About the gmail thing, last time I checked, you need to be invited. if this is still the case, if you email me (use my ECN screen name)@gmail.com, I will invite you as long as you've been a member of ECN since Jan 1, 2006 (determined by your first post.) Just include "ECN Invite" in the subject line, or I might not get it. Currently, the only way to sign up without an invite is to have a mobile phone, and you might need one after a friend invite, I'm not sure, but I'll see what I can do.
P.S. I will also only invite if you pass my test as a credible member... as in no DIY or spammers.