Thursday 21 August 2008

Secret government code

I do a fair bit of commercial work in publishing and some time ago I was laying out something for the government and I noticed a little oddity in their logo. Here it is for the unfamiliar:

This is an .eps vector file opened in Illustrator and for some reason I had to view the logo as outlines (this helps you to see how graphics are constructed, what's behind them and makes things easier to select). Here's the logo as outlines:

Below I've zoomed in a bit, and if you look carefully (or click to zoom) you can see to the left of the 'Australia' scroll one of the leaves has a little bit more of something on it than it's right hand side counterpart (it's a tiny difference):

I've zoomed in again to the maximum zoom the software allows (6400 percent) and you can see the objects a bit more clearly, but can't discern what they are.

I selected the object, scaled it up and still zoomed in a bit. As vector graphics are mathematically created, you can zoom and scale infinitely, and in this case scale up something that was otherwise microscopic. Below, you can see what the object was, some text reading 'RSW95'.

In order to view this at this size I scaled it 10000 percent and zoomed in 2400 percent as the text was only 0.144 mm x 0.028 mm. In other words, TINY. You could fit 35 of these in 1 millimetre (high) if you stacked them on top of each other.

So what does this mean? A cataloguing-number? A signature of the original creator? The text is far too small to be printed, and it's the same colour as the object in front of it so it wouldn't be seen either way. The only way you could access the code is through the working files and then you'd have to do some fancy zooming to even see it. And what does it matter if it's not there? Perhaps it's some way to determine if the logo file's integrity remains, but you could still tamper with other aspects of the logo and inadvertently keep the code.


Now I've got to go before they find me.