I heard about the new .wwf format this morning. It is an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund to prevent people printing PDF files. As a matter of fact, it is an encrypted PDF format with the "printing" flag disabled.
Of course, everybody wants to save the environment. I, for instance, print very little. I have a Linux BeBook to carry my documents along when I attend meetings and my ancient HP Laserjet 4p is on its second cartridge.
But I don't like it when people are forbidding me something. It is sending the wrong message. Just like that 10:10 campaign which suggested that if you don't participate, you're up for elimination (yes, you can try to eradicate this movie from the web, but so far I've always been able to track it down again. But keep up the good work, I love outsmarting you!).
So I set out to crack it. First step, I simply opened it with KGhostview. You may use any GhostScript viewer for that matter, but this one was simply available. Surprise, I was able to print it right away.
Still, this only fixes the problem for the receiver of the file. If you want to send it to someone else and enable him to print the file, the problem remains.
Simply issue these commands:
pdftops Presseinfo_SAVE_AS_WWF_-_SAVE_A_TREE.wwf crack.ps
ps2pdf crack.ps crack.pdf
The resulting file is a true PDF and fully printable. In the meanwhile, I've embedded this procedure in the .wwf toolkit, so if you happen to use Linux or Windows you're lucky.
Ok, now go figure another way to save the world. This is certainly not a good thing to spend your donors money on.
Update: This WWF gadget becomes more pathetic by the minute. Many wonder why they didn't bring out a Windows version. Easy, the output is generated by the default OS/X 10.6.4 Quartz PDFContext engine. Windows doesn't feature such an engine, so they would have to add one. The few FOSS Windows PDF writers I am familiar with all use the GhostScript engine, so keep your eyes open. We might have a GPL violation on our hands before we know it.
Update: The futility of this initiative is illustrated by this video:
I always loved Penn & Teller!
Update: Members of the FOSS community, who also participate in the WWF, have sent the following letter:
With regard to your WWF file format. You need to be aware that this "file format" is in fact merely an encrypted .PDF file, with the print flag set to false (so the document can't be printed).
What you should also be aware of is that any documents saved in this document "format" are trivially printable.
Yes, trivially printable.
All one needs do is open the document use The Free Open Source Software application GhostScript on Linux, and print the document. GhostScript by default ignores the Print Flag, and allows all documents opened with it to be printed.
You should also e aware that most of the free (as in no cost) PDF viewers for Mac and Windows, use the Free Open Source GhostScript back end, so they too will ignore the Print Flag.
Because your so called file format is in actuality simply a PDF document with a different file extension it is also trivially easy to create documents that look like your so called document format, but which don't function in the same way (ie the print flag not being set to false), which could lead to further degrading of your good name... as if this bit of silliness, and gross waste of your supporters money has not already done so, at least among myself and my friends, who have up until now been strong supporters of WWF
If you really want to make a strong statement about conserving trees, reducing landfill (with toxic waste, like old computer parts) etc. Start promoting strongly the use of Free Software (FOSS) and the Linux Operating System for personal Computers.
Free Open Source Software and particularly Linux based Operating Systems (such as Fedora, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Mandriva, openSuSe, PCLinuxOS, etc) are exceptionally Eco Friendly, because unlike their proprietary counterparts they do not arbitrarily change in ways that require, for example; the purchase of a new computer, thus making the old on redundant, and no longer usable (and eventually having it scrapped, and the parts sent to landfills), because Linux based Operating Systems will still function well, often exceptionally, on computer hardware that is 5 or 10, or even more, years old - that's a lot of computer hardware that would otherwise have ended up in landfills, and it's a lot of computer hardware that doesn't need to be manufactured.
Our (myself and my friends) support of WWF is now, in light of your wastage, and frankly, quite silly solution to reducing deforestation, contingent on your actually doing and recommending sustainable, and effective means of reducing deforestation and toxic landfill.
Please consider this letter carefully.
I honestly hope this is the end of this fruitless initiative.
Update: Obviously, the administrator of the Facebook page cannot distinguish between making it and breaking it. To prove my point, I posted a valid .wwf file, made by using standard Linux tools. "Wired" also mentioned it, not too favorably. Read the comments on that page for yourself.
Update: Proof that the WWF was deliberately out to frustrate less savvy users (Translated from German):
That's what it's all about. Of course you can specify that a PDF cannot to be printed. However, many people are not familiar with this feature. But those who are not computer savvy should be made aware of their choices.
It's about as ethical as a car manufacturer who disconnects a cable to "raise awareness" of carbon emissions. Real petrolheads can reconnect such a cable in an instance while ordinary users are left frustrated. Deliberately preying on the ignorance of people is simply despicable.
Update: People are wondering why I did it and why I'm so persistent.
Everywhere charity organizations like WWF are getting less donations. Consequence is that they're getting more aggressive and are shoving their ideology down our throats.
It may be obvious that the ideas of WWF in this respect and FOSS are incompatible. It is the duty of the FOSS community to expose this scam and provide alternatives to give users back the control over their computers, so they can use it in any way they see fit.
Furthermore, it exposes how the WWF are using their precious funds for a cause that is highly debatable in itself. We hope this will deter other organizations to walk similar paths.
Update: There have been unconfirmed messages on the Facebook page that the OS/X version of the WWF driver "phones home". Is the WWF spreading spyware? And if it isn't, why doesn't it ask permission first - like any decent program?
Update: It is confirmed by WWF that the OS/X driver "phones home". Allegedly only to check for a new version. The program did not explicitly ask permission when it was installed, neither did it inform the user in any way, form or shape of this behavior. It cannot be disabled.
Update: The best tip of 'em all. How to remove the driver from OS/X. There's no uninstall option, but it's simple:
Delete /Applications/SAVE AS WWF.app
Delete /Library/PDF Services/SAVE AS WWF
Finished. The world is safe again. If you're lucky.. If not, maybe this helps.
Update: Bad news for the "Save as WWF" campaign. According to Printweek.com it has caused a rift within the WWF itself. WWF International director of corporate relations Maria Boulos warned that the campaign was "misleading" and might "cost them a partnership in France". Boulos requested that the english-language site be shut down "immediately and temporarily" until the necessary amendments could be made.
Update: Yup, it has entered Wikipedia, featuring yours truly. Note I had nothing to do with it. Just added a few missing citations.