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Thursday, May 13, 2004
Initially, I was atwitter about Gmail simply because I figured it opened up a whole new territory in cyber-space on which to stake a claim. I thought of a friend of mine who said he had a friend from college who had the ucigirl hotmail identity. If she was the ucigirl -- and not ucigirl6 or or ucigirl39 or ucigurl (which I imagine is also coveted property) -- I figured she must have got that in the very early days of hotmail. I wanted to make sure that I got the tidokoro@gmail address. (And am I worried about spam bots scanning my address from this page? No, because I have 1 GB of space and born-again Christian-level faith in the power of Gmail's spam filters -- though I have yet to receive a piece of spam, filtered or unfiltered.)

But when I started using Gmail, I saw that there was much more to it than just another free email account id to toss in with the yahoo and hotmail accounts. I declared Gmail was fantastic almost from the moment I started using it. David Pogue, in the New York Times today, agrees:

Like Yahoo Mail and Hotmail, Gmail is a free, Web-based e-mail program, which means that you will be able to check or send e-mail from any computer on the Internet, wherever you go. Even if you already have a traditional e-mail account, a Web mail account makes a great backup.

But otherwise, you wouldn't even peg Gmail as being from the same planet as Yahoo and Hotmail. The most important difference is the amount of storage: one gigabyte. That's 250 times the amount you get on a free Yahoo account, 500 times the amount on Hotmail.

...Gmail is infinitely cleaner, faster, more useful, more efficient, less commercial and less limiting than other Web-based e-mail services. Once Gmail goes live, Hotmail and Yahoo won't know what hit them.


In short, it's almost as good as WD-40.

Pogue mentions the utility and serendipidity of some of the random links that are included with the inbox advertising paraphernalia. But he forgets to mention that odd human little pleasure in the random that the ads occasion. As I've said before: I like the ads -- I miss them when they're not there. As Pogue notes, they're discreet. And seeing what ads come up for a particular message is like cracking open some kind of techno-futuristic fortune cookie. Maybe that's an optional service Gmail should offer -- email horoscopes based on a scan of the text in your message:

It's easy to pay attention when you've surrounded yourself with wise, loving, fun people. Go ahead and order the more expensive item on the menu. But leave the digital camera at home.