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Gmail's 'terminal' theme is a funny time warp

November 19, 2008 |  4:24 pm

Gmail terminalGmail released its new set of graphical 'themes' today (access them by going to the Themes tab under Settings -- it might take a day or two to appear on everyone's account). I don't know, I think maybe I'm too jaded to have a lot of fun changing background colors. The old thrill (and I mean, at this point, 20 years old) of seeing a close-up photo of pebbles, waves or outer space appear magically on the screen, is mostly gone for me. 

But perhaps by the same token, I was tickled to see the 'terminal' theme, a nod to old-school computer geeks who remember the tribulations of  text-based e-mail -- the lost drafts, the accidentally deleted missives, the premature sends. Pine, anyone? 

Don't get me wrong -- you can do plenty of neat things with text. Check out this cool text-art generator. And then there are crazy text paintings like these. But when it comes to e-mail, I think we're all comfortable with the direction in which things are headed.

(Plus the 'terminal' thing is a pretty flimsy facade -- when you get an e-mail with graphics or images in it, the whole illusion is kind of ruined.)

But congrats to the Googler who came up with this one. It's sort of like a built-in history lesson for these spoiled young whippersnappers who've had life served to them on a GUI platter.

— David Sarno