Gmail tool aims to nix drunken e-mailing

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    A sophomore put himself in an uncomfortable situation after a night of drinking when he accidently forwarded an e-mail to the wrong person.

    “I was dating one girl and talking to another girl when I wasn’t supposed to be,” said the student, who asked to remain anonymous. “The girl who wasn’t my girlfriend sent me pictures of herself, and I accidently forwarded them to my actual girlfriend. My girlfriend at the time looked at them and threw a fit. The girl who wasn’t my girlfriend found out and was (upset) too. The moral of the story is to not e-mail your girlfriends… or to pay attention to what you’re doing.”

    Although this student may have learned his lesson, many others still send texts and e-mails they later wish they hadn’t. These mistakes often occur late at night and after a few drinks.

    Jon Perlow, an engineer for Google’s webmail provider, Gmail, has too experienced the regret of sending messages he shouldn’t have, leading to his creation of a new feature called Mail Goggles.

    With Mail Goggles activated, users have to answer five simple math problems correctly within 60 seconds before they can send their messages. The difficulty level of the questions can be adjusted. However, the questions are intended to be easy when sober and difficult when under the influence.

    Although the novel feature has received positive feedback on the Official Gmail Blog, some students said Mail Goggles probably wouldn’t help them even when they have those beer goggles on.

    Paul Kantner, a junior accounting and finance major, said even if he had a Gmail account, he wouldn’t enable Mail Goggles.

    “I don’t need it because I don’t e-mail late at night anyway,” Kantner said.

    Jeff Zych, a junior marketing major, said he could probably answer the math questions correctly even while drunk. He also said, however, the time it takes to answer the math problems could be effective in making people reconsider the message they are trying to send.

    “It almost makes you think about what you’re writing,” Zych said. “You check yourself, and it’s almost like you’re reminding yourself not to do something stupid.”

    Both Zych and Kantner also said that drunk texting and drunk dialing are much bigger problems for most students.

    “Oh, texting is the worst,” Zych said. “I don’t know how this technology would work on texts, but that would be the way to go. I think that’s how most drunk people communicate.”

    Leon Kotlyar, a Google spokesman, said Mail Goggles is a tongue-in-cheek feature introduced by Gmail Labs, which serves as a public testing ground for experimental Gmail features.

    “Labs features can be incredibly useful (like one-click access to any bookmarkable URL in Gmail) or downright silly (like a game of snake you can play while your inbox loads),” Kotlyar wrote in an e-mail. “Based on user feedback, we’ll decide which ideas to retire and which to convert into fully-baked Gmail features.”

    Users can enable Mail Goggles, and any other Gmail Labs feature in Gmail, by clicking on “Settings” in the upper-right corner, and then clicking on the “Labs” tab and selecting Mail Goggles, Kotlyar said.