What is AOL capable of?

March 10, 2018 at 08:44:10
Specs: several
A neighbor told me that he input my e-mail address
into his browser, and was given some curious info,
which prompted him to put in his own e-mail address,
and he was shocked by all the information he found
there about himself, including info about cruise tickets
he once purchased. He thought this info was being
collected and stored by my e-mail provider, or some
website connected with my address, because that is
where he had gone to find the info. I asked him several
times exactly where he had gone, and he indicated that
he could find out and tell me next time we talk.

I suggested that he must have done a Google search
on our names or e-mail addresses, but he was adamant
that the place he went to was not Google, but my e-mail
provider or some website connected with me, because
it had the name of my e-mail provider. As we talked, he
could never recall exactly that name, but when I said it
several times he indicated that it was the place.

I asked him what browser he was using, as an initial
question toward finding out his default search engine,
and he told me he uses AOL.

AOL sent me hundreds of startup CDs over a period of
what seems like decades. But I never tried to go there
with their system, and I never learned anything about
how it works. I gather that -- at least at one time -- it was
built on the same substructure as Internet Explorer. I'm
not at all sure about even that much. So basically I know
nothing about AOL.

Does anyone have any idea what my neighbor might
have done that would return so much information about
him that he was surprised and shocked to see? I'm not
confident that he will be able to figure out on his own
where he went so that he can tell me.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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March 10, 2018 at 09:56:18
AOL was initially offered when dial-up was the primary internet connection. It came with Netscape Navigator as the browser.

Google.com started in the late 90's, prior to that, there were several competing search engines - AltaVista, Dogpile, Yahoo, to name a few. I don't know what AOL used as its search engine 20+ years ago but up until recently, it was powered by Google. Since Verizon bought AOL, it switched to Bing.

Regardless, being that your friend doesn't know how he searched for the info he found, there's no way any of us would know. My guess is he searched thru stuff he had stored on his computer or saved emails. Did you try entering your email address into the various search engines - AltaVista, Bing, Google, Yahoo, etc - to see what comes up?

message edited by riider

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March 19, 2018 at 10:54:34
It was useful in the Windows 3.1 days - nice neat interface which you used for both internet browsing and email (program). It lost out to others and is not widely favoured these days.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks

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March 19, 2018 at 12:46:28
I haven't had a chance yet to discuss it with my neighbor again,
but I was surprised when he said he uses AOL. My impression
was that AOL finally went out of business maybe 2-5 years ago.

I haven't figured out yet just how intelligent he is. He may be
pretending to not know things he knows very well. He may have
been pulling my leg when he said he was shocked by the private
info he found online, and that he uses AOL.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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February 6, 2019 at 00:36:49
Just noticed this thread from nearly a year ago, and want to
update it a bit.

I still haven't found out what he searched for, where he searched
for it, or what he found, but I certainly know a lot more about him.

I edited and designed a book that he wrote, and it was published
in December. First book for me, about the eighth or ninth for him.
We are now working on two more books.

Turns out he's pretty smart. And he really likes to talk. He has a
doctorate -- ah, I think it is in history -- and is professor emeritus
at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota. He was director of
the Concordia Language Villages near Bemidji from 1971 to 1989,
where German, French, Norwegian, Spanish, Russian, Swedish,
Danish, Chinese, Finnish, Japanese, Korean, English, Italian,
Arabic, and Portuguese have been taught beginning in 1961.
He wrote a book about it.

One of the books we are working on now is about the three years
he spent in the US Air Force, as a bassoonist.


-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

message edited by Jeff Root

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February 7, 2019 at 12:27:28
I just entered one of my email addresses in the search bar.

I got a hit about me at www.mylife.com. DOB, current city of residence and a very short list of my "personal network of family, friends, associates and neighbors." The total list consists of the names of 2 of 4 kids, my wife (twice) and me. :-)

The overall info is pretty limited because they want you to pay for the juicy stuff. According to them, I may have:

Arrest or Criminal records
Lawsuits, Liens and Bankruptcies
Sexual Offenses
Records indicating that I have been evicted from my home

It turns out that I may be a real a-hole. ;-)

I'll chip in if you folks want to find out more about me.

message edited by DerbyDad03

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February 7, 2019 at 13:59:07
That built up to a real nice climax, DerbyDad. LoL at length!

Is your name unusual enough that you got only one hit, or did
you have to sort through them to find yourself? Surprisingly
(to me, at least), there are many people named "Jeff Root'.
After I first got telephone service, as soon as the directory was
printed I got a phone call asking if I was the Jeff Root from
Duluth. It was his parole officer trying to find him. I discovered
that a Jeff Root just a couple of years younger than me was a
disk jockey on an AM radio station on the opposite side of the
University of Minnesota campus that I lived next to. He had
been there for years, but a few weeks after I learned of him
he died of cancer. Another Jeff Root is apparently a musician
with a following on the US east coast. I'm the one connected
to the Minnesota Space Frontier Society.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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