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Some Handy, Free Tools

Whether they're everyday essentials or emergency lifesavers, these programs can help you out.

Joel P. Bruckenstein, 11/08/2007

Because of the nature of my work, I'm constantly coming across low-cost and, in many instances, free technology tools. Most serve a limited purpose. Sometimes, as in the case of a security product, I might have a more comprehensive solution available, but perhaps it needs to be supplemented. In other cases, I'll use an application as a fallback when my primary solution fails. In yet other cases, I'll use a free application as my primary solution to a problem. The point is, even if you only use a free tool on rare occasions, there is no downside to being prepared. Sooner or later you are going to want to use one or more of the tools mentioned here.

10 Minute Mail
Some firms are more intrusive than others. I was shopping at a major national retailer last week and the sales clerk seemed determined not to let me leave the store without handing over my e-mail address. In person, one can usually avoid divulging this information, however, when working online, the task is more difficult. If you want to sign up for services online, take advantage of free stuff, trials, and other things, an e-mail address is almost always required. I could live with that if the e-mail address is used responsibly, but that doesn't always happen. As a result, anyone who freely gives out their primary e-mail address is soon inundated with spam.

Until recently, my solution to this dilemma was to establish a special e-mail account just for those situations in which I feared giving out my normal e-mail account. Anyone can do this by opening a free account with Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, or any of the other numerous free services out there.

In my case, I've used this e-mail address for a few years now, and I've never given it to a real person. In fact, I generally don't give it out to reputable vendors that I know and trust. So, it is fair to say that roughly 100% of the mail I receive through this account is, to me, spam. On an average month, I get about 600 or more e-mails in that mailbox. The ISP immediately filters out about half of that as spam. The rest, I either browse through or I just delete.

Now, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with my system except that it requires a bit of time each month to clean out my inbox, junk box, and trash. In the future, rather than giving out the e-mail address that I've used in the past, I'll use 10 Minute Mail instead. The "get my 10 Minute e-mail address" link takes you right to a Web page containing your temporary e-mail address. From there, you can easily cut and paste your e-mail address into the required Web form. If the Web site sends an e-mail back to you, it will appear on your 10-Minute Mail page. If you need additional time for the server at the other end to respond, you can click the "10 more minutes" link, and you can get another temporary e-mail address if you need it.

The beauty of this service is that once you complete your transaction, the e-mail address dies as far as you are concerned, so there is no way for the counterparty to send you spam.

Currently, this site can be used for no charge. It is partially funded by ads, and if you enjoy using 10 Minute Mail, donations are gratefully accepted.

Check it out. I think you'll find that 10 Minute Mail is a great resource.

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