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Topic: use of HTML (off-topic) (23 msgs / 552 lines)
1) From: Prabhakar Ragde
I don't know who this "we" is you are referring to -- HTML was
invented by a scientist (Tim Berners-Lee) at CERN in Switzerland to
structure text into "hypertext" so as to facilitate transfer of
information among scientists. And yes, a lot of the initial work was
done on UNIX systems, because that is what most academics and
researchers use. But it was not originally intended for e-mail
use. E-mail has been plaintext-based for decades. 
But after the invention of the graphical browser caused an explosion
in Web development and use, and HTML was unilaterally extended by
software companies (Netscape, Microsoft) to take formatting control
away from the reader and give it to the writer, these same companies
started putting HTML capabilities into their e-mail readers (either
standalone or as part of a browser), as a way of making e-mail more
compelling and attractive by formatting it in something other than a
fixed-width font. Much of the cost (a considerable increase in the
size of the average message, sent both in plaintext and in much longer
HTML) was hidden from both readers and writers using the new
HTML-capable systems.
The power of UNIX/Linux, however, derives from its combination
of a sequential command-line interface together with a windowing
system to be used basically only when needed. Users used to going
quickly through their mail with a few keystrokes saw no reason to go
to the slower point-and-click interface of an HTML-capable reader just
to deal with a few messages from people leaving the default "send mail
in HTML format" setting unchanged, buried among reams of visually
annoying and sometimes downright dangerous commercial spam.
So here we stand, with two worlds uneasily mixing. Perhaps the rise of
text messaging on cellphones will remind users of the joy of plain
content, though I suspect companies are feverishly working on HTML
messaging in order to increase their revenues. My children, just
starting to use e-mail, have had all this explained to them, and
warned not to say yes when their point-and-click reader says "Message
received in HTML format. Reply in HTML?" (plus they have been taught
to trim down the quoted message as much as possible, and other simple
e-etiquette). If children under ten can learn these lessons, I don't
see why adults can't. --PR
Prabhakar Ragde, Professor/Assoc Chair (Curric)    plragde
School of Computer Science                 DC 1314, (519)888-4567,x4660
Faculty of Mathematics                 Waterloo, Ontario CANADA N2L 3G1
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2) From: Rick Farris
Prabhakar wrote:
Adults can , Prab, but the question is, why should they?  Your first
statement about two worlds is more appropriate.  Early last century there
were areas where automobiles were banned from the roads because they scared
horses, and besides they were wasteful, noisy, obnoxious things.
I've been in the email business since 1977.  For many years I offered a
public access (Unix) email/Usenet system.  I was adamant about the use of
plain text.  But times change.  It's very clear to me that the future of
email is some form of rich text.  Probably HTML or a derivative.
You mentioned that some people want to use a command-line interface to deal
with email.  Perhaps the solution to the problem is not to ban HTML, but for
you computer scientists to create mail user agents that transparently
convert HTML to plain text.  Otherwise you're just saying that cars can't
drive on the road because there are still a few horse and buggies out there.
-- Rick
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3) From: Gary Zimmerman
Rick Farris wrote:
That sounds like a fairly easy thing to write, but I'm no programmer.  But 
since you can just copy HTML-formatted text from your browser and paste it 
into Notepad to end up with plain text, it seems reproducing these 
operations in a program would be very do-able for someone who knows how.
The problem is reading your email in plain text when the sender EXPECTS you 
to see the formatting.  That's happened to me before when email traveling 
between emailers lost all formatting.  I'd get messages that said "blah 
blah blah... see the bold text" or "the blue text", and I wouldn't have a 
clue which text they meant!
-- garyZ
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4) From: Rick Farris
Gary wrote:
The problem is not really on the PC end, or even on any machine with a
windowed operating system, but rather on text based devices, which don't
have clipboards or Notepads.
But you're right, it would be *darned* simple to make text-based mail user
agents strip HTML.  There was a time when most machines were text-based.
After that, there was a time when many machines were text based.  Back then,
it was reasonable to cater to them.  Now it's a rare occurrence to find a
non-windowed computer.  Why should we cater to one machine out of 100, even
if that one owner is very strident?
-- Rick
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5) From: Ed Needham
Very interesting.  What a way to welcome yourself into the group.  welcome!
Ed Needham

6) From: John Blumel
On Sat, 3 Aug 2002 10:49:05 -0700, Rick Farris wrote:
A. Your 1 in 100 number is pulled out of thin air.
B. Respecting the concerns of minorities of any kind is essential to
the maintenance of the fabric of our society -- be it the Internet or
any free, democratic nation -- and it is the very arrogance and total
disregard for the problems and concerns of others that decreases the
quality of life on- and off-line. The idea that those who ask to not be
trod upon by the majority are trouble makers and that it is
unreasonable for them to request consideration is an antisocial
rationalization. Where have we come to when the accepted standard of
behavior is that anything goes except asking your neighbor to not make
your life miserable by their actions?
C. If one insists on knowingly using HTML email on a mailing list,
please subscribe to the digest version of the list to fully appreciate
the effects of your actions. The digests of this list are completely
unusable because the HTML posts end up as unrendered HTML code embedded
in a plain text digest. This is likely a problem for both those who use
plain text email clients and those using HTML enabled clients. 'Smart'
clients that strip HTML  are not the answer as they would not
'perceive' the digest as HTML encoded. Clearly the best answer -- short
of people making an effort to be considerate -- would be for the list
server to strip the HTML from all messages and there are at least a
couple of utilities designed to work with Mailman that will do so.
(See,http://www.python.org/cgi-bin/faqw-mm.pyand search for 'MIME'.)
John Blumel
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7) From: Rick Farris
John wrote:
You're quite the straw man artist, John.  Those "minorities" you're
referring to above, are the poor, the people of color, the handicapped.
What we're discussing here, with respect to HTML, is the geek, who *decides*
to be a minority by using some non-mainstream OS or mail user agent.
Who's done that?  Who are you speaking to?  What the hell are you talking
And you'd know a lot about that, wouldn't you?
You *choose* to use some antique mail software and then go around making
life miserable for the majority of users because your choice is not
compatible with everyone else?  And then you blame us?  Where have we come
to, indeed?
-- Rick
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8) From: jim gundlach
On Saturday, August 3, 2002, at 04:50 PM, Rick Farris wrote:
That is not all that is involved.  Posting the HTML also makes 
subscribing to the digest version and using the archives difficult.  I 
think the archives are a great resource for current and future members 
of the list and people who insist on posting HTML after being told about 
it and even getting detailed instructions on how to quit are being about 
as neighborly and the drunk who pisses in the elevator.
Jim Gundlach
roasting in La Place, Alabama
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9) From: Mike McGinness
That plus the bandwidth issue. I happen to use email software that HTML
works fine but don't use HTML because of associated problems for others.  I
have 1.8Mbps average fasssst Internet Access but some people don't have that
luxury. HTML etc does take much more bandwidth. When I travel with my Laptop
and am limited to dial up HTML size messages are a pain in the butt (as in
slower than snails to download) so I empathize... It'd be nice if high speed
access  was everywhere but such is not the reality.
Home Ju-Ju Variable Variac Rockin' Rosto Roasting in Vancouver, WA USA
From: "jim gundlach" 
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10) From: Rick Farris
Jim wrote:
As that other guy pointed out, there is software available (for the
digester) to strip HTML before it is placed in the digest.  That seems
eminently reasonable to me.
Now Jim, no need to be unneighborly and call names.  :-)
I'm certain that the horse-owners thought the people with automobiles were
being damned unneighborly, also.  Especially after they explained to the
autophiles exactly why they were such a bad idea, and those damned drivers
insisted on scaring their horses.
Personally, I have chosen a middle ground: I reply in the format that I
-- Rick
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11) From: Rick Farris
Mike wrote:
The bandwidth issue is a red herring for end users.
Even Wendy gets a 44kbit connection.  Using her example of an email taking
8kbits using HTML instead of 2kbits for plain text, that means a message
would take 45 milliseconds for text or 180 ms for HTML (actually much
shorter due to compression).  At an average list volume of 40 messages a
day, that's a total of 1.8 minutes to download text or 7.27 minutes for
Back in the days of UUCP, when mail was transferred by short hops from
system to system via phone lines over 2400 bps modems (with the occasional
19k Telebit Trailblazer thrown in), small systems could be overwhelmed by
the volume of mail from thousands of users.  That's back when *you, Mike*
would have been skinned alive for cavalierly dumping in the entire message
you're replying to, instead of trimming it down to the bare necessity to
provide context.
Those days are gone, though.
-- Rick
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12) From: Mike McGinness
From: "Rick Farris" 
Maybe for most end users, your statement seems to assume all end users are
the same.
  At an average list volume of 40 messages a
Using your estimates (40msgs per day on this list is often a low est. BTW!)
that would be roughly 5.5min day difference, or 165min a month. Let's just
say 3hrs. Some people on a tight budget have limited dial-up plans, going
over and a per minute rate goes into effect. Forgetting the monetary aspect,
that's roughly 3hrs extra per month wasted waiting for email to download.
Home Ju-Ju Variable Variac Rockin' Rosto Roasting in Vancouver, WA USA
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13) From: Prabhakar Ragde
I have a desktop with a 22" LCD display at work, two very recent Mac
and Windows laptops, a desktop at home with a 19" LCD display, and I
read my e-mail while travelling on whatever computer is handy. All are
windowed. Yet I use a telnet window to read mail in a 80x36 window in
the Emacs text editor. Others use Pine. Why?  Because text-based
connections to a server are cheap and fast. A remote windowing
connection sends every mouse shiver, and scads of information every
time a window is redrawn. By centralizing, I ensure consistency among
all those different machines, no dropped mail, and the ability to read
my email from just about any system that can connect to the Internet.
You have yet to specify a single advantage of sending HTML mail. For
just about all the messages you send to and receive from individuals
(as opposed to corporations), plain text mail (which is formatted to
look nice by windowed readers) will look identical.
The pissing in the elevator analogy was a little extreme. Here's a
more accurate one.
Me: I think your trash compactor isn't set up right -- there's raw
trash coming down the conveyor belt, and it's piling up in the
street. It's quite unsightly.
Neighbour: That's because you don't have a new house with opaque
Me: I like my house, and I've lived here for twenty years. You just
moved in. But that's not the point. I think you forgot to put a roll
of bags in that compactor. Then the garbage gets bundled, and the city
will pick it up.
Neighbour: I don't see why I should lift a finger when you can't be
bothered to get opaque windows.
I won't belabour this. And yes, being a computer scientist, I could
spend a few hours writing a filter that would strip out HTML, even in
digests. (A few hours because I'd have to learn how to configure
procmail, find some PERL code somewhere, and test it out.) I'm willing
to do this if someone can come up with a good reason for me to do
this (or a good reason to make Tom figure out how to do something like
this), as opposed to having posters just go into the options for their
mail agent and turn off HTML, something that will make absolutely no
difference to them as far as I can see. 
--PR, who forgot to roast today, and is not looking forward to tomorrow
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14) From: Wendy Austin & Thomas Oswin
On 4/8/02 2:50, "Rick Farris"  wrote:
Rick, what a load of nonsense you speak.  Your carry on has almost and I
repeat almost, made me sorry I even mentioned it, however everyone else on
this list seems quite happy to facilitate my small request, everyone except
you.  My choice of Email programme has nothing to do with my request to tur=
off HTML - refer to my very first Email where I listed the problems HTML ca=
create when used in Email.  No where have I said it caused problems because
of my Email programme.
In fact,  Email programme I am using on my (Apple Mac) Titanium PowerBooks
is written by Micro$oft.
Just one question for you though Rick, the geek you refer to in your quoted
paragraph above, does that refer to me as a user of Apple Mac and their OS?
If so, I thank you because no one has ever referred to me as a geek before
and I have always wanted to be one :-)
Wendy Austin & Thomas Oswin
Coastal Road
Mauritius Island
Tel/ans/fax  (230) 6257399
Mobile  (230) 2560182   
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15) From: Wendy Austin & Thomas Oswin
On 4/8/02 5:16, "Mike McGinness"  wrote:
Thanks for working that out for me Mike.  Rick, just send me your address
and I will send you the bill mate.
Wendy Austin & Thomas Oswin
Coastal Road
Mauritius Island
Tel/ans/fax  (230) 6257399
Mobile  (230) 2560182   
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16) From: Rick Farris
PR wrote:
I think that pretty much puts you in that 1%, doesn't it?
I'm tired of this topic and won't post anymore on it.  I think everyone
knows where everyone else stands now.
But let me ask you one question: Have you ever posted an ON TOPIC message to
this system? :-)
-- Rick
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17) From: EuropaChris
I agree with Jim.  I don't give a rat's patoot about HTML.  All of my readers don't care and I post in text, anyway.  But, when I try to dig up old stuff in archives, the HTML drives me NUTS!!!  I think HTML is a waste of bandwidth, and a waste of time.
I'm a 'geek' by nature.  I hate Microtrash and anything to do with it.  However, I'm too lazy to set up a Linux machine, I don't want a Mac, and I use computers all day at work, so the last thing I want to do is screw around at home with these idiot boxes as a 'hobby'.  I can see both sides of this argument.  I like plain text.  It's fast and easy.  But, if people insist on using HTML, let them, and just blow it away automatically at the server level.  Done, finito, end of subject.
My vote is to drop this whole pi$$ing match, and have Tom see about putting HTML filtering in the server to blow away all this panty waist 'formatting' before it ever hits the mail list.
Tom, you listening????
I'm starting to get very weary of plowing through this bull$hit.  We've had this discussion too many times here.  Let's put an end to it forever.
jim gundlach  wrote:
Your favorite stores, helpful shopping tools and great gift ideas. Experience the convenience of buying online with Shop!http://webmail.netscape.com/homeroast mailing listhttp://lists.sweetmarias.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroast">http://shopnow.netscape.com/Get your own FREE, personal Netscape Mail account today athttp://webmail.netscape.com/homeroast mailing listhttp://lists.sweetmarias.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroast

18) From: Mark Prince
At 03:41 PM 03/08/2002, you wrote:
Agreed completely.
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19) From: Mark Prince
At 10:33 PM 03/08/2002, you wrote:
You know, the man made some really valid points, which you decided not to 
address for whatever reason. Instead you take the low road.
Prabhakar has made some very nice posts to this mailing list, very on 
topic, and at times thought provoking and enlightening.
I'll end the discussion on html emails here as well, for fear of starting 
up some sort of flame war. Suffice to say you've been asked to stop the 
html postings. Whether you do or not is your choice of course. It's also a 
matter of being sensitive and respecting the wishes of others who would 
prefer to keep a half dozen fonts, fifteen different CSS tags, and a 
variety of other formatting garbage out of their email. Again, the choice 
is yours.
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20) From: Dan Bollinger
ENOUGH, ALREADY !!!    :( 
Puleeze, can we get back to coffee?  I'm dying for a cup.  ;)  
Dan, from HTML-free Indiana
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21) From: jim gundlach
On Sunday, August 4, 2002, at 04:10 AM, Chris Beck wrote:
My guess is that he is tied up with getting ready to move.  I'd much 
rather he spend his time getting the pages together for the moving sale 
than spend it on installing HTML stripping software.
By the way I'm just about to taste my first bracketed and profiled 
roast.   It has only been resting about 28 hours but I've run out of 
anything rested longer.
Jim Gundlach
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22) From: EskWIRED
There is no doubt in my mind, Wendy.  You are a complete and total geek.
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23) From: Lee XOC
< [mailto:homeroast-admin]On Behalf Of
< jim gundlach
< Sent: Sunday, August 04, 2002 6:32 AM
< My guess is that he is tied up with getting ready to move.
< I'd much
< rather he spend his time getting the pages together for the
< moving sale
< than spend it on installing HTML stripping software.
< By the way I'm just about to taste my first bracketed and profiled
< roast.   It has only been resting about 28 hours but I've
< run out of anything rested longer.
So I guess if you bracket your roasts then you must be in favor of
html.... ;))
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Lee xoC
San Diego,
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