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

For week beginning 20 October 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.

MONDAY

Adobe expands Reader to several Indian languages: "We want to develop the Acrobat Reader in local Indian languages and have started work on this," Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen recently announced while in the country last week to visit Adobe's expanding operations there and to attend a leadership conference. (We presume he really said "Adobe Reader" rather than Acrobat Reader, a name change that went into effect with the Acrobat 6 family of products.) "Our research and development centre in India will be looking at short-listing the languages," he told local media. A version product in Hindi and another language are expected to be rolled out in the next few months.

"We desire to be able to address large population of customers in various regional languages. When the government is connecting with the citizen, the format and language has to be current and we hope that an Acrobat reader in a local language will facilitate this," said Naresh Gupta, CEO, Adobe India.

Chizen also announced that Adobe plans to "add a minimum of 100 professionals to our Noida based R&D centre" within a year.

All Adobe readers for handheld devices like Pocket PCs have been completely developed in India, and core components of Photoshop, Photoshop Album, PageMaker and FrameMaker have also been designed there.

Adobe sees India's eGovernance efforts as a potential multi-million dollar opportunity, but at the same time the company has experienced problems with software piracy in the country.


   

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TUESDAY

Arrest in SF for bomb scare during Seybold SF 2003: As if the organizers of the Seybold publishing conferences haven't had a challenging enough time attracting attendees in recent years -- not coincidentally beginning with the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC -- this past fall's flagship conference had another setback of sorts. A bomb scare during the conference, held at the new Moscone West facility during the second anniversary of 9/11, interrupted the planned sessions -- including the Seybold PDF Conference -- and forced an evacuation of the facility. The popular "7 Minutes with a PDF Developer" session, for example, had to be rescheduled and squeezed into the next day -- and shortened to five minutes per presenter.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that an arrest was made in the case, which involved a series of other bomb threats made by telephone around the same time. According to the newspaper, the 19-year-old suspect "went so far as to post an account of the Sept. 10 bomb threat against the Moscone Center on the Web, in effect boasting about the evacuation of 11,000 people."

For that stroke of genius, he reportedly now faces up to five years in prison for each false threat. They ought to add a few years for making such a threat on the anniversary of such a horrific event as 9/11, which certainly had to add to the threat's plausibility and to the concerns of attendees and of those in SF charged with protecting public safety.


   

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WEDNESDAY

Makeshift PDF Redaction Exposes 'Secret' Government Info -- Again: In what's becoming a bad habit with some government agencies and/or government documents, there's been another public citing -- and chiding -- of a PDF-based report in which significant details that were meant to be shielded from view actually are easily revealed. The latest incident of improper file redaction involves an outside consultant's controversial report for the U.S. Department of Justice titled "Support for the Department in Conducting an Analysis of Diversity in the Attorney Workforce."

DOJ Redacted report

The "Memory Hole" Web site posted brief details of the incident today, including both a copy of the original PDF-based report [PDF: 5 MB] by KPMG Consulting dated June 2002, as well as a second version with the supposedly blacked-out information plainly visible.

Rather than using a dedicated software application such as Appligent's Redax, which is designed to actually remove meant-to-be-protected information from PDF files and to make it impossible to recover, someone used a clumsy, makeshift method of placing a black image mask over the numerous portions of the report -- including its key findings -- apparently not meant for public viewing. Oddly enough, the significant amount of information redacted in the report had been the source of some recent media criticism. Newsday wrote that:

"Much of the consulting report remains secret. After refusing to release it since its completion last year, Justice this week finally posted a version on its Web site -- but not before blacking out key sections, including all conclusions and recommendations. More than half the pages are redacted."

In reality, however, the intended redaction kept no secrets. The seemingly hidden information can be almost instantly revealed -- no hacking or trickery required. It was simple to expose the text line-by-line behind the black mask using Acrobat's Touchup Object Tool. Even easier, we discovered: Use Acrobat 6's "Save As" to save a text-only version of the document's contents, or simply perform cut-and-paste of the crudely blacked-out portions -- the text is at best obscured from view, but is still plainly evident and retrievable.

DOJ unredacted report

Ironically, last year Appligent published a news release stating that the " U.S. Department of Justice selects Appligent Redax for PDF redaction." It's unclear if the failed redaction procedure was performed by the outside consultant or by DOJ staff.

The PDF redaction blunder is similar in nature to several others on which we've previously reported, one involving The New York Times and not-so-secret government agents, and another The Washington Post and last year's sniper killings.


   

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THURSDAY

Quick Flip for Acrobat 6 Tips from PDF Conference: One thing better than learning a new Acrobat tip is remembering it when the time comes to actually use and benefit from it. If you monitor a number of PDF-related resources, it can be challenging to recall when or where you noticed a specific shortcut or trick. A sort of Murphy's Law typically applies -- a good tip that sounded like it could be handy is rarely at hand when you encounter a situation where you could put it into practice.

acrobat6_quickrefguide

That's not the case if the tip is included within an Acrobat 6 FlipCard, produced by Left Coast Learning. The hosts of the PDF Conference (www.pdfconference.com) have been selling an Acrobat 6 Pro-specific edition, originally produced by Adobe Systems and developed by PDF Conference founder Carl Young of DigiPub Solutions Corporation.

The narrowly vertical FlipCard attaches to either side of a computer monitor for easy access, without being a distraction when not needed. Content is tabbed by and divided into topical sections, beginning with a brief, illustrated overview that's followed by sections summarizing key features and capabilities. While few Acrobat 6 Pro users pursue outside training (as various surveys have revealed), and a small percentage even give the built-in Acrobat Help files a serious perusal, the FlipCard includes digestible bites of useful info that can be scanned and then easily referenced from its strategic placement at eye level. As the name suggests, it's a snap to flip through the vertical pages to locate the specific topics covered.

For example, being primarily a user of Acrobat 6 Pro for Mac OS X, I'm less familiar with some of the Windows-only features. But skimming the Acrobat 6 Pro FlipCard reminded me that you can create a single PDF file from multiple files using a Right-mouse-click contextual menu, as follows:

Right-click on the Start menu, choose Explore, select the files and then Right-click to Combine in Acrobat.
Acrobat 6 contextual menu
The FlipCard item prompted me to try out the feature on my Windows version of Acrobat 6 Pro, and it worked as described.

Likewise, if you want a thorough, in-depth opportunity to explore the features and applications of Acrobat 6, to learn from a stable of global experts and to network with vendor representatives and fellow PDF users, the upcoming PDF Conference 2003 in Anaheim, CA on November 10-12 is a popular and oft-recommended (by us, for one) educational event. As founding co-sponsors and active participants in the PDF Conference, we've seen it grow over the past couple years into a first-rate gathering that's always on the cutting edge of Acrobat issues and uses. We expect this eighth incarnation will provide a great chance to hear first-hand about the first few months of user experiences with the Acrobat 6 family of products, as well as the latest offerings from many of the top third-party tool and solutions providers.

TIP: We can save you a little money on registration if you've missed the now-expired, early-bird deadlines.


   

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FRIDAY

Acrobat 6 Meets OS X 10.3: Later tonight Apple will roll out version 10.3 of its OS X software with a range of new and improved features, including enhancements to its PDF-oriented capabilities, such as a more powerful Preview application for natively handling and viewing PDFs.

For those Mac users who prefer something a bit more fill-featured than Preview, the moment will soon be at hand to see whether Acrobat 6 runs flawlessly under 10.3, or whether some tweaking will be in order. Adobe promises to post further details as soon as it has the chance to test the release version of Panther:

"Adobe's currently shipping products and products under development are being tested for compatibility with Mac OS X Panther, and to date no significant issues have been discovered.

We will update you with more information on Mac OS X Panther and Adobe products when Panther ships later this month."

If you encounter any problems with Acrobat 6 or Reader 6 after installing OS X 10.3, please feel free to drop us a line so we can pass along any useful details.


   

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