Verizon snaps up Yahoo for a bargain

This week saw wireless hackery, Pokemon idiocy, a new $9B pantomime horse, and just outright pantomime. Read all about it in our tech roundup.

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Verizon has been shopping for bargains at the dollar store. It emptied US$4.83 billion in change in return for Yahoo this week, which it will sellotape together with last year’s $4.4 billion AOL purchase to make some kind of digital content pantomime horse.

Yahoo was worth $125 billion in 2000, say reports, but as of April was valued at less than zero dollars, in spite of its stake in Alibabi and cash reserves. It chewed through several CEOs in a bid to keep its relevance, most recently recruiting Marissa Mayer from Google. She could walk away with up to $122 million in payoffs. Nice work if you can get it.

Mayer is a smart computer scientist who worked wonders at Google. When she took on the Yahoo role, some called it a poisoned chalice. Perhaps the real question to ask is whether anyone could have saved Yahoo, a company that was formed during the early years of the web, and which had suffered a crisis of identity and focus for years before her tenure?

Radio hack reveals keyboard secrets

Wireless keyboards are great. They’re lap-worthy, so that you can perch them on your thighs while you put your feet up on the table. Unfortunately, it also turns out they’re not that secure. Researchers at tech firm Bastille found that large numbers of wireless keyboards can be pwned using a $12 radio unit from 250 feet away. They can both read what you’re typing and insert keystrokes of their own. Let the password sniffing and session stealing begin.

Pokemon preoccupation persists

Pokemon fever continues apace. We won’t labour the point, as we covered it last week, but two notable examples of buffoonery: some Albertan teens were arrested crossing the border in search of the mysterious digital animals, which has to be one of the only reasons you’d ever want to enter Montana.

A reporter at a U.S. State Department briefing was called out while chasing down Pokemon at a press conference, proving the fourth estate is diligent and ever-watchful, albeit perhaps for the wrong things. Watch the video here. Awkwaaaard.

IsoHunt pays up

Vancouver-based Gary Fung, founder of the IsoHunt file sharing website, has agreed to pay $66 million in damages to Canadian and international record firms. Fung, who closed the site three years ago as part of a separate settlement with the movie industry, must fork out $55 million in damages, $10 million in punitive damages and another million in court costs. Clearly, in the entertainment industry, sharing isn’t caring.

Dingbat of the week

Oh, Julian Assange, what have you done? Wikileaks, the freedom of information project responsible for disseminating information the authorities don’t want you to read, dropped a bombshell this week. The site leaked thousands of emails stolen from the Democratic National Convention in a hack many believe to have been engineered by Russia in a bid to manipulate the U.S. election. Those emails contained the personal details of thousands of people, including credit card numbers.

Then, Wikileaks dumped thousands of emails from the Turkish government following the attempted coup and subsequent clampdown by its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Those emails too contained the private details of thousands of people. The site also published links to databases of almost every female voter in Turkey, including home addresses, and sometimes cellphone numbers and citizenship IDs.

Wikileaks also sent and then deleted a bizarre tweet that many took to be anti-Semitic. “Oh no it wasn’t,” the site later said. “Oh yes it was,” said more or less everyone else. It’s official, people. Wikileaks has turned into a dangerous, self-aggrandizing pantomime. But no one is laughing.

Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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