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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

Too Unlimited

Never, ever thought I'd live to see this. A little innocuous... but hell, it was pretty amazing to behold. No big deal, the new gen might say. 1 GB. So? So what?!


The best part is how mingy the email providers were, back in the days of good old Web 1.0. The first time I tried to sign up for an email id was quite like a stroll through Hades. Witty little me, in 1999, trying to create an email id chez yahoo went a little something like this...

1) tapan. Taken. (Height of optimism that, wot? My name is not that uncommon.)
2) beavis. Taken.
3) butthead. Taken.
4) butt-head. Taken.
5) creeping_death. Taken.
5) sandman. Taken.
6) t. Taken.
7) james_hetfield. Taken. (Height of optimism - exhibit 2.)

And so I toiled, for an hour. To finally end up with a hideous tapan_gh. And what gifts did we receive from ze bounty? 6 MB. Hotmail was even better. An overlord-of-all-you-freaking-see-ish 2 MB, with the everlasting promise of ruthless email annihilation if one didn't sign in for more than a month. And 2 MB was kind of REALLY pushing it, given the attachment caps of 1 MB or thereabouts. And yeah, your mail wasn't stored in 'Sent Items', not unless you *specifically* selected the option to do so, before sending. The humanity.

Then there were these dudes called usa.net. Still are, I guess. They gave you a better interface at that time, and I would use that id exclusively (not in the least because it was tapan_h). Till one day, they decided to go the paid way. You would actually have to *pay* to use the id. Right. The next day, the papers were full of the usual, hysterical 'gawd-help-us' stories, with opinions being sought from the other munificent boys in the family... err.. make that email business. They all put up a carefully common front, stating that 'As of now, it's free. But you never know. Business models might change in the future.'

It was at this point, that I went on an email id hoarding spree, which was not too far from IT recruitment patterns these days (You know, anything went, as far as the job gets done. If it hangs a couple of times while sending stuff, who cares? Mail still reaches from point a to point b). Rediff, multiple id's at yahoo and hotmail. Indiatimes was a very attractive proposition at that time. They gave you 10 MB, in addition to that gratuitous 'photo of the day' on the main page which ensured that you got off before you got in. Wow. Who would need more than TEN MB?! (Take that, yahoo! And hotmail, yeah... you know what I want *you* to do... bwahahaha.)

I gleefully hopped on to indiatimes, braving the interface which looked like it was cobbled together in one feverish, nightmare ridden night-out by a couple of first year engineering students ('computer' engineering of course). Till Anita, Vivek, Raj, Ashok, Neeta, Ravi, all of them dedicated, nose-to-the-grindstone indiatimes employees (names are for illustrative purposes only), started to solicit muh bidness. For insurance, travel deals, and super-exclusive beluga-caviar-sh shopping offers (Only for me! they said). The hideously devious part was that you could not block the id's totally, because they had an indiatimes domain id. Even if you opted out of the ad blitz, an Anita would always give way to a Jasmine. Ensuring that you gracelessly exited indiatimes, double quick.

And resorted to a little shaking of the fists at the heavens above alternated with bouts of helpless hand wringing, while you waited for your 200 KB attachment to upload on your dial-ups...

Till the boys from gmail came in, and blew everybody's derrieres out of the water. One GB worth of storage, invitation only sign ups (these were devious too, in the sense that after a while the invitation count never decremented (sic?) even after you sent tons of them out, till everybody and his grandfather had a truly 'invitation only' gmail acct). Great interface, a super cool email search feature which made you wonder why no one else had thought of that before, and the conversational arrangement of sent mails (saved automatically. Ahhh.) and replies. 10 MB attachments. Double wow. (Now, they have made storage unlimited. And allow 20 MB attachments. And I'm out of wows. It's kinda expected now, from these guys. I'm spoilt, and proud of it.)

All of which add up to a very good thing... but one fact that rankles a bit is that there's no incentive to perform a little housekeeping now and then to delete the sheer amount of crapola that you tend to accumulate over time in your email accounts. Unlimited storage = making your lazy ass even lazier. Not deleting senti stuff is ok, say your first job's appointment letter, but maintaining a proper timeline of the following can get a bit thick.

1) "What's up?"."Nothing much, you tell." "Arre you tell no." "The sky." "lolz". "lolz" kinda email exchanges.

2) "Go out and live your life because today is all you ****ing have", "Have a great week/weekend ahead because no matter where you are, remember somebody ****ing loves you", "The meaning of love", "How to live life", "Thought of the day" emails with pictures of ghastly looking babies/sunsets/cliffs/oh-so-cute cartoon characters with ghoulish distended faces.

3) Good old rich Nigerian bankers' offers.
4) And of course sp*m (it is a bad word) has more space to thrive, and you will never have the satisfaction of spam getting bounced off your account, because it is full. Add forwards to this too.

Think of what the energy/maintenance costs for this kind of toe-curlingly cute content would be. Even if the energy obtained for the data centres is from clean, renewable sources, is it really worth it?
Another issue for the global warming torch bearers to take up here. Roll your eyes all you want. If this can be entertained (got that right), I don't know why this is not a legit concern. Now let me go about reducing my 'carbon footprint' a little, because you all know how to spell 'hypocrisy'...
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7:40 PM, June 13, 2007
Anonymous Supremus said...

Hahahahaha!!!

Man you make each post of yours worth the wait!! I had been planning to write on a similar topics since a while now, but the way you expressed it!!

"Got off before you got it" - ROFL!!

And umm... I was one of the idiots who had actually paid for USA.NET.... I had to... all my graduate school applications were in there :(!

Sigh... 2Mb emails... I still remember signing up for 8 different email addresses with 8 different domains... and 8 different passwords... and then I did carry a cheat around with me with domain name, username and password clearly on it heheheh :D - those were the days :)

S    



3:45 AM, June 14, 2007
Blogger SEV said...

How can I forget the golden days of 6 MB Yahoo, and the constant struggle to decide what gets deleted, and what doesn't :)

Speaking of energy problems, read Scott Adam's solution ? Worth a thought, I say..    



5:31 AM, June 15, 2007
Blogger The Black King said...

Wonderful, simply wonderful write-up! Am trying to desipundit you! :)    



10:31 AM, June 15, 2007
Blogger DivSu said...

Great blog Tapan! As always:) I remember those hassles with email storage space. I always used to resort to using my ISP's address because I could offload content to my "Outlook Express" (Remember that?;) )

Good point. I missed this in my train of thoughts backwards!    



2:41 PM, June 18, 2007
Blogger arpana said...

aishooo! as usual buddy great stuff. :)

u forgot the privacy issues that google is battling with though :P

and - I cant believe u got off on some wierd pic on a public portal - comon I award you more points that *that* :P    



11:09 AM, June 19, 2007
Blogger Ambuj Saxena said...

@Tapan

I am also one of the old-timers, and it was refreshing to remember the good old days [sic]. My experiences were similar but the biggest one was the hurt pride when I found out that my name isn't that uncommon as I had previously thought.


@Aparna

No webmail provider leaves your e-mails unread, so no need to blame Google. Otherwise how are they able to reroute the messages with specific keywords to spam folder.    



6:23 PM, June 19, 2007
Blogger arpana said...

@ ambuj Saxena ( With your permisson Mr Tapan Sir) Ambuj - you could have killed me and i would not have accused you - why? O why? your English seems good - (I assume YOU've written the comment) youve written good sentences without a hint of error in your comment - pray understand the difference and importance letters play. It is ARPANA and not APARNA.
With all due respect - I'll MURDER you the next time you misspell my name. Mr Mamkhuj! (hah! how does it feel to see your name distorted)    



5:22 AM, June 20, 2007
Blogger raviraj said...

hey dude, great stuff..u have brought back suppressed memories of sabeer bhatia's baby-the hot male...
great post i must say    



3:16 PM, June 22, 2007
Blogger Rajesh Kumar said...

Excellent post. But you forget, there was something so funny from guess where- India Today group. Like all things with a 'Today' attached to it, they had something called MailMeToday email service that offered points for reading and writing mails. You could redeem those points for things such as Deos and likes. I remember having exchanged my accmulated points atleast twice. Till those guys went phut one fine day! And closed the service!!!    



6:44 PM, June 22, 2007
Blogger Tapan said...

Suyog,
I had an id/passwords sheet too... damn, I forgot to put that in the post :D

SEV,
Yep. I read Scott Adam's solution. Am definitely not worthy to comment on that. :) After all, who are we mere mortals to argue?!

Black King,
Thanx a ton for the desipundit hat tip. Muchos Appreciatos.

Divsu,
Thanx. I never used Outlook at home, cos I had heard a lot of horror stories about virus attacks and stuff. And you know, one PC was all that I could get - middle class upbringing and all that... :)

Arpana,
Thanx...

Ambuj,
Yep... I was really crushed when I couldn't get my 'first name only' id...

Arpana,
Easy, easy...

'Roby',
Thanx!

Rajesh,
Man... I'd never heard of that! The sheer idiocy of a lot of stuff back then on the web, can easily spawn a dozen posts or more... :)
Hell, getting a free mouse pad from an online portal's 'contest' was SUCH a big deal...    



8:01 PM, June 22, 2007
Blogger Sam said...

sigh!! and i almost thought you had retired!! :P
definitely brought back memories of a time when people would falunt half a dozen ids... i personally 7... and right now.... uh!! 3!! yup!! and all have a different purpose though!!
so that helps me out with housekeeping :P    



10:19 PM, June 22, 2007
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting. I have been following your blog for a while now, but most of your recent work has really been quite lack-lustre. You do pick interesting facets to blog on, but the quality of writing has taken a steady down-turn over time. For someone who counts Henry and Dahl amongst his faves, you get the drift then, aye?

I urge you to go back to your own archives and take a warm stroll, simple topics, but conveyed with an amazing style. Thats what makes your blog worth visiting, and apart from every T/D & H, mostly 'D's that're bloggin the planet.

Dirtscaper, you probably blog just for urself and any appreciation along the way is viewed as purely (co)-incidental, is that really the case though mate? ;-) Your call.

I'll probably be flamed by your sycophantic followers here, who "ROFL" every time u pluck the nib, but what the heck, someone had to say it. Also, attention sycophants, I'm not being dragged into a flame war here (on the lines of the menopausal outburst about someone mis-spelling Miss Tojo's name), so save your breath. Its the least we can do to maintain the sanctity of 'The Temple of the King' :-)    



11:20 AM, June 23, 2007
Blogger Tapan said...

Sam,
Retired? Well, not yet :)

Anon,
Point noted. Thank you...
What I'd like from you is a definite list of posts wherein you feel I could have done better. (Email me, cos there is only 'so much' criticism I can take out here in the comments section ;) )
As an aside though, I never knew I had 'sycophantic followers'... that was a bit harsh... :)    



5:32 PM, August 13, 2007
Anonymous neha said...

haha you are a perfectly brilliant writer!! superb style. well done!    



9:07 AM, August 14, 2007
Blogger Tapan said...

neha,
You are most kind, thanks...    



5:08 AM, May 29, 2008
Blogger Saket Jha said...

Unlimited storage = lazy ass even lazier. I don't agree with this idea of yours. The whole point of unlimited storage space for gmail as advertised by Google was that "you never have to delete a single mail."

http://mail.google.com/mail/help/intro.html

As far as I am concerned, this idea goes fine by me and I never delete anything...not even crap and spam. Because gmail is structured in a way where you can organise your mails (using label, stars) as well as it comes with awesome mail search (which you have mentioned). So unless someone uses strategy like scanning the inbox for finding the target mail, the volume of mail does not matter. And I don't think that the space consumed on Google servers matter much to you or anyone else.
The whole point being, deleting mails is not a requirement now....and doesn't even remotely correspond to being a lazy ass.    



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