Sometimes it’s fun to go back to a club you used to hang out in and find out what’s happening there now. That’s what the Times‘s David Pogue does today, revisiting AOL to see what it’s like now that it no longer has a cover charge. (Because of deadlines, Pogue’s evaluation was written before the Miller purge.) After setting up a straw man with some it’s-a-bubble-again throat-clearing, Pogue visits the new, free AOL and finds it a portal wanna-be with the occasional extra — parental controls, 20 XM feeds, a less intrusive client, and online backup. He buries one of the few worthwhile goodies that comes with a paid subscription: for a modest fee, backup jumps from 5G to 50G. But, on the whole, eminent observer Pogue looks back at Everybody’s First Online Service wistfully. The piece offers the first draft of what could have been a useful column. After the lame jokes (Web 2.0 companies have funny names is not a new observation), Pogue could have looked at what AOL wants to get out of its new service (retention of otherwise fleeing users, for instance). Pogue writes that AOL is “not for the technically proficient.” So the new AOL is targeted at those relatively new to computers and online or those whose technical skills are similar to those new to either world. And how is that different from the old AOL?