I am NOT organized. No matter how much I try to fool myself that I am, I’m not. I have little bursts of being organized, but the effort usually wears me out quite quickly and I lapse into my old ways of never really quite having a handle on what’s going on. So for me, email was a mixed blessing. It started all those years ago with a single Hotmail account and then my free ISP POP3 account. Before long I had three more Hotmail accounts, an Inbox.com account, a Gmail account, two Yahoo accounts, an Orange account, an O2 account, and many more besides. I then hit on the idea of registering my own email forwarding domain that would allow me up to 50 individual email addresses plus one ‘bucket’ address that would catch everything else.
For someone who has a tenuous grasp on being organized, this was a disaster in the making. The theory was that any time I wanted to register with a new site or service, I would first have to create an email address in my new domain for it, then use that. It sounded good but very soon I was using generic addresses like ‘shopping’ or ‘finance’. Added to that, spammers would send email to random names @ my domain and so my inbox filled up with messages to ‘shdsluyqwv’ and the like. I tried in vain to use Gmail as a conduit for all my mail, but there was no way around two major problems I faced.
- I had to dream up new addresses before registering with any new site.
- I had no idea who the good guys were, and who was playing fast and loose with the email address I’d given them.
Now I have tried my fair share of email clients and services, but these haven’t been much more than straws to a drowning man (drowning in email that is). At the last count, I have something around 15 ‘fixed’ email addresses and three email forwarding domains (each with the capability to use 50 unique email addresses). No way is that healthy!
I had all but resigned myself to the fact that email would always own me and not the other way around, but a month or so ago I was watching the Crunchies (courtesy of TechCrunch) and this guy was talking about a problem. More specifically my problem!
His name is Joshua Baer and he was describing OtherInbox. To me this was commonsense on a stick! All I had to do was sign up and choose a username and password, and that was pretty much it. No more dreaming up emails and pre-registering them so I could use them and throw them away if they got abused. No more trying to remember which generic addresses like ‘stuff’ applied to which sites. No more trying to figure out who was sharing my email addresses with guys selling little blue pills. OtherInbox already had it covered, but how?
Well the premise is simple, your OtherInbox username is combined with otherinbox.com to become your own personal email domain. So for example if you chose joesoap as your username, your email domain would be joesoap.otherinbox.com. After that you can use any prefix your imagination can come up with and use it to register with sites and services on the web. So I could use ‘Amazon@joesoap.otherinbox.com’ to register with Amazon.com, and ‘email@example.com’ to register with the 10 Downing Street website, and so on. There’s no limit to the number of addresses you can create, you use names that make sense to you, and best of all you don’t need to set anything up in advance, you just dream them up and use them when you need them.
Then every time an email is sent to one of the names you’ve created, it’s put in a folder of the same name in your OtherInbox
mailbox. It does all the organizing for you, you don’t need to create rules to move messages into folders, it’s automatic.So that’s problem number #1 fixed, but what about spam? Well if I start to receive emails offering me university degrees or inexpensive medication in my ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ mailbox, then I know exactly who has given away my email address. In addition to that, if the spam becomes too bad I can simply ‘block’ the ‘email@example.com’ mailbox. Job done!
If all this sounds too good to be true, well it’s not. OtherInbox really have come up with the commonsense approach to organizing your use of email addresses for you, but… I have only scratched the surface of what it can do. It has a great interface, it’s free, you can set up automatic notifications, you can point it at an existing Gmail or IMAP inbox, you can set up RSS feeds off it, you can do all sorts of things. So if you want to get geeky with it and lick its face, then head over to OtherInbox and check out what they have to say, and watch the video (link at the end). Then stick your name on the waiting list for an invite, you won’t regret it. By the way, if you’re wondering how I got an invite, well I follow OtherInbox on Twitter and was lucky enough to be there when they offered out some invites, so if you follow them too you might get in the door early.
Me? Well for once I’m going to sit back and let the technology do the work for a while, because getting organized starts here and best of all I barely had to lift a finger. Then I’ll think about sending Josh a Christmas card in 2009 by way of thanks, after all – I am organized now.
Watch the Crunchies video about OtherInbox here.