Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online
If you are looking for FAQ documents, for instance, you can access the mail server at rtfm.mit.edu. A mail server is a program that takes requests for information and mails back to you what you want to know. rtfm.mit.edu is home to thousands of the Internet's frequently asked questions and answers lists, which you can retrieve via e-mail. (Actually, this is nothing new. In previous chapters, I've showed how to get a variety of files from the MIT document server.) For information, send e-mail:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: <subject line is ignored> Body: helpYou will soon receive a document explaining how this document server works.
You can also search for and transfer programs, graphic files, and other good stuff from FTP sites using mail servers. A number of FTP-by-mail servers are available. You should use the one that's closest to you.
Note: Please make sure that your system administrator
has approved the use of mail servers. Files can take system resources not only
at your site, but also on computers "up the stream." Telephone line charges for
some electronic mail services--such as FidoNet and UUCP connections--cost real
people real money. Your administrator probably won't like you much if he is
forced to pay for a three-hour, long-distance phone call because you decided to
grab a million files using an e-mail server.
Remember that binary files can't be sent through e-mail, so any files you request will be translated to a 7-bit format. You may be able to choose how your desired files will be encoded--with uuencode or BinHex, for example. Read the server's documentation thoroughly, and experiment by retrieving small files before trying to download every program ever written for your computer.
Note: Electronic mail gateways can be fickle, limiting
the size and type of incoming e-mail, so FTP-by-mail servers allow you to set
the maximum size of messages sent to you. They can split huge files into
smaller chunks that your e-mail gateway can better handle. When you receive the
files, you'll need to put the pieces back together, in the right
Here's a partial list of FTP-by-mail servers:
Subject: <subject line is ignored> Body: help
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