I want to write… something. I’m not sure that I have anything to say. My head hurts. I’m bored at work. I feel that I should always have something of interest to say, and then I realize that this isn’t true. Or rather, sans topic, I know not what to say.
So, topic… topic… topic…
I like puzzles. Not jigsaw types of puzzles, though I do dearly love a good jigsaw puzzle, but the kinds that require the brain to engage and come up with a solution. This is what drew me to be a computer technician for a few years at a company that I started out with as a word processor. Somehow I was the only person in the company of 70+/- that could sit down in front of a computer that had a problem and make it work properly. “How did you do that?” … my answer: “I don’t know, I just did it”. No, I can’t tell you how to do it yourself because I have no idea. I just click the things that make sense to me intuitively and eventually I find the answer. This worked great with Microsoft Windows 98. After that I threw in the towel because my trusty timeworn DOS commands no longer worked and they changed stuff around and mucked it all up. Besides, working through lunch, working late and sometimes weekends sucked. At those times I was rarely solving a puzzle, I was usually just going around to every station and making a change or installing a program or whatever. BORING.
I like logic puzzles, I like brain teasers, I like making a form work better, I like figuring out how to do something in Excel, I like word games and sudoku puzzles, crossword puzzles, etc.
You know how when you see something and you don’t understand how it’s done, it seems like magic? I remember feeling this the first time I used a mimeograph machine, the first time I was told what the computer punch cards did to work, the first time i used a microwave oven, the first time I saw a fax machine work, the first time i saw a mobile phone. If you don’t understand the scientific theory or mechanics behind the action, it might as well be magic. I don’t know how radio waves work necessarily, but I understand the concept that my radio receiver picks up a transmission of soundwaves from a transmitting radio tower somewhere around me, and that as i get further away from it or something is blocking it’s line of sight, the sound starts breaking up. Also, radio has been around since I was born, so radio was not some new concept I had to understand. But, my internal understanding of the world was developed enough before i ever saw or used that list of items above that they seemed AMAZING. MAGIC. There was no other explanation. That food could get heated throughout in just 2 or 3 minutes didn’t make SENSE! That I could put a piece of paper in a machine here and have an exact duplicate come out of another machine in Japan REALLLY didn’t make sense. I had to see that one a few times before I was convinced it was not magic. And, I didn’t even believe in magic! But I couldn’t figure out any other explanation. It wasn’t POSSIBLE by any means that I understood.
Well, last week I was making a form in Excel. I am not a MS person. I use WordPerfect. I love WordPerfect. I hate MS Word. I hated Quattro Pro but I didn’t like Excel either. Besides, Excel wasn’t necessary. I could make WordPerfect do just about ANYTHING I needed to have happen in a form or a document or whatever. Calculate numbers? check. Make checkboxes? check. Make charts? check. Make a form that could only be filled out in certain fields? check. Make a database that could run reports? check. I’m a wizard with WordPerfect. I can write macros and make it do all sorts of things. HOWEVER…. the rest of the world does not use WordPerfect as a rule. The much inferior Microsoft Word is prevalent, and with Word comes Excel for the most part. Eight or so years ago, this didn’t matter, because nobody used the softcopy of what I did, they used the hard copy. But, then comes standard usage of email to send documents back and forth. Suddenly I had to be able to send that WordPerfect document to someone who didn’t own that product, and though sometimes they would open in Word, usually if they did, they were allll messed up. The codes were all wrong. They don’t play well together. And of course, Word doesn’t WANT to play nicely with WordPerfect. They want you to be forced to use Word to conform to the rest of the world who is using the dumb MS office suite that is sub-sufficient for anything sophisticated, but “easy” for the new user. I’ve never switched. I use Word only as much as I have to. I convert files as necessary, along with the extra coding needed to do so, or I transform .wpd files into .pdf files and say “here ya go, but it’s only a picture, you can’t use the information in any useful way”.
HOWWWWWWWWWEVER, I have used Excel here and there to keep track of things like LAN parties and the costs thereof and the money paid back and who and what, etc. I used it a lot for our wedding to keep track of expenses and who was doing what and who had been invited and who had replied and who had yet to be thanked, etc. But for work, not so much. But last week, I was requested to put one of my forms into Excel so that it could be emailed. Simple enough. One of my codes went wonky though, so I asked the office manager/accountant how to fix it. She comes over and not only fixes that problem, but shows me how I can make this that and the other thing work better, and it can pull this information from that workbook and update it in this workbook and I don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel, and omg. It’s magic. almost. I do actually understand the basic idea of what it’s doing and how it knows where to get the information and such. But it’s not something I could do in WordPerfect, so it NEVER OCCURRED to me that it could be done in Excel. Now I’m reviewing in my head all the other forms that I use/make. Might I be better served putting them into Excel? I feel a little guilty for succumbing further to the Evil Empire of Microsoft. After all, other than the operating system I try not to use any other MS programs. But, while I could probably figure out how to use QuattroPro to do the same things, once again, NOBODY uses it. Less people than use WordPerfect, that’s for sure. And, I have to be able to email some of these things. That’s my justification and I’m sticking to it. *hides face in shame for loving Excel*