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April 30, 2004

 
So Google finally IPOs -- with an approach as unusual as its approach to webmail. The founder's letter in their S1 filing eloquently argues the case for taking the long view:
Although we may discuss long term trends in our business, we do not plan to give earnings guidance in the traditional sense. We are not able to predict our business within a narrow range for each quarter. We recognize that our duty is to advance our shareholders' interests, and we believe that artificially creating short term target numbers serves our shareholders poorly. We would prefer not to be asked to make such predictions, and if asked we will respectfully decline. A management team distracted by a series of short term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour.
For now, Google is probably not going to change the world, and the IPO is probably a bad idea for many investors; but for those with the pockets to take a risk, there are promises aplenty.

 

April 28, 2004

 
I've been using Gmail for about 5 days now (found out via Evhead about the Blogger offer before the Slashdot story broke) and here are my first impressions:
  • The service's reliability is very good indeed. Even for a beta, this beats Novell's MyRealbox, and is way better than the other 1 gig free email provider, Spymac.
  • Search - Gmail's strongest pitch - still needs work. "tolkien" fails to match "tolkien's", etc. "Silmarillon" does not result in a "Did you mean... Silmarillion" (both of these work in Google's standard web search). So searching your mailpile isn't quite as easy as searching the web - yet.
  • Being able to access Gmail fully over HTTPS rocks (Go to https://gmail.google.com/ instead of http://...). Myrealbox is the only other free provider that has this, and they are nowhere as reliable.
  • Currently you can only store 20 filters. Not quite adequate if you get tons of email.
  • Gmail has its own operators for searching email. Some of them are quite nifty, although I would love to have a not operator and a has:responses operator. I expect Google to allow these searches to be carried out through their advanced email search form, since the sheer number of operators may be a bit much for CLI-phobic users.
  • It'll be interesting to see how spamfighters like Suresh treat Gmail when it goes live. Gmail adds no X-Originating-IP, X-Originating-Email or X-Sender header. I wonder if this is Google's commitment to protecting its users' privacy, or just an omission in the beta.
  • Gmail support informed me that forwarding incoming email to another address is "coming soon", as is a plain-HTML version of Gmail (the current version is very Javascript heavy, as others have noted, but is probably the most usable webmail interface on the planet.)
  • Currently Gmail offers no way to compose HTML email. Not a big problem, but some people may miss it.
  • No ads in outgoing email (or in incoming email for that matter). That gets a thumbs up. Many other web email providers, especially Indiatimes (which routinely inserts dating ads into users' outgoing email), should take note.
Overall, great service so far, and lots of promise. An IMAP interface to non-archived mail (so I could use my favorite MUA) and my happiness would be complete.

 

April 18, 2004

 
I'm now tucking into Part 2 of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, The Confusion. For a change, Landmark in Madras actually stocked the book in time for its April 13 launch date :-).

 

 
The Telegraph has an article about a new pre-poll survey that predicts a reduced majority for the NDA, saying that the "feel good" factor seems to be wearing thin, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Not sure about Andhra Pradesh, but I'd buy that for the BIMARU states, the north-east, and Bengal (Note: Calcutta's baby steps into IT do not count as the number of people they touch are still very limited). Given the the relative lack of opportunities there, "India Shining" is about one of the most alienating lines pols can reel out in those states.

 

April 16, 2004

 
For those interested into building location awareness into their apps (and have MSDN sub IDs) this is a sweet deal: MapPoint sub free for MSDN users. You get access to their staging environment for a year and upto 50k commercial webservice transactions. (via the Early Adopter weblog)

 

 
Why not go to MP3 Lizard for all your indie MP3 needs?

 

April 14, 2004

 
Miguel de Icaza on Java, Gtk and Mono.

 

April 04, 2004

 
Summer is icummen into Chennai.

Gmail's 1 gig free sounds good, and I hope the service is reliable. What'd really kick ass: a desktop app communicating over HTTP to my Gmail account (like Outlook Express communicates with Hotmail). Dredging through long conversations over a browser will not be fun, I assure you (anyone tried really long threads on Google Groups?).

[Update: I have since joined the Gmail beta program, and the innovative "conversation view" notwithstanding, I stand by my statement.]


Sun and Microsoft kiss and make up. McNealy's barbs will be missed. While I don't expect any letup in the competitive rhetoric, an officially supported RMI to System..Remoting bridge would be very nice to have.

 


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