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Author Topic: E-mail question  (Read 4517 times)

Offline Carolyn

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E-mail question
« on: 13/04/2006 20:35:02 »
After you send an email is it possible to check to see if that email was received.  This would be particularly helpful, as I send out numerous invoices via email.

Carolyn


 

another_someone

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #1 on: 13/04/2006 21:24:25 »
There is absolutely no way of guaranteeing that you can determine if an email has been received.  There are a number of methods that might sometimes work, but all of them depend upon how the receiver of the email has configured his email reader.

You can attach to an email a flag that asks the email reader at the other end to notify the sender when the user reads the email, but most email readers can be configured to ignore such a flag.

Many people regard automatic notification of email delivery, or email non-delivery, as a security risk, since many spammers have in the past used such techniques to validate which email addresses are valid, and which are not (and thus compile lists of valid email addresses to which to send spam).

You will normally get notification if the domain you are sending the email to is invalid, and sometimes if the user in that domain does not exist (although, as I said, this is itself a security risk).

Having said all of that, there is a subtle way you can set up a system to determine if an email has been read, but it does require some technical competence, and can still be defeated by some mail readers if the user knows to configure the mail reader correctly.

It is always very easy to determine if someone has visited a web site (as I demonstrated when you had problems, and I asked you to visit my web site, and then I read the logs from my web site and could tell when you looked at the site, and what you looked at on the site, and some information about your browser, etc.).

If you embed an image in your email (for instance, a logo on your invoice) that points to your web site, then it is very likely that when the email is read, the browser will grab the logo image from your web site, and you will be able to see when that image has been accessed.  There are various subtle things you can do to make the information a little more unambiguous, but that is the general principle.

This also depends upon sending your email as HTML rather than plain text, and upon the person receiving the email having his mail reader read HYML; but then, if you are sending invoices, you will either be doing this as an attachment to your email (which will not work for this method), or as a HTML formatted email item.

You may recall some time ago there was a topic on here where people posted pictures of there desktop, and I posted a picture of my desktop, and the image was actually stored on my web site.  It is still the case that every time anyone visits that topic, I see a record turn up on my web logs to say someone has accessed that image.

As I said, it is possible to configure the mail reader to stop the mail reader from accessing images on external web sites, and if they do this, then rather than seeing your logo on the invoice, they will only see a blank square, and your web site will not log the fact that they have read your email.  As far as I am aware, most people do not yet configure their mail reader in this way, although I personally would always do so, because I consider any kind of logging of email to be a potential security risk – but then, I'm paranoid :D

The other option, although you may also consider this to be less than ideal, is not to email your invoice at all, but to email a link to the invoice, and store the invoice itself as a PDF or HTML file on your web site, which will then immediately log when they access the invoice on the web site.

There are no perfect solutions to your dilemma, but maybe I have given you some understanding of the options you have before you.



George
« Last Edit: 13/04/2006 21:46:00 by another_someone »
 

Offline ariel

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #2 on: 14/04/2006 15:41:09 »
Yes. I know that atleast AOL mail allows you to unsend mail if it has not yet been read so I think there is also a way to check if it has been read.  Or you canjust try to unsend the email...and if it has been read...then it will not let you

:]

ariel
 

another_someone

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #3 on: 14/04/2006 20:19:49 »
quote:
Originally posted by ariel

Yes. I know that atleast AOL mail allows you to unsend mail if it has not yet been read so I think there is also a way to check if it has been read.  Or you canjust try to unsend the email...and if it has been read...then it will not let you



This is physically impossible with Internet mail.  It may well be possible with AOL internal mail (one AOL user to another AOL user), and it may be that AOL itself delays sending mail out to the wider Internet for a short while, and while this delay is in place, it also allows the mail to be cancelled.  Once email is out on the Internet (whether source from AOL or anywhere else), the Internet protocol does not allow retraction of the email (in just the same way as when you send an SMS message on your mobile phone, you cannot retract it once it has been sent).



George
 

Offline ariel

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #4 on: 18/04/2006 23:19:30 »
Sorry,  :-/
George is right
I was wrong

just tried...
and it can only unsend AOL mail to other AOL users

ariel
 

another_someone

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #5 on: 19/04/2006 01:30:14 »
quote:
Originally posted by ariel

Sorry,  :-/
George is right
I was wrong

just tried...
and it can only unsend AOL mail to other AOL users

ariel



Did you ever doubt it [}:)]:D



George
 

Offline Carolyn

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #6 on: 19/04/2006 02:52:24 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

quote:
Originally posted by ariel

Sorry,  :-/
George is right
I was wrong

just tried...
and it can only unsend AOL mail to other AOL users

ariel



Did you ever doubt it [}:)]:D



George





Thanks for the info.

George, I never doubted it.;)
 

Offline time-cop

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #7 on: 22/04/2006 01:39:32 »
carolyn
why dont you just phone him and tell him he is dumped,instead of hiding behind an e-mail shield ?.any way its more fun to phone,you can hear him snivelling,and begging for a second chance ! !

http://www.armybarmy.org
 

Offline Carolyn

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #8 on: 22/04/2006 02:02:19 »
quote:
Originally posted by time-cop

carolyn
why dont you just phone him and tell him he is dumped,instead of hiding behind an e-mail shield ?.any way its more fun to phone,you can hear him snivelling,and begging for a second chance ! !

http://www.armybarmy.org



Ray - I think you've confused me with someone else.  I would never dump anyone via email, but I would send them an invoice.
 

Offline time-cop

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #9 on: 25/04/2006 01:13:08 »
hey carolyn
is your lad still looking at the girlie pages or has he moved on to smoking OREGANO ?

http://www.armybarmy.org
 

Offline Carolyn

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #10 on: 25/04/2006 03:23:49 »
Hi Ray - As a matter of fact, he has been restricted from the internet for the last 6 weeks.  You would've thought the world was coming to an end.  Today was the end of the 6 weeks and he was permitted back online.  I threatened him within an inch of his life, but you know what they say, "where there's a will, there's a way".  

I don't wish to sound naive, but, smoking OREGANO?

Is that you in the picture at armybarmy?  Glad to see you back.

Carolyn
 

Offline time-cop

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #11 on: 28/04/2006 02:52:30 »
oregano,i saw a film and two lads got caught by the local cop smoking what they thought was hash,it was oregano,they had also been banned from the girlie pages,so they rebelled.
alas,that is not i in the picture,i will post one in my profile for you,then you will see why robert redford is worried ! !

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another_someone

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Re: E-mail question
« Reply #12 on: 18/06/2006 23:55:34 »
quote:

Having said all of that, there is a subtle way you can set up a system to determine if an email has been read, but it does require some technical competence, and can still be defeated by some mail readers if the user knows to configure the mail reader correctly.

It is always very easy to determine if someone has visited a web site (as I demonstrated when you had problems, and I asked you to visit my web site, and then I read the logs from my web site and could tell when you looked at the site, and what you looked at on the site, and some information about your browser, etc.).

If you embed an image in your email (for instance, a logo on your invoice) that points to your web site, then it is very likely that when the email is read, the browser will grab the logo image from your web site, and you will be able to see when that image has been accessed.  There are various subtle things you can do to make the information a little more unambiguous, but that is the general principle.

This also depends upon sending your email as HTML rather than plain text, and upon the person receiving the email having his mail reader read HYML; but then, if you are sending invoices, you will either be doing this as an attachment to your email (which will not work for this method), or as a HTML formatted email item.

You may recall some time ago there was a topic on here where people posted pictures of there desktop, and I posted a picture of my desktop, and the image was actually stored on my web site.  It is still the case that every time anyone visits that topic, I see a record turn up on my web logs to say someone has accessed that image.

As I said, it is possible to configure the mail reader to stop the mail reader from accessing images on external web sites, and if they do this, then rather than seeing your logo on the invoice, they will only see a blank square, and your web site will not log the fact that they have read your email.  As far as I am aware, most people do not yet configure their mail reader in this way, although I personally would always do so, because I consider any kind of logging of email to be a potential security risk – but then, I'm paranoid :D



It seems there is someone who is actually doing all of the above.

http://www.msgtag.com/home/

There are reviews of the product at:

http://www.practicalpc.co.uk/reviews/soft/utilities/msgtag.htm
quote:

Review - MSGTAG


A better way to get a read receipt?

MSGTAG has a simple function. It allows you to find out if and when someone has read an email you have sent them. Most email packages let you request a read-receipt but unless the recipients mail program or server supports this function, you’ll never know if it has worked or not. MSGTAG uses a simple method to increase your chances of getting a reliable result.
How it Works

Once installed and configured, the actual operation is both invisible and seamless – the sender has to take no further action. MSGTAG intercepts your emails as they are sent to your ISPs mail server and adds a tiny embedded and unique tag to your email. When the recipient opens it, the tag is activated and MSGTAG’s server detects the unique code it contains and is thus able to identify which email it is. This information is in turn relayed back to your PC.


How well does it work?

In the main, MSGTAG works very well. We tried using it within various email clients and it all seemed to work very smoothly. The dashboard option made life much easier with its at a glance list of where things stood.
On the downside, many newer email packages are specifically blocking images embedded in emails in an attempt to control junk mail and offensive graphics. This could be a problem. However, the developers of MSGTAG report that despite the increasing use of one such email program, Outlook 2003, there has been no drop off in their successful hit rates. However, they are aware that this could be an issue in the future and are developing new techniques to ensure their hit rates continue to be as good as they are. Currently the MSGTAG servers successfully detect over 70% of emails being read with this figure currently rising. If you think 70% isn’t so impressive try requesting a read-receipt using your usual email program and see what happens!
MSGTAG Status can be used to mark email addresses of people who you know don’t work with MSGTAG so you can disable them in those cases to cut down on the build up of untriggered tags.
One thing to note is that due to the reliance on SMTP, MSGTAG doesn’t work with Hotmail, Yahoo!, AOL and other non SMTP based email systems. You can use it to send to people using those systems though



Also at http://email.about.com/cs/receiptswindows/gr/msgtag.htm, and endless other reviews out there.



George
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: E-mail question
« Reply #12 on: 18/06/2006 23:55:34 »

 

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