Companies are really fond of collecting information from you they don’t really need before letting you read their website, check out demos, and download free-as-in-beer software. Occasionally they ask for this for free-as-in-speech software. One technique they use to make sure you give them your information is to e-mail you your username or password or license key. That way, even if the user is named “Barney Rubble” they’ve got a pretty good idea of your real e-mail address.
Certainly you good set up a free account on HotMail or GMail, and use that to register. However that takes time and effort. If you use the account more than once, they can cross-correlate your registrations on different sites. There is, however, a better solution: Mailinator.
Paul Tyma’s Mailinator is based around a really simple idea. It’s a web mail server that accepts any e-mail from anyone. No prior registration is required. You don’t have to tell Mailinator the e-mail address exists. When mail shows up for BarneyRubble@mailinator.com, the server accepts it. To check your mail just got to the mailinator web site and ask it for BarneyRubble’s e-mail. Your registration credentials will be waiting for you.
This is about as simple as it could possibly be. There’s no password, no registration, nothing to get in your way. Messages are only stored for 24 hours after they arrive, so do in check in soon, though.
The only caveat is that anyone who knows your e-mail address can also read your mail, so don’t use it for personal e-mail, and/or pick a really weird e-mail address like SimildudeXLink23@mailinator.com. This isn’t intended to replace PGP for private e-mail, but it does a great job of keeping your private information out of the hands of spammy corporations.