Monday, July 31, 2006

How to Not send a spam mail...

Clear your e-mail funda

You are no exception, if the very first thing you do is check your mailbox when you login to your computer for the first time in any day. There are more than half a billion actual users of e-mail world wide having more than a billion e-mail accounts assuming two account per user on an average, and most of them are like you who go straight away to their Inbox immediately after logging in to their computer. It is being predicted that e-mail users are going to be quadrupled within a couple of year. In India too, among all dial-up connections, more than 80% accounts are primarily meant for e-mail.

E-mail is the first ever application of Internet and it will remain be one of the dominant application of Internet forever. And in all probability, it will be the last application of Internet on the day of kayanmat when the Universe end, some one will still be reading e-mail received from the beloved one. With refinement in e-mail such as formatted HTML based mail, facility of file attachments, Voice mail, Video mail, WAP enabled and instant messaging type of things, e-mail will be there to serve you in every possible area. Meetings, Discussions, Work assignments etc. are being done through e-mail by big companies. E-mail is dirt-cheap yet most effective and most convenient media of present day communication including equally effective, mass personnel advertising. That is why every body on earth is adopting e-mail, including you. But do you know this ‘e-mail’ thing inside out? If not then it is time to clear your e-mail fundamentals for better and effective use of this media. So read on…

Basics behind e-mail

E-mail is the lifeblood of Internet. This is most popular application of Internet that comes even before MP3 and Pornography, the two other most popular areas of Internet. One reason for the undisputed use of Internet is it is flexible enough to allow just about any type of computer on network to participate. You can use Mac, PC, your PDA, WAP enabled cell phone and an entirely new device named Simputer to send and receive e-mail. Every potential web site is offering you free e-mail service of one or other kind. Some sites offer you rewards such as free Internet time, books, music cassettes etc., if you use their free e-mail service regularly. Popularity of e-mail shows that there are maximum numbers of e-mail program available containing variety of spices and flavors among computer applications and web sites. Browsers, office suits contain their proprietary e-mail client. Web sites offer you customized e-mail service that extends services beyond such as calendar, scheduler, newsreader and more.

If you keenly watch our postal system, you can observe the similarity of working of our e-mail system. When you send e-mail to some one, your mail is transferred to your mail server that may be local or remote as the case may be. It then transferred to other numerous servers on its way and finally to the mail server of recipient, and stays there until downloaded. There are e-mail options for everyone over the Internet. If you own a network, web site, or web server then you can setup your own mail server. If you subscribe Internet through an Internet service provider, then you can get e-mail service as part of your Internet account. If you are neither among both, you can still get Internet based free e-mail accounts from number of web sites. Here, you have to register to their sites by using your friend’s computer or through any cyber cafĂ© and you are done. Virtually every potential web site is offering you Internet based free e-mail accounts. Internet mail generally consists of only straight text file, but there are protocols for sending other forms of information. Mail programs use MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) that supports other file formats such as data, picture, sound and video to be send over the net as file attachment with e-mail. There are two main protocols on which Internet mail is based. One is IMAP (Internet Messaging Access Protocol) and the other is POP (Post Office Protocol). If you are an individual user having dial up connection then probably you are having POP3 (POP version 3) based e-mail service from your service provider. POP3 based e-mail service lets you to download your mail locally to your computer. It also allows you to customize your mail folder, set filters and allow you to use multiple accounts. But you cannot store copies of your downloaded mail on the server itself. Some of these shortcomings are addressed in newer standard IMAP, which is increasingly being used by some small and big organizations.

Getting most of mail

You may be using e-mail for quite some time but do you get most out of it? There are some ways that will help you making your mail-life easier. Here are some examples. While working with web based e-mail application, you can pre type your long messages in a text editor offline and attach this message as separate file or cut & paste through clipboard when online. This way, you can save your online time. Similarly, in your Internet based e-mail, you can click your Inbox, click on every messages you want to read, let the pages be downloaded in the cache memory of your browser, if done, then close the browser, you can read them from recent history folder off your browser in offline mode leisurely at your wish saving online time, especially if your messages are big. Alternately, you can right click each message and open these in separate window. This way, when you are reading your current page, let the browser download your other messages in background.

Attachments with attention

If your mail is large enough, or you have data in another format like sound or video file, which you want to send over the Internet, then you can send these as e-mail attachments. If your attachment file is large, then try to compress it through any popular standard zip program such as WinZip. Almost all users have zip program installed in their computer and there should not be any problem. If you are in any doubt, then you can compress it as self-extractible zip file. Windows ME has built in file zipping / unzipping facility in operating system for its user, and one need not have to install separate zip utility for normal work. If even after compressing your file, the size is still big, (audio and video become really big files) then you can break them in to several files using file-splitting utility such as Winsplit and send them as several attachment or several e-mail each having one or two attachments. Web based e-mail applications limit number and size of your attachments. Some e-mail client like Outlook offers you breaking big attachment to several small attachments automatically, but you have to do some settings there. While sending file attachments, be sure that the recipient had right application in his computer to use the attachment. Else what he see is garbage and of no use to him. At times you get some real big file attachment with some e-mail and your e-mail client is not capable to download it. Now, your e-mail application stuck somewhere and become inactive forever while trying to download the same from your mail server specially when connect speed is low. Then you have to delete such mail right there in the mail server.

Secure your mail

You want your confidential mail to be delivered to right person, cannot be deciphered, altered, read or manipulated by others en route. You can relax now. There are ways and means to do so. One is to include your signature file in e-mail itself so that your message can confirm your identity to the recipient. The other way is through use of your digital ID. Some Internet security firm registers you and gives you two types of key as your digital ID. One is public key and the other is private key. When you send secure message, this message is encrypted with the help of these keys. When the message received at the recipient end, these keys were matched and the message is decrypted into original. You can also secure your mail with some security software like PGP (pretty good privacy) or Sigaba. Some security web site offers you transaction of secure mail. One such site is www.sigaba.com. Here, all your mail is securely delivered and received with advanced cryptography technique at the company’s server.

Multiple mail account

You are not satisfied with one mail account; you want an exclusive e-mail account for your beloved one; you want to separate yourself from your work place and home. For all these and more reasons, you can set more than one e-mail account for your self. Normally your ISP not permits you more than a couple of e-mail account that depends on the plan you subscribe. Here, you can always subscribe any number of web-based e-mail accounts as different user ID. Some are free for basic services and some require fee for their advanced and customized services. You can also find some free web based e-mail service that also offers you POP3 facility. Normally, you have to activate POP3 facility by paying some subscription fee as the case with Yahoo!. India’s premier web based e-mail service providing portal- www.mailmetoday.com offer you POP3 facility free of charge. If you have more than one e-mail account, than you choose e-mail client that supports multiple account like Eudora or Outlook

You can access one or all of your e-mail from different address through e-mail clients like Eudora or Outlook if these service support POP3 or IMAP. For web-based e-mail, you have to surf through your browser, login to their site and read your mail. If you travel frequently than there is no need now to carry your Notebook computer for downloading POP3 based e-mail. Some web sites offer you to simply login to their site, enter your username and password of the e-mail account of any POP3 server; then it will retrieve all the mail for you in any computer without having to configure the account, TCP/IP settings etc. Such web sites are: www.mail2web.com, www.webbox.com and www.mailstart.com.

Selecting e-mail clients

Looking for a perfect e-mail client? No way! You have to search and dig quite a lot to choose an e-mail client that will serve you to your satisfaction. Microsoft has released number of e-mail client with its various Windows version, Internet Explorer version and Office suite versions. You can find Outlook 98, Outlook Express 5, and Outlook 2000 etc., each having different capabilities. There is Eudora lite and Eudora pro each suitable for different category of users. What you find facility in Postman or Pegasus mail, that you may not find in Pine, the traditional, old yet equally powerful mail client. Here are some tips that make your decision wise enough to choose appropriate e-mail client for your use.

· If you use e-mail for your work or business purpose for multiple user and multiple account, than you may need powerful e-mail clients that may provide you automatic filtering, automatic reply, sorting, forwarding and saving etc. There are many to choose from such as Pegasus mail, Postman, Calypso, and Eudora Pro etc. Check whether your e-mail client support your operating system or not.

· If you use e-mail for your personnel and home use, then simple, free e-mail client like Outlook Express and Netscape Messenger that comes bundled with browser may be enough. If you have multiple POP3 account, then you have to forget about Netscape Messenger since it supports multiple accounts on IMAP protocol only.

· You want additional feature such as calendar, scheduler or support for voice message then you need feature full e-mail clients like Outlook 2000 premium edition or Eudora Pro. Feature rich Eudora Pro, the advertising support edition comes free if you do not mind seeing small amount of advertisement with your mail.

· IF you are using Indian Languages, then best web based solution will be GMAIL.

If your e-mail funda is still not clear, then it is time to do some e-mailing as practice makes man perfect….

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