Thursday, September 25, 2008

Disasters with Word's "track changes"

Further to an earlier post on IPBiz about Word's "Track Change" feature, IPBiz re-affirms that people, ESPECIALLY ATTORNEYS, need to be careful about using this feature.

One horror story is reproduced on the mathewingraw blog:

Some of you may have seen this already, since it has been passed around on Twitter, but I just had to point to Rick Segal’s hilarious blog post about a startup that did everything right in its business plan — right up until it sent the document without clicking the “accept changes” menu item in Word. So when Rick (who is a VC with J.L. Albright in Toronto) looked at the impressive business plan, what he saw in the margins were all the edits and comments made by the team and their advisors, including:

“Segal used work for Microsoft so skip the name dropping, save it for the afternoon meeting, they are clueless about Redmond.”

“When you talk through this point on your slides, make Chanukah jokes, he is Jewish and will get them”

“I’d delete this section since we don’t have these features on the roadmap and haven’t figured out how to code this unless you believe the investors won’t catch this.”

“VCs are typically stupid when it comes to this section so be prepared for a dumb question blizzard.”

IPBiz wonders if the section VCs were stupid about concerned intellectual property (or underlying technology).

Gawk for Windows (and DOS editors) can do what MS Word cannot:

**UPDATE. UMissouri selling cell phones with messages still on them (from Eamonn Brennan at>

Bellman bought the cell phones earlier this year at a university surplus sale with the intent of reselling them for parts. He paid $190 for 25 old cell phones, figuring he'd sell the parts for around $1,000. Turned out the information on the phones might be worth more than the hardware. No one at the university had deleted the text messages, e-mails and contact numbers from the phones.

The Tribune reported last week that among other things, one Sprint Treo previously used by basketball coach Mike Anderson still had text messages between Anderson, football coach Gary Pinkel and Athletics Director Mike Alden. It was nothing controversial — well wishes for upcoming games and congratulations after wins. Still, the university has caught some flak from several online sites for not being more careful with information that could fall into the wrong hands — someone affiliated with Kansas, Nebraska or some other Big 12 rival, for example.

**Also on "track changes"

Microsoft Word ‘Track Changes’ : The Track Changes feature received some updates in Word 2003; most notably in how the printing of Tracked Changes was handled. In Word 2003, the ability to view/hide tracked changes in a printed document is not saved with the document itself; instead it is a global setting which must be manually set by each individual user when viewing the file. The Editorial Manager PDF builder machines are set to always print tracked changes because of this new feature. If the PDF Builders were not set up this way, users would not be able to see any of the tracked changes within a PDF.

from the Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry:

Special Note for users of 'Track Changes' or similar features: If you use the Track Changes feature of Microsoft Word, or another word processor, before submitting your manuscript document file you must accept or reject all of your changes and turn the change tracking option off for the manuscript document file. If our Editorial Office is prompted by software to accept or reject alterations when your file is handled, we will accept all changes, and the authors will be responsible for any errors this generates.

Microsoft Word: track changes color won't change

from Princeton :

Choose menu option Tools/Track Changes/Highlight Changes… and check Track changes while editing. You can choose whether or not you want the tracked changes displayed on screen and on printed copies of the document by checking the appropriate box in the Highlight Changes dialog box.
Note: For the original author, inserted text and spelling errors are both shown in red and underlined, making it hard to distinguish between the two. One solution is to turn off change highlighting when you’re checking for spelling errors. Choose menu option Tools/Track Changes/Highlight Changes… and uncheck Highlight changes on screen. Now only spelling errors will be highlighted.

***Also, Hidden text shows SCO prepped lawsuit against BofA -->

A feature in the word-processing software tracks changes to documents, who made those changes, and when they were made. These notations typically are invisible to someone reading a Word document. But as some lawyers, businesspeople and politicians have learned the hard way, Word can also display so-called metadata in the document--including the original version and all subsequent changes. This information is available by viewing the document under "original showing markup" or "final showing markup."

The presence of hidden text in the SCO document is just the latest example of this workplace issue. According to a study by market research firm Vanson Bourne titled "The Cost of Sharing," 90 percent of documents in circulation began as something else, but 57 percent of respondents were not aware that metadata may still exist in the their document. Microsoft addresses the issue on its Web site but adds that its 2003 version of Office provides a feature that lets users "permanently remove" the hidden text from Word.

In the case of SCO's lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler, the Word document identified Bank of America as a defendant until Feb. 18--at 11:10 a.m., to be exact. The location for filing the suit also was switched from Bank of America's principal operations in California to Michigan, DaimlerChrysler's home state, on Feb. 27.

Examples of the changes made to the Word document that later became SCO's lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler include the following:

• On Feb. 18 at 11:10 a.m. "Bank of America, a National Banking Association" was removed as a defendant and "DaimlerChrysler Corp." was inserted.
• Three minutes later, this comment was removed: "Are there any special jurisdiction or venue requirements for a NA bank?"
• At the end of the lawsuit, "February" was listed as the filing date, although no exact date was given. SCO previously had said that it expected to file a lawsuit against a Linux user by mid-February.


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