America Online is a Software/Hardware/Internet/Online/Offline/Telecommunications/Entertainment monopoly. America Online started as an online service and progressed into owning two-thirds of the world. They own the following (and probably more):

America Online

America Online is an ISP in, you guessed it, America. Founded in 1985 in Dulles, Virginia. By their takeover of Compuserve they have expanded their market to Europe.

AOL's CEO is currently Steve Case. They own the following companies/brandnames: Compuserve, Digital City, ICQ, iPlanet, MapQuest, Moviefone, Netscape, and Spinner.

Source o' knowledge: AOL's website at

A group whose members I greatly admire. Through paying a voluntary contribution of $10 per month beyond the ordinary cost of an internet connection, and agreeing to use proprietary software for web browsing and email, they pay for such excellent free services as AIM and Winamp for the rest of the Internet community.

In exchange for this financial support, the rest of the community mocks these poor souls when they cannot understand such complicated computing concepts as which socket in the modem the phone cord is connected to. Additionally, they are banned from the majority of technical IRC channels and, alongside Floridians and Windows users, have become a major laughingstock of the community. It scarcely seems fair.

Perhaps the only compensation for these sponsors of the online revolution is that others on the internet are immediately aware of the possibility that they may be facing problems as soon as the name of AOL is mentioned. Additionally, they do not have to deal with the complexity of Linux. It's not a bad life, and I know several friends who are AOL supporters. I am not; I doubt I could deal with the $10 monthly fee.

Seriously, though, folks, no matter how AOL members of the past tended to appear on a usenet then dominated by hardcore geeks, there's no reason to hold that behavior against those who now use that particular ISP.

Seen this morning (October 17, 2001) as a banner ad on

All-New AOL 7.0
1000 FREE Hours!
for 45 days

Let's do the math here.

24 hours in a day.
45 days
to use 1000 hours

24 * 45 = 1080

There are 1080 hours in 45 days. Under this offer from AOL, you have 1000 hours to use in 45 days. This leave a difference of 80 hours.

You would have to spend every waking moment on AOL, while getting only 1.7777777777777777777777777777778 hours of sleep per night. If anyone would actually manage to use all 1000 hours of this offer within the allotted 45 days, there are three possible assumptions I can think of.


You have 2 or more people using different screen names. This is actually the most likely, most sane, and least harmful possibility. Since only one person can be logged into a particular account, even with different screen names, these would have to be people that are up during different hours, and taking turns online.


Either you have a case of serious insomnia, or you have extreme disipline when it comes to sleep depravation. In either case, you'd have a serious sleep deficit, and a profoundly fucked circadian rhythm.


You need to cut back on your quite serious meth habit. tweaker Suck.

In closing, you can't yet sue AOL for false advertising, as it is technically possible to use 1000 hours of service in 45 days. However, in the case of Possibility 2, can you sue them for physical and emotional harm from trying to use all 1000 hours? "Your honor, I was trying to get the most for my money." *twitch* *twitch*

AOL are a large international ISP (or IAP in legal terms) whose product is exempt from VAT in Britain, allowing them some headway in undercutting their rivals. They offer an unmetered dialup service from (virtually) any UK address although metering may be involved if your phone line is provided by one of the more unscrupulous telco's (e.g. the ones in many university halls of residence).

They do not require you to use proprietary email or browser software. They do not disconnect you after a period of inactivity. They do not block any ports, although they transparently re-route outgoing SMTP traffic. Their services are about equal or slightly better in performance than FreeServe (now that's an evil company if ever there was one). Having said all this, their service is occasionally completely shit, connecting at a snails pace and dropping you into limbo usually in the middle of a fraught deathmatch. Most of the time it is OK however.

Apparently, allowing non-computer-literate people to use the internet (or at least the pertinent popular-interest subset thereof) is some kind of deeply offensive crime in the eyes of some technical people. A few years ago there was an arguable basis for such objections, but now it seems rather like snotty received prejudice. Especially when you consider that AOL is the cheapest (or only) option for unmetered internet access in some parts of this country.

Their much-maligned corporate anthropomorphisation, Connie, is played on television by model Rachel Willis, who is the sister of one of my ex-flatmates.

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