Love Gmail, Little Interest in Hacking It

Lifehacker, which I find generally annoying for some reason (let’s call it the Princeton Review Effect for lack of a better explanation–and let’s face it, it’s not going to be lifehacking until I’ve got nanoworms swimming in my plasma), recently aggregated all their Gmail tips and tricks onto one page.

A lot of these I avoid just because they involve Greasemonkey and bookmarklets. I’m still leaning toward client portability over all-out productivity, and have little interest in turning my Gmail (and in general, browser) experience into another Outlook—that is, bound tightly to my OS instance. Even working from home, I work on a lot of different machines and virtual machines, and if I didn’t keep the experience somewhat consistent and free of up-front tweaking I’d probably have a psychotic break. I’ve also developed a sort of standards-based lizard brain that convulses at the thought of just how likely to rust anything that can honestly be described as “a hack” is going to be down the road (as opposed to a “tip,” which is just a software patch for my brain to update the API).

However, there are some interesting (if not actually useful) tidbits here. For example, embedding images (and other HTML) in Gmail. Before you get too excited, it doesn’t work as advertised. Here’s why…

What this post doesn’t mention is that for this to work your images have to be hosted somewhere. The implication is this is “just like Outlook,” but Outlook uses MIME-encoded inlining, not outside linking (well, it depends, but for image drag-and-drop, it’s inlining). The only reason I mention this is that the example they use involves Google Page Creator. As I blogged about Writely, it looks at first like Page Creator essentially offers free image hosting. However, unlike with Writely, this doesn’t actually work with Page Creator (at least with unpublished pages–and are you really going to publish a page for every inline image?). I emailed myself an “inline” image at a non-Gmail address and Page Creator won’t serve the image. So, in effect, this article just takes you down a rabbit hole. Fortunately, I like rabbit holes. That’s where they hide all the good stuff.

Thanks Dave!

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