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Rectifications regarding my opinions of the Obama’s Birth Certificate PDF validity on FoxNews

Last Friday, I had a phone conversation with someone at FoxNews regarding the validity of Obama’s Birth Certificate PDF. A blog post was then published by them on Friday night. You can read it here.

My first idea was to post this on FoxNews.com, but I have not heard from them despite my repeated requests. So I’m posting here.

I want to clarify a few things written in that blog post after my brief conversation with Ms. Winter. The blog post on FoxNews has generated so many comments good and bad. I also feel that Ms. Winter has attributed a conclusion to me in the title that I did not mention during my interview. Some of my statements, mainly regarding the use of OCR software were also not 100% accurate. I only spent a short time looking at the PDF the day before. I feel obligated to make some clarifications.

First, I never thought that what I saw in the Birth Certificate PDF was a proof of its authenticity. For me, what I have seen does not prove that it is legit, nor that it is a fake, nor that there has been any tampering whatsoever. The title of the blog does not represent my conclusion. It would be unprofessional and simplistic within my area of competence to come to a conclusion one way or the other.

To recapitulate: Thursday, somebody emailed me and asked if I could look at the Birth Certificate (PDF) in question. I opened the document with Acrobat Pro and also later using Adobe Illustrator. At first I found it strange to see a number of layers in the file, but without necessarily finding a deliberate act of manipulation. It is true that usually, when you scan a document you get a single image. So I told myself, maybe some OCR manipulation or some other technology was used to separate the text from the background of the image during the scanning process, as I have seen in the past. It is true that the OCR technology can be used to detect and analyze the text present in the image, to help in extracting text to enable searchabillity. Though I am not an expert on OCR, I know there are various technologies used to make a scanned document searchable, and sometimes it changes the text document by extracting it from the background. I closed the file and that was the end of it for me.

Subsequently, on Friday I received a phone call by Mrs Winter from FoxNews. Without more investigation, I gave Ms. Winter my views on my findings over the phone.

On the other side, I want to add that I know it is possible to use a software function to optimize a scanned document to detect and separate text and background. The resolution of this portion of the text image are detached from the background, and the resolution can be increased for easier reading. Special compression is applied to these separated parts (layers) of the different images to save on disk space (I just replicated it on my old CanoScan Lide 80 and Acrobat Pro). This process was explained by other experts better than me here.

Now if you analyze the various resolutions of the images in the Obama’s Birth Certificate PDF in either Acrobat or Illustrator you will discover that they are mostly different; this is usually the result of such optimization of scanned document.

I want to add that if this document was changed (such as layers created) in Adobe Photoshop and saved as PDF (or converted to PDF with the MacOS Preview application, as we see by the PDF Metadata), the result would have been that each images with a single and identical resolution values which is not the case in the this PDF.

That being said, this absolutely not proof either way that changes could have been made during and after scanning.

In my humble opinion, what I see about how the PDF is built does not prove any unusual falsification. If there was tampering, we must look elsewhere and not how the PDF was constructed.

I also want to mention that despite what some people said about me, saying that I’ve worked for Obama during his 2008 campaign is totally false. Some people have come to that conclusion after reading a comment I wrote on Amazon for Rahaf Harfoush’s book “Yes, We Did” here.  I never worked for the Obama organization. I was just giving my appreciation of Harfoush’s book.

Being a Canadian, I might also add that I have absolutely no interest in the facts of this case leaning one way or another. I have no connection with Obama nor do I have received any money from FoxNews or anyone else.

I’m not a detective specialized in the forgery of electronic documents. I am an instructor in graphic design software working to help people work faster, better and smarter.

I have nothing further to add. Commenting in this article has been disabled.

Thank you!

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Categories : Acrobat, Illustrator | Monday, May 2, 2011

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