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RE: Email Standards

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Here is my two cents from Texas on the issue of HTML email.  I VOTE
AGAINST HTML.  Many of us are HTML-challenged.  It's not just the poor
AOL folks, or those that are unwilling to upgrade their email clients.
In the corporate world, you use the corporate email system, whether you
like it or not.  In my case, that system is Microsoft Exchange Server
4.0.  It is used for real-time internet and internal (200 + employees in
6 offices) mail.  For the most part, the system works great.  In
particular, the "inbox assistant" filtering is excellent.
Unfortunately, the system is HTML-ignorant.  For the past week, I have
been unable to read any of Bill Allen's posts (a blessing?).  Sometime
this year, the corporate system will be upgraded to MES 5.0, which (I
think) is capable of understanding HTML.  Until then, all HTML posts are
unintelligible.

I'll bet that I'm not the only one with this problem.  My point is, when
you are part of a larger organization, using a corporate email server,
you can't simply switch at will to a "modern" email client.

Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
Dallas, Texas

************************************
HALFF ASSOCIATES, INC.
Engineers*Architects*Planners
8616 Northwest Plaza Drive
Dallas, Texas  75225
Phone:    (214)346-6280
Fax:        (214)739-0095
Email:      scaldwell(--nospam--at)halff.com    
Website:  http://www.halff.com	
************************************
    

>----------
>From: 	Bill Allen, S.E.[SMTP:ballense(--nospam--at)pacbell.net]
>Sent: 	Monday, March 09, 1998 8:54 AM
>To: 	seaoc(--nospam--at)seaoc.org
>Subject: 	Re: Email Standards
>
><HTML>
><FONT COLOR="#3333FF">HTML was supposed to solve these kinds of problems
>by being a language common to all platforms and software. Unfortunately,
>Netscape and MS had to see who can do HTML better and there is no longer
>a "standard". You have plug-ins on one side and ActiveX controls on the
>other. Maybe JavaOS <U>is</U> the answer.</FONT><FONT COLOR="#3333FF"></FONT>
>
><P><FONT COLOR="#3333FF">Regards,</FONT>
><BR><FONT COLOR="#3333FF">Bill Allen</FONT>
><BR>Dennis S. Wish wrote:
><BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE>Please see my remarks below:
>
><P>|The problem stems from the manner in which AOL has implemented its
>e-mail
><BR>server -
><BR>|it doesn't properly display html e-mail.
>
><P>Frank, as I discovered on the Eudora website, the ability to display
>html
><BR>e-mail is function of the ISP service provider as you claim. This is
><BR>unfortunate for a company so large as AOL.
>
><P>|Dennis' recent post about Version 4, and how it can work with Outlook
><BR>Express,
><BR>|is a bit premature the last time I checked.&nbsp; Even though AOL
>didn't call it
><BR>a
><BR>|beta version, that's what it is.&nbsp; It restricted distribution
>to 50K
><BR>downloads,
><BR>|after which addtional download requests were denied.&nbsp; I learned
>about it
><BR>after
><BR>|the cutoff.
><BR>|
><BR>|Frank Lew, SE
><BR>|Orinda, CA
><BR>|
>
><P>Internet Explorer 4.0 with Outlook Express is no longer in Beta. The
><BR>software was released many months ago and there is no limit to the
>number of
><BR>free downloads from Microsoft. I am unaware if AOL is only BETA testing
><BR>their add-on with IE4.0, but I would doubt it since their web page
>promotes
><BR>the download today (goto <A
>HREF="http://www.aol.com";>http://www.aol.com</A>
>).
><BR>IE4.0 is a stable product (at least it has been for me). Outlook 98
>is a
><BR>Beta product but this is an Office 97 add-on rather than an Internet
><BR>Explorer 4.0 upgrade. Although I find 98 Beta to be very good, it is
>not a
><BR>requirement for accessing mime compliant or HTML formatted email -
>which can
><BR>be viewed in Outlook Express for IE4.0.
>
><P>As far as the cost savings - it's understandable to want to save the
>family
><BR>unneeded expenses, however, those wishing to participate and gain the
>most
><BR>efficient and productive tools to work together should be willing to
>invest
><BR>in them. This is no different than those who have to pay gas and
>automobile
><BR>depreciation and other expenses to attend physical meetings.
><BR>Although I am not an accountant, I would think that a $20.00 monthly
>ISP fee
><BR>is deductible and well within the budget of most of us.
><BR>Your augment has merit, but appears to be an argument based on proving
>a
><BR>principle rather than trying to compromise on real issues.
>
><P>It comes down to those who wish to participate on the list as they have
>in
><BR>the past. For these individuals older software that lack formatting
>to read
><BR>formatted text is inconvenient but tolerable. For those who wish to
><BR>participate on committee work, the need for software that supports
>formatted
><BR>text or HTML mail becomes important to the efficiency of the committee.
><BR>Unfortunately we are not in a position to demand anything, since the
><BR>individual's ability to solve the engineering problem is far more
>important
><BR>than having current software. I guess that we can only appeal to the
><BR>individuals sense of devotion to the profession and leave it up to
>them to
><BR>decide.
>
><P>Finally, it's the same choice our board members and committee chairs
>must
><BR>make. Their abilities as engineers who volunteer time to their profession
>is
><BR>vastly more important than their computer skills (or lack thereof).
>
>
>The
><BR>problem is their unwillingness to spend the time to improve their skills
>has
><BR>already retarded the growth of the profession.
>
><P>Before I get flamed for my comment, let me defend my position. A few
>of us
><BR>had the insight to recognize the need for engineers unite - and we
>took
><BR>steps back in 1991 to update the goals of the Computer Applications
><BR>Committee for SEAOSC. We created a newsletter intending to help engineers
><BR>develop their computer skills and to work with software to be more
><BR>efficient. In 1993 (or thereabout) we were convinced that the trend
>would
><BR>grow and that engineers would need tools to communicate easier and
>obtain
><BR>information "virtually" instantly - regardless of location. We worked
>with
><BR>Andrew Skwara's Engineering Bulletin Board Service which was the most
><BR>progressive means for computer literate engineers to meet and develop
><BR>software tools. Computer access via long distance phone rates proved
>to be
><BR>very costly and counter-productive. Regardless of the high cost, we
>were
><BR>benefiting from experimentation and development of spreadsheet software
>and
><BR>DOS based finite element programs (this actually started in the late
>80's.
>
><P>Another glimpse into something called the Internet gave us other ideas
>to
><BR>improve communication between engineers - at a lower price. Many of
>us were
><BR>spending close to $100.00 per month on CompuServe when it was $9.95
>per
><BR>month and $6.00 per hour. When CompuServe gained popularity with their
><BR>popular software forums, Bulletin Board Services, which were very
>popular,
><BR>started to fade into obsolescence. The Internet became a more desirable
><BR>universal means for engineers to obtain software and support. The CAC
>was
><BR>able to get a forum on CompuServe which engineers could obtain software
>and
><BR>information, but since most members were not as yet online, we played
>with
><BR>ideas.
>
><P>When the Office of Emergency Services was soliciting volunteer efforts
>from
><BR>engineers around California to prepare for disaster, SEAOSC CAC tried
>to
><BR>establish an emergency contact system using CompuServe forums and the
>EBBS.
><BR>Although it might have been a good idea, it was flawed because of the
>lack
><BR>of literate engineers online.
>
><P>Finally when the graphical user interface (GUI) from Netscape not only
>sent
><BR>stock prices soaring over night, but it finally made the Unix based
>Internet
><BR>accessible to neophytes. This gave us yet another glimpse into the
>future
><BR>and we immediately became excited. We finally found the tool that we
><BR>searched for to unite engineers all around the world.
>
><P>At the same time, SEAOSC Online (prior to the state version) was pumping
>out
><BR>16 pages of tutorials and reviews of engineering software semi-monthly
><BR>(pending my billable work load). We never lost sight of the need to
>develop
><BR>a professional presence on the Internet.
>
><P>Today, we have the ability (albeit prematurely) to carry on long distance
><BR>conversations at the price of a local phone call. This will only continue
>to
><BR>improve as Broadband technology develops to support the demand of the
>users.
><BR>Broadband will eliminate most long distance cost and provide a means
>to
><BR>interact with technology as well as effectively teleconference without
><BR>scratchy sound, crashes and more. The demand is there and most companies
>are
><BR>betting tremendously on the evolution of the Internet.
>
><P>The SEAOC List has been serving us as a platform for discussion, peer
>review
><BR>and developing social skills. The service, which now costs less than
>$20.00
><BR>per month, allowed SEAOSC to purchase a server and establish a web
>site
><BR>where we can now obtain information (immediately) from SEAOC, ASCE,
>NSPE,
><BR>CELSOC, LGSEA, ASTM, AISC, PCA, ACI - a list growing daily.
>
><P>The Internet has changed all of our lives, even the policy and decision
><BR>makers - but the professional resources have not even been tapped into.
>The
><BR>problem is that we are bottle-necked at the traditional level. With
>the
><BR>tools in place, we do not have the individuals who share the same
>evolution
><BR>and insight leading us or the benefits of email would have been acted
>upon
><BR>two or three years ago.
>
><P>The policy and decision makers were not active in this evolution and,
><BR>although they received reports of our progress and provided the financial
><BR>support that was needed, fell far behind those who were developing
>the
><BR>technology. I doubt that any one of these board or committee chairs
>ever
><BR>voted against updating their offices to support the use of software
>and
><BR>networking over manual methods. However, they relied upon employees
>and
><BR>others in lower management to use the tools while they continued to
>work
><BR>with outdated and archaic methods. While those around them evolved,
>upper
><BR>management individuals stagnated and failed to understand the technology
><BR>sufficiently to recognize the advantages to be gained within the
><BR>professional organization and development of codes. This is where the
><BR>bottleneck occurs today. The policy and decision makers who gave us
>the
><BR>latitude to develop the tools failed to realize that to use them
>effectively
><BR>requires a concerted effort to promote use by mandatory measures.
>
><P>Hopefully we will make strides to convince these individuals of the
><BR>importance of the work that has been completed and urge them to open
>the
><BR>flood-gates and let the technology be used as we few intend.
>
><P>I apologize for the length of this post but encourage all of you,
>regardless
><BR>of professional affiliation, to urge your policy and decision makers
>to end
><BR>this stagnation. Although they have the engineering skills and devotion
>to
><BR>their profession, they continue to stagnate their profession and retard
>it's
><BR>growth.
>
><P>Dennis Wish PE
>
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