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Borking Outlook Express 1097

Johannes writes: "Swedish Gnuheter has a story on Nick Moffitt arranging with his X-headers in way that makes it impossible to read his email with Microsoft WebTV or Outlook Express. Moffitt states: 'The folks using Outlook Express have locked themselves into a limited subset of the information that can flow over the Internet, and are blaming me personally for not limiting my transmissions to that outlook-centric subset.' See also original email (in English). Immoral? Or just right?" Looks like Moffit's "Who, me?" attitude is tongue in cheek, but the creative header changes here are hilarious.
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Borking Outlook Express

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  • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:02PM (#2915319) Homepage Journal to disclude them as much as possible!

    If he were serious (which he doesn't appear to be), then I'd say its waaay to risky for the linux community. Shutting out everyone is one of the first ways to fail in bringing Linux into the mainstream...
    • by lightray ( 215185 ) <> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:17PM (#2915446) Homepage
      This post is in reply to your "exclude microsoft users" post, and the attitude in the article exemplified by this quote: ``It's true that I run a mailing list that does not allow posting from Windows users. Many people complain about this, but in my mind I see it as no different than a restaurant or dance hall having a dress code.''

      When did we become such elitists? When users are arbitrarily excluded and abused in the name of "free software," I begin to think that pehaps these same people now toting the supremacy of their operating system might in another time promote the supremacy of their language, nationality, or race.

      I see nothing productive in this article or the attitude of its creator. The point of our movement is to produce good, useful software, and to make it available to everyone. The point is not to force them to use it, or to punish those who don't. Where's the freedom in that?
      • by Iguanaphobic ( 31670 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:41PM (#2915653)
        I see nothing productive in this article or the attitude of its creator. The point of our movement is to produce good, useful software, and to make it available to everyone. The point is not to force them to use it, or to punish those who don't. Where's the freedom in that?

        Well spoken. But the bottom line is... it's his choice. If you don't like it, too bad, don't participate. This in essence is what freedom is all about. How free is it if you make him conform to your idea of what is normal? It may feel free to you, but what about to him? I run a restaurant that has a dress code and we also do not allow smoking crack on the premises. My restaurant, my rules. You don't like how it impinges on your freedom... too bad, go somewhere else.

        In this particular case, you are free to participate, simply by conforming to his rules. Too much work for you?? Don't understand how to do it?? These are the criteria, deal with it.
        • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:55PM (#2915765) Homepage Journal
          How free is it if you make him conform to your idea of what is normal?

          We aren't "forcing him to conform", we're forcing him to write in a format usable by all (you know, free means free across all boards, including proprietary).

          Didn't RMS recently write an article about convincing people to not use Word attachments in email []??

          Isn't this the OPPOSITE?

          Funny how you view things on the other side, isn't it?
          If someone sends you a word doc, and you can't read it, its a big issue and everyone is serious.
          If someone sends something that only linux users can read, its funny, and lets all shout "hurray!"

          Think about it. And if you still think the second point, then you are, in fact, elitest.
          • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:38PM (#2916140) Homepage
            He's not shutting out all Windows email clients. Only Outlook Express.

            Poeple not Lookout Express can still read his email, even if they are using Windows.
          • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:39PM (#2916151)
            This "attack" is nothing more than starting a line with the word
            begin. Nothing more.

            As the guy pointed out in his comments, they discovered it because someone on a mailing list happened to
            begin a line with the magic word and *bam* every Outlook user who wasn't connected to an Exchange server (which sounds like a typical MS bug "fix") found the message to be garbled.

            When MTAs and NNTP server had a from bug (where any line starting with
            From was capitalized by the transport software, everyone agreed it was a bug. A nasty one, since it there were reasons it couldn't easily be fixed, but the message was still readable.

            But suddenly we're "elitists" for saying that it's a bug - a critical bug - when MS Outlook interprets *any* line beginning with "begin" as the start of a UUENCODED block? Even though this produces unreadable garbage? And the latest versions of Outlook apparently don't even have an option that will allow the user to view the original message?

            I agree there are some bloody annoying elitist attitudes on full parade here, but it seems to me that the elitists are the people who think every person on the planet should check their messages for any text that triggers Outlook bugs (e.g., lines beginning with "begin", any HTML keyword which will trigger the mandatory interpretation of the message as HTML, etc.) instead of MS admitting that they screwed the pooch on this one and issuing a quick patch.

            They don't even have to use the same standards I demand of my own code - simply checking for a pattern where the "begin" is followed by an octal number would eliminate most of these false hits.
      • by Tassach ( 137772 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:49PM (#2915717)

        When did we become such elitists? When users are arbitrarily excluded and abused in the name of "free software," I begin to think that pehaps these same people now toting the supremacy of their operating system might in another time promote the supremacy of their language, nationality, or race.

        Come on. Get over yourself. Equating OS/software "religious" wars to real-world racism and intolerance is a bit of a stretch. They are completely different issues. I don't hear you crying "elitism" about all the websites out there that are unusable with any browser except IE, or that require Flash.

        Actually, I see this kind of strategy as a Good Thing -- it's a good way to raise people's awareness of the general Suckiness of M$ and their products. Broken software, free or propriatary, needs to be rooted out and destroyed.

        The dress code analogy is a good one -- it's his list to do with as he pleases. If he wants to exclude M$ users, that is his perogative. For a technical mailing list, it's not that bad an idea at all to force prospective users to have enough clue to have to exersize their craniums a little to be able to join. Just think of how many idiots we could get rid of here on /. if there was some kind of rudimentary test we could give people before they are allowed to post.

      • by sigwinch ( 115375 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:38PM (#2916141) Homepage
        When did we become such elitists? When users are arbitrarily excluded and abused in the name of "free software,"...
        RTF email. This isn't about free software, it's about punishing people for using a notoriously-broken email client that causes nothing but headaches and pollution of the infosphere.

        I see nothing productive in this article or the attitude of its creator.
        And I see nothing productive in the numerous flaws in Outlook's processing of attachments, flaws that Microsoft has known about for several versions and has declined to fix. And I'm specifically not just talking about free software interoperability: different versions of Outlook cannot properly parse each other's attachments.

        Outlook internally is one of the most poorly-engineered systems ever created. Its security model is a complete crock of shit that has several times nearly brought down the Internet. Microsoft's "programmers" wrote the attachment parsing code several times, each time being different and broken. (Proof: certain attachments aren't shown to the user because that broken code doesn't properly parse them, but if the user does "File->SaveAttachment" they *can* be saved because the saving code *does* properly parse them.)

        The point is not to force them to use it, or to punish those who don't. Where's the freedom in that?
        You're free to bathe in a sewer if you want, but that doesn't mean people have to let you into their clubs.
      • Note that it's NOT PREVENTING POSTING FROM WINDOWS USERS. It's preventing posting by Outlook users, which hopefully is a smaller group than windows users.

        Just today I got 2 "see the pictures from my party" attachments from a clueless contractor who apparently is using Outlook; something that is actually prohibited by company's software regulations. Excluding Outlook users might even be construed as a security measure. :-p

        • Excluding Outlook users might even be construed as a security measure. :-p

          Not funny at all. According to Microsoft [], Outlook was "just built that way" and I quote
          "Will the virus impact my Macintosh if I am using a non-Microsoft e-mail program, such as Eudora?
          If you are using an Macintosh e-mail program that is not from Microsoft, we recommend checking with that particular company. But most likely other e-mail programs like Eudora are not designed to enable virus replication.

          So, if you were writing a program (trojan) that was designed as a virus delivery system (trojan), would you get upset if someone created a method for alerting users to this aspect (trojan) of your software? (Anti-Virus) The key here is that even Microsoft acknowledges that Outlook transmits viriii by design.

    • It'd just make the "mainstream" IT community reject linux, and its users, even faster. [They] We've decided, more or less, on an engine for the car, the highway has been built, some people just like to play bumpercars.

      Linux is a segway. It claims it will change the world; some people try it out; some people implement it mainstream; Most people just stare and say "uhh." the world just isn't built for it yet.

      [To appease the BSD Zealots: Linux is a tricycle, *BSD is a Segway. If you are not a BSD Zealot, ignore this line.]

      UNIX is a Freightliner. Good when you need a lot of power and a big footprint to haul a massive amount of.. stuff.

      Windows 2000 is an Automatic Transmission Ford. Good enough for the average person, they don't have to worry about it too terribly much. Most mechanics know how to fix them.

      Win2K server is a nice, large Dodge. Good for hauling midsize loads. Can still be fixed by most mechanics, if they are adequately skilled. Can be upgraded to Cummins Turbo Dulie model with extended bed if neccesary. Maximum of 32 Wheels.

      The analogies are endless.
  • by MattRog ( 527508 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:06PM (#2915354)
    I read the english e-mail and he explains his position (I don't quite understand the hack though) -- rather than blocking totally Microsoft's client, why not make it display "This message would be readable if you used any other email client than Microsoft's. For a list of good clients, some of which are free, visit *url to or something*."

    Same thing for anti-Microsoft mailing lists which disalow Outlook -- kindly inform anything other than Outlook is ok (due to security concerns, etc.) and provide a list of free or not-too-expensive email clients (or again a link to and the like).

    Sounds like a much better (and beneficial) use of time.
    • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:53PM (#2915750) Homepage
      I read the english e-mail and he explains his position (I don't quite understand the hack though)

      The hack is to begin the message body with


      Outlook interprets this as starting a uuencoded section, and turns perfectly readable text into gobbly-dy gook.

      The other hack is to change the Reply-To: header as Outlook usually does when it marks the messages read. Then he adds a novel X header that seems to imply his email was actually censored somewhere along the way. So, the Outlook user sees gobblydy gook instead of a message bbdy if he sees the message at all, and if he tries to diagnose the problem will be immediately be misled by the novel X header into thinking he was censored. Whereupon he goes to his sysadmin, who will read the email in plain text, and laugh heartily. Or cry.
    • Lighten up! (Score:5, Funny)

      by refactored ( 260886 ) <> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:55PM (#2915762) Homepage Journal
      Lighten up lad. "It's funny, laugh!"

      This has nothing to do with advocacy, monopolies, anti-this or that. Its good clean schlap-stick fun.

      My personal X-headers include...
      X-Apparently-From: mars
      X-Complaints-To: /dev/null

      grep -E '^X-[^:]+:' < read-messages| sort -u Should give me some more fodder. Hmm, those Importance and Priority headers might do something entertaining.

    • I'm requoting myself, but this is a great place to requote.

      Its ok to say "Use anything except outlook" when you are on the linux side.

      What would you say, if I said use a program that can read Word docs []??

      Lets use RMS's words in the opposite context, shall we?

      Lets face it. "Free" means free in free software AND proprietary software. If it doesn't, then its "free" in a very restrictive manner (which I wouldn't call "free").

      If you want everything free, you had better learn this lesson!
      • by kmactane ( 18359 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:21PM (#2916002) Homepage

        >Its ok to say "Use anything except outlook" when
        >you are on the linux side.
        >What would you say, if I said use a program that
        >can read Word docs []??

        The point about these anti-Outlook headers is that they're still perfectly conformant with RFCs 821, 822, et al. Any conformant mail-reader can read these messages just fine.

        But there is no RFC for Word .doc format. In either case, the underlying message is "use a mail client that conforms to open standards (the RFCs)."

        When Microsoft releases an RFC for .doc format, then this position will be hypocritical. But until then, it's perfectly consistent. (Alternatively, they could make Outlook obey the RFCs... then Mr. Moffitt's header hacks won't bother it any more.)

      • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:38PM (#2916139) Homepage Journal

        What would you say, if I said use a program that can read Word docs??

        I'd ask which RFC that's specified in so I could verify compliance. Email, unlike Word documents, is a real standard that was written specifically for ease of implementation and interoperability (even between machines with different ideas of character set).

        The world welcomes MS to inspect the relevant RFCs and implement a compatable product. MS doesn't seem to have published a description of Word format anywhere.

        Word is a proprietary format (not at all standard) that shifts like sand in the desert with no consideration of interoperability or safe interchange of data.

    • From the email:
      • There are two ways, actually, that one can meet the crackmonkey mailing list dress code. One is to simply use Free Software, and not use a mailer that requires you to accept a license that makes you promise not to share with your friends. Another is to continue to use your Windows-based mailer, but hack the headers of your message so as not to betray your use of the software.


        First of all, I am not a member of the Open Source movement. They seem only interested in how you can make money from free software. I am actually (believe it or not) more concerned with the ethical and moral issues involved in the subjugation of human beings through restrictive copyright and patent law. I consider myself a member of the Free Software movement.

      Which is exactly the hypocrisy I can't stand about GNU-zealots.

      He doesn't want to subjugate others' behavior, except by using software in the way he thinks is right. He wants to be ethical and respect people's rights, except where he feels he has the right to impose on others how they release technologies or extensions that rely in small part on his code.

      This is why I prefer the Artistic License or the BSD licenses. They don't create stipulations, or only create stipulations on the original code. Code released under these licenses will always be available for everyone regardless of their creed.

      If I build a project, and see some subroutine code that is GPL restricted, I know not to rely on it, because it limits my options on the code that I write. Why would I limit my options on my code, just to give someone else a woody? No thanks, GNU.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:11PM (#2915392)
    that I wouldn't see this as a GOOD thing if I used Outlook?
  • Borked? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Soko ( 17987 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:11PM (#2915395) Homepage
    From the site now:

    Warning: Too many connections in /data/html/gnuheter/mainfile.php on line 17
    Unable to select database

    Shouldn't that be

    "Werniga: Esha tue amany conecctionsa in der /data/hacht-ema-el/gnuheter/mainafiler.peea-haich- a-pee on der lingna sevetoon. Der databesa ist "BORK BORK BORK".
    • Re:Borked? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:17PM (#2915445) Journal
      Cut and paste, then.

      Får man lägga till nya headers i sina e-post-meddelanden som gör att de meddelanden som man skickar inte kan läsas av de som använder Outlook Express eller läser brev med WebTV?
      Frågan har väckts i samband med att Nick Moffitt har skickat just sådana meddelanden på Tron-listan. Microsoft-användarna är inte nöjda med Moffitts beteende medan Moffitt hänvisar till att mottagarnas e-post-program är problemet och inte hans X-headers.

      De headers som är omdebatterade:

      X-Fnord: +++ath

      X-WebTV-Stationery: Standard; BGColor=black; TextColor=black

      X-Message-Flag: Message text blocked: ADULT LANGUAGE/SITUATIONS


      Läs Nick Moffitts brev på Crackmonkey-listan.

      Debattera sedan gärna vidare på Gnuheter.
  • by bsletten ( 20271 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:12PM (#2915400)
    I have the same problem with this as any pro-my-agenda-over-yours approach. If what we are seeking is equality/respect, resorting to the same tactics are unlikely to legitimately modify behavior. It's not through lynchings and beatings that the civil rights movement succeeded. It's not through imperial conquest that India became an independent state.
    And it isn't going to be through holier-than-thou rhetoric couched in do-unto-others-as-they-do-unto-you that the open source/free software movements are going to make converts.
    • In a sense I'd love to agree with you. But in another sense the fight between Microsoft and the GPL is a fight for survival. While I respect the pacifist who stands by while their family and self are murdered, I will never be such a one.

      Personally, I think reverse engineering, publishing exploits not addressed, and many other seemingly questionable activities are very important. We must think and act freely if we'd like to continue to do so.
  • Silly and Immature (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gedvondur ( 40666 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:12PM (#2915404)
    I sure hope that this is a joke on that fellows part.

    You want to know why those who are not technologicly gifted are afraid of Linux? Things like this. Silly, immature, and asinine elitism.

    To punish people because of the mail client they use is pointless. Does the various versions of Outlook have problems? You bet. You don't like it. Fine. DON'T RUN IT.

    Things like this destroy the credibility of the Linux community in general. You want businesses and government to think that the Linux community is serious, focused, and can provide better products. Stupid stunts like this do not give a good impression.
    • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:36PM (#2915601) Homepage
      BTW, read this: e. html

      There is evidence that MS has actually done something along the lines of what this gentleman did on purpose as a means of retribution to a company that opposed being bought out (or some other interest of MS's .. )
    • begin important message

      If the guy were doing some fizzlebuzz that nobody would ever stumble upon, you would have a point.

      But he's highlighting the fact that the Outlook programmers were so eager to be "helpful" that they didn't write decent filters to pick up the start of a UUENCODED block. Where I have used the pattern

      "^begin ([:digit:]+) ([^ ]+)$"

      (or a looser pattern that allows spaces in the filename), they check for "^begin " alone. Or maybe "^begin", which would also trigger on words like "beginning." My filter still catches the start of all valid UUENCODED block but doesn't wrongly trigger whenever the message just happens to start with the magic sequence "begin". (I also usually check for an "^end$" line and properly formatted interior lines, but I digress....)

      This is just one symptom of a HUGE problem with MS products. A lot of people have reported problems where a message has something like <html> deep within the body of a message and Outlook INSISTED that the document was HTML... with the resulting garbage output. I'm sure others have had similar problems, but not been able to attribute it to some magic sequence causing the body of the message to be run through an inappropriate filter.

      So I wouldn't use this casually to annoy people, but it's a good technique to have in hand when people claim that a problem is due to the sender, not the receiver's mail agent.

      end important message
    • To punish people because of the mail client they use is pointless.

      Microsoft has, for years and years and years, encouraged web site authors to write their web sites for Internet Explorer and Internet Explorer only.

      If you want to call us "silly" "immature" and "asinine" for exercising our right to begin an email with "begin", then you'd have to find accusations ten times worse and levy them against Microsoft for all the dirty tricks they've foisted over the years.

  • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:13PM (#2915408) Homepage

    So he wants people to be able to use any kind of software to read email, and is annoyed that he gets documents from Windows users which are unreadable in his email program. So his response is to make sure that other people cannot necessarily read his email messages, and he expects others to adjust their computing environment to read what he sends. How is this any different from his adjusting his own computing environment to read what they send? Or is it that he just believes that the Internet should be mutually unintelligible (I mean, more than it already is)?

    • by cnladd ( 97597 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:01PM (#2915826) Homepage
      No, it's really a bit deeper than that, from what I've read.

      He feels that if people *really* want to read what he writes, then they'll modify their environment properly so that they'd be able to read it. He's stating that he doesn't care much one way or the other whether they want to read it or not - it's up to them.

      Likewise, you could assume that if he wanted to read what people sent him enough that he would modify his environment in order to read it.

      He's just picking and choosing how his communications go out, and how he receives them. How is that wrong? If people don't like it, then they don't have to communicate with him. It's that simple. Who the hell are *we* to say that he has to change so that we can receive his e-mails? Of course, you could say that if he *really* wanted to communicate with everyone then he *would* change. And ya know what? That's exactly what *he* is saying - he doesn't want to communicate with everyone, just with the folks that care enough to hear him.

      Doesn't seem that complicated - or malicious - to me at all, really. I honestly don't see what the problem is.
      • by nickm ( 1468 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @10:18PM (#2917523) Homepage
        Thank you, you've hit it right on the nose.

        I'm not breaking these peoples' systems (as the MyParty worm does). I'm simply pre-emptively killfiling myself!

        I also killfile outlook users based on the User-Agent and X-Mailer headers. It's entirely my perogative.

        As for the mailing list dress code, it's MY GODDAMN LIST. If you want me to set up an open mailing list for everyone, just mail me and I'd be more than happy to set it up and host it on my machine for you! But the crackmonkey list is NOT that sort of list.

        If you have something to say to me, you'll just have to make sure you get my attention, which is divided enough as it is now.
  • Not effective (Score:4, Informative)

    by Florian Weimer ( 88405 ) <> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:14PM (#2915417) Homepage
    On German Usenet (the de,* hierarchy), this is already common practice. In particular, these pseudo-attachments are used to fool OE users to believe that articles carry some kind of mail worm, without really using attachments (so that the posters keep to the letter of netiquette).

    However, it doesn't seem to help much, quite a few people are still using Outlook Express. Other newsreaders such as Gnus display some of these pseudo-attachments as real ones, too. (And I don't think this is a bug, it's just built-in uudecode support.)

    And Outlook Express has much more critical bugs, for example in quoted-printable handling together with quoting.
  • by CDWert ( 450988 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:16PM (#2915439) Homepage
    Since we all know the FBI and NSA can decrypt pretty much at will, and they all use Outlook to read our messages, perhaps this is the best way to secure it . Well just muck the header up, theyll be too busy trying to decrypt someting that isnt encrypted to figure it out .

    I am of course being my usual smart ass self.

    I think someone should be free to send whatever the hell they want HOWEVER they want to their colluges, a bunch of people griping this is bad, bad for linux, what does RMS say, WHO CARES !!!!

    This, if it were acually serious, it isnt. WOULD be a matter between the sender and the recipient.
    Youre not going to be in or do business long if noone with outlook can read your mail.
  • by HiredMan ( 5546 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:21PM (#2915482) Journal
    Yes. It's true that I run a mailing list that does not allow posting from Windows users. Many people complain about this, but in my mind I see it as no different than a restaurant or dance hall having a dress code.

    Whatever you think of his politics I love the idea of a snooty doorman looking at the M$ users and making them continue to stand in line outside the club. ;)

    It raises the bar for entry to the list, and ensures that users really want to be there. There are two ways, actually, that one can meet the crackmonkey mailing list dress code. One is to simply use Free Software[] Another is to continue to use your Windows-based mailer, but hack the headers of your message so as not to betray your use of the software.[] Both methods demonstrate an effort made to post to the list, as well as a certain degree of technical acumen.

    I hate to say it but this probably works wonders. I remember when alt.hackers instituted a policy in which it was listed as a "moderated" newsgroup but there was no moderator. So any submitted stories were simply mailed into the ether.
    You had to edit your header so that you 'approved' your own post. Yes, it was trivial but a quick comparison between that group and 'alt.2600' proved that even that low a bar worked wonders for the level of content.


  • by KjetilK ( 186133 ) <> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:26PM (#2915512) Homepage Journal
    Hm, I'm on this list that is often used to post results from races, and people keep on posting Excel files to that list, in spite of frequent complaints from more than one UNIX user. And in spite of my frequent warnings of how easy it is to trojan a computer when you open Excel attachments. There are a few people on this list who control a lot of money, I find it hard to understand that they dare do it.

    Anyway, the time will come when I'm the one to post results. I'll use Gnumeric, I think. I have been toying with the idea of actually posting a Gnumeric XML file to the list... Revenge!!! ;-)

    Well, I'm not going to do it just for the revenge. It has to be illustrating some point.

    This got me thinking: Since Gnumeric's native file format is based on XML, it should be possible to have it sensibly parsed and displayed in a browser that does support XML, including IE, given....?

    OK, so this is the question: What would it take for people to get a readable table on their browser, straight from a Gnumeric XML file?

    If this would work, it would illustrate a major point: How much more flexible these products are. Those who have experienced all M$ lock-ins and unreadable documents can suddenly access a document in a format they've never heard of.

  • No Soap, Radio! (Score:3, Redundant)

    by bill.sheehan ( 93856 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:27PM (#2915525) Homepage
    It's interesting that the original link is to a Swedish site. I cannot read Swedish. It's a perfectly good language, the speech of a country of 9 million people with a noble history and culture, but I cannot read it. Do you suppose this link will inspire me to learn Swedish, or will I just click on the next link?

    Yup - you guessed it. *click*

    I also can't read L337. It's exclusionary speech, meant to be read only by other members of the clique.

    Free Software is a philosophy. Part of that philosophy is to share with as many people as possible. It's not a stick to beat people with, or something for the privileged techno-elite.

    Go ahead - keep Outlook users from reading your mail. Write in L337 if you want and keep people over the age of 17 from reading your mail. Heck, write in Swedish! Do you suppose my desire to read your deathless prose will make me learn Swedish?

    Yup, you guessed it. *click*

    Another lumpen-proletarian

  • Dear Timothy: (Score:5, Informative)

    by nickm ( 1468 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:28PM (#2915532) Homepage
    Two things:

    1. My name is spelled "Moffitt".
    2. As you will see in my mail, the headers are irrelevant. The real bug is that the BODY OF MY MESSAGE contains a line beginning with "begin ". It's Outlook's inability to display ordinary English text that is at fault here, not some header processing GAR.
  • by Omega ( 1602 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:33PM (#2915581) Homepage
    You know, it's funny. I was trying to post one of the needlessly long headers of crap that Outlook generates for each-and-every e-mail so I could make a point, but when I tried to "PreviewPost" I encountered a "Lameness filter."

    Right on, slashdot. ;)

  • OE is pretty great (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rbeattie ( 43187 ) <> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:36PM (#2915593) Homepage
    I have to come to defense of Outlook Express. (God help me...).

    If you're not familiar with the two Outlook products, here's an overview: Normal "Outlook" is the crappy Microsoft Office-integrated, do-it-all, unsecure, scheduling, Exchange-client, mail reader and more and Outlook Express is simply the POP/IMAP that comes with IE. The latter is a great mail client.

    I don't use Internet Explorer anymore - I've been using Mozilla since 9.5 (a few months now) and I love it. But I can't use the Mozilla mail client yet, it's just not mature enough. OE is simple to use, fast, manages the 10,000 emails I have in folders without problems, doesn't make me manage each email account separately (though I could if I wanted), decent filtering, higher-security, etc. Whoever wrote this app at Microsoft had a clue as it's really well done. There's not much wrong with it, except, I guess, whatever this guy is ranting about and the fact that it's a Microsoft product.

    The last bit does bother me as I'm slowly weaning myself from M$ products. I have TRIED many other email programs (for Windows) and not been satisfied at all. The Bat!, Eudora, Mozilla, Opera's Email bit and others that have come and gone from my system. Until they're more like OE, I'm not switching...

    I'm really pulling for the Mozilla team and gave my feedback to some of the Mail guys during the Bug Week or whatever it's called. But I'm not a C++ programmer (and even if I was, I'm not installing Microsoft Visual C++ to develop with Mozilla...) so I just have to wait until it gets mature enough for daily use.

    One good thing though is that the Mozilla importer is great for pulling in my emails from OE already. So when the UI is up to snuff, it'll be a snap to switch over. (And then I can seriously consider switching over to Linux full-time also...)

    That's it.

    • by rbeattie ( 43187 )
      I'm replying to my own post, sorry.

      I'm using the latest Outlook Express and Ctl-F3 works fine to see the original source of any email. Not sure where this guy is getting his info. Maybe it's different on XP (I'm on Windows 2000), but I'm using the newest OE (6.000.2600) so it shouldn't be different.

      Ctl-F3 is handy for copying and pasting SPAM messages into SpamCop web forms.

  • by JohnsonJohnson ( 524590 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:38PM (#2915616)
    First of all he is not being a petulant child. He points out a perfectly valid way of making a PLAINTEXT email message illegigible to Outlook users: start a line with the word begin. I would be pretty miffed if the provider of my mail client of choice has made decisions that dictate the manner in which I compose the body of an email. I think most rational Windows users would regard this "innovative" feature to be a flagrant abuse of power on the part of my email client vendor. The other tricks he plays are less insightful but bring to light a common complaint of non-Microsoft software vendors: Microsoft blatantly disregards many standards an hijacks others for personal gain. The second point, exclusion of Outlook clients from his mailing list is also not without precedent. If I wish to create a locale where like minded people can gather I will definitely put up some simple barriers to entry for people who cannot share my opinions. In this case, he has made some decisions about how email clients should work and he only wishes to share his list with those with similar points of view. Since it is his list and not a general public utility it is his right.
  • My first thought (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hyyx ( 447405 ) <{cky} {at} {}> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:39PM (#2915623) Homepage
    was of a recent Ask Slashdot [] article that talks about the unnecessary HTML formatting in Windows mailers. The problems are that they force you to reply in HTML, and include HTML headers that are impossible to not include in replies. There is nothing like having to spend time reformatting a whole email discussion just because some Windows mailer HTMLized the whole thing. This guy has the right idea; Let's just not include MS mailers if they are not going to follow the standard and make everything diffcult. MS tries to reinvent the wheel too much
  • Neat hack, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Clubber Lang ( 219001 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:39PM (#2915624) Homepage
    Say we all started doing this, would it have any effect? Probably not.

    Your average Outlook user is the same person who just accepts that they have to reboot their computer 3 times/day and has never quite figured out that that "Windows Update" link on their start menu does. Basically, I see 2 scenarios:

    1. User tries to open email, it doesn't work. User thinks "oh well, maybe outlook's not feeling well, I'll try again later" and keeps going... probably forgetting about the email altogether

    2. User tries email, it doesn't work. User tries again later, still doesn't work. User contacts sender and gets pissed off when sender says "yeah, I rigged it so you couldn't open my message with that crappy mail program. I'm so 1337."

    I mean sure it's fun to screw with exclusive MS users every once in a while but this just makes the sender look like a little brat...

  • by mikeraz ( 12065 ) <michael@ m i c h a e l s n e> on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:40PM (#2915637) Homepage
    Header to embed in all of your email is:

    X-Message: This could be an Outlook virus! Are you sure you want to continue using Outlook?

    Wish I could take credit for it... A person who receives an email with that in the header will have a red flag displayed next to the item in the list of emails and the message itself will display at the top of the email display when the message is read.

  • by Black Art ( 3335 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:45PM (#2915690)
    I recieve a LOT of mail. Much of it is from Windows users.

    Those users expect me to be able to read their Word format files without complaint. (Like I am going to pay almost $400 for a word processor for 1-2 documents a week.)

    They expect that I read their html formatted mail with bizzare IE-only extensions.

    These are the same people who become totally baffled if I send them a ASCII document with Unix line wraps.

    At some point you get tired of dealing with people who expect the world to conform to their expectations and platform while making *no* effort to adapt to anything outside of their narrow world-view.

    My method of dealing with people who send Word documents is to return the favor by sending them Star Office format. It is amazing how much they complain about it. They expect me to install a very expensive package, but are totally unwilling to install something that costs them next to nothing. ($50 if they buy the boxed version.)

    What I find even more interesting are the people who seem to be backing the Outlook user in this "fight". The Outlook bug that is being exploited is quite old. Not only has Microsoft refused to fix it, it appears that they have removed the work-around. (I still do not see why people continue to use Outlook. The only reason that I hear from people is because they need the calendaring support and shared folders. There are other programs that do similar things. They are just being lazy.)

    Part of the "PC" movement in this country is the unwillingness (in fact that absolute abhorence) to tell someone when they are being stupid. Error-correction is no longer tolerated because someone's feelings might get hurt. Since when did the most sensitive and stupid gain control of what should or should not be done?
    • (I still do not see why people continue to use Outlook. The only reason that I hear from people is because they need the calendaring support and shared folders. There are other programs that do similar things. They are just being lazy.)

      Some of us work at crappy companies where we're required to use Outlook. We rely on Outlook's crappy calendaring and other features. We could use something compatible (like Bynari TradeXCH), but our IT department would rather buy all Microsoft than think for themselves. I can't use something else on my own because I'm running Win2000 Terminal Services and don't have administrator priveleges. (Yup, I'm using a Unix workstation, but I need to use WTS just to read email!)

      So I use Outlook. But the nice thing is, if I get an email virus, who cares! It's IT's problem, not mine. If I can't read an email because of an outlook bug (which is unlikely because I only get work-related email on that account), I can always forward it to my Unix account and read it with elm.

      I'm not lazy; I'm just oppressed. However, next time I go job-hunting, I'm going to pay particular attention to what kind of computing environment they use.
  • Been /.'d already (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:46PM (#2915694) Homepage Journal

    I have to say, I'd like to find a really good approach for dealing with mailers with built-in prejudicial statements in them.

    You know the kind, where you get to see disparaging comments like

    This message is in MIME format. Since your mail reader does not understand this format, some or all of this message may not be legible.
    as if you are using a deficient MUA when you see such text.

    I'd really like a 2-3 sentence autoreply text that could bounce some of those MS Word attachments with similar pronouncements about

    Unfortunately, the .doc attachment you sent me is coded in a special MS proprietary format. Please resend it in an open standard format that is fully described by IETF, ISO, W3C or other international standards body. Also, please request your software vendor to submit their widely-used format for standards approval.
    Most people simply have no idea what standards are, nor the ways or the degree to which they pay for the IT infrastructure that they currently use.

    Their responses are usually quizzical and predictable, "Uhh, so what does it look like to you when Word launches?" Answer: Word doesn't launch. It requires money to launch. It requires that you buy the whole banana to get Word. (There used to be Ted Rall cartoon years ago that parodied the whole issue during the browser war years "Works best with MS House!"

    People so much consider these things like .doc to be standards, that they ought to be made into bona fide standards that are publicly documented, including all the quirks of proper display, instead of just glossing over that they cannot be displayed without paying money to see them, even if its bundled into the cost of your new PC or the Microsoft Enterprise License Agreement for Office, which is probably priced more inelastically than gasoline.

  • For fuck's sake (Score:3, Informative)

    by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:46PM (#2915698) Homepage
    Why are so many people bitching about this? Yes, you certainly are free to use any program you like. Similarly, he's free to add whatever text he likes in the headers and body. If you don't like it, killfile him and don't visit his page or his IRC channel.

    This is really no different from the countless web sites with such poorly-written code that users are forced to use IE for the page to display at all. Stop giving yourselves ulcers over something so insignificant in the daily course of life.


  • by gilbertt ( 41110 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:53PM (#2915748) Homepage

    The actual exploit he is abusing is described here: b; en-us;Q260822
    and is triggered by the text:
    "begin " at the beginning of a line, followed by some text. Outlook renders from the begin onwards as an attachment, even without a matching "end".

    The headers actually do different stuff, as described here:

    Now the headers by themselves are of minor amusement, the begin exploit is extremely discourteous on public mailing lists, as for digest members, it destroys the rest of the disgest - ie. it affects the posts of others.


    Nick seems to think he's being terribly clever, by putting this "begin " in his attribution, so that his every mail is deliberately disruptive to public mailing lists. The whole thing is just a "look how clever I am" stunt and his actions justifications are purile in the extreme.

    Don't condone this behaviour if you object when people send you unreadable html mail, or when script kiddies attack your box "to make you aware of a security problem", or when people take the words "freedom", "open source", and "linux" to support such idiotic, antisocial and deliberately disruptive behaviour.
  • Play God to whom? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ( 184378 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @04:57PM (#2915779) Journal
    I've read a few comments here how this is about "playing God" and it's a bad reflection on the Linux community. Funny how this kind of story will only show up on a pro-Linux site like Slashdot... and only here are people complaining (well, maybe the few Windows users who were denied from posting).

    And why are Windows users the only ones excluded? Why not exclude Mac users too? Aren't they supposed to be even stupider than Windows users? So block two of my computing platforms if you want, I have more...
  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:02PM (#2915831)
    There is an amusing Unix bug ("feature"?) with plain text email that bites co-authors emailing (as in-line text) LaTeX documents back and forth. A line beginning with the 5 characters "From " will have a ">" put in front of it on many systems. This causes LaTeX to render the word as "?From" (with upside down question mark). Once I caught this in the nick of time just before the final proof was submitted. I now routinely change all "From" to "{}From" since I just know my coauthors are going to send it back in-line. But I'd bet there are quite a few published scientific papers out there with the typo "?From" in them.

    I understand the purpose of the ">" is to escape the "From " that separates emails. But I never understood why it was not unescaped upon reading the email.

    By the way the problem is so common that the LaTeX manual has an index entry called, "From, line beginning with", and calls the problem "a bit of fossilized stupidity".

  • by flacco ( 324089 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:07PM (#2915878)
    Start posting messages with pr0n attachments that cannot be viewed in Outlook Express. OE's market share will collapse.
  • by BubbaFett ( 47115 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:09PM (#2915897)
    Here's what Microsoft has to say about it. []

    To workaround this problem:

    • Do not start messages with the word "begin" followed by two spaces.
    • Use only one space between the word "begin" and the following data.
    • Capitalize the word "begin" so that it is reads "Begin."
    • Use a different word such as "start" or "commence."

    That's pretty funny.

  • by Jartan ( 219704 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:19PM (#2915983)
    I hate elitism and I dont like how this guy is doing it but everyones free to be elite if they like. Somehow I think more would be gained by trying to educate outlook users on the bugs though. But then again there are people out there who dont want to understand there computer anymore than the typical person wants to understand his vcr. They just dont care. Just like I don't care what goes in a hot dog. It tastes good thats enough for me.

    Perhaps something else along the same lines but not quite so annoying would be acceptable though. Like html formating your email with the code tag and then putting the html for the email in the code tag. This way outlook displays the same crap we have to see everytime someone sends us an html email! They can still read the msg but its annoying for them just like it is for us. I wouldn't do this all the time but it'd a good once a month thing just to remind all those outlook users dome of us hate html. Even more interesting though is simply using a font tag with a class attribute to set the font to I dunno...4 or 5 pixels! They'd have to squint really hard if they used outlook but to everyone else it would be one tag. Humor like this would serve as a more polite way of poking people about html email but still let them read the page.

  • I know of Ubizen, a Belgian security firm, that filters out all of the Outlook posts from its incoming mail for al of its users. They simply send the message back, including an explanation to the sender that it isn't quite safe to use Outlook and that they're only allowing mail from other mail-clients. Considering this comes from a renown security firm, a lot of people take this advise very seriously. Of course, this isn't quite the same thing but it still is an interesting way to look at the 'Outlook Problem'.
  • by derF024 ( 36585 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:26PM (#2916036) Homepage Journal
    anyone who's ever used mutt to send email (and evolution i've recently found out) and has sent email to outlook express users has come across this.

    outlook express cannot handle RFC compliant MIME messages, and instead displays the text as attachments.
  • Anyone who learns a lot about something will find out, almost invariably, that the rest of the world doesn't do things the best way. I find myself in this situation a lot, and I often find myself frustrated in how difficult it is to get through to people.

    The whole reason I even bother to post to slashdot any more is as an exercise in this kind of argument. (The slashdot crowd is particularly susceptible to this kind of quasi-technical emotional stuff.) Here are some lessons I've learned.

    Rule #1 is: Never be a pedantic asshole. Nobody likes one, unless he's already on his side!

    Rule #2 is: Entice people to do it the better way by showing them how cool it is.

    That's it. Just show people why your thing is better in a non-annoying way. Be excited, not hateful. Most people are very reasonable, and even if they are not convinced, you may have changed their minds slightly and they won't resent you (and your movement) afterwards!
  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:41PM (#2916167)
    Aren't Outlook and OE users punished enough for their foolishness by the likes of sircam? :)
  • OKay. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @05:50PM (#2916211)
    Although I definately agree this has neat hack value...

    I have to ask. What purpose does this have other than making his mail unreadable on OE or WebTV?

    "Forcing him to lock his mail into a subset of readers"... no.. this is the opposite.
    He is deliberately excluding a subset of users.

    For THAT matter..

    Who really has a problem with OE? Outlook, yes, it's done many bad proprietary things that make it a pain in the ass. I *STILL* receive lots of attachments I can't read because they are proprietary to Outlook.

    But Outlook Express seems to me to be fairly well behaved.

    Of course.. I use Eudora on all MS platforms... because it makes keeping years worth of email in folders MUCH easier, and I like how it deals with attachments much better.
  • by Dahan ( 130247 ) <> on Tuesday January 29, 2002 @03:20AM (#2918311)
    Some Swedish guys were crossposting between a Swedish newsgroup and one of the microsoft.public newsgroups for some reason... I have no idea how the thread started; by the time I saw it, it had degenerated into a bunch of Microsofties flaming this Swedish guy who had something like this in his signature:

    This is a .signature virus! Please copy me into your .signature!
    See Microsoft KB Article Q265230 for more information.

    First people were telling him that he had a virus, then people were telling him that he was being a jerk, etc... was extremely amusing :)

    I need to do that next time I post to a MS newsgroup :)

I've got a bad feeling about this.