Nemo Memo: Why Does AOL Still Exist?

Nemo Memo: Why Does AOL Still Exist?


I have been using America Online for OS X since it was introduced. For routine email, chat, and typical AOL content, this new version of the software is fine. It’s different than concurrent updated releases for Windows, but subscribers can switch computers or platforms and soon be comfortable with any dissimilarities. The same can be said for going back and forth between Mac AOL 5 for OS 9 and earlier, and the other newer editions.

Most readers are wondering why AOL still exists, especially for people experienced on the Internet. “Why not use a real ISP, Nemo,” they (or you) are asking, since America Online is so late-1980s, or early-1990s? “In this post-Y2K environment, get with the program, John: Apple Mail, Safari browser, iChat, and the rest.”

In my daytime job as a “personal trainer” computer tutor for individuals and small businesses, many of my clients are satisfied with AOL. They range from prehistoric Windozers and Macintoshers through leading-edge evangelists. America Online continues to serve them all effectively.

Broadband ISP users can now take advantage of a special six-months at $10 per month phone-in promotion. This BYOA (bring your own access) plan then reverts to $15.00 BYOA, saving subscribers $30 total and encouraging them to run AOL “on top of” a cable modem or DSL service via TCP/IP high speed login. I’m in this plan, and it works perfectly. Fifteen hours of “roaming” or dialup connectivity is included per month, which is more than enough to retrieve your email from a hotel room or similar non-broadband telephone line.

AOL for Mac OS X has a slow, cluttered Welcome screen that contains dozens of clickable links and channels, plus a substantial set of menu items. Altogether it’s more similar than different from pre-X editions, in spite of the visual confusion.

There are two serious bugs in the AOL X application that drive me bananas:

• When I attempt to Keep As New a quantity of incoming email messages I have read, if I select more than a couple to retain, my entire computer freezes. Force Quit and Restart are required to resume.

• AOL’s new fancy Welcome Screen is so loaded with garbage that I could grow a beard while all the on-screen thingamabobs are loading after high-speed login.

Once I accept those two bloopers, how else is my AOL eXperience? Okay! But wait, there are more important considerations, if you were waiting for a zinger.


America Online’s new server-based spam filtering is powerful and robust, but not completely accurate. On average, once per day an important non-spam innocent message gets dumped into my Spam Folder (KEYWORD: spam folder) and I have to locate and retrieve it manually. This is B-A-D, but now that I’m used to it, only a minute per day is required to reclaim my otherwise lost message(s).


If you’re waiting for criticism, take a pass. AOL’s new domestic and foreign (think: India) phone techies answer promptly and spend as long on the phone as you need to work through any problems. My success rate is close to 90 percent helping clients with AOL difficulties using their live phone helpers. After years of being “America On Hold,” they are doing well in this category.

America Online for OS X continues to be a good choice for newbies and users who need frequent handholding, easily navigable interface, and who are not demanding of their Internet service. I’m talking about a lot of people you and I know, so thank goodness AOL is still here to serve us.

Its dialup network is stable and reasonably speedy most of the time in most locations, and TCP/IP “BYOA” access is a winner. When that call comes in the night from your cousin Earl, tell him to phone AOL Tech Support at (800) 827-6364, so you can go back to sleep.

I welcome your comments, wisecracks, and flames in our Article Discussion area below.


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