AOL Gold brings 30-day free trial and $3.99 a month thereafter

AOL, Inc. (1991-2009) also known as AOL and America Online, a division of Verizon (acquired June 23, 2015 for $4.4 Billion), has released a new version of their AOL Software, called AOL Desktop Gold, referred to as AOL Gold hereafter in this article.

America Online/AOL (started out in 1991). Of course, I was curious and had to get the software to try them out and it was very sparse at that time. They had links to things to come but there was not much at all on this service when I first looked at it. This was during a time when everyone connected with modems, usually external modems at very slow speeds. Many reading this may never have gotten online through a service like America Online. But millions did.

Some history of online services I have used that were already out there before and/or during the time AOL came on the scene, and most before the true Internet was universally available;

Dow Jones News/Retrieval (beginning 1973, and throughout the 80s) – we connected via a handcrafted dialer my hubby Jim created for his CoCo. Jim connected since 1982 when he got his first computer, the CoCo. I started in 1986 when Jim introduced me to the home based computer world at that time when I was able to use his CoCo and later when he gave me a CoCo for Christmas which I shared with the kids. Before that, I did not have a computer, however a friend Barbara Murray introduced me to the Commodore computer that she, her hubby and their two boys had. But that was it. I never had a computer of my own until December 1986.

BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) around the area and across the USA were our biggest connection between the real Internet and us for email, downloading games, talking to others on open forums, or connecting to systems that provided special interests groups such as Great White North BBS where we got information on Satellites (C-Band satellite locations, programming etc.). Many of us stayed on local BBSes for the most part due to the outrageous cost of long distance at that time. Many DOS-based games were available on local BBS boards such as Apogee/3-D Realms games (Apogee and 3-D Realms were two different entities at that time; Commander Keene, Duke Nukem, Blake Stone, Wolfenstein, Quake, and more. Many other DOS based games some textual, some early ASCII color graphics. There were some boards that specialized in gaming whether it be downloads or places to talk about it. We also got started with Newsgroups as well through these BBS boards and later through other services.

GEnie (founded 1985) – I connected via external modem and an IBM compatible 8086. My Jim connected via external modem in IBM DOS on a IBM 8088. We also chatted live with others listening to a show called Friday Night Live/FNL with GaryB (Gary Bourgois) to quench our thirst for more information on what satellites to tune into on the C-Band Big Dishes at the time.

Delphi (since the mid 90s but started as a dialup service in 1983) – We connected the same way we did GEnie. Same reasons as GEnie.

Prodigy (founded in 1984 (by 1990 it was the second largest online service (second only to Compuserve at its peak. Innovative for the time making use of a graphical interface which actually slowed it down compared to others on low bandwidth modems). – We connected the same way as GEnie and Delphi. We tried this out because we were curious and stayed on for a bit.

Compuserve (first major commercial online service and dominated during the 80s through the mid 90s peaking in 1991) – We initially connected through Windows For Workgroups and later in Windows 95. Jim maintained an account with Compuserve for many years. We were on this for the same reasons as noted above.

I believe there were others, but these are the ones I have used in the 80s and 90s. These were all pay to play services including AOL/America Online which was $20/mo at that time, if I remember correctly.

Then there came a time in Windows 3.0 (before Windows 3.1 /Windows Windows for Workgroups which came with The Trumpet Winsock dialer to connect to the ‘real’ Internet if you had a local ISP or you could still use one of the other services that gave you access to the real Internet. There were others as well to make use of this Trumpet Winsock dialer such as Sprint. Later other ISPs such as AT&T, WorldCom and others came on very quickly from this point onward making use of the Windows Winsock for their dialer or creating their own Dialers,

In 1991 I tried out America Online in it’s infancy. As noted there was more of a skeleton of what it would be in time. Very little worked. I uninstalled and In Windows 95 I tried it out again. There was much more there but I had been on Widomaker Dialup service connecting to the real Internet via different protocols such as FTP, Gopher, IRC, WWW via a browser like Mosaic, early Netscape Navigator, and even early Internet Explorer, etc. None of these direct connections to places on the real Internet were even available in AOL at that time except some WWW things customized for AOL at that time. So AOL was again, but for different reasons, not all that impressive to me. I uninstalled the software again.

But I digress. I thought folks would enjoy a little of the history from my perspective. All of these services were definitely Pay-to-Play services, and Compuserve had additional paid boards or forums within their service for getting info and/or  conversing with network engineers about things like Novell network operating system and other specific areas. One month I paid $6.99/HR to access the Novell board/forum. Ended up paying almost $300 for one month LOL. That was an expensive lesson!

Later you could pay a fee and connect directly to the Internet for less than most of them at that time once the Winsock was in Windows.

Let me note here that I was not familiar with Linux at that time, but they had the ability to be networked to the Internet before anyone else and before that UNIX. I came onboard with these late to the game because I did not know anyone using it until the later 90s (that of course was my Jim). However, I did install a networked system on Novell once in the early 90s. I learned a lot from that experience. It was awesome to see computers on the same network opening the same program and accessing the same data like that. Similar to the big boys at newspapers were doing already for their Classified sections. I did that too but that’s for another story.

Anyway, thankfully with the advent of faster modems and later broadband for most folks being able to directly connect to the real Internet became more and more ubiquitous. Most of these older online services have gone the way of the dodo or niche users. All but mostly Compuserve and AOL. They both evolved to be able to be connected via an existing Internet connection.

AOL became such a sheltered environment with so many offerings like News, Weather, Stocks, Mutual Funds, etc. via AOL‘s own partnerships with the services specializing in these areas, that folks who did not know about the real Internet really didn’t miss it. It was and still is a place to hold all your email, contacts, Favorites (bookmarks) and get to those specialized areas very quickly over the years. Many of the folks got so secure in their knowledge and use of AOL that they did not feel the need to move to the free AOL.com when they had the opportunity because they felt more comfortable using AOL‘s software which was updated periodically.

Others did move over to AOL.com and have not had to deal with the changes to AOL software over time. Some have used it since AOL first came out and until Facebook came along to provide a similar ecosystem, they never ventured far outside AOL‘s offerings. AOL did have a browser as well so they could get to things on the real Internet if they needed to. Many do that now, and all their Favorites (bookmarks) are all in AOL. It was a daunting thing when AOL.com offered email and all their contacts through mail.aol.com. They even offered to bring their Favorites for a time, but many did not do that. Instead they stayed with AOL software because it was familiar and the cost was less than when they started. Many folks later found out they could use the software for free (albeit ad supported).

Until the new AOL Gold software came out very recently, folks could use the AOL software’s ad supported/for free version or pay to have the ads removed (or change the settings to get some of the ads removed), and get free support as needed. Those that used the ad supported software or AOL.com for their mail and contacts could use it for free and still could get limited support from AOL unless they paid for more intense Support. Some were still paying as much as $14.99/mo, others if I remember correctly later were offered an $8.99/mo service plan. Now all that changed …

AOL Gold, an AOL a division of Verizon, are offering a 30-day free trial of AOL Gold after which time apparently one would need to pay a $3.99/mo fee to continue to use the new, more secure AOL Gold software under the new subscription.

Apparently AOL will stop support for previous versions of AOL according to sources listed below. Since they are not planning on supporting old versions once the 30-day free trial is over folks will either need to buy the $3.99/mo subscription,  or move over to mail.aol.com to get their mail and have access to their contacts. Other services will need to be used at the various services Internet sites such as for stocks, mutual funds portfolios, weather, etc.

Those wishing to access a similar experience albeit not fully the same as AOL software can use AOL.com, and mail.aol.com for their mail and contacts via an Internet browser (such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer or Edge (free in Microsoft Windows), Firefox, Opera, Safari (ubiquitous on MacOS and also available free in Windows), or use mobile based AOL.com mail offerings on their phones.

I would imagine, although no one has addressed this in an article as yet, that AOL will still continue their mail servers so folks can continue to use their Email clients on computers and laptops, or built in email clients in tablets and phones natively instead of requiring people to use the mobile.mail.aol.com

Here are some help links for help from AOL:

What happens to my email if I do not upgrade to AOL Desktop Gold? – AOL

AOL Desktop Gold: How to Download and Install – AOL

Other sources:

Gadget Daddy: If you use AOL, free software is going away

AOL Desktop Software to end free access plan – linuxtechtips

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How to get rid of ads on the Windows 10 lock screen

How to get rid of ads on the Windows 10 lock screen

How to get rid of ads on the Windows 10 lock screen

How to get rid of ads on the Windows 10 lock screen – CNET

Ads on your lock screen aren’t a totally new thing — we first saw them in February, when Microsoft started pushing the game Rise of the Tomb Raider. But since the Anniversary Update has nixed the registry hack that let Windows 10 Home users disable the lock screen — the policy that let Pro users kill it in the Group Policy Editor has also been cut — you may actually start noticing those ads.

You can still get rid of them (for now).

Yep, this is truly annoying BTW to even have to deal with this nonsense. But there it is.

Go to Settings menu > Personalization > Lock screen

Settings, Personalization, Lock screen

Settings, Personalization, Lock screen

 

From the Lock screen menu, you will need to choose Picture or Slideshow from your own computer for your Lock screen background and you will not have to deal with the ads.

If you choose Windows Spotlight images, you will have to deal with the ads sadly.

With one caveat from the article:

If you love the Windows spotlight wallpapers but not the ads, check out our guide on how to find and download past spotlight photos.

Thanks CNET. This should be very helpful to frustrated users.

Windows 10 upgrade deadline today July 29 2016

Today, July 29, 2016 is the deadline to upgrade for free to Windows 10!

Windows 10 July 29 2016 deadline

And as Corrine Chorney at Security Garden noted on Facebook, you can always roll back to Windows 7 within 30 days if you don’t like it. 😉

Windows 10 upgrade links:

Upgrade to Windows 10: FAQ – Microsoft

Microsoft Adds Windows 10 Countdown Timer: Free Upgrades End On Friday – Forbes

If you are wondering why Microsoft stopped the Free Windows 10 upgrades:

Three Reasons Microsoft Stopped Free Windows 10 Upgrades – Forbes

If all else fails, but you still need to do what it says by end of day July 29 (or July 30 some places internationally)

How to upgrade to Windows 10 for free after July 29 – CNET

Google Chrome to abandon older versions of Windows and Mac OS X April 2016

Google Chrome icon

Back in November of 2015, Google made an unwelcome announcement which was some very bad news for older Windows and older Mac OS X users.

On their Google Chrome Blog posting at that time, Google announced that it will stop providing updates to Google Chrome for the following Windows and Mac OS X versions;

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
  • Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)
  • Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)

NOTE: Linux 32-bit Distribution users see the end of this article for your sad news too, but most of you are already aware of this since it happens this month!

This does not mean Google Chrome will stop working in these OS versions — which would almost be better security wise. Instead, Google has decided to simply stop providing updates to the installed versions of Google Chrome for these OS versions.

This is very bad news since Google Chrome has Flash built in (which is updated as needed with Google Chrome). These older versions of Windows and Mac OS X will be doubly vulnerable. Over the years, these users have gotten used to not having to update Flash separately like you need to do in other browsers like Firefox, Safari, Opera, earlier versions of Internet Explorer, Pale Moon, etc.
Because Flash is built in to Google Chrome, these abandoned users will not be getting the Flash updates either.

This will make these older versions of non updated Google Chrome extremely vulnerable to browser attacks from infected websites. Malware purveyors will quickly begin to adjust their attacks (if they have not already in anticipation of this change) to look for these older vulnerable systems using outdated/vulnerable versions of Google Chrome as new attack vectors for these abandoned Windows and Mac users.

Those thinking that being a Mac user will make you impervious to attack, think again. Browser attacks are one thing that every operating system including Windows, Macs and Linux have been subject to these days. Sure Windows users get hit more often but that is because they are the biggest user base and they have the largest target on their back, but Mac users and Linux users can still get hit at times if they have outdated operating systems, Flash, Java, etc. Even Android has been hit by a banking trojan these days – reported March 9, 2016 by ESET’s We Live Security Blog.

With other browsers, you could simply remove Flash from the system and be done with it if you were concerned about it and didn’t mind losing the ability to see YouTube videos and other Flash supported content on other websites. Although, with HTML5 support coming right along, that could be moot.

Some might be quick to blame Adobe Flash, but apparently this is not the case as Adobe is quick to point out in at least two places that they support these OSes:

Plus other browsers such as Firefox clearly still support these OSes and Flash on these OSes. However, they will have to update their supported browsers to NOT include Google Chrome after April 2016 unless Google rethinks all this for at least a couple of the newer, of the older, OS versions. 😉

If Google does not give a reprieve/stay of execution, once Adobe makes their final update to Adobe Flash in April 2016 and Google updates Google Chrome the final time for these OS version users that includes that last Flash version, it will apparently be the last Google Chrome AND thereby Flash update that these Google abandoned OSes will see Google based on the Google Chrome blog article posted November 2015.

Google has been very quiet on the subject since that date so no reprieve or stay of execution even for the newer OS versions to be abandoned; Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion).

It seems quite harsh to drop support for these two OS versions (Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)) since Google supported the earlier noted OS versions like Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) for so many years! But there it is.

If you are using one of these older OS versions of Windows or Mac OS X, read it and weep for the loss of a great browser like Google Chrome, and make be wise to make the move to Mozilla Firefox newest version to-date 44.0.2 (STILL supports Mac OS X 10.6 Mountain Lion), or Opera (however NO support for Mac OS X 10.6 Mountain Lion, but does support Lion and Mountain Lion), which have not, so far, abandoned these users. But they are not the only players still in the game…

There is also another browser project that has gained a lot of popularity among Windows users — the Pale Moon browser. There are versions for Windows: Pale Moon, Pale Moon 64, Portable. There are also versions for:  Atom/XP, Linux and Android on the Download tab on the website.

There is also a Mac OS X version of Pale Moon 26.1.1 Unofficial available as of February 2016. As noted on their forum page:

Important note:
The Mac OSX version of Pale Moon is still very much in development. Your assistance in bringing this build to fruition is greatly appreciated, but you can expect there to be bugs and problems for a while yet!
Any specific bugs you find that don’t have their own topic yet: please make a new topic; one bug per topic please to keep things organized.
Please also note that these builds are currently created by BitVapor and Moonchild will likely not be able to provide insight or assistance due to lack of Mac hardware and OS/build knowledge for Mac.

Windows XP Vista No Support Yellow Strip Popup Google Chrome

Windows XP Vista already shows No Support Yellow Info band in Google Chrome

Those using these older versions of Windows (See image to the right), and Mac are already getting an annoying yellow warning info band across the top of their Google Chrome browsers.It is advising them to move to a more modern operating system. Wise move on Google’s part and it also servers to show that they  do not appear to be backing down from their November 2015 announcement.

That means Google Chrome users will need to do something to address the issues by either upgrading to a more modern operating system where possible, getting a newer computer with a more modern operating system since all of these operating systems are older and most have been abandoned by their creators anyway except Vista which is coming next April 2017 (preferable security wise), or barring all that, changing to a supported browser, or using an extension to address the old version of Flash issue (see end of article posting).

If you move to another browser, it will be very important to keep Adobe Flash updated since only Google Chrome in Windows 7, 8.1 and Windows 10, or on Mac OS X: Mavericks, Yosemite and El Capitan! will include Flash updates automatically with browser updates after April 2016.
NOTE: In addition, in Windows 8.1, the latest versions of Internet Explorer (IE10, IE11), and of course the new Edge browser on Windows 10 include Flash built in and updated for you like Google Chrome does.

Older versions of Windows and Mac are not the only users to be abandoned/axed by Google Chrome in early 2016. ALL 32-bit Linux distribution versions are also being abandoned — this month — March 2016 as noted in BetaNews, Slash Dot, and PCWorld and other news outlets back in November and December 2015.

Even though many and maybe even most computers these days are 64-bit, there are still a lot of 32-bit computers and 32-bit operating systems in use around the world today so this may be a move forward for 64-bit, but it is also a sad day for all the 32-bit hardware/operating systems worldwide.

Of course, there are still several browsers like Firefox, Opera and Pale Moon available for Linux 32-bit computers —  just as there are for Windows and Mac users. There are also some alternative browsers based on Firefox available (Pale Moon noted earlier here is included), and distro-specific versions of Firefox like Iceweasel in Debian Linux, etc.)

For all users of Google Chrome, there are some Flash blocking or control Extension possibilities that can protect everyone, but particularly these older users from having Flash run all the time if they choose to continue to use Google Chrome:

Understanding The Many Microsoft Anti-Malware Software

If you are like many folks, it is really hard to understand the many names (some reused) for Microsoft Anti-Malware Software. Don’t feel like you are the only ones! Many people are confused about the various names especially those that have been resurrected and revamped.

Corrine at her Security Garden Blog has a great article to help you sort out all the names, the reused names, and what they all do! It was posted back in April 2012 and recently updated June 2014:

Understanding Microsoft Anti-Malware Software – Security Garden Blog 

Microsoft provides a variety of security products for both consumers as well as business environments.  With multiple products available, there is bound to be questions and, occasionally, confusion on which product to use.

This article is presented to help clarify questions about the variety of Microsoft anti-malware products.  (Updated:  06JUN2014)

The article starts out with the most confused ones; Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), the renamed and revamped Windows Defender for Windows 8, but it doesn’t end there.

A must read article for anyone who wants to understand the many Microsoft Anti-Malware Software packages out there for the various versions of Windows for Consumers, Business and Enterprise customers.

WinPatrol Changing of the guard

WinPatrol – Scotty

WinPatrol has been very important over the years. I have several (six I think at least) lifetime memberships of WinPatrol software and I install it on all my Windows installs personally and for my friends, family and clients. It has been a staple in my security arsenal for many years now, and BillP has been a great friend to all of us.

BillP, thank you so much for continuing to look for someone who would fit the bill, as it were, and you certainly found a great choice!

I am very excited about the promise that Bret Lowry made to WinPatrol customers:

My commitment to WinPatrol customers is as follows:

One, your lifetime PLUS licenses are just that, lifetime licenses. That was the easiest topic in our negotiation and is written into the contract.

Two, WinPatrol will not have toolbars or other “add-ins” added to it or its installer. Installers that do that drive me crazy because I’m the guy people call to “fix” their computer after the installer completes its hijacking. I am not going to do that to my customers.

Three, I will be responsible for answering support questions, even more incentive to play nicely and stand-by item two above. And

Four, I use WinPatrol myself and therefore am committed to the continued improvement of WinPatrol. I am honored to have earned Bill’s trust and confidence in his allowing me to purchase WinPatrol. Bill has run WinPatrol with integrity since its inception, as a founder of Ruiware (along with my wife), I promise we will carry on that tradition.”

BillP, after reading your blog posting and Corrine’s Security Garden posting, I was totally thrilled to read about Bret Lowry, Ruiware, LLC being your choice.

Totally awesome! I knew you wouldn’t let us down! Thank you Bill for all the years you have given to us! We totally understand your need to step aside and wish your family all the best and your family is ever in my thoughts and prayers.

Corrine, thank you for letting us know of the change right away!

This must be a bittersweet day for BillP; to let go of his baby, to turn it over to someone else, but sweet knowing he turned it over to a great guy who will care for his customers the way he did.

Hi Bret Lowry! I am excited to meet you in Bits from Bill and from Security Garden Blog. Thank you for putting our minds at ease about the commitment you have given us. Hope you will still do the sales periodically like BillP always did and keep the price economical and the free edition which is so important.

On WinPatrol.com:

I’m very happy to announce WinPatrol’s future will be in the hands of Ruiware founder and former lead at Sunbelt Software, Bret Lowry. If you read today’s post and download our new version later today you’ll understand why I’m confident Scotty is in good hands.
Click here to find out why

And this wonderful note from Bret too:

WinPatrol.com - WinPatrol from Ruiware.

WinPatrol.com – WinPatrol from Ruiware. “When I discovered WinPatrol I knew it was a winner and a program I’d install for my entire family. WinPatrol customers matter. You still won’t find obnoxious toolbars when you download WinPatrol. Instead, we help you get rid of them. Thanks, Bret Lowry — Click on image to go to WinPatrol.com

In closing, I would like to echo Corrine’s thoughts from her Security Garden blog entry:

On a personal note, I have long respected Bill Pytlovany and, because of his honesty and high ethical standards, held him in high esteem.  I know I won’t be losing contact with him but still wish to take this opportunity to publicly thank Bill for providing an excellent product.

I could not have said it any better!

Microsoft has quietly stopped serving security updates to Internet Explorer 11 (IE11)

Microsoft has quietly stopped serving security updates to Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) on Windows 7  according to an article on Computerworld:

Microsoft strips some Windows 7 users of IE11 patch privileges – Computerworld

Microsoft has quietly stopped serving security updates to Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) on consumer and small business Windows 7 PCs unless the customer has successfully applied an April update for the browser.

The requirement and associated patch stoppage were similar to those Microsoft mandated for Windows 8.1 when it told customers they had to migrate to Windows 8.1 Update by June 10 or lose their patch privileges. The Windows 7 requirement, however, affected only IE11, Microsoft’s newest browser, not the operating system.

This type of thing is very hard to understand. Why would Microsoft do such foolish things. Why would they cut off their nose to spite their face by making things so difficult for their users? Windows Update should provide what is needed as it is needed. Period. If they can’t figure out how to do that, maybe they need to get someone in there to help them do the updates.

At this rate, they will be causing more people to move from Windows to other platforms like Mac and Linux. Do they not realize this? Not to mention that people need their security updates not just for the operating system but for the browser. If they want to maintain market share with their IE browser, they are showing a very strange way of doing that by cutting off the very much needed security updates because one hasn’t installed as yet. Why is it not installed? That is what should be addressed here.

All future security and non-security updates for Internet Explorer 11 require you to have update 2919355 or update 2929437 installed in order to receive updates (emphasis added).”

With the way that malware is attacking Microsoft Windows, I can not see how they can feel it is OK to do this as well as stopping supporting Windows XP when it as still garnered nearly a third of all users world wide even after security update support was ended for Windows XP. As of today, June 15, 2014 it still garner’s over 25% or 1/4 of the total global market:

netmarketshare.com as of 6-15-2014 - choose operating system Desktop Share by Version

netmarketshare.com as of 6-15-2014 – choose operating system Desktop Share by Version

 

May 2010 Windows 2000 fell below 5% and end of life for Extended Life Support of Windows 2000 was July 10, 2010 so WINDOWS 2000 FELL below 5% TWO MONTHS BEFORE SUPPORT ENDED.

OS Statistics- w3schools_org – includes less then 5% Win2K market share at time of end of support (PDF)

Windows 2000 End-of-Life – Strategic Technology Resources – Site Home – TechNet Blogs-11-10-2009 (PDF)

Netmarketshare postings.

Then the Windows 8.1 Update 1 fiasco and now this IE11 fiasco.

There is something very anti-customer about all of this, don’t you think? Especially in light of the fact that Windows is the most high profile target for malware purveyors because it garners the greatest marketshare.

I personally feel Microsoft has a made a BIG mistake ending support for Windows XP when it still holds slightly over 25% or 1/4 (one quarter) of the total global marketshare as shown above. And they are continuing to make security missteps for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 users now too.

I do not understand. Microsoft has never been this way before in it’s long history of being customer centric. It just does not make sense.