Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why not Yahoo!?

...I had to ask myself, why do I have this "thing" about Yahoo!

I remember when I first came to this valley, they were the darling of the industry and for good reason.  Yahoo! was a progressive company, a big supporter of the community, a benefactor with lavish parties, and the indirect reason for many of my coolest friends to be aggressive toy consumers and sometimes even suddenly rich.

Yahoo! was always a big supporter of my beloved SF Giants, and I even helped the Yahoo! yodeler guy myself when the team would take the field.

But as success came to Yahoo! so did many of the people who follow fortunes and dilute values.  My coolest friends moved on or were sent packing -- Yahoo! sold its soul by greedily taking sponsor money to doctor my search results, selling popup ads to its customers with one hand, and selling popup blocker software to me with the other hand.

Deals with hardware and software vendors polluted my system (and those of my friends and family) with unwanted software that is primarily designed to deliver advertising and does little or nothing for me.

The (seemingly) kind offer of a free email address came with the attached string that they would pollute my messages sent from said email address with advertising material at the bottom (and now in the margin).  Not only was I offering them my attention for giving me free email -- they were hijacking the attention of my friends.

The generous offer of community workspace (Yahoo! groups) became a wasteland of slimy lurking merchants who are waiting for me to show up so that they can send me their unsavory advertising materials.  (The only time I get spam these days is when someone discovers an old Yahoo! identity for me and sends me a snaky message that somehow escapes my spam filters.)

I know that Yahoo! has tried to reform, and that they've launched an "improved" email interface, but the fundamental problem remains.  Yahoo! is willing to allow its advertisers to pop up into my face - in a variety of ways.  Yahoo! is more focused on getting a message into my face than it is on providing me value so that I'll offer my face.

And lastly, Yahoo! has not worked to gain my permission.

Yahoo! has become the little boy at the Junior High dance who sneaks up, steals a kiss, and then runs away to collect on his bets with his buddies.  Good for Yahoo! but not much for me.

 ---v

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's so hot about gmail?

...look, I've been using email since 1985. There were proprietary systems on BBSs and Compuserve, there were clunky big iron mainframe systems at work, and at first there was mailx on Unix.

Later there was Elm, and then Pine, there was Eudora, there was Squirrel Mail webmail, and there was Outlook after that. Thunderbird gave us an alternative to using that evil mailer from Microsoft. Yahoo gave us a reasonable choice for free and online mail, and before long, AOL even got the memo about coming outside the ivy walls and joining the rest of us.

Along the way, I've used a lot of different software solutions for email.

And now I'm using gmail.

Maybe that isn't the sort of proof you were looking for. People who know me personally know that I won't rave about a technoology unless I believe in it, and I won't dis a technology just because of the company that delivers it.

Especially about email, I'm going to talk about what really works. So consider that I have about 50 unread messages right now, and about 140 total in my email box. For most of the people I know, having only 140 unread messages would be a gigantic victory. And I get more mail than most of those people.

I almost never touch spam. By that I mean that I see about one or two messages every couple of days. I get a lot more spam than that, but it gets very effectively filtered by my friends at Google. On the other hand, they don't trap very much of my legitimate mail and mark it as spam. I can't think of the last time I had to rescue a message from the spam trap after someone insisted that they'd sent it to me.

Look, google mail works. The spam filter works, the strategy for mail handling that is implicit with gmail works. The interface works, and I can work with my email just about anywhere.

My friends and colleagues who know what is going on with the web and the internet choose gmail if they choose a "public utility" email service. And I use it!

That's all I should have to say about it, but I want to add just this one more thing.

A friend of mine said, "I like the interface at Yahoo! better."

This is about much, much more than the interface. The core of gmail is a completely different approach to handling mail. Get that and you will be on the path to freedom. Email is supposed to serve you, not the opposite. Reach for the right tool and you will soon be the master of your email box.

You could look at what google says about gmail.

I can just say what I said to start this. I use it.

---v