Mar 102009
 
Authors: Ryan Gibbons, Glen Pfieffer

CSU’s Webmail program feels like Hotmail from five years ago. It’s clunky, visually unappealing, has counter-intuitive controls and spell-check seems to be its best feature.

If the rest of the CSU student body is anything like us, then they opted to have their Webmail messages forwarded to another account during their freshman year. However, in a refreshing display of change instigated by students, the University Technology Fee Advisory Board, which is made up of students, decided to switch mail services to one operated by Google. w00t

Google Apps for/CSU is a comprehensive suite of programs including Gmail (Google’s e-mail), Google Docs, Google talk,/Google Calendar/and/more — all of which surpass Web mail’s functionality by about a/decade.

As far as e-mail goes, having a Google CSU student account will be just like having a second Gmail account– — if you already have one that is. Students will have a new address — first.lastname@rams.colostate.edu — which thankfully eliminates the use of the server name from the address, which was “simla” or “holly” for most of us./

So when can you make the switch, you ask? Why, right now!

Just go to http://mail.rams.colostate.edu. There is an easy setup process to go through and then voila, you’re good to go.

And if you don’t want to switch? Tough beans, you don’t have a choice. Over Winter break this year, all students that haven’t yet switched will have their addresses mass-migrated to the new service. At that point, all e-mail sent to your old address will no longer be forwarded to your new account — so make sure to change that Facebook contact info, and e-mail your grandma your new address if she’s high speed enough to be an e-mailin’ whiz.

Google Docs, likely the most unique feature of the Apps suite will add a whole new level of functionality to your browser.

Google Docs builds a word processor, a spreadsheet application and a slide show application/– the three main applications included in the costly Microsoft Office suite/– into your browser.

This enables you to create and/or edit documents on any computer with Internet access, with no carrying files around on your flash drive. Even the Sun Microsystems computer terminals around campus can be used to not only browse the Internet but also type papers, make powerpoints, etc.

The calendar included with the suite is/nothing out of the ordinary. There is, however, an option/during the setup/to have it automatically import your class schedule.

Google Talk, the included/chat/feature, is/quite simplistic and best/described as/very/Facebook-like./

Sadly though,/most/people don’t spend enough time signed/in to their e-mail to make that function useful./For those of you who do decide to use it, be wary of popup blockers. Many of them, including those built into/browsers, will have to be disabled or have Google added to a list of allowed Web sites before the chat function will be able to start.

This is nothing compared to the switch we all had to make when the new Facebook landed, and most of us survived that catastrophe. So take a deep breath,/say some parting words to Web mail and give Google Apps a warm welcome.

Columnists Glen Pfeiffer and Ryan Gibbons can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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