The email safari

safari

WHAT’S MORE important than your email address?

Some people have stuck with the same email address since Al Gore invented the internet. I am not one of those people. There is quite a bit of difference between email services.

My first email service, in the late 1990s, was Hotmail. After moving to Mexico in 2000, I switched Excite, which still exists, but God knows who uses it. Then I migrated to Yahoo, where I still have an account.

(My first year in Mexico, I emailed from an internet café a few blocks from where I lived alone above a garage in the state capital. My email was almost entirely with my old mama, my daughter, a sweetie in Mexico City, and financial institutions. Yes, I checked financial balances on an unprotected public computer. You’d be nuts to do that today.)

Much later, before Gmail debuted, I put myself on the wait list and was one of the first with a Gmail address. I liked it and stuck with it for years. I still have Gmail on almost all registrations across cyberspace.

But it is far from perfect. First off, it’s grown to a Gorilla’s girth. If something goes haywire with your Gmail, try and find a person with whom you can communicate directly. Buena suerte with that, amigo.

When I bought my latest desktop, a Hewlitt-Packard All-in-One, about two years ago (Buck Rogers Zapata), I opened an email account with Outlook.com, what used to be called Hotmail.

At first, I liked it. I had my Gmail and Yahoo mail automatically routed to my Outlook.com inbox. Outlook.com and the older Outlook are different, you may know. But Outlook.com is not perfect. It has bugs and often freezes up. Phooey with that.

Yahoo seems too vulnerable to hackers, plus its revamp a couple of years ago left it worse, not better, in some ways. The only reason I hold onto the account is to read Yahoo forums focusing on my area of Mexico.

* * * *

LOADED AND LOCKED

So, last week, I went on safari, a hunting expedition. Here is what I bagged, most of which I skinned and left lying on the plains for buzzards to enjoy. But, at last, I found my prize, something to hang on the wall.

Let’s look first at the carrion:

  1. AOL. It has what many say is a good email service. I opened an account. It worked for a few hours till this happened: Every time I opened  email, a pop-up box told me I had to sign in again. On clicking OK, which was the only option, it immediately started signing me off so I could sign in again. When I tried to contact someone at AOL, I found that was possible only with a paid account. Adiós.
  2. GMX. According to reviews, this is a good one. I opened an account. Within an hour, the account had been locked down due to “suspicious activity.” I opened “a ticket,” hoping for a simple solution. Three days later, I received an email from them, announcing that the problem had been resolved. But it had not. Adiós.
  3. Lycos. Again, good reviews. I opened an account, and it started well. Two days later, I could get my email, but its Account Page would recognize neither my Lycos email address nor my password. I emailed Lycos. A day later, they told me to clear my cache and try again. My cache is cleared automatically daily, but I cleared it again, and problem was solved, but I doubt it was the cache. I was left with an uneasy feeling. Plus, I could not get the Calendar to work right. More on that later. Lycos ain’t bad, but it ain’t a keeper either.
  4. Yandex. More great reviews. I opened an account and immediately noticed two problems. One, no calendar. Two, Yandex is in Russia! Do you want Vladimir Putin handling your email? Me either. Adiós.
  5. Zoho. Now this one is pretty sweet. Zoho is primarily for businesses, but there’s a personal-email arm too. I liked it, but I couldn’t get the Calendar to send reminders correctly, a serious flaw. And I didn’t much like the look of the main page. Kinda boring.

Let’s consider calendars. Online calendars are a Godsend. They keep life running smoothly. I read recently on a Yahoo forum about a woman who came to visit Mexico and, while here, noticed that her U.S. passport had expired. Oops! You kinda need a passport to go home these days .

If only she had noted that on an online calendar, she would not have been blindsided. Everything important is on my calendar — and lots of trivial stuff too. I currently use Google’s and Outlook’s.  Calendars email reminders, so I never forget anything, especially passports.

calendarAnd I consider two calendars essential in case one goes haywire.

I want to dump Outlook completely, so my new email provider must have a good calendar. And this brings us to the end of my hunt.

But first, let’s remember the old saying that you get what you pay for. All of the above email options are free. Some have paid arms that give you more, but all are available for nothing.

“You get what you pay for” is usually true. I had discovered the above outfits by doing an online search for freebies. Disappointed with my catch, I turned to paid services, expanding my safari.

That’s when I blasted the beast I’ve hung on my wall.

* * * *

IN THE CROSSHAIRS

After what seemed like weeks walking in the searing sun, shooting at hyenas and other critters, my dream prey suddenly charged out of the high grass, straight at me, so I raised the .300 Winchester Magnum and squeezed (not pulled) the trigger. It fell at my feet with a smile.

It was well-organized. Everything made sense. It was easy to use. It was good-looking. The calendar was simple enough. My email from Yahoo, Outlook and Gmail could be sucked into it easily, and responses could be sent out with the original addresses to fool folks.

It was not free, but the prices were excellent. The cheapest program, “Lite,” was just $10 a year. The next is $20, then $40 and lastly $120 a year. Each level includes more stuff, of course, mostly storage, domains and mobile sync, whatever that all means.

I’m buying the $40 package because it includes “priority tech support.” The first month is a free trial with the $40 plan. I’ve already sent two questions to HQ, and got responses immediately.

Try that with Gmail or any free plan.

This service does what Outlook did to attract me away from Gmail in the first place, but it does it far better. So what is this thing I discovered, you likely are wondering. What did I lug home from safari aside from a sunburn? Drum roll, please: Not Cecil the Lion but Fastmail.

It’s stuffed and mounted on my screen.

It is fast, faster than gmail, Yahoo and Outlook where I also have accounts. It is spectacularly well-designed on a number of fronts. You can access your calendar, contacts and inbox, switching from one to the other, in an instant. It beats the competition hands down.

33 thoughts on “The email safari”

  1. Wow! You truly searched worldwide for this. Do the techs speak with an Australian accent or have they moved support to India? If they speak with an Australian accent, I might move my email account just to hear the accent. A word of caution: You may not wish to brag about your kill on Facebook…there could be negative backlash.

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    1. Bev: I did search worldwide and, thanks to the internet and Al Gore, I never had to move away from my computer screen to do it. Of course, accents are not available via the written word, but the tech guy who responded from Lycos was named Adam Paneesh, or something like that. Clearly, his first name was made up to smooth things over for people with problems with the diversity thing. I imagine he was in Calcutta or somewhere like that.

      Yes, I’m aware of the PC nuts running Facebook — and virtually all online companies. Pathetic.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: You piqued my curiosity, so I looked into domains, something I had never done before. I found one article on why you should buy domains. Not one of the reasons resonated with me. I cannot imagine why I need a domain. They don’t come with full email setups, do they? I didn’t think so.

      Thanks for the suggestion, but I think I’ll stick with the nice, new email provider I snared while out on safari.

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        1. Ms. Shoes: I looked even further into that domain thing later yesterday. Almost purchased the unseenmoon one but, after a moment’s pause, I decided the correct thing: I had no use for it whatsoever.

          The pay phone at the laundromat sounds good to me. I’ll stick with it.

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  2. Hi Felipe,

    Still in Nagoya and occasionally reading blogs from Mexico. Your search piqued my interest as my kids have often asked why I pay for Netscape. After returning from our Christmas vacation last year the account had been closed down. Since so many people had recommended Gmail, I opened an account there. I wasn’t crazy about it so kept trying to get my Netscape back, and eventually after some calls to technical support, it was back on. So yes, you get what you pay for. Hope you and the señora are well and happy. Still hoping to meet you both someday.

    Saludos,
    Teresa

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    1. Teresa: Netscape? My, you are old school. I don’t know how much you pay for whatever it is you’re using on Netscape, but you might want to take a look at Fastmail. It really is sweet. And saludos to you too.

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    1. Teresa: Things are coming into focus. Old school does not go far enough. Perhaps fuddy-duddy is in order. You are a museum piece.

      This perhaps explains the mystery of your keyboard lacking a CAPS key. Normally, I correct your comments, starting sentences with a Big Letter, etc., but I’ll leave the previous comment intact so I make sense. It’s a hoot.

      No cell phone? Jeez, woman. Does your home phone have one of those little cranks that go round and round?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. hey thanks-i needed a good laugh!!!! yup-i have to call the operator, think of lily tomlin. just kidding of course. but the reason for not having a cell phone is that i am n ot much of a phone person. also, i don’t want to turn into one of those rude people who ansnwer their phones no matter where they are-that drives me batty! as for the caps, i starte writing that way first the winter i spent in chacala 8 years ago. i am not the fastest typist around and i had to pay to use the internet, so it was just faster typing in lower case letters and i continued t hat.

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      2. another sudden ending reply because the part that says my e-mail address was covering what i was writing. see how good i am with computers! i couldn’t figure o ut how to change t hat-i did try. btw-i’ve been needing a new keyboard for some time. this one cause me to make so many typos that’s i’ve given up-so it’s the keyboard, not my lack of spelling knowledge.
        thanks again for the good laugh

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        1. Teresa: i’m gonna just leave your comments just like they are. maybe i’ll write the responses the same way so you won’t feel odd. the moon is a warm place and we, of course, embrace diversity, multiculturalism and who needs cap letters anyhow?

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  3. When dinosaurs roamed the earth and the internet had been newly minted by Al Gore, I had an AOL account. LOL! I briefly flirted with Yahoo, but now I have had a steady, faithful and happy alliance with gmail where I will stay as long as we both shall live.

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    1. Laurie: Gmail, of course, is the Big Kahuna. I will keep it as my main man to register stuff across cyberspace because I know it’s not going anywhere, and it’s free. Its email works pretty well, but it’s not perfect. Fastmail is an improvement, and my Gmail goes there, landing in my Fastmail inbox, so I have the best of both worlds.

      Gmail lands in my FM inbox, and I can reply from FM with the Gmail return address. It’s sweet. Outlook.com mail does that too but nowhere nearly as smoothly and easily.

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    2. P.S. Of course, I have a severe ideological problem with Gmail/Google, and that matters to me. They have a cute name, and they sport snazzy colors, but that does not cancel their abominable politics. A really intelligent company does not even show its politics because a company’s basic goal is to earn money, and the fewer customers you irritate the less cash you are likely to lose. But Google, like Chick-Fil-A on the opposite end of the spectrum, does not understand that.

      Chick-Fil-A sports its politics because of religious extremism. Google does it because of PC extremism and because it’s run by young people who understand technology very well, but capitalism and human nature far less.

      I would like to shun Google altogether, but that’s rather difficult these days. I would eat at Chick-Fil-A, of course, but there isn’t one anywhere near me. So far, Fastmail has not waved its politics in my face. May it continue so.

      Thanks for listening.

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  4. It has been alleged by many sources that the “g” in gmail really stands for government mail. American intelligence services are said to have initially funded Google to spy on the world. It is safe to say that Google has a very close, yet opaque working relationship with the American government.

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    1. Andrés: You sound a bit like you should be in a cave in Idaho with canned goods and grenades. I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories.

      As for Google being in bed with the government, I am sure they see eye-to-eye with the Barry Administration. Let us pray that January 2017 will find them facing an Oval Office a good bit less to their liking. I pray so.

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      1. ALL the tech companies, phone companies, internet companies, cable companies, and many others are in bed with the government. To their credit, some companies like Google and Microsoft have gently resisted, but they mostly all roll over.

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          1. If you had said “President Paul,” there would be a chance. Cruz? I think he’d likely up spying massively in order to protect us from all the dangers he sees.

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            1. Kim: Paul will not be the GOP nominee. No way. Cruz is the most consistent on conservative issues. I’m a longtime fan.

              But let us not veer off into politics, please. Totally unrelated to the post topic. Gracias.

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  5. Long ago and far away, I had an AOL account which died when I was finally (after much trouble, and a few well-crafted lies) able to close my AOL account.

    I switched to Yahoo mail, and have now had the same email address for more than twenty years. Some of the improvements have not been an improvement. And they are constantly tinkering with it these days, which can be irritating. But overall, it has improved, and I’m still pretty happy with it.

    And I refuse to use gmail as I view Google as the spy-in-chief of the private sector. No, I don’t have any illusions that Yahoo isn’t doing virtually the same thing; it’s just that I don’t think they are as good at it, hence less worrisome.

    I have to say, I occasionally think about going the “Hillary route,” and setting up my own email server. But at the end of the day, it strikes me as a lot of hassle for someone who’s not really attracting any attention anyway.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we do try to clear our cookies periodically so as to keep the advertisers guessing.

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        1. Kim: There is some work involved, but it’s not that big a deal, plus it’s kinda interesting. I know what Yahoo is like.

          FM lets you pull in email from other providers. This is particularly handy if you have more than one email service, which I do. And all of it lands nicely in the FM inbox, which is clean and well-organized. And then it lets you respond from FM with your Yahoo, or whatever, email address. The recipient cannot even see that. To him or her or it, it’s business as usual from you.

          Outlook.com’s email has this same service, but it works poorly. Gmail does not do it, and neither does Yahoo. And FM is faster than Yahoo and Gmail too.

          But the most striking thing about FM is it is just plain well-done. It’s a pleasure.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I have been thinking about a private email service because I don’t like the idea of google or yahoo sharing my info with the government. I am pretty sure that this was Hillary’s thinking as well, though she actually WAS the government.

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