One hitch to e-mail has been finding addresses. For phone numbers, directory assistance is a fast dial--or a few mouse clicks--away. Not so for e-mail. Now, a big step forward is provided by the latest version of Netscape Navigator 4.0 and new editions of Microsoft's Internet Mail. Both build in quick, simple "directory assistance" modules. Type in a name, and, in just a few seconds, the programs log on to the Web and search the main directories of e-mail addresses.
The system isn't perfect--many e-mail addresses don't show up in the directories, and, often, outdated addresses are included as well as current ones. But this effortless directory-assistance option gives Internet e-mail users powerful reasons to switch to either the Microsoft or Netscape e-mailer. Download the latest versions at (http://www.microsoft.com) and (http://www.netscape.com).
In the meantime, if you want a permanent e-mail address, check into Globecomm's free I Name service. Most analysts see 1997 as a year where there will be a big shakeout of weaker Internet service providers (ISPs) and online services. At the same time, many users are hopping from provider to provider in search of better deals and more reliable phone connections. I Name is a way to avoid annoying your e-mail recipients with regular change-of-address notices.
Set up an I Name account, and it follows you wherever you go. That's because it's not an e-mail server but a mail-forwarding service. When setting up an account, you tell I Name where to forward incoming e-mail--and you can change that instruction as often as you switch ISPs. The cost? Nothing: I-Name is advertiser-supported. For more information, visit (http://www.four11.com).