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Spam no More ?


This email will self-destruct in 5 seconds.

This is not just another fake message off a humor list-this is the real deal.

Your PC cannot explode after it has communicated a secret message but emails certainly can. That's what we are going to look into: sender controlled, time-bombed emails that self-destruct after x number of seconds. Rumors are that the next version of Windows a.k.a. Longhorn will restrict print, copy and forward features for documents and emails. But most of us can't wait for its release.

So, let's start. Log on to Self Destructing Email www.self-destructing-email.com and you will be exposed to email features like never before. Registration is fairy simple and once done, all you have to do is add .self-destructing-email.com. For example, If you want to send an email to 'target@domain.com', this would become 'target@domain.com.self-destructing-email.com'. Don't worry, your target won't see this added tail. By adding this tail, you are actually changing the domain address of the email. The actual domain behaves as a catch-all part of self-destructing-email.com. After your mail is received at this domain, the actual email addresses is parsed and the mail is forwarded to it. You don't have to use a service provider's website to send emails with this unique feature-you can use any email client (ex: Outlook) to send self-destructing mails by adding the required service domain.

At this point you will ask yourself: If all our emails (and our email address) go through this service does it mean that they can read our messages or use the addresses to spam? This is what website says: 'Your email address is completely safe with us-we never send, allow or support 'spam' or unsolicited email of any kind-nor do we publish anything on lists... and your email address will not be added to any "lists"-ever!' Your best bet is to believe this is the case.

The carious features associated with this email service can be used through a free plug-in for Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook or a generic plug-in to work with common email clients. You can time your messages destruction which is set to 60 seconds by default.

Another exciting feature of this service is that you can track messages using its uncanny methodologies namely, gopher, frames, global identifiers, style tracking, embed tracking and script tracking. Logging at the homepage takes you to a Personal Tracking Page that lists sent emails along with their status. Tracking is pretty detailed-it includes, date and time of mail accessed, geographical location, recipient's IP and email address, third party source (ex: checked through Hotmail / Yahoo), URLs (if you placed some), number of times the email was opened and whether your email was forwarded. You can receive tracking notifications via email, SMS, pager, IMs (ICQ, AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber) and IRC. If you are interested in record keeping or databasing your history, you can obtain CSV and TXT files. If your target deletes or blocks your emails, the tracking option doesn't work. If you decide to 'undo' sending an email (on the Internet Exchange Server), you can use the Retract option.

Another free self-destructing email service is SpamGourmet www.spamgourmet.com. This Service introduces the self-destructing features to email addresses rather than to emails. Imagine filling out an online form that requires you to enter a working email address so that they could send you confirmation link, password, PIN code etcetera in order to complete registration.

What if you were given a chance to instantly invent an email address, receive the confirmation mail on it, and then that address would no longer exist! Even if the registration site was harvesting email address through online forms, it would be of no use as they would get their spam back as undelivered mail. And yes, even if you forget your confirmation password or reset it after a few weeks, you could re-invent the same address once again, receive the new password, and then that dress would no longer exist! Sounds magic? This is possible using SpamGourmet which lets you create disposable addresses. The service claims over 62,000 accounts serving 0.7 million disposable addresses.

Here's how it works. Registration starts at the home page and requires minimum information-just a user name and a password. You hen have to specify a forwarding email address and you are done. From now on, whenever you want to create a throw-away address, use this scheme: some-text.X.username@spamgourmet.com. 'Some-text' could be a descriptive narration of person or site to whom you are giving out this disposable address (ex: forABCHosting). 'X' is the number of emails this address should receive (after which the address is not valid) and 'username' is the alias with which you have registered yourself. So, if you come across an attractive looking offer at a shopping display which asks you to give your email address for 'more information' you know you can always devise something like 'shop.2.username@spamgourmet.com'. Whenever you receive an email from this address, the 'shop' part will remind you for whom you has invented this address (although the contents of email might do so), '2' means that this email address will work only twice (i.e. you are controlling how many promotion emails can be sent to you by that shopping enterprise), and 'username' is self explanatory.

Lets hope we can exercise more control over our own email address and not allow anyone else to own it.

Written by Nabeel Khalid



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