The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Gmail, Anyone?

I've got six gmail invites, and everyone I know who wants gmail already has it. If you want gmail, leave a comment with your current email address, and I'll happily send one your way.

Since everyone might not know what gmail is, let me explain as well as I know. Gmail is google's foray into offering free email accounts, ala hotmail, yahoo!, etc. There's a few things that make gmail different from hotmail and yahoo. One is good, one is different, and one is slightly concerning.

Good: Gmail gives you 1000mb of storage space. Until I got my gmail account, I used hotmail. Hotmail gives you 2mb. I've had my hotmail account for years and years, and being the packrat that I am, it's getting kind of full with only 2mb of storage available. That 2mb limit is also a pain in the ass when it comes to receiving large attachments. Basically, I couldn't because the hotmail account would bounce the email before it got to me because it was too big. I don't expect this problem with gmail since they are offering 500 times the amount of storage space.

Different: Rather than arranging email in a strictly chronological order, gmail has grouped the emails into "conversations." For instance, if you send me an email, then I respond, then you respond back, all of these emails will be grouped together. Hotmail (and most other email accounts) do it on a first come, first gets listed order. In other words, gmail will group all the emails in a "conversation" together no matter how much time has elapsed or how many other people have emailed in between. Hotmail (and most other email accounts) receives each email as a new entity--i.e. if I get an email and then respond and then ten other people send me emails, and then you respond to my emailed response (got that?) your response will come in after all the other emails and in no way be clearly linked to the original message (except by subject line if that has not changed). This is good in some ways, but I'm used to a chronological order, and I'm not sure if this is better or worse than that. I was happy with the way it was.

Concerning: Just like hotmail and yahoo! (and other free email services) gmail has ads associated with it. However, instead of just running random ads, gmail uses google (its parent) to search the content of your email and then display topic specific ads. So let's say you were writing about wanting to go to a Brittany Spears concert (I'm sure we've all written that email), the ads to go along with your email might be for Brittany Spears merchandise or for Tickemaster, etc. This creeped me out, the idea that the content of all of my email was being scanned. However, it's not a person scanning the email--it's the google search engine. And considering the no one's email is actually secure (how much spam do you get offering ways to get passwords?), I'm over it. The 1000mb is just too good to pass up.

And that's the deal with gmail for those who didn't know. If you did know, you probably didn't read all this, but if you did and you're annoyed that I explained something you already knew, tough luck. I'm doing this for me peeps at their request.

This post was originally about three sentences long. Thank you, foxymama, for forcing me to turn it into a long, drawn out affair (the best kind :)

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