Archive for March, 1997

Stop the Insanity, Now

March 20, 1997

It seems as though everybody and their grandma is doing e-mail nowadays.

Recalling the days when there were only but a handful of users online at a time is like remembering the time you actually liked the Macarena.

Yes, put those tissues away … times are changing.

Sometimes doing the most common things – like checking your mail – can become a tedious task, making you long for the day when you would log in with no new mail.

Nowadays, you must check your e-mail 10 times a day or your inbox gets flooded.

The culprit though, is not because you are one famous e-mail dude or dudette, nor that you have thousands of world-wide fans from your web site that just have to write to you.

Not because you are just so cute and witty that all of your admirers have a lust to mail you daily.

Rather, your inbox is becoming fuller than an old-school, Dr. J haircut, thanks to a thing we call the “forwarded message.”

Forwarding a message has become so passe. Taking a letter written to you and sending it off – with the flick of the wrist – is no trouble at all it seems.

An e-mail that Bill writes to you regarding Frank’s piece-o-junk car can easily be forwarded to Frank with a nice note saying, “Check out what Bill had to say about your ride!”

Your worries about writing the story again and getting each quote correct have vanished.

Just flick that wrist and Bill’s “I can’t believe he makes it out of his driveway every morning” quote can be mailed to Frank.

Some of the most notorious and very often-abused applications of forwarded messages include mass forwarding jokes, chain letters and unsolicited advertisements, all of which could drive you and your provider crazy.

Sending jokes to a mass e-mail list here and there is a popular way to forward mail.

You get a joke and enjoy it so much that you just have to send it on to 100 of your friends

Although relatively light in size (text only messages are usually a few kilobytes), a repeated message, sent at the same time, through the same system, to a dispersed number of people takes its toll. Add to that other users sending mail at the same time (both incoming and outgoing), and you’ve got yourself a cyber-traffic jam.

Chain letters follow the same concept as those infamous, unmarked chain letters sent through snail mail. We tried to figure out who sent it to us – by analyzing the handwriting or smelling the envelope – we inevitably send it on to 10 more people in the hopes of avoiding bad luck.

E-mail chain letters are just as annoying. You all must have received the ones that tell you to send it on or you will have bad luck, or to save a little child’s life.

Although, I don’t think the author’s predictions of my destiny are right or wrong, I have one word to say about them: Delete!

Chain letter clog up the system and are discouraged by the UH System Administrators.

There have been a lot of problems with the mail system on the UHUNIX server as of late. Messages sending warnings of home directories filling up and hardware failures have close associations with nonsense E-mail messages and the like.

Try typing “news” at the prompt and go through the history of UHUNIX news. Much of the content has to do with mail delivery and storage problems.

Sending forwarded messages only adds to the problem.

Unsolicited advertisements are a little bit different. Unless you are one of those marketers who try to mass-send a message about a web site or a new product, this doesn’t relate to you.

The only way it does is if you were on the receiving end of the message.

Some of you may remember a SPAM message a few years ago from a “Robert Laurent S.” who somehow got the e-mail address of a good number of UHUNIX users. This type of SPAM occurs quite often, especially in USENET Newsgroups.

If you want to see this in action, point your favorite browser to any newsgroup or type “tin” or “rn” at the UHUNIX prompt.

Avoiding forwarded messages is like a world without Dennis Rodman ejections. Yep, close to impossible.

However, the situation can be improved. Ignoring and deleting these messages is ideal. Just because sending E-mail is free (for now), doesn’t mean you should abuse that privilege.

Happy surfing!

Advertisements

How Do You Find a Friend on the Net?

March 6, 1997

Ever wonder if your long lost pal is online? How about if your high school sweetheart is desperately trying to figure out your e-mail address?

Well, worry no more. These sites are dedicated to creating a massive listing of e-mail addresses of as many users as they can.

Acting as an online version of a phone book that lists users all over the world, these services try to provide the most up-to-date information on e-mail addresses and other contact information.

If just finding an e-mail address is more important to you than discovering where they are working or going to school, then the directory Four11 (http://www.four11.com/) would probably be your best bet.

Aside from the huge database, the great thing about Four11 is that you can search for key strings after you become a member.

Say, for example, you want to look for Suzi Smith from your old high school. You can punch in “Suzi Smith” and also enter whatever high school she attended to further define your search.

In order to test the accuracy and speed of these directories, I searched for myself in their directories.

Very egotistical, but it works!

A handful of search providers actually had my e-mail address listed, although I hadn’t submitted it to any of the providers.

Aside from personal e-mail addresses, Four11 also lists telephone and netphone numbers as well as information on government representatives and celebrities.

Who Where (http://www.whowhere.com/index2.html) is another cool database that enables you to search e-mail addresses.

This site also has its own built-in database expander. It provides users with the option to add their e-mail address to its database – to give it that personal touch.

WhoWhere boasts a smaller number of addresses (1 million listings) than Four11’s 10 million, but their advanced search function – including a search by location, school and/or affiliation – is available without becoming a member of the service.

Another wire searcher, The Internet Address Finder (http://www.iaf.net/) has a gigantic listing. As of the date of this article, the page advertised “5,641,957 listings and growing.”

When I searched for my name on this service I suddenly felt like I may become a victim of a stalker who tracked me through e-mail.

I found that they had listed my entire address, including “University Of Hawai`i, 2565 The Mall, Keller Hall”.

I know I spend a lot of time in school but this is ridiculous! =)

Within Internet Address Finder, I could use the key strings to search for first and last name, organization and/or domain

I could also find an expanded listing by searching for the e-mail address itself.

Some of the other cool directories linked to the address search sites included:

If you do a search on any one of these sites mentioned above and come up short, you are given the option to add to their database.

In other words, you can finally be found.

Happy surfing!