What is e-mail?

Electronic mail (e-mail) is supported by every provider on the Net. Whatever the computer system you use, if it’s on the internet you can use e-mail.Everyone with access to the Net has what is called an e-mail address. In order to send someone an e-mail, you do need to know the address of those you want to send electronic mail to.

An address is separated into two parts. The part before the @ is the mailbox or username. Usually it is your login ID. The part after the @ is your ISP’s domain name.

Domain names are often quickly identified by the last three letters in the name. Commercial organizations end with .com. Educational organizations end with.edu. Networking organizations end with .net. Non-profit organizations end with .org. Government sites end with .gov. Military sites end with .mil. Domains outside of the US are identified by country like France .fr or Zambia .zm.

What software can I use?Both Netscape and Internet Explorer provide facilities to access email. With Internet Explorer this program is called Outlook Express.

One of the most common e-mail programs is Eudora to send and receive mail.

On a commercial provider li Aol of CompuServe you use the mail program your provider provides.

How does E-Mail Work?Mail is stored on a mail server where it can be retrieved or sent. The mail program retrieves or sends mail from and to the mail server for delivery.

With most internet service providers, the mail program retrieves incoming mail from your provider’s mail server at top speed. This connection also gives you direct viewing of mail on your own computer. After mail is retrieved, you can disconnect. This feature cuts down on hourly charges, while you respond to mail off-line, but remember to go on-line once mail is ready to send. Suggested mailers for PPP users are Eudora, and also the latest versions of Netscape and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer have mail programs built in.

What about suggested mailers?Eudora: Runs on Microsoft Windows and Macintosh. It’s easy to use and the ‘Light’ version is free to download. To download Eudora go to http://www.eudora.com/

Netscape: It is an adequate mail program as well as a browser. To download Netscape go to http://home.netscape.com/.

What are Attachments?An attachment is a file that is ‘attached’ to the email, and not contained in the message body. As only text can be transmitted IN an e-mail, a method was developed to be able to attach other files and send them with the e-mail. Any type of file can be sent – a WORD document, an image, or a program. Only it is advisable to only send small files – (under 500K) this way (this amount varies – some ISPs have a varying limit on attachment sizes).

What’s a Signature?A ‘Signature’ is the way you ‘personalize’ your e-mail message. It appears at the end of your message, and usually includes your name, business, and contact information. You can also include witty sayings that show what a learned person you are. Basically, you can have anything you want in a signature, but PLEASE – keep it short! Etiquette calls for a maximum of 4-5 lines of text in a signature.

How private is e-mail?The usual rule of thumb is not to send e-mail that could be considered private and confidential. The latest e-mail systems are beginning to include encryption codes. PGP is most widely used in the U.S. and abroad, and PGP is available free of charge. Experts think that it is so secure that even the National Security Agency can’t crack it. The most common tools for encrypted mail are PEM (Privacy Enhanced Mail) and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).

What are Mailing Lists?Mailing Lists are lists of e-mail addresses. You ‘subscribe” to a list by submitting your e-mail address to the list program. All the subscribers’ e-mail addresses are put under one central e-mail address. When someone posts (sends an e-mail message) to that one central e-mail address, everyone subscribed receives a copy of the original message. It is a very efficient way to reach many people easily.

Mailing Lists are usually subject oriented – for example, you could join a mailing list about boating in Ontario, or a discussion-group based list about health topics. Some mailing lists, however, are used to send out newsletters and announcements (an example is our fifty-plus.net newsletter, which is sent out every two weeks, to let subscribers know what’s new at the web site).

Topics and styles differ from one list to the next so fell free to peruse these lists for the topic that best suits your needs. Liszt.com has a searchable subject index for majordomo lists, while CataList is a directory of listserv lists. Some mailing lists are moderated by a moderator whose job it is filter out letters. Your message may have to go through an approval process before it is sent out to the other people on the list, or the moderator could simply be reading the messages as a list member. The purpose of this censorship is to ensure content and provide users with meaningful and entertaining news. Lists have different rules about what they permit to be posted. When you subscribe to a list, you will be sent an automatic message that outlines how to post messages, unsubscribe from the list, and what is considered ‘acceptable’.

Mailing list Groups include LISTSERVs and Majordomos and must be set up by an ISP.