For years, I’ve had two email addresses; the current job and the long-term personal one. The latter is unfortunately one of the world’s most public, appearing among other places on the front of the XML specification, and thus gets a lot of spam. I mean really a lot. Which was causing some pretty severe pain, but I’m using the Gmail dodge, and that helps quite a bit.
Mail client filtering these days is not too bad (except for the penny-stock scum) but still, the volume (via POP3) was causing problems. On the ISP side, if I went offline for a few days the mail spool would fill up and things would start bouncing. And on my laptop, everything would get irritatingly sluggish when all the spam was downloaded and filtered. Particularly if I’d been offline for a while, like say two hours.
I was thinking about changing ISPs and server-side filtering and IMAP and so on, and feeling grumpy about the work, so instead I just redirected all my personal email to my Gmail account (one tick-box at the ISP). It works pretty well.
The Gmail spam filter isn’t perfect but it’s not bad, and it all happens on some big data farm out there that Google’s paying for; the amount of data that gets pushed back and forth between my Mac and the Net has been slashed astoundingly, two or three orders of magnitude, I bet, if I measured it.
Above my inbox is sometimes a little one-liner text ad (can’t complain, somebody’s gotta be paying for this) and sometimes a little wee news snippet, apparently driven by a random number generator. Hey Google, both the ads and news need some work, I’ve never felt the slightest urge to click on either.
Also, it’s nice to have search that works; something about my mail backlog persistently blows up Spotlight.
One nice thing about Gmail is the keyboard shortcuts; my only real gripe is that there’s no shortcut for “delete”; I’m on all these nicely-archived mailing lists, for the 90% or so of the messages that I don’t care about, I just want to make ’em go away, why do I have to click on a button? There’s a GreaseMonkey plug-in for this, which might be enough to convert me from Camino to Firefox.
Amusingly, in a few weeks of doing this, with not that much archived, and letting Gmail erase the spam and trash after 30 days, I’m using 220MB, or, as they say “(8%) of your 2792 MB”. With that kind of volume, it’s astounding that the Internet is holding together at all. And, uh, 2792? Anyone have an explanation for that number? [Update: Check the comments, the 2792 number is explained repeatedly.]