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Archived Message:

Activ Ebook 5 beta release


 
fkapnist Waiting to see how version 5 of Activ Ebook Compiler will be? I tried beta version 5.0 and found that the RUN(s1) external program statement (which is OK in version 4.22) worked too slow and caused the ebook to stop responding in Windows Vista. Activ Ebook Compiler 5.5 beta actually stopped my external files with a popup message about security issues. I'm surprised that Suni Tanna put a script blocker into his new compiler. Is there a good reason for this? Similar software packages like NeobookPro, VisualBasic, Python, etc., don't instruct on using features to "block your own scripts." Are there any statistical facts showing that Activ Ebook publications have been widely used to spread malicious code? If not, why "stigmatize" a very good product (and its users) with red-ink references to security risks or responsibility to readers? It makes them feel unworthy. The other leading ebook compilers sure don't have self-assertive script blockers built into their software.

It was disturbing to spend months writing in JavaScript, Flash, or Basic (for version 4.22) - only to see it all crash (in version 5.5) with a rapid succession of warning screens. Since there's plenty of anti-virus and malware detection software out there (and almost everyone already has it installed) why should my ebook need another firewall built into it? I don't get it.

Version 5.5 automatically blocks so-called tainted scripts and urls that are not embedded in the ebook. Is that really a good idea? For example, if you put a flv movie player in your ebook to let users watch an online YouTube clip, that external web url script might be blocked on suspicion of being "tainted" or malicious code. A major headache. You can probably also forget about dynamic RSS feeds directly into your ebook pages. Or any embedded widgets that access online data, for that matter. Social network scripts (for Facebook, Twitter, etc.) seem almost impossible with the link policies of version 5.5.

Why release a new compiler version with cool features like dialog boxes, rundll shell commands, and folder browsing -- only to cripple the final code with warning screens and link blockers? Maybe Suni Tanna has spent so much time programming his Virtual Vault security solutions that he incorporated them into his new Activ Ebook Compiler? But I would much rather see version 5 of Activ Ebook have greater compatibility with IE8 accelerators and support for very large icons and the Folder attributes of Vista and Windows 7. Smile. There's always time to rethink, out of the box.


Posted on: 11:54 am on April 27, 2010
fkapnist I'm not saying you should dismiss Activ Ebook Compiler version 5.5. Its extra security features could be sold as an optional Extension module, like the Advanced MultiMedia Extension.

Posted on: 2:11 pm on April 27, 2010
fkapnist I want to be clear about this thread. It's not that I don't want to use Active Ebook Compiler 5.04+  Its that I can't use it, not the way it is.  Here is what it says in the help file:

------------

External Script File - NO LONGER SUPPORTED

In previous versions (prior to 5.04) it was possible to Activ Link to script files outside the E-Book using a hash and @ symbol (#@). This is no longer supported in versions 5.04 and above.

----------

But a hash mark (#) anchor also tells the browser what section of a page it's looking for! In Activ E-Book 5.5 my "jump to page top" links are all blocked -- with this message:

##Activ Link Blocked
E-Book Viewing external URL


So what? Activ E-Book 5.5 doesn't seem to like anything external. I often used something like the script below in Activ E-Book 4.22 (and 5.0) without problems:


var locvar = document.myform.myfield.value;
window.external.ActivSet( 'avar', locvar) ;
window.external.ActivRun('{win}\\explorer.exe {avar}') ;


But version 5.5 now blocks my harmless script with this message:

Unrecognized Command:
{win}\explorer.exe


I can't pass my script variables to external programs as before. There is no backward compatibilty with Activ scripts in version 5.5 and the new popup messages were obviously not designed for graceful degradation. If readers ever see those kind of "{win}\ Link Blocked" messages, you can be sure they won't bother to come back. I seriously question the wisdom of writing pages and pages of code, only to have the "option" of disabling it before final compilation. Are you kidding? If I didn't want to use ALL of my code, I would not have put it there in the first place! But, oh yes, external ## links are now blocked automatically, the ebook author has absolutely no choice in the matter. Sort of like book burning, if I can't have the final (free speech) say on precisely how my code is to be executed! Father knows best? Mind you, we are only talking about runing explorer.exe and jumping to the # page top -- nothing given to malice.

I think the security features of version 5.04+ were not put there for the benefit of ebook authors. They were put there to be "in compliance" with a new global Internet policy. A few years ago, the GoodGuyGiants() of the software industry "advised" new programmers to stop using certain tools. According to myth, Ajax, a hero of the Trojan War, had magic armor. Today, the GoodGuyGiants() express strong disfavour for the forbidden tools of Ajax. They campaign to convince upcoming programmers and developers to avoid using the forbidden tools, because of safety issues, thus crippling new software -- for a noble cause.  You'll be rewarded in heaven. But the GoodGuyGiants() themselves continue to use the tools of Ajax as they please! In the past five years they actually made billions of dollars with the forbidden tools, while humble programmers "in compliance" with the new policy willingly disabled their good software for a higher cause.

Do you know the name of a major search engine company that uses millions of iframes every day to support its ad campaign, while rebuking webmasters for using a few iframes? No ethics whatsoever. Cash in wheelbarrows. Do you know of a social network site that works exclusively with cross-domain data access while censuring other programmers for some simple cross-site scripting? Let's face it. Double standards on rails. How about a famous operating system that uses ActiveX controls for just about everything from its downloads to its weekly updates, while sternly warning every new user to steer clear of ActiveX?  Yes, the GoodGuyGiants() use the forbidden tools as they please.  They do know evil. They wear jewelled baseball caps and have picnics with movies stars to launch their new projects. But since thay couldn't patent or copyright the tools of Ajax, they made them appear villainous in order to keep them hidden from public perception. But soon, the GoodGuyGiants() will face tough ethics committees to explain their arrogant double standards and lack of moral principles.

Meanwhile, over at ClickBank there are rumors that when "Activ Compiler 6.0 Uncrippled" is released, there will be a flow of funds there like never before. The GoodGuyGiants() don't practice what they preach. They never intended to. The tools of Ajax are not theirs. Speaking out against a gathering digital dicatorship is not a fantasy. If we don't excersice our freedom, we will be forced to cripple more software and burn more books, so that a few protection racketeers can profit financially from the wrongful treatment of others.


Posted on: 8:17 am on April 29, 2010

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