Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Potpourri XV

Brain hurts tonight, so I'll do another dose of potpourri. I've done my analysis of the Department of Defense budget, but the blog entry will have to wait.

Fedora tip to Cousin Susan for a hiking shoe recommendation for the Europe trip. A little pricey, but not much worse than the pair of Eccos I bought last summer. Thanks, cuz!

This item came from my historian buddy Tracy...a little lesson on manners in the age of the PDA. I loved her attached comment: I've noticed more often that my teenaged daughter will text and text, and then say, "Oh, I'm just going to call them." What a concept.

Speaking of the DoD budget, here's an editorial complaint about said budget. Not sure I agree with that perception, though I do find it odd that Gates's original statement did not include a final price tag for everything, just a list of changes up or down.

Another link from Hu, this time on the Air Force treating Predator drones/UAVs as "fighters." And while I'm at it, I might as well give a plug for Hu's defense, space, and technology business research service, "MyKickStart." Hu is based in Huntsville, so the slant is providing articles of interest for companies based here in HSV, but he gets good stuff from around the world, some of brilliant, some of it hilarious. For subscription information, send Hu an email at

Feel like shipping wine somewhere in the U.S.? Best read this first. Then this. (Fedora tip to Melissa for finding these.) My current plans involve shipping wine to family and friends in Florida from Europe. It's not worth the aggravation and the paperwork.

And a last thought about Microsoft Office 2007. I finally attended a couple classes today on the new versions of Word and Excel (PowerPoint tomorrow). Looking back on it, I probably should have taken these classes before my computer made the transition. The training session consisted of receiving a couple of handouts and listening to a Microsoft employee (sales dude) on a telecon about the new features of the programs. And let there be no doubt these are mostly new programs. Some keystrokes are the same for those of us who don't like the mouse. Most of the icons are the same. But the menu logic and organization of most basic functions have completely changed. This has led me to a few assumptions about how Microsoft developed this software set:

  • The programmers are mostly under 30. The interface has a heavy emphasis on mouse- and button-driven functionality.
  • The programmers assumed that users would receive some sort of training.

The transition to this new software was not designed for companies with little to no training budget. It was not designed for long-time Microsoft users who are self-starters and rarely RTFM. I say this because users like me--who just jump right in and figure they're getting the same stuff with a few extra bells and whistles--find or found the transition utterly frustrating because of the radical changes to the interface. My only suggestion for self-starters is: don't. Find a class. Press F1, or RTFM. Save yourself the aggravation. Microsoft Office 2007, like Vista, is almost a completely different animal. It takes a special sort of software to irritate me on the very first screen ("Where's the friggin' 'open document' icon??").

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