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E-mail has become the most efficient way of sending and receiving documents and messages (although instant messaging is equally as good). When Google first announced its new service, Gmail, there was a lot of speculation over privacy issues.
Many felt their e-mails would be subject to being read by strangers, and their e-mails would be scanned for keywords for advertisement purposes. Let me explain how Gmail works, though...
Google has explained that it by no means reads your e-mails. The process of adding advertisements is done automatically, and so their is no human intervention. Also, no messages sent through the Gmail service will be added to Google searches. Google claims its focus on privacy is a very serious issue, and that they wouldn't wish to harm someone's privacy in any way.
GETTING AN ACCOUNT
Currently, this is very hard to do, unless you are willing to pay for one off auction sites like eBay, or you have a friend who invites you. You can do nothing else, as Gmail is still in BETA testing, thus it doesn't want to be used on a mass scale just yet. When it is fully launched, however, one can expect to get hold of an account pretty easily. I expect it to be free too, and there has been no mention of a fee to be charged for using Gmail.
As I have an account, I have 50 invites available. I shall be offering anyone in MY circle of trust an account, free of charge.
ONCE LOGGED IN...
When you finally get your sweaty paws on a Gmail account, you can begin to explore the many areas of this sleek, professional yet easy to use service. Sending mail is simple, with just a click on the 'Compose Mail' hyperlink in the top left hand corner of the screen.
Composing mail is a piece of cake, and the layout of this screen is very familiar to anyone who has used e-mail before (most if not all of you, I suspect).
What I love about composing an e-mail is the simplicity of the screen. In typical Google style, the background is plain white on most pages of the Gmail website. Composing mail sees a light blue background. All the hyperlinks are blue, and in bold green, one can see how much storage space is currently being used.
I find the speed and flow of Gmail superb. It feels really quick when composing mail, when you click on hyperlinks such as Add CC (carbon copy). This will load a box for carbon copies automatically, with no need to wait for the page to refresh. The reply was instant, and it must be a great software development by Google. They have created their own email composition page, with some hyperlinks which will operate functions within the screen proceed automatically, without the need for refreshing of the web page.
Then its just a case of clicking send, as with any other mail client. I found a test message to my hotmail account arrived within 2 minutes or so which isn't bad at all.
Personally, I have become used to the layout and feel of hotmail, but I think I will soon change preference. The simplicity and speed of Gmail are far more superior to hotmail. I also love Gmail's layout, so it could soon be bye-bye hotmail!
Receiving e-mail shocked me. I did a test e-mail this time from my hotmail to my Gmail account. I had only just sent it, pressed refresh on the Gmail account and what do you know? It arrived! Within 5 seconds (maximum), it had been sent and arrived at the Gmail servers. To me, this is astonishing. This not only puts shame on snail mail, it makes it laughable. Why send a letter if you have access to services as quick as this? Amazing.
Receiving e-mail is naturally simple too, with new mail being highlighted in the inbox. You can 'star' your mail, view the archive of 'conversations' (whereby you and someone else have sent and replied to emails) or delete mail. Starring mail simply flags up mail you feel you'll need in the future. Viewing archived mail allows you to track back to how your 'conversations' began. I don't, however, like Google's approach to deleting mail.
To delete mail, you must firstly open the message, then click show options and then trash this message. I would prefer to see a delete button straight away rather than having to do this each time I want mail to be deleted. Nevertheless, no refreshing took place when clicking on show options, and deleting mail was done within 1 second even though I'm on dial-up.
> As I have stated before, you can STAR MESSAGES to pull your attention to any mail that is important, or of any interest to you. This is a nice addition, and makes a change to some clients who had red flags. Stars are bright yellow, and definitely attract your attention.
> You can search your mail or the web straight from your Gmail account at the top of the page. This makes use of Google's, one again, fast servers, thus allowing you to access specific information with ease.
> By clicking on settings in the top right of the window, you can: - change the name with which people view your mail. - change the reply to address to differ from your gmail account. - set a maximum page size for conversations. - toggle with the keyboard shortcuts (which I don't currently use but may use in the future). - change your mail signature to every mail you send. - add labels to messages which you wish to identify as part of a conversation. - set complex filters, yet easily done, by using the filter tab. There are many possibilities here, and by using this efficiently you could banish all spam from your email account. Spam is usually identified by Gmail, however, and you can view what it deems spam by clicking on the spam link in the left-hand navigation bar. - configure Gmail to work with your desktop e-mail client using POP - instructions / guidelines are given. - forward mail automatically to other addresses - and finally change your account settings such as password.
I have found Gmail so easy to use. It has so many features too, though, and you can tinker with all its various settings to suit your needs. The 10MB attachment limit is on a par with many other accounts, probably better than most. But the 1000MB (not 1GB, which is 1024MB) of storage space is exceptional. I've had no problems with the service, I don't mind a few ads here and there, so long as they aren't pop-ups which impede my view.
What I love most though, is the speed and layout. It is lightning fast, especially at receiving mail, and the overall layout of the account makes it so slick and easy on the eye.
I hope my review has helped you in deciding whether you want one of these accounts. Members of my COT, if you would like an account, please drop you e-mail address into my private guest book, and I will send you an invite.
Thanks for reading.
------------------------------------------------------------ BENJAMIN RICHES (wbafcben) :) ------------------------------------------------------------