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Yahoo!

Yahoo Pinkie-Swears It Won't Ruin Tumblr 162 162

Nerval's Lobster writes "Yahoo has agreed to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion. As you know, Yahoo is a major corporation with a need to monetize its assets in a way that makes its shareholders happy, leaving open the question of whether it'll alter Tumblr's DNA in order to make the latter more of a significant cash generator. But at least for the moment, Yahoo seems content to leave its new property alone. 'Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business,' read the company's press release. 'The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.' Tumblr CEO David Karp, who has been known to make some very anti-advertising comments in the past, will remain in place. Even so, anyone who likes Tumblr may have some cause for concern, because Yahoo has a history of making high-profile acquisitions that subsequently implode. Back in 1999, for example, it paid over $3 billion for GeoCities, another blogging network that it eventually shut down after years of failing the update the property. In 2005, it acquired popular photo-sharing Website Flickr, which it likewise allowed to languish and die. That same year it bought Delicious, a popular Webpage-bookmarking site, and did exactly nothing with it. So when Yahoo starts off its Tumblr press release with a promise not to screw things up, it's a self-deprecating nod toward all that history. New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been on a bit of a buying spree of late, snatching up startups such as Summly in an attempt to make her company 'cool' and relevant."

Comment: Wrong Question asked out of ignorance (Score 5, Interesting) 269 269

These sorts of articles that pop up from time to time on slashdot are so frustrating to those of us who actually work in the field. We take an article written by someone who doesn't actually understand the field, about an contest that has always been no better than a publicity stunt*, which triggers a whole bunch of speculation by people who read Godel, Escher, Bach and think they understand what's going on.

The answer is simple. AI researchers haven't forgotten the end goal, and it's not some cynical ploy to advance an academic career. We stopped asking the big-AI question because we realized it was an inappropriate time to ask it. By analogy: These days physicists spend a lot of time thinking about the big central unify everything theory, and that's great. In 1700, that would have been the wrong question to ask- there were too many phenomenons that we didn't understand yet (energy, EM, etc). We realized 20 years ago that we were chasing ephemera and not making real progress, and redeployed our resources in ways to understand what the problem really was. It's too bad this doesn't fit our SciFi timetable, all we can do is apologize. And PLEASE do not mention any of that "singularity" BS.

I know, I know, -1 flamebait. Go ahead.

*Note I didn't say it was a publicity stunt, just that it was no better than one. Stuart Shieber at Harvard wrote an excellent dismantling of the idea 20 years ago.

Microsoft

+ - Bill Gates to finally receive his Harvard degree

coondoggie writes: "It's not like he needs it to beef up his résumé, but the world's richest college dropout finally is getting his degree. Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, will speak at Harvard University's commencement ceremony in June and, like all commencement speakers, will receive an honorary degree from the institution. It's hard to guess if Gates, the wealthiest person in the world and co-founder of a company that brought in $44 billion in revenue last year, cares. But the programming whiz who once dropped out of Harvard will likely feel some sense of satisfaction. http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/032207-bill- gates-to-finally-receive.html"
Patents

+ - PTO Rejects Instant Live Patent

Jivecat writes: "Instant Live, a service of the concert promotion company Live Nation, makes recordings of live concerts that are rapidly burned onto CDs to be sold to the audience before they leave the venue. It's a nice service for fans, but Live Nation holds the patent for a technology that places markers between songs so they can be written as separate tracks rather than one big track — in effect giving them a monopoly on in-concert recordings. Now, thanks to the efforts of the EFF and a patent attorney, who found prior work of similar technology, the U.S. Patent Office has revoked Live Nation's patent. This is good news for those who consider Live Nation to be the Evil Empire when it comes to concert promotion."
Privacy

+ - Flixster Grabbing Users' AOL and Gmail Passwords

Talaria writes: The social networking movie review site Flixster is grabbing their users' AOL, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail passwords, and using them to access their users' address books and send "invitations" to join Flixster to everyone in the address book, making it appear to be from the user. The password prompt screen looks very compelling, and even includes the ISP's logo right next to the password prompt. Rather than hiding this little "feature", Flixster brags about it in an interview following their receiving $2million in venture funding earlier this year.

The rate at which a disease spreads through a corn field is a precise measurement of the speed of blight.

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