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RE: Email Standards

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Please see my remarks below:

|The problem stems from the manner in which AOL has implemented its e-mail
server -
|it doesn't properly display html e-mail.

Frank, as I discovered on the Eudora website, the ability to display html
e-mail is function of the ISP service provider as you claim. This is
unfortunate for a company so large as AOL.

|Dennis' recent post about Version 4, and how it can work with Outlook
Express,
|is a bit premature the last time I checked.  Even though AOL didn't call it
a
|beta version, that's what it is.  It restricted distribution to 50K
downloads,
|after which addtional download requests were denied.  I learned about it
after
|the cutoff.
|
|Frank Lew, SE
|Orinda, CA
|

Internet Explorer 4.0 with Outlook Express is no longer in Beta. The
software was released many months ago and there is no limit to the number of
free downloads from Microsoft. I am unaware if AOL is only BETA testing
their add-on with IE4.0, but I would doubt it since their web page promotes
the download today (goto http://www.aol.com ).
IE4.0 is a stable product (at least it has been for me). Outlook 98 is a
Beta product but this is an Office 97 add-on rather than an Internet
Explorer 4.0 upgrade. Although I find 98 Beta to be very good, it is not a
requirement for accessing mime compliant or HTML formatted email - which can
be viewed in Outlook Express for IE4.0.

As far as the cost savings - it's understandable to want to save the family
unneeded expenses, however, those wishing to participate and gain the most
efficient and productive tools to work together should be willing to invest
in them. This is no different than those who have to pay gas and automobile
depreciation and other expenses to attend physical meetings.
Although I am not an accountant, I would think that a $20.00 monthly ISP fee
is deductible and well within the budget of most of us.
Your augment has merit, but appears to be an argument based on proving a
principle rather than trying to compromise on real issues.

It comes down to those who wish to participate on the list as they have in
the past. For these individuals older software that lack formatting to read
formatted text is inconvenient but tolerable. For those who wish to
participate on committee work, the need for software that supports formatted
text or HTML mail becomes important to the efficiency of the committee.
Unfortunately we are not in a position to demand anything, since the
individual's ability to solve the engineering problem is far more important
than having current software. I guess that we can only appeal to the
individuals sense of devotion to the profession and leave it up to them to
decide.

Finally, it's the same choice our board members and committee chairs must
make. Their abilities as engineers who volunteer time to their profession is
vastly more important than their computer skills (or lack thereof). The
problem is their unwillingness to spend the time to improve their skills has
already retarded the growth of the profession.

Before I get flamed for my comment, let me defend my position. A few of us
had the insight to recognize the need for engineers unite - and we took
steps back in 1991 to update the goals of the Computer Applications
Committee for SEAOSC. We created a newsletter intending to help engineers
develop their computer skills and to work with software to be more
efficient. In 1993 (or thereabout) we were convinced that the trend would
grow and that engineers would need tools to communicate easier and obtain
information "virtually" instantly - regardless of location. We worked with
Andrew Skwara's Engineering Bulletin Board Service which was the most
progressive means for computer literate engineers to meet and develop
software tools. Computer access via long distance phone rates proved to be
very costly and counter-productive. Regardless of the high cost, we were
benefiting from experimentation and development of spreadsheet software and
DOS based finite element programs (this actually started in the late 80's.

Another glimpse into something called the Internet gave us other ideas to
improve communication between engineers - at a lower price. Many of us were
spending close to $100.00 per month on CompuServe when it was $9.95 per
month and $6.00 per hour. When CompuServe gained popularity with their
popular software forums, Bulletin Board Services, which were very popular,
started to fade into obsolescence. The Internet became a more desirable
universal means for engineers to obtain software and support. The CAC was
able to get a forum on CompuServe which engineers could obtain software and
information, but since most members were not as yet online, we played with
ideas.

When the Office of Emergency Services was soliciting volunteer efforts from
engineers around California to prepare for disaster, SEAOSC CAC tried to
establish an emergency contact system using CompuServe forums and the EBBS.
Although it might have been a good idea, it was flawed because of the lack
of literate engineers online.

Finally when the graphical user interface (GUI) from Netscape not only sent
stock prices soaring over night, but it finally made the Unix based Internet
accessible to neophytes. This gave us yet another glimpse into the future
and we immediately became excited. We finally found the tool that we
searched for to unite engineers all around the world.

At the same time, SEAOSC Online (prior to the state version) was pumping out
16 pages of tutorials and reviews of engineering software semi-monthly
(pending my billable work load). We never lost sight of the need to develop
a professional presence on the Internet.

Today, we have the ability (albeit prematurely) to carry on long distance
conversations at the price of a local phone call. This will only continue to
improve as Broadband technology develops to support the demand of the users.
Broadband will eliminate most long distance cost and provide a means to
interact with technology as well as effectively teleconference without
scratchy sound, crashes and more. The demand is there and most companies are
betting tremendously on the evolution of the Internet.

The SEAOC List has been serving us as a platform for discussion, peer review
and developing social skills. The service, which now costs less than $20.00
per month, allowed SEAOSC to purchase a server and establish a web site
where we can now obtain information (immediately) from SEAOC, ASCE, NSPE,
CELSOC, LGSEA, ASTM, AISC, PCA, ACI - a list growing daily.

The Internet has changed all of our lives, even the policy and decision
makers - but the professional resources have not even been tapped into. The
problem is that we are bottle-necked at the traditional level. With the
tools in place, we do not have the individuals who share the same evolution
and insight leading us or the benefits of email would have been acted upon
two or three years ago.

The policy and decision makers were not active in this evolution and,
although they received reports of our progress and provided the financial
support that was needed, fell far behind those who were developing the
technology. I doubt that any one of these board or committee chairs ever
voted against updating their offices to support the use of software and
networking over manual methods. However, they relied upon employees and
others in lower management to use the tools while they continued to work
with outdated and archaic methods. While those around them evolved, upper
management individuals stagnated and failed to understand the technology
sufficiently to recognize the advantages to be gained within the
professional organization and development of codes. This is where the
bottleneck occurs today. The policy and decision makers who gave us the
latitude to develop the tools failed to realize that to use them effectively
requires a concerted effort to promote use by mandatory measures.

Hopefully we will make strides to convince these individuals of the
importance of the work that has been completed and urge them to open the
flood-gates and let the technology be used as we few intend.

I apologize for the length of this post but encourage all of you, regardless
of professional affiliation, to urge your policy and decision makers to end
this stagnation. Although they have the engineering skills and devotion to
their profession, they continue to stagnate their profession and retard it's
growth.

Dennis Wish PE