Wednesday, November 02, 2005

E-Mail Woes: An Update

As I was griping the other day, my small local mom & pop Internet Service Provider has recently activated for our "benefit" an updated anti-spam quarantine program. This means if I want to check that I'm receiving all my e-mail, I've got to keep going and logging in to a website to see if they're holding back some of my e-mail.

What a royal pain! I mean, there is web-based e-mail, such as Yahoo or Hotmail, which you customarily check by logging in to a website. That's why they call it web-based. And then there is "real" e-mail (most common variety technically known as POP mail), where you don't need no stinking website, you just download the e-mail without further ado to Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird or whatever you use as an e-mail program.

One of the benefits of signing up for Internet Service is that your ISP ordinarily provides you with a "real" e-mail address, not just a web-based e-mail address such as any junior high student can sign up for, for free, in 60 seconds flat. If my ISP is, then I have an e-mail address called... oh, let's call it I can set Mozilla Thunderbird for Linux (pictured above) to check automatically every so often, and see if I've got any new e-mail, and if I do, download it for me. Automatically. Without no stinking websites!

And if I've got spam, I can sort it out on my end, on my own computer, using Thunderbird's well trained and very effective spam filter.

Well. Here's what makes this an update, instead of simply a recycling of my rant from the other day. Yesterday I phoned my ISP's tech support number, and had a long conversation with the support person on the other end. He was very courteous, and he did his best to be helpful. But he verified that (unlike former anti-spam ventures by my ISP) there is no way to turn off the quarantining "you gotta keep logging into the furshlugginer website" feature. And there is no way to opt out of this new anti-spam quarantine program.

No, I'm stuck with it. At least until my ISP suffers its next drunken lurch, and institutes something even... worse? Better? Do you think I'm going to stick around and find out?

I repeat, no longer functions as a "real" e-mail address. I am now for all practical purposes without a fully functioning, website-free, "real" e-mail address. For this, I pay out good money every month?!

Unfortunately, out here in the remote Iowa countryside, my small local mom & pop ISP is the only game in town. If they weren't— if there was any local alternative— I can assure you, from conversations I've had with neighbors, that we'd be deserting like rats clambering off a sinking ship.

Well. Actually is only one of four e-mail addresses which funnel into Thunderbird here on my computer:
  • paul at paulburgess dot org, the receive-only e-mail address associated with my personal website. This is the address I generally give out in the blogosphere, including in the "E-Mail me" link at the upper left of this page

  • paul at stupid-isp dot com, fergit it!

  • a forwarding e-mail address I've had since 1998, which is generally the address I give out to people out here in meatspace. Until yesterday, for several years I'd had it set to forward e-mail to But henceforth it will forward e-mail to...

  • a free "real" e-mail (i.e., POP mail) account which I had the foresight to sign up for a while back. This now becomes my "workhorse" e-mail account for sending and receiving e-mail
Don't worry, gentle reader; from your end, all this is transparent. All you need do is keep sending your e-mail to me to whatever address you've already been using. Even in the unlikely eventuality that you send it to (which I have not been in the habit of posting or giving out to people), it will get to me eventually, though perhaps not expeditiously. I can't be bothered to keep logging into a website all the time to check my e-mail.

I mean, for this I pay out good money every month to!!


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