The Hmmm Files explained
Last updated: 11/03/01
I am assuming that everyone reading this is adult enough to realise that different types of humour affect different people differently. To hell with Political Correctness - if something is unfunny or distasteful to you - skip it and read the next one. This is not a perfect world and I cannot sanitise this site to suit everybody, nor do I intend to.
Having said that, this public site contains only material that would be seen in general publications in Australia. This includes news media, magazines, etc available to any person. The questionable stuff has been held back as there is always someone out there who would have all of us on a soy-bean diet, watching re-runs of Neighbours, chanting new age doctrine and weaving baskets. Ommmmmmmmmmm.
The original Hmmm Files mailing list is alive and well, and will not be replaced by this site. If you want to be added to it, or to contribute, follow this link for details
Included on this page are the following bits of information:
The Hmm files started somewhere around 1995 with a few 'funnies' distributed between colleagues on the company's brand-new e-mail system. Well, at least some people had found a good use for it as, in true Dilbert style, the management were very slow to use it resulting in double-streaming of all communications. We didn't send them anything funny - they responded by sending memos that have since found their way into Hmmm File immortality...
However, the Hmmm Files outgrew what could be squeezed in between meetings, lunch breaks, tea breaks, preparing for lunch break, getting over lunch break, the occassional bit of real work, getting ready to go home, etc, so it was moved into a private mailing list handled by the ever-patient Uncle Pete where it has grown to become an internationally distributed monster. Several times now, mails have been sent to us as Hmmm file contributions that had been sent, many forwards previously, from the same Hmmm file mailing list! What a tangled web we weave...
As the Hmmm files grew, we decided to find a method to track what was sent and avoid duplication. This resulted in each Hmmm item sent being stored in a database so we can quickly check if a 'familiar' joke has been sent previously.
Some time later, after doing some work with generated HTML pages for another web site, we decided to investigate the possibility of creating a website using the database as the source. While it took some effort, the result has been worthwhile, as several tools were included to reduce the effort involved in distributing the Hmmm Files email.
The Hmm files are distributed via an email distribution list, and this is still our primary focus.
Each Hmmm joke sent is saved in an Access database within appropriate Categories, and 'Rudeness Rating'.
Each joke added to the Hmmm Files is assigned to categories that describe its content. Up to three categories can be assigned. The category information is used when creating the website.
The 'Rudeness Rating' explained
The Hmmm files are divided into 3 levels of rudeness. These are:
There is currently so much stuff being sent to us that the HmmmR and HmmmX categories are not very well catered to. We make no apologies for this - we send the material that will be funny for the widest cross-section of readers and this normally falls in the General category (and so does the majority of items sent to us!).
When we can.
Sorry, we can't be more specific then that - when time permits, a batch of Hmmms will be sent. When the world closes in on us, the Hmmm files have to wait a bit. However, there is usually no more than a week between posts and often much less. To avoid the wrath of many postmasters, a Hmmm posting is limited to 5 or 6 in a 24hr period.
The Hmmm Files Website
The email distribution of Hmmm Files is the major focus of effort. The website is an offshoot because we wanted to see if we could do it, and the material was already sitting in an ideal format for the task. The website also allowed us to show some of the many funny pictures sent to us which we will not re-post by email. From June, 1999, the website also contains a section for 'Funny Files', which are the movies, screensavers and other weird little applets that are sent to us.
What you are now viewing is a generated web site using the Jet database as the source, with a Visual Basic application extracting the jokes and turning them into HTML files. The index, bookmarks, internal links etc are all generated from the database. In the entire site, only 4 pages are manually written (this is one of them) - the rest are generated by the program. Is that cool or what?
Copyright policy and conditions of use
The distributors of the Hmmm Files send only public domain material for personal use. No permission is given or implied to use this material for any other purpose. If any proprietory material slips past us, please let us know. We do not accept responsibility for any offence, damage or any other problem that you may feel arises from the Hmmm File material. If you think that you may be offended or upset - go watch Sesame Street or the midday soaps or something.
Frequencey website updated
When we can.
Sorry about sounding repetitive, but the website gets update in the same slice of free time devoted to the mailing list, and if one is delayed, it follows that the other is, too. However, the intention is to update the website at least once every fortnight.
Towards the end of 2000, we were messing about with embedded ftp, and decided to test the code using the Hmmm Files as a guinea pig. As a result, the website update is automatic, and we now aim to do this once each week.
Anyone can be a Hmmm File contributor. Just send your funny item to this email address and we will look after it. The only request we make is that any contributor avoids the 'joke digest' approach where multiple items are sent in one posting. Our preference is to receive one item in each mail message so that we can process them easier.
We cannot guarantee when your contribution will be mailed out. There are currently over 2,500 mails that have not been sent - yet. And they are growing at a rate of 5 or 6 new contributions (unduplicated) each day. Scary thought, don't you think?
What is an acceptable contribution?
Anything you think is funny.
However, we retain the right to categorise your contribution according to the criteria listed previously, and the bulk of our posts are in the General category for reasons already explained.
We do not send attachments. This is because we don't want to get flamed by postmasters, or subscribers who have to wait for a 600K movie to download on their pay-by-the-kilobyte account. The Hmmm Files are small, neat and funny text files, although any funny pictures, movies or other type of file sent to us will be included in the website.
Acknowledgement of contributors
We like to thank the people who take the time to send us funny things, because we really enjoy reading them and get a kick out of the knowledge that other people will also enjoy them. However, we were flamed so many times for acknowledging people who didn't want to be connected to a particular style of joke, that we have adopted a policy of saying 'Thanks' to everyone without mentioning names, like John A, John M, Mark, Simon, Fred, Mike, Raj, Francis, Arman, Steve W, Ivor, Jonathon, Ali, Allan, and the others that we will add to this list when they inform us of the ommission...
What does the funny little 'New' graphic mean on the web site?
The Table of Contents in each category seem to have different sort orders.
One of the 'Funny Files' I downloaded doesn't work. Can you help?