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Yahoo!

Verizon Nears Deal to Acquire Yahoo (bloomberg.com) 70

Verizon Communications is nearing a deal to buy Yahoo, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. While nothing is official yet, the publication claims that Verizon is discussing a price close to $5 billion for Yahoo's core Internet business. The report adds that Yahoo's patents are not part of the discussion, and it's unclear whether the two companies are considering Yahoo's real estate. "The companies may be ready to announce the deal in the coming days, the people said," the report adds. Interestingly, CNBC, citing its own sources, is independently reporting the same thing.
The Almighty Buck

Marissa Mayer Says Yahoo Continues To Make Solid Progress, Earnings Report Says Otherwise (fool.com) 129

tomhath quotes a report from Fool: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer tried to emphasize the progress that the company has made. "We continue to make solid progress against our 2016 plan," Mayer said, and "in addition to our efforts to improve the operating business, our board has made great progress on strategic alternatives." The CEO argued that the results met or exceeded the company's own guidance. Yahoo! was able to post a revenue increase by changing the ways that it presents revenue related to its search agreement with Microsoft, and without that change, adjusted revenue of $1.055 billion was down 15% from the year-ago quarter. That was even worse than the 13% drop investors were expecting, and adjusted EBITDA fell by more than a third. That resulted in adjusted net earnings of $0.09 per share, missing the consensus forecast by a penny but also glossing over a $440 million net loss on a GAAP basis. The company took a $395 million goodwill impairment charge and an $87 million intangibles impairment charge related to its Tumblr unit, determining that the fair value of the division is less than the amount indicated on Yahoo!'s balance sheet. It was also revealed that Yahoo is writing down the value of its Tumblr acquisition by $482 million, citing lower projections for the social network's future performance, according to a report from CNNMoney. Last quarter, the company took a $230 million write-down on its Tumblr acquisition. Since Yahoo acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013, Yahoo has written down more than half of its value.
Moon

Taiwan Building Lunar Lander For NASA Moon-Mining Mission (blastingnews.com) 84

MarkWhittington quotes a report from Blasting News: According to AFP, the Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taiwan is building a $47 million, 3.7 metric ton lunar lander on behalf of NASA. The vehicle is designed to carry a rover called Resource Prospector, which would roll about the lunar surface searching out deposits of oxygen, hydrogen, and water. The Resource Prospector mission is still being formulated but is envisioned to be a joint project with several national space agencies and commercial companies. The lunar lander is the first vehicle of its type to be built in Taiwan. "The Resource Prospector would take samples from about a meter beneath the lunar surface and then heat them in an oven to ascertain what the materials are that comprise it," reports Blasting News. The mission is part of the second stage to NASA's Journey to Mars program called "Proving Ground." "Should the Resource Prospector prove to be successful, the moon could be used as a base for space journeys into Mars," says Han Kuo-change, the head of CSIST's international cooperation program.
Security

DARPA Will Stage an AI Fight in Las Vegas For DEF CON (yahoo.com) 88

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "A bunch of computers will try to hack each other in Vegas for a $2 million prize," reports Tech Insider calling it a "historic battle" that will coincide with "two of the biggest hacking conferences, Blackhat USA and DEFCON". DARPA will supply seven teams with a supercomputer. Their challenge? Create an autonomous A.I. system that can "hunt for security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to attack a computer, create a fix that patches that vulnerability and distribute that patch -- all without any human interference."

"The idea here is to start a technology revolution," said Mike Walker, DARPA's manager for the Cyber Grand Challenge contest. Yahoo Tech notes that it takes an average of 312 days before security vulnerabilities are discovered -- and 24 days to patch it. "if all goes well, the CGC could mean a future where you don't have to worry about viruses or hackers attacking your computer, smartphone or your other connected devices. At a national level, this technology could help prevent large-scale attacks against things like power plants, water supplies and air-traffic infrastructure.

It's being billed as "the world's first all-machine hacking tournament," with a prize of $2 million for the winner, while the second and third place tem will win $1 million and $750,000.
Space

The World's Most Powerful Telescope Just Discovered 1,230 New Galaxies (yahoo.com) 96

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from Vice: On Saturday night astronomers at the South African MeerKAT radio telescope array fired up 16 of its recently completed dishes and released the first ever image from what is slated to become the worldâ(TM)s most powerful radio telescope. The initial results were incredibly promising: operating with only one quarter of the 64 dishes that will eventually comprise MeerKAT, the telescope was able to find 1300 galaxies in a small corner of the universe where only 70 galaxies were known to exist previously.
Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes a report Agence France-Presse: MeerKAT's full contingent of 64 receptors will be integrated next year into a multi-nation Square Kilometer Array (SKA) which is is set to become the world's most powerful radio telescope. The images produced by MeerKAT "are far better that we could have expected," the chief scientist of the SKA in South Africa, Fernando Camilo said at the site of the dishes near the small town of Carnarvon, 600 kilometres north of Cape Town. When fully up and running in the 2020s, the SKA... will have a discovery potential 10,000 times greater than the most advanced modern instruments and will explore exploding stars, black holes, dark energy and traces of the universe's origins some 14 billion years ago.
Facebook

Google, Tesla, and Facebook Attract 'Hordes of Tech Tourists' To Their Headquarters (siliconvalley.com) 80

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "We just came from Oracle, then we go to HP, Google; we're going to do Tesla, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. And Apple, I forgot Apple..." says one San Francisco resident, describing a tour he's providing for his friend from Tokyo. In fact, Silicon Valley's iconic tech companies have discovered tourists are now dropping in on their headquarters. "It was nice to walk between the buildings, take some pictures and see the employees enjoy their lunch break," wrote one visitor to Google's campus, before complaining that Google hadn't also provided them with bathroom access. "We got told not to use the Google bikes as they are for employees only, which was a bit of a shame," another visitor complained.

"Hundreds of people a day visit the Facebook sign and Google's Android sculpture garden in Mountain View," reports the Bay Area Newsgroup, "with many stopping at other tech giants as well, snapping photos and shooting video..." In fact, Tesla, Apple, Facebook, and Google have all now installed stores where tourists can purchase branded merchandise. (Google sells figurines of their Android mascot for $15). "What you're seeing are people on a pilgrimage..." said Stanford communications professor Fred Turner. "Folks are looking for a physical place behind the kind of dematerialized experience that they have online."

Intel has its own museum, and the Los Altos garage where Steve Jobs started Apple has even been designated a historic site. Are there any other historic tech sites that should be preserved to inspire future generations of tourists?
Australia

Energy Prices Skyrocket in South Australia (yahoo.com) 269

Slashdot reader sycodon quotes an article from AFR: Turmoil in South Australia's heavily wind-reliant electricity market has forced the state government to plead with the owner of a mothballed gas-fired power station to turn it back on. The emergency measures are needed to ease punishing costs for South Australian industry as National Electricity Market prices in the state have frequently surged above $1000 a megawatt hour this month and at one point on Tuesday hit the $14,000/MWh maximum price...
"A planned outage of the Heywood Interconnector to Victoria, coupled with higher than expected gas prices and severe weather conditions have contributed to large-scale price volatility in the energy spot market in recent days," said South Australia's energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis. The Australian Associated Press adds that "The state Labor government has invested heavily in wind and solar energy at the expense of baseload power, a move critics say has left the state exposed during poor weather. Mr. Koutsantonis has described the energy volatility as a failure of the national energy market because a lack of interconnection means South Australia often produces more renewable power than it can sell into the grid. But opposition spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the government had been too hasty to invest in renewables."
Twitter

Yahoo and Twitter CEOs Have Their Twitter Accounts Compromised 43

The man who sent Twitter's very first public tweet now also becomes the first Twitter CEO to have his own Twitter account compromised. An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends about this weekend's wave of high-profile attacks: At 2:50 a.m. ET, a tweet reading, "Hey, its OurMine, we are testing your security" and linking to the group's website was briefly posted, and while it was soon deleted, identical tweets continued to appear... The group has previously taken over other social media accounts, including Google's Sundar Pichai's Quora account, and Mark Zuckerberg's Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts...

Dorsey also wasn't the only tech heavy hitter whose Twitter account was breached during that 24-hour period. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla also saw breaches to their accounts, both of which were attributed to OurMine.

The Tweets may have come from Vine, according to Digital Trends, "which suggests that Dorsey was either using an old or shared password on the video network, or had otherwise connected his account to a compromised service...it's certainly alarming that a man who ostensibly is more aware than most of security protocols (especially on Twitter) fell victim to such an attack..."
Yahoo!

Mozilla Could Walk Away and Still Get More Than $1 Billion If It Doesn't Like Yahoo's Buyer (recode.net) 144

Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode: Under terms of a contract that has been seen by Recode, whoever acquires Yahoo might have to pay Mozilla annual payments of $375 million through 2019 if it does not think the buyer is one it wants to work with and walks away. That's according to a clause in the Silicon Valley giant's official agreement with the browser maker that CEO Marissa Mayer struck in late 2014 to become the default search engine on the well-known Firefox browser in the U.S. Mozilla switched to Yahoo from Google after Mayer offered a much more lucrative deal that included what potential buyers of Yahoo say is an unprecedented term to protect Mozilla in a change-of-control scenario. It was a scenario that Mayer never thought would happen, which is why she apparently pushed through the possibly problematic deal point. According to the change-of-control term, 9.1 in the agreement, Mozilla has the right to leave the partnership if -- under its sole discretion and in a certain time period -- it did not deem the new partner acceptable. And if it did that, even if it struck another search deal, Yahoo is still obligated to pay out annual revenue guarantees of $375 million.
AI

Europe's Robots To Become 'Electronic Persons' Under Draft Plan (yahoo.com) 262

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Yahoo News: Under the European Union's new draft plan, Europe's growing army of robot workers could be classed as "electronic persons," with their owners liable to paying social security for them. Robots are only becoming more prevalent in the workplace. They're already taking on tasks such as personal care or surgery, and their population is only expected to rise as their abilities are expanded with the increased development of new technologies. A draft European Parliament motion suggests that their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability. The draft motion called on the European Commission to consider "that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations." It also suggested the creation of a register for smart autonomous robots, which would link each one to funds established to cover its legal liabilities. Patrick Schwarzkopf, managing director of the VDMA's robotic and automation department, said: "That we would create a legal framework with electronic persons -- that's something that could happen in 50 years but not in 10 years. We think it would be very bureaucratic and would stunt the development of robotics," he told reporters. The report added that the robotics and artificial intelligence may result in a large part of the work now done by humans being taken over by robots, raising concerns about the future of employment and the viability of social security systems. The draft motion also said organizations should have to declare savings they made in social security contributions by using robotics instead of people, for tax purposes.
Government

Invoking Orlando, Senate Republicans Set Up Vote To Expand FBI Spying (reuters.com) 660

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a vote late on Monday to expand the FBI's authority to use a secretive surveillance order without a warrant to include email metadata and some browsing history information. The move, made via an amendment to a criminal justice appropriations bill, is an effort by Senate Republicans to respond to last week's mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub after a series of measures to restrict guns offered by both parties failed on Monday. Privacy advocates denounced the effort, saying it seeks to exploit a mass shooting in order to expand the government's digital spying powers. The amendment would broaden the FBI's authority to use so-called National Security Letters to include electronic communications transaction records such as time stamps of emails and the emails' senders and recipients. NSLs do not require a warrant and are almost always accompanied by a gag order preventing the service provider from sharing the request with a targeted user. The amendment filed Monday would also make permanent a provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on "lone wolf" suspects who do not have confirmed ties to a foreign terrorist group. A vote is expected no later than Wednesday, McConnell's office said. Last week, FBI Director James Comey said he is "highly confident that [the Orlando shooter] was radicalized at least in part through the internet."
Earth

Asymmetric Molecule, Key To Life, Detected In Space For First Time (yahoo.com) 56

schwit1 quotes a report from Yahoo News: Scientists for the first time have found a complex organic molecule in space that bears the same asymmetric structure as molecules that are key to life on Earth. The researchers said on Tuesday they detected the complex organic molecule called propylene oxide in a giant cloud of gas and dust near the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Akin to a pair of human hands, certain organic molecules including propylene oxide possess mirror-like versions of themselves, a chemical property called chirality. Scientists have long pondered why living things make use of only one version of certain molecules, such as the 'right-handed' form of the sugar ribose, which is the backbone of DNA. The discovery of propylene oxide in space boosts theories that chirality has cosmic origins. The scientists in the new study used radio telescopes to ferret out the chemical details of molecules in the distant, star-forming cloud of gas and dust. As molecules move around in the vacuum of space they emit telltale vibrations that appear as distinctive radio waves. Future studies of how polarized light interacts with the molecules may reveal if one version of propylene oxide dominates in space, the researchers said.
Yahoo!

Legacy Yahoo Messenger App Being Retired (pcmag.com) 61

Reader Irishman writes: Looks like August 5, 2016 is the last day for people clinging to the old desktop version of Yahoo Messenger. A new version is supposedly in the works but otherwise, it will be the mobile app or the web version. From a PCMag report: According to a new announcement from Yahoo, the company is officially killing off the old version of Messenger for good. You might be able to find it to download from some software archive website, but you won't be able to use it to chat with your friends. Yahoo is also switching up how it archives previous conversations. Any conversation histories you currently have (from using Messenger) are archived in Yahoo Mail, but they'll be going away on August 5 as well. You'll be able to export them to your desktop or laptop if you really need to save whatever it is you have typed to your friends.
Businesses

Yahoo Bidders Can't Even Agree On What They're Buying (recode.net) 46

It's been a while since Yahoo has been up for sale, but the interested companies are still struggling to figure out what parts of Yahoo are worth purchasing. "Being for sale is what Yahoo does for a living now," Kara Swisher reports. "This is a pretty basic deal with everyone trying to figure out the risk and reward here of taking over a clearly failing business," said one bidder quoted in the report. "Everyone has different criteria for what matters." Yahoo essentially has three things to offer, which come with their own set of problems. From the report: (1) Its core business that includes search, advertising and media assets, all of which are in decline and getting worse.
(2) Its patent portfolio that the company thinks is worth as much as $3 billion, but others peg at $1 billion.
(3) Its real estate, which the company is pegging at about $1 billion, while others put it at a much lower value.
It's also being reported that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will have to leave the company, regardless of whether it gets acquired or not. Some of the potential buyers include Verizon, which according to the report, isn't interested in getting Yahoo's patents. It is offering $3B to $3.5B all-cash. Several private equity firms, who are interested in getting hold of Yahoo-owned patents and real estate, are offering Yahoo a sum of $5 billion or more. "This deal is not one in which everyone's really enthusiastic, since there is a giant question of how quickly the business is deteriorating," said another bidder. "If you win, you might lose and vice versa."
Patents

Yahoo Preps Auction For 3,000 Patents Worth $1 Billion (arstechnica.com) 66

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Wall Street Journal reports that bids are being accepted for nearly 3,000 Yahoo patents and pending applications. In April, Yahoo moved 2,659 patents into a patent-holding company called Excalibur IP LLC, which was seen as a first step toward a patent sale. "This represents a unique opportunity for companies operating in the Internet industry to acquire some of the most pioneering and foundational patents related to Web search and advertising," Yahoo said in a statement. Those invited to join the auction include "strategic buyers, private-equity firms, and investment firms focused on intellectual property," according to the Journal. Preliminary bids are due by the middle of this month, and the patents are expected to fetch more than $1 billion, according to "people familiar with the matter" who spoke to the Journal. Bloomberg, which also reported on the patent sale, said there was no official reserve price or bidding guidelines. Yesterday, Verizon submitted a $3 billion bid for Yahoo's core internet business. The sale will include 500 U.S. patents and more than 600 pending applications, but will not include the larger collection of patents going in the patent sale.
Republicans

Ted Cruz Proposes Bill To Keep US From Giving Up Internet Governance Role (washingtontimes.com) 280

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Washington Times: Internet legislation proposed Wednesday in the Senate would prohibit the U.S. government from relinquishing its role with respect to overseeing the web's domain name system, or DNS, unless explicitly authorized by Congress. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a division of the Commerce Department, currently oversees control of the DNS, a virtual phonebook of sorts that allows internet users to easily browse the web by allocating domain names to websites the world over. The NITA has long been expected to give up its oversight role to a global multi-stakeholder community, however, prompting lawmakers to unleashed a proposal this week that would assure the U.S. government maintains control unless Congress votes otherwise. The bill, the Protecting Internet Freedom Act, "would prevent the Obama administration from giving the Internet away to a global organization that will allow over 160 foreign governments to have increased influence over the management and operation of the Internet," according to a statement issued Wednesday by the office of the bill's co-sponsor, Sen. Ted Cruz. Specifically, the bill aims to ensure that the NTIA's relationship with the DNS doesn't terminate, lapse, expire or otherwise end up cancelled unless authorized by Congress, while a separate provision would guarantee that the U.S. government's exclusive control over .gov and .mil domains remains intact. In the UK, the controversial Snooper's Charter -- or the Investigatory Powers Bill as it's officially known -- has been passed through the House of Commons by UK MPs.
Government

FBI Kept Demanding Email Records Despite DOJ Saying It Needed a Warrant (theintercept.com) 102

An anonymous reader writes: The secret government requests for customer information Yahoo made public Wednesday reveal that the FBI is still demanding email records from companies without a warrant, despite being told by Justice Department lawyers in 2008 that it doesn't have the lawful authority to do so.

That comes as a particular surprise given that FBI Director James Comey has said that one of his top legislative priorities this year is to get the right to acquire precisely such records with those warrantless secret requests, called national security letters, or NSLs. 'We need it very much,' Comey told Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., during a congressional hearing in February.

Businesses

Wal-Mart Says It Is 6-9 Months From Using Drones To Check Warehouse Inventory (yahoo.com) 106

Multinational retail corporation Wal-mart announced on Thursday that it is six to nine months from starting to use drones to check warehouse inventories in the United States. The drones, which are capable of operating on autopilot, fly through the aisles snapping 30 images a second, and deliver real-time data to employees about whether the correct product is shelved in the proper place. From a Reuters report: Finding ways to more efficiently warehouse, transport and deliver goods to customers has taken on new importance for Wal-Mart as it deals with wages costs while seeking to beat back price competition and boost online sales. Wal-Mart said the camera and technology on top of the drones have been custom-built for the retailer.
The Internet

Yahoo Becomes First Company To Disclose FBI National Security Letters (tumblr.com) 74

Yahoo has disclosed receipt of three national security letters (FBI requests for data that Yahoo is typically barred from sharing) and published redacted copies of the letters online for anyone to see. The company says that the move "marks the first time any company has publicly acknowledged receiving an NSL following the reforms of the USA Freedom Act." The bill was created last year allowing companies to gag orders relating to National Security Letters. Engadget reports: It takes some doing to get permission to acknowledge the receipt of a letter, too -- Yahoo says that the FBI needs to review if the nondisclosure provision is still necessary for each specific NSL before allowing a company to publish it, and even then certain information needs to be redacted before being made available to the public. Still, when companies do get these gag orders lifted, it allows them to notify the investigated parties that the FBI was looking into their data, and it's a big win for transparency overall.
Security

Hackers Stole 65 Million Passwords From Tumblr (vice.com) 44

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, reporting for Motherboard: On May 12, Tumblr revealed that it had found out about a 2013 data breach affecting 'a set of users' email addresses and passwords, but the company refused to reveal how many users were affected. As it turns out, that number is 65 million, according to an independent analysis of the data. Troy Hunt, a security researcher who maintains the data breach awareness portal Have I Been Pwned, recently obtained a copy of the stolen data set. Hunt told Motherboard that the data contained 65,469,298 unique emails and passwords. Update: 05/30 16:36 GMT by M : An earlier version of the original report claimed that data of 68 million accounts were compromised. It's 65 million. The original story, and hence, this summary has been updated to reflect the same.

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