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Free (Ad-Supported) DSL ISP Debuts 147

The service won't actually be available until April, and even then only in places where local telcos have DSL capability, but according to this C|Net story, Broadband Digital Group is supposed to be taking advance registrations for free DSL service as of today. But there are catches to this service. Big ones. (Click below for more.)

The first catch - and one that I read with horror - is that in order to get a free DSL modem (they aren't cheap) a subscriber must refer at least 10 other subscribers to Broadband Digital Group. Sure, they're going to come up with some sort of sanctimonious anti-spam policy, but I will bet this policy causes as much spam as a horror called, which claims to have a strong anti-spam policy, but at the same time offers big incentives to members who refer "friends" to its service. (The hypocrisy behind these "wink,wink, we're not spamming, just asking people to tell friends about us" policies is truly vomit-inducing, but it is illegal to do what I'd like to do to the people who came up with this horror, so they're safe from me. For the moment.)

I'm tired of all the All-Advantage "friends" I suddenly have who I've never met before. I get spam from them every day. Now I'm sure I - along with many others - will suddenly have many Broadband Digital Group "friends" trying to rope us into this new scheme. I spotted nothing on the company's Web site about simply buying a DSL modem. I'm sure this is an oversight that will be rectified shortly. It would be horrible to think that this company would only open its service to spammers, no matter what kind of market-speak they use to cover up the fact that their referral program is nothing but an inducement to spam.

But even if Broadband Digital Group can figure out a way to justify its spam-creating marketing plan or drops it in favor of something nicer, you will still be forced to use software from Broadband Digital Group's business partner Winfire to access the service. This software requires "Windows 95, 98 (or higher), or Windows NT." No Mac, no Linux, no *nix. Without this software you won't see the ads, and Broadband Digital Group won't be able to gather info on what sites you visit, so you must have their chosen software to connect to their service.

You can see the company's point; their service is ad-supported, so if they can't give all kinds of info about you to advertisers, there's no way they can give you - free - a service that currently retails for $40 - $60 per month in most areas. There is no such thing as a free lunch. The ads pay the freight. If you are going to use the service, you must put up with the ads. And you can't even complain about being forced to use Windows as part of the deal. No one is forcing you to sign up for free broadband Internet service. By definition, wherever you will be able to get this service, you will also be able to sign up for DSL service through other providers that will charge you money - but won't require special software or send you an ad barrage.

Will this work? Is this going to be a viable business? It's going to be interesting to watch. There are obvious flaws in the company's business plan, but there are good things about it, too. Please don't take my word for it either way; I urge you to read the C|Net story and check the company's Web site before coming up with an opinion. If nothing else, assuming Broadband Digital Group can grow as rapidly as its owners and investors hope it can, the availability of "free" broadband service will force other high speed Internet access providers - like cable companies - to provide either more reliable service or lower prices (or both!) than they do now if they want to have any subscribers left in a few years.

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Free (Ad-Supported) DSL ISP Debuts

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  • if you don't want to make the trade they are asking, don't do it. doesn't seem like a problem to me.

    • VMWare......1 pcs....$299
    • Windows 95..1 pcs....$199
    • Total................$498
    DSL is currently $60/month = $720/year. Looks like big savings to me...

    Moderate this down (-1, DSL Is Not Available In Your Area Anyway)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 03, 2000 @02:49AM (#1412554)
    You hereby agree that if the terms of this Rules Agreement are not specifically enforced, Winfire will be irreparably damaged, and therefore You agree that Winfire shall be entitled, without bond or other security in excess of $1,000, or without proof of damages, to temporary and/or permanent injunctions and/or restraining orders with respect any breach(es) of this Rules Agreement, in addition to any other available remedies available to Winfire at law or in equity. Now I don't Normally check Terms of Service but is this normal?
  • If it works (I have no experience with it), FreeMWare [] is, well, free. The webpage says it's still unstable & for developers only.
    Christopher A. Bohn
  • If you have an older computer you're not using, why not install it with windoze, then install NAT software like Wingate, Winroute, or NAT32? The advertisers can send all their crap to the windoze box that you never look at anyway, and on the other side you have a perfectly good linux box with free DSL...
  • Most free ISPs have a statment like that. Only it $50 - $100 instead of $1000.
  • let me check how much money this will save
    me currently...hmm...$0!!

    currently paying..

    DSL line = $40 month
    DSL isp = $0 !
    $40 month

    Dont think it can get much better..
    since with my old 56k i was paying
    the same amount...those are the wonders
    of my local bell provider and hey..
    im happy :)

  • ...this too will be a short-lived era. Companies will find the cost of service far too much to bear, and customers will find the service progressively worse as more and more "friends" sign on for free service. Hell, I've seen this happen with ISPs you have to *pay* for! (I've jumped ship several times now from ISPs that simply would not upgrade their infrastructure in the face of a burgeoning userbase.) Once these things happen, you can start counting the days free DSL has left on one hand with fingers left over.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by Genom ( 3868 ) on Monday January 03, 2000 @03:00AM (#1412561)
    Gotta rant a bit on this one...

    I've tried a couple of these "free" ad-supported ISPs (admittedly, they were dial-ups, but the principle is the same) - and while they DO give you access to the 'net, they do so rather poorly in comparison to other ISPs.

    Generally, there is little or no support. This alone is a good reason for many to stay away. Especially those who are new to the internet, and need a bit of help to do things you or I would think are pretty simple. So, they generally aren't very good for newbies - that leaves experienced users...who generally go a few steps further when something seems to be wrong.

    Send their "support" address a series of traceroutes, showing them that there seems to be a problem with their equipment - and get no response for a few days - then a form letter asking you to make sure your username and password are typed correctly, and that you're dialing the right number (Hello? If I wasn't logging in, how'd I do the traceroute?)

    Support aside, you generally have to put up with some sort of "ad panel" on your screen. Invariably these are set to be "always on top" (which generally relates to "always in the way"). When these services first started, the ad panels were relatively small - but they're growing - soon, you'll have 60% ads, 40% other.
    You can't even move the panel out of the way, as most use some sort of scripting that doesn't allow you to move ANY part of the panel off-screen. And of course, most of these services think that everyone runs at 800x600 - so you'll get constant warning messages (which you can't turn off) if you run at 1280x1024 and want to put the panel anywhere but the upper right hand corner of the screen.

    I'm not even going to go into the spam...although my advice there is to make sure you never remove anything from their mail server - and when they complain, show them the spam. Of course, this may get you nowhere...

    Apologies for the bit of a rant here, but these places are generally REALLY low on the quality scale. I can't imagine that going broadband is going to make them any better. In fact, I can see them getting MUCH worse (with that kind of bandwidth, they'll want to force-feed you streaming video...)

    Disclaimer: I've worked for a dial-up ISP for 2 years, and have had a cable modem for one. My views are based on my own experiences, and I do try to keep my ISP bias in check most of the time ;)
  • Section 9 of the terms of service allow them to use the outgoing section of your e-mail to send what is pure essence is spam and in section 14 they have an anti spam policy in contract law cases this kind of hyprocrisy doesn't hold up in court.
  • They also offer free dsl and dial-up service. Currently they only have software for windows, but mac and linux software will be available soon. They also do not have a banner, just software that logs your internet usage.
  • There's been a few free ad-based ISP's started here in Australia, one in particular called (*shock*) which uses a program to basically control your DUN in Windows. This window when minimised automatically restores itself when a new advert appears, forcing focus onto itself (ie, it switches you out of fullscreen programs). I suppose that is the intention of it, to show you adverts the entire time while you are connected no-matter what you are doing. However, there is a simple app floating around (written in VB no less!) that allows the window to be forcefully hidden, never to appear again, a stroke of insecurity on behalf of the ISP and another point on the board for the obscurity != security beleivers.
  • They also do not have a banner, just software that logs your internet usage.

    Is this not worse?

  • You're missing the point. Even if someone doesn't sign up for this (most of us never signed up for, you still get tons of spam from "friends" looking for free shit. While it's hard to complain about a free DSL line, I have no trouble thinking this completely sucks.

  • i love how they market "winfire" as something good for you rather than a tool for them to gather demographic data. :)

    anyway, my recommendation to all businesses like this: do advertising, but do it through email.

    that way, you don't have to support clunky platform-specific add-ons or customized browsers, and you're opening yourself up to a much wider market. i would probably take advantage of the offer myself if it were handled this way, and i'm sure many other *nix and mac users would as well.

    of course, most any geek is going to either not pick up the mail from his or her account or procmail it out of existance, but not if the means of getting ads is also the only place where service changes and outages are announced. :) better yet, send mails along the lines of "respond to this message within 48 hours, or your account will be automatically suspended."

    not that this is a big issue... most people are not geeks, and are not going to be aware that it's even possible to stop the mail. i can say this with certainty after having watched numerous newbies click on dozens of ads without any idea that the ads weren't part of the search they were doing. "how did i end up on miracle whip? i was searching for the weather report!"

  • I can do the same thing here...DSL from US West=$20/month (on the cheapest plan) and they throw in a free DSL modem. And my ISP (, plug plug) charges $40/month for the service, which is what I pay for 56k with the extras (static IP, hosting, extra email)...getting rid of my "internet line" would save me that $20/month, so I'd be paying the same price for DSL as I am for 56k. Unfortunately, I live too far from the CO to get DSL, but we're moving soon. :)


  • All of the free ISPs that have a banner also log your internet usage. So it's the same, only without the eye candy.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Back in my not to distant past, I was a sys admin at a medium sized ISP. This was in a country that has callers pays telephone service (about $3 an hour).

    Anyway, to make a long story short, you really had to be on the look-out for people spamming under the guise of being an "affiliate" or "refering" people with whom they have no contact. A lot of the affiliate programs prey on people who live in caller pays environments, saying that they'll pay for the cost of the telephone and ISP service by joining up. Also, there was a fair amount of name list poaching (god help you if they get into your mail spool; that huge ass regex for grifting e-mail's makes it pretty easy to spot, unless you're stacked on the service side of things). finger, ident/vrfy games, snmp walks of RASen and and down right breaking ins are quite common.

    The entire situation is exaserbated by the fact that, after 6 months of bouncing around between ISPs, racking up 100s of $$s worth of phone calls and making a general neusance of themselves, these affiliate joiners have the nerve to get abusive with the ISPs when they didn't at least break even.

    To make things even worse, a lot of the more recent anti-spam jihaders can't even parse a fscking mail header to save their lives; I've seen at least two cases where they've DoS attacked ISPs over forged "From:" fields. You know things have gotten completely out of hand when Aunt Salley and Uncle Bob start script-kidying a DoS attack over a mis-read e-mail header.

    Jesus, will these people ever get a clue (affiliate programs and their joiners alike)?


    The internet has become a very different place that it used to be; it's almost foreign to my experiences during the late 80's and early 90's. I no longer look it as the tight community it used to be, more like a tourist from a small town in Iowa might view NYC. Oh, well... paradise lost; it ain't no big deal. Fsck'em; I'll just be happy sit back, sell'em spuds from Iowa, while they rape and murder each other in the city.

    Can someone point me the way to Internet 2, that mythical place where general stupidity has taken over yet?
  • I know someone who has a "Free PC" and the Free internet service that comes with it (granted only a 56K connection).

    I must also say that it is working nicely. They have been surfing the net for almost three months and I haven't received a single "help" call from them. They can care less about the advertisements that ring their desktop. They need the 'net to get crucial medical information about spina bifida since their youngest daughter was born with it. The information they have discovered, and the support they found, has made an immeasurable difference in their daughter's life..literally.

    If it works...this type of stuff is very good for folks who cannot afford it otherwise. Getting people on the net is a "good thing", even if you have to beg borrow and steal to do so.

  • Cheap access is something that needs to happen, but it doesn't have to be like this, does it? Has anybody considered starting ISP cooperatives, or community supported internet access? Something that's cheap, accessable, uncensored, and with *no* strings attached?

    Wasn't there something a while back about a cooperative in San Fran that had done something similar with T1 lines?

    Michael Chisari
  • In the old days, television was a half hour long show with three-to-five minute breaks from the sponser, advertising some cigarette. Time passed and the advertising time became ten smaller commercials. Nowadays, people _pay_ for cable, and _buy_ the advertising. This is insane. It just goes to prove that 99% of north america thinks that watch advertising doesn't cost them anything (they are wrong). So now, we have ADSL being piped into our home without charge (like early TV) supported by ads. (And there are ads on many of the web pages too.) In two years they'll start charging for that too. 40 bucks a month for ADSL, one third of the screen has advertising on it all the time, and half the websites and e-mail you retrieve has spam. If spam is part of the bargain, it's not free! Don't pay for advertising!
  • I think just as suitable is don't do it the way they want you to... Setup an Internet only 95/98 box using something like Sygate [] which I've used for years, and pipe the connection to your other machines! Let the "Server" sit there with the DSL modem and such, and let it look at banner adds all day long. Use the net as normal via the other machines. :-)

    Hey Rob, howabout that tarball!
    Oops... Another 24 hours now...
  • by DreamerFi ( 78710 ) <(john) (at) (> on Monday January 03, 2000 @03:40AM (#1412583) Homepage
    Looks like somebody with a network sniffer, a few free hours, and perl could hack up something that looks to them like a regular user, while the owner of said perl scripts has free dsl access without the advertisement horror.
    Now, personally, I avoid free providers like this, their service tends to suck bowling balls through a garden hose, and I'm a firm believer of tanstaafl [], but I always wonder...

  • Did anyone notice that the modem (and therefore the service) don't arrive until April 1st? It's gotta be a joke. I provide tech support for ADSL for GTE-I and DSL is a little too complex (and limited) to be provided for free, at least at this point, IMHO. In anycase, this looks to be a spam-master's April Fool's Joke, at least to me. (and I've been on the 'net since before Microsoft had a website) :-)
  • If you don't mind all these problems, and aren't using a Micro$oft OS, at least there's:

    FreeWWWeb [], which explictly supports Linux and Sega Dreamcast, and should work with any PPP-capable OS.

    They send you spam instead of banner ads, and restrict you to 100 hours a month, but they explictly allow you to create multiple accounts and use them to go beyond 100 hours usage.
  • i've used internet2..theres nothing really on there and most of the systems bar outside access anyway, just as in the old ultra secure "we are a military net" arpa style days. You can check it out at any large university...most of em have inet2 in their high performance computing labs with their 64+ cpu fddi connected supercomputers tied into it for NSF timesharing purposes.
  • AD supported != Free.

    Not at all! It's rather antonyms than synonyms.

    PS: Sorry, I just read the header, but I'm very strongly against all this "ad supported" bullshit :-(
  • I can't think of a single person that I know that wouldn't be truly disgusted (and thereby regard me with some disdain) at having been spammed, traceably, by me. No one wants spam in their mailbox, let alone spam originating from an acquaintance.
    Inasmuch as it appears that there really is no other way to get the DSL router (at least for the moment), potential users really are being forced to be used as slave labor in the spamming efforts - don't want to pay for the latest email listing CD? No problem, make your "subscribers" spam people to get the service! In addition, when factoring in the percentage of people who actually respond to spam, users are going to have to send out email to many more than the ten or fifteen that are required.

    This is not to mention the misnomers that are associated with this, either... DSL is more secure than cable, but only when DSL is not in bridging mode - something that in my area, is only becoming more widespread recently.

    "During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I was riding the pogostick."
  • it seems like the refer thing is completely optional
    (especially since it says on their page that its a limited time offer).
  • Don't like Windows? Have a spare PC? Put Windows on it, set it up as a router between your LAN and the DSL, hook up your Linux machines to the LAN, and away you go!

    (Okay so maybe this is wishful thinking... )

  • Yes, there was a T-1 bandwidth co-op in the SF bay area, and we were ready to do a nice big story about it -- and then, suddenly, it went broke.

    A lot of Internet economics are still pretty muddy. At least people are experimenting.

    - Robin

  • I've ordered DSL from GTE. Supposedly setup was free if you had it installed in 1999. Well I placed my order back in mid November, and waited. When I asked them last Tuesday if I'd have to pay the full $400 setup fee if it had been installed after the new year, I was told "We don't know." So I cancelled my account. I wanted free setup, and I didn't want to get stuck with a bill I can't pay. What pissed me off the most was the fact that they told me they didn't know. One woudl think they'd have something ready to tell their customers in the event of the DSL not getting setup by the new year.
  • Hmmm... I think the DSL modem is supposed to work in the guest OS, i.e. W9x/whatever, and VMWare still has a long way to go in this regard.
  • and let your kids, wife, parents, etc. surf on there and then you connect your computer via a LAN? Living in a family of 7 with myself being the only Linux geek, they would get a lot of links off my siblings while I play on my Linux computer :) -philsky To .sig or not to .sig. That is the question
  • I know the uplink on DSL is slower but this seems perfect for someone who want to put up an NT based server (or router :-) - you don't have to look at the ads if the monitor's been detached
  • Two questions:

    1) Where on their website do they advertise this free service? It doesn't even get a hit on their on-site search engine.

    2) If you're so big on worldspy, why is your email address at netzero? Doesn't worldspy offer and email inbox with their service?

    Don't get me wrong; I currently use netzero for my home connection. On the other hand, I think I'd really enjoy switching to someone that just tracks my usage instead of force-feeding me large images.
    I'm not really that big on caring whether people see where I go when I surf the net; I just wish they would get a clue and at least force-feed me advertisements I'm actually interested in...
  • Do you know what these "free" ISP's do? What if they started doing profiles on customers and sold this data to a ton of companies. Lets say that one is some crackpot doctor! He goes up and contacts everyone with so-and-so-disease and offers a cure for 20k$ and rips them off, or worse yet, misleads them into it. and if they didn't fall for that, pesters them with telemarketing every day. Totally legal because they consented to it. Well, not the stealing money part... but the rest of it.

    Do you want a corp. knowing more about yourself than your mother does?

  • It can be really, _really_ easy to accidentally mark a post as "redundant" if you want to moderate it up and are also in the habit of using page down to scroll down the page... (Whoops.. the keyboard focus was on the radio buttons, not the whole page...)

    Yes, I have done it myself, and no you can't un-moderate when things go horribly wrong. :)


  • The idea that something which must be paid for though peaceful submission to advert-driven brainwashing is somehow `free' is nothing short of Orwellian newspeak, the truth-denying language of Big Brother's rule in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
    1. The material is not free of charge, because you must pay for it with your mind. This is a high, high cost--one far too high for anyone who values their mind to blithely pay out. My mind is not for rent, with apologies to Rush.

    2. The material is not free of restriction, because it has a severe condition for use: you must open up your brain to its manipulative tendrils. In fact, it's completely about restriction: restricting your mind, the most severe of all possible restrictions. It used to be you had to become a POW to be subjected to brain-washing. Now everyone gratefully submits themselves to this tacit torture.

    As Neil Postman said, ``Contempt, rather than celebration, is the proper response to advertising and the system that makes it possible.''

    And yes, I do practice what I preach. I have no television for this very reason. I will not pay for those programs by sacrificing my mind to trivialized sound-bytes and deceptive adverts.

  • Hmmm... I think that an external DSL modem (that connects to your NIC) will do the trick. IANADG (I Am Not A DSL Guru).

    Moderate this down (-1, Uninformed)

  • by Luis Casillas ( 276 ) on Monday January 03, 2000 @06:02AM (#1412610) Homepage
    You failed to mention one thing I noticed when I visited a cousin of mine in Houston a few months ago, who had a free dialup with one of those always-on-top-ads ISPs: that they blocked web sites that compete with their advertisers.

    I tried to check out a few net bookstores, and the only one that I could connect to was Barnes and Noble, which coincidentally was one of their advertisers. When I tried Amazon, or Bookpool, or a couple others, I remember Netscape giving a _very strange_ dialog box saying that the site didn't exist (and it was _not_ a DNS failure, it was something I'd never seen before and haven't seen since).


  • you can't un-moderate when things go horribly wrong.
    Sure you can. Just post to the thread you mis-moderated. Your moderation is retroactively undone.
  • ...create a file named in c:\windows. Doesn't even have to be any particular length...

    Used to work with the original Win95 upgrade, don't know about Win98.
  • True, most ISP's do have a clause similar to that. However, I don't know of any that are in that excess of money. Most NDA's don't have an agreement for that much in damages. I'm curious how the company came up with that figure. Did they have Microsoft lawyers helping them with that?
    There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.
  • I have images of a nice little Windows 95 Machine running Wingate or any other proxy type thing. Wouldn't that allow the clients, even linux, to use the bandwidth without the ads?
  • Now.. here's something I'd bet they never thought of, or can't do too much about.

    To avoid looking at the ads, I'm sure people will be setting up some sort of proxy, ip masq/NAT, internet connection sharing, or firewall boxes to connect to the internet which displays the ads.

    All the other machines on the network will have ad-free internet access!!!!
  • What's the difference... you watch TV
    why do you think it's free?
    I don't.
  • If it requires clicking on it every X minutes, just put FakeSurf on there, and it does the clicking for you, and before you go to bed check and make sure the program hasn't gotten itself into trouble. FakeSurf can be used w/ GoToWorld and AllAdvantage so you can make money on your "free" dsl. If you have the monitor un-hooked and just use a program like Timbuktu (remote software prog) to control the machine and close down extra windows etc, it seems like it could work.

  • I'd give it a month before someone reverse engineers the protocol and puts out some free software for Linux that also allows you to "view" the ads. As if /dev/null wasn't popular enough . . .
  • better yet, try reading the article
  • 1) go to their home page and click on the button that says, "free internet service".
    2) I've never used worldspy, the reason I mentioned it was because they offer a free dsl connection (and isdn).
  • Something of a non-issue, I would imagine, for most of us who live in academia, but...

    xDSL would be nice. However, as many are saying, this isn't free. Just because you don't pay out-of-pocket doesn't make it free--you must contend with ads and slow service and an unresponsive service provider. I don't know who would want that, but I imagine a lot of people would be willing to put up with it for the speed.

    However, the thing to consider is that when you combine a second phone line (approx. $20/month) with a 56K ISP connection (also roughly $20/month), you're paying pretty close to what DSL costs, provided it's available in your area. Why not ditch the modem and second phone line and just upgrade to DSL, and not worry about all this so-called free stuff?

    Same deal with the "free" PC's these days. They're not free. You usually either have to pay for them outright and get a rebate, or you have to look at ads or fill out surveys or some other random, pointless thing for a PC that will be obsolete in six months.

    It's simple: if you're willing to jump through hoops to get an almost-free and probably sub-standard connection to the Internet, go for it, but don't complain about spam and whatnot. If you want to be real, though, why not pay a bit of money and get the real thing. Computers and Internet are not expensive, and are getting less expensive all the time.
  • >Cheap access is something that needs to happen, but it doesn't have to be like this, does it? Has >anybody considered starting ISP cooperatives, or community supported internet access? Something >that's cheap, accessable, uncensored, and with *no* strings attached?

    Braintree, MA has a community-owned broadband provider. The rates are 35$/month, which from what I've seen elsewhere in this discussion seems reasonably cheap; the connection speed is good enough that I don't miss college ethernet, and I've had better uptime experiences with it than with Worldnet or Flashnet; and there seems to be no spam, and as far as I can tell no censorship (there may be some newsgroups missing, but one would think the alt.binaries tree would be first to go, and there's a *lot* of stuff there.) So it isn't impossible. :)
  • Speaking of nasty oddness. Check out this chunk from the AllAdvantage [] people:
    Privacy Counts. Unlike the rest of the Internet, your information will never be sold, rented, or shared with any third party.

    Isn't that bordering on slander?
  • And yes, I do practice what I preach. I have no television for this very reason. I will not pay for those programs by sacrificing my mind to trivialized sound-bytes and deceptive adverts.

    Then it sounds to me like you have a dangerously low opinion of said mind. Seeing an ad does not cause you to change any opinions or buy any products; these are things you must give your consent to. They may prevaricate; they may use subtle and manipulative tricks; but these are things that we encounter every day from every information source, including other humans. In this era of information overload, it's a vital skill to be able to choose what to pay attention to. If being exposed to advertising will really compromise you so badly, you're already in deep trouble -- you must click on every link you see, stop to read every book that has a favorable review on the cover, and offer a dinner invitation to every stranger who calls you "buddy."
    My point is that we can't filter out every potentially dishonest stimulus the environment is going to provide, so we'd better learn to defend ourselves (of course, learning when not to be minutely suspicious is a vital skill as well). Acting as if any exposure to persuasion will produce not only transitory impulses (which it may do) but lasting alterations thought and behavior seriously shortchanges our intelligence. Or, to adapt a famous maxim from neurology:

    If the mind were simple enough that an advertisement could change us, we wouldn't be able to create advertisements.

    That being said, I am in complete agreement that people tend to undervalue their time and attention. Filtering out ads does cost us something, and these "free" services probably will work to change a few brand alignments, simply because it becomes too draining to keep all the babble out. And if that disturbs you enough to keep you from subscribing, your choice is perfectly valid -- but quite different from the idea that we're tabulae rasa, defenseless against the programming of content-pushers.

    - Michael Cohn
    Author of the GHB FAQ []
  • Isn't that bordering on slander?

    It may be illegal, but it's not slander. Slander is speaking false and damaging statements about someone else. (Libel is writing false and damaging statements about someone else.)

    If AllAdvantage is lying here, it's not slander or libel. There are a several kinds of lying that are against the law, one or more of which may apply here. It may be breach of contract, if this is part of a user agreement, or it may be something like a deceptive claim or making misleading statements. I'm not sure, IANAL.

  • One more thing to dislike about this kind of ad-pushing is that it works on the premise that the only way to get people to do something is to trick, cajole, or manipulate them (everyone seen Office Space [] ?). What if we cut out the advertisers and sold our allegience to companies directly?
    What if, instead of having to sit through ads for Ritz(TM) crackers, you received a plaintext e-mail at the beginning of the month from your ISP:

    Send us 3 UPC symbols from Ritz(TM) cracker boxes by the end of the month, or a surcharge of $3.00 will be added to your bill.

    Sure, you'd then have to actually spend money on the products. Yes, they'd get even more data on your shopping habits. But I say it would be worth it not to have to hear about rich buttery goodness. . .

    - Michael Cohn
    Author of the GHB FAQs []
  • by jpr1 ( 115308 )
    you actually pay $40 for 56k? i pay less than that for cable. whats the point of having a static ip and being able to host if your connection is 56k?
  • You hereby agree that if the terms of this Rules Agreement are not specifically enforced, Winfire will be irreparably damaged, and therefore You agree that Winfire shall be entitled, without bond or other security in excess of $1,000, or without proof of damages, to temporary and/or permanent injunctions and/or restraining orders with respect any breach(es) of this Rules Agreement, in addition to any other available remedies available to Winfire at law or in equity. Now I don't Normally check Terms of Service but is this normal?

    I honestly wish more ISPs did this. That is, if you abuse your account to, say, spam a billion people, more happens than a simple "Oh you bad boy, no more account for you!"

  • I have no television for this very reason. I will not pay for those programs by sacrificing my mind to trivialized sound-bytes and deceptive adverts.

    Apart from paying for premium cable channels, which show uninterupted programs, you can buy a VCR (or a tivo []) and tape the shows you want to watch. Most modern VCR's will skip over commercials so you will never see them.
  • Re: your comments:
    You can't even move the panel out of the way, as most use some sort of scripting that doesn't allow you to move ANY part of the panel off-screen.

    Starting last year, I took the $20/month I was paying to my local ISP and bought a cheap second (used) monitor for $100, and a second video card for $140.

    I fire up Altavista free access (now with 4 local numbers in my area) and run the main monitor at 1280x1024 and the second @ 1024x768. The blipvert stays in the far upper left corner of the second monitor, and goes mostly unnoticed, while I continue to work on the main monitor with a full view.

    The way I look at it, I would have spent about $250 this year for dialup access($20x12=240). Moreover, next year, not having an ISP to pay for, I'll have the Xtra video card and monitor payed for.

    The conection is faster and more reliable that the last 2 ISPs I've tried in my area, and I've never been happier. Who knows, with all I'm saving, maybe next year I might be able to spring for a bigger 2nd monitor. :)

    The question to ask yourself is:
    Would last years ISP bill pay for a second video card and monitor?

  • The plural of tabula rasa is tabulae rasae

    Thanks for the correction. I have to use the expression often enough that it won't go to waste.

    - Michael Cohn
  • Go through the paper(whois) trail, it seems to be a company part of a bunch of "Get This For Free" companys called Some of the websites held within seem to follow the same Multi-Tierd Marketing scemes(Pyramid). I fear the spam ...
  • IANAL either, but I always thought that he difference between slander and lible is that lible is reproducible (as in copyable), eg recorded, written down, printed, broadcast on TV, etc.

    I might well be wrong, though :o)

  • We want to share one DSL line, but the phone company says we would have to pay for 6 different lines. Can we all just get Ethernet cards and connect through one computer?

    Certainly, you can do this. When the telco guy comes to hook up your Linux box, take the existing ethernet card out and pretend you don't have any other computers. He'll install the modem and the ethernet card into your PC and set it up for you.

    You now have 1 IP address on that machine. Take your ethernet cards and get everybody back on the net. Your DSL enabled box now has two network cards in it. You'll probably have to recompile your kernel with IP Masquerading enabled. With this done, run a line like this for each machine on the network:
    /sbin/ipchains -A forward -j MASQ -s
    where would be the address of a machine on the network who you want to share the DSL line with. Do this for all the IPs on your network.

    That takes care of the server side. Now, for each of the clients add the IP of your DSL box as the "gateway". You will also need to take note of the nameserver and enter that into all the clients as well.

    There you go, one DSL connection for the price of one IP address shared across your network.

    I wish I had DSL available in my area :P
  • I doubt GTE has ever collected $400 from anyone. It's always been the $99 special. The final months of 1999, it just became the $0 specail.

    You should have had an anticpated install date, or at least a week that they would install it in. Of course I've had mone for year, so they so GTE could be gennerally terrible and eccentric ;)
  • Use hardware:
    linux router

    Cost a bit, but cheaper: =BEFSR41 tail.phtm&sku=AM406100
  • This is great news to my ears, as I have been looking for a free ISP client/solution that would work under Linux.

    Does anybody know of any other such ISP's out there that either work under linux or at least would work under WINE?

    --Steve Castellotti
  • The "spam your friends" part is optional - if you get 10 people to sign up the bridge is free.

    There's no reason you can't buy one yourself. The one I'm using is about $250 - that pays for itself in 4 months of free DSL @ ~$60/month. If you can find a way around the advertising, that is.

  • Even better: VmWare + wingate = pretty close to transparant use under linux. Sans ads.

  • > What's the difference... you watch TV,

    No. Really, no.

    > why do you think it's free?

    Who? Me?
  • Great idea, too bad ISP's will learn this trick. I can imagine streaming video on your active screen! With Windoze, it should not be hard to detect your second screen and where your mouse moves. Still, you should get some mileage out of that one. Good luck!
  • examples:

    We are red.

    We are a blank slate.

    We are like a silly clown to speak Latin mixed with English.

    My favorite is sylibus, a fourth declension noun, plural sylibus. So many pompus people get that one wrong.

  • A better command line would be:

    ipchains -A forward -j MASQ -s -d !

  • Go read any of Brian Wilson Key's books on subliminal advertising. These are images which are placed inconspicuoslly inside carrier images. They typically touch basic and very charged issues such as sex or death, and for that reason are noted but repressed. These images linger in our minds like a snake seen out of the corner or your eye and can cause significant mental stress. Yes, they work. Sexual urges can be channeled into purchases. Self desturctive feelings can be enhanced and used to sell liquor. Print and TV are full of these things. They are as inescapable as they are dispicable. TV, of course is the worst form as so many images can be presented. Broadband streaming video will be just as bad.

    Ever wonder why Americans eat twice as much as they need? Over fed like cattle, over sexed and perverted, the evidence is all around you. Woe to the rest of the world when they catch up.

  • so just use a proxy server that somebody has.. it's not that hard to find them these days... (unless they decide to block ports 1080, 3128, and 8080)
  • You, sir, are what is known as "part of the problem."

    Never, EVER, just hit delete.

    Spam is everyone's problem, and the only way to stop it is to fight it.

    You deserve to be moderated down for your policy of appeasement. Spam is like Nazi Germany or communist Russia, a Pink Menace invading the internet.

    BTW, There Is No Lumber Cartel.
  • My favorite is sylibus, a fourth declension noun, plural sylibus. So many pompus people get that one wrong

    It's syllabus .

    Thank you.
  • Don't like Windows? Have a spare PC? Put Windows on it...

    Umm, dude, if you dislike Windows, then why install it on the spare machine? Old hardware cries out for Linux. I own several 386s and 486s that thrive quite happily running various versions of Slackware.

    set it up as a router between your LAN and the DSL, hook up your Linux machines to the LAN, and away you go!

    Why not use the aforementioned spare machine running the aforementioned Linux with ipchains or some IP masquerading type of setup? I think you'll find it faster and more reliable.

    Of course, if you really want Windows on your old spare machine running WinRoute or Internet Connection Sharing, it's your life...
  • Wow, now I don't have reason to use M$ anymore. Corel linux here I come! Thanks buddy.

  • How did this get moderated to "offtopic"?

    It seems this is exactly the sort of information which is relevant to this discussion -- how to use this service to its greatest personal benefit while incurring none of its disadvantages.

    I personally will not subscribe to any service, DSL, dialup, or otherwise, which limits the uses to which I may put my own resources.

  • Hmm.. great idea.. I use NAT on my Pacbell DSL anyway... a small NT box sitting in the corner without a monitor "looking" at ads 24/7. On the other hand, that $1k penalty isn't really attractive either.
  • or even better: if you can get their program to run in vmware and use the virtual machine as your gateway...

    or something like that... sorry, only spent about 10 seconds thinking about it ;)
  • We want to share one DSL line, but the phone company says we would have to pay for 6 different lines. Can we all just get Ethernet cards and connect through one computer?

    Certainly, you can do this. When the telco guy comes to hook up your Linux box, take the existing ethernet card out and pretend you don't have any other computers. He'll install the modem and the ethernet card into your PC and set it up for you.

    Ok... but the catch is I often use my machine for BeOS too, so I wouldn't want my machine to be the server with the DSL modem in it. So this means I would get one of my roomies to be the server. But they only run Windows. Can a Windows machine be setup to be the "gateway" server?

  • If I chased down every spammer who dumped his shit at my inbox, I'd easily waste an hour a day. Sorry, but it's not worth it to me. You'll never stop them by force of action, only by passive filtering.
  • I don't think it works with now, maybe ntkern though.
  • The "Internet" is not an natural/juristic entity, and does not represent any natural/juristic entities. Thus, using it in such a manner cannot in any way constitute slander or libel. Who is going to sue claiming that they were directly defamed by the statement? Nobody. It could only constitute slander or libel in the most broad and indirect sense, and would be laughed out of the courtroom.
  • Similar to what I do. With my Matrox card, I can double the vertical space on my desktop. Then I place all annoyances at the very bottom, and use as normal. Just don't maximize anything. ;)
  • They'd uphold it if the company could actually prove you were doing something that broke the TOS. Good luck for them to try and get evidence of you running a proxy to filter the ads.
  • ----
    of course, most any geek is going to either not pick up the mail from his or her account or procmail it out of existance, but not if the means of getting ads is also the only place where service changes and outages are announced. :) better yet, send mails along the lines of "respond to this message within 48 hours, or your account will be automatically suspended."

    That's what procmail and perl is for.
  • Oh, for ghu's sake, Tom, lighten up.

    The idea that being exposed to speech automatically converts one to thinking like the speaker is ridiculous. That only works for people who don't have opinions of their own in the first place.

    If you don't want to have a television, say "I don't want to have a television". To say "I won't use a television because it'll make me stupid" is well beyond paranoid and verges on psychotic.

    If possession of a TV automatically made one stupid, you'd be the only smart person left on the planet.

    TV isn't a sickness, it's a symptom. TV doesn't make one stupid; being stupid makes one watch too much TV.

    Don't try to extend the cause and affect backwards, it doesn't work, any more than using Visual Basic instead of Perl automatically makes one a bad programmer.

    We all know that being a bad programmer makes one use Visual Basic, not the reverse, right?

    I for one am glad you're spending your spare time coding instead of watching TV, but it's no worse a waste of time than any other waste of time. If you're sitting on a park bench catching Z's, you're still not coding.

    As for the ads; if you can't tune them out, don't assume that means the rest of us can't. I assure you that we can, and do, when we choose. The same is true of stupid free ISP banner ads or spam.

    If you want to pay for your internet connection, bully for you. I pay for mine, too.

    But don't tell other people that they're somehow mentally defective if they don't want to, or can't afford to. The benefits of Internet access, even to stupid people, far outweigh the inconvenience of ignoring some banner ads, or a handful of occasional spams.

    Hell, you of all people ought to be writing a module called freeISP::spamblock. :-)

  • Strange. I must have missed saying that "TV makes you stupid", per your allegation. It's really much more complicated than that. I said that my mind is not for rent. This isn't the same thing by any stretch of the imagination.
  • All right, granted, I extended your statements in what seemed to be the direction they were headed, without getting confirmation.

    So let's deal directly with that statement, "my mind is not for rent", and leave out the baggage.

    It's false. Here's why:

    You say that you refuse to pay for your ISP by "renting your mind", which you say equates 100% to viewing their banner ads. Let's say, for the sake of this dicussion, that you're right, and it indeed equates. (I don't agree, but what the hell, I can win this by your rules, too. :-) )

    You seem to be saying, of necessity, that you instead feel you should pay someone for your ISP connection. (Correct me if I'm wrong, please.)

    Well, how do you make your money, Tom? With your mind, that's how. Only you put in a lot of work, thus a lot of mind power, to earn that money.

    Then you pay taxes on the money, losing some of that mind power to pay for things like paying farmers not to grow wheat, or invading Panama to arrest minor druglords to pave the way for giving away the canal.

    You're probably spending more of your mind on paying for your ISP connection than you would spend on banner ads that you would COMPLETELY IGNORE.

    And then there's FreeWWWeb, which uses spam instead of banner ads. Tell me you couldn't justify spending 5 seconds a week to delete half a dozen (double the number they claim to send) spams, or even the short time it would take you to add filtering rules to your existing spam filter.

    Heck, even if you *READ* their spam, it's less brainpower spent than you'd spend in the few minutes of coding, or long hours of authoring, you'd spend to earn $19.95 after taxes.

    At my income level, a considerable chunk of my time would get spent to earn that dough.

    And indeed it does, since I am paying for Sprint ADSL. I'd like to have a freeISP option, however, so I can reach the net from the road with a laptop without having to set up a PPP server at home. I damn sure don't want to spend $19.95, or even $8.95 a month to keep that option open.

    There are people out there who can't justify spending that money if they have an option. However, places that can afford to give out free PPP access without recouping their revenue in some fashion are pretty rare.

    Of all the ways they could recoup that revenue, I can't think of one LESS intrusive than advertising, which most Americans (and presumably folks in other countries that have lots of TVs) are trained to tune out anyway.

    You don't know that because you don't have a TV. :-)

  • I can't just "ignore" ads. They take over my entire attention span. The blinking, jumping, moving, and popping-up atrocities are completely distracting. I do not have the gift of being able to ignore things screaming in my ear or flashing in my eye. Perhaps you do. That's nice.
  • it's $35/month plus $5 for an extra mailbox for my wife, for static IP and hosting for, which is hosted on dimcom's T3s. My machine,, just exists as a firewall/router to my home network and has a fun mail alias. It does cost a little more than most ISPs, but it's worth it to me because the sysadmin is a strong believer in free speech and he refuses to pull the plug on my site just because the FOP finds it offensive. The 56k link doesn't bother me at all since I get to play with a T1 at work all day. 56k is speedy enough to download kernel patches, load web pages, and get email. And to let my wife play Chaos on irc. :)


Thufir's a Harkonnen now.