[b-hebrew] Hebrew in messages

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Jul 12 18:37:36 EDT 2005

On 12/07/2005 20:05, Karl Randolph wrote:

>Thanks for the reference. I haven’t finished reading it yet. From what I read in the first pages, it appears that MIME standard is limited to US-ASCII only, no Hebrew possible.

On the contrary, the main purpose of this document is to extend previous 
standards to allow precisely the opposite. I quote from the abstract:

>This set of
>   documents, collectively called the Multipurpose Internet Mail
>   Extensions, or MIME, redefines the format of messages to allow for
>    (1)   textual message bodies in character sets other than
>          US-ASCII,
>    (2)...
I think you need to read more carefully, although of course such 
standards are difficult for non-specialists to understand.

>I want to comment on the ibiblio archiving software: if a message is sent throughout the system, should it not be stored in the archives unchanged? If it changes the messaages, is it not a bug? Or is it in Redmondese “a feature” that the messages are not stored unchanged? Even messages sent from your mail program are changed by the ibiblio archiving program, is that what you wanted? Is that what you expected and planned for? Do you see why I call it a bug?

As a message passes through a series of computer systems, typically from 
a human writer to a human reader, what needs to be preserved is the 
CONTENT of the message, which consists (for a text message) of a series 
of characters (sometimes known as abstract characters). These characters 
may be encoded in several different ways, and the encodings used may 
change several times on the way. But this does not matter, because the 
content is unchanged. The underlying encoding is generally hidden from 
the actual human user.

But programs do often provide ways for expert users to peek behind the 
encoding and manipulate the rules. This is done so that people like you 
and me can find out what is happening when something goes wrong, as has 
happened in this case. But we should really look at what happens when we 
are not peeking behind the encoding. When you look at the b-hebrew 
archives in the normal way, do you see anything wrong? I think you will 
see nothing wrong with messages sent by me and most other list members. 
You may see things wrong with messages you have sent, but the bug which 
causes this is in your mail program, not in the archiving software.

>In particular, I noticed that character entities are not stored as character entities, they have been changed to and stored as html text strings. And Hebrew letters that you *think* are being sent as windows-1255 characters, are being changed to and stored as character entities. These are the changes I have been able to document from messages sent from your mail program, not the one I use. I think that is a bug. What other ways is the software changing messages?

The software is changing the encoding of the messages, which is 
permissible, but it is not changing the content.

>What I expect now is that if I go back in the archives to one of your messages with some Hebrew in it, and quote it, that the Hebrew will come out as unintelligeable html text strings. Is that not a bug?
Can you show me an example of this, with one of my messages? Try with 
this one, into which I will now insert some Hebrew in UTF-8 encoding:


And you can look back to 
http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-hebrew/2005-July/023703.html, my 
posting on 5th July, for Hebrew in Windows-1255 encoding - look only at 
the "properly encoded Hebrew characters", the next lines are 
deliberately not properly encoded.

By the way, there is another clear bug in your mail software that it 
does not send information about which message is being replied to, which 
is why the archiving software takes each of your messages as the start 
of a new thread.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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