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Saturday, Jul. 20, 2002
Those of you who have alertly followed my droning on here are well aware of the one thing in life that positively will cause my teeth to grind together in a shockingly loud fashion.

It is, of course, the entity that is America Online.

AOL. AOL Hell. Abysmal, Overhyped, Ludicrous.

In an effort to improve the functional speed of my typically dysfunctional internet time, I signed up for a DSL service last year. The service was kind enough to include a browser of its own, which happens to be Netscape. And once I had the whole thing loaded up (hours spent poring over a huge instruction manual which showed a little cartoon figure vaguely waving you in various directions) it worked wonderfully well.

Thing is, even with a speedy connection, and the added Netscape thing (I forgot to add that the AOL runs on an IE platform - is that what you call it? A platform?) I still had to contend with the fact that my three teenagers had e-mail accounts. With AOL. They had Buddy Lists. With AOL. Buddy Lists which compared in scope to the telephone directory of a small town in the Midwest. A small town, but big enough to warrant a WalMart, let's say.

So when I made my announcement that we would be cutting off AOL, the weeping began. For all the complaining they had been doing about how slow and horrible AOL was, they were surely not ready to give up their non-stop party lines of Instant Messaging, of tragic e-mails from the love-lorn fellow teens they corresponded with. "Dad, nooooo!", they shrieked. "You can't take away our screen names! What will we dooooooo?"

Well, settling in with a good book and the occasional letter through the Postal Service came to mind but I had to be broad minded enough to see their point of view. The fact that all three of them agreed on this issue was impressive in itself, they can't agree on much of anything except that spending their parents money is thing necessary to the continued spinning of the planet. So I bit down on my sarcasm and caved.

I even managed to shift the AOL thing over to the DSL thing so now it moves along at a plodding speed, rather than a crawling speed. Sort of like putting roller skates on a tortoise. AOL was even kind enough to anticipate this move and already had a plan set up to accommodate my new ISP at a lower rate.

As long as I kept giving them something, I guess AOL was happy.

And it's peculiar, I've heard that AOL owns Netscape, so you'd think the two would get along swimmingly. But since the AOL is IE based, strange things happen.

My bias toward using Netscape is obvious. It is fast, it is even reliable. I use it all the time. Here, for example, in Diaryland, I fire it up and puruse all of your writings that I can. But there are some exceptions. I can't read some diaries. They won't show up in Netscape. Some of my absolute fav's, too. Hulamoons , for instance, or Waterlu . They aren't Netscape friendly, they haunt me with updates, they dance out of reach.

So I begin the teeth grinding and open up AOL. I hit the icon and go get coffee. Let the dog out, sort through the mail, handle plumbing matters, fiddle with the TV, get the newspaper. I've got a routine established that will allow me to accomplish quite a few tasks before, with trumpet fanfare, AOL pants and groans to its' hideous and billboard like Welcome Screen.

"Welcome!", a hearty male voice booms. Well, it used to. I cut that sucker out after the 100th time of hearing him say "Welcome" because he just sounded so insincere.

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