It finally happened: I converted from WordPerfect to Word. Like my father, I was an early-adopter-never-let-goer. I first worked on a commercial word processing program in Taiwan in 1984, when I was a translator at Lee & Li and learned the proprietary Wang word processing system. (IIRC, Swarthmore in 1983 had a student-created system available on terminals in the computer center. It was a huge improvement over my Smith-Corona and Wite-Out strips, and I wrote my thesis on it when I could reserve time. Still didn’t top my Dad’s late 1970s adoption — and never-let-go-tion — of the Lexitron.)
I came back from Taiwan to go to law school in 1985 and acquired the then top-of-the-line approximately-the-size-of-a-lawnmower IBM PC. I had heard that a program called MultiMate mimicked the Wang program, so I was determined to buy and install it. My mother — thanks, Mom! — talked me out of that and into WordPerfect. Thus began a 29-year relationship that only ended this year with my inevitable assimilation to the Borg: Microsoft Word.
Top reasons for assimilation:
4. Annoyed co-counsel (“the formatting in the Word version is all effed up!”)
3. Awkward emails to opposing counsel (“we draft in WordPerfect, but send us your changes on the pdf version and we’ll incorporate them”).
2. Track changes!!!!
But my favorite feature is
1. Comment boxes.
I started using them as they are supposed to be used: to expound on tracked changes or make a general comment on a section of text. Now they’ve become sort of like “The Word” in the Colbert Report:
a way of letting my id come out while drafting a brief, one that entertains me as I write but that is easy to delete and sanitize before I file.
I miss WordPerfect’s “reveal codes” feature, and I still maintain that outlining in Word is a random-number-and-indentation-generator, but I’m generally adapting to the change.
you are totally right about outlining. It’s controlled by someone in Redmond Washington. Picture 3 ppl with highwater jeans and horned rimmed glasses sitting at a conference table.
Nerd 1: Jim, Susie, come quick
Susie: what is it?
Jim: I’m busy can it wait?
Nerd 1: NO! Hurry up, there’s a lawyer in Denver trying to make an outline
Jim: Oh, let’s do that thing where the spacing keeps changing with each paragraph.
Susie: Yes, yes. That was fucking hysterical when we did that to that CEO in San Jose the night before his board meeting.
Nerd 1: Bra ha ha ha ha ha. I totally forgot about that one
Susie: let’s also change the font on the bullets. Oh, and make some of them bold, but others not.
Nerd 1: great idea. I forget how to do that one. Wait, wait, she keeps hitting backspace to try to fix the line spacing and, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, it isn’t working. Please, hit return now. Hit return. C’mon. YES!!! The dumshit lawyer in Denver just hit return and the spacing changed back from single to double. She has no clue why. Ha ha ha ha ha. I’m fucking crying here.
Jim: Guys guys guys, there’s a school teacher in Columbus trying to outline a sylablus. I’m bored with the lawyer. Let’s mess with the teacher a bit…….
Yes! Exactly! That explains it!
I held out on Word for years, preferring to use a program called Nota Bene, a truly superior program specifically suited to biblical studies. My college wouldn’t support it, of course, but I could call Nota Bene and speak to the guy who wrote the code. But over time, it just got to be too much of a hassle… Morever, Word eventually caught up to many of the features that had been so desirable in Nota Bene…