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User Visasters

This blog entry admittedly has little direct relationship to home servers but it does have a relationship to the “user experience” as the Redmond Gorilla likes to call it. Do not discount the amount of time and energy expended by the user learning your operating system, software package or user interface.

This blog entry admittedly has little direct relationship to home servers but it does have a relationship to the “user experience” as the Redmond Gorilla likes to call it. Do not discount the amount of time and energy expended by the user learning your operating system, software package or user interface. I have had what I consider the worst computing experience of my life since Hollerith punch cards. What follows is a full-blown rant.

Executive Summary- Vista and Word 2007 SUCK!

We have a new IT director at my current employer and he seems to live and breathe Microsoft products. He has definitely drunk the kool-aid. I was asked to replace my beige desktop system since it seems I'm the only one that can keep it running. I have been doing my own “desktop-IT-work” since I was hired there. However, management has decided its become too costly for me to lose a half-day or so to repair the system and/or replace a hard drive. So instead, I've lost 3 or 4 full days un-learning everything I knew about XP Pro.

To replace the generic box, I was given a pre-configured DELL with what I will call Visaster Business Edition SP1 with Microsoft Office 2007 Pro installed on it, certainly a combination fermented in one of Dante's rings of Hell.

I haven't used MS Office since 2000 and I've been very happy with WordPerfect, OpenOffice or gedit since then. The current project has me writing a short series of user and tech manuals for a new product roll-out using Office 2007. A number of functions available in OpenOffice3 related to text and tables operate much more reliably than similar ones in Office 2007. On top of that, there are more functions for table manipulation. What's really suspicious is that OpenOffice and Office 2007 fail exactly in the same way when table and page formatting doesn't work right!

Word 2007 is overpriced crap compared to OpenOffice 3 when it comes to user interaction with the software. When I insert a picture into a table, I know what to expect with OpenOffice 2 or 3. With Word 2007, who knows where the damn picture will end up on the page; whether or not the table row will stay on the page; whether or not the auto-scale function will work right; or whether or not the text that might be in the cell gets deleted or remains there in the cell. Whatever the company is paying for the Office 2007 license, they got robbed.

Ribbons in Office? Who gives a ----! (fill in with your favorite expletive) Its just a way to further isolate the user from the tools he needs. I have done more mouse-clicking than I can stand. I've counted dozens of clicks to get done what I used to be able to do with 2 or 3. I have to constantly look at the top of the screen to see where I am in the ribbon system since a click without looking lands you who-knows-where.

As for the OS, I've gotten to where I truly hate Vista. There are hundreds of icons and virtual folders scattered all over the damn “Explorer” window. I thought Explorer was pretty trashy before, well its gotten worse. Most of which can't be deleted or removed. The substitution of the Users folder in Visaster for Documents and Settings in XP is the stupidest, most useless and idiotic “feature” in the operating system. Whereas most everybody on the planet knew where the User profile was and where to find their files (Documents and Settings), Microsoft decides to change the file location. What stupendous idiocy. That one f---up alone has cost me at least an hour of time better spent working with tools I know.

Active Directory is likewise crap. I had plugged into a USB 2.0 port a NTFS formatted hard drive mounted in a external drive box. I copied files from my previous XP drive (Documents and Settings) to the network drive folder that was mapped as my user drive under my logged-on user domain profile. I should have complete control over that folder/mapped drive, right? Well guess what? No-way Jose. Once the copy was done I not only didn't have read-write access to the copied folder, I couldn't even browse it! The permissions on it should have been identical with my log on permissions. They should have matched what was on the desktop. Even the IT director had to go through multiple gyrations to get control of the folder and reset permissions to get access to it so he could give me access!

Now for the the kicker. We discovered Friday that Office 2007 cannot output RTF files with embedded pictures in it in the right format so that we can put the manuals up on the Wiki we want to use. So my 4 weeks using Office 2007 turns out to be a total waste of time and I'll be using the Wiki's built-in tools to edit and publish the manuals. The only savings is that I don't have to type the bulk of it back into the wiki. I can copy and paste the text. The pictures and tables though I'll have to do those completely over. I won't have to use ANY word processing software hosted on my desktop. FireFox 3 works perfectly well with this wiki.

So would I recommend Vista and Office 2007 to anyone? Yes I recommend Osama bin Laden and his fellow travelers use it. They can go to Hell. I've already been there.