A reader writes that she doesn’t hear from her son. She can send messages but she doesn’t know if he’s getting any email. She may be able to find out what’s up with that by using an email tracking program.

ReadNotify.com (free to try, $24 a year for regular use) can let you know when the emails you send are opened, if they are opened. To get that response, tack “ReadNotify.com” on the end of an email address. For example, if your friend is JoeDoe@aol.com, you’d write “JoeDoe@aol.com.ReadNotify.com.”  When Joe Doe opens the email, you’ll get a message in your inbox saying when and where he opened it. It works with any email service, from Gmail to Yahoo.

When Joy tried it out, with Bob sitting in the next chair, it said he was 25 miles away. Windows uses your Internet Protocol address, rather than your actual address, and that’s what they use too. But at least she knew he’d opened her message.

Paid subscribers can make the email tracking automatic and they get extra features:  Your emails can self-destruct – just like Mission Impossible, except no puff of smoke. Your email can also be self-retracting. If the person hasn’t opened the email within a specified time, you can call it back. We do this in Gmail, using the “Undo” feature found under “Settings.” But in Gmail, the undo period has a maximum time lag of 30 seconds.


  • “Mailtrack” is a free extension for Gmail users. Go to MailTrack.io, click “install” and then “add extension.” You will then get an automatic email receipt whenever someone has read your email. You’ll also know how soon they opened it; our tax preparer opened our mail four minutes after he received it.
  • Users of Microsoft Outlook, but not the free Outlook Online, can also find out who’s opened the mail they sent. Click the “file” tab, then look under “options.”
  • Users of Google’s “G-Suite,” which starts at $5 per month, get email tracking automatically, along with a lot of other services. It’s designed for business use and allows the wizard behind the curtain to erase mail data from a remote location.

Doctor Robot Is In

Image courtesy China Daily, via ZME Science

“Artificial Intelligence” (AI) is the hot subject of our time. And it’s likely to get even hotter. Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla car maker Elon Musk have both publicly warned against it, but there is no chance of stopping its advance and little prospect of even slowing it down.

A couple months back, a Chinese robot passed the state medical exam, and was officially certified as a doctor. He failed miserably the first time he took the test, but after reading four million medical records and 400,000 articles, he scored 96 points above a passing grade. It took him only a fraction of the time normally allotted for humans to take the test. More than half the questions involved analyzing patient cases, diagnosing the problem and recommending treatment. Dr. Robot is formally named “Xiaoyi,” which means “Little Doctor,” and he will begin his practice in rural China.

The Numbers Report On Robots

  • According to research firm IDC, 60 percent of the 2000 top public companies in the U.S. will replace humans with robots by 2025. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates an 85 percent decrease in idle time when workers collaborate with robots.
  • According to Novatio Solutions, the return on a robot investment occurs within six to nine months. Novatio, which brings wireless networks to public schools, was named “Newcomer of the Year” at a New York City technology show. They say their robots are nine times more effective than a full-time employee at one-tenth the cost.

App Happy: Bumbling Along

A young friend of ours met the man of her dreams, a pilot, using the free Bumble app, which has 18 million users. It sounds like a nice alternative to the usual online dating sites.

You can read all about Bumble on Wikipedia, but here are the basics: Users are required to register through Facebook. Women must initiate any contact with a male match, or it disappears in 24 hours. Swipe your finger to the right to “like” a match, swipe left to disregard. If you have a great conversation, you can bookmark or “favorite” it.  You can search for a “BFF” or “best friend forever” instead of a mate. For $10 a month, you get extra features, like the “beeline,” which lets you see a list of users who liked you, and “rematch” which lets you look at expired matches.


  • The Surprising Thing Flight Attendants Say You Should Never Do on an Airline.” Google that phrase for an eye-opening article from Inc. Magazine. In sum, never drink their coffee or tea; it’s made from the airplane’s onboard water system and has been shown to have E coli bacteria. One flight attendant said the maintenance crew, seeing that it failed their health test, pressed a couple of buttons and presto change-o, it passed!
  • Eight Questions to Ask Someone, Other Than What Do You Do?” Search on that phrase to find some great suggestions from the Harvard Business Journal. How about asking: “What are you looking forward to?” “What’s the best thing that happened to you this year?” “Where did you grow up?”




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