[OT] Emailing large files (Re: [R] Postscript File Size)

Kjetil Kjernsmo kjetil.kjernsmo at astro.uio.no
Fri Feb 23 18:45:44 CET 2001

On Fri, 23 Feb 2001, Jacob W. Bowers wrote:

>Is there any way to reduce the size of postscript output from R?

Brian D Ripley has responded to that, I'm just addressing another issue,
which is a bit off-topic.

>I'd hate to email a such a huge file.

Indeed, e-mailing such large files are not a Good Thing [tm], and e-mail
was never intended for this purpose. E-mails may be stored on a few
servers on it's way, and as rule of thumb is that no e-mail should be
larger 40 KB, anything larger than that is a waste of resources. 40 KB
isn't a lot, of course, so how should one distribute large files you may

On the web is (one of) the correct answer(s). You just save it to a file
that is accessible by a web server, and you send the URL. After the
recipient gets the file, you may delete it. If it's confidential
information (then, you should think twice about sending it in e-mail
anyway), you should put it on a server that encrypts the data. If it's
just that you'd like to make sure that nobody else sees it, you may put it
protected by a password which you only send to the intended recipient. For
most purposes, I think it is quite sufficient to make a general
username and password for all your contacts, which you give to everyone.
Finally, if the documents need no protection at all, you could just save
them an open directory, but beware that the best search engines may
well find something that is open within a couple weeks even if the
URL isn't broadcasted.

And, in fact, doing this is really easy, at least if you're on a system
with a well configured Apache server. Since configuration differs from
system to system, I shall not go into details, but with Apache server is
often configured to look for a directory called "www_docs" or
"public_html" in user's home directory. I'll recommend creating a
subdirectory called "tmp" for files that you plan to keep just a short
time. Then, you might protect this directory with a password by creating a
file called .htaccess in it, and creating passwords using the program
htpasswd. This is all described in

Most think about sending something to a recipient as an attachment as
fundamentally different from retrieving something from the web, but it is
not. For most, in the first case, you click on something to open in it,
and in the second case you click on something to open it. :-) The
difference is that in the first case, it will open fast because it has
allready been transported to you, in the second case it takes a bit
longer, but in the first case, the total time it has taken longer to be
transported to you than in the second case, and in the first case, you
have not had any chance to decide whether you want it to be transported
to you at all.

I'd like to encourage everyone who doesn't allready, to use the web
actively for purposes like this and encourage their IT departments to
provide tools that supports this use. Internally in the World Wide Web
Consortium, everything is distributed this way, their slogan is "if it's
not on the web, it doesn't exist". It should work very well for everyone,
I think.


Kjetil Kjernsmo
Graduate astronomy-student                    Problems worthy of attack
University of Oslo, Norway            Prove their worth by hitting back
E-mail: kjetikj at astro.uio.no                                - Piet Hein
Homepage <URL:http://www.astro.uio.no/~kjetikj/>
Webmaster at skepsis.no

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