ART: FTP Pictures Sources on Internet.

Although this is one of two large files, it is desirable to make those
persons in art who monitor this list aware of their existence. This
information will become part of the archival material of the design list.

- - The original note follows - -

Xref: news.answers:2054
From: [email protected] (Jim Howard)
Subject: FAQ - General info
Supercedes: <[email protected]>
Message-ID: <[email protected]>
Sender: [email protected] (Usenet News)
Organization: Cadence Design Systems, Inc.
Date: Fri, 3 Jul 1992 11:50:32 GMT
Approved: [email protected]
Expires: Fri, 31 Jul 1992 00:00:00 GMT
Lines: 728

Archive-name: pictures-faq/part1
Last-modified: 9 June 1992

This is part 1 of the FAQ for the* hierarchy.
This part of the FAQ contains "general", or
operating-system independent information. It answers (hopefully) all
the questions you may have about the pictures newsgroups, decoding and
encoding techniques, and picture formats.

For information on your particular system and on specific utilities,
consult part 2 of this posting.

Before posting to these groups for the first time, please check the FAQ
list (this posting - including part 2), and also read the newsgroup
news.announce.newusers, which contains many answers to questions about
UseNet in general.

If you've read previous versions of this FAQ, you'll still probably want
to read anything that has changed since the last distribution - this is
a "live" document, and is always getting important information added or
updated. Anything that's changed is easy to find, since it's always
marked with the notation ">>".

GENERAL RULES OF ABP* ETIQUETTE: is for erotic pictures ONLY. is for the Discussion of pix in ABPE, etc. is for "tasteless", "bizarre", or
"grotesque" pictures ONLY. is for fractal pictures ONLY. is for the remaining types of pictures ONLY. is for the Discussion of pix in ABPT, ABPF, ABPM, etc.
>> is for the posting of source or binary
>> executables of pictures-related software.
Comp.sources.misc is a good place for image-viewing source code. is a good place for discussion of image formats. is for discussion of image format translation.

Throughout the remainder of this document, any newsgroup in the* hierarchy WITHOUT the '.d' extension (including, but
not limited to,,
and will be referred to as "the pictures
newsgroups", and those WITH the '.d' extension (including, but not limited to and will be referred
to as "the discussion newsgroups".

The pictures newsgroups are for pictures ONLY (if it's not a picture,
don't post it in any of these newsgroups)!!!! It has been pointed out
that some sites carry the pictures newsgroups without also carrying the
discussion newsgroups. This is very unfortunate, as there is often
valuable information contained in the discussion newsgroups that anyone
who frequents the pictures newsgroups would find of interest. If your
site doesn't carry the discussion newsgroups, complain to your news
Note that even this posting is in violation of this etiquette, but does
so to assure that everyone has the benefit of the information contained

Thank you for honoring this age-old UseNet netiquette guideline.

You're reading it, so you already have it, of course! But just in case
this is an old version, and you want the latest and greatest, you can
get it by anonymous FTP, or through e-mail by using the services
available from a couple of mail servers. For anonymous FTP access,
you can look on either [] in the directory
/pub/usenet/news.answers, on [] in directory
NEWS.ANSWERS, on [] in directory /pub/FAQ, or on [ or] in directory /pub/usenet. In all
cases, you'll want to get one or both of the FAQ parts named as files
"pictures-faq/part1" and "pictures-faq/part2". Both parts are also
available on [], in the gifstuff directory
as FAQ.abp.1 for part 1 and FAQ.abp.2 for part 2.
For e-mail access, send a message to [email protected] with
the mail body "send usenet/news.answers/pictures-faq/part1" to get the first
part, and "send usenet/news.answers/pictures-faq/part2" for the second, or
e-mail to [email protected] with "send NEWS.ANSWERS/pictures-faq/part1"
and/or "send NEWS.ANSWERS/pictures-faq/part2" in the body of the message.
>>Throughout this file, the "I"s are from the original author
(Dave Read) unless otherwise expressly noted.
Comments from Steve Quinn are denoted by "S-NOTE:".
Comments from Jim Howard are denoted by "J-NOTE:".

This file is intended to be a general introduction to the pictures
newsgroups, answering some common questions concerning pictures posted
in those newsgroups, namely how to decode and view them. It is not, of
course, possible to cover everything, but I will try to to get as much
as I can into this file. If you feel something important has been
omitted and you know the subject well, please write me so I can
include the info for future releases.
[J-NOTE: E-mail should be sent to [email protected] for these purposes.]

Before you miss an important detail contained in this file, let me
"pre-repeat" that I have tried to make many of the programs mentioned
in this document available for anonymous ftp at
(, in the gifstuff directory. If you think I've omitted
something important in the viewers-only archive, feel free to let me
know. Also: there are NO GIF files of any kind at this site! Save
your time and don't bother looking for them!

[J-NOTE: Articles contained in the news groups in the*
hierarchy are available ONLY by subscribing to those groups through UseNet;
there are no FTP archive sites (with the exception of a.b.p.fractals - see
the "ftpsites" list on bongo), mailing list, or mail servers that allow
access to these articles. If you want access to the pictures hierarchy, your
site must subscribe to it; talk to your news administrator!]

OK... on to the real reason you're reading this document...



By far the most common method of posting files to the pictures
newsgroups is the UUENCODE standard. This program, shipped standard
with most implementations of UNIX, converts binary files into plain-text
ASCII files which can be handled by the mail system. You will need a
version of UUDECODE before anything else in order to view anything
downloaded from the net. If your system does not have a version of
UUDECODE available, you can get one via anonymous ftp from, in the gifstuff/uutools directory.

The format of a uuencoded file consists of an optional "table specification",
which consists of the word "table" alone on a line, followed by one or more
lines containing the characters that will be used in the remaining encoded
data. Following this, the standard requires the line containing only the text
"begin <permissions> <filename>" (where "<permissions>" is a three-character
numeric string, and "<filename>" notes the name of the decoded file - for
example "begin 640 myfile.gif"). This "begin" line is then followed by
several lines of approximately 63 characters, all beginning with a capital
"M", and containing any non-lower-case printing character (and very rarely
resembles anything but absolute gibberish). Optionally, one to two lines
may be blank or contain less than the normal number of characters if those
lines are immediately before the line containing the "end" notation. The
"end" text alone on a line marks the conclusion of the uuencoded data. Any
information that does not fit into the above classifications are termed as
either "headers" or "trailers", and are not intended to be included in the
information to be decoded. For example, the following represents a valid
uuencoded file (although it contains no useful information - don't bother
decoding it!):

Attachment Converted: "D:\0000DOWN\bogus.file"


Most decoders are smart enough to ignore anything before the "begin" line
and after the "end" line.

The first step is to save the file you want to view... in most versions
of the newsreader, this is done by pressing 's' followed immediately (no
spaces) [S-NOTE: my rn will allow spaces, though] by a file name.
You will usually be asked if you want to save it in mailbox format;
you should answer 'n'. [S-NOTE: This is important because files will
get messed up or not saved properly if you choose a mailbox format. I
don't claim to understand the workings of it. I think it has something
to do with the mailbox file getting full and dumping older stuff out.]

In the case of a single-part file, you can now uudecode the file,
which will create whatever output file is encoded. You can usually
tell if it's a single-part file by looking on the subject line;
standard netiquette is to make something like [03/06] part of the
subject line, which indicates you're on part 3 of a 6-part file. If no
numbers are there, you can usually assume it is a 1-part file. If
not, feel free to write the poster (directly... please don't waste
bandwidth by posting) and request that he/she put this info in the
subject line. Be nice about it! Another way to determine if a file
is a single-parter is if both the uuencode "begin" and "end" lines
(as outlined above in the description of the uuencode format) are
included in the file.

For multi-part files, life is a little more difficult. If all you
have is a standard UUDECODE program (as opposed to a "smart decoder"),
you will need to trim the headers and trailers out from the rest of the
information. You can either do this by saving each part in its own file
and editting them separately, then concatenate the editted files together
to make one big file (this might be your only choice if your editor can't
handle large files!), or you can save each part in order into one big
file and then edit all the headers and trailers out from that file.
Either way, you'll need to run the result through UUDECODE. You can use
your favorite text editor to strip out header and trailer information.

There are several "smart decoders" out there that will handle all of
the header/trailer stripping and decoding for you (some will even make
sure that the pieces are in order!) - see part 2 of this posting for

Some articles are actually posted with easy decoding in mind, and contain
UNIX shell script headers/trailers that facilitate easier decoding. This
is often very helpful, as it saves you a lot of work, and can also provide
error checking not available in a "normal" uuencoded posting. These
postings nearly always contain instructions on their use, so I won't
attempt to explain all the details here (there's no set "standard" for
this type of posting anyway).

Some news readers have an "extract" capability that greatly simplifies
life by automatically decoding articles - this means you don't have to
go to the hassle of saving to a file and then decoding. I know that
newer versions of rn, nn, and trn can handle this - check the "man"
page or ask your news administrator to find out if you can let your
news reader do the work for you!

If you're going to download the picture file to a home machine, or move
it around a network, remember that most outputs are going to be BINARY
files, so set your transfer protocol accordingly. [S-NOTE: Please be
aware that it is the decoded file that needs to be moved around in binary,
not the encoded one (though I suppose it would work). Also be aware that
if you transfer, say, a GIF file in ascii, you won't notice a problem
until you try to view it. Then you'll be sorry.]


OK. Now you've got this great picture file from downloading it and
running it through UUDECODE. What is it, and what do you do with it?

The most common type of picture is the GIF format (which usually has
a .GIF or .gif file suffix). GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format,
and is a standard format for images that was developed by CompuServe to
be a device-independent method of storing pictures. It includes
Lempel-Ziv-Welch (LZW) compression, which makes the files fairly small.

JPEG is another standardized image compression mechanism, which stands
for Joint Photographic Experts Group (the original name of the committee
that wrote the standard). It seems more and more common that JPEG-type
pictures (.JPG or .jpg file suffix, usually) are getting posted to the
net. Some claim that JPEG is destined to overtake GIF format in popularity,
because it is the most compact method to store 24-bit data, but mostly due
to the fact that it uses much less space to store the same picture (this is,
in fact, true - I have seen many examples of this phenomenon). This may be
an accurate assessment, but this will probably take a while to happen, as
most people HAVE GIF software/viewers, but lack JPEG equivalents.
Undoubtedly, however, this too shall change, but at this point, JPEG is
recognized as still being in its infancy. But, if you prefer to be on the
leading (bleeding?) edge, it is possible to get software both to view JPEG
pictures, and to convert JPEG to and from other formats, as detailed in
part 2.

The latest and greatest info about JPEG is included in the Tom Lane's
"JPEG image compression: Frequently Asked Questions" (archive name is
"jpeg-faq"), posted on a regular basis to the,,,,
and news.answers newsgroups. Some details on JPEG are also included in
part 2 of this posting.

Of course, to view a picture of a particular type, you will need a viewer
that supports that type (again, for specifics on viewers for your
particular configuration, see part 2 of this posting).

There are other types of single-picture files posted to the net,
although they are not as common as GIF or JPEG files. Other than the
difference in the viewing software, the downloading/decoding and
encoding/uploading procedures are identical as for other types of pictures.
Platform-dependent picture types and conversion programs are discussed
in part 2 of this posting.

Occasionally people get into an argument about which standard is best.
I think the answer is: WHO CARES?!? The only thing I have to say
about this matter is that almost every machine under the sun already
has a program written for it to view GIF files, and if yours doesn't,
shareware or PD source code is available almost everywhere.

Commonly people post files to the net with a .GL extension. These
files are actually animated picture-shows that can be viewed on a small
number of system types.

Usually, GL files are huge, so people often compress them with one of
several popular compression/archiving packages. Perhaps the most
common is the PC family's PKZIP package. If a GL file is posted with
a .ZIP extension, you know it's been ZIP'ed. Similarly, if it has a
.Z extension, it's been compressed with the UNIX `compress' utility.
"Uncompression" tools of either type are available for various types of
systems - part 2 has the necessary details.

Files of a .DL extension are also sometimes posted. These are very
similar to GL files, except in format and in the fact that DL files allow
color "movie" viewing, so of course it takes different software to view
them (this software is also discussed in part 2).


A common question that is asked is this one: what should I post to the
net? The basic answer is: anything you'd like to see here yourself!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of how to post, I should say a few
things about the loose etiquette of posting.

The first thing is this: it's probably best to restrict yourself to
one or at most two images per day. I know you've got over 600 MB of
absolutely stunning images that you're dying to distribute all over
the world. However, the net gets severely loaded down by these images,
since they are typically 100 - 300 KB each. When you post ten of
them at once, you're transmitting megabytes of data all over the net,
which shows up in the weekly Arbitron ratings when pictures newsgroups
account for something like 50% of the entire net traffic, and 75% of
the alt.* traffic. We need to be self-policing if the pictures
newsgroups are going to avoid being axed by nervous sysadmins.

Second, be sure to give subject lines that are informative, like:
CRSH+BRN.GIF [02/08]: Plane crash at an air show, 800x600x256
Notice that it includes everything: the file name, what part of how
many this one is, a short description, and the resolution. If you
insist on leaving everything *else* out, at least say the name of
the file and which part it is!
In the "erotica" newsgroups, it's also popular (and often demanded!)
to include the picture subject's gender (i.e. "{male}", "{female}",
"{both}", etc.). The gender should be considered as part of the
minimal set of information in the "erotica" newsgroups, as the addition
of this information to the subject line makes it possible for people to
avoid spending time downloading stuff they don't care about.

Third, in the actual message you're posting, be sure to give at least
a brief description of what's in it, like:

CRSH+BRN.GIF 800x600x256 (in 8 parts)

This is 15th in the series of this plane crash at the Beirut Air Show
taken at every single conceivable angle. This one was taken from a
photograph by a guy who happened to be standing directly under the
plane as it came down. Pulitzer Prize material. At least the camera
was saved.

Also, checksums are nice, for people with access to sum programs. It
helps people identify erroneous transmissions. Usually people say
things like

Checksums: (obtained with 4.2 BSD 'sum' or SysV 'sum -r')
between 'CUT HERE lines':
part 1: 76663 9082
part 2: 78973 1234

Finally, if you got the file from some FTP site that was announced
over the net, don't bother posting it. 5-to-1 odds say that everyone
and his dog already have it, and we *really* need to be careful about
wasting bandwidth! If you're unsure of whether there's any interest
in it, just post a short message saying: "I have this file. Mail me
if you want a copy." If 500 people say they want one, post it... if
only one bozo from outer mongolia wants it, it's a sure bet that the
picture has already made the rounds! [J-NOTE: You might consider
*e-mailing* it to the bozo from outer mongolia instead!]

[J-NOTE: the same goes if you see a request! If that same bozo posts
a request for T2.gif and you've got it and are thinking about posting it,
*MAIL* it to him/her instead! This will eliminate the problem of the same
picture getting posted to the net on a weekly basis (and pissing a lot of
people off in the process)!!!]

OK... on to the how-to's of posting.

First things first: if you have a GIF file, don't bother trying to
run some compression routine on it... it *won't* work. LZW compression
(the kind used in GIF files) is a very efficient compression scheme,
and happens to be the one used in many common compression routines
(including the standard UNIX `compress' utility!). If you try to
compress a GIF file, it will usually just end up getting bigger.

OK. You need to UUENCODE the file. Find an encoder and encode it!
If the output file is particularly large (i.e. more than 60 KB), it
would be wise to split up the encoded file into smaller parts (< 60 KB)
and then post those. You can split the file with a text editor if you
like, or check part 2 for more specifics on splitting utilities.

If you do post a multi-part file, be sure to add lines before and
after the data that say 'CUT HERE' so that people trimming the headers
and trailers by hand know where to cut. A recent addition to the
etiquette also has you make the lines say 'BEGIN-----Cut Here' and
'END-----Cut Here' at the obvious locations, so that simple AWK and
PERL scripts can handle multi-part files. Another nice thing to do is
to put the part (02/06) numbers in each file. Again, the afore-
mentioned 'super' uuencode programs will do most of this for you. It
is important to make the "Cut Here" parts in mixed-case or lower-case
letters; some decoders detect data based on the presence of characters
which belong in the normal uuencoding character set, and they will
choke on lines which are all upper-case, since these lines contain
only characters which belong in the set. If you mix the cases, these
decoders will do fine... Remember (if you add "BEGIN" and "END"
keywords) to make "BEGIN" and "END" all caps so existing scripts won't
miss them, and so uudecoders won't choke on them.

Now post the files... and remember to include the neat info mentioned
earlier, like subject lines that mean something, descriptions,
checksums, etc... One thing that has been pointed out to me recently
is that certain newsreaders (NN, for example) sort the articles
alphabetically by title, so subject lines with part numbers get
displayed and saved in order. There is an obvious (and common) way to
torpedo this process: make subject lines which do not follow sequentially.

An example:
first article's subject: "plane crash GIF: CRSH+BRN (part 1 / 4)"
subsequent articles' subjects: "CRSH+BRN (part N / 4)"
These subject lines will not be displayed and sorted correctly by NN.

However, if you change the arrangement a little, like this:
first article's subject: "CRSH+BRN (part 1/4) plane crash GIF"
subsequent articles' subjects: "CRSH+BRN (part N/4)"
you will please NN-users the world over.

That's about it for posting!


The pictures newsgroups are certainly not the only source for pictures,
nor are GIF files the only types available (see section II). The most
likely place you are to find other pictures is in an archive that is
reachable via FTP. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and is a
program for transmitting files over the network. To use FTP, you will
need access to a computer with the FTP program, and a network connection.
[S-NOTE: Be aware that files on FTP sites will probably NOT be UUENCODED,
so remember to transfer in binary when getting non-text files.]
[J-NOTE: For the greatest level of detail on FTP, you should refer to
the posting "How to find sources (READ THIS BEFORE POSTING)", which is
periodically posted to comp.sources.wanted, alt.sources.wanted, and
news.answers. OR you can execute either 'finger [email protected]' or
'finger [email protected]' to get a quick tutorial. Additionally, it
is possible to get files from anonymous FTP sites via e-mail. For details
on this wonderful facility, send an e-mail containing the text "help" to
>>[email protected] For those of you on BITNET, send an e-mail
>>containing the text "help" to [email protected] Now you too can
get all sorts of great utilities from anonymous FTP sites using an e-mail

[J-NOTE: Due to popular demand, an anonymous FTP site list of pictures-
related "stuff" has now been compiled and is available from bongo in
/gifstuff/ftpsites. This list is by no means guaranteed to be accurate
or comprehensive, but hopefully most of the information is valid. BTW,
this list is a condensed and supplemented version of the Jan. 20, 1990
revision of Jon Granrose's ([email protected]) "List of Hosts that
Accept Anonymous FTP Requests", which is posted regularly to comp.misc,
comp.sources.wanted, and alt.sources.wanted, and also available via
anonymous FTP from ( Any additions or
corrections would be most welcome and appreciated!]

Most ftp programs will allow you to enter something like
which will connect you with the mighty SIMTEL-20 archives at the White
Sands Missile Range. Occasionally, you will encounter an ftp program
that is old enough or slothful enough that it does not recognize
internet-style addresses like the one above. In that case, you'll
need to know the computer's numeric address; for SIMTEL-20
you would enter

Once you're connected, you'll have to tell the computer at the other
end that you want to log in, by entering USER (some machines save you
this step by *assuming* you want to log in. What else would you want
to do?) When you are prompted for an account name, enter
When it asks you for a password, enter *your* internet address.

Often the machine to which you are trying to connect will be busy
(i.e. too many anonymous users), in which case the machine will inform
you of this and throw you off. Try again later.

Now you're in. What do you do? Well, you need to know where the
files are stored that you want. If you know this, just
cd directory-name
to the directory in question. Then you can do a DIR to find out
what is in it.

So you see a file called CRSH+BRN.GIF and you want it for yourself.
What do you do? Well, the first thing is to tell the computer on the
other end that you want it to transmit a binary file. On most FTP
servers, entering the magic word TENEX will do this. If the machine
doesn't recognize TENEX, try BINARY, or if all else fails, you can
Be sure to do this for GIF files or you'll get garbage when you try
to view them!
[J-NOTE: The difference between TENEX and BINARY is in translation of data
type sizes - if your machine type has different data type sizes than the one
you're downloading from, use TENEX, otherwise use BINARY. If you're not
sure, try TENEX first (if the command isn't recognized, you're probably OK).]

Now you're ready to grab the files you want. You have two options:
you can type
get filename
mget wildcard
where wildcard is any UNIX-style wildcard. MGET will get all files
that satisfy the specification.

When you're done grabbing files, type QUIT or BYE to log off the remote
>>machine and return to yours. Now you're ready to view the picture -
>>no decoding step necessary (neat, eh?)!

A word about anonymous FTP and GIF files. When you log onto a remote
machine via anonymous FTP, please try to restrict yourself to no more
then ten minutes of transmission time, or about five to ten files. As
you can imagine, when people discover a new archive of GIF files,
they are all hot to download every one they can, and often they jam up
the site for *days*. You'll notice this effect the first time some
bozo announces the name of a new GIF archive. You won't be able to
get through without persistent efforts over several hours or even a
day or two. Then the system administrators of that site notice that
they have had about $5,000 worth of anonymous FTP over the last two
days, and revoke the anonymous FTP privilege. Now every one is

Be considerate; grab only a few files and then let someone else have a
chance. This probably won't solve the problem in the long term (still
everyone and his dog will be ftp'ing into that machine), but at least
it will spread the wealth a bit.

[J-NOTE: Most of the non-erotica pictures that appear in postings to the* hierarchy are available from anonymous FTP sites
(again, see bongo's "ftpsites" list), but this is of course not guaranteed.

As for anonymous FTP sites for erotica pictures, THEY DO NOT EXIST. Even if
you find an anonymous FTP site that *appears* to have erotica pictures, it is
merely an illusion. As the sage once said, "Revel in your illusions, don't
share them." The effects of sharing your illusion in this case *ALWAYS*
results in your illusion being rendered non-existent (in one way or another).
For this very same reason, it is considered very poor form to ask someone
else to share their illusions with you. If you were considering asking for
a list of anonymous FTP sites with erotica pictures -- don't.]

The other most common method for obtaining files is from an archival
file server. Most of these work in the following way: you send mail
to the server's address, with one-line commands in your message, like
directory \pictures\gif\family-oriented
send \pictures\gif\family-oriented\CRSH+BRN.GIF
and the requested info is sent back to you at some later time, when
the server has time to get around to it.

The first step when you discover a server system is to send a HELP
command so you can learn what the commands are for that server.
However, most servers operate with commands basically similar to those
listed above.


These two types of newsgroups work basically the same way as the and c.b.i.p.d groups; one is for posting new
material, and one is for discussing posts and other issues.

The basic idea is this: if it is a picture, post it to the appropriate
ELSE (INCLUDING UTILITIES!!), post it to the associated discussion newsgroup
>>or to an appropriate utilities newsgroup (like a.b.p.utilities, for example)!
The truth is that I feel bad about posting *THIS FILE* to the pictures
newsgroups, because it is not a picture. However, the benefits of restricting
the requests for info far outweigh the detriment of breaking the
until-recently-unwritten rule.


[J-NOTE: How should you react if you notice someone violating this sacred
rule? Probably the *worst* thing you can possibly do is follow-up to the
offending posting and yourself violate the same rule! After all, what good
are you doing by bitching about someone violating a rule you ignore yourself?
If you really *must* follow-up, make sure and edit the Newsgroups: line so
that your post is re-directed to the discussion newsgroup. Another technique
you might try is just ignoring the post - if enough people did this, it's
entirely likely that there would soon be no discussion at all in the pictures
newsgroups, except for the occasional newbie or someone not wise enough to
read this FAQ - and they'd learn eventually. I suggest the following course
of action, in order of preference:
1) Respond via e-mail. Gently suggest that they take discussion to
the discussion newsgroup. Answer the question/request if you can.
Suggest that they read this FAQ to get more information and to
better understand pictures newsgroup etiquette.
2) Follow-up only if you can answer the question/request, re-directing
your posting to the appropriate discussion newsgroup (edit the
Newsgroups: line). Suggest that they read this FAQ to get more
information and to better understand pictures newsgroup etiquette.
3) Ignore the posting. They'll most likely get the hint eventually.
4) Follow-up only if you can answer the question/request, re-directing
the follow-ups of your posting to the appropriate discussion
newsgroup (edit the Followup-to: line -- your posting will go to
the pictures newsgroup, but anyone following up to your posting
will go to the discussion newsgroup). Gently suggest that this
type of posting belongs in the discussion newsgroup, and that
that's where follow-ups have been re-directed. Maybe even throw
in a small uuencoded picture at the end of your posting, just to
make it "legal". Suggest that they read this FAQ to get more
information and to better understand pictures newsgroup etiquette.
The more people that respond in a positive way, the fewer the flame wars, and
the more pictures vs. discussion will end up in the pictures newsgroups!]


Well, you've downloaded the file, tried to view it, and got garbage.
What went wrong?

The two most likely places for something to go wrong are both in the
transmission of the file. The first is this: when you downloaded the
file to your home computer, did you remember to tell the modem-
transfer software that you're sending a binary file?

The second-most likely is that you forgot to say TENEX before you
grabbed the file via FTP.

Either of these will result in mangled files that are unviewable by
anything known to man.

Also: did you remember to trim off the header and trailer information if
you are/were using a "simple" uudecoder? The symptom of forgetting to
do this is usually a message something like "short file" from your GIF
[S-NOTE: I have also seen a problem where blank lines are left between
parts (or anywhere for that matter) within the 'begin' and 'end' lines
of the uuencoded file. Uudecode will get through them fine, but some
GIF viewers will choke on the results. The only blank line I've seen
get by is the one just before the 'end' statement. Beware of taking
too much or not enough off of the headers and trailers.]

>>Another common problem is this one: IBM mainframes often use an
>>EBCDIC character set (yes, there's more than one EBCDIC set!) instead
of the ASCII set used by everyone else. This wouldn't be a problem except
that most ASCII-EBCDIC converters have a bug which mungs the translation
of several characters, including ^ { } and a few others. Even this
wouldn't be a problem except that the particular munging it does is to
map several of these characters onto the *same* wrong character. Ooops.

The way around this is not to use uuencode to transfer these files,
but to use xx-encode, which produces files which look almost exactly
like uu-encoded files, but they use a character set which is
IBM-proof. If you are using an IBM mainframe as your host computer
and you're having trouble decoding files, this is most likely your
problem. Solution: 1) find a kind soul who is willing to uudecode the
files, xxencode them and send them to you, 2) get the files via FTP,
which should be EBCDIC-proof, or 3) get a better computer that uses
everybody else's character set. :-)

Almost all of the problems described above can be checked by using
GIFTEST to check the GIF file's integrity on your host machine before
you download it. I have recently added the source code for GIFTEST to
the archive at bongo. I highly recommend that you get a copy of this,
even if you only occasionally have problems with your GIF files; it
runs in only a few seconds, and has the potential to save you hours of
download time!

The last and least likely problem is that some mailer somewhere
actually munged the file. It happens. Fortunately, it doesn't happen
all that often. When it does (and please check all of the other
problems *FIRST*), post to the discussion newsgroup and request someone
to send you their (working) copy. If enough people post requests of
this sort, eventually the original poster will usually re-post it.
If you're the only person with a problem, someone is bound to send you
the file, and you'll save the net 'hundreds if not thousands of dollars.'
[J-NOTE: Also, just because you've already read an article doesn't mean
it has vanished off the face of the earth. It is a fairly simple matter
to get back to articles you've already read (unless your site administrator
has removed them or they've expired). There are essentially four methods
to accomplish this (examples assume you're using rn):
1. Assuming you know the article number(s) of the postings, just
enter the article number from within that newsgroup. Voila!
2. Since you probably DON'T know the article number, once you are
in the appropriate newsgroup, you can step backwards or forwards
through the articles by using "P" (previous) and "N" (next).
3. So you don't know the article number, and you don't want to step
backwards through 50+ articles - what now? As long as you
remember something from the subject line of the article, you can
use regular expressions to search backwards, using the command
"?pattern?r", where pattern is the part you remember. For
example, you read an article with the word "howdy" in the subject,
then decide later you want to get back to that article. Just get
into the right newsgroup, then enter "?howdy?r" and rn will search
back through all the articles you've read to find the last one
with "howdy" somewhere in the title. Not the right one? Enter
"?", and rn will retrieve the next-to-last article with "howdy"
in the title.
4. You can modify your .newsrc file so that articles are no longer
marked as being read (this file usually resides in your home
directory). This is especially valuable if you forgot the name
of a particular posting, but you know it was in the last ?x?
number articles. For example, if your .newsrc file reads: 1-2380
...and you know that the article you're looking for was in the
last 30 or so postings, you could edit this line to read: 1-2350 that your news reader would think that you hadn't yet seen
these articles (of course you'll have to re-sort through many
other articles you've already seen, but hopefully you'll at least
be able to find the "lost" article!). IMPORTANT NOTE!!: If you
edit your .newsrc file, make *absolutely sure* that you aren't
currently running a news reader session - this may munge the
.newsrc file, or cause other undefined or undesirable side-effects.

By using these techniques, you won't have to ask for someone to e-mail you a
copy or to re-post the article, since you already have it and know how to
get back to it!]


This file originally began life as the FAQ for, and
was first created and maintained by Dave Read ([email protected]).
Minor changes and a few S-NOTEs to clean it up a bit and make it a little
more relevant to the group were made by Steven M.
Quinn ([email protected]). A hierarchy of pictures groups (all under was put into place in the fall of 1991, and since
that time, Jim Howard ([email protected]) has come forward to assist in
the maintenance of the "new" FAQ. The maintenance of this FAQ is now the
shared responsibility of Jim Howard, Dave Read, and Steve Quinn.


That's about it for the "general" information. System-specific
information is continued in part 2 of this FAQ. If you have any
suggestions for things to include in future versions, don't hesitate
to let me know...

~ deej ~ | (If I were expressing Cadence's opinions, )
Jim Howard -- [email protected] | (they'd probably make me wear a tie... )
(^:= Flames cheerfully ignored. =:^)
"Did you ever wish kill files were like little electronic voodoo dolls,
and really did what they said?" -- Perry Ross in rec.scuba
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