TOURBUS: Thursday, August 6, 1996
DRIVER: Patrick Crispin
Mercury Mail

Okay ... so this isn't exactly Thursday the 8th (its more like Saturday the 10th). Your fearless bus driver has spent the last four days cramming for finals, so I am just now getting caught up with all of the other stuff that I should have done over the past few days. :)

School would be so much more fun were it not for all the tests ...

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I have some good news and some bad news. First the good news: I think I have found the e-mail equivalent of "My Yahoo!" (which we visited back on July 11, 1996 ... by the way, you can find all of the previous TOURBUS posts at WorldVillage.

This e-mail equivalent is called "Mercury Mail" and you can access the Mercury Mail homepage on the Web at

Mercury Mail is a *free*, advertiser-supported service (sort of like TOURBUS) that delivers only the news and information that you want, when you want it (Mercury Mail usually delivers its "stuff" to you on a daily basis, but that is completely up to you). Best of all, Mercury Mail does all of this through e-mail ...

... well, I guess it would be more honest to say that Mercury Mail does *most* of this through e-mail. The bad news that I alluded to a few paragraphs ago is that you have to have a forms-capable Web browser to be able to "customize" Mercury Mail to send you what you want, when you want it. (Actually, I think you can customize Mercury Mail through e-mail too, but I could not find any directions on their web page ... I'll keep looking, though.)

Mercury Mail offers 8 services: News; Weather; Snow; Stocks; Sports; Entertainment; Reminders; and Calendars. All of the services, with the exception of "Calendars," are absolutely free. Mercury Mail is able to fund these services by placing small ads in the e-mail letters that they send you (sort of like what Bob and I do to be able to pay for TOURBUS).

To sign up for Mercury Mail, just pop on over to their Web page and then click on "User Profile." This will take you to the "New User?" page.

Mercury Mail is going to ask you for some information for their database. In particular, they are going to ask you for your:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Zip Code (Non-US folks can just enter "00000")
  • Income
  • Home phone
  • Operating System
  • E-mail program
Now, before you panic, let me assure you that this information is going to remain completely confidential. Mercury Mail will NEVER release, sell or give your name or e-mail address to any other party or organization, nor will Mercury Mail send you any e-mail messages that contain anything other than

1. The information that you request, and
2. Administrative messages (notices of new Mercury Mail services, etc.).

Once you are registered with Mercury Mail -- BTW, I promise not to tell anyone if you lie about your age or income -- you can start "customizing" Mercury Mail to e-mail you the news and information that you want.

Let's actually "customize" one of Mercury Mail's 8 services. If you click on "News" icon, you are taken to the "NEWSpot" page. NEWSpot is much like The Daily Brief (TOURBUS, April 18, 1996) in that it delivers a daily e-mail summary of news topics, including U.S. news, international news and special events. Customizing "NEWSpot" and, for that matter, the rest of Mercury Mail's services is a lot like customizing My Yahoo! You are given a page full of topics that you can select, like:

     General News                 Business
        * U.S.                       * U.S. Business Headlines
        * International              * U.S. Financial Markets
        * Science & Medicine         * Intl Financial Markets
        * Technology                 * Commodities & Foreign Exchange
                                     * U.S. Government Statistics
        * U.S                     Sports & Entertainment
        * International              * Sports Headlines
                                     * Entertainment
     Special/Timely Topics
        * U.S. Elections
Just select the topics that interest you (you'll understand how once you see the page) and you are set to go. Some of the Mercury Mail services even allow you to determine the delivery dates and times for the stuff that Mercury Mail sends you. Say, for example, you don't read your e-mail on the weekends; you can simply tell Mercury Mail not to send you anything on the weekends!

Here's some more information on the other free Mercury Mail services:

"WeatherVane" brings you personalized weather forecasts for just the cities you want. Pick as many weather regions as you like, then select the days and times you want the forecasts delivered to your e-mail box. In addition to plain-text e-mail, WeatherVane also supports enhanced e-mail formats such as HTML and enriched text, supported by mail clients such as Netscape and Eudora 3.0.

This is a really useful service in Alabama ... especially in August! "SnowBytes" gives you current mountain conditions, updated daily, on how the skiing and snowboarding really is.

"Closing Bell" send you a daily e-mail message containing closing prices and news for your personalized portfolio of market indices, mutual funds and securities from the three major U.S. exchanges

"Sports Wrap" gives you more sports information than any human being could ever possibly need. BTW, Sports Wrap also features information on the one pure sport left on this planet: NCAA college football!

"SpotLite" delivers daily horoscopes, lottery numbers, movie reviews, TV listings, lists of top selling movies, videos and music, plus much more, customized according to your wants and needs.

"ConsoliDate" sends you a reminder e-mail a week before and the day before an important date, just to make sure you don't forget.

Cool, huh?

That's it for this week. I hope that you enjoy Mercury Mail, and that you have a great and safe weekend!


FUSSED - adjective. A premier position.
Usage: "You been here before?" "Nah ... this is my fussed time."
(Special thanks goes to Dan Bragg for today's wurd)


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