The Last “Word” in Frustration

I was given yet another reason to despise Word 97 yesterday afternoon. Our law firm has chosen to abandon Corel WordPerfect 8 for Word 97 and beyond. It’s been three years in the making and it still isn’t all the way migrated over yet. There have been plenty of growing pains along the way.

When I first heard of the evil plot several years ago, I tried to fight it and so did some of the lawyers. But management turned a deaf ear (and a blind eye) and Word was silently shoved down our throats. (At least I hope that’s where they planned to put it.)

Yesterday afternoon, I was revising a brief that did not originate with my boss. Therefore, the thing (all 45 pages of it) was riddled with stylistic mistakes that a legal secretary should know not to make. For example (or e.g., if you are my boss and getting paid $350 an hour to say it), there should be a SPACE (and preferably a coded or hard one) between the paragraph symbol or the section symbol and any numeric text after it.

Easy enough to fix, I thought to myself. I’ll just search for the paragraph symbol and the section symbol and replace with the same AND a hard space. Not a problem. Oh, but then Word stepped in. Apparently this is one of the (many) things “you can’t do in Word.” This is the primary function of the Firm’s Help Desk staff nowadays. To utter that phrase, or a variation of it, whenever presented with a problem such as mine.

You can’t do that in Word.
Our developers are working on it.
No one else has called with that problem. (Which I interpret to really mean, “You are an idiot and you don’t know what you are doing; deal.”)

Almost makes you hanker for one of these….

displaywriter.jpg
IBM Displaywriter, circa 1983

This machine was a dedicated word processor built around the Intel 8086 chip, but used boot disks to load the programs. The boot disk went into one slot and your storage disk went into the other. The keyboard (which is 2? inches thick!) has some things in common with the keyboard of the Selectric typewriter, even having a shift lock that actually locks down.

The real interest of the machine, however, is the floppy drives, the huge cabinet to the right. These are 8-inch floppy drives and I don’t know of any other machine that used them. I always thought the drive cabinet resembled a toaster with its two levers. I’m not sure what the actual capacity of the floppy disks was, but I don’t believe it was much more than 256K.

Now that I think of it, I wonder what was “under the hood” of this machine. The CPU unit is huge but when you consider it is not housing a hard drive or floppy drives, you have to wonder just what IS under there….

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