Now, when you look up Bob in the telephone directory, you happen to get some extra information, his middle initial, his address and his telephone number. You probably only wanted one of them but they’re all there.
In DNS we call these record types, and there are quite a number of different kinds, most of which you don’t care about.
Our postal addresses are like this too, and in fact most of the record types on an envelope are irrelevant during delivery processing. The one that really matters is the post code. This tells the postal workers to just send your letter to, say, the sorting centre for 4064 and they’ll know what to do with it. The street number in milton is irrelevant to the postie in melbourne.
Now it turns out that bob’s last name is Palaszcsuk, and fewer than one in a hundred people can spell that without dislocating a finger, so Bob tells people to just check the directory under “Dodgy Bob”.
On the internet, that would be bob getting tired of telling you his email address is email@example.com and wishing he could just be firstname.lastname@example.org
Well he can, and so can you.
Now, this is needlessly overcomplicated because it was invented by americans and they apparrently like inflicting needless suffering. Have you seen their electoral system?
So first you have to contact the domain registrar for your chosen domain and have them register the name in their directory. With luck nobody else will have beaten you to registering “dodgy.com.au”. If they have you’re probably SOL.
Oh and the the internet being made in the image of america, you have to tip the registrar every year to retain that registration, despite it being exactly no work.
Then because that wasn’t baroque enough, you have to write out your own page in the directory, paste it in and keep it up to date. To do this you find another rent-seeker called a domain host, and get them to add your records to their domain server. The registrar will then tell anyone who asks about your listing to go and talk to the host. They’ll want a tip too.
Finally, the records in your directory entry are just addresses, if you want letters to be readable, you better go buy a letterbox and install it at the listed address.
Remarkably, nearly forty years after we agreed on the modern internet protocol, this process is still awful.
It’s not QUITE as awful as it used to be, but it’s defintely still at least aw half full.
No matter which way you go, you’ll be paying at least ten bucks a year to a registrar, and maybe as much as 100 for one of the vanity domains.
The hosting and letterbox services can cost anywhere from zero to shitloads, and it’s pretty much a tradeoff of convenience versus cost.
I’m going to tell you three ways to do it that span the spectrum.
First, if money is not an object, just go to google and buy google gsuite. Or you can also buy a similar service from amazon or microsoft. You get domain registration, domain record hosting and email mailboxes, but you will probably pay about eight bucks a month per person. They throw in document sharing, and discussion groups and a pretty web interface to make it look like they arent gratuitously ripping you off.
If you’re a small business, go to Pobox.com and sign up for their email forwarding service. They can register a domain for you and look after all the hosting, and will just forward all the email to your existing mailbox. So you can keep using your gmail or whatever under the hood but you can tell people your business domain name. If you like you can pay a little more for a mailbox on their server, and not have to forward your email somewhere else.
This will cost you around thirty bucks a year. I’ve been using it for nearly twenty years.
You can get it for almost free. Go to zoneedit.com and sign up for their free tier. You still have to pay the domain registrar, so we’re talking maybe 5 or ten bucks a year. Zoneedit will register the domain, host the records and forward all the email to an existing email address that you nominate.
All these solutions have the side benefit that you can create a bunch of addresses like email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org which lets you look more impressive than you really are.
So there you have it, I will literally give you the ten bucks for the first year right now so that I don’t have to remember email@example.com when I next want to get in touch.