Weaning Yourself from AOL


Services AOL Provides

  1. Dialup access and an IP address
  2. Email account
  3. Web browser and email program
  4. Instant Messaging and Chat
  5. Special Content
Other Places to Find Them
  1. Any Internet Service Provider (ISP) from the yellow pages
  2. Any ISP or free accounts such as mail.yahoo.com
  3. Any ISP (Netscape Communicator, Internet Explorer and Outlook Express all free)
  4. AOL Instant Messenger and/or other products such as Yahoo Messenger
  5. Other web pages and "portal" services such as apple.excite.com, my.yahoo.com, etc.
Transitional Strategies

Where to Configure ISP Settings Depends on System Version

The control panels where you will enter your ISP account info depends on which version of the Macintosh OS you are using: 7.0/7.1, 7.5/6, 8.0+, as noted in the table below. If you are using System 7.5 be sure to get the free upgrade to System 7.5.5 for the most stable Open Transport version.

If you have the "Internet Setup Assistant" utility on your computer, all settings can be automatically configured by running that and answering the questions as it asks you.

Mac OS Control Panel Dialup Username Password DNS Search Domain Helpers POP/SMTP NNTP FTP
7 ConfigPPP X X X            
MacTCP       X X   Helper Helper Helper
7.5.5 PPP X X X            
TCP/IP       X X        
Internet Config           X X X X
8+ Remote Access X X X            
TCP/IP       X X        
Internet           X X X X

Internet Jargon and Acronyms

Term Meaning Example
ISP Internet Service Provider, a company with modem banks and host computers that serves as your gateway to the internet. Spirit One
Dialup The telephone number you dial with your modem to connect your computer to your ISP. 360-883-5921
Username The unique name which identifies you within your ISP macrory
Password The secret code phrase or sequence that, with your user name, identifies you to your ISP. ••••••••
DNS Domain Name Server, computer which converts internet names to numeric IP addresses.
Search Domain The default domain for searching within DNS and other services, usually your ISP's name. spiritone.com
Helpers Applications such as web browsers, email programs, etc., which help you to use the internet. Netscape Communicator
POP Post Office Protocol, a common set of rules for incoming email. Your ISP stores your email on their POP server. mail.spiritone.com
SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, a set of rules for outgoing mail. Your ISP has an "outbound" SMTP server. mail.spiritone.com
NNTP Network News Transfer Protocol, the rules for sorting and serving Usenet newsgroups and the ISP server which does this. news.spiritone.com
Server A computer which handles internet data, whether as a warehouse or a traffic cop.  
FTP File Transfer Protocol, a common way to upload and download files such as software programs, updates, etc. ftp.spiritone.com
URL Uniform Resource Locator, an internet address such as "[email protected]" or " www.rorybowman.com"  
IP Address Unique numeric address for a single computer on the network; usually assigned dynamically by your ISP.

A Few Mac-Friendly ISPs (with settings)

ISP SpiritOne Pacifier Earthlink Teleport  
Dialup 1 883-5921 816-2999 816-0247 693-8553  
Dialup 2   693-2100 834-0452 838-0101  
User Name     ELN/    
Domain spiritone.com pacifier.com earthlink.net teleport.com  
POP mail.spiritone.com mail.pacifier.com mail.earthlink.net mail.teleport.com  
SMTP mail.spiritone.com mail.pacifier.com   mail.teleport.com  
NNTP news.spiritone.com news.pacifier.com   news.teleport.com  
FTP ftp.spiritone.com ftp.pacifier.com   ftp.teleport.com  
URL www.spiritone.com www.pacifier.com www.earthlink.net www.teleport.com  

It isn't that AOL is bad, necessarily, just that it is slow and by locking yourself into one proprietary service you are cutting off your options. Forego the "keywords" and cartoon interface for more flexible and powerful options if you choose. For heavy users with only one phone line, DSL or a cable modem are other options to consider. Ask Rory for details if you like.