I didn’t mention it right off, but I had more problems getting AOL uninstalled from my computer last winter than I let on. In trying to get it done, I got a little neat-freak about it and edited my registry, too, first with Microsoft and other registry cleaners, then by hand, then both ways combined when I saw that neither way got every change AOL made. Then my computer crashed. So much for trying to clean up the registry. When I turned it back on after hours of erasing AOL keys, it would only boot to DOS.
I don’t know how to back up files (it can’t be that difficult…I should be ashamed of myself) so I lost it all, 11 months of downloaded programs: Java, file-sharing P2Ps, my Favorites, saved emails, Microsoft Works documents…it was a slow, horrendous pain to get my computer re-formatted only to watch it crash again on the next cold boot.
I formatted again, hoping my DOS wasn’t in shreds. The second time was a charm, luckily.
As time-consuming and frustrating as that was I have to thank AOL for the hair-raising experience, which might really burn them up, but I’m (more or less) sincere. I got a computer that runs 3 times faster without their garbage on it, not to mention the crashes eliminated every trace of AOL from my registry, temp and application data files, a feat no one can pull off on their own.
I also cut out some program files: I’m no longer running Real Player, Nero’s Player, any browsers besides IE and Avant (simply the best for dial-up) nor tons of other utilities I thought I needed so much in the first place, when I needed hardly any at all. I’ve only used the Internet for about a year, and back in my WalMart Connect/America Online days I was so completely ignorant and uninformed that I thought I needed every program and player out there, including lots that bundle with AOL programs at the slightest provocation, and more that bundle with Google or Yahoo! toolbars and deskbars. (See below for more about Google.)
For one thing, AOL 9.0 SE “Optimized”, unlike any other version of AOL ever distributed, requires at least 256 MB of RAM and 500 CPU to run correctly — that is, to run without completely destroying your computer’s overall speed. No other ISP in the world requires as much brute power just to install and get online.
For another, AOL’s set up so altered my registry keys and dialer — for instance, rearranging IE into a new browser for AOL, making itself the default auto-dialer for WalMart Connect, constantly running at least 5 programs in the background to maintain it’s dominion over my hard drive even when AOL was not in use, that my computer, the humble A-Open/Intel Pentium III/XP Pro that it
is was, never stood a chance against AOL’s cancer-like malignancy throughout it. Formatting fixed all the kinks adding expensive new hardware didn’t, so it’s faster now than ever. Here’s a left-handed thanks, AOL, because I’m left-handed, for allowing me to turn your curse on my hard drive into a blessing.
Why Google Sucks
I use Google over any other search engine because they have the best results out there, bar none. But Google sucks. I hate Google for the fact that their search engine sets ‘semi-permanent’ cookies on your browser that won’t expire until 2038. That’s 32 years from now — for anyone using Google today who will be dead by 2038, that’s ‘permanent’ enough. They also haven’t deleted any user’s search queries since 1998 if I recall correctly. These two facts alone point to a complete lack of privacy with Google Search, a product made by a company who’s cooperate motto is, ironically, “Don’t be evil.”
What isn’t evil about storing the world’s biggest, oldest collection of people’s search queries? Does anyone think Google will never abuse that information to market to us, reveal surfing habits to governments, or tailor search results to come out in the most profitable way?
Despite these issues, I use Google relentlessly, because I disabled Google’s cookie after learning about it’s pitfalls. I have a dynamic proxy address (see below for more on that) so I feel more secure than I ever did before. For an alternative, my home page is set to Scroogle (a Google “scraper” with ad-free results), but scrapers don’t come close to results that Google returns (open them in seperate browsers and type the same search term in both to see for yourself).
Scroogle claims Clusty’s search engine gives better results than Google, but I disagree again, even if it’s one of the few search engines that lists yours truly, which I am grateful for. Note 03-21-2006: At the time I wrote this only Google, Clusty, and a handful of smaller search engines showed Marah’s AOL Log in results. Now there’s many more…I can’t name half of them. Thanks, AOL!
Using dial-up gives a dynamic/proxy IP address which ensures Google never figures out who or where you are. If you use Google, make sure you have a dynamic IP; if you don’t have dial-up, subscribe to a proxy server. It’s worth the extra money each month to surf online privately, without Google, Big Brother, and everyone else who thinks they’re a hack looking up your behind.
At the very least, don’t install Google anything if you don’t want your searches stored in their bulging databases for the next 32 years. Click this link to disable your Google cookie so you can search privately. I disabled it and have suffered no ill effects in my searches since. The cookie is unnecessary. All it does is store every search query you type inside of Google’s Linux-running PCs forever. (Well, maybe they’ve upgraded since ’98.)