Planet PDF Weblog for the week of 4 November 2002
A daily chronicle of Acrobat/PDF-oriented newsbits

For week beginning 4 November 2002
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. You can also catch up on last week's Weblog.


eGov or eGlitch?: Last Friday we dished out praise for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for its seemingly splendid example of how the government can harness new technologies for the benefit of citizens. Having subscribed some months ago on the court's Web site to be notified by email when there was official news about the latest Microsoft antitrust case, I reaped the benefits when Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's final opinions in the long-running, landmark case were announced and distributed. Attached to the email notification I received were the actual rulings: seven PDF files from the court landed in my InBox around 3:15 EST.

MS Final PDFs via email

A day earlier I'd received an advance notification from the court pre-announcing the expected ruling announcements, slated for release "around 4:30 p.m. EST." So I was only slightly surprised when the court's final judgments in the case arrived via email about 75 minutes ahead of schedule on Friday afternoon. But I didn't realize my good fortune -- or potential good fortune!

Last Friday I wrote: "I suspect Bill Gates received personal copies a little sooner than I did, but probably not by much." According to several other published reports I've read since then, that apparently is not true. According to an account in The Register, a news story from The Associated Press and public pontification on, I was apparently among the very first to learn the much-awaited news in the landmark case. Others who had the good instinct to check the court's Web site earlier than the pre-announced time apparently were likewise able to obtain the PDF-based rulings. What I had viewed as a testimonial to effective eGovernment is being cited as a glitch, attributed to some sort of snafu that allegedly allowed the news to be released prematurely. According to the AP article "Court Posts Microsoft Ruling on Web" published in The Washington Post:

"The incident meant tech-savvy Web surfers knew the judge's decision fully one hour before even lawyers for Microsoft and the Justice Department. A glitch in Internet technology -- which was at the heart of the antitrust trial -- contributed to the early disclosure."
The Register's article "Oops! Court posted MS verdict almost two hours early" refers to the early release judgment as the "leaked version," but as explained here last Friday, there was no great insider activity or sinister plot unfolding -- it seems that anyone who had taken a minute to subscribe to the court's email notification service for the Microsoft case would have innocently received the rulings ... ahead of schedule, as it turned out. Frankly, any journalist covering this important case who did *not* subscribe to this service may want to consider being reassigned to a beat other than technology.

At first it might seem like an unfair criticism, since such efficiency flies in the face of the image often depicted of a bungling federal bureaucracy -- and therefore ought to be praised and encouraged. And it may well have been, except for one thing: with the stock market still open, anyone receiving advance notification of a ruling favorable to Microsoft had an opportunity to cash in. And, according to news accounts, it seems some may have.

Again, according to the AP:

"That discovery by some Internet enthusiasts coincided with a flurry of late-day trading of Microsoft's stock. Its price, which had been falling most of Friday, ticked up just moments after the court placed on its Web site the decision that handed Microsoft a huge victory."

"Late-day trading peaked five minutes before markets closed, when $90 million worth of Microsoft shares exchanged hands."

According to the article, Microsoft shares were trading at $52.22 just prior to the time the court posted the judge's rulings, and the price "climbed as high as $53.12 at 3:40 p.m. -- still 20 minutes before anyone was supposed to know the outcome of the antitrust case -- then settled to close at $53."

The AP notes that an anonymous Slashdot reader posted a tip about the availability of the rulings on the court's Web site at 3:09 p.m.; Slashdot records apparently show that "4,026 people viewed the information on Slashdot before 4 p.m.," which is when the lawyers in the case were scheduled to receive official copies from the court.

No mention of how many people were subscribed to the court's email notification service (and how many of them are recently active MS shareholders), who presumably received the officially released PDF versions around the same time I did.

Having at least a copy of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader installed could have led to a bonanza. Any Reader-only users who cashed in big ought to at the very least invest in a full copy of Acrobat -- and send the court a note of congratulations on its efficiency.


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Mid-Term Voting - Turnout or Turnoff?: Across the U.S. today a slew of prospective office holders -- at local, state and federal levels -- put their public service aspirations to the ultimate test. Will the voting public in their respective communities and states cast the needed ballot checkmarks, hole punches (chads fully removed, please!) or other official designation that, once tabulated, determines acceptance or rejection in each election contest?

Then there's the even bigger question: When all's decided -- tonight for most, possibly days/weeks/months for a few others -- who'll be cleaning up the vast amounts of mud that got slung during this hotly contested power struggle?

There's no presidential race during this mid-term election, two years since George W. Bush lost the popular vote but won -- only after a ruling by the Supreme Court -- the electoral college vote and thus the presidency. But as the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) newspaper points out in its PDF-based "Election Guide," there's still a lot at stake: most notably the balance of power in the U.S. Congress, and the governorship of 36 states. That explains -- but does *not* justify -- some of the shameless, low-road tactics practiced and advertisements broadcast by both major political parties in some of the most tenuous contests. And they have the audacity to wonder why voter turnout isn't higher. Here's one reason some people don't bother voting: There's no "None of the Above" option on the ballot.

CSM Election Guide

"The Senate faces one of the closest elections in US history," predicts the CSM guide. "With 34 seats up for grabs -- and 20 Republican spots on the line -- power could tip either way." The CSM profiles some of the most important and uncertain races that could provide one party or the other an edge.

There's a distinct possibility that the issue won't get decided overnight, with several races offering the potential for delayed gratification due to post-election legal wrangling. As the CSM explains in a related article, "both major parties have recruited unprecedented armies of lawyers -- at least 10,000 on the Democratic side - for possible recount battles but also to keep an eye on voting procedures."

"Since 2000, people are much more aware of the impreciseness and ambiguities that are present in election law, and there may be many more people looking to lawyers to overturn election results this year," says Craig Burkhardt, president of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA)."

Sounds like tomorrow may be too soon to start the mud-removal process.


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Acrobat Support Parity MIA on Mac: Adobe "Customer Support" offers a series of free email announcement services for many of the company's software products -- you can subscribe to receive a monthly email message that describes any new or updated technical support documents for that particular product. In fact, each product is further subdivided by platform; for example, you can subscribe separately for notification for Adobe Acrobat for Windows versus Adobe Acrobat for Macintosh. If you don't play on both sides of the cross-platform fence, you don't need to read about any Windows-specific product fixes.

On the surface, that approach seems to make sense. And in fact, it used to be sensible. In practice as of late, however, Adobe's lack of attention to notifying Mac users of tech support updates is senseless.

I've subscribed to these announcements for a number of years -- for numerous products, and usually for both platforms of each. At one time, Adobe distributed both Acrobat announcement lists with some not-unexpected redundancy between their listings, but typically one or both also included a new tech doc or two each month that was platform-specific. Not unlike the two versions of Acrobat for Windows and the less-featured version (but same price) for Macintosh, the support announcement lists now suffer from a clear lack of parity. I'll let you guess which gets the short straw (as much as it annoys me on the one hand as a long-time Mac user, it makes sense for Adobe to give more attention to Windows support issues. There are more Windows copies of Acrobat sold, and truth be told, Windows users clearly need more hand holding regardless. But even that doesn't justify Adobe's current practice and attitude.

For many months in a row now, the Acrobat for Macintosh announcement has included the following statement:

"Although we haven't created new documents this month, you can find past documents in our Support Knowledgebase, where you can also browse the top issues documents."

The first time I discovered that disclaimer, I was willing to take it at face value. That is, until I checked the Acrobat for Windows announcement for the same month that arrived almost simultaneously. Not surprisingly, there were numerous tech docs listed and briefly described, with links back to Adobe's Web site for the fully detailed accounting of each problem and its respective fix. But a number of the listed documents were *not* specific to Windows users -- they applied equally to users of Acrobat on the Mac. And when you followed the link to, those cross-platform technical documents clearly stated "Platform: Macintosh, Windows."

We first made public note of this oddity in July, when we published an accounting of the more than 30 support docs listed in that month's announcement -- many of which applied to both platforms. But they appeared only in the Acrobat for Windows email announcement. If you subscribed to only the Mac-specific version of the list, you would have received only the disclaimer noted above. In other words, you'd be unaware that there were some new fixes for certain problems, even though you deliberately subscribed in order to be notified of any relevant updates.

Sadly, this has now become standard practice. Adobe distributed its latest editions of these product support announcements on November 1. If you're keeping score at home, here's the tally for this month's issues:

Nov. 1 Acrobat for Windows announcement: 3 Tech Docs described

Nov. 1 Acrobat for Macintosh announcement: 0 Tech Docs described

Evaluation: All three of the support documents described in the Windows announcement also apply to Acrobat for the Mac.

You can see this for yourselves in our brief news item about the new Acrobat support docs.

In short, if Mac users want to learn about new or updated support documents for Acrobat, they need to subscribe to the Windows announcement list. Don't bother with the Macintosh edition -- unless you like to receive blatant sales pitches. Consider the following your free sample, but with the various solicitation hyperlinks removed:

Welcome to the latest technical announcement for Adobe Acrobat 
for Mac OS.

Featured this month 


Help Make Adobe Software Even Better! 
Adobe is constantly working to improve our products by gathering 
input and feedback from our users. One way you can help impact the
products you use most is by participating in usability studies, 
interviews, surveys, focus groups, or site visits. All levels of
experience needed from novice to expert. We invite you to sign up
to participate in such activities.

Please feel free to forward this announcement to colleagues and 


Although we haven't created new documents this month, you can find 
past documents in our Support Knowledgebase, 
where you can also browse the top issues documents.

Adobe Press offers books that provide in-depth training for Adobe
products, including the acclaimed Classroom in a Book series. For
more information, visit Adobe's Web site.

Buy the Adobe Design Collection and get a free one-year subscription
to Adobe's Professional Training Series!

The Adobe Design Collection includes Adobe Photoshop, Adobe 
Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Acrobat software. You will 
receive your key code via e-mail for Adobe's Professional Training
Series four to six weeks after your purchase is completed through 
the Adobe Store.

Save US$200 on Adobe GoLive 6.0 software!

Redeem your discount in the Adobe Store only, using coupon code 
XXXXXXX. (Discount will be reflected in your shopping cart prior
to checkout. Limit of three discounted copies of GoLive 6.0 per

Save US$50 on Adobe Acrobat 5.0 software!

Redeem your discount in the Adobe Store only, using coupon code 
XXXXXX. (Discount will be reflected in your shopping cart prior
to checkout. Limit of three discounted copies of Acrobat 5.0 per 

Terms and Conditions

All offers and coupon codes expire on 11/30/2002 and are available
direct through the Adobe store only. Visit Adobe's Web site  
to review the terms and conditions of the offers and place your 

These special offers are available to customers in the U.S. and 
Canada only. If you are an international customer and would like 
to receive offers specific to your region, visit
to register Adobe products and request future communications from

You are receiving this e-mail because you have expressed an interest
in receiving Acrobat technical announcements.

In response to the last sentence: Yes, that is *exactly* why I subscribed -- in order to receive technical announcements. If Adobe is no longer going to include technical announcements in the Acrobat for Macintosh version (or for that matter, create any new Mac-only Acrobat support documents), then let's call this monthly missive what it has become: SPAM!


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No Entry Today: Back on Monday!


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No Entry Today: Back on Monday


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