LandzDown Forum

Software & More => Computer Problems, Questions and Solutions! => Topic started by: plodr on August 11, 2019, 04:13:01 PM

Title: Old dog - new trick
Post by: plodr on August 11, 2019, 04:13:01 PM
There is a saying in the US, that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
This old dog learned a new trick and so did her husband!

My husband is on the Zoning Board and gets attachments with files for the upcoming hearings. Lately he has been getting the attachment as a winmail.dat file.
I spent time trying to find out what this was. Apparently it comes from a malformed Outlook account. We don't have Outlook and haven't downloaded email to our computers in 20 years.
My husband did inform the officer that he can't open the attachment he sends. That got him nowhere.

The two previous months I went to a website, uploaded the file and the site converted the attachment into its pdf and jpeg components. I then had to put them into a folder, put the folder on a USB stick and place the folder on my husband's computer. That gets tiresome if you have to do this each month or oftener.

Last night I went searching for a program that could open winmail.dat files. I found two. I downloaded the first one (from 2011). It was small and seemed easy to use from the screenshot. Ah, it works. My husband has 2 ways to open these files: a) right click and select open with Winmail Reader or b) open the program from the shortcut and drag the file into the left pane.

Program he is now using: https://www.winmail-dat.com
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: Corrine on August 11, 2019, 05:13:23 PM
You (guess I should say, "I") wouldn't expect a Zoning Board to be using a malformed Outlook account unless it is the member's personal account, which doesn't seem appropriate for "official" correspondence.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: Aaron Hulett on August 12, 2019, 01:07:38 AM
I had one email I sent with attachments arrive in their inbox this way. I would fashion a guess that someone on the Outlook team messed up something.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: Digerati on August 12, 2019, 02:00:21 PM
Quote
You (guess I should say, "I") wouldn't expect a Zoning Board to be using a malformed Outlook account unless it is the member's personal account, which doesn't seem appropriate for "official" correspondence.
I was thinking this too. I think your husband (or his proxy - you) should contact your community's IT folks and town council and have them set policy. This should be to standardize file types for official business communications just for compatibility concerns, but more importantly, for security.

The security issue alone should drive this as more and more municipality's are having their IT systems locked up and held for ransom - typically compromised through malicious emails. 

The bad guys are not just going after big cities like Atlanta or Baltimore. They're hitting smaller towns and counties too. LaPorte County (https://wgntv.com/2019/07/18/laporte-county-government-pays-130k-ransom-to-hackers/), Indiana has a population of just over 110,000. Midland, Ontario (https://www.narcity.com/news/an-ontario-town-has-been-held-hostage-by-hackers-for-over-a-week-and-its) is little more than a village with less than 17,000 residents.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: plodr on August 12, 2019, 02:17:24 PM
Since Zoning information is public, the information is available to everyone so I don't think it has to be secretive. Signs are posted in front of properties with the date and time of the Zoning hearing. That way, any citizen can come to the meeting and either speak for or against the case(s) to be heard.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: Digerati on August 12, 2019, 02:39:02 PM
That's how it work in my town too. Note I was not talking about anything secretive. Just secure, as in safe and free of malware.

You were referring to an official correspondence from one city official to another city official. That seems to me to be in the purview of the city government (IT dept and assembly). 

And of course, it is the responsibility of the city government to protect its citizens too. So taking steps (especially simple, virtually no-cost steps as setting policy) to protect the public from malware distributed via city networks would be in the city managers interests too. That could protect the city from liability issues too.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: plodr on August 12, 2019, 02:41:36 PM
I wanted to add this.

You can't get blood from a stone. There is no money to pay ransom.
Reading entered Act 47, a state financial recovery program for distressed cities, in 2009. Two years later, the city received the label of the Poorest City in the United States, with 43 percent of its residents living in poverty.


I doubt that we have an IT person.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: Digerati on August 12, 2019, 02:54:20 PM
Quote
I doubt that we have an IT person.
If your city hall, fire department, zoning, police, street, parks, schools have computers, someone handles (or got stuck with) IT. It may not be a dedicated (or paid) position, but someone is wearing that hat - just as you do in your own household.

And again, it takes no money to say all emails must be in plain text and all attachments must be in .jpg or .pdf formats.

That would be a lot cheaper in the long run than having those systems locked and held for ransom.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: Aaron Hulett on August 12, 2019, 09:49:46 PM
I had one email I sent with attachments arrive in their inbox this way. I would fashion a guess that someone on the Outlook team messed up something.

Translation: I don't believe it's the zoning board's issue, but instead an Outlook issue that Microsoft needs to address.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: winchester73 on August 12, 2019, 11:13:47 PM
+1
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: Digerati on August 13, 2019, 03:53:40 PM
Quote
Translation: I don't believe it's the zoning board's issue, but instead an Outlook issue that Microsoft needs to address.
It is an Outlook issue, but not sure MS needs to fix it. IMO, it is not broken - at least not in general.

Winmail.dat files are created when Outlook users create emails with Microsoft Outlook Rich Text Format. That's fine when sending emails to other Outlook users. But if the sender does not know if a recipient is using Outlook, they shouldn't be using that Rich Text Format (RTF)

RTF is not selected by default. HTML is. So that sender must have manually changed it for that one message, or changed the default for all his messages.

The help page in Outlook clearly states over and over again that RTF is a Microsoft format that's supported only by Outlook and MS exchange clients. And it says over and over again that HTML is the best format to use when creating emails that look like traditional docs (with various fonts, colors, bullets, images, etc.). And it is the recommended format.

If that sender did not want to use HTML, he should not have selected RTF. He should have selected Plain Text.

As noted in Outlook Help, RTF is best used within an organization that uses Exchange - but even then, HTML (the default) is still recommended.

Now I will say this, when you are on Exchange and create a doc with RTF, and you send it outside the organization to someone not using Outlook, the message is supposed to be converted to HTML. I am no longer on a corporate network usuing Exchange but I can say that used to work just fine.

So I think the problem is a unique issue with the sender of that message, not something inherent with Outlook that Microsoft needs to (assuming they could) fix. In other words, I say it is "user error" and not Microsoft's or Outlook's.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: Aaron Hulett on August 14, 2019, 05:21:16 PM
I don't use RTF, and Outlook is set to convert RTF mails to HTML when sending, if somehow it goes into RTF format. And yet, I ran into it.
Title: Re: Old dog - new trick
Post by: Digerati on August 15, 2019, 05:03:18 PM
I don't use RTF either. And all my email from all my accounts is initially handled through my spamblocker, MailWasherPro which automatically displays everything in plain test. Of the 50 - 60 emails I get every day, I typically only keep a handful or less. Those get pulled down into Outlook in html format.

I don't know how yours got converted into RTF, unless it was originally sent in that format by someone using Outlook in RTF mode.