World Communication: Email

John Heelan wrote: I would be grateful if WAISers did not include very large files (such as pictures or videos) in their messages, as they consume enormous amounts of transmission time for those of us on dial-up serial lines. From the UK, George Sassoon says: Quite right too.  I agree with John Heelan.  I have at least two addresses
in the U.K. and can't afford to pay for broad-band on all of them. And in the Isle of Mull it is so remote that we are lucky to have dial-up, let alone anything more advanced.  If it can't be said in a page, give locations where
we can download further information if we want it.

Mike Sullivan says: I have empathy for John and George, but, if the file is long or needs a picture to make the point, we should continue to send it.  Otherwise you are restricting the flow of information that other WAISers deem important and that WAISers with the increased capability are able to view.  There is always the delete key.

Martin Storey sides with those who object to long files: I empathize with John and George, and General Sullivan is ill-informed.  Most of the world outside the richer parts receive email via a dial up POP server.  Messages can only be deleted (or indeed, learnt of) after they are downloaded.  It can take a long time to download large files, and the telephone can be quite expensive (e.g. when I am in Syria I can only log on by making an international call to Lebanon – a few minutes costs more than 10 USD).  There are workarounds, like filters, abstention, etc∑ but none works as well as good etiquette.  There are alternatives to sending large files too: for instance posting them on a website or FTP site.

RH: This is very important, since we cannot discourage WAISers in poorer countries by creating a financial burden for them.  There is also a personal factor. It takes me a long time to format often poorly proofread submissions, and there is just not of my time for long submissions of which just the first two screens will be read.  Brevity is the soul of wit, concision of WAISdom.

Christopher Jones writes:I am afraid that I must join John Heelan and George Sassoon and insist that such enormous files be no longer sent.  General Sullivan should know that you cannot use the delete key until the file is downloaded which was more than a quarter hour, after breaking the phone line twice.  I was suspicious that it carried a virus so I deleted the file without opening it. Normal netiquette would require prior notification for such a transmission.  As for the flow of information that other WAISers deem important, my own flow has been reduced a month-long wait, so I think we'll all get by without pics. Note on the trustworthiness of pictures: General Sullivan once sent a picture of a large "camel spider" a Godzilla-sized XXL insect that was held up for the camera by a US soldier.  Well, it turns out that there is no such thing as a "camel spider."  The picture was a [by now, a well publicized] hoax, and the spider has joined WMD, the uranium story and the sinking of the USS Maine as the beast that never was.

RH: The delay in posting submissions is due to the time spent going through a mass of e-mails, selecting those which are relevant and editing them because of poor proof-reading, and eliminating the rest.

Gordon Jackson writes: Would it be practical to send both a complete and an abridged version, or, as another reader has suggested, include a link for further information?

RH: The first suggestion is too much work.  The second is excellent- Whenever possible, send the URL of ab article for those who want to see the complete text.

RAndy Black writes: I too am on a dial-up modem, since high speed is not available in my Dallas-area suburb. More than once, I have had the problems with large downloads that other WAISers are speaking about and I share their concerns.
One trick I have learned with photos is to downsize them as much as possible to perhaps 2 inches by 3 inches by 72 dots per inch, and or to degrade them from color to black and white. Most of the photos that I have sent recently, as with the one of US Congressman Sam Johnson after he was released from the Viet Cong prison camp, or the one with Jane Fonda firing a North Vietnamese cannon, clock in as 33 kb or less. That‚s 33 kilobytes, which is about what a normal email would measure.
I just resent both of those to myself, and even with my slow (50k) dial up, the time needed was about five seconds. No photos is new rule? So be it.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: February 27, 2005