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Meet the Font Detectives Who Ferret Out Fakery (wired.com) 72

New submitter rgh02 writes: Earlier this year, the former prime minister of Pakistan and his family came under scrutiny thanks to revelations in the Panama Papers. The smoking gun in the case of a forged document was none other than a font -- Calibri, which, as it turned out, wasn't even available until after the document had allegedly been signed and dated. This is not the first or the last time typography helped crack a case, and often with help from experts appropriately referred to as the 'font detectives.' At Backchannel, Glenn Fleishman dives into the adventures of the experts ferreting out fakery with their knowledge of fonts and the high-profile cases they've found themselves involved in.
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Meet the Font Detectives Who Ferret Out Fakery

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  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelgerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 18, 2017 @12:23PM (#55220087)

    Credulously accepting Times New Roman in MS Word as a typewriter font is what got Dan Rather into trouble.

  • by TimothyHollins ( 4720957 ) on Monday September 18, 2017 @12:27PM (#55220131)

    This sounds like the least interesting crime show I have ever heard of, and I will not watch the dramatization even if Tom Hanks plays the lead.

  • When did Comic Sans appear?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If instead you would have typed that exact question into a search engine instead of your comment, I'm sure you would receive a more informative answer than this cheeky wisecrack comment.
      • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelgerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 18, 2017 @12:42PM (#55220271)

        I don't need Google. It appeared the day Lucifer and his angels rebelled against God. It was formed in the fires of hell, created to hold the damned for all eternity. It is first of the horsemen of the Apocalypse, to be followed by Papyrus, Bleeding Cowboy, and finally the anti-christ, the false messiah, Helvetica.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You can tell this is false because hell didn't exist until the rebellion was crushed so a font forged un hell couldn't have been created when the rebellion began.

        • by mark-t ( 151149 )

          Perhaps... but the OP didn't ask when (or how, or why) it was created, he asked when it appeared. Presumably "appeared" would typically mean appeared to people with a typical range of perceptual ability.

          Besides... I would suggest that Comic Sans isn't even really that bad a font by (most) objective measures. The single biggest complaint that most can legitimately make about it is that it suffered hugely from overuse in contexts where a whimsical looking font was not actually appropriate (resume's, corp

          • by halivar ( 535827 )

            Perhaps... but the OP didn't ask when (or how, or why) it was created, he asked when it appeared. Presumably "appeared" would typically mean appeared to people with a typical range of perceptual ability.

            I don't think you picked up on this, but... I was joking.

      • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday September 18, 2017 @12:56PM (#55220389)

        If instead you would have typed that exact question into a search engine instead of your comment, I'm sure you would receive a more informative answer than this cheeky wisecrack comment.

        The best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask the right question but to post the wrong answer.

    • It appeared just in time for everyone with Microsoft Publisher to think they were a professional graphic designer.

      Complementary Comic about Comic Sans [garethjmsaunders.co.uk]
  • I'm not trying to defend anyone here, but this sentence bugs me:
    "Calibri, which, as it turned out, wasn't even available until after the document had allegedly been signed and dated."

    Should it rather be:
    "Calibri, which, as it turned out, wasn't even available legally until after the document had allegedly been signed and dated."

    Would it be possible he used a pirated copy that was released earlier, making the document legit?

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      Depends on when it was actually developed, and how it was released. If it wasn't even developed yet or was still restricted to the lab, then no. And even if it existed but wasn't part of a mainstream distribution and still required extraction from a Beta release of some product, it still casts doubt that it would have been used by those who put forth the document. Most people aren't going to go through the effort to get new fonts like that.

    • Questions like these are, to me, one of the best use cases for blockchain stuff. Prepare a document, store the hash in the transaction (Btc has some data available, so it's possible), and record on blockchain. Pow, proof that you had a document with that hash available on that date. You don't even have to tell anyone what it says, but you can easily prove you had it then.
  • by shuz ( 706678 ) on Monday September 18, 2017 @01:09PM (#55220477) Homepage Journal

    I try to use fixedsys [wikipedia.org] fonts such as system in all of my writing they are widely accepted and have a tested user base. On top of that the system font avoid most modern time based conflicts as it dates back to the 1980's. It takes low resources and low resolution to create on a display device. I would encourage everyone to use system font and avoid all the painful issues of compatibility, performance, and legal ramifications that other much newer fonts can have.

  • rgh02 [slashdot.org] is a spammer who also upvotes other articles from his employer.

    If this story sounds familiar its because it was done [slashdot.org], twice [slashdot.org].

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Monday September 18, 2017 @01:22PM (#55220573)

    Fonts of knowledge researching fonts for knowledge.

  • Man, it's getting so hard to cheat these days.

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