The E-mail Problem

Now I know why I hate AOL. A couple of years ago I subscribed to an e-mail service called Mailblocks. I had a bunch of my news letters forwarded to various aliases at Mailblocks and it worked quite nicely for curbing spam. A few months ago AOL bought out Mailblocks.com and hired all of the Mailblocks staff. I got a sickening feeling about this, but there wasn’t another e-mail service that did what Mailblocks did (Challenge/Response spam control and aliases). The service started to get slow and was down for long periods at a time. Alas, on October 16th, AOL announced it was discontinuing the Mailblocks service and was replacing it with a crappy version of its own. Yes, I said crappy. There was no mention of Challenge/Response spam control in this new e-mail service and of course you can imagine that my e-mail address would be aleinss@aol.com. Shudder! I’m sure there’s a few blacklists roaming out there with aol.com plastered all over them.

I quickly regained my composure and went over to www.emailaddresses.com. This is a nice little web site that has information on all sorts of e-mail providers. If you are looking for an e-mail provider I highly suggest it. My big requirement was aliases. Why? Well, when I go to a merchant’s web site they always want my e-mail address. There’s really no way of tracking who sold your e-mail address when you have given your e-mail address to multiple providers! So I made an alias for every web site I went to. This alias would forward e-mail to a specific folder. I found that when I started to get spam in one folder I would simply delete the alias and make a new one. Once your e-mail address is on a spam list it is never coming off of it. Granted, this required a lot of work on my part, but it kept my inbox pretty darn clean.

The first e-mail provider that caught my eye was Fastmail.fm. Unfortunately, they only offer 5 aliases on their own domain. Then I saw an intriguing feature: having them host your own domain name for e-mail! On went on to look at this and saw that domain registration is $8 a year. I could register my very own domain name and keep the same e-mail address as long as I wanted to. I continued on and found the e-mail provider Tuffmail. They offered unlimited e-mail aliases and 500MB of space at $25/year. That is what Mailblocks was charging and they only offered 100MB of space and 25 aliases. I also decided to register a domain in my name: literally my last name of Leinss. This name is very unique and cool. I can search the whole Internet and see everything that I posted. You will find a few of my relatives by searching on this term.

Using Tuffnames I registered www.leinss.com for the next 10 years. What’s cool is that even if Tuffmail goes out of business I can point my MX records to the mail server of my new provider. Here’s another cool feature: forwarding domains. I can actually “park” my domain at Tuffnames (a reseller of GoDaddy) and then have it forward www.leinss.com to my web page at Kirenet. If Kirenet goes out of business, I just move my web site to another provider and change the forwarding domain. I actually tried to keep the same e-mail address long ago with mail.com. They promised a free e-mail address for life and free forwarding. After several years they were bought by another company. This company decided that free forwarding was not in their best interest and forced everyone to pony up money if you wanted your “free, lifetime e-mail address” to get forwarded to somewhere else. No grandfathering, no backing of the earlier promise, nothing. I was using this e-mail address (aleinss@mindless.com) on the USENET for many years and I was getting about 75 pieces of spam PER day. It was time to give up the “lifetime” e-mail address.

How do you get the best e-mail experience?

Use “disposable” e-mails for merchant web sites. Never give them your “real” e-mail address.

Never post your real e-mail address on the Internet. If you must, make sure you tailor it in a way that doesn’t look like an e-mail address. For example: on my web page I made an alias web @ leinss.com. If you send e-mail to web it gets forwarded to my web folder. If some nut job decides to spam that alias I just make a new one (which takes all of 30 seconds). Combined with the spam lists that Tuffmail offers (which are impressive I must say and very configurable client side) and unlimited aliases, Mr. Spam Man ain’t getting to this guy!

Give your real address to friends and acquaintances only.

-Soli Deo Gloria