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Mindspring-Earthlink Seek Annulment of Marriage 49

Lately, I've been introduced to FNWire which has some pretty funny pieces on it. This week they are covering the annulment of Mindspring-Earthlink. One of my favorite lines is: "...saying its hasty union was a "stupid mistake" done only to 'gain some national attention.'"
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Mindspring-Earthlink Seek Annulment of Marriage

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I agree. Mindspring started dying around the time it bought out PSINet's dialup customer base in 1996. The growing pains during that time and in times since then haven't only turned the Core Values & Beliefs into a brainwashing tool, but also into a means by which anybody could be blamed for anything, regardless of responsibility.

    I got into the culture because of the "newness" of that corporate culture, as well as the openness and sharing among the employees. Sounds a little idealistic, but that's the way it was back then. The dress code was that basically that you had to wear clothing, and shoes were optional, people brought dogs to work, almost everything was done on the "bare metal" IE: no outsourcing or contract engineers allowed. Tech support and engineering were on speaking terms (somewhat), and almost everything that happened on a day-to-day basis was accomplished by about a hundred people in a location on Peachtree Street.

    I think it was the the same corporate culture that spawned mindspring that finally killed its soul. Midtown Atlanta is a very cool place to live and work, and mindspring was among the coolest employers in its beginnings, but new money has changed all of that, just as it changes the people who are making it. I guess the visionaries just got old.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm a former Mindspringer, and this merger is about the worst thing that could have happened. It was much more of a takeover than a merger, and it caused all the key tech folks to either leave or start looking. I'm not talking about phone tech support guys here - key sysadmin, network engineering, developers, etc. It's really a damn shame, because (grouses by pipeline and netcom customers aside), it was, until the end, the finest ISP on the planet. Certainly the network and servers were top-notch for an ISP. It may take a month or two, but as all the old engineers leave, the quality will plummet. Who would have thought that a California company like Earthlink would be so aggressively corporate? I guess we all thought they were laid back hippies. Wrong!
  • I first subscribed to Mindspring when I lived in Atlanta ca. 1991.

    That's absolutely amazing, considering that Mindspring didn't open its doors until June 1994.

  • "Lately I've been getting several busy signals. I've even been bumped off a few times right in the middle of online gaming..."

    I've had the same problem. Earthlink doesn't want people (like me) who 20 bucks a month for unlimited access to use that access in an unlimited fasion. Recently, I recieved an e-mail that I had already used 310 hours in a billing period. After that, I have experianced frequent disconnects (even in the middle of downloads), slow connectivity, and the inability to access many sites. It sure was nice to use the old Mindspring . . .

    "God is Dead"
    Nietzsche is Dead"
  • I agree. I now feel bad that after four years of using Mindspring that I am leaving them. It was so great when I could honestly recommend a company to my friends and family and mean it. That was a very refreshing experience.

    I tried to wait it out, but after their merger was finalized and I received the sudden on slot of SPAM and constant connection interruptions, I knew it was over.

    I am just waiting for all my referral credits to run out from all the poor slobs that I referred to Mspring.

  • Dying, maybe, but some of us can only dream of the day when we don't need dialup anymore.

    On the other hand, my dialup link frequently goes dead, but I don't think that's what you meant. ;)
  • I've been using Mindsrping for about 3 years and, until recently, I've been very satisfied with their service. Lately I've been getting several busy signals. I've even been bumped off a few times right in the middle of online gaming... I first started noticing it a few weeks after the merger took place.

    .sig's are for wimps!
  • Same here dude... Ever since the merger, service has really sucked.

    .sig's are for wimps!
  • Mindspring used to get extremely high ratings in customer-satisfaction polls, and as God is my witness I can't imagine why. I fled them twice.

    My first round of bad experiences with Mindspring was when they purchased Pipeline and screwed over that user base. Whatever one thought of their PinkSLIP-based software (which I used a couple of times before realizing they were attempting to pass everything through gopher commands -- this is back just before Mosaic broke wide, you understand, so it wasn't causing the performance hit it did later on) the Pipeline guys ran a good local-to-NYC ISP, and they didn't kick about offering static IP addresses. When Gleick etc. sold out to Mindspring, suddenly tech support calls didn't get returned and my FTP access to my own Web site was blocked for weeks at a time.

    So I left for Netcom, not universally known for great customer service (although I got good results from the business-account support staff) but blessed with *many* POPs around the world, which was a priority for me then. Service was quite acceptable until they were purchased by -- you got it -- Mindspring. Once again customer service crashed and burned, staffed as it apparently was by middle-aged women from Georgia whose lack of tech-support knowledge (I spent an entire call explaining to one of them that the Net and the Web were not identical entities) was equalled only by their rudeness. Fortunately some of the Netcom tech-support staff was still available and all too aware of the decline: as one of them said, "If we could buy back the service and run it ourselves we would." By the middle of last year, I was experiencing regular, unscheduled downtime on the Seattle POP, made worse when I'd call the tech-support number and be told that there was no downtime *scheduled* and thus the problem was with my computer. (This was especially intelligent "advice" when the POP when down in the middle of, say, a long download -- yeah, obviously my bad.)

    And then came Earthlink. Adding Scientologists to the mix proved too much for my tiny mind, and I jumped ship immediately. I don't care if they're actually right and Hubbard *is* god -- god himself couldn't fix that pack o' grits.
  • Surprisingly good. I've used Earthlink for about two years, and the total time I've been unable to connect has been two hours (and it was only one occasion; the local dial-up # was hosed, so I just dialed one a few miles away to get my 'mail).

    The only other problem was a DNS f-up a few weeks ago that lasted, like, ten minutes. No biggie.

    Living in an area--actually just a part of a city--where nothing faster is available for a decent price, and the local dial-up ISPs are overburdened to the point that it's like going through AOL's proxies, Earthlink's been nice. And cheap.

    But I've heard Mindspring totally blows. Odd.

  • That's just really lame but funny at the same time.

    How good of an ISP was Earthlink/Mindspring anyway? I've never used them myself but I know a lot of people who do.
  • I'm not really sure how good/bad the Mindspring/Earthlink thing would be, though. It didn't last long enough.

    Correction!!! We'll see how good/bad this new company is. I guess I disregarded the foot icon and took it as fact. Oh well, my comments still stand. Mindspring is/was an awesome ISP.

    Now that I think about it. The article did read rather oddly and the quotes did not sound like something someone would say to the press. Oh well, that was fun!

    Welcome to Slashdot. Please do not feed the trolls.
  • Speaking from experience, Sprynet/Mindspring/Earthlink is a VERY good ISP. Very VERY Linux-friendly. They have an awesome online tech support thing (except that it's Java)

    Well, first there was Compuserve. They then had this little ISP branch called Sprynet. Sprynet later merged with Mindspring. Everything was cool. I'm not really sure how good/bad the Mindspring/Earthlink thing would be, though. It didn't last long enough.

    I haven't had much/any experience with national ISPs other than Sprynet/Mindspring/Earthlink but I would suggest them as they are reliable and they have awesome tech support. They're also pretty cool people. I guess some of them have roadrunner (cable modem) at home, too and when my uncle called to tell them that he was cancelling his account, they were like "Oh, you got roadrunner, eh. Pretty nice!"(Well, something like that. Similar to a[n] MS employee saying "Oh, you're putting Linux on that box? Spiffy!").

    Welcome to Slashdot. Please do not feed the trolls.
  • The point of /. is (IMHO) to show relevant (and semi-relevant) news items to the 'geek community' and to provide humor and a discussion forum. You could always filter out humor stories if you really want to...

    Did you realize it was a fake before or after you read it?

    Don't get me wrong, I thought it was hilarious - in the same way I think The Onion [] is hilarious - but only after I found out it wasn't real. With The Onion, you know the stories aren't real (usually). I didn't know that when I first read the article, so I'm thinking, "What the hell is up with this journalism?"

    I certainly am not without a sense of humor. And I'll most likely keep going back to FNwire for more "funny" financial news. I just don't think the original posting was very well presented.
    Microsoft spel chekar vor sail, worgs grate !!

  • It really is that easy. Setting up the service needs only a NIC and modem (but us nerds already knew that). It's no more or less difficult than installing a 56k modem. You still have the potential for IRQ or other resource conflicts, whether it be a NIC or modem, but the networks they (cable modems) connect to just seem to baffle them. I think it's the whole non-dialing part. If they would stop for a moment to think, they would realize that they really have no idea how it works on a POTS system either. They just think that since there's no dialing involved, and it uses components that networks use, it's got to be more complicated.
  • For dial-up to be dead, mobile customers such as myself will have to have access to some sort of wireless broadband with decent speed. I don't see any of these available yet. I'm not too familiar with packet radio, but it sounds like some sort of wireless service using radio frequencies. If that's true, then there has to be some sort of transmitting equipment located nearby. On top of that, you as the customer need some sort of transmitting equipment. That doesn't sound like anything that's going to bring an end to dial-ups (not just yet anyway), since you're limited to the coverage area that these transmitters are able to provide.

    The bandwidth is another issue altogether. To make this service worth spending the extra money, you'll have to get speeds significantly faster than 56k. While your downstream may be right around ISDN (depening on the fraquencies useable), without some bulky tranmitter attached to your car for travelling, your upstram data really isn't going to rival dial-up at all, so it's not going to make it worth spending the extra money to go with one of these systems.

    I'm sure in a few years, wireless technologies will advance somewhat, but I don't see any major changes in the technology today to truly bring an end to dialup. Again, for dial-up to be dead (in my eyes), I have to have 1) a high speed connection 2) that goes where I go 3) without having to lug equipment along for the ride.

    I still think it'll be a while...
  • And someone moderated that post "informative"? Sheesh.

    Thats also humor ;-))

    Slashdot moderation lotto:
    Next post to get 'informative': NUMBER 7!!!!
    And now for the bonus 'troll'........

  • Is it EarthLink or Darva? Is this Slashdot or Who wants to Marry a Multi-millionaire? What's the next show, "Who Wants to Marry a Dellionaire?"

  • I still use dialup when I travel. Go to an airport, you will see people plugged in getting their email.

  • I used to have Earthlink. For the standard $20/month you got unlimited dialup, POP mail, and I think 6MB of Web space. I used to recommend them to any friends looking for an ISP, as they were very reliable.

    However, recently (read: starting a couple months ago) the quality dropped significantly. Bandwidth got worse and worse, and I was always getting disconnected. Finally, I ran into a problem where the downloads of certain files would just fail. Executables, game data files, whatever. Network geography had nothing to do with it; I think certain bit patterns were just freaking out their routers.

    I called tech support, and they estimated a 20-minute wait. They had several options, Mac, Win95, WinNT, and "other" or maybe "UNIX" or something. I pushed "other" and waited. After waiting an hour, someone finally answered, and it turned out I had been transferred to "Windows".

    I made the mistake of mentioning that I run Linux. He instantly went into the "that's not supported" mode, which I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with, except that he knew nothing about the Internet, or networking in general. I repeated numerous times that hostnames were getting resolved and that the problem was common across different sites. All the poor guy could suggest was changing my DNS servers and "contacting the administrator of the site in question". Argh.

    I dumped Earthlink and switched to Dimensional [], an ISP local to Colorado. $25/month gets me a static IP, a shell account, and a reliable connection. They actually say to call if you ever get a busy signal, so they can add more modems. With Earthlink, I was lucky if I could get past the busy signals.

    I guess they just got too big...

  • One of my favorite lines is: "...saying its hasty union was a "stupid mistake" done only to 'gain some national attention.'"

    Perhaps it was a dumb mistake; but now they have reversed the mistake and kept the national attention, perhaps they have gained more attention with this "annulment".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Before Sprint/Earthlink merged with Mindspring and before Mindspring bought Netcom, Netcom was a nice Unix (SunOS) shell provider. Once Netcom went for the mass-market idiot user, everything went to pot. Service quality went down. Support staff seemed to disappear. Things like available static IPs, dedicated dial-ups and such went away. Hell, Netcom members actually had the pager # of the sysadmin and could call him when some problem appeared *and* he would come and fix it even at 2am Sunday! Who offers that kind of service now for $17.95/mo? Well, I can't feel sorry for them now. After screwing all of us over since the buyouts/mergers began, they're getting what they deserve.

    -AC and former Netcom user (1990-1999).

  • The story here on Slashdot is posted in the "It's funny, Laugh." section and he even states "which has some pretty funny pieces on it".
  • Tell me about it. I have had my Netcom account for many years, but have considered dropping it in the past year or so .. I used to refer friends to them because they "were for serious Internet people" .. for example, someone would complain about how their ISP was always going down, so I'd tell them how Netcom had little to no downtime because they were run so well. As soon as the initial merger happened, the quality of the service fell apart. I still have it today simply because once in a while I need a dialup (I do mainly DSL), and it does have national coverage. However, the web support pages have become more retarted to use and the network simply isn't as reliable.

    Oh well..


  • Sorry, you're absolutely right.. it was Prodigy 1991, Mindspring around 95...

  • I agree. I first subscribed to Mindspring when I lived in Atlanta ca. 1991. This was back in the static IP days, when signup took about 3 days. You guys were great! I remember reading a ton of rave reviews from the Atlanta Journal-Constituition about the cool corporate culture that MSpring fostered and I remember thinking "Wow.. when I grow up I want to work at a place like that." The art designer's official title, as in on her placard and on the payroll, was "Creative Goddess." Those things were cool. I hear horror stories about them - not their service, which is still great (99.9999% uptime for web servers in the last two years, that translates to something like 45 minutes of downtime a year), but about a cool corporation gone sour. `Tis a shame. I don't think I want to work there anymore.

  • 1. I'm not saying dial-up is dead at all... sooner or later, it will be, but not yet, for sure...

    2. yes, they hang things on light and utility poles... you are limited, but it's getting better all the time, apparently

    3. thy're coming out with 128k service "sometime this summer." I'm waiting for that before getting anything... otherwise it'll be DSL into a gateway machine and a wireless network in the apartment... assuming, however, that I get a nice girl geek as a roomate...

    4. it's not really a bulky transmitter... it's a smallish box, and you don't attach it to your car. there seem to be some companies going for PCMCIA sized ones, which would be absolutely ideal.

    disclaimer: I don't work for this company, never met anyone who does, etc. I do, however have a laptop that I would really, REALLY like to have mobile access on, at least in the Bay Area. I know one guy with this service, and the modem isn't all that large (think portable floppy drive for a thinkpad), and he seems satisfied with the service and convenience, if not the speed.

  • Even still, accessing that connection will be over some method of dialing. Maybe cellular, but dialing nonetheless

    I was sorta under the impression that packet radio didn't involve dialing. I think we have a good chance of ending up on that instead, at least in the short term. Ricochet [] is coming out with 128k service this summer -- they won't tell me exactly when, or what it will cost, but they seem to be very devoted to having a flat-rate plan... (hopefully it won't be too expensive for this poor student!)


  • I really hoped that this was "news". Then I saw the foot. Humor I thought. My hopes were dashed again. I have really been hoping that Mindspring and Earthlink would seperate. I have been a Mindspring customer for three years, and since the merger (especially in the last two weeks), service has gone down the crapper. I miss the old Mindspring.

    "God is Dead"
    Nietzsche is Dead"
  • I agree - they should have mentioned in the /. article that it was fake, but I figured it was even before I clicked over to it, since it was in the humor category, and 'annulment' kinda tips you off, I'd think...

    I didn't mean to imply that you don't have a sense of humor, just take into account the context of the story... if it has a big smelly foot, then I wouldn't get too hot and bothered by it 8^)
  • That's why there's a big ol' Monty Python foot as the icon for the story... humor... This was the first time I'd heard of FNwire, so it was certainly worth *my* time. I now have another source of enjoyment. The point of /. is (IMHO) to show relevant (and semi-relevant) news items to the 'geek community' and to provide humor and a discussion forum. You could always filter out humor stories if you really want to...
  • FNwire carries only fake news stories. It says so at the top and bottom of every page. Look at the fine print if you don't believe me. Sure it's funny, but not everyone is going to get it the first time around. I thought the point of /. was to inform, not to confuse.

    How about some funny REAL news?
    Microsoft spel chekar vor sail, worgs grate !!

  • Well, how many mobile/roaming broadband services do you know of? The day that I can access a 1.5mbps connection from my laptop driving down a deserted mountain road, or maybe just from my hotel room, then I'll say that dial-up is dead. Even still, accessing that connection will be over some method of dialing. Maybe cellular, but dialing nonetheless. Unless you're talking about satellites, or hotels prewired for ethernet. It may have been more correct to say analog is dead, or 56k is dead (which won't really be true for about 2 years).
  • dialup may be dead to nerds, but i've worked with a lot of people who can't understand why you should pay anything more than ~$20 a month for internet, besides that until there is only 1 standard for DSL/Cable people will still go for the simplicity of dialup.
  • I work for a company, Knology, who is sister companies with Mindspring (I believe our parent holdings company owns 17% or so of Mindspring). We do, and were the first to do so, Mindspring's Cable Broadband access in two cities that we operate in...meaning we share our network resources, actually providing them with access. I believe this is more widely known as Open Access for you all who keep up with the news. The marriage of the Mindspring/Earthlink for this service has been no trouble at all. The only difference I much noticed in operations was new greetings when on the NOC techs called us or a few new names....but nothing drastic. Our company relationship with them is doing just fine by what I can tell...only few problems ever occur. On a personal note, I only ever had problems with Mindspring when I bought a new Rockwell K56Flex v90 modem and it was not compatible with the x2 v90 technology at the time. I experienced many disconnects an hour (one of the symptoms). They supposedly fixed a bug right at the time my area became serviceable for our cable service, so I never quite saw whether or not the problem was fixed. I have nothing but high notes for Mindspring. Earthlink and Mindspring have not consistently won Best ISP and Best Customer Service/Tech Support for ISPs consistently for the last 5 years for nothing. acid
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2000 @11:42AM (#1206283)
    It isn't just a name change. This is coming from a prior employee that worked in development. It used to be an awesome culture to work in. All kinds of freedom. Slowly the freedoms went away. Things got more corporate. This was the death of the unique culture that was keeping most of us oldtimers there. No one worked at MindSpring for the pay. Most of us were embarrassed to tell friends of ours working for other companies what MindSpring paid us. It was all about being part of this great unstoppable team. Then with the massive increase in size, mid-level managers were put under incredible pressure. Understand that most of these managers had NO prior management experience. These people were support technicians that got rapidly promoted through the ranks. The Earthlink Merger was the nail in the coffin. MindSpring was a wonderful thing. It's something that I will always be proud I was a part of. But it's gone. Earthlink did not carry the same principles through that made MindSpring a success. Now those core values and beliefs function more like a convenient brainwashing tool. And people like myself are so disgusted we are leaving in droves. I know of at least 6 close friends that have left from key developement and engineering positions in the last 3 weeks. The talent is leaving, and the company left in the aftermath of this fiasco is falling apart. Cancer is eating it up from the inside out as it bleeds talent. At first I was very angry that they decided to drop the MindSpring name in favor of the Earthlink moniker. A lot of us were. We felt betrayed. Most of us were used to putting in 12 hours days with no overtime. But in retrospect, I'm glad they went with the name Earthlink because todays Earthlink 2.0 is not a very MindSpringy place. Calling it MindSpring would be sacriledge.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2000 @06:42AM (#1206284)
    After careful consideration, the Church has decided NOT to grant the annulment. As far as God is considered, this marriage is still valid. We consider that the marriage was hasty and impetuous, and we think that it would be in everyone's best interest if the marriage was worked out, so that both parties can learn a little responsibility. In three years, if both parties still wish to annul, they can approach the vatican again.

    thank you,

    the Pope

    ps, tithes will be considered duely
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @07:59AM (#1206285) Journal
    ... and the splash line across the top of the referenced article says (approximately)

    fast free fast free false ...

    Nevertheless, not explicitly mentioning it in the front-page article is a poor move. The readership is a very diverse group, with non-native speakers of English and people from a wide variety of subcultures even among the native speakers.

    Like sarcasm, subtle hints that something is a hoax or a joke (rather than, say, being true but very funny) will not get across to a significant fraction of them. They may believe the posting, be burned by it, and end up distrusting or with enmity toward the poster and the site.

    Even those who get that it might be a hoax right away will likely waste time checking - time that might have been spent on subjects they were MUCH more interested in.

    I've seen this sort of posting several times on Slashdot, and they have annoyed me every time. But this is the most egregious. I'm a long-time Netcom subscriber, so it affects me enough that when an ambiguous posting about it comes up, no matter how ridiculous it seems, I need to check it out.

    Today, between checking this and commenting about it I wasted the rest of the time I could have spent doing what I wanted to to - check the IMPORTANT news. So to me, it's NOT funny.
  • Has the relationship been consumated? If so, then an annullment is out of the question. Unless, of course, one of them is a Kennedy. Then you can get an annullment at a price (usually depending on how many children you have).

    I don't know, though. This anullment might have to go all the way to the Pope! Somebody get Kurt on the phone!

    Brad Johnson
    --We are the Music Makers, and we
    are the Dreamers of Dreams

Forty two.