Hip hop & AOL: Lin-Manuel Miranda shares his influences for Hamilton's 'My Shot'

The entire Rotten Tomatoes interview (above) with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is terrific and insightful. But I was especially struck by the part where he shares the songwriting process for "My Shot." His influences were hip hop and the AOL dialup chime:

"I'm grabbing from the influences and paying homage to those influences."

screengrab via Rotten Tomatoes Read the rest

Verizon is finally killing Compuserve Forums

Compuserve's sprawling, paleolithic forums were acquired along with Compuserve itself by AOL in 1998, and their fossil remains were augmented, year after year, decade after decade, by die-hard users who continued to participate there. Read the rest

AIM to be taken out back and shot

AIM, Aol's instant messaging service, is to shut down December 15 after 20 years of operation. Once a near-universal form of communication for a certain generation of internet users--even those who wouldn't be caught dead paying for Aol's internet service!--AIM slowly faded in the age of Google and Slack and ultimately died of corporate abuse and neglect. They are, however, collecting "Aimemories" to remember the good times by.

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Mike Pence used his AOL account for Indiana government business, and got hacked

Indiana laws permit public officials to use personal email accounts for government business, so it does not appear that vice-president Mike Pence violated any laws when he opted to use his personal AOL account to communicate sensitive governmental information; however, he certainly thwarted the state's open records laws, and also exposed that information to hackers who made off with it. Read the rest

AOL "You've Got Mail" guy is now an Uber driver

When you logged into AOL in the 1990s, you were greeted with the voice of Elwood Edwards. Last night, Brandee Barker was headed to one of Hillary Clinton's Ohio campaign headquarters for canvassing when she happened to meet Edwards. He was her Uber driver!

From CNN:

Edwards, a longtime voice actor, recorded the famous famous phrase -- along with others like "Welcome," "File's Done" and "Goodbye" -- because of his wife. Back in the late 80s she worked for Quantum Computer Services, the company that would later become AOL, and she overheard the company's CEO saying he wanted a voice to notify people when they receive email.

She told them about her husband, he recorded the phrases on a cassette tape and became the internet's voice. He was paid $200 for the voice over, he told Barker.

In addition to his voice over work, Edwards worked for several years as a news editor at a TV station in Cleveland before recently retiring.

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Verizon to buy Yahoo for $5bn

Twenty-one years ago, Yahoo became the soul of the nascent web. Now it's telco food, to be eaten by Verizon for $5bn.

Verizon is also the proud owner of AOL, snagged last year for $4.4bn. At their height, the two lynchpins of the 90s' WWW were worth about $350 billion—at least to those unlucky enough to buy tech shares in 2000.

Verizon plans to unite the two companies to create a Facebook-killer made of nostalgia and its own users' personal information—and the zoo of startups and internet publishers the two companies gobbled up in their dying years.

The US telecoms giant is expected to merge Yahoo with AOL, to create a digital group capable of taking on the likes of Google and Facebook.

Verizon bought AOL - another faded internet star -in a $4.4bn deal last year, which gave it ownership of the Huffington Post, Techcrunch, Engadget and other news sites.

Shortly afterwards, Verizon announced it would start combining data about its mobile network subscribers - which is tied to their handsets - with the tracking information already gathered by AOL's sites.

Update: It struck me that Yahoo is custodian of Tumblr and Yahoo Answers, two of the last real refuges for girls and young women on the 'net. Verizon will want to kill or heavily sanitize both. Read the rest

The man behind AOL's "You've got mail!" voice of the 1990s

Long before Siri and Alexa, there was good ol' Elwood Edwards. If you ever logged on to America Online in the 1990s, you enjoyed the dopamine rush of Edwards cheerfully informing you that "You've got mail!"

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AOL history through the NYT Crossword

Quartz tells the history of AOL, 1997-2011, through clues and answers in the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. They did it using their simple app for searching NYT Crossword clues. Above, "105-Across: Co. that owns Moviefone" Read the rest

Trying to close your AOL account is suspicious activity

A few days ago, AOL fired the staff developing AIM, its long-running instant messaging system. Having done this, it reset user accounts, locking them out of third-party IM clients until they confirmed and updated decade-old personal information. Having done so, I was displeased at such a shameless data mining ploy and tried to cancel AOL/AIM entirely. This is what resulted:

Bear in mind that I was already logged in and could change any account setting I pleased. Who knew that when AOL said it has "no plans" to end service, it was responding to customer demands? Read the rest

AOL quits Rush, "working on" removing ads

AOL is the latest advertiser to bail on radio host Rush Limbaugh following his description of activist Sandra Fluke as as a "slut" and "prostitute". Reuters' Anthony De Rosa cites an AOL source as saying it's "working on" removing Rush-linked promotions from the site.

It's strange to think of website so vast and operationally complicated that one is literally incapable of changing what's on it in a hurry. Perhaps the servers are ringed by moats of lava and defended by crocodiles. Don't you just hate it when that happens?

UPDATE. Say hello to bg_hero-NoRush.jpg, who lacks Rush's weirdly coquettish stance, but hints at a greater majesty with his purple attire and Mediterranean countenance. Read the rest