Pursuing a career in Information Technology comes with certain responsibilities and baggage -- among these are having to act as a personal, unpaid member of the Geek Squad whenever a friends and family computer is ill.
Yesterday I got a phone call from my wife, Rachel, who was at her mother's house trying to get onto the Internet.
Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more .
"The Internet isn't working."
"Okay, well, did you try rebooting the machine? Sometimes you need to do that."
"Did you reboot the Linksys?"
"The cable modem?"
"Okay, did you try the Repair Connection trick like at home?"
"Yes, but this is Vista, not XP"
"What kind of wireless signal are you getting?"
"100 percent, 54megabits"
"So you have an IP address then?"
"So what's going on?"
"This window thingy keeps popping up and is asking me if I want to use AOL or 3G"
"You don't need to @#$%^& use AOL. AOL is not on that machine."
"Yes it is."
"What do you mean YES IT IS?"
"There's a little AOL logo on the right hand side in the system dock"
"You mean the little running man? That's AIM."
"No, in addition to the little man."
"How the @#$% did AOL 9 end up on that machine?"
"Mom said when she took it down to Florida she couldn't get her wireless to work at her friend's house so she installed the AOL software so she could get to her AOL mail and Instant Messenger."
"She doesn't need that crap! She can use the web interface and AIM! When I got her that ThinkPad a month ago, it was perfect. Now its completely #$%ed up?"
"Oh good God. The next time she messes this box up I'm giving her Ubuntu."
This is pretty much how the conversation went for the next two hours, where we tried uninstalling the software, using Crap Cleaner, messing with registry entries, et cetera. After re-installing a whole bunch of software and patches and drivers, we finally got the box working again. And it's STILL quirky and I'm probably going to have to re-image the machine this weekend. Great.
If this harrowing experience is not enough to convince you to get your loved ones off AOL and to something more manageable, let me re-iterate: AOL CLIENT IS EVIL. IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO PURPOSE WHATSOEVER OTHER THAN TO COMPLETELY MESS UP YOUR SYSTEM.
If you or a family member is STILL using AOL, for the love of all that is good, please migrate them to something else -- like GMail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail -- ANYTHING but the AOL client. Nobody needs to pay AOL a monthly ransom fee to get an email address in this day and age if you are already paying for broadband Internet.
[Editor's Note: AOL Email via the online web interface is free and existing dialup users can migrate to it at no cost. J.P.]
Word to Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, Facebook and LinkedIn -- somebody needs to come up with some easy, automated way of importing AOL mail and address books into some other webmail system without using some convoluted method of exporting the data into some 3rd party tool and uploading it back into the web interface. Get the AOL succubus off my back!
The postings and opinions on this blog are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.