Die, AOL, die.

I am really disliking AOL today.

When I first installed AOL from one of those ubiquitous free CD-ROM’s, I had assumed that it would just give me a simple dial-up console and some free hours. Little did I know that this was to be one of the most awkward, obnoxious, intrusive software experiences I had ever encountered.

It asked for everything: name, address, phone number, mobile phone number, credit card number, bank and bank account number. Then, it installed itself — and RealPlayer — into my hard disk, littered my desktop with extraneous icons, and copied several unwanted “FREE SOFTWARE!” folders into my root directory. After that, it took my screen name, made the first letter capital against my will, hijacked my CD Player without asking and made itself the default multimedia app, and started up a nightmarish browsing window covered with redundant GUI elements and unsightly ad popups. Periodically, without even the courtesy of a dialog box or a Cancel button, the same browser would suddenly begin downloading updates for itself, reassuring me that this would not be charged to my online time. The control panel gave no way to rectify this dastardly automation.

Today I discovered that their STMP server has not been relaying mail sent from my external client, despite feeding me “Message Sent” confirmations. Almost no one I’ve emailed in the past two weeks has received my messages.

That’s it. This isn’t even worth the free time I’m getting; I’m going to cancel my account and sign up with a cheaper, more reliable ISP. Even Netzero’s free access is better than this.