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