Why do some emails open as HTML code instead of rendering?

by Nanci Hamilton Email

Question: I use SquirrelMail as my mail client. Lately I've been noticing an uptick in the number of emails coming in that open as HTML code, rather than rendering. The remedy is to click "View as HTML" and then "View unsafe images." What I'm wondering is, how does it make the determination to render or not?

Like many things, there isn't just one answer because there are many different email clients. However, here are some of the common reasons.

Client limits

One answer is that if an email is self-contained (no refs to files on a distant server), then it will open. If the email refs resources on a distant server, the email program will not render it--because this would violate your privacy by disclosing information about your location (the destination for the information that is on the server). The number of times a file on the server is accessed can be used to determine how many people opened an email. Some email marketers always include a tiny little, almost invisible graphical element just so that they can gather this data.

Providing multiple formats in the sent message

This should be able to be solved by setting the content type to "multipart/alternative", you can see how that works here: http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc1341/7_2_Multipart.html This specification allows us to send multiple copies of the same email in different formats in the same message.

The reason squirrelmail was displaying the code is probably because the content type wasn't set at all in the headers of the attached emails (it should have been set to text/html, although it seemed to be set sometimes, so I'm not totally sure), so displaying it as text was probably technically the correct behavior (most clients try to auto-detect for html tags and stuff like that if the content type is missing).

Basically what you want is as follows, and the client should pick the appropriate content type that it can best display:

From: Mail sender [mailto:support@mailsender.org] 
Sent: None To: pbena@someorg.org 
Subject: Reporting Reminder 
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=boundary42 

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii 

...plain text version of message goes here.... 

Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1 

....  version of same message goes here ...

The color of time

by Nanci Hamilton Email

Link: http://whatcolourisit.scn9a.org/

This web site displays the Pantone color wheel color equivalent to the current time of day.

Scam alert: Impersonator on Facebook tries to run United Nations & IMF email scam.

by Nanci Hamilton Email

A business associate of mine from a few years ago sent me a friend request on Facebook. The picture is of her and though I had not heard from her for a long time, I saw no harm is accepting her friend request.

I was surprised to hear from her via Facebook message just a short while after accepting her request. It made me wonder if there was an ulterior motive behind her request. But it soon apparent that this was a scam. Someone was impersonating my old acquaintance to try to steal.

Here's a transcript of the conversation:

FRIEND: hello how are you doing?

ME: Hi Sally

FRIEND: doing good

ME: I am doing well

FRIEND: well am so excited today

ME: Tell me why?

FRIEND: united nations help commission & IMF have really change my life for good,have you heard about them yet? 

[Note: This is exactly the message, which was my first tip off. Sally is an excellent writer—a stickler for good grammar and spelling.]

ME: No

FRIEND: the united nations help commission & International Monetary Fund come together to setup an organization 
set up to help people financially with money all over the world to take care of young,old and retired, 
buy houses, pay rents.i got $80,00cash from them. did you get the money too ?

[More garbled spelling and grammar. This is most certainly not Sally.]

ME: http://www.vopnc.org/Residents/News-Announcements/Details-Page/ArticleID/52/Scam-Alert-From-United-Nations-Compensation-Commission

Suddenly, I can no longer send any Facebook messages to this person. Don't be fooled if someone you "know" tries the same trick on you.

Scam: "Your LogMeIn Pro payment has been processed!"

by Nanci Hamilton Email

I received this email this morning:

Dear client,

Thank you for purchasing our yearly plan for LogMeIn Pro on 25 computers.
Your credit card has been successfully charged.

Date : 17/2/2015
Amount : $999 ( you saved $749.75)

The transaction details can be found in the attached receipt.
Your computers will be automatically upgraded the next time you sign in.

Thank you for choosing LogMeIn!

Attached to the message is a document (logmein_pro_receipt.doc). I did not open it. A quick search on the Web turned up this link: https://techhelplist.com/index.php/spam-list/718-your-logmein-pro-payment-has-been-processed-malware that describes the scam in more detail. It matches my situation precisely, including the amount of the alleged payment and discount.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the alleged payment was collected.

If you receive such an email, do not open the attachment. Please leave a comment if this posting has been helpful.

Philip Larkin, poet

by Nanci Hamilton Email

Link: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178058

Leda, my extraordinary friend, led me to read the poem Aubade today, and I experienced the rare sublime joy of finding my own thoughts and musings captured and expressed with greater subtlety, clarity and focus than I could ever have expressed.

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