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    Attachments and the wonders of copy and paste...
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2010 Feb 6, 20:43 -0800

    A NavList member wrote recently:
    "One of the reasons it was attached was because it resulted in a 1 meg image. I don’t like to burden inboxes with that size unless really needed. At the risk of ticking some folks off, I have attached it here. "

    Your original instinct was right, and your file was linked JUST FINE. There is nothing "broken" or "wrong" with linked files.

    Some NavList members know a great deal about navigating the seas, but they are "all thumbs" when it comes to navigating the Internet. No offense, gang, but it's true. All anyone had to do was copy the link from the text and paste it into the web browser's address bar. Let's be VERY clear on this: any child would know how to do that and would do so without even thinking, not because they're all little Internet geniuses, but because they learn things in order from "square one". Unfortunately, many older adults learn how to use the Internet, and computers generally, rather backwards, and they miss out on the low-level basics like "copy and paste".

    For those who don't know and for those who need a refresher course, here's how it's done. Suppose, there's a link to a web page in text, like this one:

    File:

      

    You decide you want to see the contents of that page, but it's not highlighted as a link so clicking on it apparently does nothing... "click, click, click... nothing happens... it must be broke!" (NOTE: some email readers and some web browsers automatically create a link when they find linkable text as a convenience to the user, so even here there may already be a link for some of you --pretend there isn't). To visit that page, use your mouse to highlight the text from "http" through ".pdf" in this case (click and drag from just before "http" until just after "pdf"). When the text is highlighted, go to the Edit menu in your browser (or right-click on the hightlighted text) and select "Copy" (you can also copy by hitting ctrl-C in Windows, similar key combinations on other platforms). Then go to the address bar in your browser. That's up near the top of the browser window, and it shows the current page address. Click once inside the address bar to "highlight" the current address. Then go to the Edit Menu and select "Paste" (or ctrl-V for the same function). You have now transferred the plain text web page address to your browser's address bar. One last step: hit ENTER or click the appropriate "Go" icon, and your browser will take you to that page. Unlinked web addresses are hardly rare on the Internet, so this is a skill that any Internet user should know. It's not NavList-local -- it's everywhere. If these instructions sound long, that's because I've spelled them out in detail.

    Now regarding attachments and linked files generally, please do not take photographs of text documents, wrap them up in a pdf, and then send them off to NavList. The "Ageton Form" for example is just a few hundred bytes of text arranged in a table. Those few hundred bytes of actual information made it to NavList (TWICE) as files considerably larger than one megabyte each (email attachments are always much larger than the original file since they have to be encoded as text within the email). That's thousands of times larger than the actual data content of the form. There's probably little value posting something like this as an image. But if you feel in some case that you must post images of text, then take a little time to think about how you can make the files smaller. With just two minutes of processing, I was able to reduce the image of that Ageton form from over 1 megabyte to 58 kilobytes, about twenty times reduced in size. When sending images of any sort, you should not "wrap them up" in PDF containers unless you are sending a bunch of images in some sort of organized collection. Send images as jpegs (better for photographs of natural scenes), gifs or pngs (better for diagrams and computer-generated text). If your scanner is set to create images wrapped as pdfs then change the settings or unwrap the image before uploading it.

    Next, if things go according to script, someone will say, "but wait... people watch YouTube videos all day long and that's waaay more bandwidth than these images." That's very true, and for LINKED files there's no problem and the analogy is a good one. But email is a different medium with its own rules and as long as NavList remains an email activity for many members, we have to live by the rules of email. Many servers consider excessive attachments a mark of spam, for example. So if you just attach away without thinking, you risk shutting down the whole thing. Attachments ARE WELCOME on NavList and they are extremely valuable in the right context, but please try to limit yourself to one megabyte per message, occasionally two megabytes if really necessary, and also not more than once daily. Linking files using the system at fer3.com/NavList is MUCH BETTER since it leaves the files on the server and does not dump giant files in the inboxes of each and every NavList member who is following the messages by email. Apart from a small expense to me, the space available for linked files is basically unlimited. But no matter what, do a little thinking before you post binary files (either as attachments or linked files). This is a smart group of people. You know how to do things efficiently, and efficiency is always a good thing.

    -FER


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