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A short rant today, but heart-felt all the same.
I imagine most of us use Microsoft products, and especially Microsoft Word for our word-processing. There's no doubt that many of their programmes are excellent - I'm a great devotee of Excel, for instance, and Powerpoint is easy to use and very useful for all sorts of things.
Word is another matter, however. Internet guru John Faughnan describes it as "the single most miserable piece of software that I absolutely must use". What gets my goat over and over again is that ridiculous "autoformat" thing.
In the first place, I don't need it. I am perfectly capable of managing my own formatting. It doesn't take a moment to set paragraph margins, or put numbers or bullet-points where they're wanted. Why should I want the thing to make my decisions for me?
And what silly decisions it makes! I daren't put a number or a date at the beginning of a line without it assumes that I need every sentence numbered similarly. If I try to indent something it blithely goes ahead and applies it to everything else, and gets extremely difficult if I try to contradict it. If I align one line to the left and the next to the right, IT contradicts ME - to stop it you have to press "enter" to create a gap between the lines, align each one how you want it, and then remove the gap but only by deleting it from the end of the top line, not by erasing it from the beginning of the lower line! Infuriating isn't the word - Word is infuriating!
And can I turn the bloody thing off? Can I b*gg*ry! I've searched the Help files, I've crawled all over the internet looking for suggestions in user forums, and nothing works. I turn it all off, and it just turns itself back on again. Its latest trick is to tell me that my margin is set too near the bottom of the page. "No, it isn't," I say, and set the margins how I want them. It smiles innocently, accepts my figures - and then prints my document with a bloody great gap at the foot of each page. Mother Microsoft knows best, apparently. I've reached the point where I may have to start using another word-processing package, which goes against the grain when I've paid good money for this one.
When I first started using computers back in the days when we thought a quarter of a gigabyte was a luxurious amount of hard disk and Windows 3.1 was the bee's knees, Word was a nice sensible programme that did everything you needed. Then the programmers got too clever for our own good - the urge to tweak overcame them, and in the last few years they've created a monster full of unnecessary twaddle, slow, greedy, disobedient and liable to hang at the least provocation. Just like me, really.
As for Microsoft's Outlook Express email and Internet Explorer browser software - well, suffice it to say that I've junked them both, downloaded the free Thunderbird and Opera programmes and have had no problems with Spam, viruses, browser hijacks or Trojans since.
And Windows XP? - don't get me started!


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