Saturday, April 03, 2004

SPAM alert!

I'm usually frustrated whenever I get SPAM, but in this case my response was different. I just received my first documented piece of SPAM through a GishPuppy address. It came just 2 days after I created the address, here's a copy so you can see for yourself. To be fair, I used this email in the text a bboard message, and it was probably scraped. But you get the gist.

-----Original Message-----
From: MRS SABINA RAINNER [mailto:swiss_union_intlA@techemail.com]
Sent: Saturday, April 03, 2004 4:19 AM
To: mydomain.ago@gishpuppy.com

REF NUMBER: SUL/653/029/03
Email: swiss_union_intlA@techemail.com

Dear Sir/Madam,
We are pleased to inform you that as a result of our recent lottery
held on the 24th of November 2003. Your e-mail address attached to
number 27522465896-532 with serial number 652-662 drew lucky numbers
7-14-18-23-31-45, which consequently won in the 2nd category. You have
therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of 4,000,000 (Euros) (Four
Million Euros only)

Note that all participants in this lottery program have been selected
randomly through a computer ballot system drawn from over 20,000
and 30,000,000 individual email addresses from all search engines and
sites. This promotional program takes place every year, and is promoted
sponsored by eminent personalities like the Sultan of Brunei, bill gates
Microsoft Inc and other corporate organizations. This is to encourage
use of the Internet and computers worldwide.

For security purpose and clarity, we advise that you keep your winning
information confidential until your claims have been processed and your
money remitted to you. This is part of our security protocol to avoid
claims and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants. We
forward to your active participation in our next year USD50 million slot.

You are requested to contact our Lottery coordinator below to assist you
with your winnings and subsequent payments. All winnings must be claimed
later than one month after the date of this notice.
Please note, in order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications,
remember to quote your reference number and batch numbers in all

Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agent
soon as possible. Congratulations once more and thank you for being part
our promotional program.

Sincerely yours,


Thursday, April 01, 2004


Sorry, It's been awhile.

I thought I might just let GishPuppy sit for awhile and see how it ages. ;-) Got some good traffic with the NCAA tournament crowd. And some more good comments.

I just added a new edit page for managing individual Gish Email addresses. In addition to changing many of the field values and expirations, you can now change the target address of the Gish Email.

Look for it when in the 'view my settings' page, or when you retrieve an existing GishPuppy Email by clicking the 'Gish It' link from the site where you registered.

Try it out and let me know how it works for you.

-- woof.

Monday, January 12, 2004

GishPuppy is great for shopping on the web!

For the lowest prices, I've been a loyal user of PriceGrabber for quite some time, and it's been really good to me. But I've recently discovered a bunch rebate/coupon/bargain sites that uncover great bargains which are available for only a limited time:

After using these sites for while, you quickly discover that the best deals often come from the smaller, lesser known online stores. PriceGrabber does include a Seller Rating that gives you some assurance that you will get what you paid for. And I've have good success with many of these smaller stores, like NewEgg (WiFi card), Abe's of Maine (Canon s30), CompuPlus (can't remember), and AccessMicro (cheap hard drives).

But while the Seller Ratings can tell you if they are reliable vendors, you never really know what will happen with your email address when you checkout (does anyone ever actually read the privacy policy???). In the past, I've just given them my shopping email address, and later dug through all that SPAM to find the email confirmation or tracking number.

But this is where GishPuppy shines. Now with just 2 clicks of a mouse, I can just give them each a different GishPuppy address. My email confirmations will show up in my standard inbox -- and if I start to get unwanted messages, I can easily cancel the offending GishPuppy address.

I've also noticed that it is more convenient with sites which use your email as your shopping cart login. Now I just click on the "Gish it" link to see if I already created an email for the store in question. GishPuppy does a lookup based on the domain name of the store. If it finds an existing forwarding email address, it will display it at the top of the pop-up and I just copy and paste that address into the email field. No more typing email addresses --which is a good thing.

I'm definitely considering a change in positioning for GishPuppy to focus soley on reaching online shoppers. Thoughts?

-- Woof.

Monday, December 22, 2003

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about messaging. Unfortunately, not the email kind, but the marketing one.

Communicating the value proposition of Gishpuppy to the uninitiated has been harder than expected. People are not responding to "disposable" emails, and automatic expirations for email addresses are an even stranger concept. "Why would I want to do that?" seems to be a very common response.

I think the idea of giving out a different email address every time is a big departure for people. Like number portability with cell phones, there is a certain comfort in knowing that people can always reach you at one address. But in practice, it never really works out that way. Most people I talk to use two emails, work and personal, or even three work, personal, and shopping.

It's the last email address that GishPuppy hopes to eliminate. Strange as it seems, by using a whole lot of GishPuppy emails, you should be able to eliminate that last shopping email. This is true mostly because the emails you receive at that address will most likely never come from a real person. Instead, you'll get only computer generated marketing messages sent from the groups, newsletters, download sites, etc. that have you in their database.

If they are legitimate messages, then why not receive them in your work or personal mailbox? If they are unwanted emails, then why tolerate them at all? Why not cancel them entirely?

Normally, that wouldn't be possible, because all the other messages sent to your shopping email would also be cancelled. And most (some?) of them are probably useful. But if everyone had a different email address in their marketing database for you, then you could cancel one without messing up the others. That is what GishPuppy offers.

Of course, you can always try to opt out. But then, the SPAM-mers rarely bother to identify themselves. What they do instead is to buy, harvest, or steal your email address from some other marketing database and then start using it indiscriminately. The only thing you can know for certain about SPAM is that it was delivered to your mailbox. If it was through a GishPuppy address, then you have just enough information to cancel it.

And the answer to the most common follow-up question is, "Yes, we really can create a gazillion different email addresses on the spot." It's quick and easy -- that is what mail forwarding is all about. And it really doesn't matter that you can't remember or type these emails because they only exist inside marketing databases. It's like the Matrix for emails, right?

I am obviously biased, but I think GishPuppy provides a valuable service in the fight against SPAM. I've taken a second crack at communicating the value proposition, so have a look and please send me your feedback. And if you can do better, but all means send me your thoughts.

-- Woof.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

It really works!

Just went to MacConnection to do some Christmas shopping. (Those of you who receive electronic goodies this year will soon know what I am talking about...) And when it came time to give an email, I just clicked on the [Gish It!] link and got me a GishPuppy address to leave instead.

Worked like a charm! And 5 minutes later, I had my confirmation email in my own inbox.

I love it when a plan comes together.

-- Woof!

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I flew into SF last Friday for the holidays, but also to pay a visit at GuideDogs for the Blind. Gish of GishPuppy.com graduated on Saturday and I had to be there to give her away. All who knew Gish expressed amazement at her rapid progress (!), but we always knew she was smart as a whip. And now she is a full-fledged guide dog! I was most happy to discover that her spastic puppy spirit is still with her, and that her new owner is going to see that it stays with her. Go Gish!

I'm also starting to get some feedback from all you early users. It's very exciting to see GishPuppy in action, so please tell your friends and please keep the comments coming.

I recently spent a day cleaning up the site, so it now behaves a little bit more like what you would expect. Sign-on, cookies, error checking, etc. There's more to it than you would expect, and still more to do.

Also snuck in a new GishXpress feature. Now you can embed a [Gish it!] link on a 3rd party website (i.e. directly on a registration page) and register/sign in/get an email all at once. I still have to tweak the flow so that the new member also sees the welcome page, but it does address the most glaring weakness of Gishpuppy -- the lag between signing up and using it for the first time. But GishXpress is going to be the basis of our new GishPuppy Partners program. Now, if we only had a partner (Rajesh...)

I have a backlog of new features to put in, but I need more feedback before I can prioritize. Please spend some time and tell me what you think. And please volunteer if you have any marketable skills.

Happy Holidays,

-- Woof.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Enhancements: I've just rolled out a few enhancements, including:

The latter feature is useful for web sites that require you to use an email as your sign-on name. In this case, a quick click of the [Gish it!] link will display the email you used to register. Just copy and paste and you're done.

Please feel free to send me more suggestions on new features or other enhancements. I think you can just email to gishpuppy@yahoogroups.com.

-- Woof!

Alert: If you haven't been able to use the Gish It! toolbar link, it's because I've added cookies to the website. Please sign in and check the remember me box, that should save the cookie in your browser.

Also, the sign-on from the Gish It! link doesn't really work, but I hope to have it fixed in a day or two. [fixed, but only if you get it right the first time]

-- m

Monday, December 08, 2003

A couple new tools to help us stay updated and organized.

If you'd like to receive email updates from this blog, then just join the related YahooGroup.

You can also offer you comments, suggestions, feature enhancements etc. by posting on this group. And finally, by joining the group, you will have your first opportunity to "Gish it!".

Just click here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gishpuppy/

If you don't care to join the group, you can still send comments to gishpuppy@yahoogroups.com.

-- Woof.
GishPuppy is a disposable email forwarding service I created in response to the overwhelming amount of SPAM I've been getting. My initial response was to rely on email forwarding to hide from the SPAM-mers. The way it worked was as follows:

  1. Whenever I needed to register on the web, I would give a forwarding email address (i.e. register@somewhere.com) which delivered messages to my personal email (something@comcast.net).
  2. In my Comcast email (using Outlook 2000), I set up a filter to move any messages sent to "register@somewhere.com" to a separate "register" folder. Voila! All my newsletters, confimation emails, credit card and viagra offers, etc. end up in one folder that is separate from my personal emails.
  3. Then, over time, when that address eventually got SPAM-med, I figured I could cancel that forwarding address and use a new one (i.e. register2@somewhere.com)

It was an endless game of "cat-and-mouse" (dog-and-cat?) on the web. Effective, but a bit of a hassle. But the problem was that if I cancel "register@somewhere.com" because one site sold my address to a SPAM-mer, I'd have to change my email address on all the other sites I registered.

GishPuppy was built to automate this process and add a few extra wrinkles:

  1. you can give a different and unique email to every site where you register. This way you can cancel the forwarding addresses individually.
  2. the forwarding emails can be set to automatically expire (i.e. after 30 days I don't want to hear from this site) so you don't have to go back an cancel an email that was later SPAM-med. I think this feature is useful for "one-night stands" on the web -- for me, that means the low-cost, no-name e-commerce sites I find on Pricegrabber, but you're free to do whatever you want.
  3. and much, much more. As soon as we figure them out...

Please sign up and try it out. And if you have any problems or suggestions for new enhancements, please send them to gishpuppy@yahoogroups.com.

-- Woof.

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