America Online via the Internet is indeed much faster if you have a direct connection to the Internet, and some have reported faster connections even over modems with SLIP and PPP. However, bugs remain, so beware that a dropped connection may result in your account being charged for 20 minutes until it times out. To formally apply for the beta test on America Online, use keyword TCP and fill out the online application. Also, I was wrong about using other Telnet tools (despite the fact that the America Online software lets you select other tools), but Lonnie Abelbeck, author of VersaTerm, distributed a CCL script for using the VersaTerm Telnet tool on comp.sys.mac.comm last week. Finally, Jonathan Hue <email@example.com> discovered that America Online doesn't encrypt the userid and password when it sends them over the Internet, so a packet sniffer can detect them in their plaintext form. Needless to say, this is a bit of a security hole, not so much because it exists (many systems send passwords in plaintext over the Internet) but because users are charged for America Online access, and because dealing with disputed charges with America Online customer support folks can be an exercise in frustration. [ACE]
Open Links from Mail in the Background
Tired of switching back and forth between Mail and your Web browser every time you click a link in a TidBITS issue or other email message? Here's an easy workaround. Hold down the Command key when you click links in Mail to open them in your browser without switching away from Mail. That way you can keep reading in Mail and then read all the Web pages you've opened.