Support the troops!
June 22, 2004 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Gmail 4 Troops! The idea of matching U.S. troops in need of a low-cost way to communicate with their friends, family, and other loved ones back home with those who have spare Gmail invitations is the brainchild of Wil Wheaton and Drew Olanoff. Gmail4Troops is their project, as a result of their inspiration. The sponsors here, including Whizardries and ISIPP, are here to help further and support Drew and Wil's project, and are honoured to be able to assist Wil and Drew, and to serve our troops serving overseas, and their loved ones back home, in this manner .
posted by konolia (41 comments total)
 
Why can't they just sign up for Yahoo or Hotmail? They need the 1Gig to trade those torture vids?
/troll
posted by stonerose at 5:31 PM on June 22, 2004


Why do they need to know the pay scale of the soldier to give them a Gmail account?
posted by dg at 5:41 PM on June 22, 2004


what stonerose said--it's not like they're lacking for internet-based email.
posted by amberglow at 5:43 PM on June 22, 2004


For that matter, the sign-up form asks for the soldier's .mil email address. Surely that's low-cost too? (If you don't count the lost limbs and spilled blood as costs, I mean.)

But hey - imagine the hilarity that would ensue when Google starts mining GI's emails and throwing back ads for Richard Clarke's book and Fahrenheit 911.
posted by stonerose at 6:05 PM on June 22, 2004


will someone tell me how this helps anyone? I guess next up it "Gmail for the Poor"

also, i hate wil wheaton
posted by bob sarabia at 6:05 PM on June 22, 2004


Actually, it might be very beneficial to historians. I have no idea of the legality of this (today or tomorrow) but imagine 75 or 100 years from now when pretty much all of us are dead and Google has a complete, threaded record of a huge amount of war correspondence. Perhaps the legal impediments to using it could never be overcome, but if they could, historians would flip for it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:22 PM on June 22, 2004


"will someone tell me how this helps anyone?"

Well, I've got these two invitations that I can't seem to give away elsewhere, so it helps me get rid of them.

Also, from GmailForTheTroops.com:

"Why Gmail? For the free storage. To you and me, the 4, 10 or even 100GB of other free email accounts means years of email, but if you are far away from home, that could be just a few dozen to a few hundred photos. Imagine having a new baby and having to delete early photos just to make room for new ones."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:33 PM on June 22, 2004


I'm sort of for "Gmail for everyone," but giving it to soldiers seems good too.

My only, non-partisan, non-political issue in any way is, aren't most troops provided internet access in the field? I was under the impression that stationed troops are only below college students in access to free high-speed internet.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:52 PM on June 22, 2004


I heard they get charged by the hour. Which really pisses me off.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:58 PM on June 22, 2004


Actually, at the air force bases over there, we can't access ANY of those free email guys (hotmail, yahoo, gmail, etc). We have to use military email accounts or do without. I'm not sure why.

But then we also can't access our blogs from air force computers.
posted by tcobretti at 7:33 PM on June 22, 2004


they block the sites, tcobretti? what's their excuse?
posted by amberglow at 7:44 PM on June 22, 2004


"To you and me, the 4, 10 or even 100GB of other free email accounts means years of email, but if you are far away from home, that could be just a few dozen to a few hundred photos."

Also, the Jenna From Survivor Totally Unscripted Oh My God How Did That Get On the Internet sex video is 170MB. Allegedly.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:46 PM on June 22, 2004


Why does Wil deserve bolding?
posted by Stynxno at 7:48 PM on June 22, 2004


Why do they need to know the pay scale of the soldier to give them a Gmail account?

So they can give them out to the higher-ranking people first. Because, you know, they are better and more deserving.
posted by beth at 7:50 PM on June 22, 2004


I've never been able to ascertain why they block the sites. When trying to access my hotmail, I get the same generic blocked page message I get when I try to access sites with objectionable content.
posted by tcobretti at 7:55 PM on June 22, 2004


Dude, that's harsh. I love dickssporting.
posted by stonerose at 7:59 PM on June 22, 2004


they must have the same weird blocking software as elementary schools, tcobretti (but made by Halliburton or something)
posted by amberglow at 8:10 PM on June 22, 2004


ah, it might be this, tcobretti (i still bet they paid more than retail tho)
posted by amberglow at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2004


Actually, at the air force bases over there, we can't access ANY of those free email guys (hotmail, yahoo, gmail, etc). We have to use military email accounts or do without. I'm not sure why.

I'm sure they can at least justify it to National Security. E-mail is a lot more easily hacked than written mail (do they screen written mail? I don't really know the process there). I'm sure the military's e-mail is well protected and possibly well-monitored.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:58 PM on June 22, 2004


I have a friend that works at the IRS, and they can't access webmail either. If I remember correctly, they aren't allowed webmail because people were opening attachments that came to their webmail and spreading viruses.
posted by Jart at 9:19 PM on June 22, 2004


wait a minute. if the government is blocking all webmail, wouldn't that make this whole thing a big waste of time?
posted by bob sarabia at 10:08 PM on June 22, 2004


bob sarabia: also, i hate wil wheaton

What, he pissed in your cornflakes or something?
posted by chuq at 10:43 PM on June 22, 2004


Erm, gmail will be for everybody. Although, it may just be that google is sticking with the invite system so that people 'cherish' their gmail, making access to the system desireable.
posted by delmoi at 10:59 PM on June 22, 2004


Why do they need to know the pay scale of the soldier to give them a Gmail account?

So they can give them out to the higher-ranking people first. Because, you know, they are better and more deserving.

Well, that was my first thought also. I can't think of any other reason.
posted by dg at 11:05 PM on June 22, 2004


Erm, gmail will be for everybody. Although, it may just be that google is sticking with the invite system so that people 'cherish' their gmail, making access to the system desireable.

They're slowly building hype. The articles are building in the press. The invites are flowing freely. T-minus soon.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:08 PM on June 22, 2004


What, he pissed in your cornflakes or something

worse. he fucked my horse
posted by bob sarabia at 11:11 PM on June 22, 2004


this is totally stupid. If the soldiers aren't internet savvy enough to scam their own invites then they simply don't deserve a gmail account.
They can all go to hell.
posted by mary8nne at 12:14 AM on June 23, 2004


worse. he fucked my horse

Much worse: he didn't fuck that shape-shifting bitch when he had his chance in holodeck 2.

Insipid, goody-two-shoes sentiment + the intarweb... and you're telling me it's all on WilWheaton.net? Intriguing, captain.

Well, it's probably a good idea, considering 1GB of hard disk space costs the military $7,130.
posted by scarabic at 12:19 AM on June 23, 2004


This little guesture is nice and quite, but I can't help but feel this is yet another bullshit "I really care" antic from Wesley. I have family over there. They don't give a fucking shit about gmail. This is patronization, pure and simple, and if he really gave a shit, he'd be sending care packages. Personal letters. Talking to families. Not a goddamn email account. Goodnight vietnam! The Rumple Minze has been kind.
posted by angry modem at 12:24 AM on June 23, 2004


quaint
posted by angry modem at 12:24 AM on June 23, 2004


The Army requires all soldiers to have an Army Knowledge Online (AKO) account which is 50 MB in size. I have to assume that the other branches have similar programs in place.

Whether or not the individual soldier will have internet access while in the Big Sandy or Stan depends on their location, but for the most part, yeah, they have access. It may not be for long because a lot of soldiers will use one machine but through land lines and wireless/satellite access, they can get to the web.

The use of rank is probably an identifier, nothing more. They use their rank every day, they get called it at the hospital, when eating, they are sometimes greeted by it (Hey, Sarge...man, that meatloaf looks sad. Tell your colon I'm sorry) and it is on all official correspondence. I mean, it's displayed on their uniform.

I've approached some soldiers and they seems to think that the 50MB the Army gives them is just fine.

As to access to web based email accounts, this policy is generally decided at a local Signal Battalion level, as opposed to Army Reg. They mainly limit web based emails because they are an easy entry point for all manner of icky things that make Department of Army computers go boom and they hate it when a computer with sensitive material gets a virus. Their weird like that.
posted by Dagobert at 12:58 AM on June 23, 2004


Man, I would hate to be the tech help guy for the army.
posted by scarabic at 2:22 AM on June 23, 2004


The use of rank is probably an identifier, nothing more.
Except that they don't ask for rank, they ask for pay level. Is that the same thing in all cases?
posted by dg at 3:38 AM on June 23, 2004


as we were discussing last night,

looks like they need something a little more vital than gmail, actually -- like, any spare windshields, helicopter rotor blades, power radios, computers, laser range finders, night-vision goggles. stuff like that

but after all, since so many of them are stuck there, forbidden to leave the Army due to the overwhelming success of the Iraqi cakewalk (you gotta love the chutzpah of those sneaky stop-loss orders, I guess), even a more than slightly creepy, free e-mail service they probably can't use anyway (as others have pointed out, they can often use only their .mil accounts) is better than nothing.

I insist, if at all possible, send them rotor blades or goggles instead of g-mail invitations


but I guess for some people it just feels good to pretend to be all patriotic without lifting one's butt from one's computer chair.

posted by matteo at 3:54 AM on June 23, 2004


or that body armor stuff for all the reservists stuck there.
posted by amberglow at 5:30 AM on June 23, 2004


Why do you people have to crap on everything?

Geez, some people go out of their way to try to help the troops and the endless mocking of the idea and the people begins.

Sure it would be great if we could send over replacement helicopter blades, but most of us are fresh out.

My buddies that are deployed tell me that it's not so much the stuff that people send over that they like, it's the fact that people are thinking about them.
posted by Argyle at 9:40 AM on June 23, 2004


this is totally stupid. If the soldiers aren't internet savvy enough to scam their own invites then they simply don't deserve a gmail account.
They can all go to hell.


Have Wil and Drew considered letting those troops that can access the net try their luck at GmailSwap? Kinda sounds like a waste of space [no offense to our troops]... I'm not positive, but I'd bet the last thing the troops are concerned about is how much free space they have for e-mail - or whether they have e-mail.

matteo has it... give them something useful - some sort of survival enhancing tools, a care package, something.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 10:19 AM on June 23, 2004


A guy I know online who is deployed signed up on his end but his computer blocked him from signing up for gmail. Government 'puters do block all kinds of interesting things.

Rats.

On the other hand, maybe we can all put our collective heads together and come up with something that would be cool.
posted by konolia at 11:07 AM on June 23, 2004


Maybe you could all stop hyping gmail. It's far worse than any spyware!
posted by giantkicks at 1:09 PM on June 23, 2004


I offered up some of my invites. Someone in the Army cared enough to say "Hey, that'd be great, I appreciate it." I gave him an invite. I'm pretty sure this won't get me into heaven. I'm still glad I did it.

It's very kind of you all to decide what a soldier really wants and needs, but I think I'm more comfortable letting them decide, you know?
posted by Bryant at 1:50 PM on June 23, 2004


If gmail was my only provider I'd be concerned. But it ain't.

Besides, if you don't want people to read it, don't put it in writing, period.
posted by konolia at 3:07 PM on June 23, 2004


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