Phantom AOL eMail

I’m still getting mail from dead people.  An AOL account belonging to a friend of mine who passed away almost three years ago has been hijacked and sends me at least one spammy email a day.  I tried to block her emails using my spam blocker, but some still get through.  She had three or four AOL email addresses, and all of them send me spam email.

Now I’m getting spam email from a mechanic I used a few years ago.  The same type of spam email, and I’ve tried to call him, but he appears to be out of business.

But good old AOL, they aren’t out of business, and they never delete email addresses in their system, so I’m destined to get multiple emails a day from these defunct accounts.  And seriously, mail from the dead is just creepy!  AOL doesn’t seem to be responsive to requests to shut down these accounts (I’ve tried that) and they don’t even want to talk to you unless you have an AOL ID to sign on with.  There is no way I want to sign up for an AOL account just so I can complain about another AOL account.

Short of turning on blocking, spam filtering, etc., what is the solution?  How many of millions of AOL (or Yahoo, or Hotmail) email addresses are really defunct, but still sending out spam email because they’ve been hacked?  And why does it seem so hard for these emails to get turned off or deleted?  I sure wish I knew the answer.

The Survival of AOL

Time-Warner announced today that they are spinning off troublesome AOL into its own company once again.  Time-Warner’s purchase of AOL in 2000 left a lot of people shaking their heads.  Ten years ago, AOL was already a declining product as people were moving toward broadband and not using AOL dial-up service, which was the core of their business.  It seemed like a very unprofitable thing for Time-Warner to acquire AOL.

AOLYet, they did, and managed to maintain the brand for the last ten years.  The fact is, AOL is continuing its decline, and I believe Time-Warner’s planned spinoff of AOL into its own company by the end of this year is an effort to off-load a poorly performing division.  What Time-Warner failed to do was capitalize on the global reach of AOL by melding together old media with what AOL could have offered in new media.  If AOL had been left to its own devices, it is possible that it would have found its own way to renewed profitability.  Instead, Time-Warner’s business model likely held back any innovation that AOL once had.

In its time, AOL was a monster online machine.  It provided a way for those without tech savvy a way to access the incredible resources of the Internet, at a time when so few were tech savvy.  While most geeks avoided AOL like the plague, others (like geeks’ mothers, grandmothers, and non-geeky friends) flocked to a service that got them online with a minimum of fuss, giving them ready access to email, news, games, and a place to store photographs.  It was the ideal product for a quickly-developing but fledgeling industry that was growing more quickly than most people could keep up with.  I, myself, signed my mother up to an AOL account on her Mac, and she was one happy camper.  A click and she was connected, and everything she wanted, from email to news, was just a click or two away.  Using a simple “keyword” she could type in, she would get access to web pages for her favorite shows (Oprah) or information on products.  She loved it, and as much as I avoided it, I knew the value it had for her.

Can AOL survive at all at this point?  When was the last time you heard a commercial say “keyword _____ on AOL”?  Time-Warner states in their press release that spinning of f AOL will create “a standalone public company positions AOL to strengthen its core businesses, deliver new and innovative products and services, and enhance our strategic options.”  Sounds more like Time-Warner is cutting its losses.  But I’m willing to bet that new AOL head Tim Armstrong, recently acquired from Google, will have a few new ideas to take AOL forward.  They have some catching up to do, but with the right incentive, AOL can still have a future in the online community.

Jason Calacanis reportedly has left AOL

Seeing the buzz around this I am pretty sure that the rumors are true then indeed this is a pretty amazing turn of events. The question to be asked is what’s next Jason? I know that he is doing a podcast over on Podtech and that makes me wonder if he is going to get more heavily involved in that space or will he try something else.

But regardless what he does, whether it be a new startup, lead another company or just take some time off I am sure that he will continue to be a major force in the new media online space. [TechCrunch]

GNC-2006-08-11 #195

Special shout out to Diddy thank you for your comments. Lots of great content make sure you tell a friend about the show and help us grow the audience.

Sponsors:
[Save 15% on any order of $20 or more at GoDaddy.com!] Use Code Geek5
[Try GoToMeeting free for 30 days at GoToMeeting.com/techpodcasts. No credit card needed.]

Listener Links:
Terrorist
Buzz Aldrin UFO Apollo 11
Google Warning
Dell 30

Show Links
Verizon
Business Journalist
Hackers
CES versus RIAA
Digging and more Digging
ViVo Phone
Zune and TSA
299.00 Zune
MoBlogging
New Era
Liquid Explosives
Worm
AOL Emails
GoDaddy IPO
Chandra and Hubble
Alzheimer’s

AOL giving out free domain names…still not enough to lure me over

I want to start out this article by saying that AOL is in trouble. Calacanis admits it, Ted doesn’t admit it quite so easily, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. It seems to me like AOL is going to have to do something miraculous to save itself this time…

Well, they started trying to save themselves by giving away 5GB of free storage. Now they are saying that they are going to give away free domain names to anyone who asks. What’s the catch you ask? Well the catch is that you won’t actually own the domain – AOL will.

Message to AOL: I admire you greatly for trying to save your company, I really do. But you’ve got some major problems that you’re going to need to fix before I will come close to AOL. Good try, AOL, but not good enough to lure me to the dark side.

AOL gives out free .com domains to anyone who asks | News.blog | CNET News.com

AOL Compromises User Data Integrity Providing Search Terms!

Well if you’re one of 500,000 randomly selected users on AOL, you may be surprised to know that they’ve released your search terms. Yes, every search term that you have typed in over a period of time is now available to be downloaded over the Internet.

Considering how personal some searches can be I can only attest that this is quite shocking, it would not take a rocket scientist very long at all to figure out who was conducting the searches. Are you and AOL user and how do you feel about this? [www.ugcs.caltech.edu]

You may not work for AOL for Long!

Well seems a day after AOL said they were going to be giving away access to their site they have decided that being free means less money coming in so that equates to laying people off. This is going to put a lot of people out of work. I imagine with that layoff there will be marketing and sales people on the hunt for jobs.

If you are a veteran of advertising sales, and or are a marketing person and understand the Web 2.0 space, we are on the hunt for someone to work with us at RawVoice. Drop me a e-mail with your resume. ceo@rawvoice.com

Will you use AOL now that it will be Free?

I was forced to use a AOL account at a relatives house 4 or 5 years ago, it was the first time on the service, the experience was not pleasant and the bloated interface was horrible. Needless to say my impression before, after and now have not changed.

AOL filled a need back when people could not get overcome the technological hurdles to get on the net, that is why most respecting tech folks were never members of their service. The AOL bashing died down a long time ago but for many of us it still leaves a bad taste in our mouths everytime we read or hear the words AOL.

The question is now that they are going to make AOL free for broadband users is this. Does this mean I have to put there invasive interface on my computer? Or will I and others even take the time to check out AOL now that it is going to lower the gangway to it’s walled fortress.

Personally I do not thing so but I do have a prediction, those that are still paying and on dial up are going to leave in hordes and upgrade to broadband or ASDL because for many this may give them enough comfort to make the switch, second those of us that have not used AOL before will not now, given they are under pressure to make money I predict that they will not and Time Warner will be faced with a decision to close the service in less than 3 years or parcel it out to companies that want to buy small chunks of it.

What’s your prediction. [TimeWarner]

AOL no Cancel manual on net!

I keep telling people if you have stock in AOL aka Time Warner sell. After seeing there so called retention manual, I can only imagine the agony those poor customer service people had to go through. This thing was definitely written by someone that owns a serious amount of stock in the company, as no person in there right mind would design this. [consumerist.com]

Jason Calacanis wants to pay you to Digg for Him!

If this headline smells funny wait till you read the associated post, but the crux is this, if your a top poster at some of the top social sites like Digg, Flickr etc they are willing to pay you a $1000.00 a month for those skills over at Netscapes new site. But hey if I had the money backing behind me that Jason does I could not even imagine the amount of traction I would be able to put forth in the podcasting space.

When your building a site on sheer determination, no sleep, and a heck of a lot of heart there is only one thing in the end that will spur the success of the site and that is making sure the podcasters get paid so you can stay in business.

Hell if I had 1 or 2 kick butt marketing/sales people we could definitley move forward quicker. The key is finding people with heart that understand the space and are willing to work like a dog for a startup. It’s tough but hey thats what building a company is all about. The question is are you that person that can kick butt? I definitely need you!