Another e-mail article? Do we need another article on e-mail and the Internet? In a word: Yes. People are still entering the world of the Internet at a rate only McDonalds can dream of. The Internet is not something that can be treated lightly. It is a powerful tool. People who have never touched a computer are being convinced by children, parents, friends, companies, and colleagues that if they were on e-mail then they could have better communication. And for many that has become true. Although some people only look at their e-mail once a week, never replying, they still feel they are communicating by reading the incoming e-mails.
The first thing you should keep in mind is that getting a provider and getting an e-mail account are actually different things. Often they come together as one package, so they can easily become confused. And when you sign up for a provider, they will almost always give you an e-mail account in the deal. However, especially lately in the days of "free e-mail" the opposite is not necessarily true. It's very easy to get an e-mail account minus a provider. If you understand this, you can skip the next two paragraphs.
Provider. This is the company that owns a--hopefully fairly large and trustworthy--computer that is hooked up 24 hours to the Internet. This is where your computer will call to hook into the Internet.
E-mail. This is a computer which, like the provider, is also 24 hours on the Internet. It has storage space for your e-mail and a way for you to enter a user name and a password and get it off into your own computer. BUT, this is done from the Internet, usually not directly between your phone line and that computer. In other words, you first need a provider to get onto the Internet, and then once you're on the Internet you can get your e-mail there (=anywhere on the Internet).
Now that we can keep those two things separate in our minds, we are ready to set up. This is perhaps the place where the most problems happen. Many providers and e-mail carriers have realized this fact and have made great efforts to smooth out the process. I have been using e-mail for about five years now, but I still have trouble setting things up sometimes.
One of the problem areas is that many browsers and e-mail programs do things differently, and providers' requirements also are a bit different. Sometimes material that you read will even tell you different things. It might take some time and a little help, maybe even a phone call or two. Once your settings are taken care of, though, you generally never have to worry about them again, until you sign up with a new provider. Most software coming out these days will keep your old information, perhaps minus the password, when you install a new version .
Many providers provide you with disks or a CD ROM which will talk you through the whole set-up process. If that is your situation, consider yourself blessed! However, sometimes, things don't work perfectly with YOUR computer.
Setting up the Provider
When I start to set up my Internet access, the first thing that it asks for is a name for the connection. This part is a little confusing! Because you look for a name like that on your materials and it is not there! Why? Because it's just a name, any name you want. It will appear when you choose which connection you want to use, if you have more than one place you connect to. So, just make up a name that makes sense to you.
Next it asks me for which modem I want to use. I have two modems, only one of which works right now, so I choose that one.
Then it asks for a telephone number. I look on the materials that my provider gave me and find the telephone number for my city and enter that. It also asks me for the country and the zip code. I don't need any help with that! After that I'm done.
Now, assuming our modem is working properly, and all is well, we're onto the Internet and we can now use our browser to look at Web pages, etc. but we still can't get our e-mail. Let's set that up, now.
Setting up E-mail
The first thing that you will need is e-mail software. There is a great deal out there and most of it is free. I think Outlook (which comes with Microsoft Explorer), Communicator (Netscape Navigator's newest version), and Eudora (only e-mail) are the most popular. If you are using a Windows PC or a Mac, then it should be fairly easy to get your hands on one of these. They also usually come in the package when you sign up for a provider.
Installing the e-mail software will usually take you through the steps of what you have to set. Some will set themselves up for you as you watch, though you have to enter your user name and the password. Generally, though, the information that will be needed will be:
All of this information should be in the material given you when you sign up for an account. A really good, basic resource for setting things up is here:
Looking at my e-mail software, the first thing it wants when I try to set up a new e-mail account is the name I want the account to be listed as. Like the connection name, this can be anything I want the account to be called. Often it will be the name given to the pull-down menu, etc. when you start up your e-mail software and it asks you, "Which account would you like to check?" So you can give it any name you would like.
Second, my software asks me for my e-mail address. I look in my materials that the e-mail company gave me and it says, when you get on the Internet, this will be your e-mail address that other people can contact you at: "firstname.lastname@example.org" .
The next thing it asks me for is my mail server, receiving and sending (there are two blanks for me to fill in). It calls the receiving one "POP, IMAP or HTTP". Hmmm. We don't have to know that much, but really, POP only means "Post Office Protocol (language)". It might also say POP3. The other, the sending server name says "STMP" on it. That's okay. Just fill it in like it says in your material. In some cases, the names you fill in will be the same. These will be the names which will usually start like this: "mail.somethingc" or "POP.somethingc"
The next window asks me for an account name and a password. Here, I have to be careful. For me, my e-mail name and my account name are different. In most cases they will be the same. For me, they were originally the same, but, since my account name is just a meaningless string of numbers and letters, I was able to choose an "alias" which I now use for my e-mail name. This alias doesn't work for my account namecI need to use the messy one with the numbers and letters. I put in the account name and the password, click the "remember the password" box and I'm done and ready to connect up (I already have a server set up to take me to the Internet).
Finding someone's e-mail
If you are entering into the World of Computers and E-mail, you are probably pretty sure that other people you know have e-mail, but aren't really sure what their address is, or how to find out what it is. For some reason, many people seem to be reluctant to call people on the telephone or write them a paper-mail letter asking what their e-mail address is, as long as there is even a remote chance that it might be found without asking.
I have done this, too. About two years ago, I looked for an Elementary school friend on the Internet. I found three e-mail addresses that might possibly have belonged to him, but have never gotten the courage to send a message and find out. Yes, that was 2 years ago! In most cases, it is much easier to get someone's e-mail address by asking them than by trying to search for it in other ways.
Also, many people are starting to add their e-mail addresses to their calling cards and Christmas letters. Take a look and see. Before you start to use e-mail yourself, you might have just ignored that string of funny characters at the bottom of the page...now you have one too!
For those of you who want to try your luck searching the Internet, however, there are many databases on the Web which have millions of names and e-mail addresses. This Internet site:
Things to Keep in Mind on the Internet
Privacy. Paper letters usually don't see the light of day between the time you seal it and the time your friend opens it. E-mail is different. It basically is like sending a letter without an envelope. Well, not quite that open. But for those who want to see, it is easy. There are various encryption and other methods that you can use. That is too advanced for this paper. There are many resources on the World Wide Web that deal with the privacy issue. Generally, it's not a bad idea to keep your content on the safe side.
Anonymity. This can be good and bad. Generally, though, it's very important to be aware that "things may not be what they seem." It's very hard to tell who or what is on the other end of a Home Page or an e-mail. On the other hand, since it is a medium that allows for only letters and numbers, a little special attention should be paid to how you write and what you write. Please see the insert on page 7.
E-mail is an amazing thing, and it's getting hard to get along without it for many people in the world. Enter into it cautiously, with wisdom, and it will be a powerful, enjoyable, and useful tool in your hands.
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