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Hacks 71-80

Google's Gmail web-based email service ( isn't your ordinary web mail service. Maybe you're attracted to the slick, interactive, real application-like JavaScript-powered web interface. Or the command-line jockey in you likes the Pine-like keyboard shortcuts (Pine is a text-only email application, typically found on Unix systems). Or is it the sheer volume of storage—one gigabyte, at the time of this writing—that's made you question your relationship with your existing web mail service and its puny 50 megabyte allotment. Most are enticed by the promise (and delivery, mind you) of a Google-like search interface to their email.

There was a day when a simple off-by-one (technically, an off-by-999 error) caused quite a stir among early Gmail users. Logging into your Gmail account, you were met with the double take-worthy: "You are currently using 16 MB (0%) of your 1000000 MB." I'll see your gigabyte and raise you a terabyte.

Whatever your reasons for trying, switching to, or lusting after a Gmail account, you're sure to be delighted both by its proper and "improper" uses—the latter being the focus of this chapter.

As with all things Google, the official interface to Gmail is only one of many. Thanks to some clever screen scraping, analysis of the data model and format underlying the candy-coated JavaScript frontend, and some good old tinkerer's enthusiasm, you can use Gmail as everything from a filesystem [Hack #78 and Hack #79] to a backup server [Hack #80] to a mobile email account for Gmail on the go.

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