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AOL CDs for the Good of Mankind

Even Steve Case likes this idea, but don't hold that against me
  (+21, -1)(+21, -1)(+21, -1)
(+21, -1)
  [vote for,

I think we all agree that AOL CDs are truly a scourge upon our planet.

Many good suggestions have been made (see links). But most of these run counter to the desires of AOL, and thus will never happen. We need a suggestion that AOL will agree with. They’re just not going to stop sending them.

The interesting thing about these disks is they are far from being full. One I have handy here has over 220 Meg of free disk space on it. That’s a hell of a lot of bandwidth into a dialup household that is going to waste. (And remember, dialup households are still the majority).

Here’s the idea. Make the disk so people WANT to get them, even the folks who don't want to join AOL. How do we do that?

The key is that free disk space. AOL should dedicate this disk space to various forms of public service. This cannot be any revenue-generating stuff, or even contain anything that links back to their businesses. It is purely for the benefit of the folks that get the CDs. They would advertise this free content within their omnipresent advertisements on TV and elsewhere. "And special this month, you get the following bonus items FREE from us to you!"

There are lots of ways to go with the content:

(1) Public domain materials. A “Classic Book of the Month Club,” where we grab some classic works of literature out of Project Gutenberg and put them on the disk to give folks some free (and very classy) reading material.

(2) Open source software. Maybe a distribution of the some general interest free (as in beer) software package. It would be hard to pick something of truly general interest, but I’m sure some folks could offer suggestions.

(3) Government/public info. A directory of photos of missing children. Machine readable copies of the next set of tax forms you need. Health tips on avoiding the flu. There’s tons of free government information that needs to be distributed far and wide, and here’s a great way to do it.

(4) Security patches. This is my favorite. Tried patching a fresh install of Windows + Office + IE + Outlook up to the latest security patches lately? It’s a pain in the neck! It's no wonder the average non-geek's computer is chock full of viruses and worms. Even on a high speed link it takes a long time to download them all. Bundle up a micro version of the Windows Update site that ONLY has the most critical security patches, and make it idiot proof and automated. (Perhaps MSN disks are the best place for this?)

I’m sure the bakers can come up with many more.

krelnik, Oct 19 2002

CNN (oddly enough) report today http://www.cnn.com/...ol.discs/index.html
It's all about NoMoreAolCds.com (link inside story) [krelnik, Oct 19 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

AOL CD Launcher http://www.halfbake...AOL_20CD_20Launcher
related bakery idea [krelnik, Oct 19 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

snow scraper http://www.halfbake...idea/snow_20scraper
related bakery ideas (in the annotations) [krelnik, Oct 19 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Great AOL CD Invention Contest http://www.ultimate....com/contest/aolcd/
Many fun inventions here including a car completely covered in them. [krelnik, Oct 19 2002]

Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org/
[krelnik, Oct 19 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Windows Update http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com
Handy but often quite frustrating, and very unfriendly to non-geeks. [krelnik, Oct 19 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

(??) Robocut "kit" automower http://www.lls.se/~...wwwrc_us/indext.htm
Design your own blade system and other tweaky fun [hollajam, Oct 19 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

OpenOffice.org http://www.openoffice.org
An alternative to MS office, to make for an interesting battle [bagel, Oct 19 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Great AOL CD Invention Contest http://web.archive.....com/contest/aolcd/
Many fun inventions here including a car completely covered in them. [krelnik, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

AOL records http://www.halfbake...L_20disc_20recorder
Cut groovy music into them! [mr2560, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       [krelnik] It sounds like you have some excellent incentives that would indeed aid AOL and the public.   

       The idea I had actually goes off in another direction.   

       I'm waiting for a Robot lawnmower "kit", Robocut, to come to market. Its appeal is the flexibility of designing my own blade cutting system. The company uses an example of standard utility blade knives attached to a disk. I want to serrate the edge of AOL CD's perhaps with an adapted chain saw sharpening guide then use these for blade cutters. One time anyway. [link]
hollajam, Oct 19 2002

       they make effective mobiles / chimes
po, Oct 19 2002

       Great marketing idea for AOL. If they supplied Windows service packs and the like and, if they could be installed without any AOL software hitching a ride, then it would make me think twice before defacing an AOL CD. They might even get passed around.
st3f, Oct 19 2002

       Sorry I'm really ignorant but what's the deal with AOL. Do they hold a monopoly on blank cds for market? Or do they sell cds with desirable material on them, but there is extra space to use? Why is it intrisically necessary to please AOL? I am just a lowly rabbit, but willing to be educated.
rabbit, Oct 19 2002

       [rabbit] In the U.S., AOL is the largest ISP. One of the ways they have achieved this is through a constant inundation of advertisting about their service.   

       To connect to AOL you must use their software. To ease the process for newbies, they just send the software out free on disks.   

       As a result there is a constant deluge of CDs containing AOL software. If you are a computer user you usually get one in the mail once every few weeks. They are in little racks at the checkout in not just computer stores, but also supermarkets and elsewhere. They occasionally are distributed "pasted" onto the cover of magazines. Sometimes I expect to see them raining from the skies.   

       Follow the first and fourth links on this idea and you'll get a good idea of the magnitude of anger about AOL CDs here in the U.S.
krelnik, Oct 19 2002

       "ATT Worldnet" sent me a disk a couple years ago, that I've never thrown out. There's a full version of a golf game on it.
AOL disks with useful stuff on them would be great! But you just KNOW they'd install at least an "AOL" icon. Everything else does.
Amos Kito, Oct 19 2002

       //But you just KNOW they'd install at least an "AOL" icon.//   

       <dejectedly> Yes, probably true. When I looked at one of the disks to research this, I had to cancel out of the auto-run install program that had come up. Later I noticed it had put an AOL icon on my desktop just doing that.
krelnik, Oct 19 2002

       Nice idea. As AOL have a slight anti-Microsoft slant, I doubt they'd put on service packs (I'm sure I read they were switching to Netscape and own part of a Linux distro). But how about hitting MS where it hurts. Distribute OpenOffice.org on the CDs and take chunks out of MS Office sales.
bagel, Oct 19 2002

       Burning a full CD-R takes a lot longer than writing a short one. But maybe this is different with mass produced regular cds? Maybe they just have a 'stamp' for them and what is actually on the stamp has nothing to do with how long it takes to make a cd? I don't own a cd burner, but last night I had to use someone else's to burn a cd for class. I was expecting it to take a long time, as the last one did. But it only took a short time because there was only one file. If it takes 10 times as long for them to fill up a CD, they won't do it.
Skullhead, Oct 19 2002

       For mass produced CD’s, a stamping method is used.
[ sctld ], Oct 19 2002

       krelnik: Thanks for the information. It is amazing how much one misses by not being in the US.
rabbit, Oct 20 2002

       I use AOL CDs as coasters   

       If I get enough of them I'll make a parabolic solar reflector to help my water heater.   

       Maybe they could be glued to the backs of cars to reflect light back at people who don't dim their lights while tailgating at night?   

       If the plastic can be vacuum-formed, they could be used to make novelty items like solar cigarette lighters?
whlanteigne, Oct 20 2002

       Yeah, I've seen those demos too, which is pretty cool. In fact before writing this I looked at an MSN disk and it was pretty packed full.   

       But think about it: that's just more advertising for their products. They're not really giving you anything, they're trying to GET you to buy something from them.   

       I think the key to this idea working, is that the additional content truly be FREE stuff, with no strings attached. The vendor should not have any way to make money off it.
krelnik, Oct 20 2002

       2 words. Roofing shingles. Great links, by the way.
RayfordSteele, Oct 22 2002

       We keep a stack of them to use as disposable platters for mixing epoxy glue.
shameless_self_reference, Oct 22 2002

       // In the U.S., AOL is the largest ISP. One of the ways they have achieved this is through a constant inundation of advertisting about their service. //   

       The problem also occurs in the UK, trust me, i made a good part of a 3D sphere structure out of AOL CD's and superglue.   

       Dont look at me like that, i was bored!   

       krelnik - The principle of your idea is great but using it to promote AOL's interests is just wrong.
MrKangaroo, Oct 22 2002

       [MrKangaroo] - I think you're now obliged to post a link to a picture of your AOL CD sphere.
hippo, Oct 22 2002

       [hippo] - I wish i could, i gave up after i found i had made the initial circumference too wide so i was about 3 CDs short. I threw it away once i had questioned the sanity of my actions. Give me a couple of months and i may have enough AOL CDs for another sphere.   

       <afterthought>Maybe i started the sphere as an expression of a subconcious thought linking AOL with balls</afterthought>
MrKangaroo, Oct 22 2002

       //principle of your idea is great but using it to promote AOL's interests is just wrong//   

       Hmmmm, well I figure they aren't going to stop sending these disks. Thye're just going to continue filling up landfills with them. So they might as well do SOME good other than advertising.   

       Benefitting AOL (good will or whatever) is just a side effect that makes them more likely to do it. It's not a goal.
krelnik, Oct 22 2002

       [krelnik] - You've tempted me to the dark side, a croissant for you.   

       <small print>Still not supporting AOL though</small print>
MrKangaroo, Oct 22 2002

       Allready baked... I just bought a box of box of Honey Nut Cheerios, and guess what's inside? A DVD containing AOL and a movie. There are four different DVDs available in various General Mills cereals with 2 movies ("Buddy" and "The Muppets Take Manhattan") and episodes of two TV shows ("Jackie Chan Adventures" and "Jim Henson's Bear in the Big Blue House"). These aren't at the top of my list of movies to own, but they are appropriate for the kinds of cereal they are in.   

       Better yet, since it plays in my DVD player it will never get a chance to put an AOL icon on my computer, and the AOL ad that I had to watch before getting to the DVD menu wasn't too long.   

       I'm not sure how often they will do something like this since it does appear to be a marketing deal with Jim Henson Entertainment, which is trying to sell some of their other movies on the back of the cereal box.
scad mientist, Oct 22 2002

       Why couldn't they just leave the CDs in a writeable state so that we could put our own files on them?
machineman, Oct 28 2002

       Well for one thing they have to mass-produce these CD's by the millions, so they are stamped as CD-ROM's, not burned as CD-R's. There's a big difference in manufacturing time between the two.
krelnik, Oct 28 2002

       NASA needs to find a way to use these things; gigantic solar power reflectors?
RayfordSteele, Jan 22 2004

       If you glue 2 discs together, shiny-sides-out, and string them up, they catch light and make pretty rainbows on the walls! ;-)
spacecadet, Jan 22 2004

       unfortunatley some of us are compelled to use AOL, and yes i do have a legitimate reason,
engineer1, Feb 21 2004

       I once blue-tacked a line of AOhelL CDs around the top of my room, and had a lot left over. So I made good use of them and had a game of frizbee :)   

       Note however that modifying them into "ninja death disks" is not the brightest idea ever...
TheCoat, Mar 07 2004

       A Canadian organisation is taking all of your AOL cd's and building a scale model of the AOL Canada head offices outside the AOL Canada head offices in Toronto. Strangely I have not seen any more of these AOL cd's in Canada <sigh>. They made great dog toys, far-flying, lightweight, and I got an almost never-ending supply. They came in the mail, stuck to magasine covers, and sometimes there was a sales rep handing them out on the streets or in parking lots.
dm01, Aug 28 2004

       Papa! What's an AOL CD? Well Son, Back in 2002 when...
popbottle, Sep 21 2014

       I had to think really hard to remember what dial was. somehow the atari seems more recent.
bob, Sep 26 2014


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