Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blast from the Past #422: August 11, 2004: Re: Nothin'

Subj: Re: Nothin'
Date: Wednesday, August 11, 2004 10:08:45 AM
From: Peter Laird
To:   Lloyd Goldfine

In a message dated 8/10/04 10:48:31 PM, Lloyd Goldfine writes:

Hey Pete –
 Could you also copy Sarah, Jannica and George on your “nothing today so far yet as of now” e-mails?  That’d be very helpful.
 Also, FYI, we got an alert from our IT guys saying that AOL was experiencing major e-mail problems today (earlier) and that most likely nothing would get through.
 I’ll call you tomorrow to go over the arc stuff.


I just set up a new email address "group" in my AOL address book which includes the three above.

I don't know your IT guys, so it would be presumptuous of me to make snap judgments, but I have to say that what you report that they are saying about AOL having problems (and I recall something similar that you reported in a previous email a few weeks ago) smells a little bit like the classic uber-geek "blame AOL" stuff that I have long grown tired of hearing. Not that AOL doesn't have its problems -- every service does -- but sometimes I think it gets a lot of shit it doesn't deserve.

Let me digress here into a small anecdote which I may have told you before. A couple of years ago, MACADDICT (one of my favorite monthly Mac magazines) did a multipage article where they compared the email capabilities of various programs, including AOL's software. After sneering at AOL because it didn't allow you to get your email from other locations, i.e. when you're on the road, they went on to explain at some length the steps required to set up your Mac to get email at different locations using these other email programs -- I think it was at least two pages of instructions, possibly three. 

This drove me nuts, and compelled me to write a letter to MACADDICT (which they published) wherein I informed them that not only could you get your AOL email on the road, you didn't have to go through elaborate preparations -- all you had to do was go to, click on "Mail", type in your screenname and password, and away you go. Not only that, but you didn't need your Mac to get your AOL mail -- ANY computer with a connection to the Internet would give you access to it.

AOL has, for a number of years, been a favorite "whipping boy" for those (supposedly) tech-savvy computer gurus who deride its ease of use and appeal to "newbies". I suspect there are some things it can't do, or does poorly, that other email programs do well. But there's a reason why so many people use AOL, and that is simply that it does a great job of introducing you to online communications and the Internet, and even after you've been online for years and have gotten hip to it, it can STILL be a great tool. And a lot of these tech heads -- like the writer for MACADDICT, apparently -- don't give it the credit it deserves and also don't bother to investigate its capabilities. 

That, plus the anecdotal evidence that -- as far as I can tell -- no one outside of 4Kids is having any problems sending me email that I actually GET, leads me to suspect that the problem is not AOL, but something at 4Kids' end. Which leads to a question -- has 4Kids undergone any siginificant upgrades or changes to their email software within the last few months? 

I hope we can come up with a more elegant solution to this problem, because it's really irking me... as I'm sure it's irking you.

Talk to you soon!

-- Pete

P.S. I'm going to also send this to your 4Kids work address to see if it gets through to you.


(Addendum: It is now October 15, 2011, close to seven years since I wrote the above. I still use AOL for my email, and still feel much the same way. AOL has gone through a lot of changes over these intervening years, and not all for the good. But I still like it... except for the fact that they have not updated the Mac version of their stand-alone program for like five years! AAARGGH!

I mean, it still works, even on a new Mac, so that's good... but it sometimes acts a little flakey.  I do find myself using their web-based version more and more, as it seems to be a bit more stable. I would love it it AOL did a brand spankin' new version of their software for the Mac platform... and given how many more people use Macs these days than back in 2004, it seems odd that they don't. Oh well... -- PL)


  1. I suggest you give Thunderbird a try for accessing your AOL e-mail account. I switched over several years ago and haven't looked back.

    You can download the Mac version from this page:

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