Word 6 & Truck Stops
Saturday, December 10, 1994 by Dave Winer.
I have been a committed Microsoft Word fan since I switched from DOS to Mac machines in the late 80s. I was really excited by the features of Word 6: integrated grammar checker, revision control, PageMaker-like kerning, real DOS compatibility.
Then I started using it about six weeks ago. My PowerBook runs at 33 mhz yet this monster word processor crawls along more slowly than any I've used in fifteen years. It's not like I'm doing complex rendering. The neat-sounding features turn out to be bugs. It thinks for me in ways I wish it didn't. And, fully configured, it takes almost 10% of my hard disk. And, it loses files. And, transfering files to a DOS Word 6 machine doesn't work. And, and, and...
I wonder if Microsoft understands the consequences of doing this to me? Besides crimping my personal productivity, I've become an unhappy customer. Once dissatisfied, I started noticing the bugs that I'd never have seen. I've already told my average fourteen friends about how crummy it is. Plus, I'll be much slower to buy the next product. I'm unhappy.
Ordinarily, I'm so delighted with Mac software that I act as a regional missionary. I have the zeal of a religious convert. In the last eight years, I've standardized four organizations on Macs with Microsoft products. I'll have to think about it the next time.
I dislike paying to be treated like a beta test site. It would stop my Mom from using her computer.
So, some additional MMC benefits should be:
This morning my four year old dragged me into our son's room to play SimCity on the Nintendo. She'd figured out how to get a bank and a park. Her city was forrested and growing at a population of 20,000. Together, we could sit on the couch and watch her city come to life.
It reminded me of the three week cross country camping trip my kids and I took when we moved to California 18 months ago.
My PowerBook served two major functions on that trip. We loaded it with games and software to keep the kids entertained. Then, at night or long stops, I was writing 'postcards' to a lengthy email list.
The software that was most effective on the trip was stuff I knew intimately. When one of the kids hit a trouble spot, they could tell me in sufficient detail so that I could visualize the problem. I could troubleshoot most problems from the driver's seat without slowing down.
The mailing list was another story. We started with 15 friends and relatives on the list. As the trip progressed, the list grew to over 200 names. The back and forth email, coupled with new names provided insight and entertainment for all of us in the car.
We soon discovered that you can get online from almost any truckstop on the interstates. Truck drivers are pretty automated these days. We made a contest out of how remote we could be and still get on line.
The best email was a set of files from my brother (we all use Eudora) that included a GIFF of us just prior to leaving and a reader for it. We received it at Tonapah Joe's, a truckstop in the middle of the Arizona desert.
This wraps my stories about features. The final additions to the list are:
Last stop before a features spec: a short portrait of my mom.
I hope you're finding this useful.
Yes John, we sure are! [And thanks for the warning on Word 6.]
Keep 'em coming.
PS: I didn't know that email works at truck stops. Makes sense. I guess it's been a while since I've stopped at a truck stop.
PPS: Nolan Bushnell is waiting off-stage, with a piece about fun and the Internet. It'll run in a few days.
PPPS: I'm planning a week-long Utah ski trip in January. Should I make this a DaveNet event? We could meet at the bottom of Lift 1 at Deer Valley every morning at 9AM. Let me know what you think!
PPPPS: As always, if you aren't interested in this kind of stuff, send me email and I'll happily delete your name from the list. And it's OK to forward it anywhere you like. The list is expanding -- I'm always happy to add new names.