1. What information about a user’s email, the origin of a message, and the path it took, can you glean from an email message?
A lot of information is contained within email headers, most of which is not usually of interest to the sender or recipient but which does identify the individual message, how it should be interpreted by the mail reader, and the path it took to get from one machine to the other. Viewing the properties of various emails I have received, the following information can be ascertained:
- Sender’s email address: this includes information about the domain the email was sent from, which may also further locate the sender to a specific company or institution.
- The list of servers the email passed through: the path the message took from server to server should be recorded by each server.
- Content type: the email reader needs to know how the message was encoded and how to interpret the email on arrival
- Referencing information: where the email, for example, is sent as “Reply to” the original message is referenced.
- Email program: the program used to generate the email can be identified (which can also often identify the operating system being used).
- Miscellaneous: various other pieces of information can be appended at various stages. Commonly, these indicate various virus filters the message has passed.
It should be noted, however, that some information in emails can be faked (Shinder: Understanding E-mail Spoofing, retrieved 5 December 2007) and that groups such as spammers and phishers will use various methods to obfuscate their trails.
2. In what cases would you find it useful to use the ‘cc’, ‘bcc’ and ‘reply all’ functions of email?
Carbon Copies (cc) send a copy of an email to other parties, not the primary recipient of the email. This can be useful where other people have an interest in the subject of the email but are not directly concerned with it (in a company for example, where contract negotiations are being confirmed, the department affected could be notified as a courtesy).
Blind Carbon Copies (bcc) are useful for sending bulk emails where you do not want the recipients to be identified to all the other recipients (which would occur using ‘cc’). An example would be for company mailing lists to customers.
Reply All can be misused, and is only acceptable where the reply you are sending is, in fact, relevant to all parties who have received the email. A company decision that affects everyone, would be appropriate. Asking an individual a personal question would not.
3. In what ways can you ensure that an attachment you send will be easily opened by the receiver?
Lowest Common Denominator is the best approach for sending attachments, since the nature of the internet makes a user’s operating system, configuration, and mail program transparent to the sender. Plain text should be accessible by all users.
Where this is not possible common formats are more likely to be opened successfully. It is likely that your recipient can view a jpg image since these are so prevalent.
Less common formats become less likely to be viewed by your recipient. I certainly don’t appreciate receiving multi-megabyte Powerpoint files with the admonition “This is really funny!”. No. It’s not. Especially since I don’t have Powerpoint. Also, while I have Word installed, I don’t have Word 2007 and can’t open files saved in its native format.
If in doubt, check with your recipient first as to the format they would like it in. It is also a courtesy to note that the presence of the attachment and the format it is in (especially since some email filters will strip attachments before delivering email).
It might also be appropriate to compress large attachments to reduce download times, but this will depend on the format of the attachment. Common file types such as MP3, JPG and GIF may see little difference in file sizes since they are already compressed formats.
4. What sorts of filters or rules do you have set up, and for what purpose?
I only have a couple of rules set up. One recognises email from a mailing list and automatically forwards these messages on to a third party address who is interested in the content of the messages, but not in participating in the mailing list group.
The other is to identify email that contains “Megadick” or “Megadik” and moves these to the Deleted Items folder. Due to the constantly changing nature of spam, I find any filters to address the matter are imprecise, though a current surge of messages with either of these words is easily identifiable and consignable to the Deleted Items. Trying to sort other spam messages out still requires me to check them to make sure that no messages have been inadvertently misidentified, which rather seems to defeat the purpose of the filter. Instead, I prefer to receive all mail to the Inbox, rather than risk losing a genuine message. The human brain is still quicker at identifying true spam, and deleting it unopened. For instance, this message from “Jasmine” (a sender unknown to me), “Extraordinary Savings Wide-ranging Selection Curatives”, will be deleted without reading it.
5. How have you organised the folder structure of your email and why?
While I have experimented with various folders (such as “Spam”), as noted above I find these unhelpful. I currently run only with the default folders (Inbox, Outbox, Sent Items, Deleted Items, Drafts). I find it more efficient to hold currently actionable items in the Inbox together, and then either delete them when they are no longer required, or archive them to removable storage (the mailing list items, in particular, are archived under year and month folders).
As an aside, I have seen one machine with more than twenty email folders. The person in question had trouble finding his email since there were so many places it could be!
What are the pros and cons of email lists versus discussion boards?
Email lists have the advantages of being private since messages are only sent to members of the list; messages are delivered automatically to the members (and there is usually also an option to deliver these in a ‘digest’ format rather than individually). Their disadvantages include that certain parties can hijack the list or form cliques; there tends not to be any organisation of the information produced by the list, and it can be difficult locating specific information at a later date.
Discussion boards are more accessible and can usually be searched more easily; they can also be browsed anonymously. Disadvantages include that they attract more spam (particularly where the board is not properly moderated).
Are there certain kinds of communication or purposes more suited to one than the other?
Email lists and discussion boards, by their nature, tend to have a crossover in their purpose. There is no reason either cannot be used to run groups. Nonetheless, email lists would be better used for general discussions or to keep members up to date with new information, or for subjects that the members wish to keep private. They are also more appropriate to low volume postings so the members do not become inundated with messages. Discussion boards are often better for large scale postings, and especially to provide help or advice (particularly in technical areas or hardware/software issues).
I posted the following message to the newsgroup alt.comp.freeware:
From: “Solenoid Robot”
Subject: Re: Opera connect with Frontpage
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 11:50:13 +0800
X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2900.2180
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2900.2180
X-RFC2646: Format=Flowed; Response
X-Trace: dnews.tpgi.com.au!tpg.com.au 1197256309 184.108.40.206 (10 Dec 2007 14:11:49 +1100)
Xref: dnews.tpgi.com.au alt.comp.freeware:41858329
“LG” wrote in message
> Is there anyone who knows how to connect Opera web browser with Komozer or
> any other Web edit program like Frontpage.
> Can I have an icon at the top of the page and directly come to the web
> editor (like in Explorer).
Do you mean viewing the source?
Tools > Options > Advanced > Programs
There’s a button there to “Choose application to view source”. Click edit
and locate your web editor on your machine.
It should also be noted that I received my first item of spam the same day (presumably as a result of this post, since the email address had been specifically set up for this unit and had not been posted anywhere else).
After downloading the progam which download.com said was 11MB but was actually 13MB on a dialup connection (which shows another issue with the internet – not all users have the same sort of connection and while the size of this program might be of little concern to broadband users, it has a dramatic, and lengthy, impact on a dialup connection), I proceeded to install it. The installation program then downloaded some ‘Xtraz’ (which I suspect are probably just more eye candy) with no indication of the size of these. Luckily it only took fifteen minutes or so, after which ICQ was started and I logged in.
Searching for “advanced netstudies” I located a user with the UIN of 337293557 and the description “337293557 did not enter a description.” I was able to add this user to my list of contacts without any problems.
Edit: it appears that ICQ is rather temperamental about searching. From the WebCT discussion boards, other students have identified an ICQ account (257853416) who also has the display name of “Advanced Netstudies”. This ICQ account has the About information: “This is the ICQ identity I use just for my ‘advanced internet use’ students!”. Yet other students have been unable to get ICQ to identify any “Advanced netstudies” user. I was unable to locate this user through any searches (via Miranda IM, ICQ6, and the ICQ website), other than by putting the UIN in directly which, of course, means it is effectively hidden from me without the prior knowledge of its existence.
Investigating instant messaging clients further, since ICQ6 is so unwieldy and slow on my system (and since it refuses to allow me to view things like my contact list and history without first going online), I found a number of alternative programs which are multiprotocol, handling ICQ as well as other instant messaging services. Two of these programs are Trillian and Pidgin. I downloaded the latest versions of both of these and tried them out, but did not see any particular advantage in my situation (other than the obvious ability to chat to multiple services). Both of them are still very bulky downloads (around 10MB) and still slow on my system.
I then tried Miranda IM which was remarkably better than the other programs. Where ICQ installed around 40MB of files (and nearly 3000 separate files), Miranda IM took less than 2MB (and only 16 files). While the interface is more spartan than the other programs, it is much faster on my 733MHz system and doesn’t slow other programs down.
I had a chat with jax68 (see screenshot). We were both new to instant messaging, but the conversation worked with no problems.
While a lot of posters on the discussion board remarked that they haven’t used ICQ for years, ICQ is rated number 4 on Most Popular Downloads at download.com (accessed 17 Dec 2007) and had been there for 268 weeks.
Instant messaging is suitable for private conversations where both users are online at the same time (I initially had trouble finding another student online at the same time since I am only on the internet for a short time each day). It should be noted that it is not appropriate for sensitive information since it is generally not secure.
I used my browser (Opera) which has IRC built in to connect to the AUSTNET network. I was unable to locate a New User’s Guide (though there were a number of chatrooms for new users such as #newbies), but did locate this IRC Tutorial which provides a reference to using IRC and the commands to do so. I investigated the chatrooms currently running through Austnet (see screenshot).
IRC is public to all users as opposed to the private nature of instant messaging and, as can be seen in the screenshot, is used mostly for general conversations.