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transmissiontowers (Structural) (OP)
29 Dec 10 22:06
I don't have to stamp things very often since I work for a public utility in Texas.  This week I had to write a letter that had to be sealed to a City.  The guy that wanted it to give to the City needed it immediately.  I usually do the letter, use my embosser stamp and seal several copies and give one to the person that wanted it.

Since there was a rush, I used my ink seal and scanned the letter into a PDF and eMailed the PDF to the guy.  I wanted to learn more about the correct procedure and looked in the Texas PE board web page and they allow a digital seal if it is digitally signed.  I looked at Adobe professional that I use and there is a digital signature feature although I have never used it.

Sorry for the long explanation, but has anyone used a JPG of their seal in a MS Word letter and done a digital signature?  If you have, what steps are needed?

I ran across a place that will sell a rubber stamp and provide a JPG and TIFF of your seal for use on electronic files.

_____________________________________
I have been called "A storehouse of worthless information" many times.

msquared48 (Structural)
29 Dec 10 22:34
I have heard of this, but never used it.  I am a stickler for original stamps and signatures, not computer signatures or copies of signed stamps.  I have had two instances in the past 20 years of my stamp, signed and dated, being stolen in the form of a copied stamp, and am very careful due to this.  I have let all my local jurisdictions know that if the signature and stamp are not original, it is not approved by me, signed and dated or otherwise.

That being said, if you have the PDF stamp and signature in your computer, accessible only to you, assigning the "stamping" so no one else, I guess I would say OK as it is in your sole control and had an uncopiable digital "watermark" so to speak, or one that would show up if copied.  

However, thinking out loud here, if a "watermark" is not technically feasible, how would you prevent anyone from cutting and pasting your stamp and signature to another document with all the digital tricks now?

 

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering
Motto:  KISS
Motivation:  Don't ask

transmissiontowers (Structural) (OP)
29 Dec 10 22:54
I played around with the Adobe Acrobat Pro today and their digital signature.  They claim if the document is altered, the digital signature will disappear.  I guess a bad guy could print out the PDF and scan it into another PDF and just crop out the seal.

I have heard that on AutoCAD drawings that have a block with the PE seal on it, there is a macro that can detect if the drawing has been changed and erase the PE seal block for drawings that are sent to clients.

I like to try out the latest things, but I may stick with my 2" embossed seal which cannot be copied by a scanner or copy machine.  Like I said in my original post, I only seal things once every year or 2.

_____________________________________
I have been called "A storehouse of worthless information" many times.

FreddyNurk (Electrical)
30 Dec 10 4:12
There is the consideration (as with other forms of copy protection used for PDF documents) that only some of the software around adheres to it.

In Australia the supplier of Standards has their PDF documents set up to expire 48 hours after download. I'm told that certain non MS OS based programs will still allow you to view it.

I don't see that digital signatures would be any different, but I've not had any reason to test it.  
Helpful Member!  Ron (Structural)
30 Dec 10 6:38
I use digital signatures routinely for two of my clients.  I use Adobe Professional to do this.

The Adobe encryption algorithm does not meet the encryption standard laid out by some states in their engineering laws.  You'll have to check.  Also, some government agencies will accept digital signatures and some will not.  If they reject and want an embossed seal, not much point in fighting it, even if your state law allows it.

I consider it to be reasonably secure.  There are several ways you can do it:

First, if you only want to use Adobe and not one of the third-party validation services (quite expensive), then you have two options.  The first is to use their digital signature and then export a validation file to you client.  This works like a software certification from a software supplier.  When you create a digital signature in Adobe (I also imported a jpg of my seal and signature to go into the digital signature), and then sign the document, Adobe encrypts the document.  It can be read by Adobe reader or the full Adobe Acrobat; however, unless there is a validation file resident on the computer that reads it, a "?" will appear in the signature block instead of a green check mark.  The question mark means one of two things...either there is no validation file resident on the computer or the file has been changed.  Once you transmit a validation file to the person reading it, the ? will change to a check mark as long as the file has not been modified.

Another way to validate is to show the validation code in the digital signature block (it can be shown or hidden).  When another person receives the digital file, they can call or email you the validation code and you can verify its authenticity against the file you created and signed.

When you simply scan your signed document or drop a jpg of your signature and seal into a Word document, that obviously does not constitute a digital signature.  When I do this, I also provide a note after my signature that states this is an electronic transmission of the signed document provided to expedite the receipt of the information contained therein.  A signed/sealed original will be maintained on file and a signed/sealed original will be transmitted separately by mail.
beej67 (Civil/Environmental)
30 Dec 10 15:22

Quote:

However, thinking out loud here, if a "watermark" is not technically feasible, how would you prevent anyone from cutting and pasting your stamp and signature to another document with all the digital tricks now?

If someone wants to steal your signature, they can just scan a hardcopy as easily as they could copying something digitally.  In many ways, stealing a signature off of a hardcopy is actually easier.



 

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

transmissiontowers (Structural) (OP)
30 Dec 10 19:47
Ron, thanks for the explanation about Adobe.  The next time I have to provide a stamped letter (thankfully I don't have to seal any drawings or calculations, just an occasional letter), I will try out the Adobe method and check with Texas to see if it meets requirements.  

I mainly just analyze our T-Line towers to see if they can handle a cell phone antenna array on top of them.  Some Cities in our service area make the cell companies jump through hoops to get a building permit or an electric meter and I have to certify that our tower is strong enough.  It seems that everyone want to talk and text on their cell phone, but nobody wants to see any cell towers near them or their property.

_____________________________________
I have been called "A storehouse of worthless information" many times.

Ron (Structural)
31 Dec 10 0:35
TT...I've done a bunch of those as well.  Have had to testify before several city and county commissions on the collapse radius of towers....because people don't want them around as you noted.
HSIII (Structural)
2 Jan 11 21:03
TT,

Personally, I won't ever scan in my stamp.  If there's a set of plans, I make sure to use my rubber stamp and ink pad.  For all letters and reports, I crimp my stamp.

I actually used to work for a company where the Senior PE's signature and stamp were converted into JPEGs, and a few other people used his signature and stamp without his knowledge (I never did, never thought it was right).  This stuck in my head, and is the reason I never scan in my stamp to this date for any document, no matter how well the encryption service works.
transmissiontowers (Structural) (OP)
3 Jan 11 0:06
Yes, I think the embossed stamp is more elegant on a letter and I will probably go that way in the future.  It is just our society's need for instant gratification and instant results that drive the need for digital stamps.  They could have waited the few days it would have taken for me to mail the letter to them, but they wanted it right now.

I try to stay away from the lattice tower fall radius question.  For those of you that care, a lattice tower rarely falls like a tree unless someone removes all the bolts that hold the legs to the foundations.  They usually crumple upon themselves in an ice storm or a hurricane.

_____________________________________
I have been called "A storehouse of worthless information" many times.

Ron (Structural)
3 Jan 11 6:20
TT...you're right..... now explain that to a group of "power hungry "public servants"" sitting in front of a public audience of 50 to 100 people, who can only envision any tower, guyed or not, as a tree.

No ice problem where I live, but plenty of wind problems.
transmissiontowers (Structural) (OP)
3 Jan 11 19:42
Ron, I am so glad to see you correctly use "you're".  I think that the Engineers that post here must have listened a little in 4th grade English class to retain the correct use of your and you're.  It is a pet peeve of mine when I read posts on WWW forums that use the terms wrong and I sometimes can't help but comment and point out the error.

I'm on the Texas gulf coast and we have lots of wind here and very infrequent ice.

You are also correct about some City officials that will make the cell companies jump through hoops and make it very costly to construct a tower.

_____________________________________
I have been called "A storehouse of worthless information" many times.

Ron (Structural)
3 Jan 11 20:11
TT...I agree.  For many years, I was a Senior Principal in an international engineering firm.  One of my responsibilities was to serve as the final reviewer on  reports before they were submitted to clients. Before I decided to leave the corporate world (good decision, I might add!), I was spending more time correcting grammar and punctuation than the technical aspects of the report.  I finally got fed up with it and made them go through two review processes...first to get the grammar and punctuation correct, and then to get a technical review upon which I could concentrate without the distraction of the grammar and punctuation.

It amazes me that we, as engineers, can't seem to understand the simple things like gender, grammar, punctuation, and sense (1st person/third person; passive, etc.).

I join in your pet peeves!!
HSIII (Structural)
4 Jan 11 10:32
Ron and TT, what about the use of "course" and "coarse"?
Ron (Structural)
4 Jan 11 15:08
You mean like "I took a coarse in how to use course aggregates?"lol
TDAA (Geotechnical)
4 Jan 11 15:47
Yous guys gots some good points!
transmissiontowers (Structural) (OP)
4 Jan 11 19:01
Some of my other pet peeves:
They're and their and there; we're and were; two and to and too

Their saying all the wrong things about Engineers having no since of humor when there blogging on they're WWW Facebook pages.  Were going to have to educate the idiots that rite like their thinking they know how two right.

_____________________________________
I have been called "A storehouse of worthless information" many times.

MacGyverS2000 (Electrical)
4 Jan 11 19:13
My biggest trouble?  Lay, laying, lying, lie, lied, laid, etc.

The rest of them I have a pretty firm grasp on, and if I screw it up it's simply a brain fart...

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

Ron (Structural)
4 Jan 11 19:56
Dan...the only important one is "laid"...as in getting
HSIII (Structural)
5 Jan 11 8:37
Engineers get laid?
MacGyverS2000 (Electrical)
5 Jan 11 9:23
Ron,

I'm married now, so that's a distant memory winky smile

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

Murec (Mechanical)
7 Jan 11 15:49
I just got an email from someone who "installed steaks in the ground to show the affected area".
I am going to inspect the area at lunch time.
MacGyverS2000 (Electrical)
7 Jan 11 16:10
See if there's any liquor at the construction re-bar...

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

Ron (Structural)
7 Jan 11 20:26
Dan...me, too!  29 years....I know of what you speak!!
That's a great idea/name for a bar!! Let's franchise that one!
transmissiontowers (Structural) (OP)
7 Jan 11 22:27
I knew Engineers could be fun!!  This thread started about a PE seal question, drifted to improper/proper English and our pet peeves, then onto getting laid and the distant memories of old married guys.

You guys are a fun group.

_____________________________________
I have been called "A storehouse of worthless information" many times.

beej67 (Civil/Environmental)
25 Jan 11 10:15
I just got around to looking up the rules for Georgia last night.

http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/docs/180/12/02.pdf

Quote:

(8) Documents that are electronically transmitted shall have the computer-generated seal removed from the original file. All electronically transmitted documents shall have
displayed, in lieu of the seal, signature and date , the following statements , "The original of this document was sealed and signed by {registrant's printed name and registration number} on {date of signature}." And in bold lettering, "THIS REPRODUCTION IS NOT A CERTIFIED DOCUMENT."

I think every state is approaching this a little differently nowadays.  

 

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

SMIAH (Civil/Environmental)
22 Feb 11 12:08
We use this here (Canada):
http://www.notarius.com/en/digital_center.html

Supposedly perfect...
Ron (Structural)
22 Feb 11 12:39
TT...who ya callin' old?shadeshappy
cvg (Civil/Environmental)
22 Feb 11 12:52
I  would think it would be nearly impossible to enforce a rule like Georgia's. Virtually anybody could scan to pdf and email a copy of any stamped and signed document (without removing the seal or adding the disclaimer). The state board would be powerless to stop them and the Engineer of Record may never know it was done. If a rule can't be enforced, than what's the point?
beej67 (Civil/Environmental)
23 Feb 11 20:52

Quote:

If a rule can't be enforced, than what's the point?
Well I would never bad mouth my own state board of course, but perhaps I can give you an anecdote?

When I got my first job out of undergrad in the late 90s, the first PE I worked under was doing a residential subdivision design.  In order to adhere to recent changes in the local municipal codes, he was required to submit a "preliminary plat" for the subdivision, before he could submit engineering drawings for review.  This "preliminary plat" had to show bearings and distances like a "real" plat, and a benchmark, etc, but was pure fantasy based only on available survey information, and not on any sort of field work.  No pins were set, it was all just CAD, and subject to change based on the design process.  And the municipality required it be submitted by (important) the engineer of record.

He was called down to Macon three years later and put through some sort of Board Tribunal because he stamped it as a PE and wasn't a registered Land Surveyor.  Spent the better part of three days trying to explain to them that it was a "preliminary plat," and that a land surveyor wasn't involved because there was nothing to survey.  They tried to tell him that it didn't matter, according to their rules.  It said "plat" so he violated the law by stamping it.  He eventually got off the hook without further board action, but he still lost what could have been billable time to the ordeal.



Now we can argue whether or not Board Rules are enforceable, but I'd rather not run the risk of giving them something to do on a Wednesday through Friday if they end up bored a couple of months from now and get a PDF with my name on it.  I'll follow the rules.  :)

 

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

cvg (Civil/Environmental)
24 Feb 11 11:36
beej
I guess the better point to make would be why make a rule that a)doesn't solve a problem and b)is a burden to us rule-abiding engineers?

By the way, in the states I practice in - an engineer can stamp a plat and so can an RLS.

I guess I can bad mouth your board...
beej67 (Civil/Environmental)
24 Feb 11 14:44
Mine is not to question why.

:)

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

kipfoot (Structural)
31 Mar 11 11:00
I use a program called pdf factory.  It has a feature that is intended to be used to add a letterhead to a document that I also use to add the image of a seal and signature to the pdf.  Then I add the security option that graphics can't be copied from the document.

So someone stealing my seal would have to do it the old fashioned way, with scissors and a scanner.
MacGyverS2000 (Electrical)
31 Mar 11 11:39

Quote (kipfoot):

Then I add the security option that graphics can't be copied from the document.

So someone stealing my seal would have to do it the old fashioned way, with scissors and a scanner.
Nahhhh... I'd zoom in on what I want, hit the print screen key, which copies it to the clipboard, then paste it into whatever graphics program I want.  Identity stolen.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

photoengineer (Civil/Environmental)
26 Apr 11 3:51
My view is that anybody can create a stamp with my name on it and license number. This information is public record and it would be easy to do.

So - I don't use any special method to prevent my stamp from being copied electronically. And, I don't view my stamp as a security measure on a document. Rather, it's simply stating that I am approving the report as a professional engineer as opposed to approving it as a non-engineer.

I treat it different than a notary who notarizes a signature, for example.

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