How I learned to relax and love free software.

Maybe I should say, how I’m learning to relax and love it. It’s progress, not perfection.

As I’ve shared before, I’m an Office 2003 guy, been using it since 2003. It’s good. But sometimes I look at the new stuff – Office 2010 – and I want it. So precious, my precious, etc.


I can’t have it. I can’t put it on my PC. I ran the Office 2010 Free Gratis Beta 2 years ago, and uninstalled it. It wasn’t ready yet. But it left some change in my machine that not even Microsoft’s best registry cleaning programs can fix. Now the latest 60 Day Free Trial of Office 2010 will not install.

Yes, I’ve tried everything except calling Microsoft on the phone, which I’ll be damned if I’m going to do.

By posting so often and so vehemently on this blog on the subject of Microsoft’s onerous and predatory proprietary ways, I drew a line in the sand. Then I stood on this side of my line, with all the free and perfectly acceptable open source software for which I have advocated. And I jumped back and forth until Microsoft gave me a good shove. I mean they crossed they line.

Up with this I shall not put, is my point. So in the noble last words of General George Armstrong Custer, “F–k ’em if they can’t take a joke.”

…OK, that’s a little racist, but it’s funny.

This post was composed in WriteMonkey in plain text and posted to Google’s Blogger using Gmail via Posterous. All free stuff.

Now I’m going to go write something nice, using LibreOffice. I’m relaxed, really.

Hey Bill Gates, you Assclown, you can keep the kool-aid. Grumble grumble. And go pound it up your … sideways. Grumble grumble. So there.


words fail us

If you use Microsoft Word, I hope you will read this.


Microsoft Word makes and saves documents in a file type called Doc. Every version of Word uses Doc just fine, including all the newest versions of Word.

Microsoft has added a new format, called DocX. For 99.9% of us, it’s not better, it’s just new. It’s an option for those who need it, but most people don’t. 

Now they have original Doc and new DocX, both just as good.

To make new money, Microsoft makes new versions of their software, right? People who don’t have the software they need will buy the new, especially when they get new computers.

But how to convince people who already have perfectly good software to buy the new stuff for $150 – $450?
By creating the illusion that their existing software is becoming obsolete.

Creating the Illusion

Being sorta evil, Microsoft programmed new Word to make the new DocX format by default. And it still makes good old Doc too. 

Microsoft could have made the new software to keep using good old Doc as the default, and everybody using any version of Word could keeping working together fine. But they didn’t.

When you make a document with the new Word, you can save is as either DocX or Doc. The option is there when you save the document. Piece of cake.

People with the newer Word don’t know this, so they’re out there making DocX files, and the people with older versions of Word can’t open them.

If you have new Word, you can change it to always make Doc files as the default. It’s really easy to change, only takes about a minute. 

People with older Word don’t know they can ask for a Doc file and that it’s easy to make. Instead, they’re buying new software they don’t need. New Money for Microsoft!
Why Not Just Upgrade?
What’s the big deal with buying the new stuff? 
  • A lot of people don’t like it. I got a fee trial version of Office 2010, I tried it and it’s OK. But it looks a lot different, so you have to learn some new ways of doing things. And it’s not more powerful, it’s just more cool. It’s got fancy ribbons instead of simple buttons and toolbars…. That’s just a matter of taste I guess.
  • Word 2003 and the rest of Office 2003 are still a powerhouse. It does everything I need and a thousand things I never will need.
  • It’s perpetuating Microsoft’s proprietary monopoly. They’re just going to keep making newer and cooler, and tempting us to stay on their hamster wheel.
  • Bill Gates has enough money. Do you? 
3 Solutions

1. Use a converter. Microsoft, being only sorta evil, makes a little piece of software you can download. People using older Word can use it to convert DocX into Doc. It’s free gratis.

Here is a link:
2. If you use original Word and someone sends you a DocX file, ask them to send it again, as Doc. All they have to do is open the document and do this:
File > Save As … > doc. It’s a 10 second job.
3. Stop sharing Word files. Word is for making documents, not sharing them. Sending someone a Word document is like handing someone a bowl of flour and sugar and claiming it’s a cake. 
Unless you really need someone to collaborate on your document, send them a PDF. I have previously posted how to do this
If you do need someone to work on a document or finish it, there is an etiquette involved. At least ask them what kind of software they use. Don’t assume. 
I’m not the only one who feels this way. There’s a movement sweeping the planet, to end Microsoft’s illusions of monopoly. Here’s a sample: 
We should all stop believing the myth that we need any version of Microsoft Office to make any documents, ever. There are many different programs for making documents, and many of them are free to all. And many don’t present the problem of others not being able to open your documents. 
Microsoft should compete by making the best stuff, not by creating the illusion that they have no competition and you have no choices. 
Microsoft Office is admittedly the biggest and arguably the best. But sometimes the biggest and best of something is like with cars and trucks – you aren’t going to need or notice the difference unless you’re in a race or going off road. 
Maybe you’re somebody who doesn’t need the Microsoft Monster Truck of computing and would be happier with a Honda, is my point.  

they’re not trying

Won’t you try just a little bit harder?
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more?

One of the things I love about Grateful Dead lyrics is that they so often speak to the mundane hours of my life. Tonight, I have come much closer to the firm belief that Microsoft isn’t trying anymore to do anything but rake in piles of money, and that we should all try to help them see alternative perspectives of existence.

For several years, I’ve been making websites using a MS product called Publisher. It’s a component of the MS Office productivity suite, along with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. Publisher is designed for making websites, flyers, newsletters, etc. Desktop publishing, basically, as contrasted with word processing. It’s good, in the sense that a big Cadillac sedan is good. The problem is, the freeway isn’t running anymore, as you’ll see.  .

Recently, I used Publisher to create a website for a client. I uploaded it, checked it, and all appeared well. Then I got an email from my client, saying the site was messed up. I checked it with Firefox and Chrome browsers – all good – then Internet Explorer (IE). In IE, images were wrong. Some were misplaced, and none were really right.

Normally, when you right-click on an image with a browser, you can view the image separate from the background, and save it if you wish. In IE, it was as if the whole web page was one solid background, and the images on it weren’t images at all.

I rebuilt the website, uploaded fresh files, same result. I spent a long time on the phone with tech support for the web hosting company, and they were stumped too. I tried a lot of different things to fix it. Everything worked in Firefox and Chrome, but not IE. Then very late last night, I uploaded a plain text version of the site, so that visitors could use links to information and at least the website would basically work.

Today I rebuilt the website with an online template-based program provided by the web hosting company. The resulting site looks nice, professional I think, but it’s not the custom, hand-made effect that pleased my client in the first place. It looks made from a template, because it is.

Tonight I did some research into the problem. I was going on the assumption that there was a corruption in my Publisher software, and I was looking for a way to fix it. I know from experience that reinstalling MS Office doesn’t always work, because it doesn’t uninstall cleanly, and problems remain if they’re not repaired.

What I learned really surprised me. On a user forum hosted by Microsoft, I learned that many people have the same program, because – get this – the new version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE-8) is not compatible with websites made with Microsoft Publisher. Their web browser does not work with their web-authoring software. You need to use another company’s site builder, or another browser.

You know me, I’m going to suggest … both. Use Firefox or Chrome. They’re better anyway. And when I find something good – and not expensive – for making websites, I’ll let you know.

Incidentally, my own website – – was built with Publisher too. It’s also wrong in IE. Everything looks OK, works OK, but if you know what to look for, you can see there are problems. I spent a lot of my evenings building that site.

With every passing week, I get sicker and more exhausted with closed-source, proprietary companies like Microsoft and their inept miscreations. Time and again, they rush their crap into shipment before it’s ready, and they design it in ways that make us dependent on continuing to pay for it, whether it works or not.


I support the open source software movement.