The Explorer: What Do You Do With Old AOL CDs? - InformationWeek
Software // Enterprise Applications
01:40 PM
Fred Langa
Fred Langa

The Explorer: What Do You Do With Old AOL CDs?

Some serious -- and fun -- suggestions from your fellow readers.

It's that time of year when many columnists climb high on a soap box to opine on the past year and to offer predictions for the new year. But not me. <g>

Instead, I thought it would be refreshing to take a small break from the weighty matters being discussed elsewhere and to focus on a nagging problem we all face: What do you do with old CDs, especially with unwanted CDs from AOL and other ISPs?.

It's a real problem. CDs (especially the "10 million hours free!" found on Internet Service Provider-marketing CDs) are everywhere, like high-tech barnacles attached to every magazine, newspaper, carton... heck, to every flat, marketable surface on the planet. AOL alone probably has distributed enough CDs to pave New Jersey. And while some might say that that's suggestion number one -- getting rid of old CDs by paving the New Jersey Turnpike -- I'd rather lead off with more serious suggestions.

If CDs were made of glass, using them as paving material might actually work: Ground-up glass actually can be used in paving materials as a kind of filler. But CDs make lousy fill because they're made of brittle, fragile plastic; and because the plastics may slowly degrade over time, leaching who-knows-what chemicals into the environment. Similarly, CDs aren't recyclable by normal means because of the thin layer of metal embedded within the disk. Likewise, because of the metal layer, they usually can't be burned as fuel in cogeneration facilities.

So, what we really need is a list of alternative uses for these CDs -- uses that give them some value and help to keep them out of the waste stream.

Hidden Software Goodies
Did you know that most ISP CDs contain the full setup files for Internet Explorer? Having a full local copy of the setup files can be a timesaver, saving you the hassle of going through the live download/setup process, especially if you have to reload the browser several times or on several machines. So, suggestion number one, when you don't want the main item on a CD, is to check out what else might be lurking on the disc: It actually might be worth hanging on to for those hidden items.

Here's what two readers had to say:

When I'm at a computer store, I keep my eyes peeled for installation disks for Internet Service Providers. If you poke around the CD, you'll find a directory with the entire IE setup package. The browser is sometimes branded for the individual ISP, but heck, it works. In fact, if you call a couple of service providers, you'll soon have a mailbox filled with IE setup disks. -- Bruce R. Turnquist

Ever get one of those AOL CD's in the mail or attached to the newspaper? They have IE on them. I do not allow CD autorun so it is easy enough to drill down to the installation file for the single application. Although others may want to tweak out the icons and title bars I don't bother as I often reformat my entire hard drive (because I can). -- James Dougherty

And it's actually not that hard to de-customize an ISP's version of IE, as these readers suggest:

[A] reader noted that using the ISP software to install a browser, etc. was OK but that one was left with the ISP name, etc. in the title bar. This is easily removed through the registry. Just search for the wording that is inserted by the ISP. In my case, for EarthLink, that wording was "provided by EarthLink Network, Inc." EarthLink technical support said to just change this to "". Works just fine. -- Bill DuBroff

[T]he tip about IE on CD mentioned the minor point of possibly installing a "branded" version; i.e., the window bar may show something like, "Internet Explorer brought to you by AOL". Here's a method for removing the branding without having to tinker with the Registry. It's been tested and it works. Note the comment about case sensitivity. Surprisingly, if one types "clear" instead of "Clear", it won't work.

1) Close the browser if it's open.
2) Click on the Start button, then click on the "Run..." menu item. You get a box. Type in it, without the quotes, "rundll32.exe iedkcs32.dll,Clear" ("Clear" is case sensitive)
3) Press OK. Restart the browser.
-- Mark.Gesoff

Very cool! (And thanks, Mark, Bill, James and Bruce!)

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