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E-mail programs change to keep up with ‘Gmail’

SHARE E-mail programs change to keep up with ‘Gmail’

Some notes from the world of computing:

In the wake of Google announcing "Gmail," a free mail program offering 1 gig of space, Yahoo has increased its free offering to 100 megs and its paid offering ($20 a year) to 2 gigs. Yahoo has a great spam filter, too. Your attachments can be up to 10 megs in size now, too.

I would expect MSN Hotmail to change soon (it offers 2 megs) because Microsoft doesn't stay in third place for long. You can't sign up for Gmail yet but expect a launch soon. Everyone is currently going nuts trying to be part of the beta test for the service so they can grab the cool user names. What they don't know is you don't want an obvious name, which opens you up for spam. It's far better to be "jim4532jim" than "jim."

Have some stuff you want to eBay (that is now a verb) but don't want the hassle? A new service allows you to drop off your items at any UPS store (the brown stores) and a service called Auction Drop will take your item, photograph it and sell it for you on eBay, the world's largest marketplace.

The Auction Drop service takes a big bite of the proceeds (about 35 percent) but at least you get rid of your stuff. (Another 5 percent or so goes to eBay.) Another option you have is calling a local auctioneer, who often will sell your stuff locally for a smaller cut.

The alleged next generation of DVD, so-called HD DVD, will have a recording capacity of 20 gigs for recordable discs. The trouble, of course, is that there are about a half-dozen formats fighting to be the next one (VHS vs. Betamax, anyone?) and who knows which is winning?

So many school kids are cheating with their thumbs (sending test answers around the room using text messages on their cell phones) that some schools now are installing equipment that blocks all cell signals on campus. So much for writing the quadratic equation on your hand.

If you're not storing your photos online these days, you're in the minority. Services such as Shutterfly, Ofoto and Smugmug will store an unlimited number of your photos online to share and (they hope) order digital prints. However, the landscape is changing. Bring your digital camera memory chip to nearly any one-hour photo or drug store in the country and you can walk out with prints on the spot.

That has led some companies, including Microsoft, to determine that offering terabytes of disc space to consumers for free may not be the best business model. Its service, MSN Photos, will expire on July 2 (download soon or your photos will be gone forever).

WEEKLY WEB WONDER: One of the more elegant ways to share photos is Smugmug (www.smugmug.com) that is simple to use even for beginners.

James Derk is new media editor for The Evansville Courier & Press. His e-mail address is jderk@evansville.net.