Email is key

To kick off my musings on Home IT I wanted to discuss email.

I know that “social media” is the “in” thing now, but even so, your email account should be the first thing you deal with. Nearly any social media site requires an email account to register. Even sites that accept a different site’s login will trace back to an email address at the original site.

And when your password gets messed up, your browser gets reloaded and you loose your saved logons, or you just go blank one day, how do you reset that account? You go to their handy little “I forgot my password” page and enter what? That’s right, your email address. And they send a reset link or whatever to your email address. If you don’t still have access to that account, you’re out of luck.

Your online banking, paying your utility bills, your various web accounts, whatever… so many of them rely on an email address.

All of this leaves aside so many of your friends and acquaintances that may have it on file. Again, social media comes and goes, but so far email lasts. Can you believe email has existed for over 50 years? Would you look forward to changing your phone number? Number portability was a “must have” for many people. Like your phone number or address, when it changes, its a royal pain.

The nice thing about email is that IT NEED NEVER CHANGE! You can have the same email address for the rest of your life (or until email fades away, whichever comes first :-)).

How?

Own your own domain. Don’t just use the email address that your internet provider gives you. You may use their mail servers behind the scenes, but please don’t use that address.

Yes, it will cost you a few bucks a year. But it’s worth it… as soon as you decide to move from DSL to Cable to Satellite to Mesh Networks (or whatever comes next), you’ll appreciate the fact that your email address is still the same.

How many people are still paying AOL just to keep their email address? Millions more use their free service to keep accounts active to keep their AOL e-mail addresses.

I mean CIA Director John Brennan was recently exposed as still using AOL for email. Regretfully the exposure was due to his account being hacked, but…

Wouldn’t you rather have an email address that is “you” and not AOL (leaving aside the humor value of having an AOL account).

My next posting will outline some thoughts on purchasing and maintaining a domain. Then we can see about how to have your email address always follow you around.

Home IT

I’ll admit it… I “do” IT for a living. Have for a long time. I started in the day before the WWW (remember Usenet anybody?) and for many years home internet was a dialup modem. How far we’ve come.

After work, I come home and often “play” with my computer here. Yes, I enjoy it, still.

I’m also the family IT guy. Most families have one. I’m the guy my mother-in-law calls when she opens a new tab in her email program and can’t find her way back to her inbox. I’m the guy that gets the “This coffee program wants to upgrade, what do I do?” (Java) phone call. You know the routine. If you’re reading this, you are quite possibly that guy or gal in your family.

I wonder what people do that don’t have a family IT guy… I guess they are the folks that use Geek Squad or something.

Over and above supporting the extended family, I have my own IT setup. It’s well above what most people have at home, and probably more than we need in the house (how many machines do three people need, anyhow?). This setup, although it has continued to morph over the years as my interests, abilities and resources have changed, has served us very well. I honestly don’t think my family realizes the things that go on behind the scenes to keep them happily computing.

Anyhow, I want to make a series of posts outlining some thoughts and ideas for the “family IT” guy to consider. If you build your own servers, load Linux blindfolded, know the difference between RAID1 from RAID5 (software and hardware based), etc., then this may be a little simplistic (although I hope you might get a few ideas that you might not have considered). If you normally call your son-in-law to help with your email program, maybe not for you either, although you might point him this direction. But if you like to dabble, value having a system that works well and is solid and secure, check the series out.