Planet PDF's Weblog
A daily chronicle of Acrobat/PDF-oriented newsbits

For week beginning 10 June 02
By Kurt Foss, Planet PDF Editor

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday


NOTE: Previous Weblogs will be archived at the end of each week, and start fresh here.

MONDAY

Survey Says: It's been a while since we surveyed Planet PDF's community of Adobe Acrobat/PDF users -- it's always helpful for us to know a little about those of you who are spending time with us here and whether we're meeting your needs. As much as we may like to believe we're divinely inspired, the truth is that we depend on more earthly indicators of how well (now and then, we hope) we contribute to your appreciation for and use of our site's featured technology. So we've posted another survey seeking frank and honest feedback from our readers and visitors. We assume that if you come back more than once or twice that you find some value in what we do. And to make sure you continue to return, we sincerely want you to tell us what we can bo better, or more of (or both) so that Planet PDF meets even more of your needs. We want to be the place you turn to when you are in need of accurate information, help with a problem or a knowledgeable user community. Feel free to tell us what we do that you find most useful as well as what we should be doing that we're not.

We do ask for some demographic data, but by no means do we seek to (or can we) correlate individual respondents to their survey question replies. We're only interested in a general compilation that gives us -- and relevant companies that might choose to sponsor some of our independent, Acrobat-centric efforts -- a better sense of our audience's makeup. We're offering a variety of software products as incentives for participating, but we automatically separate on submission an entrant's email address on his or her contest entry from the survey responses.

We'd very much appreciate if you'd help us help you by taking a few minutes to complete our survey before this Wednesday. Thanks in advance!

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TUESDAY

Not-so-temporary Temp Files?: A recent post in the Planet PDF Forum headlined "WARNING: Acrobat Not Secure!" has triggered a lively debate, including an official Adobe Systems response -- calling the allegation untrue -- and a subsequent rebuttal from the original "security and privacy advocate" saying he's in the process of setting up a Web site to prove his point. Others have joined in to support his contention that not-so-hidden files may in some cases be revealing sensitive data; one PDF Forms expert is proposing a new security setting within Acrobat that would alleviate the problem. Parents, do you know where your Acrobat temp files are? Catch up on, or join in, the discussion.


   

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WEDNESDAY

eGov Forms Functions & PDF: Government Computer News notes in a recently posted Web article that the "government has hundreds of thousands of forms available in Adobe Portable Document Format." No news so far. Its "Forms with function" piece adds that there's no way for the electronically enhanced, PDF-savvy U. S. citizen to take what's becoming more and more the desired action -- to complete and submit those forms electronically (and to keep a digital copy, including data entered into the form fields!).

The GCN article says recent technological developments theoretically make it possible for many government agencies to "cut paper out of the loop" through the use of fully electronic document workflows, complete with digital signatures, security, archiving, etc.

"On the back end, server applications are now making it possible to capture the data inside those forms directly, and route the documents themselves through agency workflows that are devoid of paper."

The reality remains, however, that these systems -- and there are eforms software solutions other than Adobe's in use by government agencies -- are expensive and complex to employ, GCN says. On a positive note, the article explains there are meaningful changes afoot -- among them, the recent acquisition of Accelio Corporation by Adobe Systems -- that give new hope to those pursuing the paperless grail (less paper is an equally admirable and more realistic goal at this stage). Likewise, as writer Kevin Jonah implies, the successful integration of Accelio's products, services and support systems are probably key to Adobe and PDF remaining serious players in the world of eGov eForms. While Acrobat supports forms functionality, it is not a serious forms authoring tool. And government agencies are in need of front-to-back, XML-literate solutions, not simply desktop tools.

Jonah concludes: "That's why the Accelio acquisition was so important to Adobe. The company might have played a major role in creating a standard that has driven government forms online, but it can't count on a proprietary file format to keep it on top in a standards-driven market."

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THURSDAY

PDF Conference East 2002 ReDux: We'll be reviewing our conference notes the next few weeks, highlighting some of the best comments and content that time constraints didn't allow us to past from last week's event. My Planet PDF colleague Karl De Abrew and I, along with Chris Dahl from our ePublish Store (www.epublishstore.com), had plentiful opportunity to watch and listen as attendees hurried from one session to another during the three-day conference, pausing to exchange observations during caffeine pitstops. No matter what level of knowledge one can claim on arrival, even those leading the various sessions are virtually certain to depart wiser for the experience. I recognized the 'I didn't know that' look several times from the expert speaker ranks. Others -- like Morgan Roberson of Mercury Government Services -- put it into words: "This conference answered questions I didn't know I had."

For information about the next rendition on the left half of the U.S., see the PDF Conference West 2002 (www.pdfconference.com) site for program and registration details. Special early bird fees are in effect for the Las Vegas-based event -- directly following Comdex -- in late November 2002. Expect more of the same great learning opportunities. Hope to see and meet some of you there!


   

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FRIDAY

All the President's Red-faced Men: It should have been a walk in the park. Actually, it was -- and that's apparently how the trouble began. Unfortunately for a fumble-fingered intern, Lafayette Park isn't *any* old park -- and it's definitely not the place you want to drop a computer disk containing a confidential presentation. Especially not when your bosses' boss is George W. Bush -- yes, the one currently living in The White House.

Missing Presidential Presentation

But that's the official version of how a presentation containing a "confidential analysis of the coming 2002 elections," according to The New York Times, suddenly appeared recently on several prominent media Web sites -- including the Times. While trekking through the park directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House on June 4, an intern for Karl Rove, Senior Advisor to the President, apparently dropped a disk containing a backup copy of the private staff assessment of upcoming Republican v. Democrat campaigns and elections (and by association, on the resulting impact on President Bush's future re-election prospects). Pure coincidence: Among the park's many noteworthy uses in recent past -- some scenes from the movie version of "All the President's Men," about the bungled Watergate scandal and investigation, were filmed there.

Unforunately for the intern -- what is it about these trouble-making White House interns! -- a U.S. Senate aide of another political persuasion was the first to happen upon the missing Powerpoint treasure, and the twice-weekly Capitol Hill newspaper "Roll Call" soon thereafter was first to report the incident. But definitely not the last.

Missing Presentation

No doubt a source of much Democratic pleasure, The New York Times has posted a PDF version of the fumbled Republican election forecasts on its Web site. Meanwhile, the intern can only hope for the same lasting anonymity as another well-known yet unknown Washington, D.C. information source: the fabled Watergate tipster still known 30 years later only as "Deep Throat."

NOTE: If you want to flash back to that pre-PDF, Nixon-era scandal that led to a president's resignation-in-disgrace, the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has written transcripts -- available in PDF -- of the ill-fated, unknowingly recorded discussions between Nixon and his inner circle, the discovery of which led to the uncovering of their complicity in the Watergate Hotel break-in and subsequent coverup efforts.


   

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