Sending E-mail to Erik E. Fair <>

A Word Of Caution

I do not appreciate unsolicited advertisements (colloquially known as "spam") in my Internet mailboxes; they are most definitely a blight on the Internet, and not wanted. If you want to advertise, use the web to publish actual information about your products and services - don't go blasting marketing hype into people's mailboxes. If I need or want your products, I'll find you.

If you spam me, you can expect that I will do my utmost to see that, at minimum, your Internet service is terminated. Unsolicited E-mail advertisement is a clear violation of United States Code section 47, which has rather severe penalties for the violator. I believe that CAUCE has the right idea of how to handle the issue legislatively: clarify USC 47.

Which Address?

These days I try to split my mail between two addresses: work & personal.

For personal correspondence, non-work related projects, party invitations, and so on, please use <>. This address is intended to be mine forever (at least, "forever" to my best ability to guarantee that it continues to work and reach me), without regard to the particular corporation I might be working for at the time (and after all, no less authority than the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, has said that people should not consider their jobs at any patrticular employer as "secure" or "lifetime" employment, so it's likely that from time to time, my work address will change).

The explanation for why "" is a slightly involved story...

Security: Authentication, Privacy, Integrity

Communications security has three aspects:

[PGP key icon] If you wish to send me authenticated E-mail (i.e. cryptographically signed so that I know it came from you), or encrypted E-mail (i.e. completely private so that only I can read it), or both authenticated and encrypted E-mail, I recommend that you use Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) software in conjunction with whatever mailer software you like. I have found that it integrates pretty cleanly with Eudora for the Macintosh (from QualComm) with just a little AppleScript that came in the MacPGP distribution.

To encrypt a letter to me personally, you will need my PGP Public Key. You would also use my PGP Public Key to authenticate a digital signature on a message as being soley from me. If the PGP key block looks big, it's just because I have been privileged enough to have my key signed by many of my colleagues and friends in the Internet community. With any luck, we have a mutual friend who has already signed my key, so that you can trust communications from me right away.

I am Everywhere!

I have accounts all over the place, but I always try very hard to make sure that where ever you see an "instance" of me that sending E-mail to that instance will actually get forwarded automatically to the place where I'm really reading my E-mail regularly. All proper E-mail systems have a way to do this.

To the extent that an instance of me is work related, I will likely forward the mail to where ever I'm working, and if it's more personal related, then it will be forwarded to <>.

Of course, there are some broken E-mail systems which make automatic off-system forwarding either difficult or impossible (for example, most of the older, proprietary online services (e.g. America OnLine, CompuServe, Prodigy, GEnie, MCImail, etc.) will not forward E-mail outside their systems automatically - after all, since most of them charge by the hour, forwarding the mail elsewhere means they lose the money generated by the hours spent reading that E-mail). I've always had unkind things to say about this sort of practice.

After all, why would any sane person opt for a "presence" on such a system if they actually have to go there periodically to check their mailbox, and thus incur charges? There are many cheaper places to keep an Internet E-mail box, and E-mail to any of one's "presences" should automatically get forwarded to where one is actually reading one's mail. In order to survive in the age of the popular Internet, the traditional online services will have to differentiate themselves by superior customer service, or by gaining a monopoly on some information base (like LEXIS/NEXIS have on legal citations), etc., instead of by nickle & diming their customers over things like E-mail.

I have always tried for a very simple, stable E-mail address. Stability in naming makes it easier for people keep in touch with you, and vice versa. Nonetheless, my address has changed over the years; I have been (variously):

Hmmm. Looking at that list in retrospect, I guess I haven't succeeded at the stability part very well. Or the simplicity - routing to a UUCP address (the ones with the "!" in the middle) is, even to this day, something of an art.

"X.400 is the E-mail system of the future - and I hope it stays that way."
Erik E. Fair <>
September 9, 1997