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I'VE GOT MAIL


email is responsible
for information overload and rising stress levels in the workplace, according to a report published in Britain recently. The number of emails sent and received has increased by almost 50 percent in the last year, making it increasingly difficult for employees to concentrate on their work.
 

In all, the average British office worker sends and receives a staggering 191 messages each working day- a total made up of faxes, emails, voicemails, telephone messages, post, courier items and telephone message slips.
 
 
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Last year that figure was 171, and management  company Pitney Bowes, which commissioned the survey, said it was the increase  in email use which accounted for the rise. Researchers found that 42 per cent of workers only started using email in the last year- fast catching up with workers in the U.S.- and many employees in Britain are still unsure of how best to use it.

British office workers are now sending and receiving  an average of 39 emails each day- 12 more messages than last year. But the report was particularly critical of people misusing the 'cc' feature on email which allows messages to be copies to a string of people.

"copying in co-workers on email messages which are of little relevance to their own tasks disrupts workflow and adds yet another message to be screened in the inbox," the report said.

Many workers surveyed complained they received an email message when a simple phone call or fax would work better. Others reported that after being sent an email they often received the same message by fax and mail and then received  telephone calls asking if they had seen the message.

"Duplicative messaging such as this unnecessarily increases the daily message volume which workers have to handle," said the report based on surveys of 1,500 workers in Britain, the US, Canada, France and Germany.

Britain showed the greatest rise- 12 per cent - in the daily total of messages send and received ,only 13 fewer than their US equivalents. German office workers send and receive 176 messages a day, the French report 165 and the Canadians 160. 

The report also highlighted the workload of the the average British office employee. Staff are now involved in an average of 12 projects and seven office teams each week , which contributes to rising levels of stress. Meredith Fischer, of Pitney Bowes, said it was important to learn how to manage the vast number of messages.

She said: "There is no catch-all means of eliminating the stress surrounding business messaging. But if we apply simple procedures , we can vastly reduce the impact which sending and receiving 191 messages a day can have on our sanity."

Techniques recommended in the report included telling colleagues how you prefer to communicate and at what times of the day, ignoring non-urgent messages and limiting the times you look at your email inbox; and choosing the right tool for the right kind of message - some are best sent by fax. others are more useful by email- DM

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AN INTERNET FIGHT
BREWING OVER SPAM

Peter Kaldis, a systems support manager for Pixar Animation Studios in Richmond, California estimates he gets about 100 electronic mails per day, some 25 % of which are junk emails offering everything from get-rich-quick schemes to entry to pornographic Web Sites and sham cures for cancer.

The company wide infestation of 'spam', or unsolicited email, eats up time, resources and disk space, Kaldis said.

Kaldis clearly is not alone. the problem plagues thousands, if not millions, of Internet users and has spawned companies and non-profit groups whose sole purpose is to help Internet service providers block spam.

Now some online marketers are fighting back, saying anti-spamming groups are violating basic tenets of free speech and curtailing their ability to conduct business. In their zeal to block junk email, they also filter out legitimate messages and marketing  pitches, bulk online marketers argue.

www.yesmail.com a Chicago based online marketer, has filed suit against the Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS), a non-profit California company established to fight email abuse.

Yesmail won temporary restraining order preventing MAPS from placing Yesmail on its list of  spammers. The lawsuit and the order were suspended last Tuesday after the two sides agreed to attempt to negotiate a settlement.

"Yesmail has always been out in front in the industry as far as permission-based" email marketing, said Yesmail chief operating officer Mark Boyce. "I think MAPS has a better understanding that we're really not the bad guys."

MAPS insists on the double-in procedure for email marketing, whereby consumers email addresses can't be given to marketers unless they sign up and then later confirm their intention via email.

Yesmail says it prefers a less stringent method, where a consumer signs up and then receives a confirmation email with the option to unsubscribe. The consumer is not required to send back a confirmation.

Yesmail has a database of more than 12 million individuals and helps companies create email marketing campaigns and target consumers who have expressed interest in specific areas of products.

MAPS co-founder Paul Vixie said he hopes to reach an agreement , but he doesn't plan on compromising. "Yesmail is going to have to do everything everyone else has to do," Vixie said.

Yesmail and other online marketers have said they have no problem with reasonable anti-spamming activities but are troubled by MAPS tactics. MAPS Realtime Blackhole List of alleged spammersis subscribed to by Internet service providers, corporations and individuals, and lets them know the sources of junk emails so they can be blocked.

More ideas on how to stamp out spam  click here

Vixie admitted his is a "a very in-your-face kind of effort. "Yes, we have a lot of detractors who say we go too far," he said. "But ultimately the goal is to fix it where there are no spam-friendly networks."

A survey conducted last year by the Gartner Group research firm found that 91 % of email users receive spam at least once a week, and most of them are favor either regulating spam on banning it altogether.

The US largest Internet provider, American Online (AOL), which has filed lawsuits against more than 40 individuals and companies in an effort to block spam, says it only goes after marketers who refuse to play by the rules.

If an online marketer provides a legitimate return address and an option to unsubscribe, they'll be left alone, said AOL spokesman Rich D'Amato.

AOL has been awarded "substantial" damages and judges have also seen fit to enter injunctions against individuals and companies preventing them from spamming in the future, D'Amato said.

"Our members have been very clear. They don't like junk email, they don't want want junk email and they want us to do something about it," D'Amato said.

"We've certainly put a couple of junk emailers out of business, and that's been pretty much our goal."- AP

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email ALTERING WORKPLACE
email is reducing the need for mail carriers, fax machines and even telephones in offices worldwide, according to a new survey that shows how email is transforming the workplace.

 

Among the more than 1,000 employees polled in May, 80% said email has replaced "snail mail" for the majority of their  business correspondence, 72.5% said it has replaced faxing and 45% said it has replaced phone calls.

The study called email Behaviour in the WorkPlace, was conducted by www.vault.com a website for career and human resources information. The study details email practices and attitudes by asking questions about monitoring worries, requesting a raise and communicating with one's boss.

Among those surveyed, 42% said they worried about employers monitoring their email and 79% said they used a separate account such as Hotmail or Yahoo for personal correspondence.

While 70% said email improved communication  with their employers, the vast majority said they would ask for a raise, submit a resignation or report wrongdoing in person, rather than via email or phone.

If they received asexually explicit or otherwise improper email, 77.5% said they would delete it immediately, 8.6% would close it and leave it alone and 13.9% would forward it to friends or co-workers.

Other email practices and attitudes the study revealed; 66% said they know people with whom they communicate strictly by email, 51% said their email messages are sometimes misunderstood, and 63% said they like the 'smileyface' created by the characters :)- Terence Chea (Lat-WP)

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email ISN'T REAL MAIL
By Susan Campbell

Here's my fear; In the not-too-distant future, I will open my mailbox and it will be scraggly direct-mail coupons to get my rug cleaned cheap. And then, I'll log onto my computer and email box will be full. Is that a bad thing ? Well...yeah.

 

You see, email is a baked potato chip as opposed to a greasy, fried one. It's a rice cake, not a Snickers bar.

What little email comes my way (and there's only a little because I don't encourage it) is short and to the point, because that's the beauty of email.

It's a teaser, a trailer, not nearly the whole movie because the communication sprang from business, and in business, time is money and money is time and why are you reading this if not to increase profits ?

Right. So here are some facts; last year, almost everyone got a greeting card in the mail. On average, we got nine on our birthdays alone, accordingly to Mediamark Research Inc., in the United States, but adults who bought greeting cards dropped from 74% in 1991 to 65% in 1996.

In that same period, the amount households  spent on telephone services increased 41%, and the share of households owning personal computers increased from 14% to 25%.

A journalist friend in Missouri says he favors email, as otherwise he has only one-a-year contact with certain friends, and when someone contacts someone on those situations, the telephone conversations go so long they cut into dinner.

He has said goodbye to telephones and cards, but we all do that, do we also say goodbye to letters like this one "That was always my experience- a poor boy in a rich town, a poor boy in a rich boy's school, a poor boy in a rich man's club in Princeton.

However, I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich, and it has coloured by entire life and works." F.Scott Fitzgerald wrote that Anne Ober, his agent's wife., in 1938. He wrote some pretty good letters to wife , Zelda, too.

Would email, with it's need to sharpen and focus and reduce, move Fitzgerald to say simply "I hate the rich" or "Love ya, Z"? And would the equally troubled Zelda be moved to rifle back, in between her cotillions and her drinking bouts, "Love ya, too" ?

Or would Henry Thoreau opt not to record his life in graceful, careful strokes? Would he have been content - flamer that he was- to scorch the industrial world in a private electronic rant and sent copies to every one he thought might want to know, and then to just disappear into the Walden woods sans modem, never to be heard from again ?

What of Harry S.Truman's letter- never sent- to the Washington Post and started out, "Why don't you fire this frustrated old fart..." prompted by a music reviewer's panning of a piano recital by Truman's daughter, Margaret, in 1952?

What of Paul, of the Apostles. We wouldn't have privy to his misogynistic bent had he been emailing the early Christian Church at Corinth and shot off," All right, now! Straighten up!" He would then have moved on to the next big thing, and where would we be?

Still, you can't pry some people's fingers from the keyboard. One friend, a lawyer,  swears by email because it helps her keep in touch with far-flung friends. She followed the progress of a Japanese friend's garden by downloading pictures from the Internet. Prior to email, she and her friends corresponded only at Christmas, and you know what those letter are like.

But another friend, a San Francisco writer who is totally wired and was wired long before the rest of us were, laments: "If a letter/card is only two dimensional (Leaving out scents, locks of hair, etc) then email is, I suppose, one-dimensional, a pixilated nothing, a kind of digitised thought.

Unless you're into printing out your email and bundling it with ribbon in a cedar-lined box (and who isn't)?, email leaves even less residue than your basic phone bill."

Yeah. That's it. That's what I am looking for; residue. Weight. Heft and if it's all wrapped up in a red velvet ribbon, so much the better. That's it, exactly- LAT-WP

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REMOVING SPAM

A number of vendors are developing products to help companies protect themselves against spam (although the root of this approach reaches back to the Unix world and has been in existence for years). the products all involve filtering of some kind , and there are a host of issues to consider when selecting a product for your organisation.

The hope is that by pairing legislative regulations with a mail filter product, you will be able to keep the majority of spam out of your your mail flow.

As the name suggests, email filtering technology lets you identify and remove unwanted email. While all filtering products perform this function, they can differ in how they identify unwanted mail.

For example, the broadest type of filtering is by domain name. In this case, the filter is configured to check a message's domain name against a list of known spam domains. If the in-coming email is from one of these domains, the product will not let it into your mail system. Similarly, some products let you filter by IP address.

A related type of domain filtering is the rejection of email relay requests from a domain outside of or unknown to your corporate network. The reason for this type of filtering is that spammers often "ride" another organisation's email relay to cover their tracks. If your mail relay declines an outside or unknown request to relay an email transmission, you're helping prevent the downstream propagation of spam.

The most fundamental type of filtering examines the From and Subject headers. Certain products analyse the content of these headers and match the information with a list of known keywords, symbols, phrases and larger blocks of text that indicate spam. Some products also analyse the body of the message to try to identify any key spam phrases, words , and text blocks, such as "Free!!!," "XXX", or "Do you want to earn money fast while working at home?"

Most products also perform other kinds of header analysis, as spammers usually manipulate header data to deceive recipients and to cover their own tracks. For example, some products reject messages that have mis-configured addresses in the mail relay header, headers that don't conform to the standards specified in RFC-822, or extraneous or inconsistent headers.

Some products also check the address in the from Header by sending it a message. If the site specified in the From Header doesn't respond, the mail is rejected. Or, products use Ping to check the legitimacy of IP addresses referenced in the headers.

There's a wide range of sophistication involved in the header and body filtering offered by vendors. Theoretically, the larger the amount of information that's analysed, the better the chance that the filter will correctly identify spam. Of course, with any good product, the filtering lists will be configurable, so you can add and deactivate keywords and phrases.

For the most part, the majority of email servers and client packages contain some filtering features. For example, email products from Qualcomm, Microsoft, and Netscape Communications let you filter incoming email based on a keyword list. In addition, there are some do-it-yourself solutions built into the send mail program that let you designate keyword filters.

Be aware that with the do-it-yourself approach, you are responsible for providing the expertise in developing and maintaining your filtering list, and for ensuring that the solution works across your mail system and for your individual users.

In contrast, off-the-shelf products offer researched lists, and, inmost cases , resources you can use to update your lists. Obviously, these products also offer more features, such as event-logging and options for handling rejected email. (I'll discuss some examples for these features  when I talk about specific products later in the article.)

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TOOLS THAT HELP STOP SPAM
By Lee Chae, Lan Magazine

Some call it UCE, or Unsolicited Commercial email. Others call it junk email. To most, it's known simply as "spam" It's what promises to help you get rich quick or to lose weight fast, among other schemes.

Over the past few years, the exploding popularity of email and the propagation of email accounts has let to the use of spam as a marketing tactic, as spammers exploit the cheap reach of the Internet to advertise their wares.

But organisations and end users are fighting back against spamming , a practice many view as unethical and, in some cases, illegal.

Currently, a handful of lawsuits have been filed by companies and individuals against spammers and representatives of state governments and the federal government have put together bills to try to stem the flow of spam.

In light of these events, the spam dilemma seems to be reaching a critical point. But it could be sometime before state and federal legislators take a stand on spam, and according to industry observers, the final legislative word might not offer total relief to those organisations and users frustrated with the amount of spam clogging their email systems.

To help these victims, vendors are shipping a new breed of product designed to offer a technological solution to spam.

More ideas on how to stamp out spam  click here

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Guide to free email services

This free email guide provides free Internet service providers, telephone and fax services to its listing for free email services around the world.

The guide's database of over 1,200 providers is searchable, allowing you to choose a provider based on the features you required at http://FEPG.net 

Understanding the different types of free email service: Drowning in a sea of jargon? This guide will set you straight.

Free email providers: All the email services you'll ever need, divided by location, supplier etc..

If you don't know what you're looking for, why not start here? http://FEPG.net

 

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email mentoring
for career guidance


The convenience of email as well as its ability to bridge geographic barriers has caught the attention of a growing number of mentoring organisations group that foster relationship between working professionals and middle and high school students who are seeking career advices.

Online mentoring organisations like  www.imentor.org and www.netmentors.org provides mentoring programmes for schools and after school groups

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