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Google aims to save mail users from themselves

Google aims to save mail users from themselves

A conscionable bartender should stop people from driving drunk, but if not, there's always the police. So who will stop you from e-mailing while intoxicated? Good old Google, that's who.

The idea was the brainstorm of Google software engineer Jon Perlow, who wrote to a former girlfriend while under the influence, asking to rekindle their relationship. Conveniently, he doesn't describe the outcome in his most recent blog post (Epic Fail?), but he does announce a new Google Labs project to help you avoid similar embarrassment.

His project, Gmail Goggles, is an optional test feature that kicks in during specified times (by default, late weekend nights) to prevent a user from sending out an e-mail they may regret -- like e-mailing an old girlfriend to get back together.

Once they've activated the option, Mail Goggles asks a would-be, late-night e-mailer to solve a series of simple math problems within an allotted time. If they can't answer the questions, or get them wrong, the message won't send. (Considering how easy they are, anyone who gets the questions wrong better be drunk. Additionally, the program has no actual idea of a user's state, so if you fail while sober, you won't get the ridicule you so richly deserve.)

The name is a take-off of the term "beer goggles," which has two uses: the more common use is to be in a state of such intoxication that even an unattractive person looks good, while the lesser-known usage is a pair of goggles used by police departments for people to wear to simulate drunkenness, educating drivers on how difficult it is to operate a car while under the influence.

This is the latest in several add-ons from Google Labs for Gmail. Email Addict forces users to take a break from work by regularly shutting out e-mail and chat for 15 minutes at a time.

Then there's Xoopit, a plug-in that lets you search your inbox for photos, videos and files, and which can be accessed from a toolbar in your Gmail inbox. You can search for all files, or for pictures from a certain person, for example.

By Andy Patrizio

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