I haven't written in my journal for ages, so instead of trying to catch up on all the things that have happened since I last wrote I figure I'll just skip that stuff...
So gmail. Someone nice gave me an invite. I wanted to see how their spam stuff works, what the hoo-hah over the conversations interface is all about, and and generally have a play. So I created an account email@example.com to play with (postmaster and mailer-daemon were taken, "abuse" and plain "help" were too short).
In short I'm not that impressed.
First the good: The conversations stuff is quite smart. Though I don't prefer it to hierarchical threading. The problem is the only place I use threading is in mailing lists, and there I prefer to go and read specific threads, rather than read mails in the order they arrive. Gmail assumes you want to read things in the order they arrive, while still giving you access to the previous mails in the thread.
The UI is quite slick. It tries very hard to be like a local application. More on this below though. Nice to have keyboard navigation in a web app.
Ability to add more than one label to things is good.
Now the bad:
The filtering (labelling) sucks. I wouldn't mind it so much if it labelled but moved stuff out of my inbox. When I subscribe to a high traffic mailing list I want it out of the way of my other mails. That should be easy to fix though.
The size isn't all that impressive. I figure I could easily fill a gmail account if I subscribed to a few mailing lists. I realise this isn't what's expected of a web mail system (you wouldn't subscribe to lkml through your hotmail account) but it has to be expected when they set themselves up as email for life.
Lack of being able to delete things concerns me.
Their spam filters suck. It has yet to stop one single spam for me (I've only had about 20 so far, but that's a pretty appalling track record!). I have not "trained" the system yet, but I'm a big believer that I shouldn't have to. There are very good anti-spam systems out there that don't require the user to tell the system what is and isn't spam.
All in all I'm in the "fail to see what the excitement is all about" camp.