Simplifying email is complicated

Has your email account ever been hacked? Has spam been sent out to your contacts from your email address?

Well, it happened to me yesterday. Again. As nearly as I could tell, the spam didn’t go to all my contacts, and only a couple of those people cared enough to write back and ask about it (no, I’m not selling electronics at cut-rate prices). But it was disconcerting. And a little embarrassing. I don’t know if I could have prevented it; I only know I try to employ all the standard safeguards. Yes, I’m a little lazy about regularly changing logins and passwords, but isn’t everyone?

Anyway, I decided to combine everything into a new Gmail account. And sure enough, it’s turned out to be every bit the headache I expected. Consider, if you will, the logistics of combining about 7 years’ worth of contact lists, email accounts (those you remember and can still access), and correspondence in one place. Each account had a different login/password combination. Some had been set to forward their mail to others, resulting in lots of duplicated mail. Some would forward willingly; some wouldn’t forward at all. (All seemed quite willing to forward mounds of spam along with the good stuff.) Multiple contact lists meant lots of duplications and lots of outdated addresses, not to mention some cryptic, totally unidentifiable ones (and yet, I had kept them … ).

All that, of course, becomes even more fun when you are working with an unfamiliar interface. How do I do this? How do I see that? Why can’t I delete that? Where did that list go? What’s this?

Now I have to notify friends and family of my new address and hope they all update their contact lists. (“She’s changing her address again??”) And I’ll have to change the email address I’ve registered with a variety of business websites. It’s not like you can ever really leave an old address behind, either. You dare not close/erase/obliterate old accounts. There’s always someone out there you forgot to notify, or someone who somewhere, somehow comes across an old address and knows of no other way to reach you. So you’re not really simplifying at all; you’re just adding another layer of data to the chaos.

And besides, you know what happens the minute you start setting up that single “forever” account — you’re asked to provide a different address in case they ever need to contact you!

9 thoughts on “Simplifying email is complicated

  1. You can always just change your password on your hacked email. I had a Yahoo account that got hacked. I saw that it had sent out hundreds of spam emails about, uh, male enhancement products. I changed my password and that took care of it.

    1. Looks like I might have to settle for that, even though I’ve spent the better part of a day engineering the “Big Switch.” It seems that after the initial import of whatever is in Yahoo mail, Gmail can’t keep importing new Yahoo mail; Yahoo won’t allow it unless I have a paid Yahoo Plus account. That’s an obstacle I hadn’t counted on. And I have this nice neat contact list constructed in Gmail now. Maybe Yahoo will import it if I ask nicely.

      1. Well if nothing else you will have a more organized contacts list on hand should anything similar happen in the future. Making it a margin less agitating the next time. But one should hope that doesn’t happen.

        In the event you want to adopt the practice of changing the password you could try the password card method. Rather than remember the actually password, you remember a set of symbols, and then track down the page to a corresponding color strip of your choice. Thus even if someone steals it, they wont know what series of symbols you used. Its gotten fairly popular among retail tech companies.

        It also has a digital version for Phones if you scan the smart code.

  2. I’m working on getting completely off GMail. I’m not a conspiracy guy by any means.. but they’re really gather way more information about me that I’d care for them to have. And, they’re datamining in ways that are starting to creep me out. For example I get a lot of ads on my gmail front page and my email regarding; masonic supplies, fishing and now.. Michigan Tech apparel. The ONLY way they know, is from mining my emails.

    So call me paranoid, I’d actually just call it annoyed, I’m trying to revert back to Yahoo.

    To your point.. I can’t close any of the accounts for good. Or at least not easily, and that damned Google is just to freaking useful.

    But a guy can try!

    1. I’d forgotten about Gmail’s data mining; it was one reason, years ago, that I didn’t start using Gmail (I’d read they do it). Perhaps no worse than any other site that does this (and most seem to), but it’s one thing to record whether I visit a site, and quite another to watch the contents of my email. Of course, I can’t say if Yahoo mail does it too …

      The interconnectivity of the Internet has for years been its strength. Unfortunately, these days, it’s leading to a breakdown of Internet privacy. Facebook is the most notorious example. Have you ever noticed how ubiquitous it has become? It seems like no matter where you happen to surf, the sites are connected to Facbook by Facebook “like” buttons or special logins for Facebook users. Dammit, if I want Facebook in my life, I’ll go to!! Otherwise, get outta my face and outta my life!

      1. I just spent about 15 minutes digging for details about Yahoo mail, and it sounds like it’s probably just as nosey as Gmail when it comes to “directed advertising.” Most of it can be opted out of, for whatever that’s worth.

        1. I pay th e$20 a year for Yahoo so I don’t see any ads. Not that they aren’t tracking.. but they’re not the the monstrous company that Google is.

          1. The ads haven’t bothered me that much. And I wasn’t about to shell out $20 just so I could transfer everything to Gmail. Anymore I just assume everyone is spying on me, whether I know it or not.

... and that's my two cents