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Outlook 2007 strange email encoding!

Posted on 2012-08-30
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Last Modified: 2012-09-10
Hello,

One of my clients (Outlook 2007) has received an email where all content is displayed - ¿[ ¿¿¿¿M4¿B¿M#¿0¿D`{¿z¿¿¿¿w¿]*Z¿YZ¿¿\¿\¿ Y  \¿
H ¿¿CB¿B¿KKKKS¿Y¿[¿[  Y\¿¿Y¿KKKKKCB¿¿¿¿N¿ ¿[¿ ¿H ¿Y  H ¿XZ[  ¿¿[¿ ¿P  [¿ [ [ [Y[¿ ¿¿¿Z¿H B¿¿[¿
 (in the email, these up-side-down question marks are black diamonds with a white question mark).

I had her forward me the email thinking it's just an encoding thing. I've tried every single encoding available as offered by Outlook 2010 but to no avail.

The sender (IMERCHANTCONNECT) insists that the encoding is Unicode (UTF-8).

Help please!

Tim
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Question by:ITTeam
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Expert Comment

by:NSBConsulting
ID: 38350157
Hi ITTeam,

Did you ask your client to send the Message Headers as well as forwarding the message to you? The message headers will give details about how the message was originally sent (including the 'Content-Type').

I might also suggest that the originating sender send you the message  directly so that you can pull the raw form of the original message and analyze it without the extraneous Outlook information.
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Author Comment

by:ITTeam
ID: 38350997
Thanks for reply.

From the header -

Content-Language: en-US
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64

I'm waiting for the original sender to respond.

Tim
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Expert Comment

by:NSBConsulting
ID: 38351130
Tim,

It looks as though the data is 64Bit encoded which is unreadable.

"Quoted-printable and Base64 are the two basic MIME content transfer encodings, if a trivial "8bit" encoding is not counted. If the text to be encoded does not contain many non-ASCII characters, then quoted-printable results in a fairly readable[2] and compact encoded result. On the other hand if the input is not mostly ASCII then quoted-printable becomes both unreadable and extremely inefficient. Base64 is not human-readable but has a uniform overhead for all data and is the more sensible choice for binary formats or text in non-Latin based languages."

When
¿¿¿¿M4¿B¿M#¿0¿D`{¿z¿¿¿¿w¿]*Z¿YZ¿¿\¿\¿ Y  \¿
H ¿¿CB¿B¿KKKKS¿Y¿[¿[  Y\¿¿Y¿KKKKKCB¿¿¿¿N¿ ¿[¿ ¿H ¿Y  H ¿XZ[  ¿¿[¿ ¿P  [¿ [ [ [Y[¿ ¿¿¿Z¿H B¿¿[¿

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is converted to ASCII, this is the result
v7+/v000v0K/TSO/ML9EYHu/er+/v793v10qWr9ZWr+/XL9cvyBZICBcvwpIIL+/Q0K/Qr9LS0tLU79Zv1u/WyAgWVy/v1m/S0tLS0tDQr+/v79OvyC/W78gv0ggv1kgIEggv1haWyAgv79bvyC/UCAgW78gWyBbIFtZW78gv7+/Wr9IIEK/v1u/

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It looks as though the originating sender attempted to embed something into the body of the e-mail that his e-mail client and/ or his carrier could not properly translate OR your recipient's e-mail client cannot properly translate it. If you recipient is using an industry standard client, than I would assume that the issue lies on the sender-side.

It is tough to figure out the whole from the part without the other parts to complete the whole (ie. the rest of the untranslated message content).
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Author Comment

by:ITTeam
ID: 38353376
Once again, thanks for reply.

I've attached the contents of the email (with headers) as a .txt file. Notepad stripped out the black diamonds with a question mark and replaced them with spaces. The carriage returns, which were displayed as a black vertical rectangle with a white dot, have also been stripped out.

Tim
Sandras-email.txt
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Author Comment

by:ITTeam
ID: 38362737
We received reply from the people who sent email, but it doesn't make sense as the weird symbols were directly in the body of message and she is using Outlook 2007:

"Please make sure You have New Adobe Reader, and you are using Internet explorer."
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Accepted Solution

by:
NSBConsulting earned 2000 total points
ID: 38372756
Hi Tim,

I'm sorry for the dealy. I was out of the country.

After analyzing the headers, this is a prominent statement:
Spam detection software, running on the system "foxtrot.justhostme.co.uk", has identified this incoming email as possible spam. The original message has been attached to this so you can view it (if it isn't spam) or label similar future email. If you have any questions, see the administrator of that system for details.

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Is there an attached message as is stated in the header information injected by the SPAM filter? If not in Outlook, this message may need to be viewed in order to gain access to the attached message using a Webmail client or, if on an Exchange server, the Administrator may need to search for this message and manually push it through.

Additionally, after my original conversion from 64-Bit, I noticed that what was converted appeared to be PDF encoding, but I didn't think that possible because it was appearing in the body of the e-mail. I used to work with a company that dealt heavily in PDF scanning, conversion and e-mail delivery, but I chalked it up to whatever issue is going on with the original message. I AGREE with your most recent post, as there shouldn't be PDF information embedded in the body of the e-mail.
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Author Comment

by:ITTeam
ID: 38382530
Thanks a lot. Justhostme is the company who hosts their emails so it must their antispam. Unfortunately, there wasn't a message attached to the unreadable email.

Thank you very much for guiding me and pointing justhostme's fault.

I will just have to speak to them.
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LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:NSBConsulting
ID: 38382894
I understand. I wish that I could have been of more help.

If the issue persists, please contact me directly. I have some resources whom I can contact to look into the body of the e-mails and help to trace back and figure out what the persistent issue might be.

Don't forget to vote on this post.

Thanks.
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