Monday, February 15, 2010

The Great Google Experiment Part 1: Gmail

I've had a Gmail account for years. I don't remember exactly when I signed up, but I do remember that I used to talk to a couple of people from way back when I used to live in Halifax. Or maybe it was just after I left Halifax? Whatever. We're talking years. I even got my name for my account (which isn't that difficult a task for me most of the time).

I tried to look back at my earliest email, see what I was doing back in the day, but I appear to have suffered some kind of brain trauma that caused me to think it would be a good idea to delete all my email. Soooo, the first real Google product that I'd ever used... was something that I thought so little of that I cleaned it out.

Not off to a great start.

The big question is why would I switch to Gmail from my Hotmail account? I've been using Hotmail for over a decade. My earliest email on record is from 12 years ago this week, and I know that I had a lot more that I deleted from before that.

At a glance, there isn't a big reason to switch identities. Gmail and Hotmail do the same things. It's all email right?

Okay, yes, but one thing popped out at me immediately. Or rather, didn't pop out at me. Gmail has no banner ads. Now I know that I could install a banner ad killer, but (if I can use an analogy here) when I invite guests to a party I would prefer to invite people I trust enough that I don't have to frisk them at the door.

Instead of having banner ads, Gmail has a little bar above the option buttons that displays one-line ads. I'll compare this to the party guest that you know sells insurance, but has the dignity not to talk about it unless you bring the subject up. I like that.

The other thing that is kind of neat that Gmail does is Starred email. It's kind of like making favorites for your email. I don't have anything worth Starring right now, but if this keeps going, who knows? Maybe someone will forward me a particular funny picture of a yawning kitten with a clever caption beneath it?

One final thing that stands out for me with Gmail is something that confuses me about Hotmail.

I like having a big monitor. I've had it for about three years now, and I still smile when I look at it. It's a great monitor. I also have terrible eyesight. When people do the "what historical period would you like to live in" I always say "right now" because with my eyesight I'd be dead in pretty much any other age. Because of these two things, I like making stuff on my monitor really big.

When I zoom in on Gmail, it gets larger, but stays crisp, readable and usable.

When I zoom in on Hotmail, the banner ad gets larger. It actually got so large I thought it would burst, showering my email with Gillette shower gel and degrees from Walden University.

The victor here is definitely Gmail. They get special bonus points because I also happen to like the font.

I guess in retrospect there's nothing really that earth shattering about using Gmail that you couldn't figure out for yourself.

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