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December 2, 2005

Email Forwarding

Dunky, Dunky,
skinny but funky,
how does your email flow?

With "to me only" bells
and perl script shells
and mail servers
all in a row.

It doesn't actually flow like that, apart from the last part, but "bells" and "shells" keep the whole thing authentic.

First of all, an email you send to any address @riach.org goes to a riach.org mail server in Utah. Yes, it is mormon and yes it does have more than one wife. You can send mail to durr-brain at riach.org and I will receive it.

From Utah, the email will whizz across the internet to a gmail server as it gets forwarded to duncan.riach at gmail.com. Gmail is apparently closely affiliated with the CIA, so this enables them to easily see your email also.

Gmail then forwards your email to my Yahoo account at duncan.riach at yahoo.com. There your email will quietly sit while I am drinking a Sam Adams beer at a swanky new Asian-American bar/cafe called Straits in San Jose, California.

On returning to my computer, I will synchronize Outlook on my laptop with the Yahoo mail server and download the mail onto my laptop.

I hear you mutter: "Why is this so complicated?", your face lit by the cold glow of the monitor in your darkened back-room. Your eyes staring, dry and unblinking at the jumbled mess of characters arrayed across your screen.

Okay, I'll tell you.

I've spent several years honing this whole thing, so I'm saving you several years of your life by telling you this. You can spend that time learning how to do proper stand-up surfing and graduate from that body-board you've been using.

My main email address is duncan at riach.org. This email address is going to be working when I'm 120 years old; when Google, Yahoo, and Coke will all be distant memories.

I run the emails through gmail for two reasons. The first is that gmail has the best spam filtering that I've ever seen, and it's free. It seems to be better than the enterprise spam filtering that my employer uses. The second reason for using gmail is that as the emails pass through there, they get archived on gmail's free and ever exanding, indexed-searchable disk space. So I have a really nicely automatically organized archive of all my emails.

The emails go to Yahoo, because Yahoo has the best webmail service I've seen. If I'm trudging through an amazon rain forest with my laptop, I can check my email at mail.yahoo.com and it works really nicely. They also add a little bit more spam filtering that catches the odd items that slips past gmail.

Yahoo also allows me to download my emails while leaving them on the mail server. gmail does not have this feature. This enables me to download mails onto my Palm email phone while I'm drinking beer and looking cool. But it leaves it on the server so that when I return, I can download it onto my laptop and deal with it properly. To get access to my mail from Outlook and phone, I do need to pay about $30 per year for the Yahoo Plus Mail service.

To finally close the loop, I have all emails sent to my "vanity" addresses such as riach at iee.org or duncan.riach at stanfordalumni.org funneled to my riach.org address.

The technical skill needed to set all this up is very minimal. It requires setting some options in your webmail and laptop email applications.

If you want a gmail account, send me an email. I have 100 invitations right now. Because I'm registered in the U.K. you'll get a googlemail.com account, but who cares. Gmail is a good webmail service, if you just want to use that for your mail.


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