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Internet and You: Email - A Definite Free for All
Media Mail July - August 1997
     
“A free permanent e-mail address that’s yours for life.”

Perhaps these common catchphrases in today’s cyberworld may be shocking. “There must be a catch. Nothing is for free,” you say.

Well, think again. There is no catch, it is absolutely free and it is FANTASTIC. As long as you have access to the internet be it through the library, a friends home or a cyber café, netters can receive and send e-mail to anyone with an account to anywhere in the world.

To make sure there was no catch, I put my head on the guillotine and surfed my way into these pages. Here’s what I discovered:

Benefits are abundant, free personalised email accounts are available with various websites and each email account is user-specific. So I decide to use my name, confident that not many people out there would have a similar address. Ha! I was right and it’s so easy to remember. Heck! I could even use my favourite movie; 12storeys@zaszon.com as my address. The best part is that even if I changed service providers, moved overseas or shifted houses, I can still access my precious mail without going through the hassle of informing the three million, six hundred thousand, nine hundred and two people I know.

Perhaps the most exciting idea is that email can be checked from anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the Internet. I could be in my office, a cool cyber café in Boat Quay or even a small rundown shack in Somalia and yet I could keep in touch with friends. How can you beat that? Just access any public terminal and you can have it all.

I did not need to purchase new software, upgrade my RAM, increase hard disk space or even purchase a high-speed modem. In fact my rather ancient but adorable Macintosh Color Classic with 8 MB RAM and 14.4 modem did rather nicely. For PC users, one with standard features would suffice. As for navigation software, these services adapt quite well to both Internet Explorer and Netscape. However, Macintosh users may be displeased to discover certain sites are catered only for PC owners (sic)

A number of sites require users to download software that are unique to the provider that some shamelessly announce that unfortunately “this site is not yet available for Mac user” as the software is yet to be configured to fit the Mac operating system, they claim.

No worries! Those that I could test allowed software to be downloaded in a jiffy without hassle, without cost. No sneaky bills or invoices have found their way to my mailbox so far! Hmm…so will I be able to retrieve attachments like scanned images, sound bites and even games that friends send over?

Yet again, they seem to have thought of it all. Sound files and images can be opened with the web browser without a hitch. Some providers are so advanced that you can store email addresses in a directory. And you can key in real specifics, right down to age and country of residence. An excellent idea for regular cyber chatters who rather not reveal their personal accounts to strangers, stay anonymous and yet want to keep in touch. Best of both worlds I guess.

What about security? How personal is my personal free email account? Nobody can access it because each user has a personal password.

If you forget this password, don’t lose sweat, a new password can easily be arranged for and most take only a few days to a week to administer.

Providers even promise that all messages are strictly confidential and not read, “barring extraordinary circumstances such as being required to do otherwise by law”.

That’s not the only promise some providers make. Mailing lists are not sold and be certain that no junk mail will reach you from anybody. The possibilities and features are endless, till, you check out these websites, I’ll be busy for a bit as I’m off to check my five new free email accounts.

So go forth and search.

My five favourite providers:
http://www.rocketmail.com .
As the name suggests, it is mighty fast.

http://www.hotmail.com.
News is always hot and its features are great.

http://www.netaddress.com
Because it gives an aroma of mystery when given to new chatline friends, who keep wondering about your origins.

http://www.post1.com
Especially, useful if its for a business as it has a little sophistication, the address that is.

http://www.freead.com
It’s free!

     
     

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