AOL says they’ve changed?

You can dress a donkey up like a horse, but...

Updated 02-3-2007.

It’s a different plot but the story has the same ending: No matter how AOL dresses it up, they can’t make the donkey that their washed-up business is look a horse. The only thing that’s changed is their approach. Rather than siphon money right out of your checking or credit card account for their “ISP service” (a non-Internet protocol complaint proxy server that sends their browser straight to AOL content and ads) they’re betting you’ll visit aol.com on your own or install their free software so you’ll stay on their site clicking ads, which is how they plan on making their next fortune.

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AOL’s Haier Media Player

Edited 2-03-2007 and 5-19-2007.

Everyone’s talking about how “AOL is in the iPod business now.” AOL unveiled this hideous mp3-playing monstrosity at the CES show in LA like it was the cure for cancer. It got people murmuring about “how much AOL has changed” and “how innovative” they are and whether or not this shiny piece of crap will be “the next iPod killer,” inspired ooohs and ahhs from the tech community and made Steve Job’s cadre of devotees have fatal heart attacks. Time to sort out the truth from the bullshit so you can discuss the “killer player” without giving AOL credit that they don’t deserve, which might make me have a fatal heart attack. Don’t make me have a fatal heart attack…I’m only 35.

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You can CANN spam, too – just quit AOL.

Junk mail on AOL

Members of AOL fight a constant battle with spam, especially if they don’t know how to fiddle with the “Spam Control” buttons on their inboxes. The printed version of the spam they’re mercilessly bombarded with each year would have to be measured in tons. This article from ZWire (page no longer exists) outlines how the author deleted 51 spam messages from his ad-strewn AOL inbox in just one hour and the funny thing is, he makes it sound like that’s just a typical day for him over in AOHell, which I escaped perdition from myself not too long ago. Think about it. He gets 51 spams in one hour. I use EarthLink and I don’t get 51 spams in one year.

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AOL Now the Largest Free Proxy Site in the World

Bad news for AOL: ever since the service became free in August 2006, it’s been devolving into a phisher’s paradise. Now anyone with a broadband connection can download AOL’s free software and use AOL as a proxy server to redirect a website to any other website. If you think about this for a minute you can see the possibilities: for instance, creating a phishing site that looks exactly like neteller.com, then using AOL’s proxy to redirect the HTTP request through the Thailand Ministry of Education. Think it can’t be done? From chrisohara.org (edited for length):

I just received an email today stating that I needed to log into my neteller.com account to collect the money that I was sent via party poker…I don’t have a neteller account but the link in the email was quite interesting. It uses AOL’s redirect page to redirect to…202.143.132.179, which is in Thailand. It appears it belongs to the Ministry of Education. It appears that one of their computers has been compromised…I contacted AOL, admin@aol.com, and they have yet to respond.

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And AOL’s screw-the-stockholder award goes to…

Kent D. Wakeford, former executive affairs director of AOL’s now-defunct NY business unit. It’s a real award (as far as he was concerned) and was bestowed upon him by his former boss, David Colburn. In Colburn’s speech about it, he called Kent’s deal-making with PurchasePro, their former business partner:

“science fiction,” according to “Stealing Time,” a book by Washington Post reporter Alec Klein on the company’s accounting practices. Colburn has said he did not recall using that term. Colleagues laughed as Wakeford accepted the award, thanking AOL for its help, Klein wrote.

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