email generated by spam filtersI hate how some ISPs seem to think they need to be your own little IT department and take over everything. All they are is a carrier and all they should do is provide a connection. Period.

Well, maybe they should provide email services, but most of them fail at that too…

AOL was always the worst at this. They didn’t want to just provide your internet connection, they wanted to BE your internet. And their stupid software that nearly took over your computer and forced you to look at everything through their silly, tricked-out interface that was so loaded with ads and decoration, you could barely use it…

But they’re just about dead as a ISP and are concentrating on the thing they did worst, content.

Then there are ISPs like Earthlink and NetZero. The graphic above is an email I got from a friend’s Earthlink account, after I had replied to his email. It wants me to apply for non-spam status so that I can email him. Never mind that he had emailed me first, it’s just poor internet manners. (I know, that’s an oxymoron.) Instead of stopping spammers, they punish real people!

Earthlink is the one that promised to ‘automatically’ transfer all you email contacts to your new Earthlink account when you switched from another provider. What it also did was send annoying emails to everyone in the address book to let them know you had switched to Earthlink. Who cares?

NetZero is another. After spending huge amounts of advertising money getting everyone to switch to NetZero HighSpeed, now they’re telling people to drop their broadband and switch to NetZero dial-up and save money. Yeah, I could sell my car and ride a bike to save money too, but it’s not going to happen.

These companies think customer support consists of treating them like imbeciles and controlling how they use the internet and their computer. They all insist on installing all their own software, instead of using the perfectly functional network components in your computer already. Then when it screws the computer up beyond all hope, they generally try to sell you some other tier of service.

Every now and then I get someone who asks me about internet service. I generally recommend an ISP I have had experience with and know the level of service they provide, as well as how they work on your computer. I explain that to them and they go ahead and subscribe to AOL/Earthlink/NetZero anyway.

Then when it doesn’t work right, they ask me for help…

If you’re going to comment and say “I use [AOL/Earthlink/NetZero/pick one] and I’m happy.” don’t bother, you’re an idiot. You are happy because your expectations are low.

If you want to know what ISPs I do reccommend, it only applies to the local area: LocalNet for dialup, Verizon for DSL. AT&T worldnet was acceptable if you threw away their software and didn’t use it! But at least you could use them without it. Avoid cable internet like the plague.

My free internet tip that will help you avoid ever needing to notify anyone of your new email address: Get a free web-based email account. I suggest Gmail, but MSN Mail, Yahoo Mail or AIM/AOL Mail will do. Then set it up to forward mail automatically to your ISP-based mail account. Give people your Gmail address, and change your Reply-to header when you send mail to that address. If you ever need to change your ISP (when you move, upgrade to broadband, or they go out of business, etc.) you just change the forwarding setting to your new ISP account.