2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

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kdb
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2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby kdb » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:20 pm UTC

Image

Title text: "At some point, compression becomes an aesthetic design choice. Luckily, SVG is a really flexible format, so there's no reason it can't support vector JPEG artifacts."

I don't have much of a opinion on that myself, but I was curious to see other people's experiences, and got tired of waiting for a thread to pop up :) I wasn't showing much endurance on that one...

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Ken_g6
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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Ken_g6 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:30 pm UTC

Did anybody notice the link?

https://twitter.com/openelex/status/853977391747801088

Also, for once, I want to respond to an XKCD with an XKCD:

Image

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Heimhenge
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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Heimhenge » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:04 pm UTC

I did not notice that link until you pointed it out. Apparently shit like this really happens, though it's taken to the extreme in the cartoon. I can see someone taking a screen grab of some relevant part of a spreadsheet, and embedding it into a document to include further explanation. But I doubt it's done commonly enough to become the new norm.

What I hate getting is attached uncompressed full-size photos from people who don't know how to reduce image sizes. Takes forever to load.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby ucim » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:39 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:What I hate getting is attached uncompressed full-size photos from people who don't know how to reduce image sizes. Takes forever to load.
Plain text takes up the least space, so that's how I send it. What I do is take a video of the (full sized) image as I scroll it around my (too small) screen. Since only a little of it is displayed at any given point, the image takes up far less space. I embed that in a power point document and UUencode it. That way it can be sent as text.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby crystalmeph » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:48 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:I did not notice that link until you pointed it out. Apparently shit like this really happens, though it's taken to the extreme in the cartoon.


I don't know, the scenario in the cartoon seems downright logical compared to the reality in that OpenElections tweet.

At least you can come up with a plausible background for the comic scenario: the computer the original data was on did not have a network connection, so the sender took a picture of the screen with their cellphone. A quick and sane workaround for a fairly realistic scenario.

In comparison, to create the "spreadsheet" in the OpenElections tweet, someone had to manually perform the calculations, and then manually insert and place several clipart images to represent the results of the calculations, instead of just typing those results in. Even if they couldn't figure out how to merge cells, they could have just typed in something like "See Above" in the cells they wanted to merge. I think even Hanlon would suggest that you take a very close look before declaring something like that the result of mere incompetence.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:51 pm UTC

crystalmeph wrote:I think even Hanlon would suggest that you take a very close look before declaring something like that the result of mere incompetence.


Never underestimate the ingenuity of fools...

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:25 pm UTC

I work as a graphic designer and I have seen shit like this aplenty. Say, one of our sales reps emails me a saved webpage of his gmail wherein is attached a photo the customer took of his screen upon which is open a browser showing the image they want used in their design. JUST EMAIL ME A LINK TO THAT IMAGE, IT'S ALREADY ONLINE, WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN
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AndrewGPaul
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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby AndrewGPaul » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:36 pm UTC

I've had people email me screenshots of text files before. Apparently Windows' screen grab tool is quicker than selecting and copying text? :shock:

If there was a plugin for Outlook that could detect that sort of thing and send the old "you're too stupid to have a computer..." line as an autoreply, I'd like that, please. :)

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:42 pm UTC

/opens that Word Document in OpenOffice
/exports to PDF

(As to emails, there are some horrible email clients that mangle embedded images in them as far as any "save as" ability at the other end, where I've had to help by taking the raw mail source and copy the base64 mime section concerned into a third-party decoder in order to not have to screenshot the message pane (with a presumed non-integer scaling factor having been applied by that point) and trim that in a handy image editor.)

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:46 pm UTC

Yeah, Outlook in particular is a major offender there. It makes some meaningless distinction between images being "embedded" or "attached", where "embedded" images just show up in the email in some downsampled format and can't be saved on the reader's end. And it's Outlook as reader, not sender that does this: on my end as sender, not using Outlook, the only option I have is to attach, there is no such thing as "embedding", but then Outlook users complain that they can't get the image out of the email and can I please attach it instead of embedding it. There's no such thing as "embedding" on my end, it is attached, your mail client is just stupid.

(I think the pattern may be that Outlook treats any attached image that is not the final MIME part of the message as "embedded". Non-image attachments anywhere in the message, and images that are the final part of the message, are treated as "attachments". So zipping images preserves them, and sometimes carefully stripping a message down to plain text and making sure that there is no content following the image attachment might work too.)
Last edited by Pfhorrest on Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:49 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Justin Lardinois » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:47 pm UTC

crystalmeph wrote:In comparison, to create the "spreadsheet" in the OpenElections tweet, someone had to manually perform the calculations, and then manually insert and place several clipart images to represent the results of the calculations, instead of just typing those results in. Even if they couldn't figure out how to merge cells, they could have just typed in something like "See Above" in the cells they wanted to merge. I think even Hanlon would suggest that you take a very close look before declaring something like that the result of mere incompetence.


OpenElections clarifies later in the thread, but it could've been more clear in the initial tweet: those are not election results. It's just a table showing which physical precincts map to which absentee precincts.

One suggestion in the thread is that this was done to make it more legible when printed. Presumably this table was used internally by election workers when sorting absentee ballots.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:00 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Yeah, Outlook in particular is a major offender there. It makes some meaningless distinction between images being "embedded" or "attached", where "embedded" images just show up in the email in some downsampled format and can't be saved on the reader's end. And it's Outlook as reader, not sender that does this: on my end as sender, not using Outlook, the only option I have is to attach, there is no such thing as "embedding", but then Outlook users complain that they can't get the image out of the email and can I please attach it instead of embedding it. There's no such thing as "embedding" on my end, it is attached, your mail client is just stupid.

Well, it's Microsoft's 'standards' that make certain types of 'sane' attachment look to certain clients as "please embed this!". They gave us the proliferation of top-posting, too, in the same package, back in the mid '90s.

It's all the fault of mime, anyway. It was all a lot simpler with uuencoding (including multipartite sending). And the "text/html" mime-type (and onwards) would be deprecated if I had any say in it.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby NotAllThere » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:01 pm UTC

"Norm" is PDF isn't it?

On the SAP forums, I regularly see people who say "We received data as PDF - how can we read it into data we can handle in ABAP?".

I generally recommend OCR.
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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Cave Wizard » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:01 pm UTC

Hey, on the plus side, at least it was a screenshot and not a blurry cell phone photo of the screen

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Old Bruce » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:45 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Heimhenge wrote:What I hate getting is attached uncompressed full-size photos from people who don't know how to reduce image sizes. Takes forever to load.
Plain text takes up the least space, so that's how I send it. What I do is take a video of the (full sized) image as I scroll it around my (too small) screen. Since only a little of it is displayed at any given point, the image takes up far less space. I embed that in a power point document and UUencode it. That way it can be sent as text.

Jose

I don't see anything wrong with this approach.
On an unrelated matter Jose, please do not contact me about work.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby yakkoTDI » Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:37 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Never underestimate the ingenuity of fools...


I do not, which is why there is a wood chipper next to my desk.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby ucim » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:15 am UTC

Old Bruce wrote:On an unrelated matter Jose, please do not contact me about work.
Are you the guy with the sign on your door:

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby CharonPDX » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:55 am UTC

I work in tech support for a company whose products are used by lawyers.

We get this shit all the time.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby sotanaht » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:01 am UTC

Title text: "At some point, compression becomes an aesthetic design choice. Luckily, SVG is a really flexible format, so there's no reason it can't support vector JPEG artifacts."

I wonder if there's a way to turn jpeg artifacts into actual art? Like some kind of algorithm that could predict where and how the artifacts would show up in such a way that you could manipulate them into forming a coherent image themselves.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby kodiac » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:09 am UTC

I do contract software development and, among other things, act as both the developer and support for one software product in one government department. It's very common for people to email me full-screen screenshots embedded in Word documents, when the only thing relevant is a small error message in the middle of the screen.

I know this department uses Outlook for email, but somehow pasting a screenshot into Word then attaching the document to an email is easier than pasting a screenshot directly into the email?
And also none of these people know about Alt-Print-Screen to only screenshot the relevant message.

However, I've never experienced the exact situation described in this comic.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby leandrotlz » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:37 am UTC

Disengaging lurk mode to reply to this. Here's an screenshot of how we often receive Excel spreadsheets:

Image

Scanned JPEGs from printouts. They do have the original Excel file, they just don't want to share it; either because they think sending the full file is "sensitive" (even though they have to send us the same data in the printout anyway) or because they get sick pleasure out of my office having to type all the data into our system (a real SQL database with PHP backend) by hand. The last time we asked for the data to be sent in an Excel file, they sent us an Excel file with the prinout images embedded inside. That's when we knew they were doing it on purpose.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Uristqwerty » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:57 pm UTC

Title text: "At some point, compression becomes an aesthetic design choice. Luckily, SVG is a really flexible format, so there's no reason it can't support vector JPEG artifacts."


Tangentially, that reminds me of how the AV1 codec has a filter to generate film grain and apply that to the output video. Although there it's more about preserving the artistic choices of the input video while being able to remove hard-to-compress randomness so that the features that matter can be encoded more effectively. I could definitely see a SVG attribute for "oh, and generate plausible JPEG artifacts around the edge of this shape" to keep the file concise and the shapes easy for humans to continue editing.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby mashnut » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:49 am UTC

kodiac wrote:I do contract software development and, among other things, act as both the developer and support for one software product in one government department. It's very common for people to email me full-screen screenshots embedded in Word documents, when the only thing relevant is a small error message in the middle of the screen.

I know this department uses Outlook for email, but somehow pasting a screenshot into Word then attaching the document to an email is easier than pasting a screenshot directly into the email?
And also none of these people know about Alt-Print-Screen to only screenshot the relevant message.

However, I've never experienced the exact situation described in this comic.


I have the opposite fight, our users consistently give us less of the screen than we want in bug reports. We can't get them to just copy-paste the URL they're on so at least if they give us a full-screen shot we can get there (and also see that they have no internet so maybe that's why the web app isn't working).

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby sotanaht » Wed Feb 27, 2019 2:02 am UTC

mashnut wrote:
kodiac wrote:I do contract software development and, among other things, act as both the developer and support for one software product in one government department. It's very common for people to email me full-screen screenshots embedded in Word documents, when the only thing relevant is a small error message in the middle of the screen.

I know this department uses Outlook for email, but somehow pasting a screenshot into Word then attaching the document to an email is easier than pasting a screenshot directly into the email?
And also none of these people know about Alt-Print-Screen to only screenshot the relevant message.

However, I've never experienced the exact situation described in this comic.


I have the opposite fight, our users consistently give us less of the screen than we want in bug reports. We can't get them to just copy-paste the URL they're on so at least if they give us a full-screen shot we can get there (and also see that they have no internet so maybe that's why the web app isn't working).

Makes perfect sense. My browser bookmark toolbar and desktop startbar are both things I would consider "sensitive personal information", so if I wanted to screenshot a webpage I would definitely cut them out. People have accidentally shared their porn habits that way so often it's become a meme unto itself.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby 80-watt Hamster » Wed Feb 27, 2019 2:14 pm UTC

kodiac wrote:
And also none of these people know about Alt-Print-Screen to only screenshot the relevant message.



Confession time: I, someone who is apprentice-level at best in this group but generally considered "computer-savvy" by GenPop, did not know about Alt-PrtScr until this exact moment. Now I do; thanks!

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Flumble » Wed Feb 27, 2019 3:58 pm UTC

80-watt Hamster wrote:
kodiac wrote:
And also none of these people know about Alt-Print-Screen to only screenshot the relevant message.



Confession time: I, someone who is apprentice-level at best in this group but generally considered "computer-savvy" by GenPop, did not know about Alt-PrtScr until this exact moment. Now I do; thanks!

Let me immediately introduce you to the snipping tool snip&sketch, which presents you with a handy menu bar from which you can choose to screenshot the whole display, a window or a rectangle and choose put the result on the clipboard, save it or whatever. (And allows for some quick and dirty highlighting/masking.)
In my opinion it's much more user-friendly than remembering (Alt+)PrintScr. If you do want to remember a shortcut key though, it's Win+Shift+S.


Uristqwerty wrote:Tangentially, that reminds me of how the AV1 codec has a filter to generate film grain and apply that to the output video. Although there it's more about preserving the artistic choices of the input video while being able to remove hard-to-compress randomness so that the features that matter can be encoded more effectively.

Ooh, that's neat. It sounds similar to how opus and similar audio codecs have noise generators instead of encoding all the frequencies.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Ken_g6 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:00 pm UTC

mashnut wrote:
kodiac wrote:I do contract software development and, among other things, act as both the developer and support for one software product in one government department. It's very common for people to email me full-screen screenshots embedded in Word documents, when the only thing relevant is a small error message in the middle of the screen.

I know this department uses Outlook for email, but somehow pasting a screenshot into Word then attaching the document to an email is easier than pasting a screenshot directly into the email?
And also none of these people know about Alt-Print-Screen to only screenshot the relevant message.

However, I've never experienced the exact situation described in this comic.


I have the opposite fight, our users consistently give us less of the screen than we want in bug reports. We can't get them to just copy-paste the URL they're on so at least if they give us a full-screen shot we can get there (and also see that they have no internet so maybe that's why the web app isn't working).

Since this comic was posted, I've been thinking about making a Javascript (for a browser extension or embedded in a page) that would read a page's URL, maybe other data like browser ID, and embed it in a repeating background image almost matching the color of the page's normal background. Just a 1-bit fluctuation to produce a QR code or something. However, I doubt it would survive JPEG compression.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby CharonPDX » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:17 pm UTC

mashnut wrote:I have the opposite fight, our users consistently give us less of the screen than we want in bug reports. We can't get them to just copy-paste the URL they're on so at least if they give us a full-screen shot we can get there (and also see that they have no internet so maybe that's why the web app isn't working).


My favorite was supporting software that was in use in a secure government datacenter. The government sysadmin called in, told me the general details of the error. "Can you send me the error log?"

"No, no form of file, electronic or paper, can leave the datacenter."

"Uh, okay, can you at least give me the detailed error message? You can obfuscate things like IP addresses, just make sure the same IP address is obfuscated the same way, such as replacing the server IP with 'server ip', and each host IP with 'host 1 ip' 'host 2 ip', etc."

"Sigh. Yeah, I'll call you back in a couple hours."

He had to go in, memorize a bit of the error message, walk out, write it down, and repeat until he had the full error message.

It was a Java stack error, probably 200-300 characters of error message, including a few long strings of hexadecimal error codes.

When he called back he was annoyed. I apologized for the difficulty, but that we really did need all that detail to figure out what was going on.

"No, its wasn't the doing it that was the problem. I accidentally took my favorite pen in with me one of the times. Now it has to stay in the datacenter or be put in the incineration bin."

Yup, even a standard pen couldn't leave the secure area of the datacenter.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:25 am UTC

CharonPDX wrote:Yup, even a standard pen couldn't leave the secure area of the datacenter.


Makes you wonder about clothing...

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Mikeski » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:38 am UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
CharonPDX wrote:Yup, even a standard pen couldn't leave the secure area of the datacenter.

Makes you wonder about clothing...

Most of it is okay, but socks aren't allowed after the Sandy Berger thing.

Though they're probably reviewing the rules, given those new bluetooth-enabled self-tying sneakers from Nike. (Living in the future is nothing like what I was expecting.)

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Archgeek » Thu Feb 28, 2019 5:04 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:Though they're probably reviewing the rules, given those new bluetooth-enabled self-tying sneakers from Nike. (Living in the future is nothing like what I was expecting.)

"Left shoe won't connect" has been one of the most surreal things I've read this month.
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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Ken_g6 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:17 pm UTC


eidako
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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby eidako » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:54 pm UTC



You're doing it wrong.

Image

Mjb
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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Mjb » Sat Mar 02, 2019 4:22 am UTC

Get Out of Microsoft's Head Randall!

Props to them though. Throw enough AI at the problem and we can automate the parsing-related data loss. Access 2030 will save everyone loads of time by compressing 10GB .norm files into crying emojis.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Mar 02, 2019 12:56 pm UTC

I should have patented my "bus-timetable OCRer and comprehender" from a few years back. (I'd scanned photos of bus timetables on various stops of interest to me, and also some 'per service' leaflets listing whole routes, selectively OCRed them according to a basic image-processing algorithm and thus derived as much sense as I could from them without resorting to manual input, in my then-obsession of deriving transport-flows around the area. Then the same info became available from PDFs (marginally easier to process data from!) and directly webscraping the online timetable information, so my obsession waned.) Ah well, great minds think alike. And fools never differ.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Time Traveler » Mon Mar 25, 2019 12:52 pm UTC

leandrotlz wrote:Disengaging lurk mode to reply to this. Here's an screenshot of how we often receive Excel spreadsheets:

Image

Scanned JPEGs from printouts. They do have the original Excel file, they just don't want to share it; either because they think sending the full file is "sensitive" (even though they have to send us the same data in the printout anyway) or because they get sick pleasure out of my office having to type all the data into our system (a real SQL database with PHP backend) by hand. The last time we asked for the data to be sent in an Excel file, they sent us an Excel file with the prinout images embedded inside. That's when we knew they were doing it on purpose.


Wait what.

They think the Excel file is too "sensitive" to share, so instead they print out the entire contents of the file and share that instead? What do they think they are protecting by printing the file out? The edit cursor?
xkcd fan since 2009.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Mjb » Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:13 pm UTC

Time Traveler wrote:Wait what.

They think the Excel file is too "sensitive" to share, so instead they print out the entire contents of the file and share that instead? What do they think they are protecting by printing the file out? The edit cursor?


The formulas that produce those values? Other sheets with source data for those formulas? A sheet called "All Our Passwords"? The deeper secret that the images really are the closest thing they have to the original, and all analytical output that might imply the existence of a spreadsheet was made by hand? None of these inspires confidence in their tech, but someone probably came up with a policy.

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Re: 2116: ".NORM Normal File Format"

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:29 pm UTC

Metadata.

Though there are better ways to bleach out things like (local, internal network) file locations, editing history timestamps, even (if held over, for whatever reason, in a given File Format) old text that might be "Kerry: please Insert the same blurb here as with the McCompetitor Corp sales pitch, but round it up extra 10% cost for this client. Cheers - Vicky G" and isn't meant for release. I've been asked to take Word output and save through plaintext (or RTF) before reimporting anew for a final copy of something they need to know is pretty much untainted. For spreadsheets, CSV would work for raw data if there's not much fuss about loss/reinstatement of formatting, and there's no need to retain active formulae/calculations.

If instead it's the formulae you want to squash, for other reasons (e.g. you have a timeline powered by opetations upon the =NOW() function, that you'd wish set in concrete upon final release), then Ctrl-A, Ctrl-V and then whichever key-combo this spreadsheet needs for Paste Special (changes, per package? I've got three keyboard methods in my muscle memory that I can't test right now on this imaginary keyboard in front of me) and then choose the appropriate value-only pastings. Per sheet, but it's not a big thing to do compared to compiling screenshots.

But some people do weird things weirdly for weird reasons.


(Typical, I put this to one side, mostly written, for several hours while I was unable to finish it and get ninjaed in the final ten minutes of that while refining some awkward phrasing. :P)


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