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."
1sockchuck writes "While Facebook and Apple are investing in huge data cathedrals, AOL has decided to go in a different direction: a distributed network of rack-sized server huts that live outdoors. AOL is taking the concept for its unmanned data center and shrinking it into a 'micro data center.' AOL envisions a distributed network of these units, allowing it to quickly roll out new IT capacity for hyperlocal news sites and create its own content distribution network."
itwbennett writes "Confirming the rumor that emerged earlier this month, Microsoft has bought enterprise social networking software maker Yammer for $1.2 billion. Yammer will become part of Microsoft's Office Division." If you're not familiar with Yammer, it's essentially a messaging system that gives more control to administrators than does using an outside company's service, like AOL's AIM. "Enterprise social networking software," as Wikipedia explains it, means that Yammer "is used for private communication within organizations or between organizational members and pre-designated groups, making it an example of enterprise social software. ... Access to a Yammer network is determined by a user's Internet domain, so only those with appropriate email addresses may join their respective networks."
Stowie101 writes with a few pieces from an article on what's been happening in the fight against over-compressed radio music and deafening tv commercials: "The first major step towards the elimination of heavily-compressed music could be the International Telecommunications Union's ... measurement of loudness that was ... revised in 2011. ... Acting to rectify the problem on the broadcast side of the issue, many European and Asian broadcasters are adopting loudness standards that are based on the criteria first introduced by the ITU. Here in the U.S., the federal government has also been proactive to improve the quality of broadcast television. By the end of 2012, the broadcast community will have to follow the CALM Act that requires commercials to be played at the same volume as broadcast television. In terms of music and recording, these broadcast standards do not apply. But Shepherd theorizes the measurement standards will be applied to the production of music. 'Measuring loudness, in general, isn't easy. Now the ITU has agreed on a new "loudness unit:" the LU. You can measure short- and longer-term loudness over a whole song. They've also agreed on guidelines for broadcast; what the average loudness should be and how much you can vary it. The recommendation has been made law in the U.S. for advertisements and is also being adopted in the U.K. and all over the world. All the major broadcasters here — Sky, the BBC, ITV — have agreed to follow the standard.'"
First time accepted submitter WindyWonka writes "Google and AOL were sued for patent infringement Thursday, accused of violating two former British Telecom patents via Google's search 'snippets' and by Google AdSense and Advertising.com ad serving technology. Incredibly, the lawsuit by apparent patent troll Suffolk Technologies asserts that every Google search result 'snippet' display violates one patent, and that another really broad server patent is violated every time Google and AOL serve up ads."
New submitter mrnick writes "Eric Simons, 19 years old, was working at incubator Imagine K2 in Silicon Valley, which was hosted at AOL's Palo Alto campus. His grant money eventually ran out, but his access badge kept working, so he moved into AOL's office. He slept on a couch, took showers and washed clothes in the office gym, and ate for free in the cafeteria, all the while working on his new start-up. He was able to get away with this for two months before being discovered by security guard."
eldavojohn writes "Not two weeks after Microsoft purchased 925 patents and patent applications plus licenses to AOL's portfolio for $1 billion, Facebook has now acquired 650 of said patents and patent applications for $550 million to which Microsoft retains a license. So, was Microsoft's $450 million worth it? According to their press release: 'Upon closing of this transaction with Facebook, Microsoft will retain ownership of approximately 275 AOL patents and applications; a license to the approximately 650 AOL patents and applications that will now be owned by Facebook; and a license to approximately 300 patents that AOL did not sell in its auction.' Will the patent-go-round continue, or has Facebook loaded up for a good old-fashion Mexican standoff?"
Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to require automakers to include a brake-throttle override system in all their cars and light trucks to help drivers regain control when a vehicle accelerates suddenly when the throttle becomes stuck or jammed. 'America's drivers should feel confident that any time they get behind the wheel they can easily maintain control of their vehicles — especially in the event of an emergency,' says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The move came after a fiery 2009 Lexus crash after a floor mat was improperly installed and may have trapped the accelerator pedal, causing the vehicle to race down California Highway 125 outside San Diego at more than 100 miles per hour, crashing and bursting into flames, killing an off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer and three members of his family. That crash led to a recall of 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to fix the floor mat problem, and Toyota issued millions more recall notices to fix sticking gas pedals and other issues. Now Toyota has made a brake-override system standard, implementing it in all vehicles the company sold by the end of 2010, and most other automakers offer such a system on many of their vehicles or are adding it. Other automakers would have about two years to comply with the proposal (PDF). 'We learned as part of the comprehensive NASA and NHTSA studies of high-speed unintended acceleration that brake-override systems could help drivers avoid crashes,' says NHTSA Administrator David Strickland."
inode_buddha writes "It's part of the $1 billion AOL patent deal, and it's something that would have made many minds explode back in the 1990s. It still makes my mind explode today. Marc Andreesen points out that MS now has a significant chunk of the old Netscape. What are the ramifications for Mozilla?"
netbuzz writes "Marking the latest escalation in the technology industry's intellectual-property arms race, Microsoft is paying AOL a shade over $1 billion for 800 patents, the cream of which AOL CEO Tim Armstrong has described as 'beachfront property in East Hampton.' Armstrong insists they haven't left the cupboard bare: 'We continue to hold a valuable patent portfolio as highlighted by the license we entered into with Microsoft. The combined sale and licensing arrangement unlocks current dollar value for our shareholders and enables AOL to continue to aggressively execute on our strategy to create long-term shareholder value.'"