Okay, I see what you meant, like when you have a basic AOL news/weather/stock ticker thing piggybacked onto some local ISP.
Well, the big problem here in Decatur is local access numbers–most ISPs don’t have 'em, period. If you look up “217” access numbers, they’re all numbers in Springfield or Champaign, which is a long-distance call for us.
We would have ATT Worldnet, no question, if they had a Decatur access number. And we do have problems with the Earthlink/Scientology connection, sorry. Actually, the reason we stuck with MSN for so long was because it was like “the lesser of two evils”–which major corporation do you want to give your money to, Microsoft or AOL/Time/Warner?
There are a couple of local ISPs, but they give the impression of being not terribly stable Mom-and-pop operations, and we’re tired of always having to futz around with the computer, ya know? We’re ready for a “one stop does it all” turnkey operation, which is what AOL offers.
When we first got MSN, about 18 months ago, they had one (1) local access number, which was shared by Juno. Service was poor–it was rare to be able to get online without at least five “the line is busy” dialups. Service got suckier and suckier, and they kept giving us more access numbers, and service continued to be sucky, until by last month we had four local numbers, and we still rarely were able to get online without at least 20 “the line is busy” cycles through all four numbers. And that wasn’t including an 888 number that MSN apparently downloaded onto our machine at some point without telling us (one day, there it was, Poof! But it didn’t help.)
And I haven’t mentioned the many frequent random disconnects–maybe you’d have just finished loading a thread (so it wasn’t because of the “you’ve been offline” time-out thingie), and suddenly there’d be a “click” from the hard drive, and the little green fingerpointing logo would go to red. So it’s back to “the line is busy, the line is busy”.
So our frustration level got to the point where anything would have been an improvement, and so far, AOL works for us. We downloaded it, with the access numbers given, and right off the bat–“the line is busy, the line is busy”. So I was mad enough to call AOL tech support, and the guy walked me through Expert Setup and put in two more numbers. Right then and there. Both of which work.
Also, when you’re trying to sign on with AOL, if it can’t get through, it doesn’t give you that whole retarded “The number you are about to dial may be a toll call where you are. Do you still want to dial the number?” thing like MSN does. I mean, what does it think I’m gonna say, “no, never mind, I’ll just go knit or something”? No, AOL just goes, “Requesting network assistance,” and then a few seconds later, there you are, online.
See, we’re not the kind of folks who know how to configure a DUN connection by hand, whatever that is. We’re point and click, lowest common denominator non-tech folks. “Not familiar with the Internet”, that’s us, in a nutshell. Why do we need to know “how the Internet really works” just to find pictures of horses for a school report, or to look up Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease? I don’t need to know how an offset printing press works in order to look something up in the encyclopedia.
And, I don’t really notice any more popup ads than with MSN. You mean like when you go to sign off on AOL and it asks you if ya wanna sign up for AOL Broadband or some other thing? That’s just one popup, and all you do is click on “no thanks”. It’s not that big a deal, and to us it’s well worth the tradeoff in being able to get online, period.