scott has a fever — and the only cure is more AOL CDs. But his sickness doesn't stop there, "I also want all the CD-ROMs made by Walnut Creek CD-ROM. I want every shovelware disc that came out in the entire breadth of the CD-ROM era. I want every shareware floppy, while we're talking. I want it all. The CD-ROM era is basically finite at this point. It's over. The time when we're going to use physical media as the primary transport for most data is done done done. Sure, there's going to be distributions and use of CD-ROMs for some time to come, but the time when it all came that way and when it was in most cases the only method of distribution in the history books, now. And there were a specific amount of CD-ROMs made. There are directories and listings of many that were manufactured. I want to find those. I want to image them, and I want to put them up. I'm looking for stacks of CD-ROMs now. Stacks and stacks. AOL CDs and driver CDs and Shareware CDs and even hand-burned CDs of stuff you downloaded way back when. This is the time to strike." Who knows? His madness may end up being appreciated by younger generations!
America Online

Does Using an AOL Email Address Suggest You're a Tech Dinosaur? 461

Nerval's Lobster writes: Despite years of layoffs and tumbling net worth, AOL seemed to get a new lease on life this week when Verizon bought it for $4.4 billion. But even if AOL's still alive, using an AOL email address has long been seen as a way of signaling that you're stuck in the 1990s. A recent analysis of Dice data found that a mere 1.8 percent of those registering for the site used an AOL address, versus 55 percent for Gmail. For the past several years, Websites from Gizmodo to Lifehacker have all declared that still using an AOL email address is counterproductive, to put it mildly. But is that actually true? Do the people in your life and work actually care whether you use AOL, Hotmail, Gmail, or a custom address, or is the idea of 'email bias' an overblown myth?
America Online

Closing This Summer: Verizon To Scoop Up AOL For $4.4 Billion 153

MojoKid writes with this excerpt from Hot Hardware: We learned this weekend that AOL's dial-up business still has over 2 million customers who pay on average just under $21 per month for service. Regardless of how strange that seems to those of us that salivate over the prospects of gigabit Internet, folks are still clinging to 56k modems are adding millions to AOL's bottom line. However, also recall that AOL has a massive digital advertising platform with a heavy focus on the mobile sector and also owns a wealth of popular web destinations including Engadget, TechCrunch, and The Huffington Post. With this in mind, it shouldn't be too surprising that Verizon has offered AOL a marriage proposal. Verizon is acquiring AOL for an estimated $50 per share, which brings the total value of the transaction to $4.4 billion. Here are stories from The New York Times, NBC News, and NPR on the proposed sale, which it's worth noting isn't yet final, and is subject to regulatory approval.

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