Not long ago a colleague at Montclair State University suggested I check out this interesting online app called OtherInBox. The basics of how it works is that you sign up for an account and create a username. The username becomes your “domain” of sorts, meaning it’s what comes after the @ in the email address.
You can then put anything you want before the @ and the email will come to you via the web site.
Why use this, you ask? How many times have you been asked to put an email address into a web site, or been in a store and asked for one? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to make an email address up on the fly? Well, now you can.
Of course, when I created my account, I used my trademark sorryafk, so my account with Otherinbox is @sorryafk.otherinbox.com. Now, let’s say I am online shopping at Bob’s Tech Stop. I don’t want to get email from Bob for the rest of my life due to this one item I bought. I also don’t want to give Bob my work email account. So I give Bob firstname.lastname@example.org.
When the email comes in to Otherinbox it generates a folder called bobstechstop. Each morning I get an email from Otherinbox letting me know what new mail came in that day (header info only). Once I delete the email from the bobstechstop folder, the email and the folder disappear (if it was the only email in that folder). Next time Bob sends me his junk email, it goes right in that folder.
Now, let’s say Bob is a bad boy, and sells his email list. Now, I’m getting email from Cheap Mortgage Company, but it is coming into the bobstechstop folder. Not only do I know the Bob sold my email address, but Cheap Mortgage Company doesn’t have my mail email address, and Otherinbox has an option to block incoming mail – so I can block Bob and any other future junk mail companies he sells his email list to (and now I know not to do business in the future with Bob).
There are two things I had a very serious problem with when testing out Otherinbox: support and merging my Gmail.
Let me start off by saying that the folks at Otherinbox saw a mention I made in my Twitter stream and they wrote back to me almost immediately with a welcome. We exchanged Tweets a few times and I was happy that they monitored the tweet stream and responded. At one point they suggested I try their help function, which I was more than happy to do. I did not see the issue I was having listed so I tried to enter a “report” when I found out that their help function was handled by another company. Well, I don’t want to have to sign up for two accounts to get help from only one. I can understand why they might want to outsource the operation, but that should be transparent to me, the end user. As a side note, the problem I was having is not resolved and, given that I won’t subscribe to the second service, it might not be. It’s a problem I only experience on the Mac, and not on the PC, so I’ll do my work on OIB at work.
The other problem I experienced was when I allowed OIB to synch up with my Gmail. I’m on several listserves and when all that information was imported into OIB, it sorted all the email by SENDER and not by the list address. So I now have, literally, hundreds of folders that I have to go through one by one in order to get them out of OIB. When I first signed up to have the Gmail synched with OIB, I thought I was designating which emails to synch. Apparently I misread or misunderstood and have now found myself with far more work on my hands than I first wanted. I have to go through each of these folders, one at a time, and delete the email. There is a functionality it looks like they are going to employ at some point, which will take into account listserves, but that is apparently not working yet. If you are on Gmail, and have a lot of emails, I recommend you do not synch it with OIB.
Even though it seems as if I’m not happy with OIB, it is really the help and Gmail thing that is discouraging. I really like the idea of being able to make up and email address on the fly and have used it several times already. I plan to keep my account with Otherinbox and use it solely for this on-the-fly email generation service. Hopefully the good folks at OIB will get the other stuff sorted out over time.