Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 22 January 2009

You are old, Father Bonden

I’ve used Word for Windows and/or MsW for a dozen years now, aware that I’ve only scratched the surface of its vast collection of functions. Where I’ve needed to I’ve (reluctantly) taught myself new tricks. As now.

The MS I’ve been editing for two years (a biography) needs converting into book-page format – chapter titles, page numbers, justified text, etc. Word can do this but you must first learn what keys to press and then remember what you’ve learned. I confess page numbering defeated me and I had to call for more skilled help. I was impressed to find that giving chapter headings a style code causes them to appear as page headers.

The problem – as ever – is that complex software needs regular usage to prevent it from lapsing into a set of forgotten rules. When I was still employed Quark Express was the lingua franca of publishing and even the slowest amongst us eventually picked up this demanding DTP package. The contrast came after retirement when I had to teach myself Dreamweaver in order to create the community website I edit. Dreamweaver is based on HTML which, despite Julia’s kind explanation, always seemed like ten steps backwards and I struggled with it. Even now when I return to the website I need a ten-minute tutorial to remind myself about such things as “named anchors”.

Perhaps septuagenarians exploring software represents hubris in its latest form. We should know our place and lie a’bed reading Trollope.

8 comments:

Julia said...

No no, I think Word is quite dreadful for that type of layout and that would explain the frustration. But have you tried or have access to InDesign? I recommend it, and if you ever knew how to use Quark, InDesign will be a piece of cake for you.

marja-leena said...

Julia said it for me. I know what you mean about retaining new knowledge in software. Repeat, repeat at least 10 x and keep notes. It is hard if you don't do it again for a few months but brief notes on steps and keys help me. isn't it like learning another language?

Zhoen said...

No, D hated Word for his papers, and used it all the time. To much swearing. He's wistful that the iWork version of Pages will now work with Endnote, as he's no longer writing that kind of research.

Lucy said...

My septuagenarian can't even remember how to move a file without my help, and he a man of science too.

I would be quite happy to lie abed reading Trollope myself...

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: In fact Quark would do just fine, as well. But for reasons beyond my control I'm stuck with Word.

M-L: I've always felt it was defeatist to create notes on paper. But perhaps the time has arrived...

Zhoen: Too much swearing indeed. And, occasionally, despair.

Lucy: I threw in Trollope out of my sub-conscious. Five years ago I decided to read the whole oeuvre and after about a dozen titles it became far too easy to "see the joins". I think The way we live now is closest to a masterpiece but please stay away from He knew he was right. I gave up after about twenty titles

Lucy said...

I think I've only ever read 'Barchester Towers'. Oh, and I tried the Palliser chronicles when a teenager cos I enjoyed them on the telly with Susan Hampshire who was de rigueur for many years for any adaptation of Trollope or similar.

I liked 'He knew he was right on the telly too, mostly because of Bill Nighy as the aging roue, who went about his naughty business on the pretext he was visiting his friend ' the vicar of Cock Chaffington'.

Avus said...

Nah, BB. "Rage against the dying of the light" and give the brain some stimulus.
Having said that, I rather enjoy the "Barchester Chronicles" and loved the magnificent characterisations in the BBC adaptations. (Donald Pleasence, Nigel Hawthorne, Alan Rickman, et al.)

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy/Avus: What does it say about Trollope as a writer when it's clear that your freshest memories are of TV adaptations?

As to "Rage rage against the dying..." Time to get a flat-screen monitor.