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5:24 pm
September 1, 2004
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Get Your Own E-Mail Address

The Internet has changed how information is accessed and e-mail has changed how information is delivered. These developments have been nothing short of revolutionary, and many people have derived tremendous benefit from this new medium.

In my business as an e-format business information publisher, we are facing huge challenges delivering our message to more than 30 percent of those subscribers who have actually requested it.

It is not hackers, viruses, or worms that block our e-mail messages. It is not the government or any law enforcement agency. Who is blocking e-mails from being delivered to more than 30 percent of the people who request it? It is the kid who runs your corporate computer network. He is empowered to decide what information gets through and what does not.

He may not like e-mail messages that include graphics and photos, so will block all HTML (Web-page type) formatted e-mails. He may not like plain text e-mails that have Web links, so will allow the message through, but will disable the hyperlinks.

Some corporate networks are so ultra-secure that even when a willing recipient and a willing sender cooperate directly to solve the problem, e-mail delivery is still not possible.

Not all the people who run corporate networks are kids with pocket protectors and X-Box fever but they all share a disdain for the flood of junk e-mail, or spam, and are doing the best they know how to control and contain it. Until an effective spam solution is found (don’t hold your breath), these network guardians will likely tighten access—not loosen it.

So what is a person who wants to be plugged into industry information and timely newsletters to do?

It is time to strike out on your own and get a free Web-based e-mail account from Yahoo! or Hotmail by Microsoft, or perhaps Gmail by Google. A list of dozens of free Web-based e-mail accounts is available at www.fepg.net/usa.html.

By signing up for your own e-mail account you are now the master of your own communication domain. You get 1 GB of storage, spam filter, anti-virus scanning, and access to your e-mail from any Internet-connected computer from anywhere in the world.

Remember, everything you send or receive on your company’s e-mail system belongs to your employer and can (and will) be used against you if it suits the owner. In addition, you are a de facto company spokesman when using your employer’s domain e-mail. With a public e-mail like Yahoo! or Gmail, you speak for yourself and can expect privacy from your employer and others. When posting questions or comments on public message boards (see Online Maintenance Discussion Forums Offer Peer Advice) use your public e-mail account to avoid attaching your opinions and advice to your employer and speak for yourself.

You also can use your new e-mail address when requesting sales literature or filling out Web forms to avoid vendor contact at work. You can use it to store e-mails you received at work that you wish to keep for the future. If you happen to change jobs, you still have your public address and can maintain seamless communication. You also can use your public address on your updated resume to find a better job, one at a company that does not restrict Internet and e-mail functionality.

There are dozens of industry-based e-mail newsletters that deliver valuable advice and information that can help you do your job better and easier.

At Yahoo! you can even get your own name as an e-mail address (example: tom@tomjones.com) for just $30 per year. These premium accounts allow single e-mail messages up to 10 MB in size where most corporate networks lock out any messages over 5 MB, a relatively small file these days.

We generally disagree with anything that restricts communication and we support anything that empowers it. A public e-mail allows you to break the bonds that your employer feels are required to protect the company network. It also allows you to be who you have always been first and foremost—an individual. MT


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