Email That Vanishes – “Burn” Your Emails With Free Burn Note

imageEmail that vanishes – which is the driver behind Burn Note – is nothing new. I first came across similar types of services/applications/plug-ins, ten or more years ago. And, as is often the case with such specialty services, over time, all of them pulled their own vanishing act. Shazam! Gone – into the wild blue.

Frankly, I had no enthusiasm for disappearing email then – nor, am I keen on what the use of such a service might imply – now. * More on that, in a moment.

Nevertheless, I took a quick look at Burn Note – (a recent arrival in this arena – January 30, 2012), since I have little doubt, that there are circumstance in which disappearing email could have value. Exchanging passwords, for example, comes to mind as a practical use. On the other hand, some might say – an email that vanishes (in terms of its effect), is little different than a telephone call.

Still, you, or someone you know, may have practical reasons to engage this type of service. Personally, I fail to see the benefit, but……

From the site:

What’s a Burn Note?

A Burn Note is an online message which can be read only once by the recipient. Each Burn Note has a unique link that can be sent via email, text message, or other digital means. A Burn Note link takes the recipient to a cover page where they can be read and then destroys the Burn Note. Once a Burn Note has been read it cannot be viewed again.

When does a Burn Note get deleted?

By default each Burn Note has a timer after which time it will be automatically deleted. The timer starts as soon as the recipient begins viewing the message. If the sender chooses not to use a timer then the Burn Note will remain visible until the recipient manually deletes it or leaves the page.

Can the recipient copy and paste the contents of a Burn Note?

By default Burn Notes are created with the “Read out” display option which prevents the recipient from copy and pasting their contents. The “Keyhole” display option also prevents copy and paste of note contents. To allow the recipient to copy and paste the note contents use the “Plain text” display option.

Can the recipient take a screenshot of the contents of a Burn Note?

By default Burn Notes are created with the “Read out” display option which prevents the recipient from taking a screenshot of the entire note. It does this by breaking the note contents into short phrases and displaying them one at a time.

A quick walkthrough:

On the site, simply write and address your message (opening an account is not a requirement to use the service). Pay particular attention to the “Options” menu, since it is here that you will set the parameters for the vanishing “act”.

Note: The password (if you choose one), must be sent under separate cover. Impractical I think – but, there it is.

Burn Note 1

As you can see in the following screen capture – a link to the test message appeared in my inbox (within a few seconds). The recipient will have an opportunity to have the “what the hell is this?” query answered – by way of additional links.

image

Clicking on the primary link took me onward to the Burn Note site.

image

Since I had set the “no copying” parameters in the Options menu, I could not copy the message – nor could I capture a screen shot. Believe me – I tried – and tried.

image

True to the service provider’s claim – the email was in fact – burned.

To checkout this service, go to: Burn Note

The technology behind this – now you see it; now you don’t – is relatively simple. It’s based on encrypted keys which gradually “fade away”. Simply put – no keys – no message.

* It would be foolhardy to assume that this type of service can’t, or won’t be used, for activities contrary to the Terms of Use. I can’t think of a current connected device technology which can’t be abused. Or, one which is being used exclusively,  for its intended purpose.

Update: A number of readers have advised me that, in fact, they have been able to capture message images using various applications, including CamStudio and Ashampoo Snap. It seems that this service might not be ready for prime time after all.

Update 2: The following screen capture submitted by regular reader Cliff R., clearly shows this service has an issue which needs to be recognized by the developer.

 

18 Comments

Filed under Email, Encryption, Freeware, Recommended Web Sites, Windows Tips and Tools

18 responses to “Email That Vanishes – “Burn” Your Emails With Free Burn Note

  1. Reblogged this on Quevariado and commented:
    waoooo this is very useful some times!!

  2. What happens if you use a cell phone to do a screen capture? Not sure how you stop someone from making a video of the note as they read it.

    • Hi Wayneriddle,

      The best I can do on this is refer to the developer’s FAQ –

      By default Burn Notes are created with the “Read out” display option which prevents the recipient from taking a screenshot of the entire note. It does this by breaking the note contents into short phrases and displaying them one at a time. It would require many precisely-timed screenshots to capture a note that uses this display option. Furthermore, the result would be a collection of screenshots which are not proveably related instead of a single coherent image.

      The “Keyhole” display option also prevents screenshots of the entire note by only allowing the recipient to view a small portion of the note in the “keyhole” area. The mouse button must be held down to keep the keyhole open which makes taking screenshots require more finger coordination. Similar to the “Read out” option, the result would be a collection of screenshots instead of a single image. Additionally the “Keyhole” option prevents people who are physically near the recipient from easily reading the note contents.

      Bill

  3. Matt

    I could screenshot it….

    • Hey Matt,

      Great! It would be terrific if you could explain how you managed to do it, since according to the developer –

      By default Burn Notes are created with the “Read out” display option which prevents the recipient from taking a screenshot of the entire note. It does this by breaking the note contents into short phrases and displaying them one at a time. It would require many precisely-timed screenshots to capture a note that uses this display option. Furthermore, the result would be a collection of screenshots which are not proveably related instead of a single coherent image.

      The “Keyhole” display option also prevents screenshots of the entire note by only allowing the recipient to view a small portion of the note in the “keyhole” area. The mouse button must be held down to keep the keyhole open which makes taking screenshots require more finger coordination. Similar to the “Read out” option, the result would be a collection of screenshots instead of a single image. Additionally the “Keyhole” option prevents people who are physically near the recipient from easily reading the note contents.

      Bill

      • Danielx64

        While you may not be able to take screen shots you could use software that record everying that you are doing on the screen – camstuido for example

        • Hi Danielx64,

          Great minds think alike. 🙂

          I did wonder about that, and while I don’t run Camstuido on this test machine, I might just give that a try and report back.

          Great suggestion – Thanks.

          Bill

          • Danielx64

            I might give that a try later as well (no I have not tested this yet) It come down to the fact that if something can be seen on the screen then it can be copied. Yes you can make it harder, but you will never stop someone from doing it.

  4. Cliff

    Hey Bill
    I have a screen shot of my burn note using Snap 5 by Ashampoo

  5. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Would it not be possible simply to photograph the screen to capture the information? Or am I being too naive? 😉

    Have to admit I’ve not tried it, so feel free to tell me to shut up.

    Kind regards
    John

  6. Munch

    it’s interesting to see that all the comments are how you can get around what this is designed to do and no comments on why you would actually use it. I tried a similar service once for the novelty of it. It was fun to test but then after 2 or 3 emails I was also left with the conclusion that I don’t have a real purpose for it. I was hoping someone might have an suggestion that I’d overlooked. Too bad cool and interesting doesn’t always equate with practical application.

    • Hi Muncher,

      Yes, the comments struck me the same way. I’m very curious about that.

      Like you, I have no need for this type of service. But, getting back to your main point – I too was looking forward to some thoughts on how one might benefit. Could be of course, that we’re all too straight to consider using such a service. 🙂

      Best,

      Bill