Disposable Email Aliases: Organize Your Messages

There is a trick you can use with many email services out there that could really save you some hassle with runaway junk email. Disposable email aliases (also known as sub-addresses) are quite handy. They allow you to quickly enter an email address in a sign-up/registration form that is different than your actual email address. Instead of signing up with your real email address (say, it’s iamawesome@somewhere.com), you would use a disposable alias instead (e.g., iamawesome+untrustworthy-service@somewhere.com).

Why Would I Ever Want to Do That?

It’s simple, really. How many times have you signed up for a new website/service, and then started receiving, even more, junk email than you already were? Perhaps, you noticed a sudden surge in spam just after subscribing to a newsletter or entering a sweepstakes/giveaway. Many websites and services don’t hesitate to sell your information to anyone willing to pay for it.

Sure, you can enter a fake name, phone number, and even mailing address to maintain your privacy. However, you know you’ll have to verify your email address before you can gain access to whatever goodies your after. Furthermore, you may even need to receive an email from the asking company to get what you want (e.g., newsletter, reminders, notification that you won a prize, etc.).

Providing the requesting site/service with an email alias helps you achieve your goal with them, but give more power to handle the potential onslaught of junk email. The best part is, you will receive any email sent to a disposable email alias in your regular inbox, yet you’ll be able to see that it was sent to the alias.

OK…What Can I Do with This New Power?

By providing an email alias, you can do all kinds of neat things!

  • Know exactly who sold your email address.
  • Easily filter incoming email to your alias into folders/labels, instead of the standard inbox.
  • Send an email directly to the trash when received to your alias.
  • Register an additional account with a website/service, but still receive email at your main one.

How Can I Create Disposable Email Addresses?

Each email provider may be different, but there are quite a few that stick to a pseudo-standard. Many email services use the plus sign (+) then whatever additional text you want after your username to construct a disposable alias. So, if I wanted to sign up to shadyplace.com, and suppose my real email address is “matt@somewhere.com”, I could instead enter: “matt+shadyplace@somewhere.com”.

Other email services use a dash/hyphen instead of a plus sign. Others still, require you setup a dedicated “basename” to use for disposable email aliases; then you add a delimiter (dash, plus sign, or whatever), followed by your new alias.

Caveats

You knew this wouldn’t be perfect, right? Well, there are still a lot of websites/systems out there that don’t properly support valid email addresses.

Bad Validation on Web Forms

Many input forms validate the data you provide to make sure it’s properly formatted based on the type of data expected. For example, when you enter a phone number, sites may attempt to ensure you only enter digits, and only in the format allowed for the area (e.g., in the US, only 10 digits are allowed in groups, separated appropriately; ###-###-####). A US zip code must be either 5 or 9 digits and if 9, the last 4 must follow a dash (e.g., #####-####).

Well, an email address must conform to a very specific format as well. For example, an “@” must be present, but cannot be the first or last character, etc. Unfortunately, so many systems incorrectly validate email addresses. Most are overly restrictive. For example, a plus sign (+) is totally acceptable in an email address, before the “@” symbol. Yet, many websites don’t allow a plus sign at all. So, if your email provider allows disposable aliases, but requires a character that some (or many) websites won’t allow you to enter your email address, you’re out of luck with those services.

Hackable by Humans

Another issue with most disposable email aliases is the fact that it doesn’t take a genius to look for these patterns in order to thwart them. In other words, a spammer could write a program to look for the plus sign, and remove that part of the email address in order to get at your “real” address. Worse still, a nefarious programmer could substitute any text after the plus sign in order to bypass any filters you may have set up to organize/delete your incoming email.

Sending From a Disposable Email

Finally, most email providers allow you to send messages from a disposable alias. Often you can set up a standard alias (not disposable) with these services and then send from those aliases.

Support for Disposable Aliases

There are several email providers that support this concept of “disposable aliases”.

Supporting Email Providers as of 2016-Jun-10

The following email providers allow you to use disposable aliases. I’ve also provided an example alias for each, if my username (or base name) were, “groovynobody7531” (which it is not), and I wanted to create an alias for “education”.

Email Provider Example Disposable Alias
Gmail
More info
groovynobody7531+education@gmail.com
Outlook.com
(also, Live and Hotmail)
groovynobody7531+education@outlook.com
groovynobody7531+education@live.com
groovynobody7531+education@hotmail.com
Yahoo
More info
groovynobody7531-education@yahoo.com

Bonus

If you’re using the business/work edition of some of the above email providers with your own custom domain, this feature still works! For example, if you have Gmail for Business and setup your custom domain, “example.com”, for email, you can still use disposable email aliases with your domain (e.g., matt+whatever-i-want@example.com). I use this at work all the time when I’m testing websites we’ve written and need to set up multiple accounts to test against.

Kindle 2: An Introduction

Kindle-2-Held
Kindle 2

Have you ever prepared for a trip and struggled when deciding which books to take with you? Do you have books that are too big to pack in the car or worry about lugging around? Do you get miles into the trip and wish you brought one of your other books instead?

I’m a software programmer and most of my books are at least 1,000 pages and weigh a couple of pounds. Seriously, these books are huge. Oftentimes, I have found myself in the car a few hours into a trip or even at my destination, and really wished that I had another book that was left home. Well, I finally found a solution.

Introducing the Kindle 2

Money
Image by TW Collins via Flickr

Amazon’s Kindle 2 is a wonderful product. It is an electronic wireless reading device. With it, you can potentially carry about 1,500 books around with you at a time. All those books on the new Kindle 2 would only weigh about 10 ounces! I read my Kindle in one hand and don’t have to worry about flipping pages, or maneuvering the book to see the words in the shadowed cleft where the pages attach to the spine. When I prepare to leave the house, I don’t have to debate with myself over which book deserves to be toted around with me; I just grab my Kindle. There are other benefits of the Kindle that are more than just convenient alternatives to physical books.

Who is it for?

Lisa Simpson
Image via Wikipedia

The Kindle 2 is ideal for any reading enthusiast. If you love books, but are not attached to the physical attributes of them, you will undoubtedly want a Kindle 2. I do have some specific recommendations for types of people that will most likely desire a Kindle the most.

  • bookworms that gobble up text like it’s candy (e.g. Aunt Mildred, Cousin Albert, that know-it-all kid next door; a.k.a. Lisa Simpson)
  • history, or reference, buffs that want that information at their fingertips (e.g. Professor Zimmer, spelling bee champions, Civil War reenactors, etc.)
  • technical devotees looking for a great way to consolidate all their manuals and guides (e.g. software developers, network analysts, electronic repairmen, etc.)
  • professionals with a need to constantly look-up codes or hard facts (e.g. building contractors, attorneys, engineers, etc.)
  • many more

This is a great gift for graduates heading off to college, people with low mobility, those with diminished eyesight, and friends or family with one hobby; reading.

A Time When Microsoft Sucks

So, after waiting and waiting for the new update of Davis (Bikes) for Burnout Paradise, it was released today. We tried and tried to download it, restarting the Xbox360 I don’t know how many times.. and nothing! We figured the download just wasn’t working for some reason, so we went to the Xbox360 Marketplace and found where to download the new update. When we clicked on it, it told us that since we only have a Silver Membership that we have to wait to download it. What is that crap about?! We paid for the Xbox360, we paid for the Burnout Paradise game, and Criterion (the maker of Burnout Paradise, just in case you didn’t know) released this very cool new update for FREE. So, Microsoft has to be the jerk in all of this and force people to pay for a Gold Membership. I, for one, will not help Microsoft rake in the cash with this sad attempt to cause Silver Membership people grief. I can either wait indefinitely while Microsoft decides they have make enough extra money or we could finally set up my husband’s dad with an Xbox Live membership which comes with a Gold Membership for free for a month. We will just see if the Davis (Bikes) update is available tomorrow… Microsoft shame on you! Criterion keep up the good work!

Kingdom Hearts II

Today, I sold my Kingdom Hearts II video game for the Playstation 2. My trend recently is to get a video game, play it, beat it, and then sell it. I looked into trading in, but you usually get so much more for the games when you sell them on Amazon. This one was an accomplishment.  I tried to get 100% completion, but missed by only 4%.  I heard that the ending was different if you achieved 100%, but I didn’t get to see that version if there was one. There were a couple activities in the game that I was just not willing to spend hours on: defeating Sephiroth and some of the mini games. I know when to call it quits and 96% was my limit. I even took some screen shots with my camera.

KH2KH2

The game was quite good.  I hope they have a 3rd one.  I have read on GameSpot that one is in talks. Other than some boss fights that are a little ridiculous and some major button mashing in certain fights, I really enjoyed it.  If you want to keep it simple and play through the story sequence and not do any extra stuff you can get away with just that; however, if you want to submerge yourself into Kingdom Hearts – minigames, gummi upgrades, and Jiminy challenges – you can do that too. It all depends on how many hours you want to play the game.