atari email archive

a collection of messages sent at Atari from 1983 to 1992.

On a clever email hack

For all of you who use the MAIL program as a form of the "paperless office", I have discovered a bug (pronounced "fea-ture") in same.

CC (carbon copy) was not officially supported in the mail program. But this bug allowed you to signal your intent to CC someone.

This thread is useful in illuminating a few things about the way mail is delivered and how to read mail headers.

A neat trick with mail

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	For all of you who use the MAIL program as a form of
the "paperless office", I have discovered a bug (pronounced
"fea-ture") in same.

	It seems that the addressee line (TO: ...) is parsed
independently of file handling.  Mail looks at each item in
the list, and checks for a double colon (which specifies node
names).  Then it does a logical translation of the node name,
if any, and goes back to the "we expect a name here" part of the
algorithm.  The upshot of this is that you can have MORE than
one node name on any addressee; this does not apply to list names
(in the "@soandso" construct, the soandso must be a legal filename).

	What good it this, you ask?  Well, the normal useful value
is zip.  Presumably it would just take the mail longer to be sent,
cuz it would be routed through a longer path.  HOWEVER, if you don't
give it a normal name, you can use this feature (pronounced "BUG")
in an abnormal way.

	If you:		$ assign " " cc		! for mail
then you can send mail	To:	him, her, them, CC::me, mine
and any of the parties involved can have a nodename.  The CC::
must have a double colon following it, and can have a nodename
following that, for example, "cc::kim::suttles" is valid.
The assign statement in the first line of this paragraph is
required, either interactively or in your (like I
have in mine).  The space between the quotes is required,
cuz there must be some length to a logical name.

	The "value" is that you can show some intent in how
(and maybe why) you are sending the letter to that person.
You could just as easily create a logical name FYI or any
other(s) along the same lines.  They can be used as often
or rarely as you like (to: FYI::him, FYI::her, CC::me, etc.).

	There is one more thing to consider.  This is NOT a
documented feature.  It may not stick around in future versions
of VMS.  Then again, it may.  I have tested it, and it works
as I have described (did I mention you can add them?  like:
to: him, FYI::CC::ERNIE::you, etc)  under the system we are
now using.

	I am not going to stick CC in the system tables, since
CC is also a command for compiling C programs (there is no
conflict, but people MAY want to use CC as a logical name to
point to their C sources, or to other things).  FYI and the
other possibilities will also not be in the system tables,
since I don't know in advance which ones will be used and which
won't, and I am also sure that you will come up with some of
your own.  Also, if DEC changes their mind and it goes away,
I can say "I told you so!!".  Actually, the real reason I
am not going to stick any of that stuff in the system tables,
is cuz I'm lazy.  But don't tell Shepperd.

Message 1 of 1

Jan 09, 1984