Damn You, Word 97! Don't Make Me Go To Word XP! (Warning: Geeky)

First, a little background. To me, Microsoft Office reached its zenith with Office 95 and has generally been on a long downhill slide ever since. The only exception I see is Excel, where generally the newer features in Excel actually make it easier to use than before without it being bloat. So I prefer to use, whenever possible, Office 95 Pro. However, my school insists on using XP and, of course, 95 isn’t compatible with XP, so I bit the bullet and went to 97 Pro. 97 Pro isn’t as good as 95 Pro, but at least it’s almost exactly the same except for my having to disable that stupid paperclip. However, I held out for a long time beforehand, even to the point where I was running Office XP, Office 95, and StarOffice 6 (or something like that) simultaneously (Office XP because of the lack of compatibility with 95 for Word and, as I said before, I like Excel XP, 95 because I prefer to use it for writing, and StarOffice because my version of XP didn’t come with PowerPoint and 95 PowerPoint isn’t compatible, so I had to go to StarOffice, which is.) I even use Exchange 95, which has its own set of problems in being so old it can’t handle HTML, at least for images, which I don’t mind. So, when I upgraded to WinXP Pro, I did it right and installed Exchange 95, everything in Office 97 except Excel, and Excel XP.

Now, normally, this setup works great. I can open anything the school sends to me, I get the interface (or close enough) that I want for writing, and I like the email I have. So, I’m sitting here today, writing my assignment for P Chem II in Word 97, and everything is going along fine. I’ve got a lot of equations in as objects, but I’d much rather use Equation Editor than write everything by hand and have to start over if I mess up an equation somewhere. I go to save my final version (I’d succesfully saved earlier) and what do I get? A drive full error message.

Now, I know damn well that that drive still has 60 gigs of space on it (its a 120). I figure, well, let’s make sure I at least have a copy saved somewhere else and I can do something about saving it to my hard drive later, so I go to my space on the server to save. Guess what I get? That’s right, another drive full error message. Now I’m getting pissed. I figure, okay, let’s go as low-tech as possible and I pop in an empty, formatted floppy disk. Now, I almost never use floppies anymore; the only reason I even have them is for boot disks and old computers hooked up to instruments in lab that only have floppy drives and aren’t connected to the school network. But, hey, I’ve got it, let’s try it. What do I get? That’s right, another drive full error. So I figure, well, crap.

So, what to do? Well, if nothing else, at least get the hard copy so that I haven’t completely lost two hours worth of work. What do I get when I go to print? That’s right, a cannot print error. Printer is offline. That sort of crap. The printer has power, the connection is good, other programs can’t print, but Word is a no-go. Well, all is still not lost. I have mapped one of the chemistry department’s printers from my computer. I use it sometimes from my dorm room when I’m doing research or something similar and then I just go and pick it up. That, at least, works. So, I’ve got my hard copy. The question is still, how the hell am I going to save it so that I don’t have to retype it or hope that a scanner can do accurate optical character recognition? What to do, what to do? Open WordPad and copy and paste, of course. Luckily, it works. The embedded equations copy over okay, even if the formatting of the paper is somewhat destroyed. And it’ll even save just fine as an RTF.

So, I guess it wasn’t a complete disaster. Still, though, I’m pissed. What the fuck is wrong with Word to only give me these sorts of problems when I’m using Equation Editor? (It did it once last time last semester, when I was doing a lab report.) I’m warning you, program. Don’t make me get in there and rearrange your code with a magnet. Or, even worse, install Word XP.

This sounds very similar to problems I saw a lot during the 2000-2001 school year. I worked at the help desk of my college’s engineering computer lab. We were running Word 97 at the time. In those cases, Word would crap out if you were working with big file sizes (most of the time it was people who were in my biomechanics class–every time we wrote a report, it had tons of graphs copied over from Excel). Word 97 automatically saves backup copies in the temp drive. If you’re working with big files, eventually it starts to think that the temp drive is full (even though it’s not). Manually saving a file a bunch of times only accelerates the problem. The best solution we ever came up with was to select all, copy it to the clipboard, and then completely exit out of Word. You get a warning that asks if you want to keep a large file on the clipboard (you say yes). Then you restart Word and paste everything back in. In my classmate’s case, copying the graphs as pictures only cut down on the filesize and reduced the occurance of this problem.

I imagine all of your equation editor objects are causing your filesizes to get big, too.

Good luck with the p chem. I only had to take one semester, which was enough for me.

Well, while I can’t say if the problem will or won’t be fixed by upgrading to XP, I can tell you that equation editor is the absolute goddamn worst pile of crap in an already shitty word processor. I made the unutterable error of doing a major project at uni with it, complete with numbered and fairly complex equations. Now, not only was equation editor content to drive me absolutely nuts with its incessant zooming, redrawing, jiggling and general fuckwittery when actually editing the equations, after about 30 or so painstakingly clicked in equations (nice interface, you wallies) it decided that that was enough editing for me, and converted every single one to an uneditable block of generic imagery, typos and all. On the bright side, this provided me with the motivation to actually learn latex, which makes beautiful documents and actually has a proper syntax for typing equations.

Anyway, the upshot of this is that if you want to wreak terrible revenge on those responsible for Equation Editor, please let me know because I’d like in.

You know, you can always install OpenOffice. Free, open source, clean, and Word-compatible.

Yeah, I know. I probably actually will someday, too.

MS Word is a senile old man. It’s stubborn and wants to do things it’s own way, because that’s how it’s always done it. That OOM message is a complete bitch.

MS Word wants to be desktop publishing software, but it doesn’t have the chops for it. At work, we have to dumb down the size of our graphics so Word won’t crash.

I have found that copying & pasting graphics into Word will usually result in disaster. Word’s not stable enough to hold on to pasted graphics, and eventually they’ll lose resolution. It’s better to do Insert/Picture/From File and locate the graphic on your hard drive or network.

I actually like Equation Editor, as it saves a lot of time in having to format and fudge things like quadratic equations. Over time, it’s like any Word document that’s graphics intensive. The equations eventually get replaced by the dreaded red X.

Oh, if you hate the equation editor in MS, you have got to use OpenOffice.org. It is a dream in comparison, and a big reason I’m switching to OOo (our whole office is switching, but that’s a biggie for me). One of the biggest things is the ability to have a pure text representation of any equation, and be able to edit the equation without pointing and clicking (which is great when resolving possible ambiguities). It’s not as powerful as LaTeX, but it’s the closest I’ve seen.

Want a limit equation? In the equation window, you can type:
lim from {x rightarrow infinity} {1 over x} = 0

How about a definite integral?
int from {x=1} to e {dx over x} = 1

How about a summation?
sum from{i,j} x sub {i j}

Or my personal favorite (done recently):
int from {%phi sub 1} to {%phi sub 2} int from {r sub 1} to {r sub 2} {2%pi r^2 sin %phi dr d%phi} = {2%pi} over 3 left( r sub 2 sup 3 - r sub 1 sup 3 right) left( cos {%phi sub 1} - cos {%phi sub 2} right)
Pure bliss. The biggest drawback is that the documentation sucks. Still I felt like I was putting hot needles into my eyes when using MS equation editor. My eyes are grateful for the change. :slight_smile: