Friday, January 09, 2009

AOL Installed!

After my angst, AOL 9.1 is finally installed on my new Dell computer. What was the problem? You might have guessed it. It was the Vista operating system that was incompatible with AOL 9.0.

While waiting for Tom (PC Guy) this morning, I search the Internet to see if anyone else was having the same problems. It didn’t take me too long to find out that I wasn’t the only one by a long shot. Back at the beginning of the year there were quite a few postings to a Microsoft forum about other users who could not install AOL 9.0 or AOL 9.1, or even AOL 9.1 VR (Vista Ready) on their computers that had a Vista operating system.

I printed out the postings from that forum and gave it to Tom when he came in this morning. Tom had asked me to call AOL for support but I didn’t because I knew that would be an exercise in futility. Many people on the forum reported that they called the AOL Help line. That’s an oxymoron, AOL Help. Of course AOL was of no help. I even called Smart Computing for help. I’m a long time subscriber so I thought for the first time I would take advantage of their much advertised tech help line for subscribers. That was a waste of time. The guy on the other end of the line blew me off.

The postings on the forum dropped off after March of 2008 so I came to the conclusion that AOL finally figured out how to make their version 9.01 compatible with Vista. Tom and I downloaded the latest version. Right away we noticed that this was going to be a SLOW DOWNLOAD. It was. It took about 2 hours to download. Tom couldn’t wait. He has a life.

Tom fixed my HP Photosmart All-in-One printer problems (I couldn’t’ use the scanner) by uninstalling and reinstalling the software. It now works, for the time being at least. This is about the fourth time this software has been uninstalled and reinstalled.

Tom left the premises. I continued to monitor the SLOW AOL download. If this was downloading to Windows XP, it would only take minutes. But no, this is downloading to an upgraded version of Windows. What has this upgrade done for me? If anyone knows, let me know.

When the download was almost done, I got an error message. My heart dropped. But, there was hope. A button appeared that said “continue?” I said ‘YES!”. It picked up where it left off. This happened three more times. Man oh man. What is it with the upgrades? Don’t they test these things before they put them on the market? Of course they don’t. This is the new business ethic, throw it out on the market and let them work out the kinks. Thank you Mr. Softee.

The download finally completed and the Welcome screen of AOL appeared on my widescreen Dell computer. Nirvana! I love the user interface and icons on AOL. I have one friend who constantly criticizes me for staying with AOL. I know AOL has problems and has no support for its users but it does have the most user friendly Internet portal. It is the one I prefer.

My joy was short lived. I got an error message. Ugh! I turned of the computer, hoping it only needs a reboot. I wait a minute and, with bated breath, I turn the Dell back on. AOL came up! My computer didn’t blow up! It works! Hosanna!

How long this will last, I don’t’ know but I was had AOL up for three hours, catching up. Right now I’m on my old Gateway computer. I have AOL version 9.0 (which I reinstalled myself without any problems.) After dinner, I’ll turn on my Dell. Oh I hope I don’t have any more problems.

What did I learn from this whole episode? I should have listened to those who said Vista sucks. I’ve also learned that the Help lines also suck. What works now is going to forums on the Internet for others who have the same problem. This is the only place where you will find anyone who has the knowledge and can help. There are good people on those forums who are unselfish and willingly help those of use who aren’t techies.

This is something I discovered last week where I work. My boss had just completed two days removing Malware from the office network computers. After finishing he found he couldn’t get the printer to work. He posted the problem in the Google browser and discovered others who had the same problem. Within minutes he received an e-mail from a person in Russia who had the answer. The Russian user sent him an e-mail with instructions how to solve the problem. My boss keyed in the instructions. Immediately the printer began printing.

This episode opened my eyes. Don’t depend on AOL, Dell, Microsoft or Hewlett Packard. They’re too busy laying employees off and outsourcing work to India where they speak heavily accented English. The Help lines will never be effective because there is no money in it for the companies involved. The AOL’s, Dell’s, Microsoft’s, and Hewlett-Packard’s of this world don’t care about their consumer. They only care about making the sale. Their priority is how many stock options and bonuses they can give their executives. Perhaps the greatest failure perpetuated on the American public in recent years is this “upgrade” Vista. Someone please tell me how my life is better because I have Vista on my new computer. Please.

I say put a pie in the face of all those who are responsible for this travesty. Think different. I next time I get a Mac.


  1. Ron,

    You are absolutely right. I did miss that notation and I even read the piece TWICE! I apologise.

    Oh, and Vista is very much a nightmare, you're right. We have XP at work and when I logged on the other day to download security updates (another MS joke) I received a message that XP is no longer a supported operating system. Nice huh...

  2. I'm not saying I don't get things wrong but on this one I did give the proper attribution (or as close to it as I was aware of.) There will be plenty of opportunites in the future to snag me on misattributions (is that the same as a "misunderestimate?")

    In reference to "upgrades, specificaly Vista, I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what improvements were supposed to take place with this "upgrade." Was something broke in Windows XP that I didn't know about? The only thing that I heard was that Vista will enable one to operate their system PC faster because it could accomodate multiple applications. Since I've been using it the only thing I've notice is that it slows things down. Maybe it's the security feature. If one is concerned about catching a virus, get a Mac. So far my experience with Vista has been a nightmare. An expensive nightmare at that. And I'm not even counting the extra gray hairs I've gotten since I was foolish enough to buy my new computer with Vista. A nightmare, that is the only description I can give it. Where are the benefits? So Microsoft if forcing everyone to use Vista by not supporting XP. That's so they can sell their next operating system correcting the flaws of Vista. What a joke.

  3. Ron,

    Since you asked, here are the top ten benefits of Vista according to PC Mech University:

    "1. Eye Candy. And, without doubt, this is a good looking operating system. So, I give props to Microsoft for the eye candy. At the same time, it’s not really that new. Apple has been doing it for years.
    "2. Better Start Menu. The Vista start menu now has a useful desktop search built right in, which allows you to launch programs by simply typing, the Vista start menu allows you to quickly begin typing the name of the item you need and it will pop up for you.
    "3. Breadcrumbs. It’s about time, but the File Explorer that comes with Vista is now much more intuitive. When you navigate deeply you have a full breadcrumb trail so you can see where you are and quickly navigate up the folder tree.
    "4. Image Previews. This comes from the eye candy department, but the File Explorer now allows you a quick preview of the contents of a folder by actually modifying the folder icon to show file screenshots within. Again, not all that useful, but it looks nice.
    "5. Windows Firewall. The firewall built into XP was a total joke. The one in Vista is actually fairly respectable and you no longer need to disable it and install something else.
    "6. Windows Defender. This is the spyware detection and removal application from Microsoft, born from Giant Antispyware (which Microsoft purchased). It isn’t the perfect antispyware utility, but it still has some useful features. Once is allowing you to see and control items that are starting automatically.
    "7. Whew! Seven. But, you know what? I’m kind of out of ideas here…

    "But, unless you are buying a new PC and are practically forced to use Vista, I would recommend people stay with XP for now. Microsoft is overcharging for this thing big time, and a little bit of eye candy and a few convenience features are not worth the hefty price tag that they are asking for this operating system."

    I'm sorry, the expert at PC Mech could only come up with six and none all that worthwhile. But at least you know there are some benefits.


  4. Lar,

    Thanks for sending the list of benefits but I still don't see anything that directly benefits me. Eye candy? What? I was going along fine with Windows XP.

    Did you see Wayne's posting on being notified that Microsoft is no longer supporting XP? I'll send you a link. It will only cost the business where he works $200 for the "upgrade." And there you go, that's what it's all about - MONEY. Like Gates and Ballmer need more money. Greedheads.

  5. jim rossignol9:45 PM


    When I enter the blog these days and hear that Hindi music and see the Bill Gates pics and think of your well-documented travails, it just cracks me up. Such a perfect mix although born out of unfortunate circumstances. Ah, life!


  6. I hate Bill Gates. I don't hate too many people but he is definitely near the top (Osama bin Laden has the top spot, Bush is next, with Cheney and Rumseld close behind).

    Soon I will post a positive blog. But this morning my DirecTV TCM channel disappeared. Talk about "Ah life!" In this technological age it's just one frustration after another. My hillbilly ancestors in the hills of western North Carolina never had to put up with these headaches. All they had to worry about was getting enough food to eat and staying warm. I got that covered.

  7. jim rossignol8:41 AM

    What would say, Ron, to a cyber free america?

    Something you'd be interested in supporting?

    I ask this only half-joking because you so rightly bring up your ancestors, and I wonder what you might think of returning to those days--if only for a week or two.

    Maybe another good blog topic!



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