Access is evolving in the remote areas of the world but a trip to a pipeline-challenged area can remind you just how much you and your email contacts take bandwidth for granted.
My recent trip to Costa Rica was a classic example of the class I teach in “Rightsizing” images. In that class I instruct people on the proper sizing of there massive-mega-pixel images for distribution on email, the web, and other methods. When I built the courseware, I was concerned about justifying my position of keeping images small. I was often challenged by students that my thinking was outmoded and that bandwidth was plentiful now so send the big picture anyway.
This screen capture of my Outlook Inbox shows a 2 MB email sitting at the bottom of the pile. It has to be downloaded first before I can receive any of the emails above it. The connection in Costa Rica-though wireless-was slow. Most internet in remote areas is satellite delivered and using very ancient equipment with glacial speed. It took almost 8 minutes to get this email into the inbox so the others could arrive. Only then could I pull down the other messages-some of which were vital.
Many of you are, no doubt, thinking “If you didn’t use an email client like Outlook, you wouldn’t have that problem.” True. The flipside is that I routinely receive emails at multiple email addresses and the process of logging into more than a dozen individual email servers and then reviewing the messages would have been too arduous for efficient message retrieval. In addition, I keep and carry many emails for review and research when not online. This makes it necessary for me to have the full message on my laptop and not sitting on a server somewhere.
When you are home and hooked to your fancy 5 MB/s cable modem, you don’t notice the 2 MB gorilla in the inbox. On the road, in remote locations, with dubious access, it is crippling. Had the emailer taken the time to create more friendly attachments the size could have easily been reduced to 1/10th the original. This saves server space and bandwidth for all. Most of all, it saves time.
How many digital pictures is too many?
It was Halloween while I was traveling abroad. One of my relatives sent me some pictures of the baby in costumes. One or two might have been enough to give me an idea of baby’s second Halloween with the remainders sent to Flickr, Smug Mug or some other service for viewing when I had the time and bandwidth to look at many photos. 15 photos was too many.
When you think about sending an email to a person-particularly if you know they are going to be in a location where they will have a bandwidth-challenged connection, consider both the size and number of file attachments you are forcing upon them. Use photo services to share large numbers of pictures. A single teaser (sized appropriately) is acceptable. When sending large non-photo files, consider using a service like You Send It. If you are a Corel Draw user, you already have access.
“Observe good netiquette and send only the attachments that are necessary and only in the sizes needed.”
Don’t get me started on those 7-10 MB moderately funny movie files forwarded ad-nauseam.
Rikk Flohr © 2008