Comments on: Is there a simple way to make a pdf call home? Blog, news, books Thu, 12 Oct 2017 08:56:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: instagram viewer Tue, 26 Sep 2017 00:25:00 +0000 looks amazing !

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By: Mr Eye Tue, 05 Dec 2006 13:34:28 +0000 A tunnel in Switzerland had this sign upon entrance:
“Warning tunnel ahead, please turn your headlights on.”

So drivers would do so. Sometime after exiting the tunnel over 10 tourists a day would go on a picnic , have a long lunch and find their batteries dead from having left their lights on.

If a sign just said “Turn your lights off” was put at the end of the tunnel, it would cause a problem of some people turning off their lights at night.

A more explicit sign could be done:

If its daylight and your lights are on, turn them off

If its dark and your lights are off turn them on.

If its daylight and your lights are off leave them off.

If it’s dark and your lights are on leave them on

Too long and complex.

The ultimate solution was to put a sign at the end of the tunnel,

“Are your lights on?”

with the thought that the drivers could intuit the above conditions from this short question.

Moral of the story:

If people really have their lights on, a little reminder may be more effective then a complicated solution.

-From:are Your Lights on by Don Gause and Gerald Weinberg.

My take:Kaa’s solution is a good one, all you need do is find the correct phrasing to ask the reader your own version of ” Are your lights on?” (How about “Version X.yy. Click here to check for an updated version”)

By: Matthew Skala Tue, 05 Dec 2006 01:05:24 +0000 lokey: There are only a few inalienable rights. I wouldn’t say vanishingly few. I’d say that speech is one of them and intellectual property isn’t.

By: Anonymous Mon, 04 Dec 2006 22:25:07 +0000 Given Adobe Acrobat {Reader,Pro} (but not necessarily other PDF viewers)

(1) It is very easy to “annotate” a PDF so that if a user clicks anywhere on content in his display, the viewer will contact an arbitrary URL and even replace the current display with the contents. Of course, you have to provoke that click. You don’t have to make it obvious what will happen, nor do you have to actually change the content on display (whatever the URL yields). Since you *can* download new content, you could just make it so clicking anywhere in the document will download an updated version.

(2) There are several ways to get Acrobat Reader (and Acrobat Pro) to open a URL on document launch. See this news article…,1895,2016606,00.asp

and the more technical explanation from the discoverer:

the first exploit seems to involve deprecated-in-PDF-1.3 /AA keys (I will not explain further) but there are other routes through the maze…

By: Fiona Mon, 04 Dec 2006 19:59:44 +0000 Though still in development, and still somewhat theoretical, Herbert Van de Sompel has been working on how to link together all kinds of files and versions so that scholars can track the development of a work, and subsequent links and citations to it.

I saw him speak at a conference earlier this year, and it’s some truly amazing stuff.

Might also be applicable in, for example, tracking the uses of Creative Commons works.

His website and recent presentations are here –

By: lokey Mon, 04 Dec 2006 19:40:11 +0000 ‘True rights are inalienable and not subject to “management”.’

this is perfectly acceptable, as long as you will grant that the number of these true, inalienable rights is vanishingly small.

By: Matthew Skala Mon, 04 Dec 2006 16:50:59 +0000 “Any particular implementation of rights-management needs to be acceptable to all involved (see the Zune case for unilateral terms causing business problems), but the ability to manage rights for digital data shouldn’t be limited to Big5 Music and other rent-seekers. Agreed…?”

Not agreed here. True rights are inalienable and not subject to “management”.

By: Kaa Mon, 04 Dec 2006 16:48:47 +0000 It’s a very bad idea for all the reasons stated above.

A note on the first page stating that “The current version of this document can be downloaded from ….” is all you need.


By: NoWayJose Mon, 04 Dec 2006 15:20:54 +0000 Oh, and for all the reasons mentioned by the Adobe guy, I do not have any Adobe Reader software on my computer and only use opensource pdf viewers, and refuse to accept “Adobe only” pdfs.


By: NoWayJose Mon, 04 Dec 2006 15:17:32 +0000 No Way, Jose!

I run a firewall and an application called Little Snitch to stop evil people and their applications from “phoning home” without my permission.

What you’re talking about is creepy and authoritarian.

By: John Dowdell Mon, 04 Dec 2006 14:57:29 +0000 David Mendels had the direct info, in the first reply. You can indeed maintain a relationship with the documents you create. Large groups may want to install their own version of Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server, but individuals and ad-hoc groups may prefer to use document relationships as a hosted service:

This service can make sure all readers are working with the current document, and can also prevent snooping by strangers, or determine which readers can edit or print your document, or incorporate reader comments and synchronize across all your readers, and more. It lets you turn a simple package of digital bits into an ongoing relationship with the author.

(I think it should also be possible to use the Mozilla SpiderMonkey engine inside the free Adobe Reader to check a server for update info, but I haven’t happened to come across implementations or tutorials myself yet. Noncompliant PDF readers may ignore such instructions, though, so the encryption management of Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server makes sure your private documents remain private.)

Is there a valid use case for preventing your data from copying by others? I think so… it’s quite similar to the use cases for other publicly available encryption abilities.

Any particular implementation of rights-management needs to be acceptable to all involved (see the Zune case for unilateral terms causing business problems), but the ability to manage rights for digital data shouldn’t be limited to Big5 Music and other rent-seekers. Agreed…?

John Dowdell, Adobe Systems

By: Serge Wroclawski Mon, 04 Dec 2006 14:22:16 +0000 As several other posters have said, you can do this with some Javascript, but the idea that PDF needs Javascript is silly, and the only viewer that seems to support it is Acrobat itself. It’s one of those features that seems useful on the surface, but which many users don’t want. After all, would you want to know each time you read a document someone else writes? It’s a feature that Free Software developers are likely to disable, at least by default.

So, yes you can do it, but please don’t. :)

By: Brian Ashenfelter Mon, 04 Dec 2006 13:10:16 +0000 In short, there is nothing out-of-the-box that PDF or Acrobat provides.

Yes, you could do this with some embedded JavaScript inside the PDF. However, you won’t be able to have this automatically run when the document is opened – the Acrobat JavaScript spec doesn’t provide a hook for this. It will allow you to run this check automatically when the document is saved, closed or printed but not when it is opened (probably for security reasons). Alternatively, you could have this check be user-initiated by placing a link/button on the first page of the PDF and run the JavaScript from there.

In any case, the JavaScript that you need will most likely use the SOAP object to talk to your web server to check for a more recent version of the document. All of this assumes you’re using Acrobat as your reader.

By: anon Mon, 04 Dec 2006 13:09:32 +0000 What? You would use software that Phones Home?!

Please don’t.

(I read pdf files with xpdf or kpdf on Linux.)

By: rich Mon, 04 Dec 2006 13:07:05 +0000 Low-tech but easy – you can always put a URL at the top of the first page that says “this document may be out of date – to ensure that you have the latest copy click here”.

Not as elegant as the solution you’re describing, but no policy server required…