Like many, I often have to give details of a valid email address, to which I will be sent the login details I need for a particular service. I know that many times this will lead to lots of spam as my details are passed or sold on. To that end I have a number of ‘throw away’ email accounts, which I have setup to be used just for this purpose. It works well, but I have often wondered if there is a better alternative – and there is.
I have found Mailinator. This is far from a standard email. To begin with you do not need to register to use the account. You can use any name you wish, they say every possible name has already been registered (of course not). Your choice of name is important, more later. There is no security, none of the email accounts on the system has a password, and you can look at other people’s email. Perhaps I am not selling it to you correctly, lets go through a scenario and see how it works.
I would like to register at a site in order to download a piece of software, let’s call the site Pancea Software. As part of the registration I must provide a valid email address to which they will send my password and link to use the site. No problem, I just give my email address as firstname.lastname@example.org. Having, registered to download the software with Panacea Software I visit http://www.mailinator.com. In the top left of the page I type in the name I used, and click ‘Go’. The system shows me any emails for that account, and I can collect my new password and link to the download area of Panacea Software.
The email address at Mailinator, which you just created and instantly used, will only hold a maximum of ten emails and will automatically delete them after ‘a few hours’. What about your choice of name (I said I would come back to this). This could be a problem if you use the name ‘email@example.com’. There will be several thousand other ‘bob’s out there using the same account. Try to choose something unique, and chances are your emails will be long deleted before anyone else finds them.
So, back to our scenario. When registering your email address with Panacea Software you chose to use firstname.lastname@example.org. It is extremely unlikely that anyone else will be using that name, or will come across it accidentally. But, I hear you cry, your login ID and password for Panacea Software is potentially available for others to see. First, you would not use this system for your bank account or anything which was vital. Second, you now log in to your account at Panacea Software and change the password they sent you.
Three other things to note. All attachments are stripped from incoming emails, other domains can be used (if mailinator becomes better known) and you are unable to send from this account (just receive).
Why use Mailinator ? As they say on their web site, “Give it out. Use it in web forms. Post it on forums. Use it any time you need an email address, but don’t want to be slowed down by the sign-up process or spammed for eternity.” You were able to instantly create an email account, as there was no lengthy registration process, it created an email address which you don’t care what happens to it (you don’t own it after all) and it was a case of create, use and throw away.
I have been neglecting my Blog. No excuses offered. My nephew, Wilf, just phoned me and said I had not updated my Blog for some while, and why were there no posts for the under ten year olds ?
So, here is a post for him, and any other young people. Often children are given toys, which need batteries. If the person giving the toy has sense they will not only make sure it comes complete with batteries, but also supply a replacement set. Children get through batteries very quickly. It would be wonderful to have an electric toy which did not need batteries, and did not need ‘plugging in’. Here is such a toy.
The toy is called “Generator Racing”. The name comes from the fact that the child (or adult) playing with it has to generate their own electricity. Electricity is generated by winding a small generator. It is not clear how long the charge lasts, but it is sure to please children who are concerned about their environment. The racing track comes with 30 pieces of track allowing the construction of lots of different track designs. Time will see if this leads to a whole new set of toys based upon the same principle.