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America Online

Time Warner Says Employees Must Use AOL Mail 312

cblood writes: "This article tells how the worker bees at Time Warner are forced to switch to AOL for their email. That's one way to increase your user base." Turns out that not everyone at Time-Warner wants to hear "you've got mail!" 50 times a day.
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Time Warner Says Employees Must Use AOL Mail

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    What's worse than a computer with Windows on it? A computer with Windows and AOL!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not completely true. (and yes, I'm a AOLTW employee). To qualify for a aol.net account in our division, you've got to be in "engineering", which includes server operations folks, dbas, etc., but NOT rank-and-file, or many people in the IT groups. Our IT project managers, developers, etc., do NOT have the option of using anything other than AOL Mail.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:48AM (#219881)
    I work at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta and we have been dreading this conversion for a long time. Unlike Time Inc, we have been using Outlook + Exchange for almost a year now. AOL's mail is a serious joke, they have no idea how dependant we have become on Outlooks calendar and meeting tools. (In fact, alot of our in-house applications have been developed to work with exchange, oh well back to the drawing board...) So far they have pushed back our conversion to AOL mail because we are too dependant on Outlook and our managment would grind to a halt (turner has been firmly partnered with Microsoft since before the merger!). To make up for it, they are developing somesort of calendar + meeting thing using netscapes webserver. But I haven't heard much about it. Also my email address will be @aol.com so forget about geting my real name as a username. I'll end up as like JoeSmi543879879@aol.com. Hows that for professionalism? Much better than Joe.Smith@turner.com! (not my real email btw!)

    Well at least I get one of those cool badges....
  • I've heard about that. What's really funny is, Motorola used to make its own computers - the StarMax line on Mac clones. My roommate used to have one. Kinda weird, a Mac with PS/2 ports (in addition to ADB) and (at a time when other Macs used DB-15 VGA connectors) an HD-15 VGA connector. And a mid-tower case made of metal, not plastic. Employees of the company that manufactured them weren't allowed to use them.

    --

  • Ford dosen't expect to deliver it's cars using Ford trucks.

    Ford makes a line of heavy trucks...I've rarely seen a car carrier loaded with all Fords that wasn't being pulled by a Ford (most likely independent carriers drive whatever they want though).

  • Do you know what not "sacrificing your ability to work with their teammates" entails? It means using Windows systems like Exchange. It's the same thing that made me quit a job I had 4 years ago at a Unix software shop that "standardized" on Exchange when they instituted ISO 9000. They never actually *said* we had to use windows, but they did say:

    1 - We must use the ISO9000 documents, and if we see a problem with them, we must seek to change them rather than violate them. We must follow what they say even if we know it will cause a failure, we just need to mention the problem first so that when it fails it's not our fault. (We can point at the protest and say, "see - I told you so", and that will lend a lot of weight to getting the official policy in the ISO9000 document changed.)

    2 - All ISO 9000 documents will be stored in Exchange as if they were discussion groups, so comments can be attached to them.

    So, adding 1 and 2 together gives us the result that we MUST have exchange up and running 100% of the day so we can get at the ISO 9000 docs, which means we must be running Windows. This was excessively stupid since we wrote 90% of our software in Unix. When I had to give up my linux box at work and isntead reformatt it for windows full-time, by productivity dropped because my only access to unix systems was through terminal programs, instead of having one natively on my box. (I'm not trying to dis Windows here, but understandably A unix system is better to develop unix programs on than a windows one.)

    That made me quit the place, not just because I hate using Windows (I do), but because the management instituting a policy that screwed over 90% of the programmers, making their lives harder so that the managers' lives were easier, was an indicator to me that they didn't give a rat's ass about their programmers.

  • This makes no sense. The whole point of business is to get the most productivity out of your people. So you make things streamlined. You make your man-hours count. I can understand Microsoft having their employees use windows. Lots of companies do that. I can understand them requiring the use of Exchange/Outlook. Wouldn't want important email to go down with the user's computer. I just can not understand using AOL for email. Yeah that is great that your company makes software for home users that is easy to use. But for your company it wastes valuable time to have a whole online service software open just to read mail. Are they talking about AOL web email? Or do they have to have the AOL application loaded? It would waste resources and time.

    IRNI
  • by DraKKon ( 7117 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @08:56AM (#219890) Journal
    My girlfriend works at Warner Bros, and because the "Don't want to pay the fees for Microsofts Exchange Server", which they have already purchased, they are being forced to use AOL Mail for email, iPlanet for groupware + another program that escapes me at this time. Yes, 3 seperate programs, just so they don;t have to pay for Outlook and Exchange. So, no more syncing to palm pilots (visor's and WinCE), plus the cost of retraining THE ENTIRE COMPANY to use three seperate applications. Pardon my french, but it's fucking stupid. AOL is fucking up TimeWarner. I dount if anyone did the cost of productivity and money lost in training and using these CRAPPY applications.
  • What kind of messed-up implementation of Notes does your company have? Notes/Domino can do things a generic IMAP server and client can only dream of. Efficient synchronization! Single-message stores! Support for structured data beyond plain email messages! A really nice web interface! Workflows!

    If you want to give up all of this (or maybe your company doesn't use any of it), you're welcome to connect to a Domino server with your favorite plain IMAP client, and do user lookups with the little LDAP search gadgets in Outlook Express or Netscape 4.x or such.

    Or were you thinking more in terms of an Emacs interface? [smirk]
  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @05:07AM (#219894)
    Time to dump AOL/TW stock. I mean, shoot, AOL e-mail is even worse than POP3. At least with POP, you can easily save, archive and organize all your messages permanently and move them from machine to machine. AOL mail? Old messages disappear after an arbitrary number of days and you have to manually put messages you want to keep in your system's local "personal filing cabinet" which isn't exactly rich in organizational and search features.

    AOL doesn't quite support standard HTML e-mail; instead, it's got its own hobbled rich-text format made from a subset of HTML, so it has a rough time with email from other modern mail clients like, say, 1996-vintage Netscape or 1997-vintage Outlook Express and Outlook.

    Send more than one attachment to the outside world, and it gets zipped if you send it from a PC and Stuffed if you send it from a Mac, and godspeed the PC user who gets a binhexed Stuffit file from someone who has no idea this happens automatically.

    The whining about use of SecurIDs is a bit of bellyaching, though. More companies should do things like that if they open mail access to machines outside their private network.

    Then again, I'm not sure if any of the "AOL Anywhere" clients for access via WAP phones, Palm VIIs, Blackberries and whatnot support SecurID authentication. It sure would suck if all those tens of thousands of employees had no way to retrieve mail from a device smaller than a laptop.

    Anyone know if AOL gives employees the ability to do mail forwarding or set vacation messages? AOL customers sure can't.
  • Some people REALLY love AOL, but it still isn't a corporate system.

    I subscribed to AOL for three years, and I can testify that the people who "love AOL" like that are the ones who can tolerate the piss-poor interface and implementation because they don't know any better.

    What they love is the community, the other people they've grown close to. Some of these people are even technically literate, but they place more value on their friendships rather than having a more efficient email system or being able to browse the web like a net_god...

    Now, that's not a defense. I can't stand most of these people. They're generally ostrich-minded, single-issue people who you can't talk to without them working in that one pet topic that rules their lives, be it guns or Tolkein... And what's most scary that there are so many of them!

    The AOL software is adequate for these people. But you put it in the hands of 86,000 serious, workaholic businesspeople - journalists, many of them - and they're going to scream bloody murder. I predict that within two years, the impact on their business will be such a burden that they will either 1) abandon it, or 2) rewrite it.

    And based on my experience with AOL, if they choose 2), it will not be a solution, because management will move on to another "solution" before they get this one right.

  • While I don't disagree with your conclusions, I must object to your characterization of SecurID.

    It's NOT that cumbersome. It's a smart card that fits in your wallet, like any credit card. When you need the passcode, you whip out the SecurID, type in the number it displays, and you're on your way.

  • This sounds just like HP: from what I've read, they exclusively use Windows/Outlook for all their corporate stuff, including their website! They also use Exchange for their mail. This is instead of using their own HP-UX systems for their website and other infrastructure, and their OpenMail product (which is fully Exchange-compatible, including the calendaring). So apparently HP doesn't even think much of HP-UX; so why do I and so many other people in my company have to use HP-UX workstations?
    It clearly is a case of bean counters not wanting to pay salaries for people who are competent to use HP-UX, but rather would want to pay MCSEs to mickey-mouse around with their servers...

    --

  • by lar3ry ( 10905 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:25AM (#219899)
    Another news flash: Workers at Microsoft have to use Windows!

    Must be a slow news day.

    [sigh]
    --
  • No. [netcraft.com] Although HP uses Windows internally for email, all of its large, external facing websites run on HPUX. You think everyone at IBM logs in to AIX boxes?

  • There no such thing as a "generic" calendar solution, period.

    Sure there's RFCs 2445-7 (iCalendar), but who the hell has product support? The fact is, if you are developing a scheduling application, you pretty much only have a choice between Outlook (Windows and sorta Mac) and Lotus Notes (Windows and Mac and sorta Unix). That's an ugly reality, and sitting on your butt waiting for a open platform is a stupid business decision, because you'd have been waiting for about 15 years now.

    It's also pretty much impossible to create "generic" workflow mail routing applications either (no RFCs that I know of!), etc, etc for other groupware type stuff.
    --
  • Time and again the Linux crowd forget that normal people DO NOT USE LINUX BECAUSE IT HAS A COMMAND LINE. The sooner you get rid of xterm and kterm and the like, then we can consider Linux an OS for 'the rest of us'. Until then like the stick-shift automobile, it will remain strictly a specialist interest.

    Oh, for chrissake.

    In the few dozen posts that were up at the time, I didn't see a single suggestion that TW employees should be using pine, or elm, or kmail, or whatever. Mostly, when they've suggested anything, they're suggesting that they should use Outlook & Exchange. And the majority of those criticizing the move aren't suggesting a specific alternative: they're just saying that AOL sucks.

    And at some level, it's hard to argue with that. In the spectrum of features vs. usability, AOL mail is slanted pretty far towards the latter. That's great for people who don't know anything about applications, but at the corporate level, one hopes (perhaps against hope) that folks can at least, you know, use Office.

    Don't get me wrong, I am pro-linux, just not for non-tech savvy people who do not understand what they are getting themselves into. Let them stick with their stupid windoze and Mircro$oft.

    You don't have to be a Linux zealot to think that using AOL for corporate e-mail is a dumb-ass move.

  • ...Time-Warner reports a productivity drop of 25%
    This is so spectacularly dumb that the words to describe how spectacularly dumb it is don't exist.
    I mean...they're giving up flexible filtering, the platform-independance of POP3/IMAP, properly-formed headers on messages, and speed...
    ...for a .wav file, a stupidified excuse for a crappy mail client, the nastiness of another protocol layer, and all the horrible, horrible things that the AOL client software does to a Windows PC.
  • You spam 16,000,000,000 and what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt!

    --
  • by wesmills ( 18791 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:59AM (#219922) Homepage
    Hmm. Let me see, I have:

    • Windows 2000 machine (for accessing corporate resources, gotta have Smart Scheduler and Clarify)
    • RedHat Linux 7.1 box (complete with Sendmail, XFree86 4.0.3, KDE 2 and WINE)
    • Windows NT 4.0 system (rogue domain PDC, Ex5.5)
    • Windows 2000 server (E2k test box, gotta test what I support)
    • And, in another cube, FreeBSD 4.2-RELEASE

    No mandate on Windows here, you just have to be able to work with your co-workers (at least on a technical level).

    ---

  • In my opinion AOL is not a robust enough e-mail client due to it's instability, but it does have key advantages. AOL mail allows you to unsend. AOL mail tells you when a user has sent their mail, and when it has been read. You can't do that with pop/imap.

    True, but that's a function of the pop/imap protcols, not the client. Pretty much every workgroup/business-oriented email system I've ever seen (Exchange, Groupwise, Banyan Mail) has supported the features you list for ages.

    It would be nice to have a common, open mail protocol that supported these features, but honestly, I'm not sure I'd like it for large-scale internet mail. All that extra messaging going back and forth generates additional network traffic, uses more resources on the server, and generally creates the oppurtunity for a lot of stupid exploits, security holes, and general flakiness.

  • Most large companies (actually, all that I can think of) require that their employees use the "approved" groupware, including calendar, email, etc. The fact that AOL has developed their own system is sort of irrelevant here. In the end, if their system is poor, perhaps making everyone use it will incent then to improve it.
  • Not at all. First of all, they could use Macintoshes. Second, they could use the web based interface to Outlook which looks damn near identical to the "real" Outlook. At the place I used to work, Outlook was a "must" but people used it over the web from Linux and SGI boxes, plus from Mac's..
  • Which is all well and good, except that the web interface to Outlook is riddled with security holes


    Got any facts to back that up?

  • ...because I don't use X. I might export my display to another machine once a month or so but other than that, I don't use X. Ever. The command line is what I prefer. Oh, and did I mention that I'm also a Mac guru. Yes even I like the command line.

    --

  • if the employees of Red Hat, Caldera, and Turbo Linux have to run Linux at work?
  • Actually, AOL has IMAP support for employees mail, as well as SMTP service for it. There's also a way to access AOL mail via Netscape 6's mailer with a different authentication path to make it easy for people.

    It's not particularly hard to read your AOL mail with pine if you like. I used to do it all the time while I was there, especially since I ran the SMTP servers in question and liked to know that they were working well.

    scott
  • Actually, aol.net addresses are just aliases to either an employee's own workstation or to another host to read/spool their mail, or in many cases *gasp* to someone's aol.com address.

    In any case, AOL has IMAP and SMTP gateways available for employee use. (I should know... I used to run the SMTP ones...) so really, they could use any IMAP software out there.
  • AOL execs tend to do a lot of their own, as that's the way the culture has always been. No one there's really special enough to not have to deal with the bulk of their own email, except for the high-high-up people like Steve Case and Bob Pittman.
  • Actually, there's a pretty simple way for employees to address mail that prevents it from dropping into the mailbox of someone who isn't an employee... I won't go into the details of how it works, but it's simple enough that a lot of AOL employees did it by default
  • Actually, AOL employees have access to calendaring and scheduling software on the intranet that interfaces with the mail system.

    Sure, it's not in one big bloated MS client, but it works, and it works pretty well.

    scott
  • by scrain ( 43626 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @10:43AM (#219938)
    The mail never touches the external net. It all would transit inside AOL's system, except in the case where an employee would be accessing AOL via TCP over someone else's system... like their home dialup.

  • Absolutely. And since Fisher-Price produces toy telephones, all of its employees should have to use them for business.

    I find the Fisher-Price toy phones are best for me at work. I never get bothered by anyone, and thus I get lots of work done. Of course, I am NOT using AOL mail.
    --

  • ...Time-Warner reports a productivity drop of 25% This is so spectacularly dumb that the words to describe how spectacularly dumb it is don't exist. I mean...they're giving up flexible filtering, the platform-independance of POP3/IMAP, properly-formed headers on messages, and speed... ...for a .wav file, a stupidified excuse for a crappy mail client, the nastiness of another protocol layer, and all the horrible, horrible things that the AOL client software does to a Windows PC.

    What would Time-Warner employees need to do except TRY to swap pictures and other copyright-protected files (and for the average user, that is via AOL mail)? That way they can internally test their copyright protection schemes, and see if the battalion of laywers needs to be notified for rapid deployment to enforce the DMCA.
    --

  • I can see benefits - if those who develop the policies and software for AOL are forced to use it, they'll likely understand customer issues a lot more quickly. Ease of use, spam, filtering for content might get a lot more attention internally.

    Here's a piece [editthispage.com] about using your software in house - Juno had such a good email client that everyone was using Outlook.
  • Oh, for $DEITY's sake!

    I think the article made that clear. Sun doesn't use MS office, but it hinders their productivity and makes it more difficult for their customers. MS wants people to use a PC even though the designer could've done the work more quickly and efficiently on a Mac.

    The only thing the article suggested was a problem for Sun employees with StarOffice was exchanging files with shops which used other proprietary 'office productivity' programs, specifically MS Office. The lesson is, don't use proprietary file formats.

    No 'office productivity' suite enhances office productivity, rather the opposite. Nothing in the article (or in anything else I've seen) suggests that a StarOffice shop is more (or less) productive than an MS Office shop. Interchange of proprietary data formats has always been a problem. The solution is not to use them.

    Put it another way: if it isn't raw ASCII or valid SGML or XML, sending it out of your shop to another shop is just asking for trouble, and it's your fault.

  • Being a Lotus Domino bigot, I'd recommend that over AOL any day.

    But it is, as has been pointed out, not just the email client that's the problem.

    The lack of any kind of calendaring and scheduling system is provbably what will hit them hardest operationally. If they weren't using it already, it won't be so bad - but decent calendaring and scheduling can save a company lots of time - and therefore lots of money. Imagine having to email each person individually to find out when they're free, and then collate the results and send out invitations... :-(

    I'd hope that the AOL servers are reliable - they run a large chunk of their business, after all. But can they handle the scalability issues that may come up? Joe Bloggs with his consumer AOL account can afford to pull his email down from the server onto his PC - so indexing the mailbox is a simple affair. But for the Time Warner employees, it's not so neat a proposition... Firstly, I'd want my mail stored on a central server for backup purposes. Secondly, there's that "access from out of the office" that's touted in the article - that's nice, but it's only going to work for new mail unless they keep mail on the servers.
    And have you ever seen how much email businesses can generate? More than AOL are comfortable with a normal user having in their inbox, certainly. After a year or two, some of their people may have a few thousand business emails - all of which they need to keep for legal reasons etc...

    Finally, I suppose I'd like to wheel out the managability issue. I have no idea what AOL's back end is like, but I'm willing to bet it's probably not set up for global business usage. It's set up so that Joe Bloggs can get his email reliably. How do they plan to manage this system without either causing problems for their customers or for their employees? How do they plan to have a company address list? AOL have lots and lots of accounts. Will the next John Smith hired by Time Warner have to be jsmith264@aol.com?

    This just seems wierd. The report is very vague on the back end, but I hope they're implementing a seperate one to their normal systems. Otherwise they're going to be the laughing stock of business...
  • From the article:

    AOL Time Warner is in the process of switching all employees to America Online as their primary corporate e-mail program, and not everyone is happy about the change.

    .
    .
    .
    In the case of AOL Time Warner, even employees who acknowledge that their previous e-mail system "isn't very good" are not convinced that America Online is the best choice for a corporate e-mail program. "AOL got popular because it's really simple and easy to use," said a writer at a Time Inc. magazine. "But when you're in a workplace, it's just not very full featured."
    .
    .
    .
    AOL is not the only technology company that expects a certain esprit de corps from its employees. A spokeswoman for Sun Microsystems, Elizabeth McNichols, confirmed that the company did not use any products made by its competitor, Microsoft, including Microsoft's popular Office suite. Instead, workers at Sun use the company's StarOffice system, which Ms. McNichols said was capable of translating documents created with the more common Microsoft programs.

    In other words, AOL/TW is not being a bunch of `email nazis' or anything of that sort. They simply changed their internal mail system. Heck, it doesn't even say they banned other systems.
    ------

  • by Saige ( 53303 ) <evil.angela@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @05:16AM (#219955) Journal
    How's this for irony? Microsoft doesn't require people to use Windows, but the company I work for (which I will not name) is standardizing on the Intel/MS windows, to the point they don't support anything but the "official" software - MS Windows, MS office, Outlook (and web Outlook for us using Sun machines for development). The most amusing part? This is the same company that produces the chips for the Mac! (Along with lots of cell phones)

    That's right... while we saw a nice message from the CEO about how all employees should be using our phones, not a competitor's, we refuse to use computers that use our chips. And people wonder why our stock and market shares seem to keep decreasing... (though what I'm working on is actually a good product, and everyone involved gets one of those phones for free, though I wish they'd give us those newly-released Java-enabled handsets...)
    ---
  • When every Time-Warner employee starts getting an AOL-sized portion of breakfast spam every morning, maybe they will be better motivated to improve AOL's anti-spam filters.

    I can see it now... "MAKE MONEY FAST, ChrmnSteve78!"

    -Mark
  • I work there, doing data in the magazine area -- they're switching us, slowly, but they haven't taken away our ability get pop3 -- i keep the netscape mail client pointed at my personal isp's mail server open all day. to go to yesterday's question of whether son-aol meant that all ps2 owners are now lusers, the answer is no, but all time warner employees now are ;)

  • Does this mean that all corporate mail from AOL/TW will be in ALL CAPS FROM NOW ON?

    there goes my karma...
  • by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @05:47AM (#219963) Journal
    Also my email address will be @aol.com so forget about geting my real name as a username. I'll end up as like JoeSmi543879879@aol.com. Hows that for professionalism? Much better than Joe.Smith@turner.com! (not my real email btw!)

    But you DO get five screen names! You can be JoeSmi543879879@aol.com for internal email, thatguyjoeatturner@aol.com for external customers, momslittleangeljoe@aol.com to your mom, homerworks@aol.com for that Simpson's listserv, and teengurl69@aol.com for those chat rooms. It's the perfect corporate system! :)

    For those that lack a sarcasm detector, this is humor.

  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:29AM (#219965) Homepage Journal
    Given that may in Atlanta will be converted, will they change the message to:
    All y'all gots mail!


    I know it's a minor thing the the grand scheme of the universe, but that little error in grammar annoys me as much as anything else in the AOL commercials. It should either be "You have mail" or "You've mail", not "You've got mail."

    As a general rule, any sentence that uses "got" is probably grammatically in error.
  • by graxrmelg ( 71438 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:01AM (#219966)

    If a company/mega-corp produces a piece of software then it makes good sense to test it as much as possible in-house.

    Absolutely. And since Fisher-Price produces toy telephones, all of its employees should have to use them for business.

  • Could you work on making my i1000's battery last for more than 1 day *grumble*
  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:32AM (#219972)
    Its at work. However, have you every used AOL (let alone AOL email?) Its a disaster that predates the stone age. Hotmail has more features. In an office (marketing) environment like Time Warner, you need a fairly sofisticated Email system. Not one designed for residential use.
  • What if your employee was very good and liked working at Jaguar, but wanted a sporty little two-seater, like the SLK-320? That's not even competing with your comapny, as Jaguar only makes sedans. Would you force all your employees to drive large, expensive Jaguars regardless of their desires?

    Or what about random taste? I personally don't like how Jaguars look, but some people do. Would that make me a bad employee?

    -----------------------

  • AOL to Time Warner:

    "All your email are belong to us!"

    oof.

    E.


    -
  • I could understand this if it was Micro$oft making employees use exchange, or IBM making employees use Lotus notes, but why the hell would anyone want to use AOL mail for business? Is it not designed more for home use than for interoffice mail? Somehow I doubt it compares with better stuff that has productivity in mind (Of course, it might actually be great, I do not know because I do not want to install it.).

    Hopefully this will hamper employees at least enough to cut profits.
  • Okay lets stop drawing parallels with Linux and arguing that point and lets actually stick to the topic of TimeWarner using AOL email.

    Its stupid, period. And your argument falls on its face because AOL is a consumer product. Its not a corporate product. Corporations by default need something relatively easy to use but they also need lots of features. Thats why lots of larger companies use Outlook and not outlook express. Outlook express is for HOME use, as is AOL.

    And to go back to your linux parallel, if it was all about ease of use, companies would have switched to Macintoshes a long time ago. However thanks to "compatibility" and "features" Windows helped dominate because there were more choices to configure systems to do some of the really odd things corporations needed to get done.

    If AOL-timewarner really wanted to increase their consumer base (because someone with some importants HAS to know that their email program sucks compared to corporate powertools like Outlook) they would take the carrot approach as mentioned in the article, by giving incentives to employees to use it for their personal email service.

    This is why I like working for companies that don't sell directly to consumers :)
  • Actually, I do config management, and I've heard the same thing...
    #define __RANT I do know that VSS is probably the _worst_ SCC system currently available today - anyone using it for a project of any significant size and complexity should have their head checked.

    -jerdenn
  • Your mailing address is automatically added to half the world's E-mail filters. I don't know anyone who has an AOL account and I get a shitload of spam from there so I just added it to my procmail filters. I'm sure a lot of other people have, too.

    On the plus side, you could have real fun trying to find a unique address. Some suggestions:

    • employee147528876@aol.com
    • wespent50billionandalligotwasthislousyaddress@ao l. com
    • mrnipples@aol.com
    • assrapedmonkey@aol.com
    • l4m3r@aol.com
    • l0s3r@aol.com
    • 6@aol.com
  • by donutello ( 88309 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @06:04AM (#219981) Homepage

    I guess after stock values have stopped climbing so consistently that it takes some extra carrots to get bright programmers willing to surgically operate on spaghetti:)

    Or maybe they weren't fundamentalist idiots about operating systems - like the average slashdotter is - in the first place? Just a thought.

  • despite the fact that we are *migrating* to aol mail, it isn't complete. despite my employer (aoltw... megacompany...) and the fact that i'm not looking forward to getting aol mail, i think i will prefer it to the idiocy of the ccmail system currently in use. enterprise it may be, but what a pain.

    rollouts of the aol mail system have started in NYC HQs and aren't going so well. the rest of us subject companies were slated for june rollouts, and that is steadily getting pushed back.

    time for some coffee...
  • I work in the cable industry and so work with a number of people @ Time Warner NYC. Most of the guys there are using netcom as an ISP on their own dime currently. The group just recently completed a switch to GroupWise and now have to abandon it for AOL.

    As you can imagine they are not happy but they are used to it. Apparently AOL/Time Warner doesn't consider email an important tool. It has gone through so many changes that no one really relies on it. The business cards I have even have their private netcom addresses on them.

    /Duncan

    Duncan Watson
  • Actually, from what I've heard, there is no such directive at Microsoft. Employees can use whatever they like, as long as they don't sacrifice the ability to work with their teammates.

    Whoa!

    That's pretty damn progressive thinking!

    What's with it with that behemoth megacorp?

    Are they finding it necessary to create a nice working environment or something?

    I guess after stock values have stopped climbing so consistently that it takes some extra carrots to get bright programmers willing to surgically operate on spaghetti:)

  • What company in their right mind would use and publicly accessable network for their internal correspondance. If I was a shareholder I'd be against this.
  • I wonder if they have to use AOL for ALL of their email or just their unsolicited get rich/skinny/sex quick scheme email.

    I hate to see where this is going, Road Runner (owned by time warner) is already slower than hell in answering their email.
    ____________________
    Remember, not all /. users hate Windows or think Microsoft is out to get them!
  • This means that people actually in the position to have their opinion heard will be able to give input to the development of AOL products. In the long run this means that the products will work better and satisfy the needs of more users.

    This is akin to what most other companies already do - have the employees be the most critic users.

    Smart move.

  • Last time I checked, fuel costs were close to double in Europe what they are in the states... although that may not be the case with our current crunch.

    It is a GOOD analogy. Manual transmissions are more fuel efficient, and therefore, if you care about fuel costs, you get them. Higher fuel-costs => bias towards manual transmissions.

    A Linux corporate desktop (I'm sorry, but bleah... MS owns this one, Mac is a bit behind, and the Linux solutions aren't close... know what market you're good in, and corporate desktops ain't it) is less expensive than a MS one (cheaper hardware needs, and price out: W2K, O2K-Pro, Visio, Exchange CAL, NT CAL, random shareware utilities to be able to open, say, a zip file, etc., other software... $1000-$2000/workstation). So in an environment where these costs matter more (either lower margin business, or country with a bad exchange rate with the dollar) than the productivity difference, you go with that solution.

    Alex

  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @05:57AM (#220005)
    Notice the FIRST line: Windows 2000 machine (for accessing corporate resources, gotta have Smart Scheduler and Clarify)


    That is mandating Windows. You have a corporate workstation for corporate resources. If you need additional machines, fine. However, I'm certain there is a bias for the 12 MS employees that aren't coding to do MS only.


    However, in the AOL Time Warner case, while AOL does have a massive e-mail system, it isn't a corporate groupware system. I'm actually shocked that AOL employees use AOL internally. I had assumed that while the company grew, a corporate system was put in place.


    In all honesty, I think that AOL has an impressive product. The people that I know that use AOL LOVE AOL, in a way that nobody LOVES their ISP, and the way that some of us LOVED the BBSes we used to call. And it isn't a AOL=Internet thing, they run AOL at the office. They use a real web browser, but they like to check their AOL e-mail, IMs (don't like AIM for whatever reason), maybe pop into a chat room, who the hell knows.


    Some people REALLY love AOL, but it still isn't a corporate system.


    Alex

  • by Dr_Cheeks ( 110261 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:35AM (#220008) Homepage Journal
    ...that TW eployees are now going to be subjected to the same "Horny naked teens" unsolicited mails that all the other AOL users get every day?
  • Bad as some some of Microsoft's stuff is, at least it works (usually). AOL provides crappy software that doesn't even pretend to do what I need it to.
  • If you don't want to use AOL to check AOL mail, you can always use Netscape 6 or Claris Emailer (if you can find it).

    Paul
  • My father works for a small division of Time Warner called "Time Distribution Services", which basically distributes all the magazines that Time Warner publishes.

    Anyways, back in December all employees were given a special version of AOL that would give them and their family free access for as long as they're an employee. They were told to immediatly install and get comfortable with the software because they'd be using that exclusivley in the near future.

    Well, last week when I went home to visit my parents I asked my dad how things were going since the merger. He said mostly things are good, he hasn't noticed alot of things change, but they are starting to make the switch from Lotus cc:Mail to the AOL platform. He said they're supposed to abandon cc:Mail totally by July/August and rely totally on AOL's system, IIRC.

    There you have it... an inside scoop from an AOL-Time Warner son.

  • I remember several years ago finding wav files recorded by the same guy who did the "You've got mail!" wav for AOHell. Best one of the bunch was, "You want fries with that?!"

    Rich
  • not "You've got mail."

    I'll parse "You've Got Mail®" using traditional ISO English grammar: "You": pronoun, subject; "'ve got": verb, present perfect of "get"; "mail": noun, object; "®": YOU'VE GOT MAIL is a registered trademark of AOL Inc. Literally, it means "You have received mail"; it's not redundant because the "got" specifically refers to the act of receiving a message.

  • "You have got mail." It should be either "You have mail" (if referring to the potential status of mail's existence) or "You have gotten mail"

    Except "have got" for "have received" is valid English [patchword.com]. Some dialects don't even have a word "gotten."

    And even if you are, it sounds goofy as all hell.

    Especially when Big Bird sings it at the beginning of the song "Everyone Makes Mistakes [nbci.com]": "I've a special secret children ought to know..."

  • by cliffiecee ( 136220 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:45AM (#220021) Homepage Journal

    The Ideal outcome- Yes, AOL mail has some shortcomings; however, I imagine that a few months of in-house usage could really help them find and eliminate a lot of problems with the program.

    The Likely outcome- AOL will fall far short of employee's requirements, productivity will plummet, and AOL/TW will spend millions trying to make it work, followed by more millions going back to the old system.

    Are they expecting employees to use the "home" version of AOL or is there a new corporate version?

  • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @05:23AM (#220022)
    As others (including actual Microsoft employees) have pointed out on this thread, its true that employees are expected to use Windows, because like many another company around the world they use Outlook and Exchange scheduling services. What isn't enforced, however, is a requirement to keep Linux/Solaris/BSD/whatever off the second box on their desk.
  • This program is for idoits.
    We'll test it on our employees.
    (read: We think our employees are idiots.)
  • How credible would technical advice be comming from bigstud@aol.com? Even the email address of techsupXX@aol.com does not provide an air of confidence.

    As a rule, the company's own employees should use their products. But, what happens when the product undermines the confidence of a of the customers. Think of passing out at the circus and the doctor at Ringling Brothers is wearing a clown outfit.

  • Executive (to Time Warner Manager): Okay, here's the 500 AOL CDs that you'll need for your department.

    Manager: Fine, but where's the coffee cups?

  • Notes is at least designed for work-related stuff, and it's got less of a virus problem than Lookout. However, AOL is too childishly simple to do anything that doesn't involve granny sending pictures of her cat w/ her brand new 320x240 digital camera.

    Tell me what makes you so afraid
    Of all those people you say you hate

  • So if I understand you correctly, over here in Europe we're all specialists? I mean over here the majority of people have a stick-shift car! According to your analogy, Europe will be a Linux refuge in few years time :-)
  • RoadRunner employees have to use aol mail, it reflects poorly on the isp when employees uses a different isp for email. Second departments like nullsoft make *nix software also and use the FreeBSD sever for mail. 3rdly netscape, it reflects poorly on thier product to use an different e-mail client than their own.

    -Compenguin
  • Well, this is one way to avoid all of those nasty Outlook Email viruses, I guess.

    Someone must have decided that this was a good trade off.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • by hygelic ( 181078 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:26AM (#220050)
    got a ton of AOL cds if they need them.
  • Also my email address will be @aol.com so forget about geting my real name as a username. I'll end up as like JoeSmi543879879@aol.com. Hows that for professionalism?

    What about prefixing your corporate initials on the address? It's more likely that TBJohnSmith@aol.com (or some variant) is untaken. Ideally, if you could get your entire department (or even more people) to use a consistent prefix ('TB', 'TBS', 'Turner', 'Trnr', and 'AOLTW' all come to mind, either with a '_', a '.', or just capitalization separating it from the rest of the address), it'd present a nice, consistent image.

    Of course it certainly could be worse. The article mentions that at Sun, they force their poor employees to use StarOffice.

  • While they mentioned one of the security measures being used with the new system (something like a PIN-calculator), they didn't mention the security risks of putting corporate email out on the public Internet.

    Let's also not forget the security risk of having your corporate email share the same domain with every Tom, Dick, and Harry who got a "700 free hours" CD in the mail. When you consider the namespace saturation of AOL's account pool, the odds of accidentally misdirecting an email go up rather sharply. When that misdirected email might wind up with someone who isn't even at the company, you're just asking for trouble.

    Furthermore, since AOL has open registration, if someone discovers the AOL accounts of various "higher ups" (not too hard -- I'm sure most employess would have access to this information), they could easily register nearly identical accounts. This would be easily easy given the frequent numeric tags seen at the end of account names -- transpose two numbers and wait for someone to get it wrong.

  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:54AM (#220061) Homepage

    TWAOL employees will now have so much spam to sort through that they won't be able to get any work done. I bet their stock drops.

  • I agree, but for several more reasons than the one you state. Workstation variation in the workplace is a recipe for distressed admins. The only way this is not going to be a headache for them is if they never have to get involved in building workstation hardware/software for employees and if employees are responsible for making sure they can connect with server software in a meaningful way-- which seems like an incredible waste of employee time when paying a single admin to do all this is probably more efficient.

    Second, I can't imagine anyone outside of R/D at Microsoft or AOL wanting to plunk down hard-earned company profits to buy software from some other company. They get their own software at no charge. In the case of AOL mail, I'm surprised they don't let people use Netscape mail, but from what I understand AOL mail has a unique server component to it, whereas Netscape Mail relies on mailboxes. AOL probably already owns servers running AOL Mail, whereas they'd have to set up extra/different servers to allow some other mailboxing scheme. This is inefficient.

    Finally, allowing employees to buy workstations and software with no central standard practically guarantees that a lot of hardware and software will be wasted if the employee leaves. I mean, what good is your G4 with Yellow Dog Linux, when I'd much rather have Windows 2000 on a Pentium machine? I guess we'll have to throw it away. How economical!
  • I wonder how would AOL mail client handle
    linux-kernel@vger.kernel.org originating posts
    Speaking of the first time your sound card
    overloaded and caught on fire! =)
  • I imagine this is, at its core, a tactic to find some practical use for the several thousand CD's the post office couldn't deliver due to bad addresses.
  • Microsoft *should* force them to use Windows. Then maybe they would be motivated to make it work better.

    Seriously, I worked at an ISP. We made all the employees use the service because we wanted them all to know exactly what our customers were seeing. If they hated it, then our customers probably did also, so they were motivated to fix it.

  • It's not uncommon practice for an employer to dictate the software it wants its employees to use. Management likes things to be 'uniform', which looks tidy on paper, but invariably doesn't please everyone.

    I have to use Outlook for email at work (don't even get me started); this, despite several virus problems work has had over the past year. And yes, they check to see what you are using.

    BTW, those spare AOL CDs make cool mini flowerpots when you melt them in the microwave.

    ~sabine
  • by tenzig_112 ( 213387 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:03AM (#220078) Homepage
    Here are some of the new policy "guidelines" for the Warner-Bros./Time/Warner/AOL crime family- er, corporation:
    • All employees must sign up for the American West series of books from the Time/Life library (only $19.99 per month- cancel any time)
    • Employees are "strongly encouraged" not to troll the MSN message boards posing as teenage girls- but use AOL in future.
    • All employees are required to watch the WB prime time line-up. A Dawson's Creek quiz will be distributed during break the following business day.
    • All news about the corporation will come to employees via CNN. Anything you see on Dateline is a lie.

    This is almost as ridiculous as what some people plan to do about California's Impending Energy Craptasm [ridiculopathy.com].

  • Just goes to show that the correct response is to use the best tool for the job, not the in-house brand.

    I think the article made that clear. Sun doesn't use MS office, but it hinders their productivity and makes it more difficult for their customers. MS wants people to use a PC even though the designer could've done the work more quickly and efficiently on a Mac.

    It seems to me the best shop would be one that had different computers for different jobs. End users will probably get Windows, because that's what they're used to and that's what will make them most productive. Servers might be Unix or Windows, based upon need. Designers might get Macs. Admins or competent users might choose Solaris 86 or Linux (Or Windows with VMWare running Linux, as I do) based upon corporate need and individual desire.

    Use it because it makes sense, not because of some misplaced loyalty.

    Sean.

  • This sounds just like HP: from what I've read, they exclusively use Windows/Outlook for all their corporate stuff, including their website! They also use Exchange for their mail. This is instead of using their own HP-UX systems for their website and other infrastructure, and their OpenMail product (which is fully Exchange-compatible, including the calendaring). So apparently HP doesn't even think much of HP-UX; so why do I and so many other people in my company have to use HP-UX workstations?
    I'll bet Sun at least uses their own stuff internally. If I ever get to make or influence a decision to buy HP or Sun Unix hardware, I'm definitely picking the company that at least believes in what they make.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:32AM (#220085) Homepage Journal
    Hormel workers will only be allowed to receive Spam!

    --
    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • I'm glad to hear it. It'm not a big fan of MS Exchange, and it's good to know that Groupwise is beind dusted off and revamped. My first experience with GroupWise was probably 5 or 6 years ago, and then it disappeared from my radar until a friend of mine took a job as a place the uses it. He's not real impressed, as I wasn't back when I was using it. I'm glad to see that it may come into the spotlight again. It's important that there be a corporate groupware alternative to Microsoft's solution (independant of all the snazzy OpenSource solutions I've seen).

    --
  • Is AOL mail really a corporate calibre product? It doesn't seem so. It is targeted tward the technical novice, providing few features and poor integration with scheduling and other groupware features. A Time magazine employee summed it up best, in the NY Times Article itself:
    even employees who acknowledge that their previous e-mail system "isn't very good" are not convinced that America Online is the best choice for a corporate e-mail program. "AOL got popular because it's really simple and easy to use," said a writer at a Time Inc. magazine. "But when you're in a workplace, it's just not very full featured."
    Another concern is security. Well it seems that they have that one covered, although SecurID [securid.com] is a cumbersome system. It's neat for the geek in all of us, to have a card with a rotating numerical pin for security, but it is no more secure than many of the more recent advances in this field, and it's tremendously inconvenient. Again, from the article:
    Another issue is the added level of security that will be required for employees to retrieve their e-mail. Rather than logging on to the network by typing in a name and password, employees will also need to type in a number that appears on a digital card. Because the number changes every few seconds, the device adds a level of security to the e-mail system, but it also creates headaches for employees.
    Unfortunately, they don't seem to realize how much of a 'headache for employees' it really is. At my ompany, a large telecom equipment manufacturer, we chose do do away with securid (implementing other solutions) because the inconvenience outweighed the benefit.

    As much as it pains me to say this, Microsoft has one of the best Enterprise email systems right now. Granted, it doesn't scale vary well and it's tremendously expensive when compared to SMTP based systems, but it does have comprehensive groupware features. The other possibilities would have been Lotus CC:Mail or Novel Groupwise which are both far past their prime and either in need of being severely overhauled, or End-Of-Lifed by their companies.

    The final class of mail system are those new .com outsourced enterprise mail solutions such as was offered by Mail.com [mail.com] and others, although I believe that company has just gone through some restructuring, where the enterprise email services were re-branded and spun off from the free personal email service (If someone can enlighten me here I'd appreciate it).

    In any case, AOL has chosen the worst of a set of halfway decent possibilities - Oh, an I almost forgot IPlanet.com [iplanet.com] which offers what used to be the Netscape mail and calendar products -. There is something to be said for promoting your own products (at my company we use the telephones we produce, and the switching systems we produce) but in cses where use of your own company's product will impact your productivity, or otherwise negitively impact the work of your employees, it would be a severely misguided decision.

    --CTH

    --
  • by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @09:04AM (#220113)
    When every Time-Warner employee starts getting an AOL-sized portion of breakfast spam every morning, maybe they will be better motivated to improve AOL's anti-spam filters.

    Well, that's actually what I was thinking too. AOL mail sucks. Speaking as someone who has used Outlook/Exchange, Notes/Domino, Groupwise, and AOL mail, I have to say that AOL mail doesn't support 1/10th of the features found in the least capable of the other three. You don't even have to get into the whole "spam" argument before you start to question somebody's sanity in making this decision.

    However, if you think about it logically, they probably aren't going to be using strictly AOL mail. I dunno because I couldn't get to the article, but I imagine that they'll be using an enhanced version that is aimed more towards a business environment. Heck, maybe they're working on a Netscape Communicator/AOL mail hybrid. But realistically they can't use AOL for all the workers at each site, even from just a performance standpoint. They'll want/need local mail servers at each location (anoyone who has tried accessing a mail server over a WAN link will understand why...don't even think about attachments), and AOL Mail probably won't do that very well. AOL mail has none of the groupware features common to all of the business oriented email solutions, and a mail migration of that size would cost millions of dollars. I'm sure that would give AOL/TW all the incentive that it needs to start making improvements in the mail system.
  • by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @09:57AM (#220114)
    Literally, it means "You have received mail"; it's not redundant because the "got" specifically refers to the act of receiving a message.

    Break out the contraction. "You've got mail" translates to "You have got mail." It should be either "You have mail" (if referring to the potential status of mail's existence) or "You have gotten mail" (when describing an action). That condenses to "You've gotten mail" or "You've mail." However, I'm pretty sure that you are not supposed to use the "have" contraction unless there's another verb in after it. I don't think that you are allowed to contract the active verb from "have" into "'ve". And even if you are, it sounds goofy as all hell.
  • Time and again the Linux crowd forget that normal people DO NOT USE LINUX BECAUSE IT HAS A COMMAND LINE. The sooner you get rid of xterm and kterm and the like, then we can consider Linux an OS for 'the rest of us'.

    That's bull^H^H^H^Han oversimplification. Though it is true that a command line interface is not appropriate for the average user, pure existence of a command line is by no means a sign of user-unfriendlyness. There is not even a contradistinction between command oriented user interfaces and graphical ones. The paradigm of graphical user intarfaces rather includes all the less powerful paradigms invented before, e.g. command oriented, forms based, and menu based interaction, and adds further means of expression (direct manipulation, visual affordances, etc.) for the designer as well as for the user.

    This is the major reason why GUIs survived for 20 years -- they do not inhibit experienced users by forcing them into newbie-style interaction, but provide expert-friendly interfaces which are learnable to newbies; at least the better ones do. And there is the only flaw of command line interfaces: they require a huge amount of learning and don't help the user with it.

    Oh, by the way, the Windows 2000 thing that came with my laptop computer has a command line, too. Are there people who do not use it because of that?

  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:45AM (#220125)
    While they mentioned one of the security measures being used with the new system (something like a PIN-calculator), they didn't mention the security risks of putting corporate email out on the public Internet. Unless they're using some sort of private, enterprise version of the AOL server software, running behind a firewall, it sounds very risky to put all that information on the external net with nothing more than (even very good) password protection. I couldn't quite tell if this was the case from the article.
  • by jjjpinkojjj ( 318040 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @04:22AM (#220143) Homepage
    im and aol tyme warder employie, and i thinks this is a ggood move. aol is soo kewl! i here you can get on the internet with it! and the web too! aol is just the most teknologicly advanced company in the hole world! and i don't apreciate the remark above about "eating our own dogfood". i've never seen any dogfood here in the 8 years that ive worked for the company. whoever said that is obvoiusly not an employie and should not be alowed to post on slash-dart. yay! i just got mail! i'm ecspecting a reply back from some company that promised i wood get rich if i just sent them my credit card number. cood be them!! gotta go!
  • by jhill ( 446614 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:33AM (#220167) Homepage
    They're not forced to use the AOL Client, they can do things inside the company that will allow them to get an aol.net account which will allow them to use an SMTP and POP3 server so that they can choose whatever mail package they want. Don't feel sorry for them b/c they have to use it, because they don't.
  • by YeeHaW_Jelte ( 451855 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2001 @03:29AM (#220174) Homepage
    Now force em to watch Timewarner films only, and you've got a nice self sufficient corporation. A close knitted community too! They'll all be able to share views on the pics they say the night before.

    ---
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