BOOT CAMP 093
E-MAIL ON THE MOVE
Some of us have now become so dependant on email (me
included) that we experience withdrawal symptoms whilst on holiday or business
trips. The signs to look out for are a feeling of isolation, an unwarranted
fear that hundreds of vitally important emails are accumulating in your mailbox
and itchy typing fingers.
Really hopeless cases pack a portable PC and modem with
their luggage. However, you know you've hit rock bottom (me again…) when you
take a mobile phone as well. The latter is a truly desperate measure since
downloading emails takes ages over a pitifully slow cellular telephone link
running at maximum 9600 bps (if you are very lucky). It can be eye-wateringly
expensive and don't even think of trying it if you're abroad, unless someone
else is picking up the bill
If you don't mind lugging a PC around with you then it is
the most painless way of accessing your mailbox, providing you are travelling
in the UK and you can plug the modem into a phone line. You can set the PC up
with your chosen email client software and since most ISP's dial-up lines are
charged at local rates it shouldn't cost you much more than if you were at home
or in the office. That's assuming that you have to pay someone for the use of
the telephone. However, beware of using telephone sockets in hotel bedrooms
since the cost of making outgoing calls can be extortionate.
Outside the UK using a portable PC and modem is not such a
good idea. The main problem is that very few ISPs have dial-up connections in
other countries, so even if you can hook your PC up to a phone line you will
have to make a costly international call back to the UK. The exceptions include
AOL and CompuServe who have 'points of presence' numbers in many countries
around the world, though they do charge extra for this facility. If you
subscribe to these services you can find out more from the members services
pages, which also list the numbers concerned, so make sure you note them down,
before you leave.
The other difficulty of using a PC and modem abroad is the
diversity of phone sockets. The American standard RJ11connector is the closest
to an international standard – it's the type used on most modems and telephones
– you may be able to simply unplug the lead going into the back of the phone
and plug it straight into your modem. However it's better to be safe than sorry
and take an adaptor designed for the country you are visiting, or buy an
adaptor travelling kit. They're available from most leading PC suppliers or you
can try: http://www.teleadapt.com/uk/.
Don't forget you'll also need a mains adaptor, for the PC's battery charger.
Seasoned travellers often take a screwdriver with them as well, to get at phone
lines without a wall socket, but don't try this unless you know what you are
If you haven't got a portable PC then you can still pick up
your messages and send emails in the UK and abroad for a relatively modest
outlay at an Internet café. There are now almost 3,000 of them in 155
countries, including many places well off the beaten track. An up to date list
can be found at: www.cybercafes.com. There are a
couple of provisos. First your ISP's email server must use the POP3/SMTP (see
Jargon Filter) mail systems – most of them do nowadays – and you must have the
mail server's address and your account password with you. You will need this
information in order to set up the email client software on the café's PCs;
we'll look at how to do just that in a moment. If your ISP doesn't support
POP3/SMPT or you don't mind setting up a new email address then you could do
worse than sign up for a web-based email account such as Hotmail (www.hotmail.com) or Yahoo Mail (www.yahoo.com). They're free and the advantage
is that you don't have to mess around with email software on an unfamiliar PC.
Simply access the site with an Internet browser, log on with your email name
and password and read your messages.
To read your email using an Internet café PC or someone
else's computer you will need three items of information. They are your user
name (i.e. N.Ebody@freebienet.co.uk),
your personal password and details of your ISP's incoming (POP3) and outgoing
(SMTP) server mailboxes. These usually look something like pop.freebienet.net
or mail.freebie.co.uk. This information is provided when you sign up for your
Internet and email account, otherwise you can usually find it in the help or
FAQ section on your ISP's home page, or in the email software on your PC.
The two most popular email client programs are Microsoft
Outlook Express and Netscape Messenger. In Outlook Express click on Accounts on
the Tools menu, choose the Mail tab. Click the Add button and select Mail, to
start the connection wizard. Enter your Display Name then click the Next
button. Now key in your email address and the details of your ISPs incoming and
outgoing mail servers, you will then be prompted for your user name, password
and a name for the account. Select the dial-up connection being used by the PC
and you are ready to go. Remember to delete the details afterwards otherwise
others using the PC after you could interfere with your email account.
Netscape Messenger can only handle one account at a time so
if you are using someone else's PC remember to make a note of the settings, so
they can be restored afterwards. Select Preferences from the Edit menu and
click on Mail Server in the Category window to enter your user name and POP3
mailbox details. To retrieve your email click on Get Messages on the File menu,
you will be asked for your password and the dial-up should begin. Again don't
forget to remove your details afterwards.
The password chosen by you, or issued to you when you opened
your Internet and email account
Post Office Protocol 3 – system used by most Internet
Service Providers to deliver email
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol – system used to move email
messages around the Internet
Here's a simple trick to personalise
the title bar on Internet Explorer 4.0. It could be your name or a helpful
reminder message (Don't forget to disconnect dummy!). It's a Registry fiddle,
so take is as read that it's for advanced Windows users only, who are prepared
to take the risk.
Close down Internet Explorer if it is
running and on the Start menu go to Programs then Accessories and open Notepad.
In a new document type the following three (double-spaced) lines, exactly as
shown, inserting your own text where it says "Your message here":
Select File and Save As and give the file the name 'title.reg' and store
it a folder where you know you'll be able to find it. Open Windows Explorer,
locate title.reg, click on it and you'll see a message saying that the Registry
has been updated, your name or the message will appear in he title bar when you
next start Internet Explorer.