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Re: Why?

On Thu, 21 Jan 1999 21:54:17 -0500 James B Sibley <compute-x@juno.com> wrote:

> Why am i getting messages like this? Thanx in advance.
> James
> WWVwLCBzdWRkZW5seSBJIGFtIGFsc28gYWxzbyBhbHNvIGFsc28gcnJycnJpaXBwLg0KDQpTb3Jy
> cm9tOiBvd25lci1BTVNBVC1CQkBBTVNBVC5PcmcgW21haWx0bzpvd25lci1BTVNBVC1CQkBBTVNB
> VC5PcmddT24NCkJlaGFsZiBPZiBEYXZlIE11bGxlbml4DQpTZW50OiBTYXR1cmRheSwgRmVicnVh

[remainder deleted for brevity]


Although I don't know for sure, I would expect the most
likely reason is that someone was genuinely trying to
be efficient and courteous.  --   Just a guess.

There is a technique known as "MIME" encoding which
takes a large file (usually lengthy text) and compresses
it into a much smaller package for transmission.
This is much more efficient for people who pay for their
datacommunication service on a time-basis (which, from
the complaints which float across this listserve, is
apparently a decent portion of AMSAT-listserv subscribers),
or for those with slower modems, or just for those that
want to minimize traffic and download times (many of the
rest of us).  The smaller, MIME-encoded (compressed) file
takes up a small fraction of the space occupied by
standard text.

MIME-encoded data is binary.  Email software's  default 
is expecting ASCII, so your email package is probably
interpreting every eight bits of that data as an ASCII character
(letter of the alphabet) and displaying it on the screen.

MIME-encoded data, to save space, does not use eight bits
to represent letters... a letter might only require two,
four, or five bits, depending on a LOT of factors.)

Almost all email programs (juno might be an exception, I don't
know for sure) have the ability to decode MIME-encoded
content.  Check your email menu options for something that
looks like "Extract enclosure", "decode content", 
"MIME operations", "decompress contents", "expand
content" or something similar.  It might be hidden under
a "Tools" menu, or an "Options" menu.  On Simeon, it is
under the "Message" menu.

A few of the more sophisticated email programs
will automatically recognize MIME-encoded content and
will automatically decode it and display it correctly
with no action required by the user.
That is why some of us may never have encountered this
situation or have any idea of what is happening.

Of course, there is a chance that, if you are using
a very simplistic email program, it may not have the
ability to decode MIME content at all -- sort of like trying
to listen to FM packet with an HW-9, or to SSB
with a crystal set.

Bottom line:  although I don't know this for sure,
it sounds like a thoughtful listserv poster was
genuinely trying to be efficient and courteous to
what he or she thought was the majority, and overlooked
those who might not be as up-to-date/sophisticated/
progressive/liberal/knowlegeable/*rich*/  (insert
your favorite compliment, slur, or expletive here), etc. 

(Of course, if history is any indication, my attempt to
answer your question will now initiate a long list of 
posts claiming, erroneously, that I'm advocating everyone
buy the lastest and greatest software, followed by replies 
suggesting that everyone stay in the dark ages so the
least-common denominator will have his/her democratic rights,
followed by others claiming that satellite user,s of all 
people, should stay abreast of current technology, etc. etc. 
and we'll have another couple hundred or so useless opinions to 
wade through tomorrow afternoon.)


Hope this helps explain what you are seeing.

David R. Fordham
CPA, CMA, Ph.D.,
James Madison University
School of Accounting ZSH 334
Mail Stop Code 0203
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
E-mail:  fordhadr@jmu.edu
Homepage:  http://cob.jmu.edu/fordhadr/
Voice:  540-568-3024
Fax:    540-568-3017

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