I’m like “an unhappy customer with cold french fries”?

So said Steve Rubel, during a recent talk with Jason Calacanis. I found a podcast on Jason Calacanis’ blog a few weeks ago in which him and Steve almost certainly discussed me, though they didn’t mention my name. In it Jason rehashes the comments (page no longer exists) we once exchanged about why I hate AOL. Except he lies or else has a bad memory, saying I “love” Netscape when in fact I hate it, and even claims I’ve “calmed down” about AOL completely thanks to our interaction. Nothing is further from the truth. (Area of detail is at 30:00 to 32:00, if you’re interested).

It's not just the french fries...

I replied to the podcast on his web page (see the first link above). I said I haven’t changed and corrected him about my feelings for Netscape, then mentioned another anti-AOL blogger who has calmed down recently, and rather inexplicably, since I can’t find comments from him on her blog.

I want to clear up a few things now that people are linking to that podcast…

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AOL Hacked

I’m learning this a little late, but according to a complaint filed by AOL in NY City, AOL was repeatedly hacked by 17 year old Mike Nieves between December 24, 2006 and April 7, 2007. According to AOL, he has:

…committed offenses like computer tampering, computer trespass, and criminal possession of computer material. Among his alleged exploits:

  • Accessing systems containing customer billing records, addresses, and credit card information
  • Infecting machines at an AOL customer support call center in New Delhi, India, with a program to funnel information back to his PC
  • Logging in without permission into 49 AIM instant message accounts of AOL customer support employees
  • Attempting to break into an AOL customer support system containing sensitive customer information
  • Engaging in a phishing attack against AOL staffers through which he gained access to more than 60 accounts from AOL employees and subcontractors

(quote courtesy of InfoWorld)

As a former paying customer of AOL (and a current member for research purposes, with a false name/address) my information might have been stolen, too, though I have no idea how many years back the stolen records extend to. I guarantee, though, if there’s a class-action coming out of this, I’m joining it.

How safe can you feel using AOL now? Between this, the subscriber search records released online, and the fact that AOL’s site is being used by phishers, no one should feel safe using AOL at all.

Do you click on an ad when you don’t know whose it is?

Click on an ad?

“What, are you kidding me?” you say, shaking your head, but in light of changes made to Google’s ad displays, it’s as good a question as any.

I must start off by saying I despise any ruse used to fool, trick or deceive a person into clicking on an ad or visiting a website under any false or unverifiable circumstances. Now that AOL uses Google Adwords as part of their Search Marketplace program, these deceptive practices are used not only by Google but by AOL, too.

As most people know AOL Search has been “enhanced by” Google’s algorithms for a few years. I’m unhappy that a search engine that’s given me trouble, that has too much spam, that skews results in a way that’s more profitable for advertisers than it is for us (consumers who don’t necessarily want to buy anything) has been AOL’s first choice for results for a long time.

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AOL Introduces AdVictims

AOL Trap

In news I might’ve missed over the holidays, Google rolled out a beta version of AdWords for AOL. The project should’ve stayed hush-hush, strictly on the down-low, but news of AdWords for AOL, part of their new “AOL Search Marketplace,” was “leaked” without AOL’s knowledge ahead of the formal announcement, which is pending.

Background: AOL struck their first deal with Google in 2002 to help them improve their search ranking. Google received a stake in AOL in exchange. AOL and Google renewed the agreement in December, 2005, for a much higher price. The AdWords project springs from that, according to AOL’s Blogging Stocks.

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