Venture capitalist H. David Smith from Nashville, Tennessee, and his son, Joe of Boone, North Carolina, have formed Forwardmyemail, a firm dedicated to helping clients consolidate and manage a deluge of e-mail.
The e-mail forwarding Web site also takes advantage of Macintosh technology. All the development and the actual online application comes from Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server, Joe Smith told MacCentral.
“How many times have you been given a business card by someone who then said, ‘oh, my e-mail address has changed?'” he said. “Forwardmyemail not only forwards any e-mail sent to an old address to your new one, it also sends an announcement to the sender letting them know of your current address.”
The service was set up for people such as individuals changing their Internet service provider and getting a new e-mail address, corporate users who have several e-mail addresses and want to consolidate, and those who have e-mail at home and at work. Forwardmyemail allows for messages from work or school to be received at home for easy management, Smith said.
The service works from account information entered by the user into the Website. An online manual is available with instructions for setting up this account. Each user can add, activate or renew as many forwards to that account as needed. A “forward” is simply a relationship between two e-mail addresses, the “from” address being where messages are taken, and the “to” address being where messages are sent. An optional announcement feature automatically sends a default or user-defined message to all who send messages to the from address. All addresses must be active POP accounts, the Internet e-mail standard.
All pages and online file management are created using tools from Apple, Macromedia, Adobe, Bare Bones Software, Panic and Joe Smith’s graphic venture, Art-Dude Graphics. Open source tools used in application development and dynamic page management include PHP, mySQL and Python.
Mac OS X Server runs the e-mail forwarding application. Each e-mail message is grabbed, forwarded and logged from a Python application connected to a remote mySQL database developed exclusively for Forwardmyemail by Little Laurel Software, a software development and Internet programming firm. The only non-Mac part of the whole project is the pages being served on Apache/Linux with Hurricane Electric (he.net).
Why Macs? Joe Smith is a graphic artist and has been using Macs since 1986. Continuing with the platform was a “very natural” move and a “good business practice,” he added.
“We wanted to develop a ‘non-trivial’ application without spending a whole lot of money,” Smith said. “With Mac OS X, and especially Mac OS X Server, we found all the development tools, reliability and scalability we needed to run the Forwarder from a local machine.”
The machine is a Power Mac G4/dual 500MHz system connected with DSL to a mirror of their mySQL on he.net’s server. The application that they call a “forwarder” is a Python script that they start and monitor in the Terminal. John Pertalion of Little Laurel Software wrote it and was delighted to use Mac OS X for the first time in development.
“He notes the free developer tools as something he never sees from any platform, as well as the always wonderful BBEdit,” Smith said. “The only time we have to reboot the Mac OS X Server is when Apple posts an update that requires a reboot.”
As far as graphics go, this project is wholly done in Mac OS X. Smith said he is “not-so-patiently waiting on Quark to catch up,” but meanwhile is using tools like Macromedia Fireworks, Freehand and Adobe GoLive.
David Smith is a retired CPA and partner from KPMG. He was using his Mac SE to project earnings for major international corporations since the late 1980s. He now uses his Quicksilver tower for communications and venture projects.
Smith says the difference between Forwardmyemail and other forwarding services is that it doesn’t require users to create a new e-mail address. Instead, customers can pick their favorite active address and have any others forwarded into it.
Currently, Forwardmyemail only takes messages from active POP e-mail addresses and forwards them to any active addresses, Smith said. This means if you have cancelled an e-mail account, forwardmyemail won’t be able to forward messages from that account.
Pricing for Forwardmyemail services start at US$5 a month and can go as low as $3.25 per month for a full year. Each additional forward costs $2. For more information about services go to the company Web site.