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DAVROM CONSULTING Newsletter - Issue # 07 - Dated: Mon Feb 4 13:01:30 EST 2002

From the desk of David Clark

Goodbye January, hello Christmas 2002... well it seems that way to me.

There were a few customers who suffered our usual summer thunderstorm issues
with respect to power spikes and so forth. Most UPSs will protect your
systems from power spikes but sometimes even the UPS gets taken out by a
spike.... which means you need a surge protector in front of the UPS, which
is in front of everything else.

DAVROM is now running its own web server (SCO OSR 5 box) so when you visit
our website it is directly to us here in our network. I am just using a
dedicated IP address with a 56K dialup and it works well (then again, UNIX
always does). If you are looking for something similar for your own
business please let us know.

Another year lays ahead of us and we look forward to working with you as
the I.T industry moves on into the future.

I would like to thank the reader for their time in reading this newsletter.


In praise of ASCII text - Part II

The title may sound a little strange but some of you have heard me banter
this one around before.

How often have you had to retrieve old information only to find that your
latest word processor, spreadsheet or database program either mangles the
file format on conversion or can't retrieve the old file at all? (I went
through this coming from UNIX WordPerfect to 'whatever' today.)

Despite the fact that I have written documents in SUN's StarOffice or MS
Word, I still save the document as ASCII text as well. Yes I lose the nice
pictures and tables I may have inserted, but when I am looking for the
crucial bit of text or paragraph (or phone number, or e-mail address etc)
I am not caught out. I can still use the standard 'cat', 'more', 'grep',
'awk' and 'vi' commands to get at the information. For the Windows lovers
out there, you can use: edit, Notepad, WordPad or any other favourite text

I have been to countless sites where their old database files can no longer
be accessed - if only someone had dumped the databases out to some kind of
text file with each record broken up into fields with a "," or "|" symbol
between each field - For example:

Bloggs|Fred|53 Long Valley Way|Peoplesville|4109|Qld|Australia|500.00|50.00


Bloggs,Fred,53 Long Valley Way,Peoplesville,4109,Qld,Australia,500.00,50.00

This kind of text data can be imported into something like StarOffice
Spreadsheets or MS Excel (to name two).

Some databases allow you to print out to files instead of physical printers
and this alone can be your records in ASCII format for future reference.

I still have files (text files, contacts, e-mail, technical docs) going back
to as early as 1982 on file in my UNIX $HOME directory simply because I
always dumped my old files to ASCII.

DAVROM uses a HTML/text based invoicing system that stores the information
as ASCII text which is manipulated by UNIX shell scripts. The text records
can in turn be displayed as HTML files that allow us to view the stored
information. (We have setup databases this way as well - simple HTML forms
that input the "text" information which in turn are generated into HTML based
databases from flat ASCII text files) - at no cost for software applications
etc - UNIX shell and HTML, it's that simple.

Save it as ASCII text, it compresses down well and will be accessible

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Tech Tip

.forward - e-mail power to the users.

Have you ever had a situation where you need to login to a different UNIX
server(s) to read e-mail stored there. If the server is setup to resolve
e-mail addresses then you can use the power of the .forward file to route
any e-mails to one central address. Simply create a .forward file in the
$HOME directory of the user on the respective server with the entry:


where "john.bloggs@bloggs.com.au" is the e-mail address where you wish the
e-mail to be forwarded to. This simple but effective step removes the need
to check other servers for e-mail. If the server is in the same network
then you can simply use an entry like:


which will forward to the johnb user on the server wumpus.

The .forward file can also be used to execute programs such as "vacation"
which I use regularly to let people know I am not in the office. Consider
the following:

david, "|/usr/bin/vacation david"

this will send the contents of the $HOME/.vacation.msg file to anyone who
sends an e-mail to "david" - the e-mail is piped to the "vacation" command
which processes the e-mail.

Remember to make your .foward file read-only by the login user. (Those who
are using MMDF will need to use the .maildelivery file instead which bears
a similar format.)

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