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A lot of stuff on the web (and elsewhere) is in PDF format.
Most of us simply use the free Acrobat Reader from Adobe.
In the past month (mid-February 2009), it's become clear this may pose a security risk.
According to this article on Download Squad (one of the first Google hits on "Acrobat bug"), “Because of the way Adobe integrates into Windows explorer - to provide metadata information about PDF files - there is a chance that your system could become infected without ever opening a single file...That includes something as simple as hovering your mouse over the file icon."
I.e., you don't have to even open or download the file to be at risk.“
According to Stephen Schenck, in Obsessable, “The bug affects only Windows computers running Acrobat version 7 or later."
Here's a YouTube video, from Schenck's article, showing the bug being exploited:
What should you (Windows users with Acrobat 7 or later) do?
- Update your computers, as Adobe releases patches, (which they've started to do, as of March 11). (UPDATE: According to Michale Kassner's IT Security blog in TechRepublic, Adobe has released updates -- here's Kassner's advice on installing and double-checking the patches, and additionally securing FireFox (with the NoScript extension.)
- And here's a freeAdobe Flash vulnerability scanner from HP
- Meanwhile/instead, uninstall Adobe Acrobat completely (some of the components install into Microsoft Windows Explorer, so simply not using Acrobat won't do the trick), and install an alternative PDF reading application.
I'm now using the free Foxit Reader. There's some minor user interface differences from Adobe Acrobat, but it works fine, I'm happy with it.
AND WRITING PDF'S INEXPENSIVELY
During the past month, I've turned up two separate reasons to be able to not just read, but also write -- create PDF files:
Saving copies of my articles from the web sites they appear on, for my "clips" (samples), in case the original becomes unavailable (e.g., the publication's site closes or changes, or the article is too old for them to keep it available).
I've been simply saving these as web pages, but often these saves don't rebuilt exactly, or sometimes don't work at all. And here I don't care about a "live" web page; I'm looking for a copy that's the equivalent of having torn/copied a page from a magazine: "here's what actually appeared."
- On a separate note, as I do more to promote my Dern Grim Bedtime Tales, I'm making up promotional handouts and other things, and want to provide a single document made from a bunch of Word files... and would rather not provide it as a Word file, in any case.
Again, legitimately-free software to the rescue; here, CutePDF Writer. This installs as a option in PRINT submenus, e.g., on FireFox and Microsoft Word.
So far, CutePDF Writer has been working fine, and doing what I'm looking for.
So: FoxIt Reader and CutePDF Writer, both recommended. I'm sure there's other equally good free solutions... and I know that both these tools have a lot of features I haven't explored or put to use yet.
Adding interesting features to blogs and other web pages, like YouTube videos and Flickr slideshows is getting downright easy, in many cases -- as easy as creating and doing a blog.
Not only do you not have to write any HTML code, you don't even have to view and root through a site's HTML source.
All you have to be able to do is to copy and paste it HTML accurately. And maybe have done some searching to find what you're looking for.
YouTube, for example, shows two ways to access each of its videos: the URL proper, and also the HTML code to "embed" a clickable view within your page. YouTube goes even further, providing customization options including "include/don't include 'related videos,'" and borders. The only thing I haven't (yet) figured out is how to center an embedded YouTube video within my page.
For example, here's my YouTube video of a robot bookscanner: the URL, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2SzGcylZVE, and the "embed" code, as provided by YouTube, which I used to embed it on this web page (I've split up some of the lines to make the code clearer for us HTML amateurs):
<object width="425" height="344"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/h2SzGcylZVE&hl=en&fs=1"> </param> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"> </param> <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/h2SzGcylZVE&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"> </embed> </object>
There are third-party snippets, as well. Some require a little more knowledge of, and access to, what you're doing, like Exploding Boy's Add Links for Del.icio.us, Digg, and More to Blog Posts, which require access to your PHP files.
But others are as easy as YouTube's, like PictoBrowser, a "Free Flickr Slideshow for your Site or Blog." PictoBrowser turns a selection of your Flickr photos into a slideshow can embed (add) this turn a blog post or web page. (Kudo's to TechRevu editor Ernest Lilley for turning this one up.)
To create a PictoBrowse slide show (i.e., the HTML for one), find an existing PictoBrowse slide show, like the one in Ernest's BoltBus write-up. PictoBrowse asks for your Flickr screen name (but NOT your password, it's clearly searching for stuff you've designated as publicly available), has you select what you want slide-show'd, and then offers you code ready to copy and paste, or offers you the option to customize -- easy!