Friday, 14 May 2004

Newsletter Issue 79, May 2004


Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 79, May 2004
Hi guys,
Just how secure is your information in MS Office - particularly Word? Check out Insecurity in MS Office below.
Then we take a look at how you can go about Emailing Amendments to .pdf Files
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Insecurity in MS Office

There have been a number of embarrassing government incidents in the US lately of Word documents being sent out and other folks extracting a huge pile of information from those documents - file paths, names of people who has amended the file, retrieving tracked changes and the base document text of the file they were "saved as" from.
Not only is this embarrassing - it could also mean that your company's mission-critical data is out there in the wild. Company marketing strategies, specifications, patent-pending information, quality faults, budgets, financials; the list becomes quite horrifying. And YOUR document may have gone to another company, who have thought "this is great, I will 'save as' and amend this"; they then send it to someone else who have some tech-savvy... et voila!
So, how can you prevent your information being out there in the wild?
  • Whenever you are circulating something widely, buy Acrobat Writer and "print" your file to Acrobat Distiller, saving it as a pdf file before emailing it or posting it to your website
  • If you are using Office 2003, you can tell Word to remove personally identifiable information (Tools | Options | Security, check the box marked Remove Personal Information From File Properties on Save). But it would still pay to be prudent and habitually use a blank document base for files you are emailing (ie not "saved as")
  • If you are using any earlier version of Word, save your file as pdf before emailing it.
You can also go back and read "Security in Word" in Newsletter 72 for additional information about this topic.

Emailing Amendments to .pdf Files

With all the hidden - and often embarrassing information - found in Word files, I have noted a huge increase in people emailing Adobe pdf files as a suitable replacement for MS Office. People are being very prudent, and that's great.
The only drawback is when a pdf file is being emailed for critique. Pdfs are effectively "Read Only" files and cannot usually be amended. So how can you send your critique back to the originator, linked to the base file?
A couple of simple methods:
  1. If your suggestions are text only changes, you can usually highlight and copy pdf file text by:
    • Clicking the "Select Text" tool on the toolbar (this is the "T" in the dotted-outline square)
    • Key Ctrl & C to copy the text
    • Open Word
    • Ctrl & P to paste the text into your document file
    • Enter your suggestions so that the originator can easily see what they had & what you are suggesting (eg changes in a different colour or in a table side-by-side with the original text)
  2. If your suggested changes are not text only, do a "screen dump" of the Adobe file. You do this by:
    • Increasing the view size of the pdf file on screen so that you can clearly see and read any changes you are wanting to suggest (use the Zoom tool on the toolbar to adjust screen view)
    • Holding down Shift, key "Print Screen" (this copies what you see on the screen - the screen dump - to the Windows clipboard)
    • Open PowerPoint
    • Ctrl & P to paste the screen dump into ppt as an image
    • Make the image smaller (drag one corner back towards the middle, crop the edges by right clicking on the image & selecting "Format Picture" and entering crop measurements or putting the manual crop tool on your toolbar) to fit your page
    • Make your suggestions so that the originator can easily see what you are suggesting alongside the original (eg using flowchart boxes and arrows)
    • If you can't get the whole pdf file on screen at once, go back to Acrobat Reader and move down to your next screen view. Hold down Shift, key "Print Screen". Alt & Tab to go back to PowerPoint. Ctrl & P etc etc
Mail back your Word or PowerPoint file to the originator for them to evaluate.
However, if you want to read more about MS Office security issues with hidden file information, go to
If you are concerned about security on the return emailed doc and have Acrobat Writer, there is a good solution. You can "print" your PowerPoint or Word file to Acrobat Distiller, save it somewhere on your system and then attach it to your email it back to the originator. The only issue is that the originator has to recreate all your suggested text changes and could well make mistakes in that (not to mention the extra work in recreating something twice instead of once).
Of course there are other reasons than security that you may be sent a pdf file - perhaps because it is a large desktop publishing file and you may not have the software to open it, or if the file were sent in the original format it would be ten times the size. But the process for making suggestions is the same.
Hope this makes your work a little easier.


"Getting it Right" When Quoting

So, how do you do that 'quoting thing' again?
A quotation should be a repetition of someone's exact words. There are some simple rules, as follows;
  1. Can't Make Unmarked Changes
    The preemininent one being that you can't change the author's words without carefully marking the change. If you are quoting something and want to miss out a bit, you should mark that omission with an ellipsis "..." (also called a "suspension").
    So "Bob had decided, despite the rain, that he was going to the fair (it was too good to miss)" becomes "Bob had decided ...that he was going to the fair (it was too good to miss)"
    If your suspension goes to the end of a sentence, then you put in three dots for the suspension and one full stop (....).
    To clarify within a quotation, you should put your addition inside square brackets;
    "Bob had decided, despite the rain, that he was going to the fair [without Bill]"
    If you want to add emphasis by italicising any words, then you need to add square brackets containing the term "emphasis added" after your change ([emphasis added]).

  2. What Quotation Marks To Use
    There are two types of quotation marks: single quotes (' ') and double quotes (" ").  The single marks are also sometimes called inverted commas.
    While British usage has traditionally been with single quotes, double quotes are now being commonly used and are not incorrect. Double quotes are also better to use when you are quoting the author quoting someone else, or when there are apostrophes at the end of your quotation.
    American usage has always preferred double quotes.

  3. What Quotation Marks Should Enclose
    Quotation marks enclose a direct quotation; an exact repetition of the author's words - eg President Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner".
    Anything not part of the author's exact words must be placed outside the quotation marks.

  4. Avoid Additional Punctuation
    It is incorrect to warn the reader that there is a quote coming by inserting extra punctuation such as a colon, comma or colon/hyphen (eg Thomas Edison declared:- "Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration"). Just make the quote as part of your normal sentence (NB: a colon must never be followed by a hyphen)

  5. Don't Change Capitals
    If your selected section of a quotation starts with a capital, retain it. If not, you can't put one in (eg Thomas Edison declared that genius was "one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration"), unless you square bracket it ("[O]ne").

  6. Author's Mistakes
    If the author you are quoting has made a mistake, and you don't want it to be thought of as yours, mark it with square brackets containing the Latin word "sic" - which means `thus' - in italics; eg "The All Blacks won the match with a fortuitous [sic] try in the final minute." (fortuitous, which means "accidental", has been used where fortunate was intended).

  7. Use Quotation Punctuation Logically
    The only punctuation marks which should be placed inside the quotation marks are those that form part of the quotation, while all others should be placed outside, eg "Now is the winter of our discontent". The full stop is outside the quotation marks.

  8. Multiple Citations
When you cite a quotation that has another quotation inside it, the rule is to set off the internal quotation with the other type of quotation marks, eg (for double quotation marks);
The Shadow Employment Secretary declared "Describing the unemployment figures as 'disappointing' is an insult to the British people."
Hope you get it right!  :-)

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;
  • RTO, Recovery Time Objectives. What your planned maximum recovery time is for certain processes in the wake of an IT disaster - such as a network-wide virus (and usually documented in your IT departmental Security or Disaster Recovery Procedures)
  • DLO, Data Loss Objectives. The planned maximum lost data in the wake of an IT disaster
Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
All the Function keys for you again - all you can do with colons and semicolons;
  • Access "Insert the current time" Ctrl & : (Colon)
  • Access "Insert the current date" Ctrl & ; (Semicolon)
  • Excel "Enter the current time, including hour, minute and AM or PM, into active cell" Ctrl & Shift & : (Colon)
  • Excel "Select only visible cells in the current selection" Alt & ; (Semicolon)
  • Excel "Enter the date" Ctrl & ; (Semicolon)

Hot Linx
Wanting to complain about bad design and can't find anyone to complain to? One option is to go to the consumer's institute here in NZ at http://www.consumer.org.nz/Default.asp?bhcp=1 and click on the contact us section and the other is to email to the address at http://www.baddesigns.com/index.shtml.
Want to test your memory or expand your knowledge? Then check out Your Amazing Brain's site at http://www.youramazingbrain.org/testyourself/default.htm or Braingle at http://www.braingle.com
We will be living in an aging society where by 2050 22% of us will be over 85. Check out the NZ Govt's stats here
I am sure you have heard of multi-tasking, but have you heard of hypertasking? Then check it out at the Trendwatch site at www.trendwatching.com/trends/HYPERTASKING.htm

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here