Mailinator: Free, Instant, Completely Unsecure Email

What if you’re downloading a product demo, need a unique address to get the key, and never want to hear from that company again? Good luck! Actually, you don’t need good luck, just mailinator.

Send to any address at (or one of several other domains) and then go to the site and check your email. But make it a long, complex address, because there’s no password. In fact, anyone can check “your” email if they know the email address (including the person/company who sends email to you).

If you completely understand the limitations, this is a wonderful service.

Exclusively for 1&1 Customers (Who Obviously Like Getting Screwed)

I usually chalk the non-sequitur nature of 1&‘s marketing materials up to some combination of baseline corporate incompetence and English as a second language. But lately they’re crossing right over into false advertising territory.

Today, for example, I received an email with the subject “Exclusively for 1&1 Customers.” Here it is:

1and1 offer email--click for larger version

Right off the bat there are a couple of lies here. The first one is that only customers can take advantage of this “offer.” In fact, it represents the current default pricing on their web site. Secondly, as a current customer, the only way I can take advantage of this is by buying a new package–they’re definitely not offering me a discount on my current services.

The real fun, however, is in the pricing. For example, notice how the current “50% off sale” gets you a $6.99 domain registration for $6.12. The fine print, of course, is that it’s 50% off for three months on a one-year contract. I guess we should just be glad they’re not advertising domains at $0.29/month (every other product is advertised by the month, yet also requires a one-year commitment). But it’s not like the print is that fine, right? Yet for every product listed and the minimum contract available, this “50% off sale” is, in fact, a 12.5% off sale. Actually, there is one exception: for dedicated servers it’s a 6.25% off sale (24-month contract required).

But what are you going to do? To paraphrase Winston Churchill… 1&1 is the worst web hosting company, except for all the others I’ve tried.

When You’re an End Node, It Doesn’t Pay to Ask Why

I think what he’s saying here is that where you look for answers as a developer is heavily influenced by the domain in which you’re operating. Yes, you need to consider “best practices” (groan), and sometimes it’s a good idea to “think outside the box” (wretch), but most of the time you really need to concentrate on what is possible and efficient and makes sense in the current context. This is why when you want to learn about a technology you can read a book, but when you actually have to implement it you end up sorting through a lot of discussion groups and blog posts, and especially blog comments–the ultimate end nodes of the infocloud.

Just a neat blog I stumbled on in an otherwise anxious, code-heavy week of integrating things that were never meant to work together.

Cheap Router as Wireless Bridge

I recently had a desperate need for a wireless bridge device. The need has passed, but I finally figured out a way to do it without spending $60+ for a dedicated (one port) bridge. The main goal here is to provide a physical Ethernet jack somewhere out on your wireless network for a device or devices that can’t connect to wireless directly. I was able to get this working just now using a $25 refurbished Netgear WGT624v3 from Fry’s. I followed (and interpreted, because it’s not as step-by-step as it could be) these instructions. Supplemented with information from this thread.

What’s really amazing about this is that you end up using a shell session on the router, without having to hack the firmware (though you are exploiting a disabled interface and a NetGear diagnostic tool that turns it back on). It’s pretty strange.

In any case, I can now put four physical Ethernet ports anywhere within range of my wireless network. The bridge is effectively dumb and invisible–DHCP, DNS, etc. all come from the access point.

Not directly needed, but here’s some interesting background on hacking NetGear equipment.

The best part about this? I found the original thread, and the fact that this was all possible, using my Sprint phone while standing in Fry’s staring at the blank brown box of the refurbished WGT624 wondering “WTF is this?” (iPhone? We don’t need no stinking iPhone.)

Potential limitations that may reduce the usefulness of this. I don’t know if these are actual limitations, but I haven’t tested beyond my own setup.

  • Tested only bridging to NetGear access point (potential issues with other brands?)
  • Tested only 64-bit WEP encryption (some of the comments mentioned problems with WPA)
  • Tested only with published SSID at the AP
  • Possible wireless saturation/interference–when I tried this with the bridge a few inches from my Thinkpad, the internal Centrino wireless could no longer connect, and I’ve read that some BIOS versions of this router produce illegally-strong radio signals