Offbeat Internet
Public Access

Free Web Communications

Sometimes the only Internet access you have available is to the Web through a Browser. Although the Web is usually thought of as just for viewing, there are methods whereby both one-way and two-way messages can be sent and/or received. Here are some interesting free possibilities.


Webmail

Email is the most popular form of Internet communication, but it requires access to both SMPT (to send) and POP or IMAP servers (to receive). Webmail is a frontend to the email system that only requires a web Browser to both send and receive. Below are some of the interesting FREE Webmail offerings.

Note: Thanks to US Federal Public Law 106-229, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (commonly known as "E-Sign"), electronic signatures in E-mail are legally binding (you no longer have to FAX your signature).

[Webmail Providers]
A listing of free conventional Webmail account providers (beyond just Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo mail).
eNote
This is a send-only form from which you can anonymously (no registration required) send a short, all-text, no-reply email message. You can also make the message replyable by including a valid return email address (including an anonymous TempEMail address).
Mail2web
This is a receieve-only service that allows you to pickup your PO3 or IMAP email from a Browser anywhere in the world. No registration is required, but you must already have an email account and know the address of your POP3/IMAP server.
mailVU
This is a send-only form from which you can create (Adobe Flash and a webcam/microphone are required) then send a short email message that includes a short video attachment. The video will self-destruct after a set period, or optionally after a set number of viewings. The service is useful for spontainiously capturing something in front of a webcam that would be difficult to relate with a text email alone.
TempEMail
This is a receieve-only service on which you can anonymously (no registration required) create a temporary (14 day) disposable email address. Useful when you only need to receive a one-time email message (such as a web site registration confirmation).
Winlink 2000
This is a special gateway service available only to licensed amateur radio operators. Before you can use this Webmail, you must have already established a Winlink 2000 account via radio. Most of the path traveled by your email message is over the air, rather than through wires, which may allow access to an otherwise unreachable destination email server.

Gateways have been developed that allow you to freely access other protocols and devices, simply by sending and/or receiving a conventional email message (note that although International Telex addresses are also reachable via Internet E-Mail, you must pay a fee for the privilege):

[Gateway Providers]
A listing of gateways that let you request and receive HTTP (Web) and Gopher URLs as email messages.
K7
A receive-only E-mail message from a special Fax or Voicemail telephone number gateway (playing the voicemail requires a soundcard).
TPC
A send-only E-mail message to Fax machine gateway (except for unsolicited commercial traffic).

Spam is an annoying adjunct of email. Here are some tools that might help in the fight. Sometimes even legislation created to fight spammers of older techology can be brought to bear against email spammers:

"do not spam me"
An example autoresponse message which warns of potential lawsuit.
Free Email Verifier
A tool that tests an email address to determine if it actually exists.

Non-Email Messaging

Below are several interesting FREE, non-email, methods of messaging through the Web. Some of these methods will deliver the message directly through a non-computer method, some will hold the message on a server for future pick up, while still others are real-time bi-directional communications.

[Telephone IP-Relay Providers]
A listing of real-time telephone relay service providers (a service primarily intended to assist the deaf). To use a service, you would start a special webchat between yourself and a relay operator. The operator will dial the phone number you request, then function as an intermediary between yourself and the person on the other end of the line. Anything you type will be spoken to the called party, and anything they say will be typed back at you. There are no restrictions against making either business or personal calls.
CoSketch
This service allows you to anonymously, and without registration, create a real-time whiteboard drawing that can be edited collaboratively. Backgrounds, including zoomable Google Maps, can be added. ~ Remember that you will still need some method of informing your collaborators of the new drawings URL address, so they can join in.
Privnote
This service allows you to anonymously, and without registration, create short message, which will be stored at a URL you will be given. The message will remain until someone visits this URL, at which time the note will be displayed for them and then self-destruct (be deleted from the server). Optionally you can leave with the server an email address to which it will send a message informing you when the Privnote has been read. ~ Remember that you will still need some method (not necessarily electronic) of informing your recipient of the URL address.
ProBoards
This service allows you to create free message boards (forums), where you can leave text messages for your forums members.
Radiogram
For over a century, the amateur radio community has offered free radio relayed non-commerical traffic telegrams called Radiograms. When you fill out this web form, a volunteer will send the message via radio to an operator near your destination (who will then attempt to deliver the message to your recipient). Please note that Raidograms are Telegrams, and that their time stamp is considered a legal "postmark".
ShareSend
This service allows you to anonymously, and without registration, upload a single file of under 100Mb, which will be stored at a URL you will be given. The file will remain indefinately, until 60 contiguous days have passed without the file being downloaded, at which time it will be deleted from the server. ~ Remember that you will still need some method of advertising to your audience the URL address.
Text 4 Free
This service allows you to anonymously, and without registration, send a SMS text message to a cellphone from your computer. You can also send a picture or audio attachment if the receiving cellphone supports such attachments.
TypeWith.me
This service allows you to anonymously, and without registration, create a real-time word processor document that can be edited collaboratively. At any time, any collaborator can export a copy of the document to their computer. ~ Remember that you will still need some method of informing your collaborators of the new documents URL address, so they can join in.