Winamp creator nullifies AIM ads

— 3:41 PM on September 21, 2000

Thanks to Slashdot for the link on this one. ZDNet has a pretty funny story about Justin Frankel's latest programming project. In case you weren't aware, Frankel is the programmer behind Winamp, almost certainly the most popular Windows MP3 player out there. His company, Nullsoft, was bought by AOL for $86 million last year.

Since then, Frankel has been busy. First he programmed Gnutella, an open source file sharing application that can be used as a replacement for Napster, among other things. This did not make AOL happy, especially because they were starting merger talks with Time Warner at the time.

Now comes part two. Frankel has programmed a Winamp plugin that blocks out the advertisements in AOL's AIM instant messaging program. The ad areas are currently used to advertise AOL features; install Frankel's plugin and they're replaced by plain white boxes. Start playing a tune in Winamp and the boxes turn into a graphical display that changes with the music.

Even better, Frankel released the software on a hidden page on a server belonging to Nullsoft, and thus to AOL. The description of the software made no mention of its AIM-modifying effects, though the name of the plugin is AIMazing.

Apparently once ZDNet contacted AOL for comment, it didn't take long for the software to disappear. If things keep going like this, Frankel's next program will probably change AOL users' subscriptions to some other ISP.

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