Today I was bored. No big surprise there, every day that I work on my dissertation I tend to get bored. But this time I was really bored, so I not only planned a rather intricate visit to Tucson (including an eye exam, a lunch, a dinner and possibly an overnight stay with some friends) in August, but I also remembered that I had read somewhere that people were selling G-Mail addresses for as much as $60 on eBay. I had to see this for myself, so I surfed on over and discovered to my surprise that they were actually going for about $4 a piece. Well, this I couldn’t pass up, so I went ahead and bought myself one. Especially nice since I already had a $4 credit at Paypal as a shipping refund from an earlier purchase. Therefore, I got this free membership as it should have been . . . free (well, sorta free).

This mostly has been in an effort to review the supposedly revolutionary way of e-mail handling that Google has been talking about so much. I now have an e-mail address (, and am looking forward to getting enough e-mail to really try all this stuff out. But now that I’ve had the thing for all of 12 hours, let me give you a small rundown of G-Mail vs. Yahoo! Mail.

For starters, G-Mail will let you stay logged on for two weeks at a time, whereas Yahoo only allows about 24 hours or so. As far as security goes, that’s a bad thing, but when you live alone like yours truly, it’s bloody terrific. Yahoo trumps G-Mail in the whole Yahoo Instant Messenger thing, in that I can be told when I have mail, rather than having to check it constantly, which is really nice for obsessives like myself. About two weeks ago I would have raved about the 1 Gb that G-Mail offers, but since Yahoo has recently upped my mailbox to 2 Gb, the point is pretty moot. I shouldn’t ever need either amount of storage anyway (after keeping every single e-mail I’ve gotten and sent for the past two weeks, I’ve finally reached the 1% mark on my Yahoo account). But most key here is the filing system. Quite simply, G-Mail claims not to have one. That’s not exactly true of course. Basically it will try to file for you. Any time you send an e-mail to someone, a “Conversation” is started. Assuming each person keeps pressing “Reply” (and maybe if they keep the same subject too, I’m not sure yet), then the e-mails will be grouped together so that you can keep track of what has been said. Additionally, you can create a multitude of “Labels.” On each conversation you can select as many different labels as apply. So for example, if I’m having a conversation with my brother about women at Glasgow Uni, I could apply the labels: “Family,” “Glasgow,” and “Hotties” and if later I need to find the e-mail I could either use Google’s famous keyword search technology or can click on any of those three labels to narrow the field. Don’t worry. Only two of those three labels exist, and if you have to ask which ones then you need to have more faith in me (or I need to stop talking about women so much! ;)).

SO, despite the fact that I have yet to really fully explore the G-Mail system, I think I like it. While the not-a-filing-system is difficult to understand at first, once you have some messages to play around with, it really is quite simple and intuitive. That said, I don’t think I’m going to be switching over fully quite yet. If nothing else, I don’t like not being able to actually file my messages in to folders at all, which may sound old fashioned, but there you have it. Plus I’ve become totally adicted to Yahoo’s “nicknames” function which, if G-Mail has it or something similar, I haven’t figured it out yet (instead they have an auto-complete type system, which I’ve never been a huge fan of). I’ll still be checking this new address a lot however, so those of you who hate the whole “Ash” thing can now start hitting me up at my G-Mail account (which once again is: Oh, and if you do, make sure you check your Bulk Mail (or Spam) folders for a while to make sure my reply doesn’t go there. Both Yahoo and Hotmail were trying some dirty tricks for a while there to try and stop G-Mail from being a success!

And 32 more hours! Yay!


“Memento, homo, quad cinis es
Et in cenerem reverentis”
(“Remember, o man, that you are ashes
And into ashes you will return”)
~Mediaeval Baebes – “Erthe Upon Erthe”

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