Home > My Fiction, Star Trek > Word (Past) Perfect

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.

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  1. August 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Yes. I grew up in Wordperfect 5.1. I never could hack Word, and find myself using Google Docs, which is basic, but backs up automatically online.

  2. Sho
    August 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Out of curiosity, did you consider / have you tried using LibreOffice?

    • August 10, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      I’ve never heard of that, unless it’s the French name for OpenOffice. That’s been suggested to me before, but I don’t want to have to try to figure out another new interface. I’ve already got Word, I’m starting to get the hang of it, so why complicate things any further?

      • Sho
        August 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm

        The short version is that LibreOffice is the new name of OpenOffice.org, necessitated when the holder of the latter trademark changed hands (Oracle bought Sun) and the community around the software ran into differences with the new owner.

        Regarding the arguments speaking for using LibreOffice:
        – A lot of former WordPerfect users migrated to it, giving it a reputation of being friendly toward WP users and having solid import of WP documents.
        – LibreOffice is free and will remain free, so there would be no upgrade costs in your future.
        – I think open source software is generally a better deal for consumers than proprietary software, in the big picture. There’s no lock-in with open source software, which prevents all sorts of exploitative action proprietary vendors frequently bring against their customers, and so on. The open source idea is ultimately about putting the power base into the hands of the users of software and protecting their rights. See e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Free_Software_Definition and related Wikipedia articles for the basis behind this.
        – You’re a fan of science, and the open source model is in many ways the virtues of scientific endeavour – sharing of and building on another’s knowledge – applied to software development, so I thought it might appeal to you in that sense as well.

        And of course, there’s also simply the possibility that you might like it better. It’s a popular piece of software with many happy users. Of course the same is true of Word, however. Trying both and comparing seems like a good idea.

      • August 10, 2012 at 4:49 pm

        I’m sure it is a good idea and all you say is true, but I’m just not motivated to bother right now. I’ve resolved the problem to my satisfaction and I’ve got other things to deal with now.

  3. Sho
    August 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    That’s fine of course :). I’m not trying to be pushy or preachy, it’s just what was going through my head when I read your blog post. (And coincidentally, one of the authors of libwpd – http://libwpd.sourceforge.net/ – is an acquaintance of mine, so the topic is close to home I suppose.)

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