Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
It's funny.  Laugh.

Let the Simpsons be Your Free ISP 387

Anthony Fuentes writes "Looks like Homer and company are getting into the free ISP business, click here for details. Offer applies to win32 users only." Probably because Homer uses Windows - and Internet Explorer, of course, because that's the only browser you can use with this service.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Let the Simpsons be Your Free ISP

Comments Filter:
  • by rob_from_ca ( 118788 ) on Sunday January 23, 2000 @08:28PM (#1344354) Homepage
    Doh!
  • Was this posted before? I seem to remember seeing this a few days ago...of course, it could be the voices inside my head again...

    Check out Greg's Bridge Page!
  • by fremen ( 33537 ) on Sunday January 23, 2000 @08:29PM (#1344357)
    Does this mean that Bill Gates is going to show up with goons and "buy him out?" Can it allow me to download nude pictures of Captain Janeway any faster?

    "Gee, they have the Internet for computers now! What will they think of next?"
  • It seems quite fitting that homer uses ie. Afterall, he will he get to "doh" at the ever present crashes.
    On the same note, i wonder if homer recomends you accept cookies from strangers...
    ...what about apletts?


  • homer also has an intel cpu in his head.


    _______________________________________________
    There is no statute of limitation on stupidity.
  • If Homer has anything to do with this, I'd steer WAAAAYYYYYYYYY clear. Imagine happily surfing along and all of the sudden your connection gets dumped. Give a quick ring to tech support, the line gets picked up, and the only thing that you can hear is Homer screaming at the top of his lungs, "Oh, the Humanity!"
  • Reminds me of the episode homer starts his own dot com business and Bill Gates comes to shut him down. :)
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Sunday January 23, 2000 @08:38PM (#1344365)
    There are lots of internet ad-based businesses coming out now, but I don't think they're going to hang around a lot longer. People just don't look at internet ads, and very rarely do they click on them. There is some chance of making money at it with a website that is cheap to run and has thousands and thousands of visitors per month, but there is no way is this advertising worth the cost of running and supporting an internet provider. Advertisers will learn this sooner or later.

    Follow this link [useit.com] for a good article on this.
  • I looked at the site, and didn't see any "Used with permission from 20th Century Fox" or similar boilerplate. Their little "bar" has a Fox link, but again, no licence information.

    Is this ISP using the media and characters without permission? 1stup.com doesn't sound like a Fox affiliate, and could be in a bit of trouble if they've not worked out the proper deals.

    Anyways, it looks to be a standard "watch adds, receive free dialup" service.. And, like Altavista's service, it looks to be easily spoofed (just dialup, and have a little daemon pulling certain content :-)).

    Not that I condone that kind of activity.. I'm on a cable modem, after all :)
    ---
  • The catch is you have to run an advertising bar. Worse, the advertising bar has a "health" meter that slowly decreases unless you interact with the ad bar. Run out of health, get disconnected.
  • According to the site, you must have Internet Explorer installed, but you can surf with any browser [1stup.com]

    Why do you have to have remote access services installed with NT?

  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Sunday January 23, 2000 @08:47PM (#1344372)
    Click-through value will suck mightily, as customers will be forced by the "health bar" to click through an ad or other button every once in a while, and will immediately return to their previous surfing. This will cost the advertisers money, as wasted bandwidth, not produce additional sales.
  • If you click on the Signup Page [1stup.com], and look at the "small sponsor-oriented navigation bar", you can see that in order to keep your connection alive, you have to click on an ad to refill your "health meter"!

    I think this is only a good idea if you have one of those novelty, drinking birds that Homer used when he worked from home to keep clicking it for you.

  • You: "How many servers will you have? When will it be ready in Alaska?" Homer: "Can I have my money now?" When you use Homer's ISP, it takes you back in time to the pre-Microsoft era. Remember, any little change you make may effect the Microsoft Monopoly in the the present. (Does your petty codes matter after you die?)
  • I wonder how they intend to stop hackers from hiding the health bar and sending it auto-click messages?
  • All i can say .. or quote is...

    Doh!
  • Yes, a lot of websites do make money on ads, but not enough money to make running a ISP worth while. Most of these ad-based companies on the net are loseing money. They are just fighting for market share. So they can have more poeple see the banners. But...

    Tell me how many banner ads you click on or even notice. When I look at a page, I do not even notice the banners or the ads on the side.
  • In the FAQ appears:

    Why do I have trouble using the software if I have AOL 5.0 installed?

    Welcome to the new addition to ISP based FAQ's all over the internet.

  • Well, in the free ISP biz, you get what you pay for...

    But I have found 1stup.com to be one of the more reliable free ISP services.. and I have experience with a bunch of them. Of course, your mileage may vary based on your location, dialup, and network traffic...

    I am using altavista's free ISP which is a co-branded 1stup.com offering. They have free tech support, and the one time after a new upgrade when I was having trouble with the behaviour of their software and the connection, the guy was very friendly, understanding, and helpful; they were also quite aware of the problem and it was fixed shortly thereafter. [note I do not work for them, have no connection with them other than using them as an ISP.]

    Lately, (for a month and a half) it has been the most reliable free ISP out of all the ones I have tried. And I have tried:netzero, yahoo-bluelight, freei.net... I also have experience with a friend's free-pc, which is pretty good, but since they no longer are offering free computers OR free access to new customers, that is kind of meaningless at this point.

    My personal suggestion is to try them all, starting with NetZero - NetZero has an easy 5-disk sneakernet install that is easy to download and install on a computer that does not have any access yet, and go from there..

    I'll be using free ISPs until I save up and/or decide to dive in for the Cable Modem or DSL line. And yes, I'm using windoze.
  • And the points it makes are still valid (read through his more recent articles, and you'll hear him say "told you so!" several times).

    Typical click-through rates have fallen to under 0.5%, and are continuing to fall. Advertising networks are shifting to pay-per-click systems, from pay-per-impression ones.

    And the vast majority websites which advertise make pocket change with it (I remember banner advertising network uses the slogan "it's found money!"). The reason so many sites advertise is because it's free and easy to do so, and if it brings in some cash, great! A very tiny proportion of them actually support employees and such producing the content. Profitable websites are mostly ones which leverage the work of others (no offense, but /. is just such a one; it's the posters who create 95% of the value).
  • This is just one of a whole slew of such businesses popping up these days. It's really not too surprising that it's only available to users of win32 -- it's by far the largest market, especially considering the fraction of MS customers used to putting up with such things as compared to, e.g., Linux/Be/MacOS/non-market-dominating-OS-of-choice users.

    You wouldn't really think that such services would make any money, but we all know that AOL made heaps of cash, even when the transition to flat-rate service was pinching their subscription-fee cash flow. If they can even provice comparable service to AOL, but for free, they might just do alright. Frankly, AOL's interface (esp. after v5) sounds plenty worse than an ad bar floating on my desktop. Sure, I wouldn't put up with it, but it's not exactly being marketed to me, either.

    Disclaimer: I'm on a school net, and hardly in need of a dialup ISP.

  • Consider the following: Bill Gates and Montgomery Burns, teamed up in the internet business....

    Burns: Who is that man, Smithers?
    Smithers: It's, ahhh, Homer Simpson, sir. The irresponsible network administrator responsible for the twenty system outages this week.
    Burns: Ah, yes. Keep up the good work, Simpson!

    ---
    To continue, please press any key.... Which key's the 'any' key??
  • I looked at the site, and didn't see any "Used with permission from 20th Century Fox" or similar boilerplate. Their little "bar" has a Fox link, but again, no licence information.
    However, the offical Simpsons-site [thesimpsons.com] has a link to them (the big green button), so it should be offical...
  • No, It appears that 1stup.com, which is a free ISP, has a cobranding service that FOX has subscribed to. 1stup uses the simpsons' logo, and FOX gets a cut of the profits.

    It's pretty thinly disguised though. Usually these cobranding things are more hidden - under the fox.com domain, for example.
  • Of course, one reason why they might not want to support Free Software like linux is that you could connect their bar to an X driver for /dev/null, and rig something so it would think you were interacting with it. Then you could use their service without viewing the ads, which would end up making their enterprise useless.

    Plus, linux users probably use more bandwidth on average. Though I'm surprised macs aren't listed for this reason.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yea, then he tired to seel out to Bill Gates who had hired thugs trash his office. Rather true to life.... "Well, you didn't think I got rich by writing checks did you?" www.mcicet.com Leave a message!
  • Have you given www.freewwweb.com a try. They don't have a silly pop banner. Its just like a regular ISP that you pay for.


    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC
  • Anyways, it looks to be a standard "watch adds, receive free dialup" service.. And, like Altavista's service, it looks to be easily spoofed (just dialup, and have a little daemon pulling certain content :-)).

    Sure, but consider who the service is being marketed to. Windows users only, probably the AOL/webTV crowd. Somehow, I suspect that the fraction of this demographic that is both capable of and interested in reverse-engineering their protocol to fake ad-bar feedback is negligible.

  • A free ISP named after a fool? Either the providers are fools, or the users are being fooled. See, fools are found donzens a day... Being foolish is becoming fashionable.

    Oh, wait... I forget I am a fool...

  • there is a thing like the birdies -- or indeed several of 'em. I don't know much about them personally, but my boyfriend uses them with his free isp and get-paid-to-click services.

    might be worth it with a script like that. now all someone needs to do is figure out how to emulate the software for linux/bsd/mac/solaris/irix/xxxx :)

    Lea
  • By merit of the simple fact that they are already on the web(how else could they view slashdot?), I don't think that most slashdotters have grounds for complaints. I know *I* have *my* internet access already, and it's cable. Why would I want "free"(except for the fact that you sell your privacy and soul to advertisers) internet access? You get what you pay for. TANTAAFL. Whatever. Get a damned job.
  • The business that they are in relies on the eventual click leading to an impulse sale, etc.

    This model has been proven successful.

    These systems have been hacked to remove such integrated spam.

    pro for end user: a free dial up connection
    pro for advertiser/provider: generated revenue
    con for end user: integrated spam
    con for advertiser/provider: hacks to system rendering it spamless; majority of bandwidth wasted (this is built into the service they provide, though)

    Should these providers find their niche, they will be a blight on future generations.

    Minty Toothbrush

    .oo.
    ..

    If an infinite number of monkeys typed at an infinte number of
  • by Rilke ( 12096 ) on Sunday January 23, 2000 @09:15PM (#1344415)
    Sure,click-through is low, but what's the click-thru rate on TV advertising? Basically zero. Few TV ads elicit an immediate response, but they manage to put the name of the product in your head.

    The real question is "how much do people notice those ads?" and studies on that are still inconclusive. For some unknown reason, early INet pundits thought that Web ads would be like infomercials, where you immediately call the 800 number (or click through) and order the product.

    But they aren't like that, and nobody should ever have thought they would be. Banner ads are more like billboards; they put the idea and name of the product in the back of your head.

    This idea of click-through has kept web ads restricted to web companies for the most part. But that's changing. We're already seeing significant web advertising budgets coming from the motion picture industry; there's a good chance other industries will follow.

    BTW, simpsons free ISP does more than just try to get banner ad money. It also advertises the Simpsons quite effectively.

    PS. Kinda hard to believe nobody patented the idea of ad-supported ISPs,isn't it?
  • by Ryan Taylor ( 32647 ) on Sunday January 23, 2000 @09:15PM (#1344416)
    Now, it should be known that I don't like MS at all. In fact, I am hopefull that we will see Gates and Balmer strung up. But in all objectivity, I should also note that IE4.0-5.0 under NT 4.0 has crashed on me once, /ever/. This excludes plugin related crashes (Flash is evil). I've seen Netscape crash quite regularly under Linux, 98 and NT. Back in the 4.0 days, I was a die-hard Netscape user, if only to protest MS's business practices. I switched because of crashes and have no desire to switch back. I realize your post was essentially just kidding around, but I think this scratches the surface just beneath a serrious problem in the OSS community. It seems that many of us have a knee-jerk reaction for anything Not Good For Open-Source. At some point it becomes just as detramental to our cause as genuine FUD. If we're constantly making desicions/opinions based on history and not the real facts, we're not doing any good for anyone. I realize again that you're probably just joking, and I'm not accusing you specifically of exhibiting the above traits. I just thought I'd speak my mind. An interesting test of my theory will be to see if this gets moderated up or down. =) Sincerely, Ryan Taylor
  • As we all know, Homer's brain was replaced by the "powerful" Intel(r) Pentium(r) II processor about a year ago, hence the creation of the so-called "super" doughnut... Perhaps he's a fatality of the overclocking craze and has a fried core?

    --

  • "Remote Access Services" is the NT equivelent of Windows 9x "dial-up networking", so you would need that to dial to the internet.
  • Bad studies rate advertising on the web as good for branding. They ask the user to look at websites they wouldn't normally look at, and with no purpose beyond "evaluating" them. The bored user looks at the most interesting thing on the page: the banner advertisements.

    Good studies give people access to the web and let people screw around and do whatever they want (or at least give them realistic tasks to perform), while tracking which ads were viewed. The result: web surfers never even look at ads, unless they are really bored or the ads are cleverly disguised in a form the viewer hasn't seen. Believe the data. [useit.com]

    Claiming that because studies disagree they are, as a whole, inconclusive is a well known logical fallasy (the name of which escapes me).
  • He mentions negative margins a lot.. And he's right.. You do run Internet Junkbuster [waldherr.org], don't you?

    "Typical click-through rates have fallen to under 0.5%, and are continuing to fall. Advertising networks are shifting to pay-per-click systems, from pay-per-impression ones."

    Which is much worse, as it forces users to load things without them really wanting to (in most cases).. Kinda like those popup windows you find on "shadier" sites, like Netscape.com. Portals? Basically repackaged push that doesn't require a special client.

    "The reason so many sites advertise is because it's free and easy to do so, and if it brings in some cash, great! "

    This is why things like Cybergold or AllAdvantage are starting up. Paying a person for advertising impressions.. They are trivially defeated, of course, as you can't ever trust a client on a nonsecure machine :^)

    What they don't seem to understand is that advertisements don't work, and never really did. Now adays, it's easy for a person who recognises a need to go out and find information on products. Need some way of turning off lights remotely, and don't like "the clapper" ? Simply go and find a site about .X10. No need to advertise, as most people will find the information themselves through a convienient search engine [google.com]. So, if not to inform, what purpose do adds serv? They serv only to create want and need, and unless you're the mental age of a 10-year-old, they won't work on you.. Only the momentum of the "consumerism" of the 1950s through 1980s keeps people advertising in this day and age. I can't wait for it to die.
    ---
  • >All that free ISPs are used for is anonymous
    >surfing and spamming.
    >
    >BTW, www.nocharge.com is anonymous and no banners >(not like that matters). Great for spamming heheh
    That's exactly my point. You can give them false info, from a public terminal, and have an account to freely abuse. Not that anyone with an IQ greater than that of a banana slug couldn't get someone else's account info anyway, but this lowers the bar by a large amount.

    As for spamming, PLEASE don't do it. I know my pleas will fall on deaf ears, but if there is any shred of humanity in you, STOP. The original spirit of the internet is being killed quickly enough by commercialization that your actions could hurt things a LOT more than you think.

  • nothing original or creative in it ?
  • It looks to me as if they just provide http access. I don't know how they can do that exactly, but the FAQ says usenet doesn't work, so I don't see why anything else would. Furthermore, they wouldn't get any benefit out of the banners if you were using your access to play quake or something.

    Side Note: The FAQ also says that all traffic is monitored so they can "tailor" their advertising banners. That probably doesn't sit too well with folks around here.

    This is pretty base commercialism on the part of the Simpsons. They seem to have lost any counterculture satirical edge they may once have had. Now they're just another plastic lunchbox.

  • No, I didn't mean Slashdot. It's done a fairly good job of turning into shit on its own. Since I started reading it, in early 1998, it has steadily worsened in quality. I'm not just talking about the users, either. The editorial bias of this site is(I feel) much stronger than it used to be.

    But I digress. I am against spam in all of its forms. Really, I would almost prefer that you break into sites, so long as you didn't deface their web pages.
  • So, if not to inform, what purpose do adds serv? They serv only to create want and need, and unless you're the mental age of a 10-year-old, they won't work on you.

    I'm afraid you're being incredibly optimistic here. Can you realistically say that most advertising exists to inform consumers of a products' existence? I don't think so. How many people do you think are unaware of the existence of Coca-Cola? If they were to cut their advertising budget in half, would there be a significant drop in their brand recognition? I doubt it.

    Only the momentum of the "consumerism" of the 1950s through 1980s keeps people advertising in this day and age.

    In his book Democracy In America, Alexis De Toqueville commented on how pervasive he found commercial advertising to be in the US. He was writing in first part of the 19th century. Advertising has been with us since long before the 1950s.

    I can't wait for it to die.

    I can, but only because I'm afraid I don't have much choice about it.

  • Case study: shareware. It has existed for over two decades until being effectively over-shadowed by opensource. Hordes of cr4ck3rz were churning out cracks on a regular basis. Did that stop anyone from writing shareware? Not really. The average consumer never really delved into the black-hat world, never heard of (let alone used) the cracks, and really didn't care less about a $20 fee for a decent piece of software.

    Same is happenning with the banners. Yea, there're some of us out there messing with little mouse-movement macro utils and variations thereof to turn off annoying ads. So what? Ten times as many users will never have heard of these techniques. And even if they had -- the advertisers wouldn't notice until much later, and they'd still pay for click-thrus. The whole system, it seems to me, rests on two basic human characteristics -- laziness and stupidity. No, scratch that, just one -- laziness. The rest is being too lazy to go out and learn how to get around the minor annoyances which are the banner ads.

  • *chuckle*

    Probably the only post on the page that made me laugh....

    --Joe
    --
  • Believe the data.

    I would, except that the link you provided didn't reference a study. The InternetWorld "study" was purely anecdotal. I'd be interested in seeing the studies you're referring to though.

    But I'm not denying that most banner ad campaigns are failures - so are most e-commerce companies. That doesn't mean there's no market there; just that it's brand new and most companies don't use it correctly.

    For example, why are movie companies suddenly pouring money into web ad research? Two words: "Blair Witch". And more importantly, there's more to web advertising than the banner ad idea. Free ISPs are one attempt, for example.

  • by locutus074 ( 137331 ) on Sunday January 23, 2000 @10:06PM (#1344522)
    Interesting. Makes me wonder why I haven't seen http://www.freedsl.com/ [freedsl.com] on Slashdot yet. :)

    If I'm not mistaken, Gateway [gateway.com] and others have, for a little while, at least, been giving a year's worth of "free" access with the purchase of certain models from them.

    Like many others around here, I don't expect this trend to disappear any time soon. How many co-branded credit cards are there, anyway?

    One positive thing about their service is that although you have to use Win32, you get a choice of email clients, which is more than I can say for MSN (yes, I fell for that trap). You see, I didn't like the way Outlook Express handled replies (the Right Way (IMO) is to put the reply and signature after the quoted text), so I downloaded Netscape and gave it a try. Imagine my surprise when it failed to connect and retrieve my email! I checked and compared between the MS and Netscape, and the only significant difference between the two configuration screens was an option for something called Secure Password Authentication. I later found a HOWTO-like document telling how to access MSN from Linux. (I became interested in Linux after I got my computer and fell for the trap.) It turns out that UUNet [uu.net] actually provides the connectivity. A couple items in the document explained things, though:

    If you've ever looked at your internet address, you may have noticed that it ends in uu.net. Now we know that we don't have to deal with any proprietary Microsoft protocols (at least to connect).
    and (near the end):
    Well, you should be able to enjoy most of your MSN account now. You can't get your email yet because thats hidden behind Microsoft's SPA.
    Things seem to be turning out all right, though, as I've just started a new job at an ISP (and get free access (even DSL after I've been there a little bit!)), and MSN has been unable to charge my credit card (tee hee!). (They haven't mentioned anything about the $400 yet. I've got to check my contract, though, after that Slashdot story [slashdot.org] a couple weeks back -- one of the postings told of someone in Columbus, OH who was able to get out of his contract with no strings attached!)

    Alas, I fear I've started to ramble. Perhaps a combination of sleep deprivation and caffeine OD.

    --
    This post brought to you by the elements N, H, C, and O, and the alkaloid caffeine.

  • You cheap ass Linux people think everything should be free, don't you? You commie bastards deserve to pay through the nose for Internet access.

    Now that I've ensured a few -1's, I'l be serious for a moment...

    I wouldn't feel so left out with their Windows-only support. There are a couple of "free" computing options out there. In one corner, you can get a free computer by locking yourself into a three year contract of paid dialup access. In the other, you can get a free dialup ISP of your choice by paying for the entire computer.

    Either way, you have only two free beer choices -- skunky or skunkier. Financially, free Internet seems like the better option, because you'd recoup the $400 "rebate" in half the time of a three year, $22/mo. contract. OTOH, AOL and Compuserve aren't quite as annoying about advertising as NetZero and company, but you also get locked into a contract for an inferior service with poorly specified upgrade options to DSL, which they aren't doing (much of?) anything with, or AOL/Time Warner cable access.

    Dialup sucks anyway. The only thing that would get me to go back to using dialup (spare necessity) would be ~$50/mo., so I could have a separate phone line and a Win9x dialup box so I could have a cool "@TheSimpsons.com" email address. It's likely that free Internet businesses are struggling to get revenues of $15 per head just to cover their costs, so I doubt that's ever going to happen.

    --

  • Just like my experience with IE crashing, your experience with IE not crashing is but a personal experience. IE is only stable if your system is set up exactly the way Microsoft wanted. Personally, I had once-in-a-while IE crashes under Win95 OSR2, and way too many crashes under Win98SE. Under Win98, however, IE would not only crash, but it would have a "looped" GPF, meaning that the GPF message would reappear every time you tried to close it, leaving you no other option but a cold reboot. I have seen several other people report the same problem.

    Under NT4 and NT5, I've had no real problems with IE, except that IE5 refuses to use my proxy. However, I don't use IE very often anymore, as I use Opera for 90% of my browsing.

    --

  • try worldspy.net it's reliable, fast speed, hardly any busy signals. the catch is, you have to create your account using windows with IE4 (IE3 wouldn't let me in). once you create your account and use their fancy doodad setup program to dial in the first time it creates a dialup networking applet thing, with an almost random username listed. they use regular pap-authentication so you can dial in with it in linux/mac/fbsd or regular dial up networking in windows ;)
  • by Evro ( 18923 ) <evandhoffman AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 23, 2000 @10:28PM (#1344575) Homepage Journal
    NetZero (hugely popular in NY) can be altered so as not to display any ads by removing one dll file and replacing it with any file with the same name. I know at least 20 people who do this, and who find the ads so annoying that they probably wouldn't use netzero if they had to look at them.

    people always love getting something for nothing, even if it cost nothing to begin with...

    ______________________________________
    um, sigs should be heard and not seen?

  • I'm not so sure about this... a lot of Linux users (I am a happy Windows 2000 user) claim to use Lynx to browse the web because it is so 'fast' and 'convenient'. How they put up with such an abominable interface is beyond me, but they do. There has been a cool invention in the 1960s called a 'mouse'. Its useful for 'pointing' and 'clicking' - something many Linux users (mostly server admins) have not yet learnt to master, else they would know that pointing and clicking is MUCH faster than pressing a whole shitload of keys to do something.

    Back to the point: Lynx - no images - no bandwidth.
  • I hope this doesn't work, I really do. Then maybe these corporations will look at their other ad campaigns(TV, Radio, print). Then they'll probably realize that they've saturated the market. Nobody watches ads any more. We've completely tuned them out. At least I have. Then maybe they'll send those billons on improving their products, so they won't need to tell people how good it is - they'll already know.
  • Actually, the info in the article was not quite correct. You have to have MSIE because the banner software uses MSIE's libraries, but you can use any browser you want.

    If anyone is interested in learning more about free ISPs, you can visit The FreeNET List Home Page [cjb.net] or The USA's Free ISPs [nzlist.org] page

  • Also available, Gay.com free Internet access, Senior.com free Internet access, AltaVista free Internet access... basically, they just slap a different logo on it and sell it.

    Explanations here:


    --

  • Windows 98SE sucks rotten ostrich eggs through the syphillitic pores of a dead badger.
    the only thing stable about it is the box, and even then, only when it's already fallen over.

    dave "And once you go FAT32 you're doomed, I tell ya, doooooomed!"
  • There's NO SUCH THING as "token ring ethernet," what kind of crack is that fat mother smoking???

    Yeah! This is disgusting! And all the people are drawn in Yellow. And do they really expect us to believe that someone can withstand that many knocks on the head.

    Although thats not the worst offender. I saw this cartoon called Road Runner. The physics in that were shockingly inaccurate. At one point, the road runner - Who I believe was the title character - even managed to walk along air without any support.
  • But free ISPs like this one run banner ads. What they run is even worse than banner ads: they're banner ads with forced click-through.

    A better example of effective web advertising is affiliate programs. Give people valuable content, then try to sell them something related to that content right there, integrated with the content.

    This post is another example. I'm advertising the link at the bottom of the post, and getting a pretty damn good click-through, at that (my apologies, BTW, to people who anyone who went through the previous evil link, which I will now erase from my memory to go on with my life). Not by spamming, but by posting the best stuff I can come up with and still have something to say (my karma has doubled since last week).

    In the last few days, I've put up more posts on slashdot.org than in the last few weeks before that, because I've got a new web page that I want to promote. Usually I have to slap my own hands to keep myself from wasting too much time slashdotting, but for the moment I consider it productive. (yes, there's a certain irony to this which you'll understand if you look at my site - my site with banner ads, and broken ones at that... ^_^ )
  • Is it just me, or are virtual ISPs starting to seem even scarier than the ``monopolistic'' media companies?

    -Chris
  • I keep hitting that reply button instead of the preview one...

    "Believe the Data" was the title of the article, not a suggestion regarding the article.
  • Advertising will never end, it is an integral component of the current system. You take away the constant brainwashing and the drones will start to wake up. I really don't think they want the drones to wake up.
  • The ISP itself is an add for the Fox TV network and for it's show The Simpsons. Who would use such an ISP but someone who had heard of the TV show? Now thing, you live in some hick town, everyone you know is getting on the internet. You see this ISP, hey what do you know IT'S FREE! I just have to click on a few ads, no big deal. And hmm, it's called The Simpsons like that TV show. And pretty soon you are watching that TV show or your kids are watching it. Not to mention the fact that many free ISPs keep track of what sites you visit. Data mining for whoever has the cash to pay for the data. It would be nice if we could figure out a way to make the internet free to anyone and everyone without the evil that corporations bring.
  • >>They seem to have lost any counterculture satirical edge they may once have had. Now they're just another plastic lunchbox.

    My my.. how quickly people forget. The simpsons were never about counterculture. As soon as they came on the air (way back in '90), we were bombarded by t-shirts, hats, toys, and yes, i had a plastic lunchbox. Anyone remember the "bartman"? Matt Groening never had a problem selling all this. If anyone, it is Fox that has become more restrictive of the simpsons products as their popularity has skyrocketed. I love all my simpsons junk. I don't particularily want the ISP, but i say, give it a shot. Its an interesting theme.
  • by Squeamish Ossifrage ( 3451 ) on Sunday January 23, 2000 @11:45PM (#1344664) Homepage Journal
    The advertiser-supported ISPs are going to have a hell of a time staying in business. A quick look at the business model:

    Income: Web Advertising rates. Common rates for a banner add are in the 1 to 10 cents per "eyeball", or pair thereof, depending mostly on how well-targeted the ad is. Absent very sophisticated (and rare on an ISP level) profiling, the ISP cannot really identify what the user is interested in, in order to carefully target ads. Moreover, the free-ISP user demographic is likely to be mostly internet newbies, which is the kiss of death for an e-commerce site. So it's very unlikely that a free ISP will be getting more than 1 cent per ad. Click-throughs can be worth as much as 25 cents in some cases, though it's likely to be much less, especially since a forced click-through doesn't signify real interest and is therefore less valuable to the advertiser than a voluntary click-through. Porn sites, which often use pop-up windows to essentially force a click-through, rarely get more than 3 or 4 cents per click-through. And porn is very profitable. Posit a maximum of 5 cents per click-through of revenue.

    Expense: Based on Earthlink's SEC filings, and the data of other companies (including my own employer), it is generally accepted that about $13 per user per month is the minimum cost for an unlimited time or > 15 hrs per month dialup account. That covers only direct costs, not advertising. Moreover, that level of efficiency requires on the order of 1 million users. Cost per user looks more like $20 per month for most smaller companies. Further, it tends to cost about $15 - $20 in initial costs (including advertising) to get a user. 18 months is a fairly average length of time for a user to stick with an ISP, so the ISP *must* recover its initial investment within that time to make a profit. Given the annoyingness of ads, it's unlikely that a free ISP will have a better retention rate. Let's suppose J. Random Free ISP is doing about $15 per month, at best. Further, they need to recoup $18 (to be simple) in 18 months. So they need $18 per user per month to break even. Add another 10% to make it sufficiently profitable to bother, and you need $20.

    That's 2,000 ads or 400 click-throughs (or some combination thereof) per user per month. At best. Our average unlimited-time user logs about 15 hours a month. At that rate, the free ISP needs to serve each user 125 adds an hour (or 24 click-throughs) to break even. That's a pretty weak proposition. I wouldn't put any money on it.
  • Steve Ballmer walks into Bill Gates' office.

    *Ballmer* We've succeeded in grinding the competition into the ground again today sir. We've even added a half-dozen brand new annoyances to Windows 2000!

    *Gates* Excellent Smithers^H^H^H^Good job Steve.


    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!
  • Some services are motivated by generosity, personal enthusiasm, and other altruistic goals. I'm not talking about those.

    For-profit corporations do not willingly lose money. If they're not selling something to you, they're selling you to someone. Would you rather be they customer or the product? Which do you think gets better treatment?
  • Ermm actually a .sig should be "-- " So that's 2 minus signs and a space. Not 3 minus signs and a dot.
  • Normaly, a sig is on every post. If you click the little link that says 'user info' you will see that it is not on every post. Therefor it is not a sig.

    The only conclusion I can draw here, is that you are an idiot

    [ c h a d o k e r e ] [iastate.edu]
  • Well, in The Netherlands we have several "free isps" right now. The connections is way below average. In The Netherlands we have to pay phone costs each minute you're online (except for cable modems), so it's a pretty clever move to keep the customer waiting all day for his 3K website. As far as for the adds I don't know. I could think of a mailbox full of spam, but who cares ? Just don't use their email, but sign up with a free POP3 server anyways. That way, these people are spamming their own servers *evil grin* ... So this Homer thingy is nuthin' new I guess ...
  • Here in the UK we have had a choice of many 'free' ISP for several years - 'free' as in no monthly call costs, we do have to pay for the calls though... Many of these 'free' ISPs operate on getting a cut of what we have to pay for the call.

    The first free ISP here, X-Stream [x-stream.co.uk] (unfortunatly w32 clients only), though was and is funded through advertising, taking up a couple of lines at the top of the screen.

    They have also been trialling free phone calls for the past month or so, supposedly 24/7 access, although I have only had success during evenings and weekends...

    One simple way to bypass the ads is by using W98SE's Internet connection sharing - the adds only appear on your host, the clients displays are clean!

  • Here in the UK we have had a choice of many free ISP for several years - free meaning no monthly ISP bills, we do have to pay for the calls though... Many of these free ISPs operate on getting a cut of what we have to pay for the call.

    The first free ISP here, X-Stream [x-stream.co.uk] (unfortunatley w32 clients only), though was and is funded through advertising, taking up a couple of lines at the top of the screen.

    They have also been trialling free phone calls for the past month or so, supposedly 24/7 access, although I have only had success during evenings and weekends...

    One simple way to bypass the ads is by using W98SE's Internet connection sharing - the adds only appear on your host, the clients displays are clean!

  • How many slashdotters use tools like JunkBuster, SleezeBall or others to cut banners and don't see any advertisment *at all*?

    Maybe time for a poll? :-)
  • Hey, Q! Someone is dissing you and your continuum...
  • Don't worry... The free ISP's can always sell personal information to other companies. It seems that many companies are interested in people's surfing behaviour. This already happens in the Netherlands.
  • Not quite. I'm sure yahoo.com and cnn.com have thousands and thousands of visitors a day.
    treke
  • yahoo.com averages over 300 million hits per day (at least it did recently; maybe they went downhill since google started?).
  • Damn.... that's a lot of hits :)
    treke
  • "How many people do you think are unaware of the existence of Coca-Cola? If they were to cut their advertising budget in half, would there be a significant drop in their brand recognition? I doubt it."

    Which is why I said:
    "What they don't seem to understand is that advertisements don't work, and never really did. Now adays, it's easy for a person who recognises a need to go out and find information on products. "

    The Coke adds do not serve to inform the potential customer. The market has been saturated for years, and no one is going to leave their favourite brands because of that silly lady who sips an obviously marked cup of a certain fizzy beverage, and then expresses pleasure through cooing (gack, I want to retch just thinking of it). They merely serve to reinforce the belief by existing users that their choice was right. Another example of the same is that a survey found that people who had bought brand X of automobile felt a lot better watching advertisements about it (especially the overly positive ones). Advertisements no longer teach or inform, they merely reinforce consumerism. "Gee, it sure was great I bought that thing. I'm such a smart, sexy person for doing it. Look at the other smart, sexy people enjoying these same products. I think I'll go buy more, I feel soo good."



    "In his book Democracy In America, Alexis De Toqueville commented on how pervasive he found commercial advertising to be in the US. He was writing in first part of the 19th century. Advertising has been with us since long before the 1950s."

    I agree. However, back in the early 20th, advertisments were less instrusive (compared to now). Gee, was that an X automobile being driven by that handsome movie star in that movie? Wow, Neo sure does like X brand of cola. Hmm, what brand of cellphone was that again? Let's all go to the lobby, and buy more popcorn. The subliminal advertisements tell me to. Wow, time to reduce the amount of time spent on the episode -- more good commercials are comming along. (Speaking of commercials, have you noticed how US TV averages between 2.4 and 2.9 minutes vs 1.7 to 2.2 minutes of advertisement time on Canadian TV?)

    When some store (can't remember which) wanted to spread their name around the small city of New York, they purchased branded umbrellas and gave them to street vendors. This helped the vendors, who now had protection from the weather, and helped the consumers, who became aware of a new store that could serve their needs. Cities like New York couldn't have grown without ideas like that. Now, however, it's increasingly easy for the customer to evaluate their own needs, and select the appropriate solution with little effort. Without advertisements. If I go to a website to buy something, I don't need to see unrelated advertisements that waste my bandwidth and CPU time. A related products link could be tasteful, though.

    I'm hopeful that a nice device to screen out TV advertisements will be available soon. Look at the Tivo, it's certainly possible to do it for prerecorded programs. I'd certainly pay to not see commercials. Heck, I might even watch more TV... then again, it's increasingly banal bullshit (especially stuff like "Who wants to be a millionaire?"). Oh well, at least I can still watch the Simpsons.
    ---
  • "Interesting. Makes me wonder why I haven't seen http://www.freedsl.com/ on Slashdot yet. :)"

    Noveltly.

    The Simpsons (r) branded free ISP is a novel thing. FreeDSL is not novel, just interesting. However, judging by the website, this is more targetted at the marketters and advertisers with wonderful statements like:
    "our service will offer direct access to a large high-speed Internet audience supporting general network advertising, content affinity, and demographic targeting."

    Translation:
    "We will monitor the browsing habits of the people, so you'll know if they're into those 'special interest' items. And thanks to content affinity and the broadband, you'll be able to push large, streaming media of your 'special interest' items in action in order to entice them to buy.."

    Yeah, I love being a captive audience.. Considering reliable broadband is available for 40$ Cdn (28$ US) in the form of Cable Modem access through a local @Home monopoly, I don't think it's really worth it..
    Linux can easily provide protection from the @Home portscanning via ipchains :)
    ---
  • " You have to have MSIE because the banner software uses MSIE's libraries"

    Ahh, so it will be vulnerable to whatever proxy you set IE to use, ne? The problem with these programs that use the IE API for web stuff, is that the API doesn't expose the proxy setup to the program... A very trivial man in the middle attack is very easy to setup in this situation. The thing is, do you want to show your own little ads, or do you want to simply return a blank, transparent gif?

    I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader :)
    ---
  • ...web surfers never even look at ads, unless they are really bored or the ads are cleverly disguised in a form the viewer hasn't seen

    I used to believe this myself, until an experience this past week convinced me otherwise.

    I manage the web site for a local public transit organization on the side: DART First State [dartfirststate.com]. We sponsor Operation Snowflake [wjbr.com] at a local radio station. Operation Snowflake reports school and business closings when the weather sucks.

    As part of that sponsorship, we got banner ads on that operation snowflake page. Nothing big and exciting at all. Doesn't even offer anything.

    Well, on Jan 20 (a snow day here with 3-4 inches), traffic to the transit web site doubled and hit a new high which hasn't been seen since we were giving away free bus tickets for visiting the site last July. I greped the logs and found that more than half of the traffic could be tracked back to that banner ad on the radio website. Each visitor, once on the site, on average visited four other pages.

    Best I can guess is the following occured a lot:

    1. "Oh flock(), it's snowing out"
    2. "Let's see if my work is closed." Goes to radio web site
    3. "Doh, no such luck. But wait, there's an ad for DART. Maybe I'll take the bus."
    4. Clicks on banner to check out bus schedules
    5. "Doh, nearest bus to my house is five miles away. Hell with it, I'm driving."
  • Can you realistically say that most advertising exists to inform consumers of a products' existence? I don't think so.

    Oh, but they do. Even perfectly sane and intelligent people who are totally convinced that they don't let themselves be influenced by ads are much more inclined to buy something if they've heard about it before, and prefer it to the unknown brand. Amn is a creature of habit.

  • Lynx has a *very* nice interface IMHO. Show me another web-browser that is;

    a) usable over SSH where X is not available;

    b) operable with exactly four keys for most normal purposes;

    c) can be used where your system is so badly screwed that you can't get X to display locally.

    Anyway, there are lynx-alikes (eg w3m, links) which DO have mouse support.

    Thus, you lose graphics (which for certain sites is a distinct advantage), and plugins (which are very rarely have anything of interest anyway).

    Also, using the keys IS faster; it means you have to learn keystrokes, but I spent most of the summer using Microsoft Word as a secretary (audio/copy typing), and it is radically faster to use hotkeys than to take your hands off the keyboard. Mice are good for lowering the entry barrier to computer use, but they are no panacea.
  • Yep. And typically, ad companies pay $0.001 per view. which means $1 for 1000 hits. Which means 300,000,000 hits == $300,000.

    Per day. :)

    --

  • I dunno about the US, but I believe all the dialups for Canada are identical as those that Altavista uses. I know they are identical for my area code. And the fact the website is called cobrand.1stup.com makes me think it is they have just repackaged everything and slapped the Simpsons on it. At any rate, I've already circumvented the advertising for Altavista so if you're gonna post about free isps tell me about one I don't have yet. And yes it works under Linux. But they're useless to me what I need is free cable modem access. I hope that free dsl stuff comes to Canada.
  • I dont think that I have ever even looked at an ad in a search engine, or any other general-audience web site. However, web sites that target their ad banners to their specific audience will have much more effective banners.

    I think a good example of this is slashdot. All the banners I have seen on slashdot have been geek or linux oriented.
    Some companies, like ThinkGeek, I clicked on because their banners looked neat (and who doesn't want a 'grepmaster' mug?) and I'll probably buy something from them.
    Other banners, like the one for AIBO, put the product name in my head, but I would never actually buy one.
    Then there are banners for stuff that you would buy, but you already have one, like computers from Penguin Computing. It would be much more effective if they could sell in computer stores alongside the windoze PCs, but that is a very exclusive market.
  • a "health" meter that slowly decreases unless you interact with the ad bar

    Am I the only one that thinks this is really an evil Tamagochi plot here?

  • Maybe it is time he should upgrade his brain to an athlon. :)
  • I have been using them for the last few months, besides the busy signals, which I can put up with, their technical support is POS. I accidently went over my *2meg* quota, and suddenly lost all access to my mailbox. Any attempts to connect, to check my mail or delete old mail, results in a "Connection broken by host".
    Their $15/incident live tech support is laughable, but it took 3 emails (the final being very stern), and over a week of no email (and everyone receiving messages that my box is over quota) before they contacted me back, at my work email, saying that they can wipe all my mail out.

    As of this date, I still have no email access.

    And don't get me started on NetZero. Their nav bar had serious memory leaks, and would lock any of our computers solid if we ever went into command.com.

    There has yet to be, IMO, a reliable free ISP. You can't live off advertising forever.
  • Remeber that episode when he started the company super-hyper-mega-cyber-power-net? They should have named it that, from the show, then it would have been funnier.
  • Ok this from the daemon (correct spelling) of typographical errors...
    [Daemon as in Unix background program NOT demon as in biblical evil being]
    Anyway :)
    It is posable the problem is in Slashdot not the poster...
    Keep in mind ANY CGI has to do some filtering and transformation to keep crackers from sending garbage...
  • Hey if you are looking for a good junkbuster script there is a pretty effective one posted in the Tuning section at linux.com.
  • From 1stUp's Policy on Subscriber Information [1stup.com]:

    Disclosure of Subscriber Information

    Much of the subscriber information we gather is provided to 1stUp.com's sponsors in exchange for their financing of your ad-subsidized Internet service. Of the subscriber information we collect, only individualized information on the dates, time and duration of your online sessions is not subject to such disclosures.

    It sure looks to me like they reserve the right to sell your name, address, e-mail address, etc.

    Contrast this with the policies for NetZero, FreeI, FreeWWWeb. In fact, FreeI doesn't even collect personal identification data in the first place.

  • Crack the software that runs the ads.

    Set up a daemon that fakes a click on every nth advert.

    Surf for free indefinitely.

    In fact - even better, generate a Linux client that fakes the clicks, run that on your firewall (you do have a firewall system, right?) and use your desktop box for regular surfing.

    And yes, this is (sort of) about evolution. These companies have set up an environment which is subject to exploit by those who live within it. Learn to exploit that environment better and you'll survive better :-)

  • Ohhh... you mean like my little VB program that fires up iWon.com every day and racks up my entries by clicking on random links......
  • Aha, the looped GPF. I hate that bastard. The funny thing is that I only get it with Netscape on my 2 machines. I guess everyone has different problems...
  • there is a thing like the birdies -- or indeed several of 'em. I don't know much about them personally, but my boyfriend uses them with his free isp and get-paid-to-click services.

    might be worth it with a script like that. now all someone needs to do is figure out how to emulate the software for linux/bsd/mac/solaris/irix/xxxx :)



    I hacked up a quick program in Delphi (doing one in C++ now) to keep Alladvantage fooled for me. It takes about 30 seconds to make something that will move the mouse from the top of the screen to the bottom, click the banner, and start over. Works real well too.>:)

    Kintanon
    Shameless plug follows:
    www.alladvantage.com
    EBS-939
    Sign up and kneel to the all powerful lord of rampant consumerism! All hail the dollar!
  • Hmm... if it costs about $13/user to provide 15 hours/mo of ISP service, then how can Galaxy Internet Services [gis.net] afford to let me be online about 180 hours a month for only $9.95?

  • What Slashdot said:


    Anthony Fuentes writes "Looks like Homer and company are getting into the free ISP business, click here for details. Offer applies to win32 users only." Probably because Homer uses Windows - and Internet Explorer, of course, because that's the only browser you can use with this service.


    What the actual ISP page said:


    You must have a copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer, version 4.0 or higher, to access the free Internet system, but you may surf the web with any browser. Click on the following link to download the latest version of Internet Explorer.


    Wow... there's a difference. Slashdot reports that Internet Explorer is the only browser you can use with this service, where the actual page says that you can use any browser to surf the web, but you must have a copy of IE 4.0. Maybe because Microsoft bundled additional libraries with IE 4.0 in the form of a service pack? You think?


    I object to this editorialization of "news". Why does the news on Slashdot have to be anti-Microsoft? "News for Nerds"? Or "News for Linux users"? Why don't we call it what it really is? I run Linux on a dedicated Linux box. It's really stable, hasn't crashed in 3 months. Linux is nice, I like it. But face it: it's a cheap Unix hack. That's all it was designed to be, that's all it will ever be, until they make it "user-friendly." "Intuitive". It's not, and no one can successfully argue with me.


    So let's start being a little less biased in reporting "news", shall we?


    - Burton Simmmons
    mrwhite@d198-192.uoregon.edu (linux box)

  • Wow, this AC reminds me a lot of Homer... I doubt many others would spend nearly as much time replying to their own comments. I think the AC's a bit smarter though, Homer probably couldn't have gotten all the way through the whole alphabet ;-)

    ---
    Oh no! This is an _illegal_ sig! It has three dashes instead of two!

Science may someday discover what faith has always known.

Working...