Wall Writings Meets Nemo Memo

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike and John have wanted to work on a cooperative column for a long time. Christmas vacation gave Mike a much-needed break from college life, and provided John and Mike with the chance to get together and work on a column. So, this month, John’s “Nemo Memo” is visiting Mike Wallinga’s “Wall Writings” column. We hope you enjoy the encounter.


John: Hi, Mike. How are things at college? I see you’re using mikew@mymac.com
as your e-mail address. Can you please explain how that works?

Mike: I’m doing great, John, thanks. My first semester of college is finished, and the smoke has cleared. I’m still hanging in there and having fun, so I must be doing something right.

John: Good news!

Mike: My email situation right now is an interesting one. I have a college account, and use it primarily for correspondence with my high school friends, other students, and my family. Because the Macintosh LC that I use at college isn’t Ethernet-capable (and since the LC’s lone PDS slot is housing an accelerator card, I’m not planning on buying a networking card anytime soon!), I can only log into the campus network using the Windows machines in the computer labs.

John: I follow you so far. Do you subscribe to a local commercial Internet account, too?

Mike: Yes. I have a modem with my LC in my dorm room, and since the ISP which provides Internet access in my home town also serves the town where I go to college, I can dial into the Net at no extra charge using my parents’ account. It wouldn’t make very much sense for my parents and me to use the same email account, of course, so I signed up for a free account Mikeallinga@usa.net
with NetAddress http://www.netaddress.com
, and I use it to send and receive email from my dorm room. Most of my correspondence with the My Mac staff and all of the mailing lists I’m subscribed to get sent to this account.

John: Just a sec, Mike. I thought you went *away* to college.

Mike: Northwestern College isn’t very far away from my home town, and between mid-term break, Thanksgiving break, Christmas vacation, and a couple of stress-relieving weekend visits, I’ve been at home several times in the past few months, too. So, there’s also a third email address that I can be reached at.

John: Sounds complicated. How do you handle it all?

Mike: What’s a guy to do, trying to keep track of three different addresses? I know some commercial email programs can retrieve mail from multiple accounts, but I don’t want to pick up email from my home account when I’m not at home, because the rest of my family is using that account. Also, I can’t access my college account unless I’m connected to the campus network. Besides, I’m rather attached to my current email client, Eudora Light – easy to use, small system requirements, and FREE – and I don’t want to have to learn a new program or pay for a commercial one. The answer, for me anyway, is to use the iName forwarding service.

John: Oh, yeah, that’s right. Back to the iName address. Please continue.

Mike: With iName http://www.iname.com
, you choose a username and your own domain name. I decided to stick with the generic “iname” moniker, but there are tons of possible domain names available for use, and for a fee you can create your very own. iName is not a free e-mail service; you can’t retrieve or send e-mail using it. It’s a one-trick pony, but it works as advertised. iName will forward any e-mail that is sent to your iName address to whatever e-mail address you specify, and you can change this address quickly and easily at any time via their Web page.

John: How exactly do you use it, Mike?

Mike: I usually have my iName address set to forward email to my dorm room account (NetAddress). If, for some reason, my Macintosh or my ISP is going to be off-line for a period of time, or if I’m going to be working in the computer lab for several hours, I can forward email to my campus account instead. When I’m at home, I can easily forward all of my email to my home account. So, using this method, I can send all of email to whatever account is most accessible to me at any given time, and everyone who sends me email only needs to remember and use one address. It’s the most convenient method for everyone involved that I’ve come across, and I love it.

John: So it works! Is there more?

Mike: Yep. Another practical real-life example of iName’s usefulness is if you move or change ISPs. Some longtime readers may remember when eWorld closed, I joined America Online for a couple of months, used a local BBS, and finally found an ISP in my area. I used four different email addresses in a five month span. Having an iName account back then would have greatly eased the transitions. Not only would it have been easier for everyone writing to me, but also I wouldn’t have had to unsubscribe and resubscribe to every mailing list I was on!

John: Does iName have any other useful features?

Mike: As I said before, iName is more or less a single-feature service, but there are some other cool things in development, such as filters (if “x”, then send to this email address, if “y”, then send to this other email address, etc.) and the ability to forward and/or redirect email to other people.

John: For the record, I have registered with iName, but I don’t use it very much.

Mike: I know there are a lot of Web-based services out there that do more than just forwarding, though. Many sites allow you to have a fully functional email account for free. How about Hotmail, or one of the other free Web-based email services, John?

John: Oh, yes. I do have a Hotmail address.

Mike: I understand why people in a situation similar to mine would want a free email address, but why would other folks want one?

John: For starters, one of AOL’s most useful features is that a user (or a family) can have up to five different email addresses per account. With most ISPs, though, only one account is provided, and additional acccounts cost extra-if they’re offered at all. By creating free-mail accounts, an unlimited number of people can use the same computer and Internet account, one at a time, and all have their own private email address.

Mike: Gee, I forgot AOL had any advantages, come to think of it… Seriously, though, that is a really good idea. Any other reasons?

John: On page 46 of the January, 1998 issue of the print magazine YAHOO! Internet LIFE, there is a Quick Course on “Free-mail.”
(and I summarize, with appreciation:)



  • To give to strangers, without worrying about your primary mailbox besieged by unsavory characters.
  • So you can keep your address, even if you move to another provider (which is exactly what Mike is doing with his @iname.com account).
  • So you can receive your email anywhere at no cost (which is what John does when he travels).
  • When you have email only through your company (to keep your personal email personal).
  • When you don’t own a computer, you can receive free-mail from any computer – at the public library, at an Internet cafe, or at school (or from your roommate’s Mac and ISP, as John’s daughter does).John: The article then mentions Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail (plus Juno, which is supposed to have Mac free-mail available this summer).

    Mike: I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s about time for Juno to get its act together! Juno was one of the very first free email services, and they’re finally giving us Mac users some attention. (Sorry, I just had to get that of my chest.) Anyway, I can see some of the advantages to having a second email address. But isn’t using the Web for email slow and inefficient?

    John: Yes and no. I have an idea, Mike. Let’s compare several different free email services. I’ll take Hotmail, Mailcity, and Yahoo. What about you?

    Mike: Okay. I’ve already talked a lot about iName, so I’ll cover NetAddress and Excite.

    John: How about doing our evaluations using six criteria: speed, ease of use, look and feel, reading mail, writing mail, and features?

    Mike: Sounds good, John. Then should we give an overall personal assessment too?

    John: Definitely. Here goes. I’ll give an “A/B/C/D/F” grade for each category.

    Mike: Great, just what I need. I thought I escaped letter grades when I went home for Christmas break…


    John: I’ll start with my assessments, Mike. HotMail’s up first:

    HOTMAIL http://www.hotmail.com

    Speed = C
    Ease of Use = B
    Look and Feel = B
    Reading Mail = B
    Writing Mail = B
    Features = B

    Comments: Good, but slow.


    HotMailMAILCITY http://www.mailcity.com

    Speed = B
    Ease of Use = B
    Look and Feel = C
    Read Mail = B
    Write Mail = B
    Features = B

    Comments: Very good and efficient to use.


    MailCityYAHOO http://mail.yahoo.com

    Speed = B
    Ease of Use = B
    Look and Feel = C
    Read Mail = B
    Write Mail = B
    Features = A

    Comments: Very good indeed, with valuable links to Yahoo’s content.


    YahooMike: After looking at those three services, which one would you use, if you had to pick just one?

    John: For basic email, Mailcity and Yahoo are equal, from my experience, but I might choose Yahoo for one-click access to the entire range of links at http://www.yahoo.com.

    Mike: That’s a good start, John. Now it’s my turn. I tend to be a bit wordier than you, so I hope you don’t mind my extra comments on each. Here we go:

    NETADDRESS http://www.netaddress.com

    Speed = C
    Ease of Use = B
    Look and Feel = B
    Read Mail = B
    Write Mail = B
    Features = A

    Comments: There are two different interfaces to choose from, their original look and a newly-designed look. Even so, from a Web-based perspective, NetAddress is just one among the many free-mail services out there. However, the ability to use a POP client makes it stand out. Being able to use Eudora or Claris e-mailer to check my NetAddress mail, instead of needing to wait for Navigator to load, and then wait for the Web page to load, and then having to type in my user name and password… well, you get the idea. NetAddress in the only free-mail service I’ve tried that offers POP capability, and I applaud them for that. If you’re looking for a Web-based email service, though, you can probably do better with one of the other top services mentioned in this article.

    John: Mike, just a sec. Please explain the association between NetAddress and @usa.net.

    Mike: Oh, I’m sorry. NetAddress uses a domain name of “usa.net,” so to send a message to my NetAddress account, for example, you would address the message to “Mikeallinga@usa.net


    NetAddressMAIL EXCITE http://www.mailexcite.com
    Speed = B
    Ease of Use = B
    Look and Feel = A
    Read Mail = A
    Write Mail = B
    Features = A

    Comments: Excite’s buttons make it easy to accomplish almost any task. The address book feature is well-implemented, and you can automatically attach a signature to every message you send. One interesting feature is the ability to check mail from any POP host you have and read and store that mail in Excite. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true – Excite does not support using a POP client to get your Excite mail.

    John: I just remembered something, Mike. I recall that some, if not all, of the three services I discussed (Yahoo! Mail, MailCity, and Hotmail), have the ability to coordinate with POP mail. I don’t use Web-based email in that way, so readers should look into these features if they’re interested.


    Mail Excite 

    Mike: Well, that’s all of them. Any closing thoughts, John?

    John: You mean we’re almost finished? I’m enjoying this collaboration tremendously, Mike. Let’s do it again soon.

    Mike: I’m certainly open to the idea. This was a lot of fun. What do you readers think? Did you like this feature, or would John and I be better off sticking to reviewing books or writing memos and rambling incoherently, respectively? Email us and let us know, and include any ideas for future topics that you may have!!! Anyway, we’re not done yet, so I better quit my shameless plug and get back to business.

    John: It appears that each of the six services we’ve discussed is doing a good job at providing extensive free email from the Web. I expect that “friendly” competition will benefit all users of free-mail. Let’s hope that the different providers keep their email clients lean and mean, and easy to use forever.

    Mike: My opinion is that you really can’t go wrong with any of the services, but which one is best for you may depend on your needs. Hotmail seems like an average but well-rounded service, and MailCity also sounds like a very good choice. Yahoo! Mail provides integration with other popular and useful Web search and directory tools. If you want to access other (POP-based) email accounts via the Web, MailExcite is great, and it also has a good interface. My favorite choice is NetAddress, mainly because of the ability to get your mail using a regular email client. I also think everyone should have an iName or similar account, especially if they use more than one address or might change addresses in the future.

    John and Mike (in unison): If you aren’t sure which service is for you, don’t take our word for it; try them yourself. After all, that’s the best part about these email services – they’re free!!!

    John Nemerovski (nemo@mymac.com)
    Mike Wallinga (mikew@mymac.com)

    Websites mentioned:






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