Homemade Shaking Incubator - decode pictures

Robert Horton horton at biosci.cbs.umn.edu
Sat Mar 23 01:41:40 EST 1996

Dear BioNetters;

This is an addendum to my earlier post entitled "Homemade Shaking
Incubator" (posted 6 March 1996), which describes my design for
an inexpensive homemade incubator with a shaking platform. This
is to describe in more detail how to decode the illustrations,
for anyone who is having trouble. The shaking incubator is built
from a cardboard box, a record player, a light bulb, and some
other junk you can probably find for about $30 (less than 0.5% of
the cost of some commercial models). Hey, I clone genes in mine.

The figures are MIME inclusions with base64 encoding. "MIME"
stands for "Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions", which let
you send pictures and stuff easily (as long as the person
receiving it uses MIME, too). "Base64 encoding" is the standard
method used in MIME to convert binary data to text, for
transmission by e-mail or net news (akin to uuencoding or
BinHexing). The newsreader included in version 2 of the popular
Netscape web browser is MIME compliant, as are a lot of "modern"
news and e-mail readers, so I figured I'd use it to post my

If you use a MIME compliant newsreader, like the one in Netscape
2.0, to read the original post from a regular news server, the
pictures are decoded automatically, and can be viewed either "in
line" in the document, or as "links" (you choose from options in
the top menu). No sweat.

Unfortunately, accessing these posts through


(which is also where the archives are stored), uses a regular web
page, not the newsreader, and the images are not decoded
automatically. Or if you are using a non-MIME-compliant (or maybe
not-quite-fully-MIME-compliant) news or email reader, you won't
see them automatically, either.

Never fear. The images can be decoded "semi-automatically" using
the program "mpack", available for a wide assortment of different
kinds of computers (Acorn Archimedes users take heart!), from:


Use your web browser to save the article as "text" to a file on
your hard drive, then open the file from within mpack, and decode
it. Each figure, and the text, will be saved to a separate file.

Many web browsers can be used to view the GIF files once they are
unpacked. With Netscape2, choose "Open File...", under "File" on
the top menu. With NetScape version 1, you have to type in the
location of the file, since it only sees html files on the "File"
menu. The "URL" for a local file starts with "file:///" (that's
THREE slashes). As with any URL, any blank spaces in directory or
file names are replaced by "%20". Open a local file and look in
the "Location" window for an example. Or just get the new version
of Netscape.

Of course, there are many, many other programs for viewing GIFs,
so you don't have to use a web browser.

Please note that the bionet management would prefer that people
just post URLs of web pages where pictures can be found, to save
bandwidth. But mine are already in the archives (twice,
actually), so I might as well explain how to get 'em out.
(They're just little pictures, really!).

The design is also on my web server at

but this site is not really permanent (neither am I).

If you encounter problems, please feel free to contact me. I'm
writing an article on sending pictures by e-mail, and I'd be
interested in any problems you might run into.

Bob Horton

horton at biosci.cbs.umn.edu   or    horto005 at maroon.tc.umn.edu

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