back to article Reg hack cast adrift as Illuminati Online goes off-line

For nearly 20 years I've paid, monthly, for an email account, but next month the domain shuts down and while I feel I should care it seems email isn't as important as it used to be. Steve Jackson Games was the company I selected for the email account I set up in the early nineties, and since then I've routed every message …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep your email address for as long as you want

    by buying your own domain. It's easier as you can filter stuff you don't want as well.

    1. Brassic Lint
      Go

      RE: Keep your email address for as long as you want

      Exactly what I was going to suggest... Domains cost pennies a year, and I use Google Apps (free for less than 5 users) to host the mail, even using calendar and contact syncing to mobile devices. Works great, have now had my e-mail address (through various hosting) for 10+ years!

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Are you insane?

        I would never trust the chocolate factory with any mails that are personal to me.

        Although it seems I'm in a tiny minority.

        Maybe I'll be laughing when the goo-pocalypse ( where googles digital copy of you steals your entire life) comes?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re:Are you insane

          Still, own domain + google apps is better than just gmail, as you don't need to change your email address should you decide to stop using google's services.

    2. Jamie Kitson

      Yes but

      not sure how having a domain helps you filter.

      1. Aaron Em

        Helps you filter because you're running it

        Take my own arrangements, for instance: when I found that the Spamhaus Zen service was free for anyone making less than 80,000 requests per day, I didn't have to call my hosting company and put in a request and pay somebody to do the work and wait three days for it to be done and so on and so forth with all the other crap; I just logged in as root and told Postfix what I wanted it to do.

        The actual capabilities aren't any different; if you know what you're doing, though, administering your own domain and services lets you cut through an incredible amount of tiresome bullshit.

        1. johnnytruant

          the other thing is

          I have an email catchall on my domain which ends up in (these days) a gmail inbox. It's ended up in other places in the past, and to change it's end target is a matter of minutes of work.

          I filter by using a unique address for everyone I deal with - eg: theregister@domain.com for my Reg account, then I can block individual addresses which end up on spam lists. It also means that, should my email/password leak via, I dunno, PSN, they don't get an address which will let you log in to anywhere else, even if I do reuse my low-security passwords.

          Although with gmail's spam filter as good as it is these days, I barely need the capability. But it's handy nonetheless.

      2. Sir Cosmo Bonsor
        Thumb Up

        title

        "not sure how having a domain helps you filter."

        Plus you can then set up wildcard forwarding and give bespoke addresses each time you're required to give an email address.

        So for example I'm signed up here as reg@mydomain.com. If I start to receive spam at that address I i) know exactly who has leaked my address; and ii) can cut that address off for good, perhaps forwarding the spam automatically to the relevant miscreants.

        1. NogginTheNog
          Thumb Up

          Great minds think alike

          I do exactly the same thing :-)

        2. Vic

          @Cosmo

          > you can then set up wildcard forwarding

          Wildcards aren't actually all that great an idea; you end up with an infinite number of valid addresses, some of which will get hit by dictionary attacks.

          A better solution, IMO, is to use aliases (/etc/aliases in many cases). This allows you to issue unique addresses that all end up in one box, but anything not explicitly allocated is not live, and mail sent to it will be rejected.

          Vic.

          1. The Infamous Grouse

            Dropping dead-letter mail

            There is a small risk associated with this method. Anyone who manually types in your address, but gets it slightly wrong, will fall victim to the filter. I had this a few years ago where someone I hadn't spoke to in ages sent an e-mail to <firstname><lastname>@<mydomain.dom>. They'd remembered my domain but not the name format, but the message got to my Inbox anyway. Filtering based solely on allocated addresses would have lost that mail.

            In my experience allowing all unallocated addresses through, but passing everything through a good Bayesian filter first, has meant very few junk messages have ended up where they shouldn't. On the rare occasion when a handful of spam messages sneak through to the same unallocated address, I just add it to a blacklist.

    3. Paul RND*1000

      Indeed.

      "E-mail addresses are disposable things these days, no one expects to keep an electronic address any longer than a physical one."

      I've had the same email (and web) address for 11 years now and so long as I keep paying the small annual registration fee I expect to continue to have the same email address for the forseeable future.

      During that same period of time I've had 5 different ISPs (none of whose email systems I used, they all sucked), 6 different web hosts (including a period of self-hosting) and 3 or 4 email providers. To anyone communicating with me by email or viewing my web site, there's effectively no difference.

      "these days most of us rely on Facebook and LinkedIn to keep track of people we met last week, let alone last year."

      Perhaps, but the day I have to rely on the likes of Facebook for my electronic communications is the day I start buying postage stamps and envelopes again.

  2. Jamie Kitson

    Memories

    I have to admit that I didn't really think of longevity when I signed up for that buffymail.com account. Sigh.

  3. Scott Broukell
    Coat

    Did they ...

    call their e-mail service: Post Cards ?

  4. Dazzz
    Meh

    Time to move on

    Come on Bill, get with the times, buy your own domain, you can choose whether or not to host web stuff on it and you can route your mail through any provider you like, personally I do it through google apps for some decent mail filtering.

  5. Shoot Them Later
    Holmes

    No guarantees

    If you don't own the domain, you will only ever get to use it as long as the owners choose to let you.

    The closest you can come is buying your own domain and hoping you will always pay the bills on time, that the rules don't suddenly change on you and people with expensive lawyers don't take an interest (remember baa.com?) Some email addresses are more secure than others (I think I will have my @acm.org address for some time as long as I keep paying my dues). Of course very few people thought of all this back in the day when getting their first account. I certainly didn't.

    It's a shame, because not all of us want to be permanently tied to bookface or linkedup as our means of being contactable.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: No guarantees

      "...buying your own domain and hoping you will always pay the bills on time..."

      You have to be pretty bloody useless to lose it through not paying. First, if where you have it parked / hosted doesn't provide plenty of advance warning and / or auto-renewal, move to one that does. Second, if you do fuck up, it'll move to a limbo state of retention for some time during which you can still retrieve it[1]. Even after that it's still usually possible to get it back, assuming you didn't pick something so mind-numbingly desirable that it gets snapped up once it's free.

      [1] One of mine did this. The hosting types migrated their dashboard systems and a renewal that had happened, er, didn't. They were terribly apologetic, got it back from retention and gave me a couple of years free. Nice people at UK2. Two cockups in 12 years? I can live with that.

    2. Figgus

      bookface or linkedup

      bookmyfacespace FTW

  6. DJV Silver badge
    Happy

    Domain

    Bill - I see that, although billray.com has been taken, both billrayhack.com and billrayreghack.com are still up for grabs!

    1. Darryl

      Re: Domain

      Don't want to mess with billyray.com, though, as you might get a visit from Miley Cyrus' dad.

  7. tony72
    WTF?

    Umm..

    "Now I’ll get a GMail or Hotmail account and hope for the best, or perhaps rely on never-ending employment with El Reg for my mailbox."

    You must surely know that you can register your own domain, and thus keep the same email address regardless of what ISP or mail provider you happen to be using, via forwarding. You can't possibly not know that. But you sure talk as if you don't in the article?!? Feigned ignorance for effect?

    The only reason not to do that would be cost, but you'd have to be a real tight-arse, and since you've been paying for your io.com address for twenty years, I'd have thought that wasn't an issue. You might not be able to get a two-letter domain, but you're bound to be able to get something more memorable than a generic googlemail etc address, so it can't be lack of available domains.

    ?

    1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Umm..

      Not only could I get my own domain, but PrismNet has offered all io.com users free registration and DNS hosting for 12 months.

      But I don't want a domain. It's certainly a lot easier now than it was 20 years ago, and I've had several over the years (network23.co.uk being my most recent holding) but they've always ended up being more effort than they were worth: I guess I'm just not very good at looking after them.

      It's also too late, this time around, but perhaps I'll give it another go given the overwhelming support for the idea amongst El Reg readers.

      Bill.

      1. Bob H
        Facepalm

        Really?

        Bill, I have to say this makes me fear a little for your safety as an El Reg hack. I own half a dozen email addresses, not because I have some fetish or because it is my profession (it isn't) but because I didn't want to be dependent on anyone else for the long term.

        Using Google Apps couldn't be simpler or there are other options as you have mentioned. I have many of my domains registered with Easyspace and I don't even us them for DNS hosting itself because I wanted to use someone else. Easyspace are good because when you don't renew they call you, twice, before expiring the domain to remind you. I thought this was excellent service from them, I was managing a domain for someone else and have been waiting for them to do something.

        If you've lost a domain then you are using the wrong registrar. If you've lost email then you're using the wrong service provider. OK, it is a little more work, but only about two days every two years.

        Bob

  8. Caff

    fusion

    Maybe fusion-io bought the domain?

  9. SImon Hobson Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Pardon !

    So we are supposed to believe this guy is some sort of technology hack, but doesn't understand the concept of buying your own domain ? OK, so 20 years ago owning your own domain wasn't that easy or common, but these days, they cost so little, and it's so easy, there really isn't any excuse not to.

    It makes me both laugh and cry when I see companies (some of them not so small) with a proper web address, but still using a providers email address. It's laughable, but I'm also angry that someone has conned them and when they find out it'll be the whole "IT Industry" that's to blame.

  10. Craig 12

    I have a long, unfashionable hotmail.com account

    My hotmail is my full name and initials, chock full of underscores, and almost embarrassing in this day and age. However, I can't tear myself away from it after having it 15-ish years. (I don't think it was even MS when I set it up!) I'm a real data hoarder, so having such a massive history of emails, all neatly arranged and available over IMAP is hard to let go.

    I have a really funky short one on my own name domain, but never got around to actually using it properly.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Steve Jackson Games

    GURPS that is all.

    1. Graham Marsden
      WTF?

      @GURPS that is all

      "That is all"???

      What about (to name a few) Ogre, G.E.V, Car Wars, Munchkin and, of course, the Awful Green Things from Outer Space!

  12. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Pint

    Lots Of Choices:

    billray.asia Available Register

    billray.name Available

    billray.us Available

    bill-ray.com Available

    bill-ray.net Available

    bill-ray.org Available

    bill-ray.info Available

    bill-ray.biz Available

    bill-ray.asia Available

    bill-ray.name Available

  13. Emo
    Linux

    Setup your own little server + domain

    I'm in the process of setting up a Acer Revo R3600 as a little CentOS server just for email and stuff - nothing major.

    I already have my own domain, just need to learn some of this Linux malarky and I'll be done :)

  14. Locky Silver badge
    Coat

    For the princely sum of £5.40

    you can have ImNotScaredOfBillRay.co.uk

    I've been here too long

  15. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Once bitten...

    ... but not twice shy?

    Instead of just relying on another 3rd party to run a domain buy your own! Use Google Apps, rent a VPS, pay 1and1, whoever to host the service, you can always change hosting but the domain and address will always be yours so long as you remember to renew the registration...

    I'm luckier than you and have a rare surname, I own the .com, co.uk and .net and it's not big money to keep these going. So long as nobody with my name ever becomes rich and famous enough to get big lawyers on me then I'm fine... and I think that's pretty unlikely.

  16. Ally J

    Aww, that is a shame

    Another bit of games nerdery bites the dust. Just even reading about Steve Jackson Games has made me feel young again. Now I'm tempted to dig out the cardboard box that still holds my precious 'Car Wars' collection and have a quiet cry over the ads in the back issues of 'The Space Gamer'.

    I guess the value of a two-letter domain trumped the fun of it being 'Illuminati Online'.

    Buying your own domain does give you a bit of permanence, but do beware of the lawyers (see Warner Brothers and Harry Potter domains) and the idiots (see BlueYonder.com).

    I'll sneak the word 'fnord' into something in memorial of io.com and all it represented.

  17. Saucerhead Tharpe
    Black Helicopters

    Card Games?

    Did you do no research?

    SJG was at the time, an RPG Company. Illuminati was more of a boardless board game

    I despair of the lack of geekiness on an article about SJG and IO.com

    And to be ignorant of the SJG vs the FBI to such a degree, in a tech journalist who used io.com

    mindboggling!

    1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Card Games?

      Nice to be called a journalist, I never get bored of that, but I did do some basic checking:

      Neither Illuminati, Car Wars, nor Orge are roleplaying games, that only came with Gurps and I never really liked Gurps (though I admit to buying Gurps Car Wars out of curiosity).

      Regarding the FBI connection I'll have to point you to SJG's version of events, which makes it clear that the FBI was not involved: http://www.sjgames.com/SS/

      But we shouldn't forget that where the Illuminati are involved nothing should be taken at face value, and you'll notice my post here lacks the vulture logo that usually accompanies staff postings.

      Bill.

      1. cloudberry

        "My post here lacks the vulture logo"

        Errr, no it doesn't.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speak for yourself

    I would be very pissed off if my primary email address changed. Which is why I spend a couple of quid a year on a domain.

  19. Brassic Lint

    Filtering

    Another useful way to use Google Apps / your own domain for filtering is to use aliases to track where your e-mail address is passed around e.g. my e-mail address is me@my.com, but you can register accounts against me+elreg@my.com, me+amazon@my.com, me+randompornsite@my.com and when those addresses fill up with spam you can

    a) see where they got your address from and crucify that site

    b) block the alias without losing e-mails from real people or from other sites that haven't displeased you by selling on your details.

  20. Jim 59

    Hotmail

    Been using the same Hotmail address since about 1997. True, it's a bit naff. On the upside, I don't have to bother with mail agents, domains, client agents, etc. It does pop, works on any platform and they famously "don't read your email". The Hotmail user interface is just terrible.

    1. bluesxman
      FAIL

      RE: Filtering

      Tried the "plus" addressing thing. Great in principle, too bad the majority of websites (that I've tried it with) don't seem to think that "+" is a valid character in an email address. I came up against this so often that I don't even bother trying any more.

      Icon for the stupid websites, not the principle.

  21. nyelvmark

    I own my own domain

    That's absolutely essential if you have a commercial website of any description, because otherwise the name owners have you over a barrel any time they feel like it.

    But I use yahoo webmail, because:

    1. I don't want to run SMTP and POP3 software on my server - both are insecure.

    2. With webmail, all your e-mail archives are in the cloud. You don't have to worry about backing them up, and they're accessible from anywhere. And storage is effectively unlimited.

    3. Likewise your contacts.

    4. Because your contacts aren't stored locally, you're protected from viral-emails (until somebody finds a way to do this with webmail)

    5. If I don't have enough money to renew my domain and hosting this year, I'll still keep the same e-mail address. I guess if yahoo goes tits-up, someone else will take over the domain name.

  22. Ironclad
    Happy

    Illuminati - how to waste an afternoon

    Grab 4-6 mates, a crate of beer, settle down and prepare to waste a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon playing Illuminati. Just don't be surprised if you never trust those mates again.

  23. The Black Hand
    Paris Hilton

    Make it a good one

    With a 3 letter surname, getting a really nice domain is going to be a struggle as most if not all 3 letter combinations in existing top level domains have been taken.

    However I see that .xxx domains are going to be released with Autumn so maybe you can join the landrush?

  24. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Why search whenever precious chatter can be directly sent to a server for collective monetisation.

    Run a server hosting perpetual email contact addresses is a novel business opportunity offering Private Intellectual Property for SMART Pirating and Sharing with Delivery to Interested Parties.

  25. BoldMan

    Hail Eris

    All Hail Discordia!

    Kallisti

    1. AustinTX

      Hail hail hail

      Hail Eris perhaps, but Kallisti was just one of the call center workstations.

      http://img806.imageshack.us/img806/7228/iofloormap.jpg

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    pobox.com

    ...if you want a simple solution and don't mind paying $20/year. I have had an account with them since 1996, when my mail was forwarded to a Pipex dialup account. I still forward it to my local ISP, although you can pay them more for pop3/imap/webmail.

    The pobox.com bit has been more reliable than any of the backends I've forwarded to, and in emergency it's easy to go into their website and redirect your mail to another address.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Longest running service

    Maybe I'm wrong but think the longest running commercial e-mail redirector service is pobox.com

    Running since 1995, they seem so have surfed over all the bubbles so far.

    Handy if you don't want to run your own server.

    1. Pet Peeve
      Thumb Up

      seconded

      I've been a pobox.com subscriber for almost as long, and it's never had a single hiccup. They have outstanding filtering too, you can individually subscribe to a bunch of blocklists, set up your spam to bitbucket or go into a holding pen (for each blocklist selection), and they'll mark in the forwarded headers which blocklists weighed in on the decision to forward the mail or not.

      Between pobox filters and gmail (where my pobox mail goes most of the time, though nobody knows it), I get about 2 spams in my inbox a year, out of tens of thousands intercepted. Great service.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Dude

    The other guys are right, register your own domain name. You could even set up your own mail server and manage it. It isn't terribly difficult and avoids the problem you ran into, losing your email address.

    Well... that's almost true. In the early days of the internet backin the mid 90's, I loaned the use of one of my domain names to my political party for the duration of an election. By way of thanking me for my generous contribution, they petitioned the registrar and walked away with my domain name. They continue to use it to this day. I am no longer a member.

    No good deed ever goes unpunished, especially when dealing with politicians.

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