Tag Archives: Learning

I just got a reply to my blind Craigslist ad – from a young friend!


Any reader here knows that I recently bought a Dummies-type book (my first since 1992) and it’s about as useful as MS Office 2010 (and it’s gruesome anchor Word 2010) is nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty.

So I’ve found myself using Publisher instead – even for quite ordinary documents. It’s easier, properly intuitive and seems relatively free of Microsoft’s usual ‘scold’ override function (My dear user, you really don’t want to do it that way, do you? Here, let me fix it for you. There. That’s better, isn’t it?)

But it’s a stalling tactic. I’ve really got to get a handle on this newfangled version of Word. I’ve decided a tutor is what I need – someone to give me a jump start. Having figured out what I needed, it was on to Craigslist! I put up a blind ad.

And the first reponse was from a friend. Whom I know to be smart and ‘puter savvy.  So Kris shall be my tutor. He’ll pretend he doesn’t want me to pay him which I will absolutely slap down. And since we’ll meet evenings after work/before rehearsal (he’s an actor poor fellow), I will of course feed him his dinner which will make me feel all maternal. Win-win!

Bill Gates does like his little jokes, doesn’t he.

I am dying here as I try to adapt myself to Word 2010 after being a WordPerfect user for over 20 years. When my laptop hard drive died, my data files were safe on Mozy, but my software was gone. So I had to make a decision about what to install on the new machine. I chose to ‘bite the bullet’ and – for the sake of compatibility – left my beloved WordPerfect behind and got a full Office 2010 suite.

Before 2010, I was able to use 2003 when I had to and though I didn’t much like it, I could manage whatever needed doing. No more. If you’re upgrading, think twice.

Word 2010 was apparently designed by 500 monkeys who delighted in  complexity. Be gone intuitive functionality! Welcome multiplicity! If two keystrokes were needed before, there are four now – to do the same thing. If one pull down menu for tables or formatting worked well, why twenty of them must surely be better! And why use the same old words? Let’s rename everything. Who needs a task bar? Such a pedestrian word. Let there be a ‘ribbon’. Much better word (for the same thing). Choosing key words for searching “Help” is now an interesting (and mostly unsuccessful) exercise.

‘Help’ also assumes the user is trying to do the most complicated thing, not the simple thing. To find how to do a simple thing is like a kid’s game of tag. Look here, look there, look everywhere.

And of course there's this nonsense

There is no ‘format’ tab. Excuse me, no format ‘ribbon’. Things like fonts, margins, spacing, inset pix, even copy/paste are all located on different ‘ribbons’. If I am creating a document and want to perform a function within it, I must search the other ribbons and their attendant pull down menus – which are full of new words and phrases – in order to find what I need.

A simple example: remember choosing optional security settings? In 2010 it’ll take you a while – that happens now in the ‘Trust Center”, once you find that and figure out what the Elvis it means.

By the way, anyone know what a banded row is? I’ve been trying to create a very simple table – three columns, indeterminate number of rows, nothing fancy, plain old 12 point Ariel. Plain, plain, plain. This appears to be a very difficult thing to do. I’ve been at it for almost half an hour and have more questions than when I started.

What we have here is a tool designed to make the task more difficult. Well done Microsoft.

I feel like a first-grader again

Over the last few days I’ve been exploring my new laptop and digging into the astonishingly complex world of Office 2010, a challenge for someone whose last version was 2003. And even more challenging because I used Word only when absolutely necessary. For 21 years, since the green screen DOS days, I’ve been tethered to WordPerfect, an intuitive and logical program that is not a bit capricious. But, sigh, when my previous laptop went belly up, that also sounded the death knell for my WordPerfect days. (I could probably run down a copy to install but that would enable avoidance.)

So now I must do it. I must become proficient in Word and Publisher. I’ve even – for the first time in decades – ordered a book, an 861-page (!) dummies book.

Outlook works fine although it lacks many convenient features that ’03 had, and buttons – like SEND, NEW, CLOSE have been moved to less convenient spots – for no reasons I can discern. It’s full of (annoying) features useful only to someone who makes lists titled ‘action items’.  Simple things like ‘flagging’ an email are no longer simple and require answers to questions irrelevant to a home user.  (I’ve not dared yet to examine the newer version of Excel.)

Most puzzling to me is why MS felt it necessary to re-name ordinary things. A ‘task bar’ is now called a ‘ribbon’. And oddly, they’ve added keystrokes to common functions – to open an existing file now takes three clicks before the file directory appears. There is no longer a FOLDER icon in the ‘ribbon’ or elsewhere on the busy, busy, busy, top of the screen. I’ve yet to find a way to view two directories side by side without opening a new window, making it more difficult to move files from one folder to another.

But I shall forge ahead. The learning is not optional. (And just to sex things up, I also await resolution on two hardware issues – an erratic cursor that jumps around and HOME and END keys that don’t perform their proper functions.)

And I thought a new day was dawning and it was going to be easy.

We are such interesting critters

We are always learning new things about ourselves – as individuals and as a species. Often what we learn is esoteric and doesn’t seem to have any application in our lives. And just as often, it does, whether we or you or I can see it or not.

And sometimes what we learn is just fun to know. Among the most amusing?  When humans read the written word, it absolutely doesn’t have to be spelled correctly. The word can be jumbled – but as long as the first and last letters are correct and the word is in some context, we can read it every time, without skipping a beat. Lookee here:

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!