Word (Past) Perfect
I’m a creature of habit in many ways, and as such I’ve continued to use WordPerfect as my word processor of choice long after MS Word became the standard. I even set my later editions of WP to the old-style keyboard command interface, since it’s what I was used to and what I preferred to the more Word-like interface of the later editions. My editors all use Word, of course, but I habitually write my documents in WP format and then save them in RTF or DOC format before submitting them. It’s not just a matter of what I’m used to; I also don’t like being forced to conform, so I resisted giving in to Microsoft along with everyone else.
But lately it’s been giving me problems, since the edition of WP I have is now a decade old and it’s having trouble integrating with modern software, or vice versa. Ever since I got my new printer and its drivers were installed in WP, the program has frozen up for as long as a minute (or thereabouts) whenever I opened a new file. And this past week, I discovered that certain documents in WP, ones with embedded images, were causing more problems for my computer, in one case preventing it from reawakening after hibernation and giving me a “corruption” error. It was okay if I shut down fully and restarted, but keeping the program’s settings in a hibernation file (or whatever you call it) somehow made the system unstable.
So I figured it was time I stopped using that version of WP. Now, I could’ve tried buying a newer edition of the same program, but that would’ve cost over 100 bucks, and its interface probably wouldn’t be that different from Word, which I already have installed anyway and have gotten somewhat used to using in the course of editing manuscripts in the past year or two (since there have been cases where I’ve been expected to edit using Word’s Track Changes feature). Which meant I might as well just start using Word full-time. So yes, I’ve finally been assimilated.
But I have to admit, so far it’s an improvement. I’m still getting used to the interface, but it does have a lot of functions my decade-old WP didn’t, although it’s missing a couple of features that I’ll be sad to do without, and some of its quirks are annoying and inconvenient to me (for instance, if I set one folder to display files in date order with newest first, it displays the whole directory tree that way, instead of letting me do each one case-by-case). The programs all load quickly, which is a major plus. And I should finally be free of one persistent glitch that I tolerated in my WP program — namely, that it froze up whenever I tried to enter an ordinal number like “2nd” or “25th.” It defaulted to shrinking the letters to a superscript, which is bizarre — who actually does that? — but when I tried to turn it off, it started freezing up. So I’ve had to train myself to either spell out ordinals or avoid them altogether. Now I don’t have to do that anymore — though I still haven’t figured out how to turn off the automatic superscripting in Word.
Of course, I needed to convert some of my more elaborately formatted WP files to Word, notably my personal Star Trek chronology file, which is a pretty complicated set of tables with color coding and the like, so I was concerned that it wouldn’t be easy to convert to a new format. I tried that once with an earlier edition of Word than I have now, and it didn’t work. But fortunately, my current edition of Word was able to handle it, and I only needed to make some minor fixes to the document once I’d converted it. So I’m pretty much good to go now.
Still… end of an era.