Adobe prevent Microsoft from offering ‘Save as PDF’ in Office 2007

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard on a recent episode of Dot Net Rocks! that Adobe are not going to let Microsoft release Office 2007 with a native ‘Save as PDF’ feature. This is a feature that I have been desperate to see introduced for years. I have made use of various 3rd party plugins but none have supported all the features I required and been trouble free to use. If MS and Adobe cannot reach agreement the feature will be available as a separate downloadable plugin.

Apparently Adobe want MS to charge more to customers purchasing Office 2007 and to pay a royalty to Adobe, this begs the question… Is Adobe an evil money grabbing corporation?

Adobe may be worried that their sales of PDF authoring software will be affected. I can’t really see this happening as 99% of people will buy a $30 plugin to convert their doc’s to PDF instead of a $500 Adobe tool.

Adobe’s own PDF viewer has been suffering from bloatware syndrome over the last few versions 5.0 – 7.0 and I have read a lot of people saying version 6.0 was brown and smelt funny. I have just started using FoxIT’s pdf viewer which is a 1.2 MB download. It is fast to load and feels uber responsive when navigating through documents, it is still early days so I’m not sure how robust it is yet.

I think Adobe need to listen to the humble consumers if they want to enjoy success in the consumer software mass market.


Word OLE Automation Gotcha

One of my coleagues has recently been working on a module that uses the easyPDF .Net component to convert Word 2000 documents to PDF format. He had evaluated many third party components and easyPDF seemed to offer the best performance, was straightforward to implement and not too expensive. 

Everything was going well, the module deployed successfully to a windows 2000 server and processed several thousand documents in our test enviroment.

The next step was to ship the server to our colocation facility, we were already running the server on the same domain via VPN so we were confident that this would be straightforward.

When we fired up the server at the colo the module which ran as an NT service started up it then started to produce a document and then it promptly froze and after 50 seconds a timeout error was written to the log. We were puzzled as to what could be causing this and spent the next few days trying to figure it out. To cut a long story short at the colocation facility we did not attach keyboard or a mouse to the server, when these were attached and the server was restarted our application started working!

MS do warn against using Word Automation but in this case we didn’t have any choice, we are looking forward to the release Office 12 and the native PDF output capability of Word.

UPDATE: Still not working after a reboot the dreaded freezing has come back! Will update if we figure it out.

Another Update: We have had no problems getting this working on desktop OS’s like W2K Pro and XP Pro but on servers it is just hanging.

Malware or Trojan Hijack.Small.js

For the last few weeks my McAfee virus scanner has been reporting the Downloader-zq infection in my system32 folder (I have WinXP Pro SP2). It deleted the file but a week later it would come back. I eventually found what I think is the cause after reading a post on the McAfee forums.

Accoring to the post below this is a rootkit virus that installs itself as a system driver. The recommended removal tool is Ewido ( , run this in safe mode and it should detect and remove a virus called hijack.small.js detected in the system32 folder with a random name.

There will also be several references to this random name of the file detected in the registry. I have deleted these entries, if you do the same you should back them up first just in case removing them causes your system to become unstable.

It is early days so I don’t know if I have completely got rid of the infection if it comes back I will update this post.

McAfee Forums Explanation and removal instructions

Our Office Asterisk PBX VOIP experiment

We have been using our VOIP only solution now for about ten months and over time the experience has got better as we have learned a thing or two.

Our provider is Voiptalk to begin with they were a little bit flakey but they seem to more stable now. I think their servers are located in a docklands datacenter and there has been four brief outages over the last ten months which is no problem for us.

Our Asterisk server has been rebuilt a few times but now seems to be stable, it is running on a Dell 1Ghz PIII with 512MB of ram, we used fedora core 3 for the os and the standard free version of asterisk.

We have eight phones in the office and are using features like voicemail and out of office redirection to mobiles.

We opted for Polycom IP300 handsets @ £100 each these represent good value over extensive functionality.

For a long time our biggest problem was call quality / calls dropping out, this was remedied by turning on traffic shaping on our m0n0wall router which is our gateway to our 2mbps 5:1 SDSL line supplied by Bulldog.

The Bulldog SDSL line here in Tunbridge Wells has been rock solid, I wish I could say the same about there customer service. BD have blocked port 25 so we relay mail through their server, recently for whatever reason their SMTP server has been causing our outbound email to be delayed which is very confusing / annoying. I have contacted them on several occasions but they have offered no way of resolving this.

Adam commented below that Bulldog don’t port block and he is right. We misdiagnosed that issue, however, when we started relaying mail ourselves we got a lot of NDR’s with DNS errors, the errors stated that MX records for the domain could not be found. I can’t be sure this is a Bulldog DNS problem but I have my suspicions. Of one thing we are certain, their outbound relay servers do delay messages occasionaly, the delay can be up to a few hours long. Our experience of their customer service is poor.