Worst Corporate Buy Ever?

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This week it was announced that Verizon was going to purchase AOL for about $4.4 billion.

 

Now the very idea of anybody buying AOL is reminiscent of times when AOL was actually a relevant company.

 

Nowadays AOL is mostly just a site like Yahoo that has email, news and a search engine.  However, reportedly, about 2 million people still use AOL as their dial-up service provider.

 

Yes I said dial-up.

 

Back in the good old days, millions of people used AOL as their dial-up service provider.  Back then, you hooked up your telephone line to your computer and have it dial a local (hopefully) service number.  If you were lucky, you could get through and enjoy AOL service in the slow lane.  If you were not so lucky, you would either get a busy signal or a “no service” voice message from the phone company.  Don’t even think about the time when another member of the family wanted to make a phone call and picked up another phone in the house and the connection was lost.

 

AOL service however was not the internet, but a portal to the services that the company offered.  Of course, there were the endless 3 ½ discs and later CDs that AOL sent out in virtually every computer magazine and many other magazines under the sun. I still have hundreds of these discs packed away somewhere.  Many of the 3 ½ discs could be reformatted and reused but in later years, they made them read only discs by having the write-protect tab removed.  All these discs promised anywhere from say 10 free hours all the way up to 1000 free hours on AOL service.  This would be great as long as you could get on the system.

 

There were alternatives such as Netscape, NetZero, Juno, and CompuServe.  However, nobody could really beat AOL for amount of services available with the possible exception of CompuServe.  The content from each of these portals were unique and usually not available on any other.

 

Then came the internet, where everything changed.  All of the above named portals soon became obsolete.

 

All the information that anybody needed was available to everyone not just those who had one particular service.  Because of this, faster modems were invented and broadband was born.

 

And so the cable companies wanted to hop on the broadband bandwagon as well.

 

Quickly companies like AOL began losing thousands of its users very quickly.  The company looked desperate.

 

Then along came Time, Inc. to the rescue.

 

They were able to purchase the struggling portal and make it part of the Time Warner Cable division.  I even signed up for one of their new preferred accounts for free that they were offering.  However, to use the service, you had to load a special portal program which altered access to the internet and everything was funneled through that portal.  I found the process difficult and stopped using it after a short time.  I still have an email account with them, but have not used it in years.

 

When Time, Inc. decided to break up its company, Time Warner Cable basically disposed of their AOL division.  They were now out on their own again, a lost soul with little future except for those who still relied on them for internet service.

 

Now we have Verizon, who want to purchase the company.

 

Is this really a good idea?  While all the comments that I have heard is that this merger would create a way to bring video and advertising to mobile devices.  As a Verizon user myself, I will say that more advertising is certainly not what I really want from the company.  In fact, I want less advertising all around including my mobile devices, not more.

 

Certainly, I can see this as an advantage to Verizon, but I believe that AOL should really be killed off once and for all.

 

But how will this play out to regulators?

 

I believe that the regulators may actually approve this merger, but may question the dollar amount as being too high for what they get for their money.  Overall, I see this a bad deal and should not happen.

 

Maybe Verizon will be purchasing AOL with thousands of free hour discs they accumulated over the years.  If they need more, just ask.

 

I got probably over 100 of those free discs I can give them as down payment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Gmail is NOT my friend

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Imagine living on a long street and being the first house on that street.  Now consider the idea that your local mailman decides that he would place all the mail of the street in your mailbox whether it belongs to you or not.  Every day you take that mail and bring it to the post office and tell them that this mail is not yours and needs to be delivered to the right address.  However, every day the same thing keeps happening and you keep getting the same mail that doesn’t belong to you over and over again.  After a very short time, you would get sick of this very quickly and possibly the lazy mailman would get fired for not doing his job appropriately.

Well, welcome to the wonderful (or not so wonderful) world of Gmail, the Google email system.  I signed up with Gmail as a very early user and everything went fine up to about a year ago.  Then everything went downhill.

I started receiving bills for cellphone services such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and others.  One by one I had to email these companies to tell them that they had the wrong email address.  Some were easily accommodating; others took several attempts before eliminating me off their bills.  Along the way I also had requests for Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, and even other Gmail accounts.  Each of these I had to either terminate or not accept at all.

However, the last straw came last week when one person who had been emailing bills for some weird items got way out of hand.  After contacting this person a couple of times that they had the wrong email address, they got angry at me and blocked me and made racial slurs against me even without ever meeting me or having anything to do with me whatsoever.  My thought was that at least this person was gone from life because of this, even though I was harassed in the process.

This brings me to my point:  Don’t use Gmail for your everyday usage as you could get emails that aren’t even yours.  Sadly, Google offers NO help with this problem and a generic email response I received from them a few months ago just got me madder.  (Sound familiar?  Think Newsweek.)  In fact the ability to receive help from Google is almost impossible as there is no easy way to a “Contact Us” link—it just doesn’t exist!

So what do I recommend?  Here is a list of some I have used and my feelings of them:

  • Yahoo MailIf you love spam, then this is the email system of choice.  I spend more time deleting emails from this service than any other.  The plus side is the groups, which is also their big minus as well.  Recommended only to the lonely and those who love to exercise the delete key.  If you do use this service, I would recommend going to the classic edition, which is non-Java based.  It provides faster deletion of emails.
  • Hotmail:  Soon to be merged into the newer Outlook.com site.  This is my preferred email service and tends to filer spam better than any other service.
  • Outlook:  A souped-up version of Hotmail.  I signed up as soon as this became available just to get the address I wanted.  Haven’t used it much, but looks promising.
  • Road Runner:  This is for Time Warner customers and associated services only.  Works well, but extremely dated look.  Filters spam pretty well, but not used much anymore because of its awkwardness.
  • NetZero/Juno:  These twin services I used when I first started online and haven’t used them much since.  Possibly worth having just to have a free email service.
  • Mail:  A lot of pop-ups make this a bother, but unlimited storage and putting everything in one place may be a plus to some.

Overall, I prefer the Hotmail account for being most efficient and one I use most often.  Gmail hits the bottom of the deck as if you really wanted to get everybody else’s mail.  Now if you excuse me I have more emails to get rid of from Gmail and many to delete from my Yahoo accounts.