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Another idea I wish someone would implement

Impement an automatic content evaluation system for Outlook that identifies uncompressed graphics and gives the option to compress them. I get 1MB+ screen shots emailed to me quite frequently, and these BMPs are about 20KB when compressed using any of the RLE graphics technologies. Yet the user training to teach someone about the importance of graphics formats makes me wish there was a technological solution to this problem.

Dennis Forbes
Friday, October 24, 2003

http://www.lazyweb.org/

Made for just that purpose.

Joe

http://www.joegrossberg.com

Joe Grossberg
Friday, October 24, 2003

I get those all the time, too. I actually managed to get an employee of a client of mine to copy the image to a Word file and send the .doc as an attachment instead. Works great.

Could that be automated?

Interaction Architect
Friday, October 24, 2003

Pasting a clipboard image in a new Word document and e-mailing it to somebody could be automated with VBA quite easily.

But I'm busy.  :P

Kyralessa
Friday, October 24, 2003

I get those (screenshots inside a .doc) from end users sometimes, and I hate it!  Do you really think putting a Word wrapper around an image is a good idea?  It makes the image almost unreadable.

Brian
Friday, October 24, 2003

"Do you really think putting a Word wrapper around an image is a good idea?"

I think the main reason why this happens is because it's trivially easy for users to do.  Ctrl+PrintScreen to do the capture and then just paste into Word.  Pretty much every user has Word and knows how to use it.  Granted, the same thing can be done just as easily with the Paint program that comes with Windows, but the key is that users don't typically use Paint, so it never occurs to them to use it for saving a screenshot.  It's a classic example of the "when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" syndrome.

Matt Latourette
Friday, October 24, 2003

In one application I did had a 'Copy Image to Clipboard' button.  Since the images were graphs (low colour), I would convert them to .Gif.

Of course, users still pasted that into Word and emailed it.  It's easy to do, Paste, File, Send To.

To email directly, their email (Outlook), needs to be set up as HTML, not plain text.

The alternatives are worse (from the user perspective - remember, they pay our bills).  Copy image to file, user needs to go thru the 'Save file' dialog, then open the email and select 'Attach', then remember where they saved the file.  After a few months, you get dozens of old screenshots clogging up their system.

Still, not a bad idea to do lossless compression on the fly (like modems).  Word now lets you compress images in documents, but it's a manual process.  Automatic compression of .BMP to .GIF or .PNG?  Tell MS to add it to Word 2005.

AJS
Saturday, October 25, 2003

What would you pay for an Outlook add-in which automatically applied lossless compression to images and other large files?

John Ridout
Saturday, October 25, 2003

> What would you pay for an Outlook add-in...

Not much, I'd write it myself.

However, you've a couple of problems.  (Does Outlook have VBA yet?)

You're limited in what you can compress.  Whatever compression you use, it needs to be lossless if this is an automatic process.  There is also the case of format change.

Graphics you can almost get away with.  .BMP can be converted to .GIF or .PNG.

Say you're sending a .WAV file.  You can't really convert it to an .MP3.  Should you drop the quality?

Have a bit more of a think about it.  Do people really want Clippy coming up and saying 'I see you're sending a video, do you want me to...'?

AJS
Saturday, October 25, 2003

Not necessarily Clippy, but I personally think it would be brilliant if Outlook would recognize an uncompressed graphic and would pop-up an alert offering to compress it, losslessly, to one of the widely supported formats (such as GIF or PNG), perhaps allowing for such a feature to be toggled automatically on. Apart from the nuisance of being emailed multi-megabyte screenshots that should be no more than a few KB, I would personally utilize such a feature as I frequently email screenshots or segments thereof, a process which means loading up a graphics app, pasting, and converting to a lossless RLE compressed format, saving, and then attaching to the email.

Dennis Forbes
Saturday, October 25, 2003

Many people I know are hopelessly confused by graphics file sizes and compression.

This goes both ways. They either wonder why they get a 6MB scan and can't send it by email, or scan a load of photos and then only save them at the highest possible compression before edtiing, instead of saving them raw and then doing the editing, and any compression.

The concepts are not intuitive however.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, October 25, 2003

It's possible, and would certainly be a good feature if it were transparent.

Powerpoint automatically compresses images, I'm not sure on the details but I assume it converts to .PNG.

You can't do that in email.  Well, you can, but should you?  Can the recipient handle .PNG given they asked for a .BMP?  Most digital cameras output .JPG, do you recompress those?

People seem to have forgotten that you can have compressed bitmaps (.BMP).  You can also have uncompressed .GIFs, but that's silly.

Sounds a worthwhile little project for someone.  If you can avoid it popping up dialog boxes every few minutes complaining about uncompressed files, you've done well.

AJS
Sunday, October 26, 2003

Its already been invented.

Right click a image in Windows XP and click "Send To > Mail Recipient", you get a screen asking if you want to make the pictures smaller before emailing them. And it doesn't do a bad job of compressing them either.

Also the Microsoft Office Picture Manager has the feature as well. Also outlook 2003 itself has the option in the "Attachments" task pane.

ChrisO
Sunday, October 26, 2003

I guess we'll all be upgrading to the next version of MS Office then.

John Ridout
Sunday, October 26, 2003

"'I see you're sending a video, do you want me to..."

...jump off a cliff?

O  Yes
O  Yes, and send a video of plunge and fatal onto the rocks below to Clippy's family
O  No, I already have my virtual shotgun here which will deal with you in a much more entertaining fashion


Sunday, October 26, 2003

People are using Office 2003?  I think 75% of companies are still running Office 97 on Win98.

Haven't seen Office 95 for long time...

AJS
Monday, October 27, 2003

More than 70% of our customers are in the process of upgrading from NT4 with Office 2000 to Windows XP and Office XP or 2003, so maybe we are just lucky. Although we do have the occasional one running Windows 98 or even 95, even a couple have rung up in the past few months running Win3.1.

The only reason we have it though is that we are MCP so we get the MSDN Universal.

ChrisO
Monday, October 27, 2003

I think you're lucky.  Maybe I'm unlucky.

Lawyers love WordPerfect 5.1.  Usually on Novell networks.

Large companies tend to hate upgrading workstations, so Win98 & Office 97 it is.

Oddly, the most advanced has been a federal government agency.  New Dells, with Win XP & Office XP.

I did clean the dust out of a 386-SX a while back.

AJS
Monday, October 27, 2003

Thats our same experience, the australian government departments are all upgrading, as well as some of the bigger public companies, it is the private companies that won't upgrade quickly.

ChrisO
Monday, October 27, 2003

Might have something to do with Microsoft's licensing scheme.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, October 27, 2003

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