"You shall have the biggest and most vulgar ring in all of Atlanta." Rhett Butler to Scarlet O’hara, responding to her desire for "a great big one" when asked what kind of wedding ring she’d like.
I like to strut about, crowing "don’tcha just love the 21st century?" whenever some technological gizmo enables us to do some silly thing that wasn’t possible just a few years ago. Cell phones and digital cameras are likely to provoke such an outburst.
So here I sit, converting a long tech manual from MS Word to Adobe FrameMaker. Without getting into the long story of it, Word is a flaky work processor which poses badly as a publishing platform. FrameMaker (which is kinda like PageMaker’s big brother) is a document layout and publishing application that is also sort of a word processor but is impractical for short knock-off documents.
Now, like I said, Word likes to think it can fit the bill in a professional publishing environment. So not! I just witnessed one small example of the funadmental lameness of Word, which is this: Chapter 5 of the manual starts on page 97. Or does it? If I want to print a page and I select a different printer here at the office, it does some kind of dipsy-doodle and suddently Chapter 5 starts on page 103! The page numbering changes when you select a different printer driver! Think of the implications–TOC, cross references, index, etc. Yikes!
Hello! How can you put your product forward as a serious publishing app when something as fundamental as page numbering is as flaky and unstable as this? I mean really! Sheesh!
It’s official — I now use MSIE as my browser at the office.
That’s sad because I’ve been using Netscape since 1995 when I had my first browser experience with Netscape 1.1 on an HP UNIX box. The first couple of versions of IE were just too lame for words, plus I was very happy to use any alternative to a Microsoft product (for all the usual reasons).
Then somewhere along the way IE got good. That wasn’t enough to make me switch though. For one thing, I absolutely hated the way IE handles bookmarks (don’t even get me started on calling them “Favorites”…). But then a few things started chipping away at my resolve.
For one thing, when the hated AOL bought Netscape I almost puked. My whole argument about supporting the “little guy” flew out the window. Then there was the increasing instability of Netscape. It seemed to crash more and more with every release (at least it did on my computer).
The final chip was chipped–no, the final massive chunk was cleaved–when I installed Netscape 6.0.
Mozilla my butt. I don’t care how well it “renders”, the damn thing is almost unusable! In many ways it throws me back to 1995. Some pages simply don’t appear when you surf to them. (No, don’t blame bad coding–a good browser is “smart” enough to interpret coding glitches.) Bookmarking? Ha! The whole drag & drop method of bookmarking that made Netscape so brilliant has been, well, dragged out and dropped into the trash. It’s gone! And get this, on some pages with frames, I can’t use “Back”. The Back button and menu items are greyed out! Plus I can’t make any printer option changes. And I can’t open a link to a gopher menu. And the Help is abysmal. Need I go on?
So I uninstalled it, both at work and at home. I went back to using Netscape 4.76. Then, the other day Netscape started acting really strange at the office. One of those screwy crashes that requires a reboot to fix. But I’m on an NT box here and its a pain to reboot. So I popped open IE to use for a while.
And I got to like it.
Not love it, but like it. So I made the concious decision to switch. And that’s what I did. And it feels weird, like I’m using someone else’s computer. I’m still using Netscape at home, because I don’t know how to easily transfer my 300 or so bookmarks. Maybe its just a matter of time…
Footnote: don’t talk to me about Opera. It’s alright, but I don’t like the “feel” of it–particularly the fact that all windows are contained within the main window instead of being free-floating. Also, I got into an email fight with some dope from their support desk who destroyed any sense I had that people at Opera have a clue. If they do have any clues its because the stole them from the support dope, leaving him, obviously, with none.
Margaret Atwood, yakking with Evan Solomon on CBC Newsworld’s "Hot Type":
"If you can muster a bit of forgiveness you’ll have a less bile-filled day."