First, let me say thanks to the hundreds of e-mailers who offered very constructive advice following my column about the difficulties of running the 6.0 version of AOLs client on my Road Runner cable connection. It would take me a really long time to respond individually, so Ill do it in groups. To all those writers asking: Why in the world do I
still run AOL? Why not run something cool such as Opera, NetCaptor, NetPositive or some other freebie? Ill just assume most of those writers dont have kids (who, if left to their own devices, would spend their entire lives chatting and e-mailing away on AOL). Of course, AOL has some parental control features, which make you feel a bit more in control until you realize the kids are way ahead of you in circumventing these features. For the record, I am no fan of AOL, but I have come to accept my kids desire to run in an AOL world. To all those folks who offered an incredibly wide range of suggestions about what I could do with all those AOL disks that keep coming in the mail, Id say thanks to some and advise many others to seek counseling.
To those who claim to have encountered a similar problem: I certainly seem to have lots of company. It is odd how such a substantial defect can exist without lots of folks having been aware of the problem. Microsoft, which has a long history of dealing with buggy problems, would never have been able to get away with this one for as long. My favorite confirmation of the issue came from a source within AOL who said the problem is well-known, pervasive and remains largely unsolved. The word from AOL is that it can resolve the mysterious crashing bug.
However the issue is resolved is not the main point here. I find it refreshing to hear from lots of folks who feel sufficiently passionate on a technology issue to make lots of noise. Making noise is still a much more effective way to get vendors to solve problems than waiting for fixes to come along on their own.