Can Mail Goggles save you from yourself?

Google has a habit of introducing interesting applets under the radar, but here's one that has caught the attention of party-goers around the Web: Mail Goggles, Google's solution for drunk e-mail driving. 

Here's the deal: Let's assume that you have a habit of going out on Saturday nights and indulge a bit too much in your favorite intoxicant. You decide that it's time to let your boss know exactly what you think of her and grab your iPhone, with the intention of sending her an e-mail. If you're a Gmail user, then Mail Goggles first asks you to solve a few math problems to test your sobriety. Didn't make it? You won't be able to send that e-mail -- at least, not until the morning.

Mail Goggles initially assumes you're going to be partying hearty on Friday and Saturday nights between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., but you can reset it for any day and any times. It will give you some idea of my confidence in my math skills that when I decided to try out Mail Goggles (cold sober, and just after my morning coffee), I used a test account and initially set my difficulty level at 1.


I wrote my e-mail, hit Send, and a box popped up: "It's that time of day. Gmail aims to help you in many ways. Are you sure you want to send this? Answer some simple math problems to verify." It offered five math problems (in the range of "97 - 26" or "7 x 4") and 60 seconds to answer them.

If I answered them correctly, it simply disappeared and sent the e-mail. If I made any mistakes, I got "Water and bed for you. Or try again," and other 60 seconds with five more math problems.

Interestingly, once I answered the questions, I was free to send as many e-mails as I liked -- even 15 minutes later (which is, in my experience, quite enough time for somebody to imbibe too much alcohol). Although I did get the test back when I switched browsers.

So assuming that I am in the habit of getting wicked drunk, and sending e-mails via Gmail while I'm wicked drunk, and don't have the smarts to, say, disable Mail Goggles while I'm wicked drunk -- but am smart enough to take the warning as a hint that maybe I shouldn't send that e-mail to my boss -- I'm covered.

Want to try Mail Goggles? Go to your Settings page in Gmail, click on the Labs tab and find the Mail Goggles add-on -- I'd suggest, by the way, that you pause first to read about such other experimental applets as Random Signature (which rotates among random quotations), and Email Addict (which forces you to recognize Real Life by blocking you from e-mail and chat for 15 minutes). Enable it, click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page, and then go to the General tab to tweak the days, times, and difficulty level.

Have fun...

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon