Stay unsafe with AOL.

Is she really safe using AOL?

Updated 6-5-2007.

Most people don’t question why I can’t stand AOL but maybe some of you scratch your heads wondering why I think Google sucks, too. Explaining why usually isn’t a topic for this blog, but the safety of Google’s search engine is.

Most search engines show unsafe sites in results, but AOL uses Google to deliver them, and Google is crawling with tons of bad sites for even the most innocent words. Google also places worse sites higher in results than Yahoo! and other search engines do.

People who monitor badware threats know search engines are the number one breeding ground for them. Google is heinous in this respect. They do nothing to filter harmful results out. They even display unsafe results at the top of many popular searches.

I’ll give you a hard-to-forget example. Let’s say your teenage daughter wants to change her screensaver. Here’s the innocent-looking organic search results for “screensavers”, using AOL’s software.

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

It's not just the 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).

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 Rolls the Dice on New Video Site

AOL Rolls the Dice

Updated 4-03-2007. Edited 05-15-2007 and 5-19-2007.

The news about Google has affected the news about AOL more times than I care to recall, going back to the last in their series of partnerships (agreed to in late 2005) that somehow fell under the public radar and got broadcast as news again a few months ago.

Again AOL is making news because of Google, this time for wanting to cut into Google’s business by teaming up with NBC Universal (the same people who mistakenly gave us Randy Falco), NewsCorp’s MySpace, Microsoft, and Yahoo! to offer a competitor to YouTube that will offer free full-length movies and television shows as opposed to YouTube’s 10 minute clips. The new, jointly owned site could be up and running by the summer if all goes according to plan.

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Leaving AOL? Lose their video site.

AOL Video

Edited 02-20-2007 and 05-15-2007.

Recently I did a few drive-by reviews of Videos at AOL.com and Stage6, a new video site I learned about on Digg, and the differences between the “file-sharing” sites are staggering. All they have in common is free videos with some for sale at various prices; the only advantage AOL has over Stage6 is that sometimes they have more to choose from.

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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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Review of AOL Removal Tools

jv16PowerTools - image source: http://hwupgrade.it

Also see How to Uninstall AOL.

Edited/updated 12-08-2006.

After I ran tests a month or so ago, I concluded neither Mr. Tech’s AOL Cleaner nor the PC De-Crapifier do a good job of removing files, folders, and registry entries when they uninstall AOL, but I did my tests on a PC with 9.0, OpenRide, AOL’s Safety and Security Center and Security Monitor installed — more crap than either could handle, and didn’t test them until I’d already “uninstalled” AOL using AOL’s own uninstallers.

It hit me later that these tests weren’t good enough to base my results on, but neither cleaner did much better the second time around, so for the tech guys who deleted 2 podcasts about my uninstall and how-to cancel pages after I stopped recommending the PC De-Crapifier (update below), I’m hoping your site won’t be the last one to notice little ol’ mine.

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Why You Should Uninstall AOL

Using AOL’s software is like giving your computer cancer. It uses hundreds of program files to change IE’s default settings, reconfigures your modem and dialer, installs Real Player and other unwanted programs, adds up to 1000 registry keys (sometimes more, depending on which version you use) and it sets itself as the default dialer so getting online with other dial-up ISPs is difficult, if not impossible.

AOL 9.0 SE keeps nine processes running at all times – even when you’re signed off. Other versions of AOL keep up to 5 processes running (including AOL 9.0 VR – which uses 4 processes to stay “always-on” and connected). AOL’s constant, intensive use of your computer’s resources slows it down and wears the hardware out before its time.

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My computer crash, and why Google sucks.

AOL & G: suckin' like Hoovers

Edited 11-01-2006.

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.

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Why America Online can bite me.

I wrote this on December 11, 2005, two months after I canceled my free trials of AOL.

AOL is running the biggest scam the world’s ever seen: thee ‘free’ 50-day trial. I got taken in by it back in August, 2005, when I spied free AOL discs on a magazine rack where I worked. I took a disc — several, actually — because my ISP was WalMart Connect, which is really AOL 2.SL0W.

With WMC I’d click a link, feed the cat, use the bathroom, and if I was lucky, the page would almost be done loading. In contrast, I popped AOL’s disc in, cooked dinner, and even redecorated my house while it installed. As if that wasn’t enough wasted time, the final screen connecting me to their server crashed so I had to start all over again. What should take 20 minutes took me over 3 hours: running an install disc.

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