March 31, 2005

Wonderful Helpful Outlook - NOT!

I use Outlook 2003, and Im not ashamed to admit I use Microsoft products. Sure, I'm a geek, a programmer, a Unix guy and all things Slashdot and Fark, but it boils down to usefulness. I have to say that I've never been infected by a virus or trojan because I use Outlook. I keep my system patched and I don't run executables that people send me - I'm a safe emailer.
Now, with that out of the way - the saga begins. As some of you know, I play chess at the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS). One of the options at FICS is to email your games to you in PGN format. I had briefly discussed this here on my blog, and I wrongly blamed the FICS software for sending me corrupt PGN games. Last night, user DAV at FICS helped me find the root of the problem, and it wasn't FICS at all. It was Microsoft Outlook trying to be helpful. As usual, good intentions lead to bad results. The solution is to tell Microsoft Outlook not to help you...
Microsoft Outlook seemed to feel that any line of the chess game that started with a check (+) in the first move of a word-wrapped line needed to be cut twice and the move repeated. Don't ask me why...who knows who wrote the stupid line wrap-insertion code for Outlook or what drugs they were on at the time. Suffice it to say that inserting extra moves into the middle of a chess game is not conducive to computerized analysis.
The solution is to tell Microsoft Outlook not to help you, by unclicking an option in the mailer called 'Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages' - which, by the way is NOT what it's doing, since there ARE NO LINE BREAKS in the pgn file that FICS sends out. To set this, go to Tools|Options|Email Options and uncheck the box about a third of the way down labeled [Remove extra line breaks in plain text messages]. Now, this will appear to corrupt all of your game emails without the option to repair them with the manual [Restore line breaks] option. To make it effective, close Outlook and re-open Outlook.
Amazingly, all of your emailed games will now be magically fixed. This was important since I wanted my Outlook to automatically process this inbound mail and send it to Crafty for analysis, and post it automatically to my website when it was done. Now I'll be able to complete that little project.


Justhere2020 said...

i am not sure why people use outlook...the 1st thing every virus, trojan and malware do is use your outlook address book...the hell with that! i never install it and life is good, not once in 6 years have i said, "damn i need outlook!" there seems to be no real need for it!

Rich Gautier said...

The use Outlook because it has a nice interface, an open API with lots of sample code, integration with other MS products, and their company probably provided it.

If I have a virus/malware/trojan, the last thing I care is that it has access to my address book. I have much bigger issues at that point. If you mean I'm going to get a virus BECAUSE of Outlook, you're misinformed, or have been reading too much Slashdot rhetoric.

Fact is that I receive countless viruses, and have not once infected myself, and I don't even use a virus scanner at home.

Not once in 21 years of computing have I said "Damn, if I wasn't using Outlook, that wouldn't have happened to me".

Don't listen to the 'net ditto-heads. Get the facts, form your own opinions, and do what you need to do.

I happen to have real reasons for it, so I use it.

I'm going to post an open invitation to hack my email client...maybe it'll liven things up around here.

(basically the same stuff I said in email to author)

Anonymous said...

well its 2006 and i have yet to find my saying damn i need to get out look...its crap...that does nothing more then give hackers one more way into you pc...i have never gotten a virus from mail...cuz i use hotmail and yahoo and they are free and out look is just a other why for bill gates to make money off of not really doing anything more then the nxt person...but i said...never use it ...dont ever find my self wanting it...and never have issues with virus...its all about the there... again out look is crap!