Is Gmail really a 'train wreck'?

Dear Gmail:

I know, I know. You're totally cheesed off about me calling you a "train wreck" the other day. I admit that was a bit harsh. It's been an emotional time for me lately.

But did you have to send your boyfriend and his frat brother goons to beat me up? It's been three days and I still can't get the smell of Axe Chocolate Cologne out of my clothes.

So I'm writing this note to try and clear things up between us. As you know we've been seeing each other almost from the very start. I think I was one of the first couple thousand people you dated, before you opened up to every Tom, Dick and Mary.

Don't get me wrong. I'm perfectly fine with you seeing other people. You've never been my primary email outlet either. You've always been something on the side when I'm out of town or on a strange network. You've still got one of the sweetest sets of SMTP servers I've ever seen.

Because we've known each other so long, I feel we can talk frankly without you going all Fatal Attraction on me.

First, there are things I've always loved about you. Remember when everyone was blown away by your free gig of online storage? Of course, now it feels like an obligation. But at the time it totally changed the market. You were the first to truly get that people don't want to clean out their inboxes every month; you understood when it comes to email, more is, well, more. I respect that.

And your spam filter. Not perfect, but about as good as they come. I didn't mind the text ads inside messages, even when the ads were addressed to dead people or that letter to Mom was accompanied by links to

But after four years your interface still drives me crazy, and not an "Angelina Jolie/I want to run away with you to Montevideo and have your kids" kind of crazy. Something about it rubs me the wrong way. What can I say, I'm just a button-down toolbar kind of guy.

I know some people love your threaded conversations. And I guess they're OK, to a point. It's the three- and four- and five-ways that get problematic. Keeping track of who said what about which and to whom... I just want to lay down until the migraine goes away.

And that thing you do now with iGoogle, where you launch but you don't really launch, and I have to click "Launch full Gmail" to get access to things like my sig and the cc: line? Please, just stop. You're embarrassing yourself.

I didn't even bring up the outages. See, I'm trying to be nice.

You get the point. Maybe it's over between us. But I'm hoping we can still be friends, even if not friends with benefits.

And if not, well, we'll always have Mountain View.



PS: I know your fanboys aren't going to like me any better now. Could you do me a favor and please ask them to send hate mail and/or poisonous spiders to Editor at Computerworld dot com?

PPS: You said I used you. Of course I used you. What else is Webmail for?

When not composing letters to inanimate code, Dan Tynan tends his blogs, Culture Crash and Tynan on Tech. He promises to stop this silliness soon.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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