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End of another era - The Paranoid Android
...musings of a mechanically depressed robot...
End of another era
I got a strange and infuriating piece of mail the other day.  It was a final notice for monies due to CompuServe.  It would appear that I have been paying for my bill using the credit card I hadn't lost and when the card was stopped my bill stopped getting paid.

Now I haven't logged into CompuServe for a very long time.  It was my first ISP - and in the CompuServe chat rooms I have met some incredibly cool people, not least to say my wife!  If it hadn't have been for my addiction to the chat rooms I may never have visited Germany and almost frozen to death on a door step, I would almost definitely not have visited America, and I would not have met Misty.

So it was with something of a heavy heart that I called up the number on the final demand and explained to them in concise terms that they can go run and jump - but they are not getting money from me for a service I haven't used in years.  I am now no longer a number. (101520,1260 is dead)

I blame AOL.  Before CompuServe was bought it was a fine service aimed mostly at business people.  The chat rooms were self moderated, the idiots were ignored, and there were few enough of them that ignoring them worked!

Then CompuServe had it's own Eternal September, in September '97 AOL's users got access to the CompuServe chat rooms.  The influx of so many teens and pre teens with no knowledge of the acceptable behaviour (by our standards) in chat rooms meant the place was spoiled.  Occasionally there would be enough of "the regulars" to control the uninitiated, but mostly we watched on from the sidelines unable to do anything about the mess it had become.

Then came the bots.  AOL, out to be the "family friendly" service, decreed that all bad words would result in a 24 hour "holiday" - your account would be banned from the chat rooms for a day - and repeat offenders would have their accounts permanently banned.

This hurt the CompuServe users severely as we had just the single account, where as most AOL users had up to five!  The second problem was the list of words deemed bad.  This included "fag, dick, ass" ... which would be fine (?) if they hadn't been so clever about it.  People would try to get around the bad word list by putting spaces in the middle of words, or using ! for i and @ for a, so all combinations were added... but without considering the context.  So the sentence "Sh it's a secret" would get you banned, as would "I'm just popping off for a fag and a nice cup of tea"

It amused us Brits for ages that the words "wanker, bollocks and arse" were not originally considered bad words!  But these too would eventually be added to the growing list.

The final straw came in 2001/2 when the old numbered accounts were migrated to named accounts.  As all the memorable names had already been taken by the AOL users, you were prompted to use accounts with 4 digit numbers on the end.  I refused to migrate, and found a web portal that would still allow you to get into the chat room logging in with the numbered account and password.  This method of access has been stopped - I know not when as I wasn't trying to access the site with any regularity.  I stopped going into CompuServe about the time I started this journal... as many of the regulars there had created accounts here.

So another era comes to an end... and I'm no longer paying the $30 a month for an ISP I haven't used in about 5 or more years.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: nostalgic nostalgic

7 comments or Leave a comment
yourbandblows From: yourbandblows Date: March 4th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, the old days of the Loft.
paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: March 5th, 2008 12:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Crazy in the best possible meaning of the word! :)
tabby_of_doom From: tabby_of_doom Date: March 4th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course, I didn't make an appearance until 1999, but there was a definite difference after 2001. To go in now is to risk your sanity and your health. I don't know if you can catch an STD via chatroom, but I'm not taking any more chances. There's nothing but ignorant scuzzbags now.

I'm so glad you got to meet me.

paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: March 5th, 2008 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
You, of course, *would* make a fashionably late appearance... and I'm glad I got to meet you too! :)
mrmist From: mrmist Date: March 4th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ahh 'twas fun to be sure. Everything has its day, though..
paranoidandroid From: paranoidandroid Date: March 5th, 2008 12:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tis strange how a final reminder can bring back so many good memories!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 28th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)


I read your article with some amusement as you summed up a very happy time, when it was just cserve and we could jump into world community and have fun with our pals across the pond.
Some things have not changed for the better, mebbe someone somewhere could start up the old chat rooms we used to ove so much.
7 comments or Leave a comment