Like many early internet adopters, I got an AOL account a thousand years ago. This is when they only had a half million subscribers. Heck, I had an Earthlink account when they were a local LA (Los Feliz) ISP. Times change and being on AOL was not only not cool, but totally not necessary. But what about the dozens of people who still use that email account to contact me, mostly work contacts and my AIM account? Would I have to become Aronski997821?

    It's no longer a concern.

    AOL announced yesterday that they were going to give the option to their customers to keep their e-mail accounts and their AIM name without charging them. You have to give up dial up (no problem) and the 24/7 tech support (I think I can handle it). You can still use the software if you want; I haven't in about 2 years since someone showed me how to set up Apple Mail to receive my AOL account.
  
    You might be asking yourself why they would give the people still tethered to them an out. Well, they've been losing subscribers by the millions (now around 17 million from close to 30 million). Here's a way to give them a long valid list to sell to their advertisers and perhaps still bring some money in rather than being the guys who are out of business who mailed those bothersome discs to everyone. It might help stop the hemorrhage.

   Notice to AOL users; call them now and avoid the next billing cycle. You probably are using a broadband connection and never use dial up. You can use the software if you want; you don't have to. You get to keep that old e-mail name forever…

Next month, they promise to start giving you 5 gigs of storage space for free!