Go Pro!

Ask Professor Puzzler

Do you have a question you would like to ask Professor Puzzler? Click here to ask your question!
Category results for 'email'.

A friend told me that I shouldn't use capital letters in my emails. Why not?

You can use capital letters in your emails...just don't use ALL capitals. It's considered rude. It's like yelling at someone.

Look at it this way; if you want to emphasize something in a sentence, you might capitalize the word, right? (example: "I am NOT going to do that" or "I am not going to do THAT") So if you capitalize EVERYTHING, it's like you're trying to emphasize EVERY SINGLE WORD IN THE ENTIRE MESSAGE.

People will actually feel as though you are yelling at them.

What are the pros and cons of changing your email address periodically?

Well, let's look at the pros first:

  • Every time you change your email address, you start with a clean slate with all the spammers. If your current email address gets lots of spam, starting fresh may not be a bad idea.
  • Internet providers like to get people into their fold by offering reduced "beginner" rates. Of course, once they've got you, you may discover that the price goes up more than you expected. Changing ISPs may get you a better rate.

And the cons?

  • You run the risk of losing contacts. No matter how hard you try to let everyone know that you've changed your email address, you're bound to forget someone. Then, somewhere down the road, they'll try to get in touch with you, and won't be able to.
  • If your email address is associated with things like internet message board memberships, subscriptions, or automatic credit card payments, you'll have to find ALL of those websites where your old email address is used and update them to the new email address. This can be a real hassle
  • Speaking of hassles, let's be honest; it is a hassle for all your friends to keep updating your contact information. Of course, if it's just you, it's not that big a deal, but if EVERYONE starts doing it...

Update 2016: Two significant things have happened since this post was originally written, that would change my answer if I was writing it today.

  • There are many more providers of free email addresses than there was when this was written. If you're getting an email address through your internet provider, you're part of a breed that is gradually dying. Getting a free email address through gmail, hotmail, etc, means that changing your ISP is not going to affect your email address.
  • More and more people have their own domains. If you have your own domain, you should seriously consider getting an email address for that domain (likely, it came free with the domain; you just need to figure out how to set it up). As long as you've got the domain, you've got the email address! 

I hate getting emails from people who fill their emails with stuff like "lol" and "imho" and all that kind of stuff. It's beyond me! Any suggestions?

Unfortunately, shorthand like lol and imho have become a standard part of internet conversations, and you're just going to have to get used to it.

In general, very little "important" content is shorthanded, so you can usually get the meaning of an email even if you miss some of the nuances.

Here are just a handful of internet slang phrases to help you get started. Note: this list was updated and alphabetized in 2016.

  • afaik: as far as I know
  • bff: best friends forever
  • bfn: bye for now
  • brb: be right back
  • btw: by the way 
  • fwiw: for what it's worth
  • gr8: great
  • imho: in my humble opinion 
  • imo: in my opinion 
  • irl: in real life
  • jk: just kidding
  • l8r: later
  • lmao: laughing my --- off 
  • lol: laugh out loud
  • np: no problem
  • oic: oh, I see
  • otoh: on the other hand
  • rofl: roll on floor laughing
  • smh: smack my head
  • tmi: too much information
  • wtf: what the ---
  • ymmv: your mileage may vary

In addition to these, you may have to put up with "leet speak", which is almost like a code, in which letters are replaced by numbers and symbols which look similar. For example, the letter A is replaced by the number 4, and the letter S is replaced by a dollar sign. If it doesn't get too extreme, you can interpret without too much difficulty: 1 h@+3 l337 $p34k = "I hate leet speak"

Good grief! What is up with this? My friend emailed me a database file, and Outlook tells me it won't let me receive it. Have any suggestions?

This may be moderately annoying, but it is in your best interest to have Outlook do everything it can to protect you from malicious code which may be hiding in database files and executable files. So you may not be able to open that MDB or EXE file your friend sent you.

But don't despair, you can get around Outlook if really need that file. Email your friend back and tell him "I need you to change the file extention to .MDX (or anything else besides .MDB) and then resend it to me."

Your friend changes the file extension, Outlook no longer recognizes it as a database file, and it lets it through. Now, when you save the attachment, you've just got to remember to change the extension back to .MDB and you're good to go!

2016 Update: This is not just an Outlook issue anymore. E-mails tend to get checked for potential viruses at every step along the delivery process. And some services are downright scary in how sophosticated their checking algorithms are. I have a client that I do development for, and occasionally they need me to update a single *.aspx file and e-mail it down to them. But their mail server rejects as hazardous any e-mail with the *.aspx extension.

No problem, right? Just change the extension to something like *.asz.

No dice; their server still rejects it.

Okay, so let's try zipping the *.aspx file. Nope. Still no joy.

Change the file extension, then zip it?

Their server is smart enough to still recognize as potentially hazardous.

Change the file extension, zip it, change the zip file's extension from *.zip to *.ziq. STILL no luck.

Give up and mail the updates to my contact person's personal e-mail address.

Dear Sir, We recently started a Listserve for our club and the member list was installed in the software.

Using my address as an an example the format was: ---- at instead of my actual address.

The list was on the site, which was reasonably restricted for members only, for less than 72 hours. Many seniors (members) were EXTREMELY concerned the address was available to the world and they were going to get more spam than they already were and their privacy was totally compromised. A System Engineer advised us this was next to impossible. Your comments on such a probability would be greatly appreciated!

Hi ---, That's a nice looking site you have there. I agree with your sys eng. You have three things going for you:

1. The list is restricted to members only. This means a bot is not going to 'stumble across it'. Someone would have to obtain a membership in order to harvest those email addresses. (a question to ask: how easy is it to obtain a membership?)

2. Even if they can get a membership, nobody is going to sit and manually enter all those email addresses, just so they can spam them.

3. Someone would have to specifically program a bot to convert your email address format into real email addresses. Now, if your list contained hundreds of thousands addresses, a spammer might think it was worth the bother to break in and snag those addresses. But with a much smaller membership, they probably wouldn't think it was worth their bother, even if they did get in. I hope that is helpful to you.

Best wishes!

Understanding Coronavirus Spread

A Question and Answer session with Professor Puzzler about the math behind infection spread.

Blogs on This Site

Reviews and book lists - books we love!
The site administrator fields questions from visitors.
Like us on Facebook to get updates about new resources
Pro Membership