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further random questions from the newly-unemployed

Robert L Krawitz wrote:

> As a software development hiring manager, I detest HTML-formatted
> email, whether for resumes or any other purpose.  For one, I use a
> purely text-based mail reader that doesn't do HTML (and I don't want
> an HTML-enabled mail reader that makes me susceptible to every webbug
> a spammer chooses to embed).

That, at least, is a solvable problem now. Mozilla can be configured to disable Javascript and plugins in mail and newsgroups, to disable cookies in mail and newsgroups, and to not load external images in mail and newsgroups. And it hasn't sent your email address as an anonymous FTP password for a while now, unless you specifically configure it to do that - and, with loading of external images turned off, it won't be doing any FTP operations anyway. That cuts off all possible attacks of that sort, while still allowing you to get the benefits of formatted and styled text. (Minor gripe; those settings should be the defaults, but not all of them are.)

>  Secondly, even with HTML you're not
> really guaranteed that the result will match your intent; Mozilla and
> Netscape 4 render things quite differently, and I have no idea what IE
> and Opera do.

With any modern browser (Mozilla/Netscape 7, IE 5.5 or 6, Opera, Konqueror), you should get similar (though not absolutely identical) results from HTML, so long as the originator has used typefaces that are present on the recipient's computer, and avoid some of the fancier CSS2 features. (I'm naming browsers here, but that's relevant because the mail reading components that come with all of them use the same rendering engines. KMail is a separate piece of software from Konqueror, but still uses the same code to display HTML; IE and Outlook Express are similar.)

Netscape 4 is, by Internet standards, an antique piece of software that does not comply with current HTML standards. It's now time to ignore it. Anybody who is still using Netscape 4.anything should upgrade to Mozilla, except for people who are still using 68000-based Macs, who don't have that option.

I don't send HTML mail because too many people send too much flame mail if I do. But I think they're wrong. Now that we have a suitable open standard, it's time for the world to move past plain text. HTML mail WITHOUT EXTERNAL CONTENT is where email should be going, and I'm glad that at least one piece of software can be configured to give me exactly that.

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