You Can Use Netscape With AOL NOW!

You AOLers who think you're stuck with AOL's nasty browser should drop me a line. It is possible and very easy to setup your AOL connection to run Netscape through it. This is all very legal and is, in fact, offered through AOL with their wholehearted approval, though you may not be aware of it. Not only that, but you get ftp and telnet and any other app. you can think of that you'd normally use with an ISP SLIP/PPP connection. [I have one I use that detects when I'm online and periodically goes out to a network time server and automagically sets my system clock to match the clock of the time server.]

You'll have to get the Winsock add on from the AOL area (use keyword winsock, though you can also get it using keyword telnet). Just follow the directions for installing it. There are a few articles in the same area you can peruse for insight, but the directions were pretty straight forward. They also have a telnet and an ftp client you can get at the same time if you like. The only catch with the Winsock addon is that it will replace any winsock.dll file (I only tried the PC version so you MACies are on your own) you have in your C:\WINDOWS directory so you can't have an ISP connection and AOL account configured on the same machine. But if you have one, why would you need the other?

You'll also have to get Netscape and any other apps (like telnet & ftp applications). Here the catch is that if you are running Windows 95, you still have to get the 16bit version of the latest Netscape (the one named something like n16e201.exe normally for use with Windows 3.11) NOT the 32bit version as the Winsock addon only supports the 16 bit app. You don't have to use Netscape, you can use any of the freebie browsers out there if you like one better, just make sure it's not a 32 bit application specifically for Windows 95 or Windows NT as it may not work with the Winsock addon. The same goes for the other applications: don't settle for the ones AOL offers in its telnet area, use a browser to find others & try them all until you find one you like best. The winsock keyword area promised a 32bit version soon. Actually this was around Easter time 1996 so they may very well have it out there by now.

Once setup, you merely login to AOL. Then iconify it to get it out of the way and double click on that Netscape icon and surf away. This is all on the up-and-up and is not a kluge. I found out about it while using my father-in-law's AOL account. I downloaded the files and instructions right from the AOL keyword winsock and setup his machine in no time. He's running Windows 95 on a 120MHz Pentium and the 16bit Netscape worked just fine. I believe that the only difference between the 16bit & the 32bit versions is the 16bit version doesn't support Java applications (it just ignores them - you won't even know they're there). Both versions do support gif animation though; as far as I know it's the only browser out there that does.


I guess AOL's just not screaming about it since they've made a recent deal to replace their piece of ... work browser with GNN's - AOL bought GNN. I haven't tried GNN's browser. Yet.

[BTW If there's some sort of autologoff feature in AOL that kicks you out after some preset period of inactivity and you have control of the time setting, you might consider upping it when using the outside apps. I'm not sure if AOL will recognize your Netscape session as activity so it might log you out after a time if that's all you're doing]

Did you know AOL has an area where you can setup your own Web Page? And not just a page other AOL can see, one that the whole Internet Community can visit! I'm not sure of the details (if it costs extra, if you are limited to a certain amount of disk space, etc.) but I've visited enough of them to think it's easy. I've noticed a similar format for a lot of them which leads me to believe that they have some web page building tool you can use to get you started. I've seen enough that don't fit the mold to know that you're not required to stay with that format. Check it out and email me at when you have one setup so I can visit. Mention you read about it here and I'll hook you into a visitor log, form mailer and access counter I have setup that you can use on your page.

       __     "With a rubber duck, one's never alone."
Sydd >(o )__v   -- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
     (______) Jeffrey R. (Sydd) Souza

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