Monthly Archives: October 2015


For my upcoming course on File Format Identification Tools, Udemy wants me to provide a graphic. Here’s what I’ve come up with, applying Udemy’s quality standards. I don’t claim to be a graphic designer, but I think it’ll do the … Continue reading

Course planning: File identification tools

My current main project is creating a course to offer on Udemy on file format identification tools. As currently planned, I’ll cover file (the command line tool), DROID, ExifTool, JHOVE, and Apache Tika. Covering more than five tools in one course would make it too big, though I might consider changing the list. If I can keep my schedule, I’ll have it out in December for early feedback, giving me a chance to clean it up before MIT’s Independent Activity Period in January.

Right now I’m occupied with the mechanics. The course insists on 1280 x 720 pixel video, so I need a new camera; a friend is selling me a Canon Elph 520 HS cheap. Screen capture software is proving interesting; I’ve looked at three different Macintosh applications so far.
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An early look at Portable Web Publications

PDF is the most popular document presentation format, but it’s primarily visual, letting you view or print a document the way it would originally have been printed. EPub focuses more on content, reflowing documents to fit screens of all sizes. The developers of the Open Web Platform think the next step should be documents that are equally at home offline and online. They’ve provided an idea (not yet a spec) of how this would work with the first Public Working Draft of Portable Web Publications.
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Adding DRM to JPEG?

EFF has posted a strong critique of the proposed addition of a DRM option to the JPEG format, but it mostly misses the point.

The article addresses the JPEG Privacy & Security Abstract and Executive Summary of September 10, 2015. JPEG icon JPEG stands for both the Joint Photographic Experts Group and the eponymous image file format. To minimize confusion, I’ll refer to the group as J.P.E.G. and the format as JPEG, even though the periods are non-standard. Continue reading

PDF forever?

Distant galaxiesThe PDF Association has an article on its site titled “What’s unique about PDF? and why PDF will live forever.” The article claims PDF is “a format of such flexibility and power that it will define the essential ‘electronic document’ concept forever.”

Forever is a long time. No one will think they mean that the last object left as the universe succumbs to entropy will be a disk with a PDF file, but what scale of “forever” gives sense to their claim? In a tweet responding to my skepticism, they offered a clarification:

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