Aug 182013

I got an e-mail today with a petition telling Google to stop analysing users’ e-mail messages to target advertising to their inboxes. Well, first off, petition the Postmaster General, Congress, the President, or whoever has such power, to ban all the spam everyone with a postal mailbox receives nearly every day, then we can talk about e-mail. It’s easy enough to hit the delete key on an e-mail, but postal spam wastes my time and energy, in addition to helping to decrease the number of life-giving trees on our planet. Also, I can’t read all that mess they send me anyway, so companies won’t get a cent from me via a printed ad in my mailbox. It just doesn’t work. Believe it or not, I hold the rather unusual opinion that if you want my business, you are more likely to get a response if you send me an e-mail, especially if it is selling a product or service I have found I need or want. Maybe that’s because I am visually impaired, but either way, electronic communications just work better for me, even if used for marketing purposes. Can’t we hav a “Canned Spam Act” for postal mail? Please? No, I don’t want that credit card. If I did, I certainly would have applied by now, seeing as you’ve sent me the same cute-looking glossy envelope with the same fake plastic card inside about 40 times just this year, and even more before that, and I still haven’t taken the bate!

Secondly, regarding e-mail, I do receive spam, most of which is from fraudulent, non-existing companies or other scammers, but it goes into my spam e-mail folder, or is tagged as spam by my filtering system. Although I do get the occasional e-mail from Google Shopping or Google Play, they are rather infrequent, and they are also mass mailings sent to all users of these services, and in no way appear to be targeting me based on e-mail messages I have sent or received, products I have purchased, or even apps I have downloaded. I have seen targeted ads on the Gmail website, as well as other sites with Google ads, but these are completely separate from my inbox, and I generally use Thunderbird to access my mail anyway, which receives no Google ads, and also adds nothing to my incoming or outgoing messages. Believe me, I check this feature quite frequently to be sure my e-mail providers don’t start doing such crazy things, as this is probably the most important reason why I refuse to use Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. I can easily delete ads that come into my inbox, but don’t do the Yahoo and Hotmail thing by forcing me to advertise products and services I know nothing about, or even your oen e-mail service, just by sending a message to a friend, or especially to an e-mail list., and don’t insert advertising into e-mail messages that my friends or lists send me either. This is not cool, and you will forever go on my list of hated e-mail providers if you do any of these things.

So far, Google keeps my inbox fairly clean, as does GMX, but there is nothing in the world like running my own mail server on my own VPS. Now there’s full control. Yeah, it does cost a bit more to run your own VPS rather than getting a free address from Google, GMX or even your ISP, but it’s much more trustworthy than expecting another company, or the NSA for that matter, to handle your e-mail messages appropriately, not to mention that a VPS can do much more than just e-mail. For example, I use mine to run some websites and even seed torrents for a couple of Linux distributions. Yeah, I know, I should get that Fedora 19 torrent up there, but I’ve got Talking Arch, and I plan to put up the unmodified Arch Linux as well, which are even better :-).