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Re: Plain text ASCII. Boston City Hall.

From: Pascal Bourguignon
Subject: Re: Plain text ASCII. Boston City Hall.
Date: 21 Jun 2004 13:17:36 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3

Don Saklad <address@hidden> writes:

> a. How might I set up a free public service with the public notices of
>    Boston City Council Committees Public Hearings that the council
>    distributes merely by email in microsoft word format ?...
>    Ironically, the council has been unwilling to see how to distribute
>    public notices in plain text ascii
> b. Would there be something like a list server that would
>    automatically convert forwarded public notices in microsoft word
>    format and make them readable on the web?...
>    I get the microsoft word formatted notices in rmail in emacs and
>    could forward them regularly, if necessary. It is the converting
>    to plain text ascii that is the difficulty.

There are a couple of free tools that can be used to read MS-Word
document and generate RTF or ASCII text from them.
For example word2x, or wv:

$ rpm -q -i wv
Name        : wv                    Relocations: (not relocateable)
Version     : 0.7.2                 Vendor: SuSE Linux AG, Nuernberg, Germany
Release     : 189                   Build Date: Fri 28 Mar 2003 07:32:57 AM CET
Install date: Sun 26 Oct 2003 06:37:21 AM CET Build Host:
Group       : Productivity/Publishing/Word    Source RPM: wv-0.7.2-189.src.rpm
Size        : 1124855                         License: GPL
Packager    :
URL         :
Summary     : A Word 8 converter for Unix
Description :
WV is a program that can understand the microsofts word 8
binary file format (office97), it currently converts word into html,
which can then be read with a browser.

    Caolan McNamara <address@hidden>
Distribution: SuSE Linux 8.2 (i586)

> c. Or would there be another way for me to forward the microsoft word
>    formatted notices to a web link where anyone would be able to check
>    the current and archived notices?...
> I could get an email address submitted on the email list that would
> effect forwarding of the microsoft word public notices automatically.

You could easily subscribe a convertion robot to the mail list (check

> The council public notices full text are not available on the web. A
> screwy calendar of public hearings dates is available but its
> difficult to navigate and does not include the full text of the
> notice, only time, location and minimal descriptor keywords.
> If any of you kind folks out there would, please ask for the emailings
> of public notices of city council committee hearings, take a look at
> the microsoft word formatting and let me know any ideas, hints, tips
> or pointers for setting up plain text ascii formatting on a web link
> or how to set up a listserver type thing and its archives.

Basically, you'd put an alias such as:


in /etc/aliases on your host, have it receive email to:

(or if your host is not "really" on the internet, then subscribe a POP
email account (for example, and use fetchmail to fetch the
messages and forward them to text-robot.

And in /usr/local/bin/text-robot you write a little script using
metamail to extract the attached MS-Word file, and wvHtml to generate
an HTML file, or wvText to generate an ASCII file, and then use
sitecopy to upload these files to your web server (or merely cp if
your host is also your web server).

__Pascal Bourguignon__           

There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not
want merely because you think it would be good for him. -- Robert Heinlein

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