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The Internet Technology

Send Emails After Your Death 271

Roland Piquepaille writes "As you all know, the two things in life you can't avoid are taxes and death. But if you will no longer have to pay taxes after your death, you will be able to send email thanks to a new service, The Los Angeles Times (free registration needed) says this service will cost you $9.99 for a three-year subscription. The company says you can update your farewell messages from anywhere in the world, including cybercafes or airports." If it's not a hoax, it's a pretty cool service.
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Send Emails After Your Death

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  • BSD (Score:5, Funny)

    by grennis ( 344262 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:05AM (#7480849)
    Quick, somebody sign up BSD, they are going to need this soon.
    • Pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

      by t0ny ( 590331 )
      But if you will no longer have to pay taxes after your death, you will be able to send email thanks to a new service,

      If Tupac can still be making music and movies after he dies, sending e-mails seems weak by comparison.

  • by technopinion ( 469686 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:05AM (#7480850)
    Now, if one could update the messages from the underworld, that might be something worth investing in.
  • No need. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:05AM (#7480851)
    I already have a list of people to send email to about my death in my will. It will be executed for free.
    • by muyuubyou ( 621373 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:49AM (#7481004)
      I have little to no contact with my family. I hate writing home. Including e-mails.

      Sometimes when I travel I think about my death - I have little social life. My girlfriend doesn't know shit about my family and background.

      Several times I've thought of setting up a cron job so if I don't deactivate it in a couple of days, it would notify my direct relatives about my death. Not the best thing to think about when you're about to enter a plane.
      • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @02:05PM (#7481832) Homepage
        Several times I've thought of setting up a cron job so if I don't deactivate it in a couple of days, it would notify my direct relatives about my death

        If I ever build a house, I'll have a timed thing like that, but not only to notify people of my death--it will also cause my death.

        The house computer system will give me challenges periodically, and keep track of how well I respond to them. When the house computer determines that I've gotten senile enough to no longer really be me, it will wait until I'm sleeping, and gas me, wait until it is sure I'm dead (temperature sensors?), and then call the appropriate authorities to report the death.

        After this, the robokvorkian program will destroy itself, so that whoever gets the house after me won't have to worry about it.

        • Why would you want to die when you become senile? That's the prime of life! I'm counting down the days when it'll be okay to sit outside in a lawnchair all day, wearing a straw hat, mumbling to myself about the good ol' days, and telling those damn kids to stay off my lawn. No worries, because you can't remember them anymore!
  • No thanks (Score:5, Funny)

    by fleener ( 140714 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:06AM (#7480854)
    What guarantee do I have that the bulk e-mail to my friends and family won't be snagged by spam filters? That would be the final insult.
    • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by piranha(jpl) ( 229201 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:18AM (#7480899) Homepage
      Really. The FAQ says that messages sent to recipients only contain a URL to your full message. Unless they actually include the name of the deceased in the Subject or something else which clearly differentiates it from spam, many people will probably disregard the message.
      • Re:No thanks (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JordanH ( 75307 )
        Oh great! Now, we can expect to see SPAM with nothing but a URL in the body which points to the real message with dead people's names in the Subject:

        Spammers will start harvesting on-line obits, take all the names in the obit message of family, friends, pall-bearers and check if they have names similar in their databases and use this to try to get under SPAM filters.

        Uhh... I need to take some time off, I'm starting to think like some sick spammer.

    • Even worse, your bulk email just might get you caught in St. Peter's spam filter. This of how horrible it would be to be stuck in some junk email list for eternity, while everyone gets to party.
    • No, the final insult is when you get anally penetrated by the embalmer.

      "I'm fucking dead and i'm still getting screwed!"

      One of my dad's jokes. He was instantly cremated, however :-) Draw your own conclusions.
  • spam (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spoonyfork ( 23307 ) <spoonyfork&gmail,com> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:07AM (#7480856) Journal
    I have no doubt that I will be sending and receiving spam messages long after my own demise.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:07AM (#7480857)
    If they don't send the e-mail, can you sue them from beyond the grave?
  • Movie Update (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Orien ( 720204 )
    So this officially depricates going to confront the bad-guy and sending a sealed envelope to someone with instructions like "if I'm not back by midnight, open this letter". We can just use email instead. I can see it now: "I've got the source to your virus Mr. Badguy. If I'm not back to my office in 24 hours, my automated service will email the source to the FBI."
  • by wayward_son ( 146338 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:08AM (#7480864)
    That's a convenient service.

    I'll just wait until then to give away the money in my bank account in Nigeria.

  • by andrewa ( 18630 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:10AM (#7480867)
    How about a service to get a "First Post" after your death?
  • by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:10AM (#7480868)
    So long and thanks for all the fish.
    • What fish? I did not ship you any fish. I don't even like fish. What the hell are you talking about? Are you on drugs? You type like you're smoking crack. But how are you smoking crack and typing at the same time? You must be a speed freak. Damn I hate you tweakers. You come here and work for less than minimum wage and take all our jobs. Go back to New Jersey. We don't want your kind here.
  • by devnulljapan ( 316200 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:13AM (#7480878)
    Let me introduce myself to you.I'm Franka Guei, the former military ruler of ( cote d' Ivoire /ivory coast,).
    I was killed on 19/9/2002 with some of my loyalist officers during a cross fire battle between us and government troops in an attempt to seize power through coup de eta in Abidjan on 19/9/2002 .
    At the time of my death, I had the sum of Eighteen million united states dollars only(us$18m) which I still want to move out of here with most despatch despite being dead.
    This money was deposited by me before I died in a security company for the purpose of using it to fine tune my administration in the invent that he succeed in the fail coup attempt.
    Because of the present situation in my country cote d' ivoire, as well as my being dead, my I need a trust worthy foreign partner who can assist me to transfer the money out of South Africa for investment.
    Please, I highly need your assistance both in transferring the money to your country and also investing it in a profitable venture with your kind advice ,as I confide in you hoping you will never betray me at last.
    I have proposed (30%) percent of the total sum of the money for you as your own commission, so as for you to give us all necessary assistance and protection we may need in your Country. Please treat as highly confidential. All the vital documents covering the deposit of the fund in a security company are with me here and will be used to effect change of ownership in your favour for subsequent transfer to any account you may wish to use abroad.
    What I want you to do is to indicate your interest that you will assist us by receiving the money on our behalf. Acknowledge this message, so that I can introduce you to my son (MIKE GUEI) who has the modalities for the claim of the said fund. The identity of the finance company where the fund is deposited, will be revealed to you by my son as soon as we recieve confirmation from you on your willingness to proceed, as seeing is believing.
    Reach me through this mail box to discuss modalities on how to proceed.Reply to deadpresidentofsomeafricannation@untraceabledomain .com
    Looking forward to hearing from you urgent.
  • This is retarded (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:14AM (#7480882) Journal
    the concept is cool, but there's one thing that doesn't make any sense.. HOW DO THEY KNOW IF YOU'VE DIED????

    According to the FAQ on the site, you need to leave some kind of documentation in a place where someone will find it after you've died. That person is then responsible to contact them and have the e-mails sent. Dumb question: If you have to leave a note behind anyway, why use the e-mail service? Why not write letters in envelopes and store them in the same safe place you'll store this document?

    Sounds more like a ploy to take money from the naive. Too bad I didn't think of this.
    • by Lieutenant_Dan ( 583843 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:48AM (#7481001) Homepage Journal
      I haven't RTFA because that would against /. posting policy, but I suspect that they subscribe you a mailing list where you get an e-mail with the subject "Are you dead yet?" every day. If you don't reply after two days they assume you are dead and send the e-mail to your list of contacts and promptly sell the same list for profit to the DMA. Because once you're dead, it's not like you can sue them or anything.

    • You just have to e-mail them.
    • I think that you should get an automated email each day:

      Are you dead yet?
      o Yes
      o No

    • It might be useful if you wanted to release the letters across time.

      eg. there's a recent movie (can't remember the name) where the main character discovers she's going to die. Her daughter is five -- she writes one letter for every birthday until the daughter turns 18.

      As for trusting a dotcom with this kind of responsibility, that's when I'd think twice. It would be nice to see something like this backed by a reputable accounting firm, if one could be located.
  • Dead Man's Switch (Score:5, Informative)

    by Plug ( 14127 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:14AM (#7480884) Homepage
    Sounds very much like the Dead Man's Switch [] that was covered on Slashdot [] a while back...

    If you don't tell it you're alive every now and then, it can encrypt your files, send email, and post messages on the web. Very paranoia.
    • If you read the mylastemail website, they give you a printed document that you keep where people will find it when you die (e.g., with your will). When they receive the printed document in the snail-mail, mylastemail will email out your last messages. So if they never receive the snail-mail, they never send your messages. Whereas with Dead Man's Switch, you have to proactively reset a switch to prevent automatic actions from taking place.
  • I have the usual geek's collection of numerous websites and half-finished projects and have often wondered what would happen to them if the worst happened.

    In typical paranoid style my files are hidden behind encryption and various usernames and passwords, and certainly no-one in my immediate family or circle of closest friends has the ability to be able to sift through all the gigabytes of crap I've accumulated over the years and deal with my online commitments (like paying hosting bills, informing peopl
    • The way I've chosen to deal with things like this once my time is gone is rather simple.

      All details such as this are included in my will. It's rather surprising what you can actually do even with the simplest ideas such as a will.

  • by Masque ( 20587 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:15AM (#7480887)

    My name is Masque and I am writing you from the republic of Heaven to beg your indulgence in the matter

    I came to your name through careful study of teh intarweb and u are recommmended as a helfpul and trustworthy person who may be trusted to be helpful and I beleive I can be of help to you in return

  • by arcanumas ( 646807 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:16AM (#7480888) Homepage
    Wow, imagine using a stupid username/password and having someone get in and change the message.

    "Dear world. I was a bastard. I am, however, no more. That plane i was in has crashed into a mountain and my remains have yet to be discovered.
    The world considers this to be a great tragedy, but those who knew me can say that the loss of the innocents on-board was well worth my demise.
    Feel welcome to defecate on my grave
    Thank you.
    The deceased."
    And a follows...

  • I think they should build little wireless websites into tombstones. That way anyone with a WiFi or bluetooth enabled phone/pda/computer would get be able to access the dearly-departed's website at the gravesite. The device would consist of a small PDA as the core computer, some storage, the wireless interfaces, a battery, and an external solar panel for power. You could even build a blog/wiki into the tombstone so that gravesite visitors could leave their messages.
    • Talk to these guys (Score:3, Informative)

      by AndroidCat ( 229562 )
      The story []


      An Austrian architecture firm [] has designed a high-tech monument and grave site concept to be available to clients in the United States beginning this summer.The design combines earth, water and light with stainless steel, solar cells and an LED display reminiscent of a calculator."

      LEDs are kind of tacky. I'd go for wide-screen and surround sound.

  • The possible jokes and humorous spams will know no bounds.

    "Sorry JOSEPH I am died! NoW increase ur size!"

  • I need something like this so I can still tell the Nigerians where to put my millions so that at least my family and pets can have it after I pass.
  • my email.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:30AM (#7480944) Homepage Journal
    a simple "BOOO!!!!!"

    that should stir up something.
  • The huge benefit is that you can return here whenever you like, login to your personal account from anywhere in the world, e.g. Internet cafe, airport, hotel room or even on the move using your PDA, Mobile Phone or Laptop PC and express your thoughts, your love and your appreciation.

    Can I access their service from heaven? I think that's a value-addition they should definetly consider. In that case I will put off signing up till my afterlife.

  • Cool! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:38AM (#7480970) Homepage Journal
    This is awesome! Now I don't have to go through all the rigamoral of finding a friend to hold snailmail evidence when I blackmail someone. Now I can just say "and if you kill me, the information will automatically be emailed to the New York Times".
    • Re:Cool! (Score:3, Funny)

      by jdreed1024 ( 443938 )
      Now I can just say "and if you kill me, the information will automatically be emailed to the New York Times"

      And they will either plagiarize it and claim it as their own work, or they will respond with "Sorry, you must be registered in order to send us a news item"

    • No, no, no! It's if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
  • by ezraekman ( 650090 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:39AM (#7480973) Homepage

    Yeah, read about it already on the Register []. Why would someone want to do this?

    " , in its sole discretion, upon five (5) days' written notice and without liability to you, may terminate your password, account or use of the Service and remove and discard any Messages within the Service if you fail to comply with this Agreement... ... Upon termination shall have no obligation to maintain or delete any Messages stored in your account or to forward any Messages to you or any third party. "


    You shall indemnify and hold and its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, directors, employees, attorneys, and agents, harmless from and against any and all claims, costs, damages, losses, liabilities, and expenses (including attorneys' fees and costs) arising out of your Message or in connection with your use of the Service and Content, or breach of this Agreement.

    Disclaimer of Warranties



    That last bunch of bru-ha-ha is the icing on the cake. Basically, this all says "Pay us money. In exchange, we promise nothing, guarantee nothing, but give you a warm fuzzy feeling that everything will be okay if you die... but we don't guarantee or even really hint that you might feel A) warm or B) fuzzy. It's all in your mind. Give us money now, please."

    It seems pretty pointless to me. It might be different if A) there was any kind of "real" guarantee and B) e-mail was a more reliable, widely used medium. But the fact of the matter is that there are still millions of people who don't yet understand or even use e-mail, and those who do know that it's not always reliable. If you need this kind of service, pay a live, professional person who knows how to use e-mail, phone, fax, snail mail, etc. to inform those who need to know.

    Of course, that won't stop the masses who don't understand e-mail and like warm fuzzy feelings from handing over the cash.

  • There was a Windows virus a few years ago that spoofed the sender addy from an infected host's address book. I recall that many people started receiving messages from folks long dead, employees long gone, etc.. The emails included some random documents from the hard drive and occasionally they were combined in coincidentally ominous ways (dead person sends I Love You to living).
  • It still won't live up to Bill Cosby's idea of having a tape recorder in the casket.

    Hi, Bob. How's the wife and kids? Don't I look like myself?

  • 3 years? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mcpkaaos ( 449561 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:56AM (#7481023)
    $9.99 for a three-year subscription

    Isn't that a little pessimistic?

  • by fleener ( 140714 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @10:58AM (#7481026)
    Let me get this straight. I print a document from the web site, give it to my trustee, and my trustee is responsible for contacting the web site to inform it that I have died? I'll just give my final messages directly to my trustee and cut out the middleman.
  • by altp ( 108775 )
    Not a hoax does not imply "pretty cool" ...

    especially in this case.
  • Maybe some slashdotters will subscribe to this service...
  • by gfilion ( 80497 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:03AM (#7481042) Homepage
    I think that your loved ones will appreciate much more a hand written letter to each one of them than a "email from hell".

    It's been done for centuries, just hand write a letter to each of your loved one, and put them with your will. They will get distributed after your death.

  • by SmackCrackandPot ( 641205 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:06AM (#7481049)
    I "anonymous coward" of no known IP address, being sound in online connectivity, and over the age of credit card ownership,and knowing the uncertainty of dial-up connections and the certainty of disconnection and wishing to dispose of my possessions and belongings both in the real world and in online gaming communities while in health and strength do make this my will.

    After the payment of my credit card debts, store cards and porn subscriptions, I hereby bequeath my slashdot username to be auctioned on E-bay and the proceeds donated to the open source community.
  • by Andy Smith ( 55346 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:07AM (#7481051)
    I don't like the fact that they charge you $9.99 for an initial three years, and then if you're still alive you need to keep paying top-ups to keep your account open.

    Generally, people don't know that they will die in the next three years. There are exceptions of course but the majority of people, even the elderly, expect to be alive in three years. So the result will be that most people don't sign-up because they're waiting "until nearer the time". What if they get run over? Or they're killed? Well I guess their friends and loved ones won't get that last message because this company decided to charge a subscription fee rather than a one-off payment.

    I want to use the phrase "emotional blackmail" but I don't think that's quite accurate. There's certainly something ugly about this service, though.
  • Cybercafes and airports, huh? So I guess you're sitting there waiting for your flight and see a shifty character walk by and onto your plane, better get that last email updated. Oh, and don't forget that odd tasting latte when sitting in Starbucks -- might be your last one.

    And how long before people start forging a mail's "From:" header to look like it came from this site? Way to make someone's loved ones panic/celebrate unnecessarily.

    To: <Undisclosed-Recipients>
    Subject: Sorry, I died...

    Unfortunately, the reports of my death are not exaggerated. ...

  • I can't find the post, but there was a guy a couple of years ago who wrote a program for his computer that, in the event that he didn't log into his machine for n days, would email his friends and post to some bboards saying that he was dead.
  • Or you could just say "hey Joe, send this e-mail for me when I die, ok?"

    Save yourself 10 bucks
  • Close the world. .txEn eht nepO
  • by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:25AM (#7481120) Homepage Journal is a free site (set up by writer, artist and ex pop star Bill Drummond of the KLF) where you can leave full instructions for what you want done in the event of your death, write your own obituary, and so on.

    Halfway between a service and a conceptual work of modern art, it's got more entertainment value than giving 9.99 a quarter to some venture capitalists, plus you can browse other people's (anonymous) speficications for their demise while you are waiting to die.
  • you insensitive clod!
  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Twoehy ( 724381 )
    My roommate in college had dated, and remained good friends with a girl who decided to kill herself. She was still in high school at the time and simply dosed and large number of pills and laid out on a blanket in plain site on the lawn of our local jc. It was, needless to say, traumatic for many of the people involved. It was only compounded though when the time delayed emails from her aol account arrived in several people's inboxes. They were meant as an attempt to soothe the grieving, but the effect was
    • Didn't something like this happen to friends of John F. Kennedy Jr.? Obviously not on purpose, but just as unnerving none the less.

      A glimmer of hope that the whole thing was a big mistake, then their hopes dashed after a little more time goes by. Tragic.
  • Ammunition for the email tax!
  • Should the subscription be $9.99 for the one last email, and not for a 3-year license to die?
    That's pretty lame.
  • Thanks to CowboyNeal []for mentioning this story. But he cut my original message, which ended by some questions to Slashdot readers. Here is what is missing. "After reading this overview [], could you please answer these two questions: would you use such a service? and do you think the company can be successful?"
  • It's funny that I had recently been considering doing this myself. In my case, I was just going to set up a script on a web site that would send the mail and have it set so that once a month it would notify me that I have, say 2 weeks, to reply, or it will send the e-mail. I basically keep it from sending it by replying to the e-mail once a month, and once I go a month without replying, it assumes I'm dead and sends the e-mail.

    I don't really care for the fact that their service requires you to somehow leav
    • Re:Cool, kind of (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Myself ( 57572 )
      The trouble is making sure the server is still running after your death. Personal boxen will likely be turned off. Scheduling such a process on a work server might be frowned upon. Asking a friend to host it for you doesn't cover all the bases. (what if they die at the same time?)

      Then you've got the problem of clock glitches. What if the server boots up, thinks it's 2005, notices the elapsed time, and sends your emails before getting an NTP update?

      What's needed is a distributed method of tracking keepaliv
  • %> at 'death +1 days'
    cat .dyingwish | mail family@localhost
  • Knowing the lenghts some spammers go to deliver their messages, this may lead to the most bizarre form of spam ever: Someone will just cache a ton of messages to be delivered to a ton of users and then commit suicide.

  • by Snaller ( 147050 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @01:21PM (#7481603) Journal
    You pay for 3 years??? If you don't die you have to pay again!
  • Call me crazy, but I've had this for years. I set up a cron job on my university account that checks for the last time I logged in. If that was over 30 days ago, I am most definitely dead, so it emails out my last message. Since most universities let you keep your account forever after you graduate, this is a pretty good option for a lot of people (well, assuming you have access to crontab on your system). University Unix systems rarely disappear...
  • I think if I'm going to spend money to send a message to my loved ones after my untimely demise, I'd like it to be something useful. Like a life insurance policy.

  • Hi Dear,

    You know how we always said we wanted to spend our afterlives together? Well, frankly, the only way that's going to happen now is if you start sinning immediately. I don't mean shoplifting, either. Think big. If you go to church again, it better be to burn it down. You've got some catching up to do.


  • And so far, NONE OF THE CUSTOMERS has complained about their service! Little hard to obtain those customer testimonials, though... seriously, if they don't send the email, who's going to sue them, or even ask for their money back?
  • If you don't read /. for more than 24hours your computer KNOWS you're dead. It could then just start sending mails. I bet my linuxbox uptimes beat the lifetime of another startup.

  • voice mail (Score:3, Funny)

    by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @01:58PM (#7481800) Homepage
    At work once, we had a phone system where you could leave a voice mail for someone for delivery in the future. Until the delivery time came, there would be no indication to the recipient that the message was there. Furthermore, up until the delivery time, you could cancel you pending message.

    We moved to a different office and didn't take that phone system with us before I could get around to do ing this, but here is what I wanted to do:

    1. Leave a message for my boss (who was also a friend of mine) queued for delivery in three months.

    2. Every month, cancel that message and rerecord it, again queued for three months out.

    So, if I ever died, 2-3 months after my death, my boss would get a voice mail from me. The message would be suitably creepy, of course.

  • Haven't people done this for years? Just put a bunch of letters into an envelope. Seal (optionally leave with lawyer or in a safe deposit box). And put appropriate instructions in a will.

    EVEN WITH this post email service, the person handling your estate has to contact with a death certificate or letter or something. Besides, email addresses change. Spam drowns out all. And hand written notes are so much more tangible...
  • Actually taxes are avoidable. Death isn't.
  • I always thought a good idea would be for a company to establish a "living web site" that someone could continually update while they were living, along with a portion or message that could be put up after they passed. While you're alive, you create your own vision of what you think you've contributed or want to share with others and it lives on online after you're gone. Surely, the potential for the long-term solvency of a company that provides this service would be better than those cryogenic operations?

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.