Wednesday, February 02, 2005

GMail

Well, looks like Google is expanding Gmail quite a bit more. I just noticed that my number of available invites jumped from 6 to 50. So, if you somehow don't already have a Gmail account, now's the time to ask for one. I'm overflowing with invitations, and I imagine this is true for most, if not all, other Gmail users. And, just in case you don't know what I'm yammering about, Gmail is the free web based e-mail service offered by Google, currently on a "by invitation only" beta test. It offers 1GB (or 1,000MB if you prefer (and yes I know that deep down at heart, it's 1,024MB, let's not confuse people ok?)) of storage for your e-mail and attachments, which at it's launch caused many other providers to scurry and vastly increase the size of their provided storage space as well. (The quickness of which implies that it was a fairly trivial change, there was just no incentive to offer increased storage space to their customers before.) Gmail also offers free POP3 access, so it's useful even if you hate webmail. (Which I previously did, but I find Gmail is far nicer.) And, when using it's webmail interface, Gmail has quite a few innovations which make it very nice indeed. But, the tour explains them far better than I could. Yes, Gmail does have it's detractors. Usually either due to the ads or the longtime storage and search capabilities. The ads are far less annoying than on other services I've used. They are text ads, no flashing banners, they are relevant to the subject of the e-mail conversation that is on screen, and since they are on the side, not the top, I honestly find them to be really subtle. (As in ignorable without any effort.) As for the storage and searching arguments, (sometimes combined with complaints about the e-mails being read to generate the ads), well they don't bother me. Bots read the e-mail, not people. They are suprisingly accurate at choosing corresponding ads (or sometimes just related links. It's like searching without having to tell the search engine what you are looking for.), but not perfect. Once you see some of the same word, different meaning ads you'll quickly realize that there is no human behind them. My biggest question is why pick on Google for this? They are doing minimally invasive automated word recognition on e-mails that aren't exactly encrypted in the first place. There are far scarier, and almost never mentioned, examples of real time data monitoring out there. Primarily, credit card companies, and their fraud prevention. Anyway, my point was, I've got invites just on the rare off chance that you haven't been invited already, and want one.