Verizon Is Merging Its Cellphone Tracking Supercookie with AOL's Ad Tracking Network 74

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.

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

martiniturbide writes: Remember Jason Scott of, 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 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 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.

AT&T Bills Elderly Customer $24,298.93 For Landline Dial-Up Service 234

McGruber writes: 83-year-old Woodland Hills, California resident Ron Dorff usually pays $51 a month to AT&T for a landline, which he uses to access the Internet via an old-school, low-speed AOL dial-up subscription.... but then, in March, AT&T sent him a bill for $8,596.57. He called AT&T and their service rep couldn't make heads or tails of the bill, so she said she'd send a technician to his house. None came, so Dorff figured that everything was ok.

Dorff's next monthly bill was for $15,687.64, bringing his total outstanding debt to AT&T, including late fees, to $24,298.93. If he didn't pay by May 8, AT&T warned, his bill would rise to at least $24,786.16. Droff then called David Lazarus, business columnist for the LA Times, who got in touch with AT&T, who wasted little time in deciding it would waive the more than $24,000 in charges.

AT&T spokeshole Georgia Taylor claims Dorff's modem somehow had started dialing a long-distance number when it accessed AOL, and the per-minute charges went into orbit as he stayed connected for hours.

AT&T declined to answer the LA Times questions about why AT&T didn't spot the problem itself and proactively take steps to fix things? AT&T also declined to elaborate on whether AT&T's billing system is capable of spotting unusual charges and, if so, why it doesn't routinely do so.

Marissa Mayer's Reinvention of Yahoo! Stumbles 222

schnell writes The New York Times Magazine has an in-depth profile of Marissa Mayer's time at the helm of Yahoo!, detailing her bold plans to reinvent the company and spark a Jobs-ian turnaround through building great new products. But some investors are saying that her product focus (to the point of micromanaging) hasn't generated results, and that the company should give up on trying to create the next iPod, merge with AOL to cut costs and focus on the unglamorous core business that it has. Is it time for Yahoo! to "grow up" and set its sights lower?

Video Barry Shein Founded the First Dialup ISP (Video) 116

Back in the dawn of prehistory, only universities, government agencies, and a few big corporations could get on the Internet. The rest of us either had computers connected to nothing (except maybe an electric outlet), Compuserve, Prodigy, AOL or another service or possibly to an online bulletin board service (BBS). And then, one day in 1989, Barry Shein hooked a server and some modems to an Internet node he managed for a corporate/academic wholesale Internet provider -- and started selling dialup accounts for $20 per month to individuals, small companies, and just about anyone else who came along. Barry called his ISP The World, which is still out there with a retro home page ("Page last modified April 27, 2006"), still selling shell accounts. We may run a second interview with Barry next week, so please stay tuned. (Alternate Video Link)

Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer 401

RevWaldo writes: The Verge and other sources report on how AOL's Ryan Block ultimately succeeded in cancelling his Comcast account over the phone, but not before the customer service representative pressed him for eight solid minutes (audio) to explain his reasoning for leaving "the number one provider of TV and internet service in the country" in a manner that would cause a character in Glengarry Glen Ross to blush. Comcast has now issued an apology.

Time Warner Sells Telecom Business to Level 3 38

gavron (1300111) writes "We all know about TW Cable being acquired by Comcast (subject to regulatory approval) but news from today is that their non-cable business is being purchased by Level3 for almost 6 billion dollars.

What used to be the 'largest media and distribution company ever' (AOL Time Warner) is now nothing more than a garage of pieces being parceled off to the first available bidder. This might be good for consumers, but recently Time Warner (and Comcast) won awards for consumer hatred."
Republicans GOP Voters To Be Targeted By Data Scientists 422

theodp writes: "We are excited to announce that and Hackers/Founders are joining forces to host the 'DEBUG DC' Growthathon on June 21st & June 22nd," reads the blog over at, the PAC whose Founders and Major Contributors include current and former CEOs from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and LinkedIn. "This is a unique opportunity to push the envelope in online advocacy for immigration reform." The blog entry explains, "The machine of government is wedged, and is in desperate need of debugging. How do we DEBUG DC? Step One: Target critical legislative districts. Step Two: Data mine these districts to find registered voters who are registered Republicans who we think are likely to support immigration reform. Step Three: Growth hack ways to motivate these people to effectively engage their legislators to tell them they want them to call for a vote on immigration reform. Step Four: Measure results. Step Five: Iterate." The Eventbrite invitation for the event includes a call for Data Scientists who are "pissed off about immigration and want to fix it," are "well versed in statistics and data analysis," and can "infer voter sentiment from sparse data." So, how does this jibe with the outrage expressed by the supporters' companies over unauthorized government surveillance?

The 69 Words GM Employees Can Never Say 373

bizwriter (1064470) writes "General Motors put together its take on a George Carlin list of words you can't say. Engineering employees were shown 69 words and phrases that were not to be used in emails, presentations, or memos. They include: defect, defective, safety, safety related, dangerous, bad, and critical. You know, words that the average person, in the context of the millions of cars that GM has recalled, might understand as indicative of underlying problems at the company. Oh, terribly sorry, 'problem' was on the list as well."
America Online

AOL Finally Admits They Were Hacked 54

pdclarry writes: "Anyone managing email servers or lists has suspected for several weeks a major hack of AOL's servers, based on a sudden spurt in spam ostensibly from AOL email addresses (but actually spoofed) and sent to the contact lists of those AOL accounts. Of course, there is a steady stream of such spam from hacked individual accounts on many services, but the magnitude and suddenness of the most recent spam attack argues against individual account invasions. Well, AOL has finally come clean. Apparently unknown individuals accessed AOL's servers and took screen names, account information including mailing addresses, contact lists, encrypted passwords and encrypted answers to security questions. And possibly credit card information. AOL claims that it affects 'only' 2% of their members, but recommends that everyone change their passwords and security questions."
America Online

David Auerbach Explains the Inside Baseball of MSN Messenger vs. AIM 86

In N+1 magazine, David Auerbach explains what it was like in the "Chat Wars" of the late '90s, when he was the youngest person on the team developing Microsoft's brand-new messaging app, in the face of America Online's AIM, the 900-pound gorilla in the room. Auerbach explains how he used a network analyzer to fake out AOL's servers into letting Microsoft's client connect to AIM as well. "AOL could only block Messenger if they could figure out that the user was using Messenger and not AIM. As long as Messenger sent exactly the same protocol messages to the AOL servers, AOL wouldn’t be able to detect that Messenger was an impostor. So I took the AIM client and checked for differences in what it was sending, then changed our client to mimic it once again. They’d switch it up again; they knew their client, and they knew what it was coded to do and what obscure messages it would respond to in what ways. Every day it’d be something new. At one point they threw in a new protocol wrinkle but cleverly excepted users logging on from Microsoft headquarters, so that while all other Messenger users were getting an error message, we were sitting at Microsoft and not getting it. After an hour or two of scratching our heads, we figured it out." Eventually, though, AOL introduced x86 assembly code into the login protocol, and that not only stymied the MSM team, but led to some interesting warfare of its own. Auerbach's story sheds a lot of light on both good and bad aspects of corporate culture at the start of the 21st century, at Microsoft as well as other companies.
The Almighty Buck

Facebook and Google's Race To Zero 53

theodp (442580) writes "As Facebook and Google battle to bring the Internet to remote locations, Alicia Levine takes an interesting look at the dual strategy of Zero Rating and Consolidated Use employed by Google's FreeZone and Facebook's, websites which offer free access to certain Google and Facebook services via partnerships with mobile operators around the world. By reducing the cost to the user to zero, Levine explains, the tech giants not only get the chance to capture billions of new eyeballs to view ads in emerging markets, they also get the chance to effectively become "The Internet" in those markets. "If I told you that Facebook's strategy was to become the next Prodigy or AOL, you'd take me for crazy," writes Levine. "But, to a certain degree, that's exactly what they're trying to do. In places where zero-rating for Facebook or Google is the key to accessing the Internet, they are the Internet. And people have started to do every normal activity we would do on the Internet through those two portals because it costs them zero. This is consolidated use. If Facebook is my free pass to the Internet, I'm going to try to do every activity possible via Facebook so that it's free." The race to zero presents more than just a business opportunity, adds Levine — it also presents a chance for tech companies to improve lives. And if Google and Facebook fall short on that count, well, at least there's still Wikipedia Zero."

JavaScript Inventor Brendan Eich Named New CEO of Mozilla 112

darthcamaro (735685) writes "Mozilla today announcedthat Brendan Eich would be its new CEO . Eich had been serving as Mozilla's CTO and has been with Mozilla since day one — literally day one. Eich was a Netscape engineer when AOL decided to create the open-source Mozilla project in 1998. The choice of Eich as CEO seems obvious to some, after a string of recent short-tenured CEOs at Mozilla's helm."
United States

NSA General Counsel Insists US Companies Assisted In Data Collection 103

Related to yesterday's story about the NSA, Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes with this excerpt from The Guardian: "Rajesh De, the NSA general counsel, said all communications content and associated metadata harvested by the NSA under a 2008 surveillance law occurred with the knowledge of the companies – both for the internet collection program known as Prism and for the so-called 'upstream' collection of communications moving across the Internet. ... nearly all the companies listed as participating in the program – Yahoo, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL – claimed they did not know about a surveillance practice described as giving NSA vast access to their customers’ data. Some, like Apple, said they had 'never heard' the term Prism. De explained: 'Prism was an internal government term that as the result of leaks became the public term,' De said. 'Collection under this program was a compulsory legal process, that any recipient company would receive.'"
America Online

AOL Reverses Course On 401K Match; CEO Apologizes 123

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."
America Online

Winamp Purchased By Radionomy 188

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.'"