Tuesday: 15.June.2004


I opened a GMail account today. This is the new mail service from the boys at Google. From what I've seen so far, it looks like a well thought-out approach, as is everything Google does. (They recruit the best talent.)

I don't think GMail is open to the general public yet. A friend at Berkeley (San Francisco Bay Area) knows people working on the new system. He sent me an "invite" to open a new account. (See below.) The best thing is that I was able to select a great user-name (minimum 6 characters): my first choice. On most free web-mail sites, it usually takes me 10 minutes to come up with a name someone hasn't taken already.

XXX has invited you to open a free Google Gmail account. The invitation will expire in three weeks and can only be used to set up one account.

To accept this invitation and register for your account, visit XXX. Once you create your account, XXX will be notified with your new @gmail.com address so you can stay in touch with Gmail!

If you haven't already heard about Gmail, it's a new search-based webmail service that offers:

• 1,000 megabytes (one gigabyte) of free storage
• Built-in Google search that instantly finds any message you want
• Automatic arrangement of messages and related replies into "conversations"
• Text ads and related pages that are relevant to the content of your messages

Gmail is still in an early stage of development. If you set up an account, you'll be able to keep it even after we make Gmail more widely available and as one of the system's early testers, you will be helping us improve the service through your feedback. We might ask for your comments and suggestions periodically and we appreciate your help in making Gmail even better.

To learn more about Gmail before registering, visit here.
The Gmail Team

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1,000-MB of storage. I had to look at that again. At first I thought it couldn't be true. Dang. That's a lot of space. I'd never have to delete another message .. for the rest of my life. Scary, ain't it?

By contrast, Ziplip (secure mail service) offers only 2.5-MB of mail storage (for free). They charge US$40 per year for a 5-account package with 10-MB of storage per account. And that doesn't include their $25 set-up fee. I forget how much space HushMail offers. Heck, this whole web site runs on only 350-MB.

It's certainly the fastest web-mail service I've ever used, but that's probably because not many people are using it yet. I only wish there were some way to import my Outlook Express address book.

The interface looks like this (screen shot, 1260x850, 40-KB), I especially like GMail's "Report Spam" button/feature. I'll be playing with it more in the coming weeks and let you know what I think. Other links you might find interesting: Getting Started with GMail, and Introduction to GMail. In a few days, they tell me, I'll be able to "invite" 3 people myself.

More links I just found: What's behind Gmail's popularity? and Fledgling Gmail hits the geek spot. Also found these utilities: an importer and Gmail to POP3 converter. It also looks like Yahoo mail and Hotmail will be increasing their storage capacities to compete with Gmail.

Posted by Rad at Tuesday: 15June2004 | Comments (9)

Sunday: 13.June.2004

Movable Type Licensing Angers Users

The blogging software I use, MovableType, has transitioned to a pay-licensing scheme with the release of its v3.0 "Developers Edition". It will still be free for single-user sites like mine, but most people are furious (see the hundreds of comments listed after this announcement), calling the new licensing schedule restrictive and damn expensive.

Seems SixApart (the company that owns MT) is back-peddling with this "clarification", but most people (such as Mark) will still be dumping MT and moving to other blogging software such as WordPress (formerly b2/cafelog), which is licensed under the GPL, or TextPattern.

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Blogging is a huge phenomena. I was doing it before I even knew what "blogging" was, or before I heard about blogging software. The page you're reading now was created with Macromedia Dreamweaver, as is most of the site. (I started with FrontPage.)

Posted by Rad at Sunday: 13June2004 | Comments (0)

Monday: 07.June.2004

Former President Reagan Dies

Didn't think it would affect me, but I felt the twinge of sorrow upon hearing the news of former president Reagan's passing. I never felt that for any other president.

I was in the Navy when Reagan took office in January, 1981. The Dog & I were stationed aboard a nuclear submarine home-ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Reagan, as you know, was very pro-military. He basically started a "Defense" spending-war with the Soviets and they went broke trying to keep up. That was the beginning of the end for the "evil empire".

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The change in the military when Reagan took office was dramatic. Within days, everyone's attitide rose. It felt as if Reagan's own optimism trickled down through the ranks. People started telling jokes again. Morale soared. We could actually sense his influence some six thousand miles away in Hawaii. Remarkable.

Conversely, under Jimmy Carter (we called him "22 percent-Carter" in reference to the soaring interest rates at the time), life in the military was gloomy. Reagan changed that almost overnight. He made us feel appreciated for serving our country and good about being American. That's what I remember most about the man. May he rest in peace.

Posted by Rad at Monday: 07June2004 | Comments (0)

Thursday: 03.June.2004

New Web Hosting Provider

I've been researching web-hosting providers, because my current provider, Communitech (Kansas City), who was subsequently bought by Interland (Atlanta), charges me $32/month ($25 if paid annually). Back when I first set up the site (some 4 years ago), this was a reasonable rate. But now you can get more for le$$.

I've whittled down my research to the following 7 hosts: LunarPages (review), .. VenturesOnline (review),.. ICDSoft (review),,.. HTTPme (review) and WebIntellects (review),.. Burton (review) and DreamHost (review).

I like the way Webhostingratings provides an opportunity for hosters to dispute negative reviews (such as the one posted here in red background) and basically say, "You're full of malarky, pal." That helped me make my decisions.

But moving the site to a new host can be a royal pain, especially when you have to reconfigure things like forums and blogs (dasebase-driven). I've never done it before, so I'd be operating on the steeper slopes of the ever-treacherous learning-curve.

••• continued •••

So I called Communitect/Interland, my current web-hosting provider, and asked what was involved with terminating service. They said they need 30 days advance notice and asked why I was leaving. I told them they're charging me too much diρero. So the girl (with a sweet Georgia accent) connected me with an account rep, who analyzed my usage and offered to cut my monthly fee in *half*.

So I'll be staying with them for now, for US$16 a month, which is a reasonable rate , and now I don't have to switch, altho some day, when I have more time, I would like to switch, just to say it's something I've done .. another feather to add to my hat (repertoire) of digital skills.

But if you're looking for a web-hosting provider, those companies I listed above are reportedly the best. Note that I need/prefer a Unix-based server. Unfortunately, my current host does not have a very good rating (2.1 out of 10) Things quickly went down hill after the company (Communitech) was bought by Interland. I don't think they're that bad anymore.

This site is hosted on a Sun Microsystems Enterprise 250 server featuring dual-UltraSparc processors with 2-Megs of RAM, running the Solaris 64-bit operating system with RAID-5 SCSI drives.

Posted by Rad at Thursday: 03June2004 | Comments (0)

Wednesday: 02.June.2004

LCD Buyers Guide

I usually try to post my own original content (no matter how lame), and not simply link to other sites, but I found an LCD Buying Guide that is simply excellent. So, if you're in the market for an LCD (flat-panel monitor), you should find THIS helpful. My only question is: why does the same flat-panel cost much more (~US100) if it has a DVI connection, than an analogue D-sub?

As a follow-up on this theme, Nate (Duke alumni) sent this link on Dead Pixels (along with kudos). The dual flat-panels I just purchased for the Beast, the NEC/Mitsubishu 1760V-BK, clearly stated the unit's dead-pixel policy: Replacement or Refund for 8 or more DEAD PIXELS ONLY!. If you need help selecting a cable, see HERE.

Posted by Rad at Wednesday: 02June2004 | Comments (0)