From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 28 Sep 2006 - Free AOL? / Cyber Snoops
In today's TOURBUS, we'll get the scoop on AOL for free, you'll learn exactly what public and private information about YOU is available to cybersnoopers, and what it really means to surf the Web. Read on!
An alert TOURBUS reader queried me about rumors that AOL was offering free Internet service. "Is it true?" he asked, "And if so, are there any gotchas I should now about?"
Well yes, it's true, sort of. AOL access is now free. But I should clarify up front that "AOL access" does not mean "Internet access". If you already have an Internet connection (dialup, cable, DSL) then you can now access all of the services that AOL offers for free.
So if you've been paying for AOL and recently have switched to a high speed connection at home, you *CAN* stop paying for your AOL account. And if you cancelled your AOL account in the last few years in favor of broadband, you can even get your AOL screen name back.
You do have to take some action, though. If you do nothing, AOL will be very happy to continue billing you for $25.90 a month forever. Here's how to get free AOL, and a summary of the services that come with an AOL account:
There are many sites that provide free lookups for telephone numbers and street addresses. And search engines can be used to mine for info about a person that has appeared in a newspaper, newsletter, blog or other online posting.
But what about online services that offer fee-based access to records such as property ownership, voter registration, court filings, even criminal and financial records?
Can just ANYONE whip out a credit card and order up all this personal information on their computer screen? And is there any way to find out when someone is digging for these types of information about you?
Find out WHO can learn WHAT about YOU:
A reader asked about me downloading a large file from a website and then going to bed while the file downloads. He was concerned that when the download finished, he'd still be on that site all night, without actively doing anything. Does this waste that site's bandwidth or ability to handle more users, he wondered?
This points out a common misconception about navigating the Web. Because when you surf the Internet, you never really go anywhere... and you're never really "on" a website. Here's what REALLY happens when you visit a website, or download a file:
Every few months I go through the AskBobRankin logs and see which articles were the most popular. Here are the current Top Five, ranked by readership volume...
+ Add Music to Myspace
+ Convert Itunes to MP3 Format
+ Make Windows XP Run Faster
+ Cancel Your Credit Card
+ Myspace Layouts
To see the rest of the Top Twenty (including 13 that have nothing to do with Myspace!) pop on over to:
That's all for now, see you next time! -- Bob Rankin