Experience with AOL 4.0 (16-bit) using a Windows NT 4.0 system


List of Problems with AOL

  1. Windows NT the premiere software from Microsoft that is where everybody is supposed to have migrated to ever since Win95 came out.  WinNT  is not supported; whereas, Win9x with virtually no security measures is supported.   Having to use 16 bit programming for WinNT is absurd.  Downgrading to Win95, Win97, Win98 is out of the question, and upgrading to Win2000 from anything but Win98 is unsupported.  Win98 which is 32 bit is supported, so can't really believe there is a  valid reason that WinNT  4.0 is not fully supported.
  2. What I want is direct access to the Internet, I do not care at all about AOL chat groups.  Trying to access AOL facilities is too slow and frequently cause one to get terminated - probably has Active-X or advertisers.
  3. Getting logged off of AOL,  cannot come back to current work.  Anything started in a newsgroup post is lost, anything.  Frequently logged off without warning.  The triple beep warning is better, but the loss of connection is very problematic and appears to be on purpose.  I see under Win98 that one can continue where they were in Internet navigation with a browser when they log back onto AOL -- this is not possible with WinNT having to look and act like Win 3.1.   I acquired an MSN account and do not get logged off, and can continue where I was if I decide to suddenly break the connection 
  4. AOL frequently locks up so that you cannot reply to windows, such as Reply or else,  Mailbox needs compression, and get logged off because you are locked out.  Have found that  by clicking on the AOL window before replying to  the dialog will usually allow one to proceed.
  5. Insufficient web space.
  6. AOL online HELP is not indexed such as AltaVista and Deja News.   Furthermore it should be on public web pages so that it can be referenced by free public indexers such as AltaVista and Deja News.   Currently about the only source of useful indexed information is in alt.aol.sucks which needless to say has far more derogatory information than useful information.  Compare this to the extensive Microsoft Knowledge Data Base (MS KB) which sorry to say is not readily available to me with AOL dialup access from WinNT due to ActiveX, I suppose.  People on Win9x systems, I imagine have no problems.
  7. AOL updates come without warning and 1/2 time used to make system unusable for two days and severely crippled for another two weeks.   AOL help desk usual response reinstall.   That means installing AOL 3.1 and redownloading 4.0 because there is not upgrade file.  Now I retain  AOL 3.1 just so I can reapply the 4.0 install without redownloading.

TOS and Privacy

  1. Not being able to shut down AOL advertising once and for all, and to be able to verify that it is all turned off.  AOL presumably allows you to turn off, but it is not guaranteed.  If you try to find out why you are getting junk from AOL you have to go through the entire process again because AOL does not tell you what they have already marked.
  2. Not being able to close out Welcome and AOL advertising windows is certainly a service related issue.
  3. I still remember getting a very inappropriate  TOS UCE/SPAM reply back to me from AOL when I tried to tell AOL how some of wording in a lawsuit should have been changed to not be ambiguous, and another time when I complained about SPAM..
  4. The actual cost of increasing web space must be almost nil per user, but enhanced web space is available only if AOL can join you into a neighborhood so it can advertise through your site.  Seems to me that the use of AOL in email and websites should be speak for itself.   Also the neighborhood stuff and advertisement take down AOL and the NTVDM (NT Virtual DOS Machine) meaning Active-X or Java..
  5. The attempts of AOL to sell lists of members through "trusted" advertisers and to subvert and change the TOS policy was a major fiasco.  If AOL allows others to gather such information and sell or give it to AOL is equally a breech of trust.
  6. AOL appears to welcome video and audio files in email and web browsing which increases transmissions times, while severely limiting  text based HTML space.  Duplicity.

List of problems with AOL Email

  1. Inadequate filters to eliminate SPAM mailing.   No proper documentation, even on what the minimum entries are to eliminate a poster.  for example wild card characters.   Can you eliminate  Korean sites  with just  .kr  for instance, that is not mentioned in descriptions.   AOL uses filtering to send back messages for automatic replies when sending messages to AOL.
  2. Cannot put all mail into a readable text file, for processing by a program that works with text.
  3. Cannot send SPAM to TOSSPAM without opening it.  Cannot check headers without opening it.
  4. Cannot cancel all copies of SPAM with a single button to  delete and not file in PFC (Personal Filing Cabinet), suggest a RED Delete button for this purpose.
  5. Want a button on Email to automatically add the sender and anything that looks like it the to the Filtered Out list. [Filter Out].    Want to be able to automatically separate questionable email for later review in a separate category..
  6. Want a button on Email to eliminate the automatic copy to the PFC for the particular email in read.  [Purge this Email]
  7. Want to be able to Print each email to a Directory so that all parts are readable and it can be stored outside the PFC which can then be reduced.   Having email dumped elsewhere would allow me to search with a free search engine for personal use, store it on removable media.  Would allow old email to be put into something like Ask Sam.

List of problems with Newsgroups

  1. Can't get to newsgroups through Netscape to post/reply due to lack of  pop3 or is it SMTP support.
  2. A posting or reply which has been started gets lost,  when AOL inappropriately and maliciously kicks you off.
  3. Once kicked off you cannot access the entire thread from an article seen and now marked as unread, without going through the nonsense of obtaining everything that has been posted in the newsgroup and finding the thread again in the huge list.
  4. AOL own newsgroups for solving AOL problems are not on Deja News where items can be indexed and located.
  5. Got following message (May 11, 1999) and do not have multiple sessions:  "This account has multiple active sessions.  You may continue reading but be aware that any activity during this session such as marking articles read, may not get saved."    I got a response back to a message I sent telling to do exactly what I had already tried, switching sessions, getting out of AOL, even rebooting.  Nothing eliminates this message it still comes up all day. Assume the fault was at AOL for that day.
  6. Want to be able to read the email that contain HTML, yet be confident that no posting of mine will create HTML nor replicate HTML in a reply post.   If this is not clear want to be able to eliminate viewing of either the HTML portion or the text portion of a multi MIME post in newsgroups.

Newsgroups Features added June 1999

  1. SPAM filter, no HELP in dialog box.  What for instance constitutes a domain.
  2. Would appreciate a [Spam Filter] button that would return a dialog such as:
    This posting could be blocked with: (==suggestions==)

Problems with AOL Help Desk and HELP areas

  1. One responder said you cannot access AOL from WinNT.  Contrary to instructions on how to use AOL from WinNT.  There is a difference between WinNT not being supported and not getting help as Win3.1 either.
  2. All calls to HELP desk should be assigned a response number and except for security issues should be in a public database.
  3. AOL own help information on it's own Keyword files for information and for solving AOL problems are not on regular web pages where items can be indexed and located via search engines such as AltaVista for web pages, and DejaNews for newsgroups.

Problem with AOL Browser

  1. The bastardized version of Internet Explorer is using a small font size on some sites that cannot be adjusted nor read without cutting and pasting.   My IE 4.0 is 32-bit, so the AOL 16-bit cannot be using the IE 4.0 on my system.
  2. AOL browser does not have a STOP button.
  3. AOL browser does not have a RELOAD button.
  4. AOL browser does not line up HTML Tables or Frames same as other browsers.
  5. The only decent bookmarks were in Netscape 3.1 which allowed bookmarks to be sorted, and the bookmarks file to be read as a normal HTML file.  For what it is worth, IExplorer allows one to export/import Netscape (HTML) bookmark files and to synchronize them.  (See IE5 help menu).
  6. Can't access many sites from AOL browser, because it terminates, not same sites as Netscape browsers fail, directly related to 16-bit AOL.
  7. E-Trade and other advertisers on AOL bring AOL and NTVDM down, suspect they are trying to do nasty things with personal information.

Problem with normal Browsers using AOL 16-bit

  1. Can't access many sites from AOL with Netscape, because it terminates, not same sites as AOL browser fails at, directly related to 16-bit AOL.
  2. Netscape 4.06 gets terminated abruptly.
  3. Netscape 3.0.1 gets terminated at sites notably some of those with Double-click advertising depending on where it goes out to and use of Java or ActiveX.
  4. IE 4.0 32-bit is used for local use only.  It is not connected to AOL.   (I now have IE 5.0 32-bit and am online with MSN, even though I use WinNT)

My System

  1. My System is WinNT 4.0  SP4,   64MB Ram,  USR 33.6 modem.   My AOL is 16-bit  release 4.0

Reply to Marketing Preferences SPAM email from AOL:  Nov 9, 1999

I chose not to receive pop-ups and not to receive advertising.   I do not wish this to change. 

It is irresponsible that AOL does not list what my preferences are when I go to set them.  There is no way that I can check whether you have changed things, which you have done in the past. -- I have complained about this before, and I am complaining about the disregard for our preferences once more.  I do not appreciate receiving unsolicited UCE/SPAM email from anyone, and do not appreciate that AOL has turned over address lists in the past.

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