Should I get my own separate e-mail account? And, if so, how?

Outline for "Should I get my own separate e-mail account? And, if so, how?"

Women, especially, might find this information useful.

Picture this situation.

1. Scenario: Don't let job offers vanish

A woman uses her friend's e-mail account to send and to receive correspondence. The woman is applying for various jobs. She gives employers her friend's e-mail address. An interested employer e-mails an urgent reply to her. However, the employer's organization had previously sent unsolicited "junk e-mail" to the friend. In response, the annoyed friend had set up an "e-mail filter". That e-mail filter automatically rejects "junk e-mail" from that organization. But that filter also automatically rejects the employer's job-offer correspondence to the woman. So the woman misses an excellent career opportunity. And she doesn't even know--until after the position is filled.

2. Reference: Save this article

Please bookmark this article or document--now. In a moment, you might be connecting to and looking at other resources. But you or your associates might want to return to this article--again and again.

If you're new to computers and networks, don't worry. Read along through this article. Some parts might seem clear the first time you read it. After you get "the big picture", other parts might become clear also. For now, don't worry about the strange, "technical" words that you'll see here and there. Just understand as much as you can for now--and you'll be doing very well.

3. Importance: Use e-mail effectively for your career

Getting effective access to an e-mail account might be quite helpful to your career. You might be reading a newsgroup and find a great job posting. Or you might be using the World Wide Web to research a possible future employer. Then suppose you have a question. Or suppose you want to apply for the job. Your e-mail access might let you send your question or application--fast. And your e-mail access might let you receive your answer relatively inexpensively--or maybe free. Your e-mail access lets you share with others your discovery of a training or job opportunity. And your e-mail access lets others share tips or leads with you. You might even network with others via your "e-mail list" of friends and associates. If you are traveling, you might still be able to receive and send your important messages. And you might do so--fast--without your paying for a long-distance telephone call. Without paying for long-distance calls, you might use e-mail to send long-distance faxes.

4. Alternatives: Get your own e-mail account

Sharing another person's e-mail account might not be a good idea where alternatives are accessible. One or more alternatives might be accessible to you.

4.1 Free e-mail via the World Wide Web

Do you have access to the World Wide Web? If so, you might be able to access a free e-mail account.

4.1.1 Locations from which to access the World Wide Web Libraries and educational institutions

Contact your local libraries to see if they give free access for the public. You might ask at public libraries. You might also ask at libraries for schools and other educational institutions. Other locations

Some restaurants ("Web cafes"), photocopying/fax centres, or other merchants might also supply access. Your local library, business group, or government office might be able to provide additional contacts.

4.1.2 Providers of free e-mail accounts MailCity

If you can access the World Wide Web, consider getting your own, free, portable e-mail account. You might get yours, for example, from the MailCity World Wide Web site at A list of providers of free e-mail

Do you want to see what else is available? Or are you unable to contact the MailCity World Wide Web site? If so, look into free e-mail providers like those listed at or at

4.1.3 Your participation

Your local public library does not provide public access to the World Wide Web? If it doesn't, and if you can access e-mail, e-mail to me at Tell me a bit about the situation. Why does that library not provide the access? To what extent is cost a problem? What needs to happen in order for that library to provide that access? Are you interested in helping?

4.2 Use of telnet to access e-mail

Can you access a "telnet" connection? A telnet connection might also help you access e-mail. Ask your local nearby library or educational institution if it lets you access telnet. If it does, ask the appropriate person there to help you connect to telnet://

4.2.1 Telnet via a World Wide Web browser

Are you accessing the World Wide Web via a browser (Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Lynx, etc.)? If so, you might already have telnet access via that browser. You're not sure? If you're using that browser to read this article, try to follow this link: telnet:// If the computer system connects to the Vancouver Community Network, then your telnet connection is working. If not, try searching through the browser help system or instructions for "telnet" information.

4.2.2 Vancouver Community Network

Vancouver Community Network is a community network that provides e-mail access to its registered users. Want more information? Use your telnet access to connect to the Vancouver Community Network. When you are asked "login:", type "guest". Tap the "Enter" key, and explore. Or go directly to the registration section. If you register, you might access e-mail, the World Wide Web, and newsgroups. Note that you can access text materials. Hearing audio, and viewing pictures (graphics) and video obtained via this community network may be possible. However, you might need access to an appropriately-equipped computer system.

4.2.3 Community networks in various countries

Do you want to see what other community networks can offer you? If so, take a look at this World Wide Web page:

4.2.4 Your participation

Your public library does not provide access to telnet or to the World Wide Web? If it doesn't, and if you can e-mail, e-mail to me at Tell me a bit about the situation. Why does that library not provide the access? To what extent is cost a problem? What needs to happen in order for that library to provide public access to telnet? Would you like to help?

4.3 Training

Suppose you find out where and how to obtain your own e-mail account. You might still want training, so you can use the account well.

4.3.1 Training from libraries

Some public library staff might provide free introductory training introducing their facilities to the public. These facilities might include information about World Wide Web access or telnet access. Contact the appropriate library for details.

4.3.2 Training from community networks

Some community network staff or volunteers might provide free training introducing the network to the public. Contact the appropriate community network for details. Do you want to learn more about e-mail and the Internet? Consider volunteering in an appropriate capacity with a community network. You might be able to volunteer, even if you live far from the network's office. Again, contact the appropriate community network for details.

4.3.3 Continuing education ("Night school")

Some local school boards might provide appropriate training via their continuing education divisions. Some colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions might do so also. Contact the appropriate educational institution for details.

4.3.4 Community organizations

You're not in a position to spend much money on training? Local community organizations might receive support from government, business, and other sources. Some of that support might help them provide training to you inexpensively or free. Try asking at your local public library for more information. You might also contact your local women's centre, government information centre, or business organization.

4.3.5 Training funded via your supervisor/manager

If you're currently working for pay or volunteering, you might try this approach. You might try asking your supervisor or manager to pay for your training. You might need to show how your training might help the organization where you work.

4.3.6 Self-training Libraries

You're trying to teach yourself? Go to the library. Ask the librarian where to start, for your situation. Look at books; watch videos; listen to audio recordings; explore multimedia. Your library might have access to some facilities and not others. Goals and patterns

Know your goal. And try to work towards building your understanding of "the big picture". Try to see how "this bunch of information" and "that bunch of information" connect. When you ask for an explanation, paraphrase the answer. Adjust your paraphrase till it's accurate. Make sketches. If you want, ask for analogies. Documentation

Much of the information that might go into your training might already be available. However, it is in the form of "Help" files or other facilities. Some of it might be accessible via the World Wide Web. At first, some of the reading might seem almost indigestible. Again, look for, build, and sketch "the big picture". Look for "Tutorials", "Introductions", and similar material. Look at "Tables of Contents". Look for "FAQ" lists--lists of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers. Jargon or "technical words"

If you encounter material with lots of jargon, don't worry. People studying subjects from cooking to commerce, from sewing to engineering, come up with new ideas. And these people give names to these new ideas. You might ask the librarian for simpler material to start. Or you might look for a glossary in the material you're reading. Children's section of the library

Sometimes, materials in the children's section of the library provide fun and understandable introductions to subjects. Other women as mentors and in networks

Try asking other women to see if they would like to join you in your exploration. A woman who knows more about a topic might even agree to be your mentor. And you might, in return, help in an area where you know more. You might find that this personal networking and learning-exchange might be very helpful. Taking appropriate risks, communicating, and relaxing

Are you worried that you might make a mistake and accidentally "break" something? Public computer-facilities like those at libraries might be designed to handle some mistakes from learners. If you're worried, ask an appropriate person. That person might be a librarian or a community network help-desk volunteer.

Are you feeling tense in front of a computer terminal? If appropriate, walk away from time to time. If appropriate, stand tall, inhale slowly, filling your lungs--from the bottom--completely; exhale slowly. If appropriate, repeat this exercise a couple of times--but don't overdo it. When you feel better, you might spend a bit more time at the computer, if appropriate.

5. Practice: E-mail to me

When you have a moment, send an e-mail message to me from your own, new e-mail account. Then, if you do make some mistakes, you're sending to just me. Later, you might e-mail to various employers. Then, you can expect to have enough e-mail experience to avoid those mistakes.

Want to send your feedback or questions to me? Please e-mail to me, Barry Wong, at


6. Safety and security

Here are some ideas that might help you use e-mail more safely and securely. You might find these ideas especially helpful, if you are a woman.

6.1 Choose a "login" that does not tell too much about you

When applying for your e-mail account, you choose a "login" (or "account" or "ID"). This will be a word that will be part of your e-mail address. To be safer, choose carefully. Many people may see your e-mail address, with your login. Suppose someone sees your e-mail address. That address, with your login, should not tell him or her too much information. If you are a woman, it should not say that you are a woman. Why? You might not want some people to bother you with unwanted e-mail. Here's an example.

Suppose you are a woman and your name is Jane Li, for example. Then you might not choose your login to be "janeli". Instead, you might choose your login to be "write", "book", "work", or another unrelated English word. Then suppose someone sees your e-mail address, with your login. It does not tell him or her that you are a woman. It does not tell him or her your racial background.

6.2 Don't tell too much about yourself

When you are ready to send an e-mail message, read the message again--carefully. Don't tell too much personal information about yourself. If you are a woman, be especially careful. In general, don't let someone reading that message figure out where you live. In general, don't let him or her figure out your home telephone number. Why? The person who receives your message might innocently decide to forward a copy to someone else. That "someone else" might forward copies to other people. You might not want some of those "other people" to bother you. Edit your message, if necessary--before you actually send it.

You may get a chance to put information into a "sig file". This sig file information might get attached to messages that you send. If you wish, you might include your e-mail address in the sig file information. Suppose, for example, you have your own World Wide Web page. Then, if you wish, you might also include the address of that page. Especially if you are a woman, don't put too much personal information in your sig file. In general, do not tell where you live. In general, do not tell your home telephone number.

6.3 Every time, when you are finished e-mailing, logout properly

When you apply for your e-mail account, find out how to logout properly. Then, every time, when you are finished e-mailing, remember: "logout" properly. Why? Suppose you are finished using e-mail at a computer system in a public library. If you don't logout properly and leave, then another person might continue--using your e-mail account. That person might then get you into trouble.

Here's an analogy. Suppose you are at a public telephone and finishing an important telephone call. Then, when you are ready to leave, you should hang up the telephone. Now, suppose you forgot to hang up the telephone--and left. Then someone might walk to that telephone and talk into the telephone. He or she might lie, convincing your caller that he or she is your "friend". He or she might then ask your caller for your personal information. Or he or she might say inappropriate words to your caller.

6.4 Remember your password--and don't tell anyone your password

When you apply for your e-mail address, you choose a "login" and a "password". Think of this analogy. Your "login" is like a mail box at your local post office. Your "password" is like the number-code you use to open the lock on that mail box. In general, don't tell anyone your password. Suppose your family or friends want to use e-mail. Then show them how to get their own e-mail accounts--free. Don't share your own e-mail account. Why? Suppose someone else knows your password and is using your e-mail account. Then he or she might make changes to your e-mail account to suit him or her. These changes might cause troubles for you. Also, he or she might disagree with the content of your e-mail messages. Keep your password secret and don't share your e-mail account--especially if you are a woman. If you think someone else has discovered your password, change your password immediately. And remember your new password.

6.5 Use a filter or block to reject unwanted e-mail, if necessary

You might sometimes receive unwanted e-mail. Maybe someone is trying to sell something to you. Or perhaps someone is harassing you. If appropriate, send an e-mail message to tell the sender to stop sending you those messages. Suppose the sender continues to send those messages to you. Then you might use your e-mail account system to reject e-mail from that sender. How do you do so? You set the "filter" or "block" option, so your e-mail account rejects e-mail from that sender. You might also tell the people who gave an e-mail account to that harassing sender.

7. Disclaimers and other information

This communication is Copyright 1998 by Barry G. Wong. All rights reserved. Product, brand, and trade names indicated in this and future communications may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Product, brand, trade, and similar names are presented for discussion or illustration, and their inclusion does not necessarily imply endorsement. Barry G. Wong and the Equinet Broadcasting Network shall not be liable for errors in, omissions in, your use of, or any other matter or aspect relating to this communication.


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This page was updated on April 28, 2002.

Barry G. Wong
Equinet Broadcasting Network
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Copyright © 1998-2002 by Barry G. Wong. All rights reserved.