Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   never using Word
Tuesday, September 2 2008
I've written millions of words in my life, some as ink on paper, and many more as text typed into computers. Up until the spring of 1996, most of the words I typed were with the help of some version of Microsoft Word. But once I learned how to create web pages, my preferred formatting scheme abruptly shifted from the clunky unknowable magic of WYSIWYG to the cold hard concise precision of HTML hand typed in a simple (or sometimes color-coded) text editor. It's my preferred way to create formatted text, although I'm also perfectly happy typing unformatted text without markup. Because I almost never use the program, I've gradually lost all my old Microsoft skills (which, in any case, were for a version that existed twelve years ago). This would occasionally be a problem back when I did more computer housecall work, since many people assumed I would be some sort of Microsoft Office expert. Generally I'd turn off menu autohide (a "feature" that makes me feel as if I am being simultaneously blinded and smothered) and then search through the menus for a solution to whatever the problem was and, unless it was something involving unnecessary demands of the installer CD, eventually I'd be able to find a solution. The truth of the matter is that if only it occurred to more people to ask Mr. Google their questions, they could save themselves a visit from the computer guy. Actually, I've found that just knowing to turn to Google with your questions is a way for the intrepid individual to mostly bypass the entire service sector.
Today I had a housecall with a professional journalist who astounded me with how little he knew about Microsoft Word, a program he's presumably been using for about twenty years. The articles he writes are for newspapers, and so are generally short. But now he's working on a memoir that runs for hundreds of pages. Since he knew nothing about Word's auto page numbering feature (which has existed from the beginning), he'd numbered the pages manually, which (as you might imagine) made the document an impossibly-fragile thing to edit. The memoir takes place in Prague and was full of Czech place names and people, most of whom needed funny characters (including the improbable hatted r). For example, "Ji%C5%99%C3%AD" is a common first name in Czech. The client had never discovered Microsoft's insert symbol menu, which is partly forgivable given that menu autohiding had been on, severely handicapping the task of menu exploration. He also lacked any reference for the names he'd used in his book, so we were forced to look them up individually using Google to see what funny characters, if any, needed to be substituted in place of diacritical-free Latin characters. And once I'd assembled the correct spelling, I'd do a search and replace, hopefully not destroying any English words in the process. It was an arduous two hour job, and I was more beat afterwards than hole digging ever makes me.

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