Absence Makes the E-Mail
By Gabe Goldber
AARP Computer & Technology Web site www.aarp.org
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is never truer
for me than when I'm on the road, away from my wife, four cats,
and e-mail. My wife and cats forgive my travels but it's a challenge
e-mailing remotely. Fortunately, technology provides many ways
to access e-mail. You're on your own, however, explaining to people
you're visiting why you need a break from vacation, sightseeing,
or family, to check for in-box nuggets.
Aside from pressure to stay in touch (some people are addicted
to e-mail), it's worth thinking about e-mail before traveling,
especially for an extended period. Many ISPs (Internet service
providers) limit the e-mail they'll store for you. If you exceed
this amount, your e-mail may "bounce"– that is,
be returned to senders. That frustrates people writing to you and
causes problems with lists to which you're subscribed.
You can suspend list subscriptions to reduce e-mail volume, but
that's a nuisance and won't help if someone sends you huge notes
with vacation pictures.
If you have dial access, you can't do much other than ask correspondents
not to send large notes. Always-on cable or DSL users can leave
e-mail software enabled, downloading mail as it arrives. But things
can still go wrong – power may fail – leaving e-mail
stranded at the ISP.
This article describes using remote computers for e-mail; it
doesn't cover traveling with a laptop (which may require reconfiguration
for sending e-mail) or using your cell phone or wireless PDA (which
should be straightforward).
Facilities for reading e-mail will require your normal e-mail
password; if your PC logs in automatically, you may not remember
it! It's a nasty surprise – realizing when you're far away – that
you've forgotten your password.
The easiest way to read e-mail when away from home is through
your ISP's facility. If you normally read e-mail via a Web interface,
your life is simple indeed: find an online computer, enter the
ISP's e-mail Web address (URL), and you'll have your familiar interface.
This also works for Yahoo!, Google's Gmail, and other national
Even if you usually read e-mail using a PC program such as Outlook
Express, Eudora, or Thunderbird (which all use an Internet protocol
called "POP3"), your ISP may provide Web access to e-mail,
so ask. If it's available, practice using it before leaving so
you can learn the process and have ISP tech support handy instead
of a long-distance call away. Again, take your ISP information
with you so you can log on, get help, etc.
Some ISPs provide an e-mail interface called Telnet. This text-only
(not graphical) interface was developed in the Internet's early
days. It's fast, efficient, and accessible from most PCs, but isn't
intuitive and best suits technically oriented folks. If you'll
use this on the road, practice beforehand is essential.
A very simple tool for accessing many ISP's e-mail is Mail2Web
[ www.mail2web.com ]. Enter your e-mail
address and password; the Web site fetches and displays your e-mail.
Notes you send will appear to be from your normal e-mail address.
Yahoo! provides a similar facility for reading POP3 e-mail.
AOL members can visit AOL's Web site [ www.aol.com ],
click the Mail link, and access e-mail.
If you use an always-on Windows XP PC, you can – with technical
setup beforehand and assuming no ISP-imposed blockage – use
its built-in Remote Desktop feature to operate your home PC remotely
as if you were sitting in front of it.
Two final issues: First, keep security in mind when using strange
computers. Don't allow passwords to be saved; when finished, clear
the browser cache and close applications you've used. Second, be
careful setting an "away" message for everyone who e-mails
you. Some less-than-clever notification systems annoy people and
interfere with mailing lists.
This article originated on AARP's Computers and Technology
Web site, www.aarp.org/computers , and is copyrighted
by AARP. All rights are reserved; it may be reproduced, downloaded,
disseminated, or transferred, for single use, or by nonprofit
organizations for educational purposes, with attribution to AARP.
It should be unchanged and this paragraph included. Please e-mail
Gabe Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org when you
use it, or for permission to excerpt or condense.
The Editorial Committee of the Association
of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization
of which CFCS is a member, brings this article to you.
Author: Gabe Goldberg
Central Florida Computer Society Newsletter
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