I took a break from Rails this weekend to work on an old project.
AOL-Files.com was an AOL hacking website that a guy named BMB and I founded in 1999. I worked on it until about 2001, when I lost interest and started working on other things. Last week I checked it out on archive.org and got the urge to save a copy for myself.
Unfortunately, downloading a site from archive.org is not a trivial task. I tried some site copying software like GetLeft and HTTrack, but due to some peculiarities of archive.org, neither of them would work. I eventually had to write software to crawl and download the archive. Once I got that working (and it too about 15 runs to get it to go without errors), I had to go through one by one and clean up the files so they could be linked together.
And so it gives me great pleasure to report that a mirror of the site is up and can be accessed here.
The archive is not 100% complete for two reasons: 1) Archive.org doesn’t contain everything and 2) I don’t want to post anything that could get me in trouble with AOL. To make things easier, all of the active links are highlighed in yellow.
If you come across this and remember AOL-Files.com, please fire me an email and say hi.
About eight years ago I ran a popular AOL hacking website, which I’ll write about in another post. On one section of the site we had profiles for members of our community. Here are the relevant parts of mine, via archive.org:
What is your real name? Matt
How old are you? 15
What are your hobbies? Obviously all of this, cross country running, lifting, reading, and relaxing
How would you describe your physical appearance? I’m six feet with brown hair and eyes.
What do you hope to do as a profession? Astronaut. I want to get an eight year degree in aerospace engineering then go work for NASA as a mission specialist for space missions. Seriously. I don’t want to sit infront of a computer all day for any profession. Obvious I will use the computer because everything is and will be based on computers. Thats what I want to do, but money is an issue so we’ll see about going to that eight year college.
How long have you been on AOL? Three years about. Two spent programming and one spent working with FDO and learning about internal operations.
How much time do you think you spend online each day? A few hours. Usually not more than three of four. I enjoy it though, I learn and I apply what I learn. It’s productive in my opinion.
What programming languages are you familiar with? I great with Visual Basic and I’m pretty good with FDO and HTML. Anything that can be done on AOL by clicking around can be done on Visual Basic 100 faster. Thats why I love it so much. I’m good with FDO, but there is only so much that can be done with it before it becomes boring.
What do you spend most of your time online doing? Working on this site and talking with online and real-life friends.
Who are your good friends online? I have many but my good friends are BMB, Rob, Faf, and Tom. Others that I talk to every now and then include most of the people that I’ve interviewed.
You see? That’s why we persist in our investigations, why we struggle so desperately for every bit of knowledge, stay up nights seeking the answer to a problem, climb the steepest obstacles to the next fragment of our understanding, to finally reach that joyous moment of the kick in the discovery, which is part of the pleasure of finding things out.
I haven’t seen this in years, so I got a kick out of it reading it tonight. I still keep in contact with one guy from that era, Artem. He sent me this link tonight about a guy named Dolan who is getting 5 years in jail for spamming on AOL. I checked to see whether we had a profile on him, but unfortunately he never submitted one. That lead me to my profile.
- I was a pretty big nerd back then. Thank god I’m cool now. =)
- Apparently not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up. Seriously.
- I’ve grown half an inch in the last eight years… and whats with these random gray hairs?!?
- Until recently, I used Visual Basic for the bulk of my hacking. A programming language is good when it enables you to do the things you want to do. For me, Visual Basic accomplished just that.
- I still spend a few hours a day on the computer and my hobbies are very similar.
That last quote is from Richard Feynman’s The Pleasure of Finding Things Out which I threw in at the bottom because I liked it so much and still do.
So I guess the question is: Where will I be eight years from now?