Thursday, October 01, 2009

Oh, My WORD!

The school where I work spent the past year doing a self study in preparation for our accreditation evaluation that is scheduled for the end of this month. People have been earnest about the work, and consequently there are hundreds of pages of standards and descriptions and narrative, and all manner of supporting binders, documents, exhibits. Each of the sections has been written by a different author, each using a format that makes sense to her or him.

A free lancer was hired over the summer to take all of the reports prepared by dozens of different people and attempt to get them all into one "voice" and to get them into a common format. She did the first part and somehow managed not to do the second part. And has now gone out of town. This was discovered by the self-study team leader on Tuesday of this week. The chair of the visiting committee is coming on Friday -- yes, of this week -- for a preliminary visit. Two complete binders are needed for him. Our team leader was stunned to discover the condition of the documents, especially when she looked at the calendar.

I see that once again, reader, you are way ahead.

I spent all of yesterday, from about ten o'clock until four o'clock formatting and began again this morning at 6:45, finally completing the last report at 3:30 this afternoon. Someone else has the task of printing the documents and setting up the binders.

So I'm tired.

And I'm also a bit cranky. I never like having to work under pressure to get a project of any kind done at the last minute. But I'm realistic enough to know that sometimes that happens. And I've tried to step up with good grace to rescue this disaster of a project, for the sake of the school and also for the team leader, who's always been one of my favorite people at school.

My rant and present crankiness are not about the task. Despite the pressure, there was a certain amount of exhilaration in hastening toward the deadline.

Oh, no.

My disgruntlement is with Word.

Like practically everyone, I've learned Word by using it, not by taking a class. And over the years I've picked up pretty much of what I need, and beyond that, I know who knows some of the things I don't know. So I've managed. But this summer a new version came out and the tech guys put it on my computer, and I've not thoroughly learned my limited way around it.

On this project, I established a format and tried to take all these different files in all these different formats by all these different authors and standardize. It worked up to a point. And then, appropos of absolutely nothing, Word would refuse to do what I wanted it to do. Once it arbitrarily italicized a 3 and would not back down. And don't get me started on the alignment of lists. No amount of persuasion on my part could convince Word to do the same thing all of the time. The arbitrariness of the variations was astonishing. And frustrating.

Eventually, for the most stubborn situations, I came up with a system where I opened a new document and would copy from the big project and paste onto the new sheet and format it there and then copy and paste it back where it belonged. So in the end I won. Up to a point.

But I still could picture Word sitting there just smirking at me.

Oy.


13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh Nancy, yet again, something about which I agree with you. I've never been able to master Word, and I took a class. I started computering on an Apple and have always used its word-processing; it seems so easy and so logical. Good luck to you and your school during the evaluation.
Sue

Pati said...

Nancy,

I totally agree with you about Word. I learned word processing with Word Perfect, which makes a lot more sense to me! However, the standard has become Word....and we are unfortunately, stuck with it!

KimQuiltz said...

Oh my Word is right! I feel for ya, Miss Nancy, that Word is a real, er, stitch and doesn't play well with others.

AnnieO said...

Word and I go waaay back--to the DOS days where it took five combinations of keystrokes to save a document! But I never took a class either and have continually been defeated by "themes" or autoformatting I couldn't get rid of! Now one of my jobs has me log on through a PC to a MAC, and Word is totally foreign on a Mac. Sheesh. Congrats to you for perservering and beating Word into submission!

floribunda... aka Julie said...

Thankfully I have managed to avoid the "new" Word -- although I've had a few brief run-ins with Vista.
My favorite is that Word will occasionally (and only when I'm on a deadline) start spewing out everything in Times New Roman 6 instead of Arial 12. Grrrr.

Tanya said...

When I was a child and using my mother's sewing machine I swore that the machine did not like me and knew when it was I that sat down in front of it. It was so dang stubborn and would never do what I told it to! Yes, and I've had times when not only word but my whole computer has refused to obey. Machines are getting too smart.

Judi said...

If you paste text into Notepad it strips out the formatting. If you then paste it back into Word, you will have it with no formatting, at which point you can get it to do what you want....well.....usually!

Oooh....my word verification is andre....how chic!

Diana said...

I feel your pain! And "smirk" is exactly the right word for its attitude.

Karen said...

I took 2 classes in Word and still have a difficult time when it comes to formatting.

I just can't understand why a program with such an attitude is the standard for word processing. Not a fan!

Glad you got it done, now do you get a week's vacation??!!

The Calico Cat said...

I had a similar situation arise recently. 3 letters in 1 word in 1 document were highlighted. I could do nothing to unhighlight them. As a matter of fact, I managed to highlight the whole word while trying to fix the problem. In the end, there is a randomly highlighted word in my document for all the world to wonder about...

Pat Deck said...

ARRGGHH!!!!! What a tremendously tedious job, and how very frustraying to deal with Work quirks when you absolutely didn't need to. And don't you hate it when that freakin' dog shows up at the top of your screen, wagging his smug little tail?

Copying and pasting the whole document? Hope you were in a room where the sounds could be muffled.

Glad you are done, and yes it must feel like you have climbed the mountain with a boulder on your back. Can your eyes still focus?

Guenveur in Kent said...

How lucky they are to have the world's speed demon typist come to the resscue. I just had a problem with Word last week when I was typing a list and the last item refused to line up with the rest. I have an older Word program and it's only an annoyance, since I don't have to do this for a living.
Unfortunately, my experience is that handing a binder to someone doesn't mean they'll ever read anyuthing in it, but scan it quickly and try to pick out significant things. At least you hope they will even do that much WV- frowse: What I look like when I get up in the morning.

anne bebbington said...

This is why we are quilters - we use computers for a purpose, to work, to communicate etc but to be honest we all know that deep down in that system is an evil little gremlin just waiting to mess things up and confuse you - now fabric on the other hand is predictible, tangible, you can touch and control it - as necessary as computers are give me fabric any day :o)