March 2013 2 posts

Decertifying secured Stanford transcript PDF

Friday, March 29, 2013


Stanford (and probably many other schools) provide official transcripts in the form of a signed PDF. This transcript can only be opened using Adobe Acrobat; other readers simply choke on the document and can't open it. This is caused by the use of a proprietary "secured" document signing feature, apparently exclusive to Adobe Reader, which verifies the authenticity of the transcript. (For comparison, Duke University provides regular PDFs that can be opened by any reader, but can be verified by uploading the file to a trusted authority who confirms the document's legitimacy.)

Stanford's PDFs are particularly annoying because you can't take a screenshot with Print Screen (though the Snipping Tool works), Acrobat won't remove the signature, and attempting to use Acrobat Reader print the PDF to CutePDF simply results in a mostly-blank page with the following text:

ERROR: undefined
OFFENDING COMMAND: get
STACK:
/quit
-dictionary-
-mark

Here's how to un-certify the PDF:

  1. Open the secured PDF in Acrobat Reader and "Print to File" (File/Print, click Advanced, and check the box).

  2. Note: this step may violate certain laws. Proceed at your own risk. A comment in the file declares that "Removing the following eleven lines is illegal, subject to the Digital Copyright Act of 1998."

    Open the resulting .ps file in a text editor. Find and delete the following block:

    mark currentfile eexec
    ... stuff here ...
    cleartomark

    Then, use ps2pdf or similar to convert the PostScript file to PDF.

    This entire step can be accomplished with the following:

    $ sed '/mark currentfile eexec/,/cleartomark/d' secured.ps \
          | ps2pdf - unsecured.pdf
  3. For Stanford transcripts, the pages need to be rotated clockwise, so use pdftk:

    $ pdftk input.pdf cat 1-endE output output.pdf

Tags: secured, pdf, stanford | Posted at 14:51 | Comments (6)

Where to get/download LSIUtil

Friday, March 22, 2013


LSIUtil is a handy tool for configuring some LSI RAID controllers, including the SAS 6/iR I have in my Dell box:

LSI Logic / Symbios Logic SAS1068E PCI-Express Fusion-MPT SAS (rev 08)

I'll leave the usage guides to others, but I'll mention one issue I had. I recently ran into Redhat Bug 512613 - Smartmontools cause hard drives behind a SAS controller to get dropped (or perhaps a similar bug), where I used smartctl to query /dev/sgX which promptly knocked one of my drives offline. The controller (via mpt-status) reported the disk to be MISSING and OUT_OF_SYNC, and Linux could not see it at all. I tried all kinds of things, but in the end, even LSIUtil and reboots did not fix it and I had to go to the datacenter, physically disconnect the "missing" drive, and then reconnect it. At that point, the RAID array began resyncing.

In the process, I found that an authoritative copy of LSIUtil is incredibly hard to find online. Here are the two newest copies I could find on LSI's servers:

Hope this helps someone.

Tags: lsiutil, raid | Posted at 12:03 | Comments (18)