Re: Re Word/Weird

Subject: Re: Re Word/Weird
From: "Susan Kirsch" <susan -at- virtualcyber -dot- com>
To: "HALL Bill" <bill -dot- hall -at- tenix -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 2 May 2000 17:50:54 -0700


I am literally rocked back onto my heels by your letter. You have eloquently
and succinctly stated my Word experiences and objections.

Thank you.

I am mystified when people (like my operations manager) tell me that they
have absolutely no trouble with Word, at all, ever. I have always felt that
either they are lying or have never used any advanced features (styles,
master documents, cross ref., bookmarks, TOC, etc.).

And THIS has become the tool we are expected to use to produce anything from
online help to extensive and exhaustive manuals!

Are people like us, who suffer through inconsistant glitches, corruptions,
and arbitrary reversions to other formatting, just fools or are the others
simply lucky?

Like you, I spend an inordinate (no! UNREASONABLE) amount of time struggling
to make the tool do: what it is supposed to do, what it usually does, what
it did yesterday, etc. I know that what I am trying to do at any given
juncture is an established function of Word AND it has worked for me before
AND there are instructions in the scanty documentation about how to make it
work, BUT- - today, no. sorry. don't feel like it.

And if I'm composing a long document, I really am tempting fate. It seems
that the longer I work on it, the more fine-honed the styles, the less
likely they are to stick and the more likely that I am going to have to
redo, reformat, resave, copy all but the final par. mark, etc.

Now, I will and do ask for advice. But it always comes down to fast saves,
autoformat, versions, etc. Well, I learned to avoid that stuff long ago.
These periodic mishaps are usually beyond explanation and I just generally
limp along toward my deadline, wounded and worn, hoping to hell I can get
everything to stick together until I can publish it.

I am completely furious at whatever (the "market"), or whoever (Microsoft)
has perpetuated this myth that a word processing program is a serious tool
for anything besides memos and letters (it has a mail merge, for goodness
sake!). It isn't, never was, and cannot be anything more no matter how much
MS tweaks or hypes it. But it is the standard? Give me a huge BREAK!! Do I
use it? Only constantly? Am I an experienced user? Ummm, does 7 years count?

I am convinced that most, if not all, of my problems and frustrations with
Word are spawned by a product being foisted onto consumers that was sold to
be whatever the consumers wanted.
"Here's our wonderful word processing program."
"Oh, you wanted a layout application? Here's our wonderful layout/word
processing program."
"Oh, you wanted a desktop publishing tool? Here's our wonderful desktop
publishing/layout/word processing program." etc. etc. etc.

If I could send you a cartoon of me right now, it would be panting,
shoulders heaving, sweating profusely. This is something that affects me
deeply! My professional integrity rests on this capricious tool!

And I feel completely powerless because I do not see any hope for change.
Nothing even on the horizon.

I'm done.
I really didn't mean to let myself get this carried away. But you said it so
well, I just had to testify!

Best Regards <pant, pant>

Susan Kirsch
Virtual Cyber Systems
Tempe, AZ

P.S. What was the content management app.? Something custom and expensive,
I'll bet.

<<excerpts from Bill Halls message:>>

>> Why do I hate Word?
> Even in my own writing - which is essentially a one-person shop, I find
> to be a hugely complex and fundamentally flawed tool. Either I live with
> frequent need to fiddle with style functions and reformat documents when
> formatting is corrupted by Word's bugs, or spend days at a time I don't
> to build functions which allow me to avoid the non-functional default
> behaviour. Either way, even as a single user, I still conservatively waste
> 10-20% of my time fighting Word problems rather than focussing on the
> content of my documents.
> Aside from the productivity issues, to have billygate's smirking doodads
> bouncing all over the place to distract and get in the way, and his auto
> (un)correct and (un)format functions arbitrarily and unhelpfully altering
> work is the last bloody straw. (And with every new version, it takes weeks
> to find out where he has hidden the traps so they can be turned off.) I
> to use MS Word as a broken tool virtually every day of my life - is it any
> wonder that I (and apparently many others fighting these application wars)
> hate the product more than anything else in their lives>>

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