“Office has enough irritations and ‘secret’ functions to fill a dozen thick books. For this story, we’ve selected some of the most notorious problems and the most useful tricks that we’ve discovered in our years of wrestling – or dancing – with the suite.”
MS Office Problems, Solved!
About The Author
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2005-12-03 6:09 pmAnonymous
> Use LaTeX instead!! 🙂
Can I use it to read and produce .doc files?
2005-12-03 6:21 pmAnonymous
Why would you want to? .doc are absolutely horrendous for long term data storage and readability.
the best are plain text files. In 5 years I will tell you what I think of ODF. But for .doc files they are only good if you use one and only one version of office. One company I know if you ask them for a PDF will print out a doc file then scan it to get a PDF. As the .doc files from office 2000 won’t open in the office 97 that my work has. Why do we run office 97 because why should we spend money to upgrade, our hardware and software just to gain a feature we don’t need or use.
2005-12-03 9:58 pmWorknMan
As the .doc files from office 2000 won’t open in the office 97 that my work has.
Here’s another word tip (this works in Word XP & 2003, I’m assuming in Word 2000 as well):
When saving a document, go to the Save As dialog box, click on tools, and then click ‘Save options’ – you sould be able to save files in whatever format you want.
For those who brought up OpenOffice/LaTex/Lyx, you’re just like the people who bring up Opera in a Firefox article, or vise versa. Can’t you guys just leave it alone for once? Is it really necessary for you to turn every goddamn article here into a ‘mine is better than yours’ pissing contest?
Edited 2005-12-03 22:00
2005-12-03 10:08 pmalcibiades
There is, whether people in general acknowlege it or not, a serious question about the way in which Word Processors, and that means mainly Word, are used, what they are being used for, and their suitability for those uses. The issue comes from the fact that you cannot, in WP, separate the logically different functions of composition, page layout, and document structuring.
People may not like to think about it, but that doesn’t mean that the issues are not there, and it does not mean that raising them is engaging in a pissing contest.
Let us imagine a world in which everyone used chisels for smoothing down wood, and there were newsgroups about chisels, different sorts, how to use them best. No-one ever talks about planes. Anyone who mentions the possibility of using planes rather than chisels is shouted down, and told not to engage in a pissing contest about why his tool is better.
This is the world of WP as it looks from some points of view. I know, it is not the way the world looks to you from inside it. But there is an issue here. There may actually be a better way for some purposes than using ‘fully featured’ word processors. Not for all purposes. But for quite a lot of those for which people now think ‘there is no alternative’.
2005-12-03 10:12 pmalcibiades
There is also, by the way, a perhaps more serious issue about Office presentation packages, which means PowerPoint, and their influence on the quality of decision making. And maybe another issue about how spreadsheets in Office have influenced the way business cases are done.
These two things are more serious than the WP issue. That only affects the productivity of writers. These last two are costing jobs and leading to bad management decisions every week.
2005-12-04 3:06 amJohn Nilsson
It would be great if you elaborated on that. How do you mean?
2005-12-04 10:01 amalcibiades
With business planning, we have a culture in which spreadsheets are always used to represent the financial outcomes of proposed projects. The output of these spreadsheets is then summarized for decision in meetings in presentation packages. Now if you look at the impact the tool is having on the process, this is what you see.
The spreadsheet permits enormously detailed models and forecasts to be made at very little computational cost. The pressure therefore is for ever more detailed models. However, detail comes at the expense of breadth and of understanding. So typically you get enormously detailed accounts of one set of assumptions, with a percentage upside/downside for best, middle and worst case. Spreadsheet models for large decisions are huge, and because visual basic is there, often filled with impenetrable macros. Accounting departments are partly to blame – for business cases to get their imprimatur they often have to be accounting documents, which the above is very similar to. What you are not getting is any analysis of how things might change, and because there are now so many variables, you cannot readily remodel. There is a reason why 10% up or down is used so commonly: it is almost impossible to do anything else. But this assumes what we are trying to asses: whether the base case is reasonable.
How should it be done? Less detail not more, but more argument about the assumptions. For example, we have a product line. Instead of modelling every instance and all the different price points and the detailed costs of production of each variant…and then showing percent up and percent down as base/upside/downside, what you should insist on is one number for margin. Then you argue, in prose, about how plausible that number is, in what scenarios it will happen, be better, be worse. This forces thought about the world, and leads to identifying variables not previously involved in the decision process.
But now we encounter the second problem: the presentation package. This permits visual effects of all sorts, the presentation of headline data very well, but if you go through a typical corporate presentation without going to the meeting, you have little idea what the arguments were, and how the cited facts supported them. There is just not enough room to give the facts and the arguments. You may get through 50 slides in a half hour, with lots of fades and dissolves, but not at the end of it have any argument written down anywhere. And in a meeting with 8-10 people, the mood swings, there’s little time for getting very specific.
The group loses touch with the history of why it made decisions, it has little or no record, and it makes decisions on bad cases, poorly presented.
What’s the answer? The answer to the first part is to have one page spreasdsheets. Literally one page financials. That means, in effect, not using spreadsheets. Of curse the minute you do this, people start arguing about the plausibility of the numbers. They say, what happens if? Great, you want exactly that.
The answer to the second part is to have papers and not presentations. A reasonable rule is a five page prose paper, with defined content, and three pages of exhibits. If its a hard decision, invite two papers, one the case for, the other the case against.
There is a good argument for saying that the features of Office packages, used because they are there, have in recent years thoroughly corrupted the decision making process in business. It needs to be reversed.
2005-12-04 9:27 amraver31
If a representative from another company came into mine and gave me a presentation, if the presentation was using the same old clipart and transitions that I have sen a thousand times before, then naturally I would get bored.
Getting the audience bored is a sure fire way of not getting you products sold.
2005-12-04 1:44 pmAnonymous
One company I know if you ask them for a PDF will print out a doc file then scan it to get a PDF.
All that trouble to create a PDF??
Works just great! And it’s GPL, so it’s free.
2005-12-03 8:53 pmalcibiades
The advice maybe ought to be: use Lyx. If you value your sanity, that’s the only way. No, you cannot produce Word files. You can produce text files that are readable in Word, but of course, you’ll lose all the formatting.
Lyx is well worth the effort, if you write long structured documents. Not perfect by any means, but once you have made the effort, you will be amazed you took so long to find it.
Thanks WorknMan. And I totally agree with what you said by the way.
…dragged my office to the dumpster and bought a tiki bar in the Carribean.
Fun, sun , babes, I’m happy.
Dump your office too, it’s your life, live it.
Remember you become what you force yourself to become.
A two week vacation to Hawaii won’t change you for the better.
Oh, dump Office too.
I need Word to read/write Open Office files.
2005-12-03 7:33 pmAnonymous
2005-12-03 7:54 pmEsaltato
How I understand you. I need a razor to wash my armpits.
2005-12-03 8:22 pmAnonymous
what’s the big problem?
Open your doc –> save as word file –> open in word.
The last version of Word that was any good was 97. Office 2000 was the beginning of the end. They started losing focus with the bloat they were adding.
that displays images correctly? We’re on Word 2002 at word now, after upgrading from Word 97, and I’ve yet to see a version that works properly with images. As soon as you scroll down part of the image goes blank and sometimes disappears completely. I’ve seen this with 97 on NT4 and 97/2002 on XP, on different machines. I’ve always been surprised that such a basic problem remains.
I’ve never seen this with OpenOffice.org, or even the old version of Amipro we used to use.
2005-12-03 10:00 pmWorknMan
Just tried it in Word 2k3, no problems. Maybe you need a new video card or drivers
2005-12-03 10:06 pmunapersson
That would be my thought, but it’s several different machines over a period of eight years. It’s not all images either, the problem normally shows up most when the image is at or just above the size of the viewable area. I’ve see other people have the same problem as well. Maybe it’s finally fixed in 2003…!
2005-12-04 2:42 amAnonymous
Exactly the same problem me and my work colleagues have experienced. Sometimes when the images blank out, the only way to get it back is to scroll up to before the image appears and then scroll down again (but after a certain point down the same occurs again). And yes, happens on different computers with different versions.
While we are on the topic of office systems. Does anybody know a good way to manage document references?
I tried OOo but I couldn’t cutomize the reference list to my schools requirements. The hacks I tried led to some references beeing included twice in the refernce list.
So now I’m using LaTeX with a hacked version of natbib (had to translate a few parts to sedish). But I’m not very fond of this scheme either. It doesn’t reorder the author names in the correct way.
The text must be able to have booth inline author (year) and (author, year) and sort the author by name. Have full author listing in the first reference and then shorten it for the rest of the text. And it most be localized.
The system must work with linux. Preferably free.
Please DON’T link to ANY Pro-MS-things like THAT anymore !
We don’t want to hear that it’s in fact possible to WORK with MS Office – we want to hear that it’s NOT POSSIBLE and that people using MS Office are inferior in regards of people using OO, vi or ed !!!
OS news is a place for Unix-professionals and not for brainless Microcrap$$$-Users.
2005-12-04 7:25 pmAnonymous
Last time I checked, Windows was still an operating system — thus, news about Windows appears to qualify as news about operating systems. And what exactly makes OSNews a place for “Unix-professionals”?
Oh yes, and I can say for certain that Office is really quite inferior to ed…
We all know MS Office is bloated, but I fail to see how it qualifies as an operating system. Please keep OSNews on-topic.
I will tell you what I think of ODF. But for .doc files they are only good if you use one and only one version of office.
Seriously, if you have an unzipping utilitay (say, winzip, gzip, 7zip, etc) and a text editor, you can always open an ODF document, which is open standard, non-binary, XML in a zip file.
Sheesh. Essentially, it IS text.
Oh, and scanning a printout to make a pdf is ridiculous. There are only a dozen completely free print to PDF options. I use “Cute PDF” as it has great output and no watermarks.
Browser: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240×320)
When OOo gains traction and gets market share, then it too will get usability articles. Why read stuff if you just want to complain about it? Nothing better to do?
PDAs can only post as anonymous?
Why would any one give a damn about a two decade old pile of camel dung?
When selecting text, if you hold down CTRL while selecting, you can select text that is not connected, just as you can select items while holding CTRL in a list view that aren’t listed together.
Oh, and it is also possible to customize the My Places bar in non-Office apps. I use TweakUI to do so, but there are other ways as well.
I swear, MS could make Vista so much more attractive if they’d add in a way to tweak the tons of settings that are only possible now by hacking the registry or using an external app.
Use LaTeX instead!! 🙂