If you don’t like to get junk e-mail, try Choice-mail. Choice-mail is a small company, and its eponymous application has 5,000 users. It’s not a perfect solution–there may be no such thing–but it will put an end to receiving e-mail advertisements for penis enlargement devices, notifications that you’ve just won a vacation sweepstakes, and impassioned pleas from relatives of foreign dignitaries trying to recover $300 million that is rightfully theirs but that they can only get at if you set up a bank account for them in America with your name on it to receive the funds–for which they will pay you a $10,000 fee.
Choice-mail will end that nonsense abruptly. I’ve been using it myself for two months on my computer, which has about as complicated a configuration as you might see deployed at an independent advisory firm: a Windows 2000 laptop, which synchronizes e-mail and calendar to our Windows 2000 Server Professional network with Microsoft Exchange. Despite all the network complications, Choice-mail has worked smoothly. It’s a simple solution and the $40 price is right.
When you install Choice-mail, it scans your contact management list and displays all your contacts’ names and e-mail addresses for you. You then check off the people on your contact list that you want to get e-mails from. When someone not on your “whitelist” e-mails you, the e-mail does not come into your mailbox, but instead is held on your computer in Choice-mail. You can go into Choice-mail whenever you want to scan through e-mails and make sure Choice-mail is not holding up something important that you need to see. You wind up spending a lot less time reading through junk mail.
Choice-mail does not just hold on to the e-mail from the unknown senders, but it automatically sends out an e-mail message to the unknown senders saying that you are using spam-blocking software. The automatically generated e-mail gives an unknown sender a link to go to. When the sender goes to that link and sees a Web page set up just for you to handle your known senders, the sender fills in his name, e-mail address, and a few words explaining the reason for contacting you.
To make it really tough to crack this system, prospective senders are also given a unique passcode.
When the unknown sender fills in the code and quick answers the three questions and clicks “submit,” you receive an e-mail notification asking you to approve or reject the sender’s request to contact you. If you approve the sender, he or she remains on your whitelist and can e-mail you anytime. If you reject the sender, he or she goes on a blacklist.