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 December 16, 2000      TIPS to search 1billion Web pages fast!

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Ashok Hegde

Every time I receive a mail promising me more riches than the 40 thieves had hoarded in their secret cave, I am reminded of a joke I read in one of Woody Allen's books. With due apologies to the writer, I reproduce it from memory:

A band of kidnappers ask their hostage to write a ransom note. The boy writes:
'Dear Mom and Dad, I have been kidnapped. You will have to shell out a few million dollars within two days, or this bunch of bozos will hack me to bits.
Your only son.
PS: I am dead serious, this is no joke. For you to be able to tell the difference I am enclosing a joke.'

Spammers should take a leaf out of the boy's book, and attach a joke to every mail they send. This will serve two purposes. One, like the boy's parents, we will be able to tell the difference. And two, we could ignore the spam and enjoy the joke.

The point I am trying to make is, I hate spam. But early last week, I was pleasantly surprised when an old friend of mine sent me what, on the surface, looked like unadulterated spam. He had prefaced it with a note asking me to cut-paste the message into the decode box at

I did as I was told. And the decoded message read: "Long time no see! When do we meet for lunch chief?"

What SpamMimic does is encrypt short, secret messages into spam. I don't see too many practical uses for it, but it's good for a lark. For instance, you could surprise your girlfriend by telling her "I Love You" in exactly 203 words of pure spam.

A better idea, though, would be to send her an Incredimail.

Incredimail is actually an email client, like Outlook Express, and not a Web-based email service like Rediffmail. You will need to download the Incredimail installer, a 5.5 mb file, from the site. The installation process and configuration of accounts is similar to Outlook Express.

The difference lies in the cool features offered by the former. Add a Van Gogh motif as a background, animate your promises of everlasting love with beating hearts or jumping bunnies, insert crazy sounds, and even sign off with a handwritten signature.

If you don't like some of the default options, feel free to head for the site and import other animations, backgrounds and sounds from the gallery.

What I personally like about it are the notifiers: A cute puppy, which fetches my mail with a bark and a Jeeves-lookalike who announces in a clipped accent 'You've got mail'.

Being in beta, it has its share of bugs. One mail I sent went without the special effects; another didn't play the sound, and I have still to figure out how to configure it to read multiple accounts on one identity...

If you want to get really adventurous, and have the money to afford a PC Camera or a Camcorder, then log into Iclips.

Iclips lets you send streaming video messages across the web instantly. All you need to do is download the free software, Iclips Producer, and record your video message directly from a recording device like a PCcam or VCR. You can also convert .mov, .avi, Quicktime or other non-streaming formats into a streaming clip using the software.

The good thing about it is that the message goes to the recipient as a link back to your personal Iclips page, and not as a heavyweight attachment, which would take ages to download - assuming it reaches there at all. To view the message, however, recipients need to have RealPlayer installed on their system.

You can add Iclips to your web site, create and share product demos, office presentations, video resumes, or even your own short film. And, yes, you don't have to spam your beau to tell her you love her.

Secret messages that masquerade as spam

Email client to animate your messages.

Send streaming video messages free.

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