Thursday, September 19, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 19, 1999 -- Sports Roundup

September 19, 1999: Sunday's promo was a generic sports roundup feature, with a pic of the Miami Dolphins' Dan Marino:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 18, 1999 -- Breaking Free of Floyd with Free Web Chat

September 18, 1999: We finally got out fully from under the thumb of Hurricane Floyd (after focusing on it for the better part of a week) with the usual AIM 3.0 Free Web Chat promo:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 17, 1999 -- Headed Into the Weekend Like a Hurricane

September 17, 1999: With a slightly more crooked scan than usual, we went with another flood picture to ponder how Hurricane Floyd might alter your weekend plans:
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For the PM update, it was back to Love@AOL photo personals, with the requisite closeup imminent kiss stock photo:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Monday, September 16, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 16, 1999 -- Hurricane Floyd Hits North Carolina, Moves North

September 16, 1999: We continued with Hurricane Floyd, with heavier coverage than normal because this one would actually affect... us.... as it passed through Northern Virginia up through the mid-Atlantic:
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Mid-morning update with flood photos:
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For the PM update, back to the satellite view:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Sunday, September 15, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 15, 1999 -- More Hurricane Floyd

September 15, 1999: We continued tracking Hurricane Floyd, which skimmed Florida and headed towards the Carolinas:
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For a mid-morning update, we shifted from the satellite view and used a photo of idiots in the big surf:
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For the PM update, we went back to another satellite photo:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Saturday, September 14, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 14, 1999 -- A Four-Pack of Hurricane Floyd Updates

September 14, 1999: Not surprisingly, we stayed with Hurricane Floyd; it hit the Bahamas hard, but only one person died:
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The next update was pretty much the same, only we changed the promo background color:
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For a 7pm update, we went back to red. I guess the satellite photos are different, but who can tell?
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The last update was... swapping out the text link for local weather forecasts (redundant, of course, to the Weather link immediately to its right in Daily Essentials) with a photo gallery of impacts:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Friday, September 13, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 13, 1999 -- Emmy Award Followup; Hurricane Floyd

September 13, 1999: We started off post-Emmy Monday with Helen Hunt, who took best comedy actress honors for Mad About You; this was just the top block preview:
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Here it is in the full, live page (which also features My News headlines referencing the latest 1999 Moscow apartment bombings, which would eventually spur a war):
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For the PM update, we switched to Hurricane Floyd, which hit the Bahamas and southeast US (sound familiar?):
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We did another update following Floyd:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Thursday, September 12, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 12, 1999 -- 51st Primetime Emmy Awards, Live from "New York Shitty"

September 12, 1999: Sunday was the Emmy Awards. We started with a photo of Calista Flockhart (this was peak Ally McBeal -- I'm kind of surprised they're haven't tried to reboot it yet).

As I've said before, we covered awards shows because it gave the appearance of more realtime coverage than we actually did, since we could prepare photos based on the nominees, then it was a quick swap until the Photo folks could grab something off the wires.

After a few years of this, it had a side effect of making me want to never, ever watch a live awards show again (though I remember this is the one where co-host Jenna Elfman accidentally said "New York Shitty" on the mic and had to pass it off as a jokey, tipsy word-slurring:
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For the first update, we went with Kristen Johnston, who took best supporting comedy actress for her work on Third Rock from the Sun:
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For a later update, we went back to Calista Flockhart (even though she didn't win) for the post-show followup:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 11, 1999 -- Just Another Day, with New Car Closeouts

September 11, 1999: 20 years ago, Sept. 11 was just another day (a Saturday). The lead feature was for year-end car closeouts, featuring the same red Corvette stock photo we used all the time:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 10, 1999 -- Weekend Weather; Emmy Preview; 250 Hours FREE!

September 10, 1999: The first full day of the tweaked design featured a generic weekend fun promo, focusing on the ever-fun weather. The My News headlines reference a flareup in the 1999 East Timor crisis, as well as Israel transferring more of the West Bank to the Palestinians.

In other important news, though, check out Try AOL Now promo in the right column -- previously at 100 hours free, it was bumped up to 250 hours. And it won't be the last time that number goes up:

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For the PM update, we featured a photo of Jenna Elfman (she was kind of the It Girl of the moment thanks to Dharma & Greg) in an Emmy preview (she'd be hosting):
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Monday, September 09, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 9, 1999 -- Farefinder, Sega Dreamcast's Sonic, and Going Horizontal

September 9, 1999: Big (well, medium-sized) changes were afoot, though not until the afternoon. For the AM, we went with a generic airliner stock photo supporting an equally generic travel promo:
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For the PM update... well, the top promo section didn't change much, with the Sonic the Hedgehog photo for a Games article about Sega Dreamcast. [Edit: So I didn't realize until just now that it was the actual Dreamcast launch. In my defense, the promo is so low-key that it was easy to miss.]

However, below the search bar (and note the snazzy little negative space arrow on the left side), we shifted from the five equal-width column layout, to a horizontally oriented one with a wide Web Centers listing, and two remaining columns (that didn't match up with the columns above, ugh) for Shop@AOL and AOL NetFind:
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This had the affect of shortening the page (which was the whole point of the exercise); it also let us expose more of the Web Center subcategories and shortcuts (which previously had their own column). As to the community products, some of them made it into the Daily Essentials lineup (we created some extra space by moving the stock quote search box into the Web Centers column... it's just kind of floating there randomly) though others didn't.

It also means that the bottom of the page is once again visible on a single-page screenshot. Until we started adding crap to it again...

[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Sunday, September 08, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 8, 1999 -- AIM 3.0; Build a Web Page With Kordell Stewart?

September 8, 1999: We started Wednesday with another AIM 3.0 promo. And remember that note from yesterday about how the AOL 4.0 ad jackpot wasn't necessarily so, because it was from the preview server? Well, this one is from the live page.

The My News headlines look at the Waco siege probe; also "Bradley Outlines Campaign" refers to the presidential campaign of former Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ); he'd drop out in March to Al Gore:
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For the PM update, we went with another promo for AOL members to build Fan Pages, though there are two things about this promo (one slightly notable, the other less so):

  1. We don't make any mention of a fan pages contest, unlike the one from just a few short days before
  2. We promote the feature using the name and likeness of Kordell Stewart. Did AOL have a licensing deal with him and the NFL, or did we just use his info? I want to say I hope so, because it's in no way an editorial use of his pic. (I do note, though, that in 2019 web advertising, people seem to play a lot faster and looser with celeb likenesses, especially using TV and movie stills. Remember, just because it's in a meme, doesn't mean you can use it):

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Also, if anyone is reading to the bottom of this (doubtful), shit's about to get real tomorrow.

[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Saturday, September 07, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 7, 1999 -- Get a New Job; Get Out of Debt

September 7, 1999: For the post-Labor Day return, we led with a 5-step job finder, job listings, and a salary calculator, using cash stock art (the AOL 4.0 jackpot is still showing, but this is just a preview server page so it might not have been what live users saw):
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For the PM update (only have this partial preview), we went with a get out of debt personal finance promo, switching from cash to credit:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Friday, September 06, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 6, 1999 -- Labor Day, What's That? Get AIM 3.0!

September 6, 1999: For Labor Day 1999, we didn't even bother acknowledging the holiday, instead just using the standard AIM tout for downloading/upgrading to AIM 3.0:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Thursday, September 05, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 5, 1999 -- Are You Ready for Back to School Parochialism?

September 5, 1999: For this Sunday before Labor Day, we lead with a blonde presumably 20-something actress portraying a teenager in some teen-focused TV show. No idea which one.

The first link is "Back to School," which was probably a bit more parochial in retrospect: at the time, schools in Virginia usually didn't start after Labor Day, due to a law popularly known as the Kings Dominion Law (it was repealed in 2019) -- there's a good chance that the rest of the country was like, "What are you talking about, we've already been back to school for weeks":
1999_09_05

[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 4, 1999 -- Build a Fan Page Contest

September 4, 1999: For Saturday, we went with a tout to AOL members to build free fan pages (using either 1-2-3 Publish or AOL Hometown, I don't know which). The graphic is a lazy, text-as-image block that says "BUILD A FAN PAGE AND ENTER TO WIN." (all caps, of course), leading me to assume some sort of contest was involved:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 3, 1999 -- Get Out Now; Labor Day Weekend Fun

September 3, 1999: Monday was Labor Day, so Friday featured a few low-effort promos, including a "Get Out Now" that didn't refer to Hurricane Dennis evacuations, but to holiday traffic. Also note the continuing AOL 4.0 ad jackpot:
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For the PM update, we went with generic beach ball art and weekend events, forecasts, and chat. The My News headlines refer to investigations over the Waco siege and another Middle East peace plan:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Monday, September 02, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 2, 1999 -- AIM 3.0; Hurricane Dennis; House Hunting; Geek Chic featuring Heather Matarazzo

September 2, 1999: I think we started with an AIM 3.0 promo, though the timestamps are cut off so I can't be exactly sure. The images didn't print out for whatever reason; hence the "AIM Static" handwritten alt-text. [Also, for this last batch of scans (we'll run out later this fall, FYI), I'm learning to live with a lot more misalignment]:
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We did a mid-day swap to refocus on Hurricane Dennis, which would end up glancing off Florida and mostly dumping on North Carolina and Virginia:
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Somewhere in the daytime mix, we also went with Real Estate:
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For the PM update, we'd go with "Geek Chic," featuring a teen star gallery leading with Heather Matarazzo, who was starring in Now and Again, which was a show that I actually watched and liked. It only lasted one full season and ended on a cliffhanger.

Also note the double ad jackpot for AOL 4.0:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]

Sunday, September 01, 2019

#20YearsAgoOnAOLcom: Sept. 1, 1999 -- Fall Fare Sale; Beanie Babies

September 1, 1999: We started midweek with a fall airfare sale (featuring covered bridge stock art); in the My News headlines, we had an Argentinian jet crash that killed 65, as well as the continued movement of Hurricane Dennis (1999):
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For the PM update, we went with the fashionably popular (for the time) Beanie Baby craze:
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[Series note: In the late 1990s, I programmed the content for the AOL.com home page, which relaunched with a new design on July 14, 1998. I printed screencaps and saved them. 20 years later, I'm scanning them in and posting them with a little commentary under the tag #20YearsAgoOnAOLcom.]