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Re: [News] New Microsoft Office Locks Apple Users Out

In comp.os.linux.advocacy, Roy Schestowitz
on Tue, 05 Dec 2006 17:41:11 +0000
> The lock-out begins for Office Mac users
> ,----[ Quote ]
> | Microsoft is calling these "Microsoft Office Open XML Formats", but
> | Office for Mac users will find them far from "open". In fact, they
> | can't read them.
> | 
> | Take Word 2007, for example. By default it saves documents in the
> | new *.docx format. Trying to open one of these in Word for Mac 2004
> | yields the following garbled mess
> `----
> http://apcmag.com/node/4755
> This looks like another case of binary mess.

On an XML format?!

My brain hurts.

I could see it losing information -- XML was specifically
intended to allow for upgrades so that new tags and
attributes would be ignored by older readers -- but
this sort of garble indicates a perversity somewhere in
Microsoft Word.

> Related:
> Publish And Perish
> ,----[ Quote ]
> | Alexander Rose, the executive director of the futurist Long Now
> | Foundation, worries about the impermanence of digital information.
> | "If you save that computer for 100 years, will the electrical plugs
> | look the same?" he asks. "The Mac or the PC--will they be around?

Several examples come to mind.

[1] 2prong to 3prong electrical wiring conversion.  Fortunately,
    most computers don't have to deal with that particular issue.
    Unfortunately, some homeowners do, mostly in older houses.
[2] AT => ATX motherboard power conversion.  The plugs are entirely
[3] SCSI1 => SCSI3.  The SCSI1 cables were
    reasonably simple 50-pin affairs; the SCSI3 are IIRC 86-pin affairs.
[4] IDE => SATA.  IDE cables are those keyed 40-pin affairs; however,
    the new high-performance cables look more like thick wires than
    flat cables.  (That's about all I know about 'em.)
[5] DIN-5 to PS/2 to USB keyboard connectors.
[6] 10Base5 to 10Base2 to RJ45 (EIA/TIA-568B according to Wiki).

And those are *hardware* issues in the space of about a decade or two.

> | If they are, what about the software? " So far there's no business
> | case for digital preservation--in fact, for software makers like
> | Microsoft, planned obsolescence is the plan.

Well yeah.  Can't have those FOSS folks writing Microsoft
Word files now, can we?  Make sure it's gen-yoo-ine
Microsoft Word only generating those gen-yoo-ine Microsoft
Word files.  That way, one has complete assurance.
(FSVO "one", perhaps.)

Could be worse.  A virtually uncrackable code might be had
by doing something along the following lines.

Four key pairs are required:

[a] A randomly generated public-private affair, the document key.
[b] A Word identification key, the program key.  The
program has the public copy; the private one is in MicrosoftLand(tm).
[c] A server identification certificate, the server key.
The program has the public copy.
[d] An OS identification key.

[1] Write something up in a gen-yoo-ine Microsoft Word processor.

[2] Request a save.

[3] Word pings a server somewhere in MicrosoftLand(tm),
requesting a public document key.  The pathname, GUID, and
public OS key of the document is also sent.  The actual
request would be encrypted using the public server key
and the public program key; the response comes back
encrypted using the private server key and the private
identification key.  The server is expected to store this
for step 5.  (Note that the document contents are not known
to the server, so this is a lockout as opposed to a theft.)

[4] Word decodes the message, extracts the document public
key, then encrypts the document using that key, saves the
encrypted document, and discards the key.

(This is probably the weakest link, as one might attempt
to recover the key by patching Word.  This might be
forestallable by having Word send a self-signature of all
relevant DLLs along with its identification key in step 1.
But there are some nasty issues here, and the signatures
are easily recovered as well, if a black hat knows what
he's doing.)

[5] Upon load, Word pings the server again, requesting the
private document key.  The request is encrypted
using Word's public program key and the server's public key.

[6] A response comes back; Word decodes it and extracts
the public document key, decodes the document, and displays it.

Without network access one might as well forget about
reading those documents, nor does this forestall copying
as such, though an additional verification step including
a Gen-yoo-ine OS tag and/or machine identifier (plucked
directly from the microprocessor itself) might curtail

And if MicrosoftLand(tm) goes the way of Michael Jackson's
amusement park, things get *real* interesting.

Where did we want to go today?  I doubt we'd want to go there.
But I could see variants of this protocol being used for music
videos and such, especially if the server purges itself of
old keys, rendering that Beyonce (or other) video into essentially
random garbage.

> | 
> | "The reality is that it's in companies' interest that software should
> | become obsolete and that you should have to buy every upgrade,"
> | Rose says. We could be on the cusp of a turning point, though, in the
> | way businesses and their customers think about digital preservation.
> | "Things will start to change when people start losing all of their personal 
> | photos," Rose said.

Not to mention specifications, deeds, and money (as represented by
account transfers).

> `----
> http://www.forbes.com/2006/11/30/books-information-preservation-tech-media_cx_ee_books06_1201acid.html?partner=yahootix
> http://tinyurl.com/yyjqoh

#191, ewill3@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Useless C++ Programming Idea #23291:
void f(item *p) { if(p != 0) delete p; }

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