File corruption and 7 bits

Claude_Setzer at Claude_Setzer at
Mon Dec 16 19:00:04 UTC 1996

Dear Dominik,

I want to apologize if my comment seemed to be critical or disrespectful to
the Indology sever or to you. I have very great respect and admiration for
both the server and you. In fact, I sincerely believe that your contributions
to the Indology list server and to the website will cause you to long be
remembered as one of the world's greatest contributors to knowledge of
Indology and to world culture in general. I will be at the World Sanskrit
Conference and hope to meet you there.

>In you note, you said: "There was no fault with INDOLOGY's 
>listserv; what was distributed is what you sent.  I am surprised 
>you risked sending the message a second time,
>after the comments you received. "

First of all, I did not consider it in any way a bad thing that a file
happened to be corrupted while going through the Indology server. In my
opinion, computers are just like people and cannot possibly avoid occasionally
making a mistake or data error. My comment was meant only to give information
to those who had had trouble with my file and to insure them that I had not,
as one person accused me, intentionally caused a computer to crash.

I am quite surprised that you do not think there is a possibility of your
server ever adding a data bit to a file, especially since your administrator
recently sent a message that he was having so much trouble with the server
that he had temporarily shut it down. Also, many people, including myself,
received several dozen duplicate files last week from your server.

I believe the data strongly points to a possible corruption of a few files
that may, in some way, be related to the Indology server, but I will give you
the information and let you decide your own opinion. Based on the following
information, I decided to resend the message for two reasons: 1) I was
convinced that the corruption was a random occurrence and would not happen
again and I wanted to show people that it was an innocent event from my side.
(This belief was supported by the fact that my second sending did not have any
problem.) 2) Many people had sent me very positive and supportive personal
messages about my original posting, and I thought those who had had trouble
with the file would appreciate receiving the uncorrupted version.

The information is as follows: I originally made only one message and sent it
simultaneously to two list servers. It used the same software and went in
exactly the same way. The copy that went through the ISO_tc46 server came back
to me uncorrupted. The one that went through Indology server came back to me
with some addition that caused my email software to think that 40,000 carriage
returns had been added to it. It does not seem that anyone on the ISO group
received a corrupted file. The interesting point is that, even on the Indology
list, many people reported to me that the file they received was not corrupted
and they did not see why some people were so upset. Even people that are on
the same email link as I am received uncorrupted versions of the file. Also,
several people reported that my file was not corrupted but that they had
received files from other people that had similar corruption and one person
reported that he had received a file from me before, that had gone through a
different sever and had this type of corruption. It seems to me that his type
of corruption occasionally happens on servers and that there might have been a
short period of time when some of the copies of my file were going out that
the Indology server or something in its immediate data path had a noise
problem, etc.

>You also said:
>Given the point you were making, it seems ironic that the header of your
>email contained the following line:

  >      Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

>This is the reason why 7 bit encodings are -- regrettably -- still

The reason I sent the message this way is very simple. The Indology rules say
that if you send mail from a server other than the one you registered on, the
mail will not be accepted. The one I registered on removes the eighth bit for
all characters before "
server will be retired in a few days, and I will be on one that gives the
option for 8 bit email. To me this seems to be a reason, not to continue 7 bit
systems, but to quickly remove all of them. It is interesting to note that it
is even possible that the reason for this file corruption and the fact that it
did not affect some people may be related to the continual conversions back
and forth between 7 and 8 bit files. My server, for example, is set to strip
the last bit of every character on outgoing mail, but easily accepts 8 bit
characters on incoming mail. I sent many messages to my self from an 8 bit
outgoing system to confirm this. (You can also observe this phenomenon on the
Indology files recently sent..."Test of ASCI"  encoding.)

I am now even more convinced that there is no real reason why email systems
strip bits from characters and we should all work towards making 8 bit
characters the standard. I will discuss this more in a separate message. 

Thank you again for your many contributions to Indology. I send you my kindest
regards and respect, and hope that this message will be received in the
innocent, friendly manner that it is intended.

Claude Setzer


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