Secret Decoder Ring (6/12/98)

Hands up, who uses Word 98? Well, if you're waving your paw in the air right about now, we appreciate your enthusiam, but we can't see you, so you can go ahead and put your hand down now. Better yet, use that hand to channel-surf over to MacFixit, who reports on a very strange bug in the software that is potentially a major security problem.

It seems that whenever you create a document in Word 98 and save it, the contents of documents in open windows of other running applications may be captured invisibly in the file format of the saved document. Opening the Word 98 document in BBEdit reveals the hidden text. (This isn't necessarily a strange thing to do-- we open Word 5.1 documents in BBEdit all the time, because all the text is readable, even though the style formatting goes away.) And apparently the bug isn't even limited to data in open applications-- reportedly, data from closed documents stored on the hard disk can also show up embedded in the file. So when you give the Word 98 file containing the Peterson proposal to your boss, it just might contain the nasty comments you made about him in that email message to Lenny in Accounting-- albeit in hidden form. (Of course, if you're sending unencrypted company email disparaging your boss, you're pretty much asking to get caught anyway...) Now, while this problem is apparently not only a Word problem-- several applications may forget to zero out unused memory space-- we would have thought that Microsoft has been doing this programming thing long enough to avoid that kind of sloppiness.

Wow, first there was that little "accidentally delete your whole System Folder when trying to uninstall Office 98" thing, and now this. We guess it just wouldn't be Microsoft software without at least a few huge, glaring bugs capable of trashing your important data or making it available to others without your say-so. We're sure Microsoft will release a bug fix for this problem soon. In the meantime, we'll be examining all the Word 98 documents we come across in hopes of finding something entertaining and/or incriminating. Wheee!

SceneLink (769)
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From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


The above scene was taken from the 6/12/98 episode:

June 12, 1998: Apple may be getting ready to jump back into the speech recognition game, pending the resolution of a years-long legal battle. Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to surprise and delight us with its spectacular color wheel of software bugs...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 768: Cat Got Your Tongue (6/12/98)   Whither Speech Recognition? That's the question many Mac users (especially those of us with one hand in a cast) are asking today. While we've been able to run scripts and control the Finder via voice commands for several years now, that capability hasn't improved except with the advent of faster processors; the underlying technology in the system software is essentially unchanged...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

Vote Early, Vote Often!
Why did you tune in to this '90s relic of a soap opera?
Nostalgia is the next best thing to feeling alive
My name is Rip Van Winkle and I just woke up; what did I miss?
I'm trying to pretend the last 20 years never happened
I mean, if it worked for Friends, why not?
I came here looking for a receptacle in which to place the cremated remains of my deceased Java applets (think about it)

(1250 votes)

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