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March 31st, 2000

[1:30 PM] Observer Warns Of PDF Version Of Stephen King's "Bullet"
by Staff

Excited that the new Stephen King book has made its way to the Mac platform? It may be time to reconsider. Readers have pointed out that the system that Acrobat uses for the purchase of .pdf "books" is a bit questionable. According to one Observer, Glenn Cole:

A quick word of caution re: the new Stephen King downloadable book. No doubt you've found that it requires Acrobat Reader 4.05 .

In and of itself, that wouldn't be so bad, but there's a non-obvious consequence of using this.

I don't recall the exact sequence of events, but I remember something about a second Acrobat file being downloaded when I opened the "main" one.

The thing is, if you check the preferences of Acrobat Reader 4.05, you'll see where it says to send your CPU and hard drive serial #s BY DEFAULT back to the web site in order to get the "key" to enable the PDF document!

BY DEFAULT!

To Adobe's credit, when I saw the many literary works available for "free" download on Adobe's site, I started to download one, but the next web page said something to the effect, "If you download this book, then we'll return a key to you using your CPU and hard drive serial numbers" (!!). I passed on the offer.

This is what actually inspired me to examine Acrobat's preferences.

I'm certainly happy that I did not actually *purchase* a book using this technique! I'm on my fourth Mac, and I would be really ticked off if every time I got a new machine, I could NOT carry forward any "Acrobat books" I had previously purchased.

Users of Acrobat and .pdf style books might want to look into this more closely.

Both "Riding the Bullet" and Adobe Acrobat Reader are available for free download from Amazon.com

The Mac Observer Spin: This smells of the Pentium III deal with serial numbers on CPUs, with that information being sent at each internet log in. Adobe is not hiding this process, apparently, but one must question the reasoning, logic, privacy, and security issues that are involved with such a process.

Adobe



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