Yahoo Mail Has Too Many Ads

In a recent post about Yahoo, I mentioned that I use Gmail, but didn’t find Yahoo Mail lacking. I have changed my mind about that. Gmail is clearly better in every way compared to Yahoo Mail. That goes without saying, but in a recent test, I was made sure of it. This post is about the features. I’m talking about the ads.

In using Yahoo Mail some lately, I found it to be so littered with large, animated ads, it is painful to use. The new Yahoo Mail is worse in that aspect than the Classic view. Ads are everywhere–and they are big. I had several tabs open within the Mail window (Home, Inbox, Sent, etc.), and each tab had animating ads running all at the same time. Also, after composing a new message and sending it, an ad is displayed on the right side of the screen that is so large, it literally takes up almost half of my monitor.

It isn’t only the flashy ads in the Mail site itself. The advertisement taglines sent with all outgoing messages are really annoying, too. Yahoo used to have ones that simply mentioned the message having been sent by Yahoo. Today, it is a random text ad, shown below a horizontal line that doesn’t quite line up with the message window, or the text below it. Obnoxious and tacky! Fortunately, Gmail doesn’t do this.

One can sign up for Yahoo Mail Plus ($20 yearly) to ditch the ads. That is too expensive for my taste, especially since free accounts already get unlimited storage. I suppose anyone could use AdBlock for Firefox to block the ads within Yahoo Mail, but it won’t do anything about the taglines in your outgoing messages.

Overall, Gmail has so much more class and tact. Google doesn’t charge for the extras that Yahoo is asking users to pay for. If you use Yahoo and are willing to change your email address, I’d suggest ditching it. Gmail is so much faster and snappier than Yahoo, by a mile. You’ll certainly be thankful when you don’t see anymore flashing ads!

Yahoo Must Kill Microsoft Bid

I have to finally weigh in on the potential takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft. As you probably know by now, Microsoft has offered up $40B in an effort to buy rival Yahoo. So far, the powers-that-be at Yahoo have not been warm to the offer. Still, Microsoft will probably go to any length necessary to make this a reality, even if the takeover becomes a hostile one. The company claims they need Yahoo in order to compete with Internet star Google.

Personally, I hope they fail…and fail miserably. I am no fan of Microsoft. Their decades of corporate greed and endless bullying of their rivals has left a bitter taste in my mouth. I think the company should have been broken up years ago. I believe they still operate a monopoly today, at least in the business world, and they abuse that power at every opportunity. Microsoft is all about stealing others’ ideas and claiming them as their own. I have watched for years as they relentlessly stomped on anyone trying to get a foothold in the business. The systematic destruction of the Netscape browser was among the most personal.

I think Microsoft’s web services stink. I do not like MSN or the new Live.com. Funny, I remember when Microsoft bought Hotmail.com and made it their own. It went from being a cool, hip place to send mail via the web, to a bloated, cumbersome service littered with advertisements. I remember once, years ago, when Microsoft updated individual user preferences for Hotmail account holders to include incorporate new privacy options. In doing so, Microsoft forcefully and deliberately set each and every user account to allow their addresses to be used for targeted advertising. Is that what you expect from a company you supposedly trust?

I happen to like Yahoo. The site is still a great online destination, and they have an immense array of product offerings. I admit that I use Gmail instead Yahoo Mail, but that doesn’t mean Yahoo is lacking. I do read Yahoo News and visit My Yahoo on a daily basis. I also use the Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Widgets, Yahoo Answers, Flickr, and Del.icio.us, just to name a few.

If Microsoft becomes the controller of Yahoo’s services, I am planning to cancel each and every one one of those services when/if it goes into effect. I won’t have any part of being a Microsoft web customer. Period.

Go away, Microsoft. Leave Yahoo alone!

I Love Yahoo News

I really like Yahoo News these days. I have found myself visiting Yahoo the most for national and world news. Today it is better than ever. Yahoo has a clean interface that is quite interactive. You are presented headlines from a wide variety of sources (such as AP, Reuters, CNN, USA Today, NPR, E! Online, etc.) Switching between sources is as easy as clicking a tab atop each news topic.

Enter your zip code and you get an added section for local news. Doing so added WRAL, my local newspaper, and a few more to this part of my page. Perhaps the greatest selling point for me about Yahoo News is that fact hovering your mouse over each news story gives you a small popup box giving you a small synopsis. This is such a time saver for me. I don’t have to load another page to get the jist of most of what is going on. If it is important enough, I’ll read the article as a whole.

There are a ton of news sites online today, and I still visit plenty of them. I see now more than ever how convenient it is to visit Yahoo first because they are pulling news from all of the sources I would visit individually, anyway. Check it out for yourself and customize it the way you like.

Flickr

I have known about Flickr for a long time now, but I’d never really paid that much attention to it. I’ve seen the occasional links to Flickr galleries on Digg, but I hadn’t considered using the site myself. Even when the company was purchased by Yahoo, I didn’t pay much attention. I have my own web space, so I have used Picasa to make web photo galleries with it. While that has been cool, it doesn’t provide tags, ratings, or user comments on any of your pictures. Flickr does all this, and more, in style.

It has finally caught my attention and I have started using it. I must say that I really like it. The site is snappy, clean, and easy to use. Adding contacts and controlling the sharing of your photos is simple and clearly defined. The slideshows are cool, and viewing multiple sizes of any single picture is easy. Viewing the full-sized version of any large photo is only allowed on Pro accounts ($24 annually). Still, with the free account, my photos can be viewed up to 1024×768, which is just fine by me. One bummer is that free accounts are limited to 100 MB per month for uploads. I can’t find any specific limits on your overall disk use, however. For now, I am sticking with the free version.

I still need to download an uploader to make things easier. At the moment, I am still adding pictures one-by-one. That is been okay for my trials, but to really upload a “roll” of film would be ridiculous doing it this way. Still, I am very impressed with the site. After years of making Photoshop and Picasa web galleries, and using sites like Shutterfly, I am now comfortably using Flickr and my #1 choice. I surely recommend it.

What Is Your Start Page?

I don’t like to have my browser’s default start page linked to a complex website. I like to keep my start page very lean. In fact, I used to use nothing at all, opting for a simple “about:blank” in Firefox, which brought up an empty browser window every time I loaded the program. I also have gone through phases where I use google.com or yahoo.com. Google is a terrific choice, but since I have the Google search box on my toolbar, I don’t necessarily need to see the Google page itself. The problem with Yahoo is that the home page is very complex and while it probably only takes an extra second to load, I don’t want to deal with all that right out of the gate.

If you like a simple page, like Google’s page, but also want a couple of important news headlines on the screen, try making your start page search.yahoo.com. I much prefer Google as a search engine, but this is just for something to look at when I load the browser. Yahoo Search has an extremely basic, clean page with a few links to the top news headlines so that you don’t miss anything important, as well as indicators from Yahoo Mail. I have my browser set to Yahoo Search for now, though I am bound to change it without notice.

Yahoo Widgets

I love using Yahoo Widgets. Since I tried it out a while back, I have gone through periods of using it and other periods of not using it. I am back to using it now and and I haven’t wanted to look back. Using widgets makes the desktop look cool and flashy, but it is only worthwhile if you get something productive out of it. Personally, I use the weather widget, memory usage widget, WiFi signal widget, the analog clock, and a Gmail notifier widget. There are reportedly thousands of widgets available. You can set the transparency of each widget on the desktop. Every open widget runs as a separate system process, so don’t go overboard when you start adding them.

I just found out today that version 4 has been released (4.01 being the latest). I have upgraded and it claims to use less system memory than version 3. Also, there is a new widget dock that previews your open widgets in small form. Whether you care to use the dock is your preference. I am using XP, but Yahoo Widgets is also available for the Mac. Of course, Mac OS X and Windows Vista both have built-in widget support, so I don’t know how useful Yahoo Widgets will be on those systems. Still, Yahoo claims to have the most widgets compared to the competition. A lot of them are ridiculous and have practically no use whatsoever, but the ones that are really useful soon become hard to live without. I’m hooked…again.