Email, Email, and More Email. This Month’s Topic is Email!

This Month: Email, Email, and More Email. This Month’s Topic is Email!

Hello, once again, and Happy New Year to everyone out there. I hope 1997 proves to be prosperous and positive for all of you. This month’s topic (yes, I do have one this time around) centers around my favorite Internet use, electronic mail. Let’s get started.

More Than Just Virtual Letters
One of the best things about email is that it allows you to write letters, notes, or memos to friends, acquaintances, and associates. You don’t have to pay postage for these messages, and you don’t have to worry about the postal service delivering it, either. Email is fast, cheap, and efficient. But if the only thing you’re using email for is to keep in touch with friends, you’re missing out.

Email: Keeping You Informed
Email can be used to quickly provide people with information that would otherwise take more time and research to find. Since saving people time can enhance productivity and is just generally a good thing, it makes perfect sense that this great feature of email be taken advantage of to give people access to news, notifications, updates, and other tidbits of information. There are a number of ways in which you can get news and more via email, and I can’t even begin to touch on them all, or even pick the best ones. Instead, I’ll mention the ones I’ve had experience with, and tell you what I think of them.

  • FarCast – The FarCast service relies on “droids” to peruse the headlines of a number of major news sources and report those headlines back to you. You’re allowed up to fifteen different droids, each of which will give you a different set of headlines – national news, international news, sports headlines, entertainment headlines, business news, computer industry news, stocks, and more.Another option is the “Broadcast Droid” feature. Using this feature, you get more than just the headlines, you get short summaries and other goodies. I found these mailings to be helpful, although a little lengthy. You can also subscribe to neat things such as a list of the top rated TV shows for each week, regular sports scoreboard updates, and a “Today in History” mailing with neat facts, celebrity birthdays, and the lot.

    The concept behind FarCast is great, but the implementation sometimes leaves a little to be desired. Watch out when you first sign up; you may very well be bombarded with dozens of messages if you’ve signed up for even a few of the higher-frequency droids. Also, sometimes the updates come a little too often for my taste, especially the sports scores. Finally, I found it a little inconvenient to have to reply to each message in order to retrieve the full text of the news articles instead of just the headline.

    Don’t get me wrong; FarCast does a good job with its service. FarCast’s technical support was also first-class in my dealings with them. The service just needs a little refining. I’d advise anyone interested to check into FarCast; it might be worth your while. Keep in mind that there’s a monthly fee of $9.95 to subscribe to the service, although I got my first month free as a trial. I’m not sure which one of FarCast’s many email addresses I’d use to inquire about the service, and I’m not sure if they have a Web page or not. My advice to you is to try

  • TipWorld – TipWorld, from what I can gather, is a pretty PC-centric publication. However, a visit to its Web site may prove useful for Mac users, too. At the Web site, you can sign up to receive a number of mailing lists. Although very few of these are actually news (although there is a Top Internet News list to subscribe to), there are a number of “tip” lists you can receive, such as Mac tips, Navigator and Internet Explorer tips, and Microsoft Office tips. You can also receive Don Crabb’s gossip column via email. You can even sign up to receive a daily soap opera episode via email. Check it out at
  • CNET Digital Dispatch – CNET, and all of its sister Web sites, are committed to providing users with up-to-minute technology news, many neat feature articles, product reviews, and interviews with high-profile players in the industry. CNET covers both PCs and Macs, and is very well designed and written. However, it takes time to browse the Web sites for all the possible features, and there’s no way you can cover them all.Subscribing to the weekly newsletters CNET offers, which are called “Dispatches,” gives you an easy way to catch the highlights of each Web site. Even though most of the time the summaries provided in the Dispatches are little more than teasers for the feature on the Web, I still find them useful and informative. Check it out at CNET’s main Web page, at, where you can register to be a member (it’s free) and sign up to receive the Digital Dispatch. Also check out CNET’s specialized sites for techno-news and computer games, just to mention two. If you don’t want to visit the Web page (or can’t), sending an email to with a body of “subscribe [your email address]” will get the job done, too.
  • AppleSauce – This list is run by RD Novo and the Infinite Loop Rangers. They provide readers with any and all news related to Apple, along with their own brand of humor and sarcasm. The volume of the list is directly proportional to the amount of news to report and the amount of time Mr. Novo & Co. have on their hands, so it can be sporadic at times. Rest assured, though, that the occasional unpredictability is worth it. You won’t find any national headlines here, but for the average Mac freak, this is a cool list. Subscribe by sending a message to and including “subscribe applesauce” in the body of the message. You can also visit their Web page at or mail the Rangers themselves at Oh, and “Praise Apple and pass the ‘Sauce!”
  • EvangeList – Guy Kawasaki’s pro-Mac mailing list. And if you didn’t know that, where have you been? I won’t go into any more detail, but if you love the Macintosh and information, news, and special offers about the best computer in the world, check out Guy’s list at
  • VERSIONS! – Versions! is a new, free service which tracks the most recent versions of over 20,000 different software titles, and send you an email message whenever a new version of your favorite software comes out. When you sign up for the service, you get to specify which types of software and on which platforms you’d like to receive mailings for. This is a very cool idea, and I’m anxious to see how it works. It’s a new service, and is still getting its feet wet, so the number of mailings I’ve received thus far is quite small. However, I’m optimistic about where this thing is headed. See for yourself by signing up at the Web site, http//, I’ve given you one option for all kinds of news, two options for general tech news, two options for pro-Mac news, and one option for keeping up-to-date on your software. Like I said before, there are literally dozens, maybe hundreds, of other alternatives, and I’ve quite possibly overlooked some of the best of the bunch. So, if you’ve got a service that you think is the best thing since sliced, well, holiday fruitcake, pass it along and I’ll give it a look-see. Out of both professional and personal interest, of course.

    I’d love to pass along some of the “fun” mailing lists and so forth that I subscribe to, too, but I don’t want to write a novel here, just a magazine column. I’ll keep that thought tucked away for a rainy day and a future month. Depending on how the feedback to this article is, that is.

    Email: Free for All?
    Some people seem to think so. Have you heard about Juno, NetAdress, HotMail, and all the other upstart services that give you free services in exchange for advertisements in your email? I have, and of course I’ve checked them out. Some of them seem to be swimming, some floating, and others sinking fast. I haven’t had enough experience with any them for a report yet, but rest assured I’ll make it my duty to keep you posted. Meanwhile, if you’re interested about the services, mail me at, and I’ll pass along some URLs to ya. There’s too many to go around, and I’ve done enough free advertising for one month.

    Time Out!
    In case you haven’t noticed, that’s three straight paragraphs with subtle and not-so-hubtle requests for filling my email-box(es) with feedback. While it’s not a matter of life or death, I’d love to hear from some of you readers. In the new year, one of my goals is to make this column better and more relevant to my audience, and I’d love (and need) your help in doing so. Drop me a line at and let me know your thoughts.

    OK, One More Thing…
    To finish up this email-centric column, I’d like to point out the many new versions of some great email client programs.

    First off, my email client of choice, Eudora Lite, just jumped form version 1.5.5 to 3.0.1. The 1.8 megabyte file can be downloaded from My first impressions with the new version are great, and it’s a must-upgrade.

    A new kid on the block is CE Software’s freeware Internet mail client, QuickMail Express 1.0. Sorry, but I can’t give you a definite URL on this one; I got my copy by searching at (a CNET site, by the way) and you shouldn’t have any trouble doing likewise. It’s said that QME retains a lot of the favorite features from CE Software’s older, nearly-legendary QuickMail office mail program, although it is stripped down a bit. If you liked QuickMail or are looking for a Internet email client, this is one should be worth a look, too.

    Finally, if you haven’t picked up your free (yes, free) copy of Claris Emailer 1.1 from the Claris Web page, well… why not? Download this commercial client free of charge from while you still can. And then watch for a good upgrade offer when version 2.0 comes out in the near future.

    It seems to be there was a fourth program I was going to mention, but I seem to have forgotten… it must not be too important… seems like it had a really generic, boring name, though… OK, I’ll come clean. Microsoft released version 1.0 of their Mac email and news reader program, and although its absolutely bland name escapes me at the moment, if you really want to see what the monolith in Redmond came up with, you should be able to find it at

    As usual, if I think it’s worth talking about any of the above programs in depth, you can expect a review in the next month or two. I do, after all love email.

    If, after reading this column, you think I’m just a little weird with my fascination of email, well, you’re probably right. Don’t worry, I’ll be back next month with a fresh topic. I promise. Until next month, all the best to all of you, and Happy New Year.

    Mike Wallinga (

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