Category: E-Mail

A new free e-mail account from Apple for most of you

I have some really good news for most of you.   Apple released its new iCloud service this week and I’m pleased to report that all the bugs were worked out within a few days, not a matter of weeks or months like other services.

iCloud is the replacement for Mobile Me (which was formerly known as dot-mac).   I don’t know if any clients were Mobile Me subscribers for use primarily with your Mac or Windows computer, but I know several of you did use the service with your iPhone / iPad.     Mobile Me was an online collaboration service that gave you e-mail, contacts, and calendar (along with some other features) for $99 a year.   The best part about it was that it backed up your contacts on your iPhone / iPad and also synced them with your Mac or Windows computer.   An iDevice was not required to use Mobile Me.

Fast forward to now and Apple has decided to make Mobile Me into iCloud and turn it into a free service.  It is free with no gimmicks attached, much like a Gmail or Yahoo or Hotmail account.    You get an @me.com email address, address book and calendar.  Some other exciting features will apply if you also have an iPhone / iPad / iPod touch.

So how do you get this new account?  First of all existing Mobile Me customers WILL NOT be charged again for a subscription.  You have until April 30, 2012 to convert to iCloud.  Conversion will happen when you authorize iCloud for the first time.

To convert to iCloud or sign up for the first time you need ONE of the following:

Windows — Vista SP2 or Windows 7 and download the iCloud program http://www.apple.com/icloud/setup/pc.html

*For Windows, this service will be web based unless you use Outlook 2007 or 2010.  With Outlook, you are able to sync e-mail, contacts, and calendar.

Mac — OS X 10.7.2 which was released on Wednesday.  If you are already running 10.7 Lion, this is a free update.

An iOS 5 device — iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, iPad, iPad2, iPod Touch 3rd or 4th gen.

When you log in for the first time, you will be asked to create an Apple ID.  If you have purchased from iTunes before or Apple.com, you have an Apple ID, your e-mail address.  You can use this, you will later have the option of attaching a new @me.com e-mail address to this later.    If you don’t have an Apple ID or want to create a fresh profile, then you can do that as well.   In this scenario your @me.com address is your new Apple ID.

I’ve always shared how having a second or third e-mail account, not connected to your Internet service is crucial.  If you don’t use an iPhone or other iDevice, here is why the iCloud still makes sense.   What if your primary e-mail just isn’t working when you NEED to receive an important email from someone?  Now you have a backup.    Want to keep a separate account for your online shopping?  Perhaps your johnnybegood(at)yahoo(dot)com account that you created when you were in a humorous mood or when you were a student is NOT the professional presence you would like to use for job searching.   Well, a your.name(at)me(dot)com account could give you that edge.

Please ask for help, if necessary in creating an iCloud account or converting to it.   This article should be read as a primer.

http://www.macworld.com/article/163013/2011/10/all_about_icloud_common_signup_scenarios.html

 

 

Important words on e-mail security

Though today’s message applies mostly to those who A) check e-mail away from home or B) check e-mail on a laptop or C) check their e-mail via a wireless connection (or a combination of these factors), I think it is a great reminder that protecting our e-mail is no laughing matter.

Something crazy has just happened, you cannot log into your e-mail account. Your password no longer works and on top of that, everyone in your contacts / address book (likely including yourself) gets a strange email saying –HELP, I’M IN LONDON AND I’VE BEEN MUGGED. MY PLANE LEAVES IN 2 HOURS, PLEASE WESTERN UNION FUNDS IMMEDIATELY.

If you think that this comes from the page of a 21st century cyber-crime novel, think again. This ugly scenario happened to a customer of mine last week and is happening to innocent victims around the world, day after day.

I don’t want to categorize my advice as best or must — but I want to clearly lay out some options for you. There are safer choices and decisions that could leave you exposed.

1) A good portion of you probably use an e-mail address provided by your Internet Service Provider. Your address may end in @att.net, @sbcglobal.net or @comcast.net, or some other domain easily identifiable with your provider. If a computer criminal (a hacker) were to break into your account — you would simply need to call your provider and they could reset your password over the phone. Great!!

However, for business purposes, you may not want to use an e-mail address like this. As a representation of your company or yourself (in a job search process), an e-mail address connected with your internet provider can appear unprofessional.

1a) If you are given an e-mail account by your employer or school, security issues fall to the responsibility of your I.T. administrator. Furthermore, you may be discouraged from using that account for non-business purposes.

2) So what many people do, and what I have often encouraged you do in the past, is create at least one e-mail account that is independent of your internet service provider. The most common direction has been to go with a free e-mail service such as Yahoo Mail, Gmail (Google) or Hotmail (Microsoft Windows Live Mail). However, these services are the most frequently hacked into and many users have experienced the horror scenario that I described at the beginning of this message.

When a computer criminal hacks into your account, they change your password and the security questions associated with it. There is no live support provided with the free options from these e-mail services. Attempts to regain access to your account can only be accomplished by e-mail and can take days.

2a) If you are going to be traveling with a laptop or accessing your free account away from home, the safest way to e-mail is through a client program. Examples of such clients are Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird (Mac or Windows), Microsoft Outlook (with the latest security updates), Microsoft Live Mail Desktop, or Yahoo Zimbra Desktop (Mac or Windows). All of these are free, except for Outlook. The hackers are most likely to break into your account when you are accessing your account through webmail, away from home, on a wireless connection. Do not use Outlook Express in Windows — this program is no longer distributed by Microsoft and is prone to attacks.

2b) To access your Yahoo Mail account through an external program, you will need to use Yahoo Zimbra Desktop (free) or upgrade your account to Yahoo Plus — a $20 per year option. If you use an @yahoo.com address, I like the Plus service because this gets you 24/7 live support, although you do have to chat with a representative through your web browser. It is much better than the e-mail only support you get with a free account.

2c) ATT DSL customers should not be as concerned as free Yahoo Mail users. Though your e-mail is provided by Yahoo, you do have 24-7 telephone provided to you by ATT. Your webmail account is more secure because you can reset your password any time by talking to a live person. Your ATT Yahoo Mail already has the Plus features built in.

3) So what can you do if you are really concerned? For example, you check your e-mail away from home frequently on a laptop or netbook. Read section 2a) and 2b), but you should also consider these advanced options.

3a) A Yahoo Mail Plus account ($20 per year) or a Mobile Me account (Apple — $70 to $100 per year. Allows you to back up contacts and files, in addition to providing you with e-mail). Both of these services provide 24/7 live support via web chat, should a crisis occur.

3b) Purchasing your own domain name through GoDaddy.com — approx. $12 per year. One e-mail account is included. For example you would register, yourname.com or yourname.us or yourname.net and you could set your email to email@yourname.com or firstname@yourname.com. You may have seen GoDaddy’s ads during the Super Bowl. They are the real deal and offer free telelphone support. For those who are running a small business, applying for jobs, or just wanting a personal e-mail, a domain with e-mail from GoDaddy is a very cost effective option.

3b) For my friends who want a slightly more sophisticated e-mail system, especially one that will sync with their iPhone or Blackberry — consider one of the following. Google Apps Premier ($50 per year) or Get Synced (a Kerio email provider – $60 per year). Both services allow you to register a domain name ($10 to $15 per year), such as described above, provide telephone support, and offer an easy to use, professional interface for managing your e-mail.

No matter what e-mail solution you choose — I am here to help you implement it.

Have You Changed Your Email Password Lately?

Per this recent article blog article on NYTimes.com

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/16/passwords-of-8000-comcast-customers-exposed/

it seems that over 8,000 Comcast e-mail addresses and passwords were exposed in a file that was posted to a website dedicated to writing.   I do not know what if the affected customers were located in a particular state or across Comcast’s territory.

Whether or not  you are a Comcast Internet customer, now would be a good time to change your email password and your passwords for sensitive sites – like online banking – if you haven’t done so in the past 12 months.   Comcast customers can change their password online by logging in at http://www.comcast.net

E-mail me for more specific instructions if you don’t know how to change your password on another service.

Acronym Update 05-12-08

Dear Readers and Clients,

Today’s topic:  BACK TO BASICS

As much as we all love to discuss the latest advances in technology……sometimes its CRUCIAL to review basic skills, procedures, and services.   Without the fundamentals of computers under your belt, you risk serious consequences and unexpected emergencies….

#1 I say this with passion:   If you are using a FREE e-mail account based on Yahoo Mail (including AT&T Yahoo DSL e-mail),  please consider signing up for a free Gmail account!!!   If you use Yahoo classic web mail or download mail to external software,  that is even more reason for you to change to Gmail.   Web mail is great…..but Yahoo Mail is just a nightmare.   If you access your Yahoo Mail account through external software such as Outlook Express or Apple Mail….you’ve noticed significant delays in sending mail over the past few months.   You deserve an e-mail account that is easy to operate…..   If you haven’t noticed any problems with your Yahoo Mail account recently….maybe you have been typing a vacuum.

#2  When opening attachments from e-mail or opening files from the Internet,  please SAVE them to a location WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT LATER if you plan to use it more than one time.     Often times you will be given the option to OPEN or SAVE it.   If you need to find it later, please choose SAVE.   If the only option is to open it or it opens automatically, save the file right away to a familiar location from inside the associated software application.

#3 STUDENTS (young and young at heart), Professors, and anyone who creates documents on the computer:   Print out a copy of each significant draft that you complete, and definitely print out your final copy ….. even if the recipient (ie. teacher, boss, editor) allows you to submit it to them electronically.   Printing on the other side of old documents for drafts is a great way to save paper and money.   Decent ink jet or laser paper is over $5 a ream now!!

That’s all for today my friends.   Acronym Updates are supposed to be short bursts of knowledge.  I will try to continue along this theme with another Update in a few days.

Acronym Update 11/19/07

Dear Friends,

Some quick info for you on Yahoo Mail….

Those Yahoo Mail servers were acting really crazy this weekend!

As almost all of you know, Yahoo Mail is a free mail service put out by….Yahoo (big surprise).
It is primarily accessed through web mail, but some of you may have AT&T DSL for an Internet Service. Their e-mail is processed through Yahoo servers. Ha ha ha, that’s why you’ve had so many problems with your AT&T DSL e-mail in recent months. Ok, I’ll be fair — its a large part of the problem.

Finally, some of you may have Yahoo Mail Plus. It’s a pretty good service, if you are married to your @yahoo.com email address. The $20 per year subscription allows you to download the email into a local software application such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Apple Mail, etc. For some people who never got used to web mail, this is a nifty option.

I understand some of you don’t like to use an email account provided by your ISP – ie. @sbcglobal.net, @att.net, @comcast.net, etc. What if something happens to your ISP and they lose the rights to keep their domain name? You all fondly remember when your email address changed from @home.com to @attbi.com to @comcast.net within about 18 months. This was not a good way to do business and Comcast knows this. I hope they wouldn’t let it happen again — ever! One positive aspect to AT&T’s DSL service is that they grandfathered in all of the old domains from previous ISP’s that merged over the years to form “The New at&t.” Some of you may have emails ending in @prodigy.net, @pacbell.net, @sbcglobal.net, @snet.net, or even @att.net (what new customers are offered), and are all customers of ATT DSL. Y’all know that I don’t have too many positive things to say about AT&T — so I really mean what I’m saying here. It was a nice gesture on their part.

If I were to rank web mail providers in terms of reliability and features,
1) Google (Gmail)
2) Yahoo Mail
3) Hotmail (although they are coming of age and could be better than Yahoo soon)

Back to my mail point…..
Yahoo Mail had major delays sending and receiving mail this weekend. If your life depends on your Yahoo Mail account (even for those DSL customers whose email is processed by Yahoo), its a good idea to check out the “Y! Mail Blog.” This is an unofficial blog, updated by team members at Yahoo, that notifies the public of serious issues that may affect their service. For all I know they could have said the sky is green and Hillary Clinton would make a great President in the past, but they were dead on accurate this weekend notifying by letting Yahoo Mail users know on Fri. 11/16 that Yahoo was having serious issues with their mail servers. I don’t think you need to check that website every day, but every once in a while wouldn’t hurt. You can find a link to it at
http://www.theacronym.com under Helpful Sites or simply go to http://www.ymailupdates.com

If you are running a business, don’t depend on free web mail. I think your company is too valuable to rely on an e-mail service that you really don’t have the right to complain about when something goes wrong. Yahoo Mail Plus offers some (non-US based) telephone support, but how much fun is that going to be? Gmail is a step in the right direction, but still there is no accountability. Google Apps mail for businesses is a better option, $50 at a year. You can use your own domain @yourcompany.com and you get 24/7 support.

I think most people in business would not want to use the email that their ISP provides for them. @comcast.net or @att.net doesn’t say much about the IMAGE THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO PROJECT CORPORATELY.

So what I am really saying? I think if you’re in business you’ve got to have your own domain name. Seriously consider a hosted e-mail account with the company that hosts your website (if you have one), Google Apps, or get a personal Exchange account that syncs your e-mail, calendar and contacts flawlessly between the host server and Outlook or Entourage. None of these choices would run you more than $15 a month; they are really pennies in the bucket when you think about how valuable having reliable e-mail is to your business.

As always, I am willing to discuss ANY of these topics with you.

Technically yours,

Kevin