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Technology Tip of the Month

April 1999: Email on the Road

by Deborah Healey

suitcasesEven if you're not an email junkie, you may find it useful to check your email while you're away from home and work. Here are a few suggestions to make this process easier.

Before you leave

Start by simplifying your intake of mail. Set up your mailing lists so that they don't pile up in your absence. If you are on a listserv-based mailing list like TESL-L, you'll send mail to the listserv computer, not to the people on the list. The address will be in the form listserv@host, such as In the message, say

When you return, you'll send a message to the same listserv computer and say

If you're on a listproc system like NETEACH, you'll again send mail to the computer, not to the people on the list -- such as In the message, say

When you return, you'll send a message to the same listserv computer and say

With many email programs, you can set an automated "out of office" reply that will tell people you're gone and won't be answering your mail in the usual immediate mode. Make sure your email program knows about mailing lists, however, or you'll find yourself dropped from any list you have forgotten to set to NOMAIL or to POSTPONE. Check the documentation or ask your email administrator to be sure.

If you use web-based email like Hotmail, you're ready to roll -- just remember your password and don't forget to exit/quit the browser when you've finished reading your mail.

Information you may need

Using your browser for mail -- a few considerations

Using Netscape Mail and its equivalent on Internet Explorer are inviting options. Mail or Messenger is a component on most installations of current browsers, and it's so easy just to click and go. There are a few considerations, however, related to configuring your browser and keeping your mail private. Netscape Mail - Identity options

The Identity option:

The Messages option:

The Mail Server option:

You don't need to fill in everything, and you don't need to tell the truth in many of the fields. If you want to use Mail just to send yourself a URL, for example, you need something in the "Email address" field -- but it doesn't have to be real. It just needs to look like a real address. The labs at Oregon State University use, leaving the name and the reply-to lines blank. You will need something truthful that works in the Outgoing mail (SMTP) server line, however.

Another comment on security

When you're using your own laptop on the road and connecting to a known Internet service provider, you can afford to feel at home with your messages. If you're on CyberKiosk like the one in LaGuardia airport in New York, you are hoping the service provider will behave responsibly with your messages. If you're using a public computer like in a cybercafe or a computer lab, you'll need to be much more cautious about your mail. The most important thing to remember is to Just turning off the computer won't necessarily erase what you entered, so make sure you delete any information you added to programs like Netscape Messenger or Eudora before you quit the program.

Whatever program you're using -- including web-based mail like Hotmail or EudoraMail -- make sure you

Closing the browser window is not the same as selecting Quit or Exit from the File menu. Don't leave yourself and your email vulnerable.

Whether you're at home or on the road, do remember that email is not particularly private. It's best to treat email like speaking loudly in a public place -- what you say or write today may be repeated publicly by others tomorrow. gone ballooning


Email is a wonderful tool for communication, and many of us have become quite dependent on it. Like any tool, the key is to use it appropriately and responsibly. It's also a good idea to think seriously about just leaving it behind when going on vacation. ..


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If you have questions, comments, or for more information, contact Deborah Healey, dhealey AT uoregon DOT edu
Last updated 26 June, 2009