April 25th, 2006



As of the end of March, my former advisor at CMU stopped funding my CMU account. This was not unreasonable of him, because I had not worked for him since 1997. But it was still inconvenient, because I still use that account as my primary e-mail account. (If you need to send me mail that I'll actually be able to read, use the address ralphmelton@mac.com for now.)

I thought I could get the account reinstated as an alumnus, but apparently my information on that was out of date; it seems my alumni status only entitles me to a permanent forwarding address. So apparently it's time to move on. (It may be time to quit using emacs to read my mail, too.)

So the next question is: What now? I have a few options:

- I have an e-mail account with Comcast, who's providing my internet service. I haven't read e-mail there for multiple years. I certainly don't want to use this one, though; I like the idea that I could change my ISP whenever someone else provided a better offer.

- I have a .Mac account (ralphmelton@mac.com) which I actually do read. But this too is more commitment than I want. The account is provided to me free as an Apple employee benefit; if I left Apple, I'd have to pay for it. And while I have no plans to leave Apple or stop using Macs, the computer industry changes quickly; things might change.

- Those reasons apply even more to my apple.com account as an employee. It's definitely a good idea to have a personal address separate from work.

- I also have a Gmail account (ralphmelton@gmail.com) which I really ought to read more often--or, in fact, ever. (I didn't immediately figure out how to send all my CMU mail to gmail, so I put it aside and never used it.) I know folks who like Gmail; perhaps I should give it more of a try.

- For that matter, I have a Stanford alumni account at ralph@stanfordalumni.org. I don't check this one either, and I don't feel very tied to Stanford anymore.

(I remember that in college, I felt cool because of the number of e-mail addresses that I had. Those days have long passed.)

Musing about all this has led me to a couple of conclusions:
- there are two items of concern here: the address that people use to send me mail, and the system where I read my mail. These should be decoupled, so that I can change one without changing the other.
- in order to maintain the address that people use for me, I should own that address.

Of course, if I'm choosing an address that people will be associating with me for the foreseeable future, I should choose with at least the same level of care that I would choose for a tattoo. My criterion for a tattoo was to see if I wanted the same tattoo for five years; I've been thinking that I'd get the domain 'chezmelton.org' for that long. (And the name has stayed available for that long, mirabile dictu.) So I will plan to get that domain soon.